Sunday, November 24, 2002

Some time ago, I posted about the whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and her testimony about foreign agents in the FBI. Due to the way in which the identity of the country who engaged the foreign agent was hidden, I guessed it was likely to be Israel (what other country would the U. S. government be so eager to protect?). Now it turns out that the country was Turkey. Turkey!? Sibel Edmonds was a wiretap translator in the Washington field office of the FBI, and was involved in translating intelligence-related wiretaps. She alleges that one of her co-workers, a contract translator of Turkish, had worked for a Turkish organization being investigated by the FBI's own counter-intelligence unit, and had a relationship with a Turkish intelligence officer stationed in Washington who was the target of that investigation. Edmonds also alleges that the co-worker tried to recruit her into that organization, and that the co-worker deliberately left out information from the translations that would have revealed that the intelligence officer had spies working for him inside the U.S. State Department and at the Pentagon! U. S. government officials asked that the name of the organization not be revealed for national security reasons. The co-worker vehemently denies the allegations, noting that they were investigated and found to be untrue. John Ashcroft has asked that the whistleblower suit be thrown out of court using the state secrets privilege in order "to protect the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States." I have a few comments:

  1. If it is Turkey, it opens up all kinds of new speculations. Turkey is an Islamic country that has never come up in investigation of September 11. Is it possible that FBI translations were interfered with in order to assist terrorism? I think that is very unlikely, as I do not see any reason for this to be kept hidden as a U. S. state secret. The other possible Turkish angle is the extremely powerful Turkish mafia, and its connections to the former Turkish government. It is possible that a Turkish official was attempting to interfere with FBI investigations of Turkish criminal activities in the United States? Has Turkey responded to the 60 Minutes report?

  2. Turkey seems odd. Note that the Washington Post article quoted Edmonds' restatement of the words of the co-worker's husband when he attempted to recruit her into this unnamed organization (I've removed some of the words the article added):

    "Are you a member of the particular organization? It's a very good place to be a member. There are a lot of advantages of being with this organization and doing things together and one of the greatest things about it is you can have an early, an unexpected, early retirement. And you will be totally set if you go to that specific country."

    Does that sound like Turkey? Does it sound like she is being offered a position in the Turkish mafia? No. I'm afraid it still sounds like Israel with its long tradition of using the Jewish residents of other countries as amateur spies (and can you think of another country caught red-handed infiltrating U. S. counter-terrorism operations that wouldn't be exposed?). Given the fact that the co-worker has apparently been investigated and has been allowed to go, and that the United States government seems determined to cover this whole issue up based on grounds of national security, is it possible that Turkey is being used as a scapegoat for the real country that was involved in infiltrating the FBI? Much of this speculation depends on the liklihood of Edmonds having ties to a particular country which would make it likely that she could be recruited as a spy. It would be insane for the co-worker or her husband to try to recruit Edmonds unless they were certain that her ethnic ties or expressed political views would mean she would not turn around and report them to the U. S. government. The fact that she did report them, and the U. S. government acted as if nothing had happened, makes the whole story look like some kind of elaborate charade.

  3. The story as it stands is very odd. We're supposed to believe that the co-worker's husband attempted to recruit Edmonds into this foreign organization, while it is the co-worker's boyfriend who was running the spy operation. The husband appears to be a very understanding guy. He is also a major in the U. S. Air Force and has been posted to Brussels (NATO?). The United States government seems remarkably unconcerned about posting a man who has been accused of assisting in an espionage plot into a position where he could possibly obtain and pass on a lot of information.

  4. Both Edmonds and the co-worker passed FBI polygraph tests!

So is the story true? Is the country involved Turkey? If it is Turkey, does this mean we should be thinking of Turkey as a country against which the U. S. has to run counter-terrorism operations? Or has the story been changed to substitute Turkey for the real country involved? Is John Ashcroft going to succeed, as he always does, in burying the truth?