Ellsberg Says Sibel Edmonds Case ‘Far More Explosive Than Pentagon Papers’
‘Gagged’ FBI Whistleblower, Risking Jail, Says American Media Has Refused Her
Offer to Disclose Classified Information, Including Criminal Allegations, Information
Concerning ‘Security of Americans’
Charges Several Mainstream Publications Have Been Informed of ‘Full Story’
by Other FBI Leakers Nearly a Year Ago, Have Remained Mum…
Brad Friedman, The BRAD
“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
“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’ announce 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 alluded, 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 who she will now name to the mainstream
Edmonds has taken whistleblower her 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, several sitting Senators, both Republican
and Democratic, several senior FBI agents, the 9/11 Commission, and dozens 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 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, who 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 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 is “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 her petition, 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.”