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What If the FBI Hired Someone Honest to Look into 9-11?

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It did. Her name was Sibel Edmonds. This is her story, as she told it to me. Edmonds discusses what she knows, whom it implicates, and what she's been through and what hope there is in the new Congress to start an investigation.

Here's the audio.

Swanson: This is David Swanson with Sibel Edmonds. It's great to talk with you, thanks for being here.

Edmonds: Thanks for asking me for this interview, David.

Swanson: So I should ask, I guess, before I start, are you under any gag order? Are there things that you can and cannot talk about?

Edmonds: Well - that's a very interesting question, David, because when the government invoked the State Secrets Privilege, it was specifically for the court procedures, so there won't be any court hearings, and as far as the courts are concerned, my case is gagged and classified.

Separately, they invoked the retroactive classification order on Congress and this was for the Senate Judiciary committee in May 2004 - and the way the imposed this gag order - and I have to emphasize that this gag order was illegal, because in order for them to retroactively classify congressional investigations, the Attorney General for the Justice Department had to meet three criteria and he did not. But even though the gag order was illegal, at that time in May 2004, the Senate Judiciary committee complied with it, they complied with an illegal gag order.

But I've never had a gag order placed on me as far as the public statements, or any other investigative procedures are concerned, but as you know they have declared everything in my case, including my languages, and what I did for the FBI, classified. Now the question is whether this classification that they're using is even legal, or justified. As you know the executive branch has complete control over the classification.

Swanson: So you are not allowed to discuss what languages you speak? You're forbidden to say that?

Edmonds: Well - that's what they have ordered, and that's what the court has actually ruled in their favor - but the interesting this is if you were to go and just google my name, you will see everywhere that my language skills are all listed there - because it's public information. I mean, take a look at the implications of this, based on this classification, I can't even have my resume out there because when you put your resume, and you put your language skills, that would be violating classification. But my resume has been out there, and the government has not come to me and told me to pull my resume.

They have been playing this game because they can get away with it in court, and Congress - but as you can see, this information is readily available - it's public. The same thing is true with my university degrees - the government specifically declared my Masters degrees, my undergraduate degrees, and the topics of those studies as classified! This is the Kafkaesque thing that I have been trying to point out to people, and we haven't had much media attention on this - when they can go, in this ridiculous way, in this ludicrous way, to invoke 'privilege' and classification - even on information that is readily available in public.

Swanson: For those who still don't know what your story is, and what you did, and why the government would be taking these sorts of actions, why don't we start at the beginning and just go very briefly, but maybe if I say a couple of things, tell me if I’m wrong...

You were hired by the FBI just after September 11 when they decided that it would be a good idea to hire translators who knew foreign languages - and the foreign languages that you were hired to work on were Turkish, Farsi, and Azerbaijani. And your background is one of having lived in Iran, Turkey and the US - and having had struggles in those previous countries with repressive governments and censorship and corruption and having thought, somewhat hopefully, about the US when you came here as being a country of freedom and transparent government. Am I on the right track?

Edmonds: Absolutely. I was a believer and I took my citizenship oath in 1995, I really took that oath, as you take any oath, seriously, and I was so proud to become a citizen of this country and have the constitution, and all the principles, and the bill of rights applying to me. As you know, those rights are non-existent in countries such as Turkey and Azerbaijan and Iran - in most places in the world, people are not even allowed to write about those rights, forget about even demanding them.

Swanson: What made you inclined to take a job with the FBI as a translator?

Edmonds: There needs to be a brief explanation - three years before I took that job, I was doing my studies in forensic science and criminal justice, and I had applied for an internship position with the FBI, not a full time or permanent job position, and at that point they were interested in my language skills, but they basically messed it up. I sent them the application, I took the polygraph test for that internship position for their language department, and somehow in 1999 they lost all that information - not only mine, but from 150 other applicants they had for language specialist positions. These documents, these files were lost within the FBI - or at least that's the explanation they gave to these applicants.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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