Classified Woman: A Memoir, by Sibel Edmonds, Alexandria, Va.: Sibel Edmonds, 2012, 340 pages, paperback.
Imagine that you have a Top Secret clearance and are privy to some of our country’s most sensitive national security information. In that capacity, you discover that some of the highest elected and appointed political leaders in the land are engaged in espionage and treason, accepting bribes and selling weapons and information (including nuclear weapons secrets) to foreign powers, including our enemies. Moreover, you learn that some of your co-workers are in league with these conspirators, covering up the evidence trail and misdirecting those tasked with preventing such security breaches.
Shocked at the blatant betrayals you have discovered, you do the right thing and report this to your superiors. It’s not only the morally right thing to do; you are duty-bound, oath-bound to do no less. Agency policy and federal law require you to do no less. Having done your duty, you expect that higher-ups in the chain of command will do theirs. But time passes and nothing changes. You press the matter with superiors only to be told not to “rock the boat.” But with so much at stake, you refuse to simply drop the issue and allow treason to continue unchallenged. Some colleagues are sympathetic but warn you that you are pursuing a futile course that will only bring retaliation, harassment, and even danger to you and your family. Undaunted, and with no other option, you jump rank and take the matter to the top of your agency. Action is swift, but not what you had expected. Instead of investigating and prosecuting the spies and traitors, it is you who are subjected to investigation, surveillance, harassment, threats, and intimidation.
The scenario sketched above does not even begin to describe the real-life, upside-down Twilight Zone experience of Sibel Edmonds. In her book Classified Woman: A Memoir, Edmonds recounts the incredible story of her efforts, for more than a decade, to warn her adopted country of imminent perils, only to be slapped down, harassed, smeared, and threatened. To prevent her explosive testimony from seeing the light of day, President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used (until recently) “state secrets privilege” to gag not only Edmonds, but also committees of Congress that were investigating her case, as well as the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Review.
Answering the Call to Duty
Three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sibel Edmonds received a call from FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was a desperate appeal for her to come to work for the bureau as a linguist, translating documents and audio recordings. The FBI was being inundated with new data, on top of an enormous backlog of thousands of files that had been long overdue for translation. The bureau implored Edmonds, who is of Turkish extraction and had grown up in Turkey and Iran, to assist them with her linguistic skills.
Sibel Edmonds, who is an American citizen by choice, had lived under oppressive dictatorships and had also experienced the chaos of revolution and the horror of daily terrorist attacks on civilian populations. Her adopted homeland was under attack, and she felt obligated to defend it. “Our country could use my help,” she writes. “How could I say no?”
She threw herself wholeheartedly into her new vocation. Very soon after starting as a translator at the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Edmonds distinguished herself for proficiency and professionalism. Soon she was in demand from the FBI’s offices in other parts of the country, all of which were struggling with overloads of documents and recordings to be translated and suspects to be interviewed — which also required the services of translators. She received glowing evaluations. At the same time, she also ruffled feathers. One of the first people she ran afoul of was her boss, Mike Feghali, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Lebanon, who was in charge of the FBI’s Turkic and Farsi translators. Their initial friction resulted from Feghali’s insistence that Edmonds slow down and be less efficient. He wanted the logjam to get worse, not better, to help his appeals for a larger budget, more translators, more resources, and better perks.
Sibel Edmonds recounts one conversation in which Feghali told her:
Some may consider what happened on 9/11 terrible, but we, the translators, see it as a cause to celebrate. Look at these cookies my wife baked yesterday; see, we are still celebrating the attack; this is our customary celebration cookie. Have some.
Edmonds was outraged and nauseated by his venal and avaricious attitude. Feghali also hired relatives and friends who were incompetent and unqualified. But his bureaucratic empire-building ambitions and nepotism were minor problems compared to even more serious national security issues. Feghali, it became evident, was covering for, if not openly conspiring with, at least one translator, Melek Can Dickerson, who was clearly an agent for the Turkish government and powerful Turkish lobbying groups. Melek Dickerson’s husband, Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, held a security clearance above Top Secret and was involved in military contracts with Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, including Turkey.
Treachery and Treason
Edmonds became alarmed when she came across files with important national security information that Melek Dickerson had stamped “Not Pertinent.” The files, therefore, had not been translated and passed on to the appropriate FBI agents for action.
In November 2001, her second month at the bureau, Sibel and her husband, Matthew Edmonds, received a surprise visit at their Alexandria, Virginia, home from the Dickersons. Major Dickerson, whom they had not previously met, transparently attempted to recruit them both as agents for Turkey. He mentioned his close ties to the American Turkish Council (ATC), the Assembly of American Turkish Associations (AATA), and a specific ATC operative, a “Colonel ____.” Sibel Edmonds was flabbergasted, since the ATC, the AATA, and this particular Turkish colonel were targets of interest in the intelligence she monitored for FBI Special Agent Dennis Saccher, who was in charge of the bureau’s Turkish counterintelligence. Dickerson boasted about the political connections of his Turkish “friends” and their ability to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government contracts every year for Turkish companies. The Dickersons were profiting handsomely from these connections and said they expected to retire early and live in Turkey.
The Turkish connection to international terrorism (including al-Qaeda), drug trafficking, illegal arms trafficking, money laundering, and the nuclear black market is no secret; public-source information on it is plentiful. But Sibel Edmonds had seen intelligence about this strategic NATO “ally” that was far more troubling than any published reports.
“Turkish criminal networks consist mainly of respectable-looking businessmen (some of whom are among the top international CEOs), high-ranking military officers, diplomats, politicians and scholars,” she notes. “Their U.S. counterparts are equally respected and recognized: high-level bureaucrats within the State Department and Pentagon, elected officials, or combination of the two, who now have set up their own companies, NGOs and lobbying groups.”
She continues, in Classified Woman:
Curiously, despite highly publicized reports and acknowledgements of Turkey’s role in narcotics, the nuclear black market, terrorism and money laundering, Turkey continues to receive billions in aid and assistance annually from the United States. With its highly placed co-conspirators and connections within the Pentagon, the State Department and NATO, Turkey need never fear sanctions or meaningful scrutiny.
Turkey and the newly absorbed NATO-EU countries of the former Soviet Union, along with the “stan” sister republics of Central Asia, became key incubating, training, and transit points for al-Qaeda and other jihadist terror groups.
Shooting the Messenger
Edmonds reported the Dickersons’ recruitment effort to her superiors. Nothing happened. Edmonds refused to back off. The government retaliated by leaking her name to the press — in a derogatory way of course. This not only violated her privacy, smeared her character, and broke federal law, but also endangered her life and the lives of her family members. She persisted, nevertheless, taking her case all the way to the top of the FBI, to the DOJ Inspector General, to Congress, the courts, and, finally, the major media, alternative media, and the blogosphere. Every step of the way she hit roadblocks, threats, and intimidation. The Turkish press and Turkish government branded her a “traitor,” subject to arrest, if she returned to her native land. Her relatives in Turkey were threatened and ceased all communication with her. Friends, relatives, and co-workers in the United States also abandoned her. Her phone and her e-mail account were tapped. FBI agents trailed her continuously.
When these efforts failed to derail her, the government tried the “nuclear option,” the state secrets privilege. Everything about Sibel Edmonds would be declared “classified,” a state secret. This was used to block release of the DOJ inspector general report, Edmonds’ FOIA file requests, congressional inquiries, and Edmonds’ deposition in the Motley-Rice 9/11 Families civil suit. In blocking her deposition, the government absurdly held that it would endanger national security for Edmonds to answer questions such as: When and where were you born? Where did you go to school? What languages do you speak? In what capacity have you been employed by the United States government?
“If when I was born — my birthday — is considered state secrets and classified,” Edmonds logically asks, “then how can I use my driver’s license? If where I was born — my birthplace — is considered state secrets and classified, then how can I use my passport? Does it mean I can no longer leave this country, because showing my passport to officials constitutes a breach of security?”
In May 2004, the Ashcroft Justice Department had her congressional briefings “retroactively classified” and forced members of Congress to remove documents they had posted on their websites. This has nothing to do with protecting national security, but everything to do with protecting corruption, conspiracy, and treason in government. She thus became “the most classified woman in United States history.”
The preposterousness of the government’s position is palpable. This is an effort not to protect legitimate state secrets, but to protect criminality that has prospered in secrecy for far too long. Sibel Edmonds is decidedly non-partisan in her scorn; she shows equal disdain for Republicans and Democrats who sell out their country and betray their oaths of office. She names names. Among the key players in Congress on the Turkish payroll whom she calls out: former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), former House Speaker Bob Livingston (R-La.), former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Reps. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
She points out that the executive branch treachery she encountered extended from the Clinton administration through the Bush administration — and continues into the Obama White House. Other prominent villains in this story include U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, Bush Department of Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Marc Grossman, FBI Director Robert Mueller, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tim Caruso, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Frields.
Classified Woman is a blood-boiling exposé that reads like a Robert Ludlum spy thriller. But this is not fiction, and the protagonist is not a macho Jason Bourne action hero. She is a petite, five-foot-three-inch woman of incredible courage and, seemingly, indomitable will who has stood toe-to-toe against forces of evil that have caused many other would-be patriots to wilt or cut and run. Her story is one of real-life heroism, and it is still being written. She continues to fight the good fight as founder/director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition and as editor of BoilingFrogsPost.com.
Unfortunately, most of Edmonds’ contributing editors at BoilingFrogs are decidedly left of center, and their anti-globalist, anti-war, anti-police-state arguments and analyses tend to range from the “progressive” to the Marxoid. However, when she went public and came under attack, it wasn’t Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who came to her defense; it was the anti-Bush Left that rallied to her aid. In fact, the faux conservatives at FOX, National Review, and the radio talk show universe alternately ignored and attacked her; they were busy cheerleading George W. Bush’s unconstitutional wars abroad and his unconstitutional police-state measures at home. Sympathetic coverage for Edmonds from alternative media on the Right has been woefully lacking, with a few exceptions.
In April 2011, Sibel Edmonds submitted her manuscript for Classified Woman to the FBI for review, as required by terms of her employment agreement. Under that agreement, the FBI has 30 days to approve and/or require deletions and revisions. After waiting over 340 days with no response from the bureau, Edmonds took the path that few others have taken; she published anyway. However, with every publisher afraid to touch it, she was forced to publish it on her own. She knows that any day now the Obama administration, which has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined, may come after her. And they may also scoop up all copies of the book and prohibit any future publication of it. So, get your copy now at www.ClassifiedWoman.com while it is still available. And then contact your representative and senators in Washington and demand that they stop the stonewalling, censorship, and coverup on this important case.