Lost in last week’s hubbub over the media breakthroughs for 9/11 truth was the latest twist in the Sibel Edmonds saga. The FBI whistleblower last Thursday filed a court motion demanding that the federal judge hearing her First Amendment case be recused for deliberately hiding his financial background.
The judge, Reggie Walton, is also currently hearing the perjury case involving I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, former chief of staff to Dick Cheney, on allegations that Libby leaked the name of a CIA operative to the media. Edmonds is seeking to show Judge Walton is in violation of federal law (The Ethics in Government Act) because of his refusal to meet financial disclosure provisions.
A few months after September 11th, the FBI hired Edmonds as a translator for Farsi and Turkish. She says she discovered that documents already translated (and suppressed) prior to 9/11 had contained details of a pending attack on the US with airplanes. In addition, one of her colleagues attempted to recruit her as a spy for a Turkish lobbying group. When she spoke out about these experiences – and other finds suggesting corruption, money laundering and drug deals at the top levels of the US government – she was fired. Attorney General John Ashcroft slapped Edmonds with a gag order under the seldom-used State Secrets Act. In the most bizarre and Orwellian twist, Ashcroft “retroactively classified” many of the statements Edmonds had already made. This included information published in the press prior to the gag order.
Edmonds took up a long court battle for her right to speak out, but ran into Judge Walton, who has upheld the “State Secrets” provision over Edmonds’ First Amendment rights. Adding to the general feel of impropriety about the proceedings, Edmonds originally had a different judge assigned to her case at random (as per the usual procedure), only to have the hearings reassigned to Walton’s court without explanation. (The original judge, James Robertson, also held a seat on the FISA court, which he later resigned in protest over the NSA wiretapping scandal.)
The Justice Department’s inspector general ultimately determined that Edmonds’ firing was due “in part” to her whistleblowing activities. But there have been no consequences for those responsible, and her efforts to get the gag order lifted have been frustrated in court. The 9/11 Commission heard Edmonds’ story in several hours of closed-door testimony – and, typically, completely omitted it from their report, either to confirm or deny. This prompted Edmonds to write a scathing open letter to the chairman of the commission, and to take her case to the public.
As a founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, Edmonds has taken up the fight to achieve greater protection for freedom of speech and for whistleblowers. As a naturalized citizen, she is a powerful and outspoken advocate for the rights of all citizens, the rights we now see endangered. 911Truth.org has provided extensive coverage on the Edmonds case through more than a dozen stories and archived items from other sites. See the collection of past articles, below. (nl)
NATIONAL SECURITY WHISTLEBLOWERS COALITION
– PRESS RELEASE –
Federal Judge in Libby Trial
Deliberately Hides Financial Background!
Possible Violation of Federal Law Charged by FBI Whistleblower
William Weaver, Senior Advisor
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
(915) 525-0483 or (505) 216-9853
March 22, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ALEXANDRIA, VA — Today, Sibel Edmonds, Former FBI Language Specialist and a whistleblower, filed a motion in D.C. Federal Court asking for recusal of Judge Reggie Walton from her pending case filed under the Federal Tort Claim Act. Walton is also currently hearing the perjury case involving I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who is suspected of leaking the name of former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame Wilson to the media.
Edmonds motion for recusal is based on Judge Walton’s pursuit of secrecy in his required yearly financial disclosure by redacting his entire disclosure statement, his deference to secrecy in his rulings on Edmonds’ previous claims where he was the presiding judge, and the unusual operations of the case assignment system concerning Edmonds’ cases. For the recusal motion filed by Edmonds click here.
The redaction of Judge Reggie Walton’s entire Financial Disclosure Statement appears to be in violation of the Ethics in Government Act. The Ethics in Government Act requires that Federal Judges file a yearly financial disclosure statement with the U.S. Judicial Conference as a check on conflicts of interest. A disclosure may be redacted only to the extent necessary to protect the individual who filed the report and for as long as the danger to such individual exists. The Financial Disclosure Statement filed by Judge Reggie Walton in 2003 redacts all information except for the date of the filing and Walton’s name. This is highly unusual. According to a recent GAO Report, less than one percent of judges on average request complete redaction of their financial disclosure each year. For Judge Reggie Walton’s 2003 Financial Disclosure, Click Here. For the request letter sent to the U.S. Judicial Conference on March 6, 2006, asking for the release of Judge Walton’s unredacted financial disclosure statement Click Here.
In July 2004, Judge Reggie Walton disposed of Edmonds’ First Amendment case on the basis of the government’s assertion of State Secrets Privilege. On the same day as the decision, Judge Walton quashed a subpoena for Edmonds’ deposition by attorneys representing over 1,000 family members who lost love ones during the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In limiting the deposition in the case, Burnett et al. v. Al Baraka Investment & Development Corp., Judge Walton prevented the 9/11 attorneys from asking a majority of the proposed questions related to the attacks. These included even the most mundane questions, such as:
- When & where were you born?
- Where did you go to school?
- What languages do you speak?
- What did you focus your studies on in school?
- In what capacity have you been employed by the United States Government?
The convoluted route the Edmonds’ case has taken to Judge Reggie Walton’s courtroom appears suspicious and creates the perception that the system has been manipulated. Edmonds’ First Amendment case, filed in July 2002, was assigned to Judge James Robertson who recently resigned from the FISA Court in protest of warrantless NSA eavesdropping. In February 2003, Edmonds’ case was removed from Judge Robertson and reassigned to Judge Walton with no explanation provided. Edmonds filed a motion to request the case to be transferred from Judge Walton, and be assigned to Judge Ellen Huvelle who had been presiding over Edmonds’ related FOIA case since July 2002. The court granted Edmonds’ request and transferred her case to Judge Huvelle. However, two days later, Edmonds’ case was removed from Judge Huvelle and reassigned to Judge Walton with no further information or reason provided. On July 6, 2004, Judge Walton granted the government’s motion to dismiss based on the assertion of the State Secrets Privilege.
In March 2005, Edmonds filed in D.C. Federal Court a separate claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and the case was randomly assigned to Judge James Robertson. However, five days later, Edmonds’ claim was removed from Judge Robertson and reassigned to Judge Reggie Walton. This set of facts reveals apparent violations of local rules governing the assignment of cases.
Sibel Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI’s Washington Field Office. During her work with the bureau, she discovered and reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Since that time, court proceedings on her issues have been blocked by the assertion of ‘State Secret Privilege’ andthe Congress of the United States has been gagged and prevented from any discussion of her case through retroactive re-classification by the Department of Justice.
In January 2005, the Justice Department’s Inspector General vindicated Edmonds’ claims when it declared that many of her charges “were supported by other witnesses and documents, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”
Judge Reggie Walton was nominated to his position as a United States District Court of Columbia Judge in October 2001 by President George W. Bush. He served as President George H. W. Bush’s Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President and as President Bush’s Senior White House advisor for Crime.
About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation’s security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation’s borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement.
For more on NSWBC visit www.nswbc.org
Sibel Edmonds articles at 911Truth.org:
Edmonds still silenced, but why?, Dec 17, 2004
ACLU steps into Edmonds case & defense, Jan 12, 2005
IG Report slams FBI, vindicates Edmonds, Jan 15, 2005
NSWBC Calls for New Whistleblower Protections, Jan 16, 2006
Sibel Edmonds Interview with Alex Jones, Jan 19, 2006
Government Of the People, By the People, For the People! Sibel Edmonds’ Keynote Speech at ACLU National Security Whistleblower Press Conference, National Press Club, Washington, DC, Jan 26, 2005
Court Won’t Let Public Hear What Edmonds Has to Say (James Ridgeway, Village Voice) April 21, 2005
“Gagged, But Not Dead” by Sibel Edmonds, May 14, 2005