News Release

Major Developments in 9/11 Whistleblower Case


There are major developments in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a government whistleblower who has stated that prior to 9/11, in April 2001, the U.S. government had information about plans for airplanes to be used on suicide missions in U.S. cities in the coming months. Her statements contradict what administration officials told the 9/11 Commission in public testimony. Edmonds has also charged that the FBI has been compromised in various ways and that her raising these issues led to her dismissal.

The Washington Post reports today on a case pertaining to Edmonds brought by the Project On Government Oversight: “The Justice Department has backed away from a court battle over its authority to classify and restrict the discussion of information it has already released, handing a local advocacy group a victory by granting it explicit permission to publish letters written by two senators that contain the contested information.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Edmonds, notes today that this “development also follows the Justice Department’s release of the full Inspector General report on Edmonds’s dismissal at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 18, at the beginning of a holiday weekend. The ACLU said that the executive summary released last month actually revealed more information than the full 106-page Inspector General report, as the bulk of it was redacted.”

Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI. After reporting security breaches, cover-ups, and blocking of intelligence, Edmonds was ultimately fired in March 2002. She said today: “This clearly shows that for three years the Department of Justice has been using capricious and illegal actions, such as gagging of the Congress, excessive and reckless secrecy and classification, and unwarranted assertion of ‘State Secrets Act’ and ‘National Security,’ not to protect our nation’s security, but only to protect themselves against accountability. … It is past time for Congress to exercise its oversight authority and bring about accountability.” Paul Silva is a press officer for the ACLU.
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Brian is the executive director of the Project On Government Oversight; Daley is the group’s communications director. Brian said today: “Our hearing scheduled for yesterday morning before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates was abruptly cancelled after the Justice Department gave up and admitted that the information it had retroactively classified could be released to the public. Last June, the Project On Government Oversight sued then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and the U.S. Justice Department for retroactively classifying information related to whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ allegations of wrongdoing in an FBI translation unit. The suit alleged that the retroactive classification was unlawful and violated POGO’s First Amendment right to free speech.”

Daley added: “The information at issue was presented by the FBI to the Senate Judiciary Committee during two unclassified briefings in 2002. The information was referenced in letters from U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to DOJ officials. The senators’ letters were posted on their Web sites but were removed after the FBI notified the Senate in May 2004 that the information had been retroactively classified.”

Daley also said: “During a June 2004 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Ashcroft defended the decision to retroactively classify the information, claiming that its further dissemination could seriously impair the national security interests of the United States, even though for more than two years the information was widely available to the public. The fact that the Justice Department gave up on the eve of the hearing shows that this information was classified for an improper purpose.”
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For further background, see the July 8, 2004, IPA news release “Ashcroft Denying 9-11 FBI Whistleblower Day in Court: A Cover-up?

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167