Government Of the People, By the People, For the People!
Sibel Edmonds’ Keynote Speech at the ACLU
National Security Whistleblower Press Conference
National Press Club, Hashington, DC
January 26, 2005
As many readers know, Sibel Edmonds is the heroic FBI whistleblower who in the spring of 2004 exposed the bureau translation department’s rampant negligence, corruption, and possession of early warnings of the 9/11 attacks. For more on her subsequent FBI firing, Ashcroft gagging, and dismissal by the 9/11 Commission, clickhere
Her Speech: A few days ago, during an interview, I was asked to provide comments regarding the Inspector General’s Report into my allegations, and I was asked whether or not I agreed with the Report’s conclusion that the FBI did not take my reports and allegations seriously, although they were supported by facts, evidence, and other witnesses.
From one perspective, my answer was: yes; despite all the facts, evidence, and other witnesses, the bureau chose not to investigate the espionage case and other criminal acts committed against the United States, its people, and its national security; instead they chose to cover it up.
On the other hand, from another perspective, my answer was: No; they took my case, and their objective, which was to cover up these issues and criminal acts, extremely seriously. After all, for the past three years they have been relentlessly and in an unprecedented manner engaged in actions geared towards covering up my reports and investigations into my allegations.
Lets talk about these unconstitutional and un-American actions, shall we? Gagging the United States Congress, blocking court proceedings in my case by invoking the so-called state secrets privilege, quashing a subpoena for my deposition on information regarding 9/11, withholding documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, and preventing the release of the entire report issued by the Department of Justice-Inspector General’s office. They engaged in these relentless efforts to cover up, despite the fact that the allegations in my reports, many of which have been confirmed by the unclassified IG report, the United States Senate, and leaked memos by the Department of Justice, involve criminal conduct against our national interests, serious security breaches & espionage activities threatening our intelligence, intentional mistranslation of intelligence, and intentional blocking of certain terrorism and criminal cases related to 9/11 from being investigated.
This is not just about one case or one whistleblower. This is not just about our government’s relentless fight against me, and my information. This fight is also directed against what is known as “the public’s right to know” in our essential oversight responsibility over our government as responsible citizens. As Harry Truman stated: “When even one American — who has done nothing wrong — is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.”
This is a fight against our democracy, which cannot exist without transparency and accountability. Standing up to despotism and tyranny has always been considered illegal by those in power, and dangerous to those who would expose them. But this shouldn’t be the case here, not here in the United States of America. This shouldn’t be the case when it comes to a truly democratic government; a kind of a government we have proudly defined as, and believed to be, a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Please ask yourself: What happened to this notion of government of the people, by the people, for the people; principles upon which our democracy and governance are supposed to be built?
I also want to emphasize that these actions by our government are not geared toward protecting the ‘national security’ of the United States. On the contrary, they endanger our national security by covering up facts and information related to criminal activities against this country and its citizens.
Our government is fully aware that making this information public will bring about the question of accountability. And they do not want to be held accountable. It is for these reasons that I have been striving to get the Congress to investigate and hold its own public hearings regarding these issues.
In a letter written July 9, 2004 to the Attorney General, Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy stated: “We fear that the designation of information as classified in some of these cases serves to protect the executive branch against embarrassing revelations and full accountability.
Well, as you can see in my case, and those of many others in this room, from firing whistleblowers, to retroactively classifying public information, to using special privileges to cover up criminal acts and severe negligence, the government is taking extreme steps to shield itself from accountability while gambling with our security and interests.
Let us remind ourselves: our government does not consist of one branch, but three; this system was established to ensure checks and balances. Our Congress must fulfill the “checks and balances” responsibilities of the Constitution in the exercise of its fundamental duties. We the people have put these representatives in the Congress. We the people have given them the authority to ensure oversight, integrity, transparency, and accountability of our government and our rights. Thus, we the people have the right and the power to demand that our representatives fulfill these obligations. Today, we are doing just that. We are demanding action. We are demanding true representation. We are doing so collectively, loud, and clear.
Our Democracy cannot endure without a committed citizenry and an open government that answers to the people. Our Democracy has survived because of the participation of its citizenry, which completely depends on the government’s transparency and accountability. Today, in this room, many of us represent living cases and examples of the lack of transparency, accountability and due process in our government; thus we are reminders of endangered and diminishing democracy.
We are here to ring the wake up bell and beg you not to look the other way. We cannot go on pretending to have democracy. We cannot go on teaching the notions and principles of True American Democracy to our youngsters in their civics 101 books, when those notions and laws are no longer exercised. Currently, Freedom of Speech, Due Process, Sunshine Laws, the Freedom of Information Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and many other protections of our freedom that are written into our legislation and printed in our textbooks are only that, PRINTED WORDS.
It is long overdue that we stop pretending, that we cease denial. It is time to decide whether or not our American Democracy is worth fighting for. For three years I have been pursuing all channels, through the three branches of our government. I am continuing to pursue my court cases, seeking the due process granted to me under our Constitution, despite all attempts by our executive branch to block them via extreme measures, such as the so-called ‘State Secrets Act.’
I am continuing to appeal these issues and cases to our Congress, our representatives with oversight authority; despite their resistance to having to pursue and investigate these cases that jeopardize our security and interests. I am continuing to demand real action and formal investigation of these confirmed cases by the Department of Justice, the investigative and prosecutorial body established to protect our nation’s security and interests; despite their attempt to block and cover up these cases; to prevent them from being investigated and addressed.
I may be just a citizen, but being one gives me the responsibility and the right to do so. I am not going away. I shall not stop. Looking around in this room, I know that I am no longer alone. We have come together as citizens, determined to fulfill our obligations as citizens.