November 9, 2007 at 11:02:41
Sibel Edmonds Case: the untellable story of AIPAC
by Luke Ryland
Last week, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, announced that she was willing to tell everything that she knows if any of the major networks are willing to give her airtime, without airbrushing the essence of her case. Bradblog will have an update on the progress, or lack of it, next week.
Of course, Sibel would prefer to testify under oath in congress, but apparently our Democratic Congresscritters (I'm looking at you, Waxman) don't care about the treason, bribery, and corruption that has hijacked US foreign policy.
Meanwhile, last week we learnt that the judge in the AIPAC case has allowed subpoenas to be issued to 15 current and former high-level officials. Many of us are excited about the prospect of the trial - but Sibel assures us that the case, as it stands, is just the tip of the iceberg.
'AIPAC' is at the core of Sibel's case, and Sibel's story needs to be heard - either in Congress, or in the media.
Those of you who have been following Sibel's case will be familiar with the American Turkish Council (ATC) - the 'mini-AIPAC' that (ostensibly) exists to promote Turkey's military interests in the US.
As it happens, the ATC is a creation of AIPAC (and other Israeli lobbying interests) - and there is significant overlap in the membership, goals and activities of both AIPAC and the ATC. This is perhaps not surprising given the long-standing tri-lateral military (and military 'defense' spending) relationship between the three countries. In fact, Sibel refers to AIPAC and the ATC as 'sister organizations.'
Not only were the ATC and AIPAC 'sister organizations,' they also had something else in common: there have been 'sister investigations' into both organizations. And of course, both investigations uncovered serious criminality at the highest levels of the US administration - Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.
Sibel described the overlap in thiswith Antiwar's Chris Deliso in 2005:
SE: Look, I think that that [the AIPAC investigation] ultimately involves more than just Israelis – I am talking about countries, not a single country here. Because despite however it may appear, this is not just a simple matter of state espionage. If (Patrick) Fitzgerald and his team keep pulling, really pulling, they are going to reel in much more than just a few guys spying for Israel.
CD: A monster, 600-pound catfish, huh? So the Turkish and Israeli investigations had some overlap?
SE: Essentially, there is only one investigation – a very big one, an all-inclusive one. Completely by chance, I, a lowly translator, stumbled over one piece of it.
But I can tell you there are a lot of people involved, a lot of ranking officials, and a lot of illegal activities that include multi-billion-dollar drug-smuggling operations, black-market nuclear sales to terrorists and unsavory regimes, you name it. And of course a lot of people from abroad are involved. It's massive. So to do this investigation, to really do it, they will have to look into everything.
CD: But you can start from anywhere –
SE: That's the beauty of it. You can start from the AIPAC angle. You can start from the Plame case. You can start from my case. They all end up going to the same place, and they revolve around the same nucleus of people. There may be a lot of them, but it is one group. And they are very dangerous for all of us.
In 2004, Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel and Jonathon Landaythat the 'AIPAC case' was much more serious than anything that has seen the light of day so far:
"Several U.S. officials and law-enforcement sources said yesterday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go well beyond the Franklin matter.
FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon and State Department officials on the probe. Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch Feith's office.
They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case for war against Iraq.
"The whole ball of wax" was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry."
Keep in mind that the FBI operation against AIPAC et al goes back to at least 1999 - so they were watching all of the relevant characters throughout this period. In fact, you'll note that Strobel refers to "the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities" - apparently the Pentagon, particularly Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans, was itself the 'target' of the investigation.
Investigations shut down.
What happened to that Pentagon investigation? Why aren't Doug Feith, Richard Perle and others in prison? I can only presume that this particular investigation was shut down, just like so many other investigations into these criminals.
In a recentSibel described some cases that were shut down. The case referred to in this excerpt is apparently an Israeli counter-intelligence case:
"There are other cases we are not hearing about that I'm aware of that have to do with similar cases, maybe having to do with other countries. For example, again this is another relevant case, an outside case, the Larry Franklin case, with the espionage case that they pursued with AIPAC. And what the American public doesn't know is the fact that there were other counter-intelligence operations within the FBI that obtained far more information not only limited to Mr. Franklin, that were similarly shut down in 2000 and 2001 because they ended up going to higher levels and involving maybe way too many people, US persons. I'm talking about individuals who are breaking the law, misusing the trust and abusing their power, and in some cases I would even say engaging in treason."
And here Sibel describes the same thing taking place within Turkish counter-intelligence:
Now the same thing was about to take place with Turkish counter-intelligence. In the main portion of the documented - wiretapped or paper - operations that I translated verbatim (not only for the Washington Field Office but also for the Chicago and New Jersey offices), they were obtained before 2001. If we were to put a date on it you're looking at end of 1996 to 2001. Now, in 1998 and 1999, there were so many pieces of evidence of U.S. individuals' involvement. We're talking about people with official positions, whether they were in the State Department or the Pentagon or the U.S. Congress that forced the Justice Dept, and the good agents who did the right thing, they started a parallel investigation that targeted these individuals who were possibly committing acts of treason.
However, as I was told by first-source agents I was working with, this was put on hold in 1999 because President Clinton was then going through the Lewinsky scandal. After the current administration came into power and after I was working there, the agents were told to shut down.
Sibel isn't the only person who claims that investigations like this have been shut down. For example, in Kill The Messenger, ex-CIA agent Phil Giraldi says:
All of these people (Richard Perle, Doug Feith) have been investigated by the FBI at one point or another for passing secret information to Israel. In no cases, were any of them convicted. The prosecutions were dropped... in my opinion because of political pressure not to get into this kind of case that involves Israel and espionage.
Similarly, Laura Rozen and Jason Vest reported in Prospect:
"Since the Pollard case, U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement sources have revealed to the Prospect that at least six sealed indictments have been issued against individuals for espionage on Israel's behalf. It's a testament to the unique relationship between the United States and Israel that those cases were never prosecuted; according to the same sources, both governments ultimately addressed them through diplomatic and intelligence channels rather than air the dirty laundry. A number of career Justice Department and intelligence officials who have worked on Israeli counterespionage told the Prospect of long-standing frustration among investigators and prosecutors who feel that cases that could have been made successfully against Israeli spies were never brought to trial, or that the investigations were shut down prematurely."
Sibel often makes the same point. The FBI agents in the field are doing a great job,:
The people who made that decision (to shut down the investigation) were not the Justice Department or the FBI, and that's what I try to emphasize all the time - they were pressured, they were forced by higher-up forces within the Pentagon and the State Department.
That is, the guilty parties at the Pentagon and State Dept have the power to stomp on investigations into their own illegal activities. And as Sibel says, these people were involved in criminal activity, not just simple state-based espionage.
As reported in Vanity Fair:
"In fact, much of what Edmonds reportedly heard seemed to concern not state espionage but criminal activity. There was talk, she told investigators, of laundering the profits of large-scale drug deals and of selling classified military technologies to the highest bidder."
Once we understand that simple fact, this report from Washington Post makes more sense:
"Reports on the investigation have baffled foreign policy analysts and U.S. officials because the Bush administration and the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon already cooperate on intelligence matters and share policy views. Despite some rocky moments, the relationship has been among the United States' closest in both policy and intelligence sharing since Israel was founded almost six decades ago."
Current AIPAC case
As I've demonstrated, the current 'AIPAC' case involving Keith Weissman and Steve Rosen receiving information from Larry Franklin barely scratches the surface of the underlying crimes that these investigations have yielded, and even this very limited case may never see the light of day. In an apparent greymail attempt, the defense has called 15 current and former government officials to testify - including Condi Rice, Douglas Feith, Stephen Hadley, Elliott Abrams and Richard Armitage. In fact, in Judge Ellis' opinion last week, he gave the admistration this offer ultimatum:
"The government's refusal to comply with a subpoena in these circumstances may result in dismissal or a lesser sanction"
Surely the administration won't refuse that offer ultimatum.
There was, however, one interesting piece of news in the judge's ruling last week. In footnote 8, page 7, Judge Ellis wrote
"The government does not object to the issuance of subpoenas to Franklin, Satterfield, Pollack, or Makovsky."
JTA, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,, without elaboration, that:
"The government did not raise objections to the four subpoenas for officials who were identified in the indictment."
If this is correct, then one of the mysteries of the case has apparently (nearly) been solved. In the original indictment, the unindicted co-conspirators were addressed using codewords. We now know that Ken Pollack was USGO-1, David Satterfield was USGO-2 but we didn't know the identities of two others: "DoD employee A" and "DoD employee B."
"DoD employee A" played the trivial, and quite possibly innocent, role of telling Rosen that Larry Franklin was an expert on Iran. On the other hand, "DoD employee B" was a willing participant in at least one espionage-related meeting with Rosen, Weissman and Franklin.
Michael Makovsky, one of Larry Franklin's co-workers at the OSP is apparently either "DoD employee A" or "DoD employee B." If he is "DoD employee B," why hasn't he been indicted?
One Remaining Mystery
Given all this history, the one remaining mystery is how on earth this current 'AIPAC' trial has come as far as it has. Laura Rozen and Jason Vest reported:
This history (of shutting down investigations) had led to informed speculation that the FBI — fearing the Franklin probe was heading toward the same silent end — leaked the story to CBS to keep it in the public eye and give it a fighting chance.
Three and a half years later, it appears that the fight is over. Larry Franklin has pled guilty, but even if the AIPAC case goes forward, most of the underlying crimes, and most of the criminal perpetrators, will go unpunished.
One Last Chance
Sibel has evidence of the underlying crimes. She knows who the criminals are. She wants to testify under oath in Congress but the spineless Democrats, particularly Henry Waxman, want her to keep quiet about these issues.
In an act of desperation, Sibel has bravely offered to tell all, at great personal (both legal and physical) risk, if one of the major networks will air her story. Given the history, Sibel's offer is the only chance we'll have to hear any of these remarkable allegations.
Waxman can be contacted in DC:(202)225-3976 and LA:323 651-1040. The toll free Capitol switchboard number is 800-828-0498. See if you can shame him into doing something.
The blog We Can Change The World has put together a(with contact details) of journalists and media outlets that have (partially) covered Sibel's story in the past. If you contact those journalists, perhaps they'll be willing to at least write about Sibel's offer - which might put pressure on either Waxman or one of the networks to actually take up the offer.
— Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG
"I'd say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers," Daniel Ellsberg told us in regard to former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.
"From what I understand, from what she has to tell, it has a major difference from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and may involve impeachable offenses," Ellsberg explained. "And I don't necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn't be surprised if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive Branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress."
The BRAD BLOG spoke recently with the legendary 1970's-era whistleblower in the wake of our recent exclusive, detailing Edmonds' announcement that she was prepared to risk prosecution to expose the entirety of the still-classified information that the Bush Administration has "gagged" her from revealing for the past five years under claims of the arcane "State Secrets Privilege."
Ellsberg, the former defense analyst and one-time State Department official, knows well the plight of whistleblowers. He himself was prepared to spend his life in prison for the exposure of some 7,000 pages of classified Department of Defense documents concerning Executive Branch manipulation of facts and outright lies leading the country into an extended war in Vietnam.
Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today's American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations.
As Edmonds has also noted, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who "sat on the NSA spying story for over a year" when they "could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome."
"There will be phone calls going out to the media saying 'don't even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,'" he told us.
"I have been receiving calls from the mainstream media all day," Edmonds recounted the day after we ran the story announcing that she was prepared to violate her gag-order to disclose all of the national security-related criminal allegations she has been kept from disclosing for the past five years.
"The media called from Japan and France and Belgium and Germany and Canada and from all over the world," she told The BRAD BLOG.
"But not from here?" we asked incredulously.
"I'm getting contact from all over the world, but not from here. Isn't that disgusting?" she shot back.
An Iranian-born American citizen, the linguistics expert Edmonds has been described by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as "the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America" since filing her original complaints at the FBI, where she had been hired in late 2001 to translate a backlog of pre-9/11 wiretaps.
She has previously indicated a litany of criminal corruption, malfeasance, and cover-ups concerning the penetration of the FBI and Departments of State and Defense by foreign agents in senior positions; influence-peddling and bribery by shadowy Turkish interests throughout the U.S. government over several administrations; undisclosed information related to 9/11; including alleged illegal activities of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and, most recently, two other "well-known" members of Congress whom she will now name to the mainstream media.
Edmonds has taken her whistleblower case all the way to the Supreme Court. She, and her allegations, have been confirmed as both serious and extremely credible by the FBI Inspector General, , both Republican and Democratic, several senior FBI agents, the 9/11 Commission, and of national security and whistleblower advocacy groups. She was even offered the possibility of public hearings on these matters by the Chairman of the U.S. House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, after briefing his staff in a special high-security area of the U.S. Capitol reserved for the exchange of classified information.
All while she was unable to violate the yoke of the unprecedented use of the arcane "States Secrets Privilege," invoked by the DoJ in such a draconian fashion that she is still "gagged" from disclosing even innocuous personal details such as her date of birth.
After five years of being vetted and investigated, with a great deal of her allegations having leaked out via others sources and confirmed by myriad sources, her publicly undisclosed claims would appear to be as credible —- and as critically serious to national security —- as those of any whistleblower in the history of the nation.
After bringing her charges to the FBI, Congress, and the nation's highest court —- all of whom failed to take action or legitimately pursue her claims —- she now feels "obligated" to share the information with the American public. But the American Mainstream Media are apparently unwilling to air it.
Three weeks ago, she told The BRAD BLOG she had "exhausted every channel" and was prepared to "let them see how far they're going to get [by bringing] criminal charges against someone who divulges criminal activity." She was ready to disclose all.
Her "promise to the American public" at the time: "If anyone of the major networks —- ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX —- promise to air the entire segment, without editing, I promise to tell them everything that I know."
"I don't think any of the mainstream media are going to have the guts to do it," she told us. We didn't believe that could be the case. Surely, we thought, loads of folks in the mainstream broadcast media would jump at the chance for such an explosive exclusive. 60 Minutes, after all, had re-run their initial story on her, including interviews with her, Senators Grassley and Leahy, and several FBI agents, not once, but twice!
It turns out, however, that she was correct. So far.
"How Do We Deal With Sibel?"
"I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to 'How do we deal with Sibel?'" contends Ellsberg. "The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn't get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told 'don't touch this, it's communications intelligence.'"
Edmonds, who founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), contends that she's very sensitive to matters of national security and would never reveal information that could put the country at risk.
"I am not about to expose any methods of intelligence gathering. I am not going to expose any ongoing investigations, or even any investigations that may be ongoing," she told us, explaining that all relevant investigations about which she has information were long ago shut down by the government.
"I am not going to name any informant's name. I am not going to jeopardize any ongoing intelligence. Anything I'm going to be talking about, I know they are investigations that have been shut down by January and February of 2002."
"I am Obligated"
When it comes to the sort of Executive Branch classification of information that's been used to stop Edmonds from revealing alleged criminal culpability, she contends it is the government, not she, that is violating the law.
Legally and constitutionally, she asserts, such classification "may not be used to cover up illegal criminal activities with consequences to public health, security, safety and welfare. It cannot be used to cover up illegal activities."
"The reason I went to Congress, the reason I went to the IG, all of this, is that I was obligated to do so. Because they are covering up illegal activities that effect the public health, security and welfare."
"I am obligated," she repeated again.
Ellsberg agrees. "What is involved in protecting Executive Branch crimes, the duty is to protect the law and to uphold and defend the Constitution. Though most don't understand that and they see loyalty to their boss and their party and their secrecy agreement as more important."
"They'll never get in trouble for that," he emphasized. "But they'll get in a lot of trouble if they are truthful to their oath to defend the Constitution."
Whether Edmonds will ever get that opportunity remains unclear.
Why Not YouTube It?
"When you have a publication like Vanity Fair, running a piece and naming someone like Dennis Hastert [as being allegedly involved in bribery by shadowy Turkish interests involved in narcotics trafficking] and nothing happens with it, you think they are going to pay attention to YouTube?" Edmonds explained when we asked why she didn't release the information herself as a video on the Internet.
Readers around the web have asked the same question in the wake of our previous story, which climbed to the top ranks of most linked and recommended at a number of Internet sites such as Digg.com, Reddit.com, DailyKos and others.
"Listen, I'm willing to have these people come after me with a prosecution —- they [the media] should be willing to do their part."
"This is the biggest risk that a citizen has ever taken...I guess, after Ellsberg...And I know why he did that with the New York Times," she explained referring to his giving thousands of pages of documents to the paper, who, at the time, went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for their right to publish them, as they eventually did.
"What about the BBC? Would you do that?," we asked.
"Why am I going on BBC? This is about this country! This is about this country, and more of America needs to know the true face of the mainstream media," she exclaimed.
"The only way they got away with it was because of the mainstream media. They are the biggest culprit for the state of our country. Whether it's Iraq, or torture or the NSA wiretapping —- which the New York Times sat on for over a year! —- these people are the real culprit."
There were some "nibbles," as she called them. A producer from CBS Evening News had contacted The BRAD BLOG within hours of publishing our previous story, asking for Edmonds' contact information to forward to 60 Minutes producers. Nothing has come of it so far.
ABC News also inquired. Despite allowing presidents and other officials to make previously undisclosed claims on live programs such as This Week and others, they declined to extend the same opportunity to Edmonds. That, despite dozens of high-ranking officials, elected and otherwise, who have heard her claims over the years and repeatedly declared them to be exceedingly credible and meriting serious investigation.
What about Kieth Olbermann? Surely he'd pick up this story! A producer at MSNBC's Countdown —- perhaps the outlet most often suggested to us as likely willing to interview her —- expressed interest during multiple inquiries we'd made to them. Each time, the promise was made to call us back with on the record information on whether they would do the interview, and if not, why not. They never called us back.
Edmonds' phone was "ringing off the hook" for requests for interviews from independent radio shows. Ours was too, and our email inbox yielded dozens of similar requests.
But Edmonds has been clear: "I'm gonna do one major interview" to tell all of the 'states secret' information. "Afterwards, I'll do the others. But this is gonna be one round, give it all and say 'here it is.'"
The ground rules seem fair enough. She is risking being rushed off to prison after all.
"Setting Records for Shamelessness"
The mainstream media are "shameless," Ellsberg says; so is Congress, so is Bush.
"He's setting records for shamelessness. He should probably be in the Guinness Book of Records. He doesn't care what he says. And the media is shameless as well, as they'll run anything he says. And Congress is pretty shameless as well. You can't really shame these people."
Without mainstream corporate media attention, Ellsberg contends, Edmonds' story will stay off the radar, and her damaging contentions will do no harm to the powers that be.
"She's not going to shame the media, unless the public are aware that there is a conflict going on. And only the blog-reading public is aware of that. It's a fairly large audience, but it's a small segment of the populace at large."
Unless her claims reach the mainstream, he says, "they don't suffer any risk of being shamed. As long as they hold a united front on this, they don't run the risk of being shamed."
They Already Know
Edmonds revealed an additional tasty morsel while wrapping up one of our recent conversations. One that might help explain the American media's reluctance to jump at the chance for a scoop: apparently many of them already know the story.
"I will name the name of major publications who know the story, and have been sitting on it —- almost a year and a half."
"How do you know they have the story?" we asked.
"I know they have it because people from the FBI have come in and given it to them. They've given them the documents and specific case-numbers on my case."
"These are agents that have said to me, 'if you can get Congress to subpoena me I'll come in and tell it under oath.'"
Yet, despite promises she says she had received from staffers in Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) office to hold hearings once he became chairman of the House Oversight Committee, they no longer respond to her. "The only reason they couldn't hold hearings [previously]," they'd told her, "was because the Republicans were blocking it."
They're not blocking it anymore. Ever since the Democrats have taken control of the House. Nonetheless, there are still no plans for hearings. Even with more than 30,000 people having signed, calling on Waxman to do so.
A spokesperson from his office finally replied to our repeated requests for comment on why they had not yet held hearings on Edmonds' case.
We were told only that there are no hearings currently scheduled on her case. Repeated attempts to gather a more specific explanation or confirmation that the office had previously promised hearings yielded the same answer, and nothing more. No hearing is presently scheduled on the matter.
"It's disgusting," Edmonds said about the broken promises. "They won't do it anymore. It's disgusting."
"This is criminal activity. That's why I went to Congress, to the Courts, to the [FBI] IG. I am obligated to do so. And that's what I've been doing since 2002."
"By not doing so, someone should charge me for not coming forward to say something about this," she continued.
"If they come after me...when they come after me —- to indict me, to bring charges —- it's going to be up to the American public to see it's not about some bogeyman in some Afghanistan cave. It's about an American citizen coming forward to expose information that concerns the security of Americans."
"An American citizen is coming forward to say that, no, they are depriving you of your security."
Ellsberg says there's a reason that the Government, and both political parties, would rather not deal with something as explosive as Sibel's charges. Much like his own case, when the Republican Nixon administration fought against publication of the Pentagon Papers even though they were bound to embarrass the Democratic Johnson administration far more than Nixon's.
"It involves our allies in various places in the Middle East. It involves our allies in Turkey and in Afghanistan and involves people in our Congress and our State Department," he says.
Yes, Israel, and the extremely powerful AIPAC lobby which supports both parties, is said to be involved as well.
"There's no way that the President and Vice-President can escape culpability in this case," Ellsberg charges. "If they claim they don't know about it, then they are culpable in not knowing about it, and that's impeachable right there."
Just as Ellsberg had hoped in 1971, and later encouraged others over the years, Edmonds remains hopeful that somehow, in telling her story —- if she will be allowed tell her story —- it will help others to step forward and do the same.
"Maybe it'll cause other whistleblowers at NSA, FBI...to see that they should come forward and tell what they know," she said in a telephone interview yesterday. "We haven't been seeing them come forward. Maybe it takes just one person to see what's going to happen."
"For now, as you can see," she added, "the fear tactics have worked."