Sibel Deniz Edmonds
|Born||1970 (age 48–49)|
|Known for||American Whistleblower|
The FBI hired her as a translator shortly after 9/11 but fired her after less than seven months. She identified herself as a whistleblower and challenged her termination; however, the courts dismissed her lawsuit for wrongful termination because the FBI would need to disclose privileged information. She accused a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving Turkish nationals, alleged serious security breaches and cover-ups and that intelligence had been deliberately suppressed, endangering national security.  The PEN American Center awarded her the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award in 2006 for her claims. She published a memoir in March 2012, titled Classified Woman - The Sibel Edmonds Story.
Sibel Edmonds is the founder and publisher of the Boiling Frogs Post, an online media site that aims to offer nonpartisan investigative journalism. In 2016 as editor-in-chief Sibel expanded and founded NewsBud independent news media with associates, partnered with BFP.
The daughter of an Iranian Azerbaijani father and Turkish mother, Edmonds lived in Iran and then Turkey before coming to the United States as a student in 1988. Fluent in Azerbaijani, Turkish, Persian and English, Edmonds earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University and her master's in public policy and international commerce from George Mason University.
Edmonds worked for the FBI for six months from late September 2001 until March 2002. Edmonds was hired, as a contractor, to work as an interpreter in the translations unit of the FBI in Washington on 13 September, 15 September, or 20 September 2001. Among her main roles was to translate covertly recorded conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets.
Edmonds filed complaints about the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. In response, she claims that managers retaliated against her, and she was fired on 22 March 2002. In June 2002, the Associated Press and Washington Post reported that the FBI claimed Edmonds was dismissed because her actions were disruptive and breached security and that she performed poorly at her job. A 2005 internal investigation by the FBI Office of the Inspector General found that many of Edmonds's allegations of misconduct "had some basis in fact" and that "her allegations were at least a contributing factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services," but were unable to substantiate all of her allegations, nor did they make a statement regarding her dismissal being improper.
Edmonds's allegations of impropriety at the FBI later came to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held unclassified hearings on the matter on 17 June 2002, and 9 July 2002. During the hearings, the FBI provided various unclassified documents and statements relating to the case, which led to Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley sending letters, dated 19 June 2002, 13 August 2002, and 28 October 2002 - to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, Attorney General Ashcroft, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, respectively - asking for explanations and calling for an independent audit of the FBI's translation unit. These documents were published on the Senators' web sites.
In April 2004, Edmonds claimed she had provided information to the panel investigating the September 11 attacks in February that year. Although she started work shortly after 9/11 and worked for just over six months, she claimed knowledge of information circulating within the FBI during spring and summer of 2001. The session was closed and over three hours long, she said. Reportedly, she told the commission that the FBI knew of a planned attack months away and the terrorists were in place. She stated, "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers." On the 26th, a deposition of Edmonds was quashed under the state secrets privilege.
On 13 May 2004, Ashcroft submitted statements to justify the use of the state secrets privilege against the planned deposition by Edmonds, and the same day, the FBI retroactively classified as Top Secret all of the material and statements that had been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002 relating to Edmonds's own lawsuit, as well as the letters that had been sent by the Senators and republished by the Project on Government Oversight.
On 23 June 2004, the retroactive reclassification was challenged in a suit filed by the Project on Government Oversight, citing fear that the group might be retroactively punished for having published the letters on its website. The Justice Department tried to get the suit dismissed, and the Justice Department explicitly approved their release to the Project on Government Oversight. The reclassification did, however, keep Edmonds from testifying in the class action suit as well as her own whistleblower suit. The latter decision was appealed, and Inspector General Glenn A. Fine released a summary of the audit report, claiming "that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services. Rather than investigate Edmonds's allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract."
In August 2004, Edmonds founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), which exists to assist national security whistleblowers through advocacy and reform. Edmonds is also the founder and publisher of the Boiling Frogs Post, an online media site that aims to offer nonpartisan investigative journalism.
In September 2005, Edmonds claimed in Vanity Fair that a price was set for Dennis Hastert to withdraw support for the Armenian Genocide resolution. That the "... Turkish Consulate ... claimed in one recording that the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000."
In September 2006, a documentary about Edmonds's case called Kill the Messenger (Une Femme à Abattre) premiered in France. The film discusses the Edmonds case and offers interviews with various involved individuals.
On 1 February 2011, Edmonds published a story on her own website, adding details of events she described as taking place in April 2001. The account is of another translator's description of meetings with an Iranian informant months before 9/11, and FBI agents' reaction to it:
It was believed the agents reported this information internally at the FBI, but it is unclear that it ever went beyond that, in fact, both the agents remarked, and the translator told Edmonds, that the intelligence was not specific enough to take action upon.
In 2012, she published an autobiography called Classified Woman - The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir. Reviewing the book for The American Conservative, Philip Giraldi said that some details of the book could be challenged due to passage of time. However, he felt the central thesis of government incompetence and corruption was correct.
Sibel Edmonds, along with others, formed NewsBud, supported by Kickstarter donations. Sibel Edmonds's primarily solo Boiling Frogs Post featuring articles and videos is being merged and absorbed into NewsBud - so BFP content is becoming NewsBud content and NewsBud content occasionally appears as a BFP heading or website.
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We found that many of Edmonds's core allegations relating to the co-worker were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. ... With respect to an allegation that focused on the co-worker's performance, which Edmonds believed to be an indication of a security problem, the evidence clearly corroborated Edmonds's allegations. ... With regard to some of Edmonds's allegations, the OIG did not find evidence to support her allegation or the inferences that she drew from certain facts. However, Edmonds's assertions regarding the co-worker, when viewed as a whole, raised substantial questions and were supported by various pieces of evidence. ... Rather than investigate Edmonds's allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract. We concluded that the FBI could not show, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have terminated Edmonds's services absent her disclosures. ... We believe that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services.HTML version also available.