As someone who has worked extensively with translators overseas, I know how important their role is and how critical they are to the mission. When I read Sibel Edmonds’ story I was shocked but not necessarily surprised. I wasn’t surprised at the lack of professionalism that she witnessed among the staff of translators at the FBI’s counter-intelligence office, but I was shocked at how over the top, brazen, and corrupt it was.
One of my Arabic teachers at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School told us that he carried a book full of the names of Palestinian martyrs so I didn’t think I was naive about this subject. He would get a kick out of showing us Special Forces students propaganda clips from Memri TV of a Rabbi making Matzo ball soap with the blood of a young Christian boy.
Sibel Edmonds was a naturalized US citizen who got a call shortly after 9/11 to come work at the FBI and help them translate documents and catch up on their backlog, hopefully to turn up clues that would help unravel the plot behind the attacks.
We don’t know for sure what language Sibel was translating into English, the title of her book isn’t just a gimmick. The courts have ruled that where she was born, when she was born, and the languages she is fluent in are all classified as state secrets. Government officials have said she is the most Classified Woman in US history. However, we can surmise that Sibel is fluent in Turkish and probably Farsi as well having grown up in Turkey and Iran.
While simultaneously working towards a college degree, Sibel begins working as a translator at the FBI ‘s counter-intelligence office. Her hard work is quickly recognized and she gets picked up for multiple field assignments, helping exhausted FBI agents in their investigations in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
It is back at the FBI headquarters building in Washington, DC that she begins to realize that something is amiss. Classified documents are mishandled, some translators are not qualified and can barely speak English, and documents of critical importance are non-nonchalantly being stamped as being not relevant to FBI investigations.
It gets much worse when a co-worker and her husband (a Major at the Pentagon) come to visit Sibel and her husband Matthew at their home. They then proceed to “pitch” them. They want Sibel to join several Turkish-American Associations.
These are the same organizations that Sibel and her co-worker are targeting everyday at their job as translators for FBI counter-intelligence. The FBI has been investigating a dangerous group that is involved in drug trafficking and nuclear espionage with connections to Israel and worse connections to US politicians on both sides of the aisle.
It sounds very much like the plot of a dime store novel, but these are events that bring down the whole house of cards for Sibel, as they would for any honest American. A criminal network has penetrated the FBI and is actively sabotaging investigations that could threaten their operations.
When Sibel makes complaints and tries to say something to superiors she is shut down at every turn. The FBI was nothing short of hostile towards her as she tried to expose what was happening, badgering and threatening her until they finally fired her out of hand, despite passing a number of polygraphs. It was realpolitek at its most extreme and the actions of the FBI officials she attempted to report to are nothing less than treasonous.
This of course, is only half of the story. The other half is about how Sibel became a whistleblower, how the government attempted to intimidate and harass her, how her family in Turkey had their lives placed in jeopardy by the criminal network she was trying to expose, and the lengthy court battles involved.
The grisly details are not pretty, among them that the government had intelligence about Middle Easterners plotting to hijack planes in major cities and use those planes as a method of attack, months prior to 9/11 but these warnings went unheeded. Classified Woman also paints a depressing picture of our own government, our justice system, and the separation of powers.
The mainstream media didn’t want to hear her story with one or two exceptions, Congress didn’t want to get involved because the corruption she was exposing involved both parties, and the Justice Department’s Inspector General actively helped cover up the crimes they were supposed to be safeguarding against.
A lot of folks don’t like to hear about this sort of information. They call it conspiracy theory. My experience is that when someone comes to you with information, even if it is shocking, and they have a where, what, when, who, why, and how than that information needs to be taken seriously. Sibel names names. Read her book for yourself, and I think you will quickly see that she is the real deal.
If nothing else, the amazing lengths the government went to in order to shut her up tells you a lot in and of itself.
(Featured Image courtesy of Classified Woman)
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