Friday, August 7, 2009
Unless the Dept. of Justice re-invokes their twice-invoked “state secrets privilege” claim in order to once again gag former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, her attorneys have notified the department by hand-delivered, sworn letter of declaration [PDF] this week, that she intends to give a deposition,
open to the media [Updated: see bottom of article for details], in response to a subpoena this Saturday in Washington D.C..
Edmonds has confirmed her intentions to answer any questions asked of her during the sworn proceedings, fully and publicly, during conversations with The BRAD BLOG this week. She notes that her agreement with her former employer, the FBI — who fired her illegally after she filed whistleblower allegations about corruption and foreign infiltration in the linguistics department — includes certain non-disclosure requirements. However, those requirements do not preclude her answering to a legally issued court subpoena.
The subpoena and request for sworn deposition is part of a case now pending before the Ohio Elections Commission in which Ohio’s Republican U.S. Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-2nd District) has filed a complaint against her 2008 independent challenger, David Krikorian who Schmidt has charged distributed false statements about her during last year’s campaign.
The resulting testimony, if it indeed occurs this weekend, could be far more explosive than either Schmidt or Krikorian might have ever guessed…
Schmidt has alleged that Krikorian — who has announced plans to run against Schmidt again, as a Democrat, in 2010 — libeled her when he alleged in campaign materials that she had taken “blood money” as campaign donations from Turkish interest groups. Schmidt is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, according to Politico’s coverage of the case, and has received more than $10,000 from the Turkish Coalition USA PAC, “making it one of her top campaign contributors”, since taking office in 2005. She recently took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America, valued at more than $10,000.
At immediate issue in the initial Schmidt v. Krikorian tussle, is the century-long debate over whether the extermination of some 1.5 million ethnic Armenians during WWI will be declared a “genocide” by the American government. The issue is a highly contentious one that has cut across party lines in Congress, and has ensnared dozens of U.S. Congressmembers and highly-ranked officials in a lobbyist-funded, politically-charged battle.
The same Turkish lobby has also, according to information gleaned from Edmonds and others, based on her first-hand knowledge as an FBI case translator, helped to ensnare many of those same officials in a broad infiltration scheme of the U.S. Government and sensitive military facilities, by operatives from the U.S., Turkey, Pakistan and elsewhere, including alleged bribery of then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Some of the charges against Hastert were detailed in a remarkable 2005 Vanity Fair exposé. Additional allegations, concerning the the proliferation of nuclear secrets to the black-market in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Libya, Iran and beyond, as detailed in an explosive front-page series by London’s Sunday Times last year.
These are among the issues which Edmonds — whose classified allegations were found to have been “credible”, “serious” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI,” according to their Inspector General in 2002 — will be asked about on Saturday if the deposition moves forward without being quashed by the DoJ.
Krikorian’s campaign has released a statement [PDF], detailing several of the potentially explosive points about which they intend to ask Edmonds to testify in an “open to the media deposition”…
1. The Government of Turkey had illegally infiltrated and influenced various U.S. government institutions and officials, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense and individual members of the United States Congress
2. The Government of Turkey had engaged in practices and policies that were inimical to American interests and had in fact resulted in both the direct and indirect loss of American lives
3. Turkish American cultural and business groups conduct operations with direct and indirect support from the Government of Turkey
“Jean Schmidt and the Turkish Legal Defense Fund have been attempting to squash my right to political free speech by abusing the OEC (Ohio Election Commission) process by filing frivolous complaints against me for their own political gain,” Krikorian alleges in his statement.
He also notes that “Schmidt has previously been convicted by the OEC for having a reckless disregard for truth.” During her run for Congress, the OEC found, in a 7 to 0 vote, that Schmidt had lied about having a received an undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati and she was issued a letter of reprimand for the “false statements”.
Edmonds agreement, via affidavit, to give testimony on the points mentioned by Krikorian above, under oath, and in public, would be a first. Much of her previous sworn testimony, to Congress and to the 9/11 Commission, has been entirely classified, leaving those of us in the media with an interest in her case to piece together the puzzle of what has made her, in the words of the ACLU, “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America”.
On Tuesday, Congressional Quarterly’s intelligence reporter Jeff Stein filed a report on Edmonds’ upcoming “test” of the Department of Justice in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case. However, it’s fallen largely to the independent media in the U.S. and the foreign mainstream media to dig into the details of Edmonds’ allegations, described by one former CIA analyst early last year as “treason at the highest levels of the United State government.”
In October of 2007 — after she had exhausted all other options, having been shut down by both Congress and the Supreme Court due to the Bush Administration’s twice-imposed gag order — The BRAD BLOG broke the exclusive news of her promise to break the gag in order to relate the entire story to any U.S. mainstream broadcast media outlet willing to allow her to do so. Despite that story itself having made news in papers across the globe, nobody in the U.S. mainstream broadcast media took her up on her offer.
In November that year, legendary “Pentagon Papers” whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg guest blogged at The BRAD BLOG, describing Edmonds’ case as “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. Still, the U.S. media ignored her.
Even CBS’ 60 Minutes — who ran a story on her in 2002 (which re-ran twice therafter), when she couldn’t speak at all about her case — chose not to tell her story once she had promised to tell all. That, even though Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), when asked about her credibility in their original piece said, “Absolutely, she’s credible…And the reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.”
2005’s detailed exposé in Vanity Fair by investigative British investigative journalist David Rose, detailed extraordinary allegations that then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and bribes from Turkish interests tied into the drug-trade. Edmonds was said to have been the translator for FBI wiretaps in that case. Few in the media bothered to advance the story at all, even years later when, as Edmonds had years earlier predicted, the retired Hastert became a highly-paid lobbyist for Turkey.
And, as recently as last month, during our own recent interview with Edmonds while we were guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show (audio here, partial transcript here), she dropped details described as a “bombshell”, about the U.S. having retained “intimate relations” with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda through Turkish proxies right up until September 11, 2001. That interview has made news across the globe over the last several days (e.g. the Times of India coverage is here), yet it made nary a peep in the U.S. corporate mainstream.
Many other top U.S. officials are indicated to have been involved in the dark and sordid influence peddling, infiltration and treason as highlighted by a “Rogues Gallery” of photographs posted by Edmonds in 2007 without comment. Among the photos posted, in addition to Hastert’s: current and former Congressmembers Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dan Burton (R-IN), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Bob Livingston (R-LA) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY); current and former State and Defense Dept. officials including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eric Edelman, Marc Grossman (specifically targeted by the landmark Sunday Times exposé), Brent Scowcroft and Larry Franklin; and photographs of a host of registered and non-registered Turkish lobbyists and agents.
Edmonds told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon that, though the DoJ has yet to timely answer her hand-delivered request for the revocation of the prior-issued “states secrets” privilege orders, she expects they may still intercede to quash her testimony before Saturday morning, when she’s currently scheduled to give her deposition at 10:30am in Washington D.C..
More details are available from Edmonds herself, on her planned deposition in Schmidt v. Krikorian at her blog, 123 Real Change…
UPDATE 8/6/09: Just heard from Edmonds who, in turn, has just heard from attorneys working on the case that they have been informed that Ohio Election Commission (OEC) regulations disallow media from attending depositions. So, despite Krikorian’s press release yesterday stating that her testimony would be “open to the media” (presuming it’s not blocked by the DoJ) it will not in fact be open to them now.
However, Edmonds tells us that Krikorian’s team will have their own videographer there to record it, and that tape is allowed to be released immediately after the proceeding. As well, court transcript should be available within 24 to 48 hours after the deposition.
Moreover, immediately following the deposition, attorneys from both sides will be able to speak to the media and answer any questions about it outside of the deposition room. If any media bother to cover it, that is.
(National Whistleblower Center’s update on this matter is now posted here.)
Edmonds still believes it’s likely that a last minute intervention by the DoJ, to block all or part of her testimony, will occur. As founder of the National Security Whistleblower’s Coalition (NSWBC) she relates that she’s seen a number of cases in which official whistleblower testimony is blocked at the last minute by DoJ attorneys who arrive with court orders just minutes beforehand, leaving no time for the opposition to challenge the ruling.
Though we’d planned to be on the road this Saturday, we’ll do our best to stay in touch as things move forward if at all possible.
This article was posted: Friday, August 7, 2009 at 4:48 am