Monday, March 19, 2007

Sibel Edmonds: we aren't safe today. you can help.

Former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds discovered massive criminality when she was at the FBI and was told to shut up. Sibel is the most gagged person in US history. We're in the final days of a campaign, Let Sibel Edmonds Speak, to demand that Henry Waxman hold hearings into her case and the State Secrets Privilege. (contact details downstairs)

Because Sibel is gagged, and because her case is complicated, it can be difficult to understand of all the different elements. In this post, I will lay out the most simple of the issues that Sibel raised - espionage in the FBI translation department - and why it is still important today (hint: a confirmed 'mole'/foreign agent is in charge of all Arabic translators at the FBI.)

In other words, I hope that you can send this diary to your friends and family - people who may not be involved in politics, people who have never heard of Sibel - and they are sufficiently outraged that they can't wait to call Waxman on Monday morning and demand hearings.

The reason they should be outraged is because America is more likely to be attacked because of the information in this diary.

Last week, more than 30 'good-government' groups from across the political spectrum petitioned Henry Waxman to hold hearings into Sibel Edmonds' case.

From the petition:
The issues that were reported by Ms. Edmonds include:
• Cases of espionage activities within the FBI...
• Cases of cover-up of information and leads pre and post 9/11, under the excuse of protecting certain diplomatic relations
• Cases of intentional blocking and mistranslation of crucial intelligence by FBI translators and management

Today I want to describe exactly what she's talking about regarding espionage at the FBI translation unit, and prove that we are all less safe because the problems have not been rectified - in fact, the problems are much worse today.

When Sibel Edmonds joined the FBI immediately after 911, she was the first and only Turkish translator there. Shortly afterwards, the FBI recruited two other translators, Melek Can Dickerson and Kevin Taskasen. Their boss was former translator Mike Feghali.

Let's dispense with Kevin Taskasen first, because he isn't particularly important in the scheme of things, although his situation does demonstrate the massive incompetence and cronyism in the translation department. Taskasen failed two language proficiency exams, English and Turkish, but his wife worked at the FBI's language testing center so... he got the job. Three months later he was sent to Guantanamo Bay to translate the interrogations: to perhaps help foil a new terror attack, or to help determine the guilt or otherwise of the prisoners held there.

Now on to more serious matters: Melek Can Dickerson.

In a fantastic interview with Sibel last week titled "What if the FBI Hired Someone Honest to Look into 9-11?" David Swanson said:
There's a saying in Italian "Traduttore traditore" which means "The translator is a traitor"...

Not all translators are traitors, of course, but translators do have tremendous power, as Sibel described in the same interview:
You know, a lot of people consider the language specialists as like a clerical job, but you need to realize, when the information comes... the first people exposed to it are the language specialists. Before that information gets transferred to agents or analysts, the first person who sees it is the language specialist... and that language specialist is in a position to decide whether or not this particular piece of information... is important enough to be translated, whether or not it should be translated verbatim - in detail, or just a summary translation. So by the time that information goes to an analyst or an agent, it has already gone through this filter of the language specialist.

In other words, America's enemies are motivated to A) try to recruit existing translators B) place their own translator 'moles' in the translation unit and C) if they're really lucky/skilled/successful, take over an entire 'desk' in the FBIs translation unit. Unfortunately, and scarily, in Sibel's case, we see all three.

Melek Can Dickerson had worked for at least three organizations that were under investigation by the FBI's counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism divisions. She lied on her application form, saying that she'd never worked before in her life, and was given Top Secret clearance and immediately began working in the translation unit. We don't know whether Dickerson was given her job, and Top Secret clearance, as a result of FBI incompetence or corruption - I suspect corruption - but it doesn't really matter, because within weeks of her arrival, the Turkish desk of the FBI translation unit was completely corrupted.

On Sunday December 2nd, 2001, Dickerson and her husband, Doug, arrived at Sibel's house and tried to persuade Sibel and her husband, Matthew, to join the American Turkish Council (ATC) - one of the organizations that Dickerson had previously worked for and failed to mention on her FBI application form. The Dickersons promised Sibel and her husband, Matthew, an early retirement if they joined the ATC. Sibel immediately recognized that she was being recruited to be a mole in the translation unit because the ATC, and some of the Dickersons' other friends, were targets of counter-intelligence & counter-terrorism investigations that Sibel had been translating at the FBI.

According to the 10-page Vanity Fair article on Sibel and her case, the ATC "was being used as a front for criminal activity" involving "laundering the profits of large-scale drug deals and of selling classified military technologies to the highest bidder." In other words, serious business. We also have evidence from a bunch of other places that suggest that the ATC was involved with all sorts of illegal activity - not least, we know that Valerie Plame's CIA front company, Brewster Jennings, had been investigating the ATC for years.

Brewster Jennings' main focus was Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and we know that companies involved with the ATC were actually supplying rogue nations with nuclear technology - hardware, and nuclear secrets, stolen (via bribes paid to vaious State Dept officials) from US nuclear labs (Sandia, Los Alamos etc)

Story so far: FBI employed Melek Can Dickerson, an agent/mole for a foreign/criminal network involved in WMD (among other things). Dickerson tried to recruit Sibel into the network.

Sibel immediately reported the Dickerson's 'recruitment' attempt to her boss at the FBI, Mike Feghali, but he had already (if not before) been co-opted by Dickerson and the ATC. Within a month of Dickerson joining the FBI, she had changed the FBI translation unit's internal procedures, with the help of her boss, Feghali, so that she alone was in charge of translating any intercepts from her friends at the ATC (and elsewhere). Of course, now that Dickerson, the mole, was in charge of 'translating' her criminal friends' wiretaps, whenever she came across anything incriminating (and there were many such situations), she simply didn't translate it, or marked it 'Not Pertinent.'

Sibel thinks that Feghali and Dickerson were having an affair - often conducted in his office, during business hours. Not only that, he also
"covered-up information and leads pre and post 9/11" (for more, see Sibel's open letter to the 911 Commission)

Sibel reached out to Dennis Saccher, the F.B.I.’s special agent in charge of Turkish counter-intelligence, and told him what had happened. He said "It sounds like espionage to me." We aren't sure of what other payoffs Feghali may have received, from Dickerson or the ATC, but he clearly shouldn't be in charge of such a sensitive translation facility at the FBI. "The translator is a traitor."

Sibel took her case up the FBI hierarchy - eventually pleading her case that the translation unit, the frontline against America's enemies, had been infiltrated by a criminal network to FBI Director Robert Mueller, to no avail - and was eventually fired 'at the government's pleasure.'

Despite being fired, Sibel continued to try to bring attention to the fact that America was in danger because foreign criminal elements had taken over the FBI translation unit. She went to the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility (internal affairs), the Department of Justice's Inspector General, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 911 Commission, and Henry Waxman's office. Every one of them confirmed Sibel's allegations - Republican Senator Charles Grassley explains why:
"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."

Veteran FBI counterintelligence agent John Cole said the same thing:
"I knew (Sibel) was doing the right thing. I knew because she was right."

Cole tells how he had “talked to people who had read her file, who had read the investigative report, and they were telling me a totally different story” than FBI officials...

“They were telling me that Sibel Edmonds was a 100 percent accurate, that management knew that she was correct.”

In fact, in a CBS 60 Minutes report (download, 300 megs) by Ed Bradley about Sibel's case in 2002, Charles Grassley said angrily, about these facts, "We need to turn the FBI upside down." Five years later, and the FBI has indeed been turned upside down. Five years ago, Mike Feghali was in charge of three Turkish translators, a patriot, an incompetent, and a foreign agent - he fired the patriot, sent the incompetent to Guantanamo, and had an affair, and probably received payment, from the foreign agent. Five years later, he is no longer at the bottom of the pyramid, but at the top. The FBI has been turned upside down! Feghali has been promoted, and promoted again, and is now in charge of all Arabic speakers at the FBI. "The translator is a traitor."

And if Feghali's promotion isn't bad enough, in and of itself, let me repeat that Sibel's claims about him have been reported up the chain all the way to Direct Mueller, and her allegations have been verified by the FBI OPR, the Dept of Justice's Inspector General, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the 911 Commission. All of them know of Sibel's claims, all of them know that her claims have been validated, and all of them know that Feghali has been promoted again and again and that he is now in charge of all 300 Arabic translators.

Surely that makes us all much less safe.

For more detail on just this one element of Sibel's case, see my "Sibel Edmonds' Corrupt Boss is STILL the key to National Security" post.

Please call the offices of Congressmen Waxman and Conyers demanding open hearings into Sibel Edmonds' case and the State Secrets Privilege. We need you to call on Monday and Tuesday of this week - and we'll demand an answer from Waxman mid-week. Contact details below.

Some other matters.

1. If you are interested in more about the issues Sibel has raised, see this post from earlier in the week:
What the heck is Sibel Edmonds' Case about? And why should I care?

2. Sibel and I will be doing a joint interview on The Peter B. Collins Show on Monday at 7pm Eastern. You can listen live, or get the archive at White Rose

3. I gave a 90 min interview to Expert Witness Radio about Sibel's case last week. If you are quick, you'll be able to download the first 60mins from that site now. Tomorrow, they'll post the final 30 mins - which is mostly about Feghali and the 'incompetence-vs-corrupt' issue.

4. We have 2 days to go, folks. If we can't get hearings now, I don't think Sibel has anywhere to turn to. I'm serious - this is her/our last best chance. She's done EVERYTHING she possibly can. If you ever thought 'wow - she's tough' or 'wow - she's brave' or 'wow - she can bring down these bastards' or 'gee - I wish she'd just tell us what she knows' or 'wow - i'd love to know what sibel knows' or 'gee - Douglas Feith and Richard Perle should be in jail' or 'gee - I hope we are doing everything we can to keep the country safe' - well, now's your chance to help out. If you ever thought any of those things, you owe it to yourself, and to all of us to call Waxman (and Conyers) and demand hearings. And you should probably recruit as many people as you can to do the same. Call all the numbers below, and call them repeatedly. If we get hearings, imagine how much fun it will be to think 'Ya know, I helped in my own little way.' And if we don't get hearings, and you didn't make your phone call, my patience will be very thin every time I hear someone say 'The Dems are weak' or 'Why doesn't Sibel just tell us everything she knows?' or "How come Doug Feith, Richard Perls and Dennis Hastert are enjoying their riches and not in jail?" or any of a thousand similar statements I could conjur.

Seriously. This is it. We've had amazing support these last two weeks - our diaries have repeatedly been in the top recommended lists at DailyKos and DemocraticUnderground, and people have been re-posting our stuff like crazy all over the InterToobz - and we are eternally grateful for all the support. If we can also get you to call Waxman's office (and Conyers' if you have the time) then we'll make the Plame hearings yesterday look like Laura Bush's book club.

5. We are asking everyone who calls Waxman's office to go on the record at:Sibel Edmonds: The most ungagged person in American History (and I helped!) - with any luck, the most gagged woman in US History will soon be free to speak, and thus become the most ungagged woman. If you make a call, you can claim some credit. Make your call, then head over there and let us know that you did good. You great grandchildren will be proud.

I think that's all for the moment. More tomorrow.

Contact details:

Capitol switchboard number - 800-828-0498

Emailers have suggested that those calling Waxman's office should ask for Michelle Ash ( & David Rapallo. Those calling Conyers' office should ask for Elliot Mintzberg.

Waxman Contact Details:
In Washington, D.C.
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-3976 (phone)
(202) 225-4099 (fax)

In Los Angeles
8436 West Third Street, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 651-1040 (phone)
(818) 878-7400 (phone)
(310) 652-3095 (phone)
(323) 655-0502 (fax)

Conyers Contact Details:

Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

Trenton, MI 48183
(734) 675-4084
(734) 675-4218 Fax

Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-5670
(313) 226-2085 Fax


noise said...

I listened to the Levine interview. You did an exceptional job of navigation. :) I must say that Levine's cynicism sure seems earned in his case.

I listened to him on a round table about 9/11 a few years ago. I'm not sure what to make of his "keystone cops" viewpoint. One, nobody claims that Bush orchestrated 9/11. Two, when one really looks at 9/11 there isn't a chance in hell that incompetence is a suitable explanation.

lukery said...

glad you liked the interview. it was a bit of a challenge to keep the conversation a) optimistic and b) on sibel's case.

but yuo are also right, his cynicism might well be called 'realism'

there's another 30 mins of the interview that should be up about now (!) which is about the incompetence/evil argument. I argue for the latter.

noise said...

Just a bunch of boobs. :)

Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. I agree that the incompetence fosters an environment in which criminal activity can thrive.

I do find it strange that Levine learned the hard way that the drug war is for the most part BS. Seems to counter his "keystone cops" argument right there.

lukery said...

good point.