Monday, April 16, 2007

Who Do You Trust? The Bush Administration or Credible Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds?

A Response to ‘Steve’ on Sibel Edmonds and Turkey

Sorry folks, although I provided a partial response in comments, I had to provide a more detailed response to Steve as a post.

(update from lukery: Miguel is referring to this post)

Steve wrote: Your highly limited knowledge of Turkish political processes and blind faith in Sibel Edmonds' integrity really impair the credibility of your blog.

Miguel’s Response: There is no ‘blind faith of Sibel’s integrity” on this blog. Our trust in Sibel’s integrity comes from 1) the fact that other people in the FBI and Congress back up her story 2) The fact that her story has been remarkably consistent over a five year period. People who tell lies are eventually outed when inconsistencies show up when the story is re-told over time. 3) The fact that she has no motive, that I am aware of, for telling tall tales on these issues.

Steve wrote: …she makes broad claims about other institutions that she could never back up- even if the "States Secrets Privilege" is revoked and she is allowed to state her case.

Miguel’s Response: How do you know this? Have you read the translated wiretaps?

Steve wrote: Turkey is a very important U.S. ally. Do you think that an alliance with, say, Iran- Sibel's native country- would be more desirable?

Miguel’s Response: Sibel was born in Iran but that does not make it her native country. A child born to citizens of the United States who are living in a foreign country at the time of his or her birth is still an American citizens Sibel wa/is a Turkish citizen (she is now a U.S. citizen by naturalization).

Steve wrote: Sibel is quick to criticize Turkey, but I have never heard her defame her homeland in any way.

Miguel’s Response: You’re confused. Turkey is her homeland. And for the record, the reason she has criticized certain people and groups in Turkey is because they are the ones against whom she has evidence (in addition to potentially evidence against nationals of Central Asian and Balkans countries).

Steve wrote:
I have no problem with people of Iranian origin, but to criticize Turkey's human rights standards and to quesion its democratic principles while neglecting to do the same for Iran leads me to question her objectivity.

Miguel’s Response: I won’t address the ‘Iranian origin’ issue again; by continually repeating an obviously false piece of information, you make yourself appear to be involved in a personal vendetta or…worse…a disinformation campaign.

For the record, I am sure Sibel is highly critical of the Iranian human rights record.. and the Saudi human rights record, and the Russian human rights record and on and on and on.. But the criminal activities she came across involved mostly Turkish nationals. What do you want her to do, lie and say it was really the Iranians who were doing all these bad things?

Steve wrote: Turkey is a democratic country with a firmly secular legal and political orientation. Turkish women are not required to wear the headscarf. There are no laws in Turkey against adultery, abortion, alcohol, peaceful protests or political demonstrations, homosexuality, professing atheism or adherence to religions other than Islam. Turkey has recently implemented many reforms in conjunction with its bid to join the EU, and its success in this aim would certainly be in America's best interests.

Miguel’s Response: This is the standard, State Department view of Turkey. Sibel’s evidence doesn’t necessarily preclude that any of the above statements don’t have elements of truth. It simply gives us a more nuanced view of modern Turkey and America’s relationship with Turkey.

Steve wrote: Although Turkish laws such as Article 301, which forbid "insulting Turkishness", prevent Turkey from being 100% democratic, it is steadily progressing in that direction. When considering human rights issues, it's interesting to note that Turkey illegalized the death penalty years ago and does not practice torture.

Miguel’s Response: Once again, there may be an element of truth in what you say, but you are citing the conventional, State Department view. It is also a matter of opinion- Turkey may be making progress in some areas, but still be moving backwards in others.

Steve wrote: My advice to you: learn more about Turkey before you dismiss it as a gross violator of human rights and a refuge for drug lords and weapon smugglers.

Miguel’s Response: This is an overstatement of what has been said on this blog. We have said Sibel’s evidence points to some Turks and some Neocon Americans and some Central Asians involved in heroin and weapons smuggling.

Steve wrote: The Susurluk incident was a cause for concern in Turkey, where media coverage on the incident inspired public debate and galvanized Turkish society to successfully press for elevated transparency in the Turkish political process.

Miguel’s Response: My understanding is that there was very little accountability that came out of Susurluk. I think your average Turkish person living in Turkey would disagree with you on this point. It appears Turkey’s ‘deep state’ still pulls the strings behind the scenes.

Steve wrote: Furthermore, the incident took place 11 years ago-- a lot has changed since then.


Steve wrote: Please don't let your devotion to Sibel Edmonds lead you on a crusade against Turkey.

Miguel’s Response: Our primary devotion is to getting as close to the truth regarding Sibel’s allegations as possible. While there is a lot of admiration on this blog for the stand Sibel has taken, we always try to maintain our objectivity by testing Sibel’s claims against open sources. So far, she’s always passed the test.

Steve wrote: I know that she has a lot of supporters, and unfortunately, they will likely believe her when she claims that Turkey is a state sponsor of terrorism

Miguel's Response: Sibel has never called Turkey a state sponsor of terrorism. She has implied some Turks are linked to al Qaeda financially.

Steve wrote:drug-smuggling, and money laundering. Try to be more objective in your reporting.

Miguel's Response: Steve, the U.S. government had been strangely silent on Sibel’s allegations. It has invoked state secrets against her twice. I can assure you, this ‘privelege’ was not invoked because of bureaucratic bungling in the FBI- it was invoked at the behest of the State Department because revealing her case would damage relations with Turkey. That means Sibel’s allegations are not a fantasy or a conspiracy theory; they have a strong basis in fact. The Bush Administration contends that revealing these secrets would damage national security. Sibel contends the opposite; NOT revealing them would damage national security.

It comes down to: who do you trust? The Bush Administration or the whistleblower called ‘credible’ by conservative Republican Charles Grassley.

I’m throwing my lot in with the whistleblower. It is your right to throw your lot in with the Bush Administration if you wish.

Steve wrote: Thanks for reading,Steven

Miguel’s Response: We welcome honest differences of opinions here. But spreading misinformation about Sibel’s nationality makes me worried about your motives. A retraction would do much to allay any suspicions.




calipendence said...

I'd like to echo Miguel's comments here and in the earlier note. I don't think any of us here are "anti-Turkish" for a lot of our criticisms that echo Sibel's and examine Sibel's about Turkey. We aren't anti-Turkish for doing this any more than we are "anti-American" for heavily criticizing and exmaining of this administrations actions as well in this country. I'm sure Luke has had some choice words for some of the actions of his own Australian government at times too. That doesn't make him "anti-Australian".

In fact, I would argue that it makes us more interested in the health of these countries and wanting to help correct these problems so they and their citizens can enjoy healthy and rewarding lives again, free of the damage that heavy corruption is doing to them now.

I myself have lived in Turkey for five years of my early life when my folks lived over there, have a number of Turkish friends over the years, and do defend it against at times more outlandish critiques it endures from some folks like certain Armenians that go beyond what might be considered valid criticism for their actions in the early part of last century and others related to it.

I feel that ultimately, down the road, even many folks in Turkey will come to appreciate what Sibel has been trying to do for so many years now and her firm resolve to help clean things up in both of our countries. It will be how many in Russia now look at some of the older Soviet regimes like Kruschev's, etc. where those questioning abuses at the time were in disfavor then.

Now I don't for a minute think that Turkey's situation now ranks even close to the severity of what happened under Kruschev's rule then. But the principle of those who resist to try and fix a broken system (or at least the broken parts of the system) actually trying to work FOR the betterment of that country still applies here.

calipendence said...

Sorry, I meant to say Stalin rather than Kruschev, but the meaning of my words still mean the same thing.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

It looks like a paid troll to me, a hostile introduction and a half-hearted recitation of the facts. Such attacks signal a story gaining traction.

rimone said...

Uranus, that didn't occur before but you may very well be right. i read Miguel's piece and Steve's comment yesterday and was stunned (by the comment).

ty for f/ping this, Luke.

lukery said...

thnx to miguel for posting what i would have posted if i had the time and energy to rebut steve point by point.

ftr, i dont think sibel was born in Iran, but actually moved there age 5 or thereabouts.

i will also add that i don't think of myself as 'objective' or a 'journalist' - my basic position re sibel has always been 'imagine if what she says is true' - and then attempt to work out what she is saying. Once we establish that, then we can figure out whether what she is saying is true. having said that, i havent seen anything along the way to indicate, or even suggest, that there is any reason to doubt what she says.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Steve's comments follow a scripted memo. Someone thinks it's a story which should be addressed, and that's how addressing it was planned. Plus, he hasn't been back to haggle, so I'd say that's genuine right-speak, and we learned something.