Monday, June 14, 2004

Sibel Edmonds Update

I've been following the Sibel Edmonds story from afar for quite some time. To say it's hard to know what to make of it is a classic understatement. In a nutshell, Ms. Edmonds was an FBI translator who apparently had access to some important translations regarding pre-9/11 intelligence. When she tried to go public with what she knew, John Ashcroft clamped a gag order on her "in the interest of national security". She's testified before the 9/11 commission in private hearings, and little is actually known about her testimony because of the gag order.

Ms. Edmonds has been pursuing legal remedies to the gag order. She was subpoenaed by a 9/11 group involved in a civil lawsuit against various agencies and companies, and desired to testify in the trial. She has endured four postponements of a hearing scheduled since 1992 relative to the subpoena and her ability to testify.

Today, Ms. Edmonds and Pentagon Papers alum Daniel Ellsberg held a news conference in Washington DC decrying the continuing delay of the hearing, and to urge other government workers who might have corroborating information to come forward:

She said her testimony would help people have "a complete picture" of the terrorist attacks, especially with regard to what she called "semi-legitimate organizations."

"They would see the real picture of activities before 9/11 and the involvement of certain semi-legit organizations. I know many people automatically assume we're talking about only religious or charity organizations, but it goes way beyond that," she said.

"I cannot specifically say what type," she added. "However, I can say that [the] investigations involve when certain money laundering and intelligence activities and drug activities converge with terrorist activities. Terrorists want to buy information, too, and they have known connections to certain drug-related [groups]."
Now, having followed this for awhile, again, I don't know quite what to think of Ms. Edmonds or her story. I do know that if she has a gag order in place issued by the Attorney General, it certainly would be interesting to at least hear what she has to say. And by perpetually delaying rulings on her ability to speak (within classification boundaries, I suppose), suspicion is only elevated further.

More importantly to me, if the government hasn't been particularly forthcoming with the 9/11 Commission (which I think even the most jaded neocon could admit is probably true), then of what worth is the Commission's investigation and subsequent report that is due to be issued soon?

The thing is, given the unclassified / not-in-secret testimony we've been able to watch, I think the answer to that question is already pretty clear.