By ROGER FULTON
Sibel Edmonds. A common household name, right? Not in America, it isn’t.
Sibel Edmonds. You’ve seen her story all over the news, right? Not in America, you haven’t.
But if you lived in France, or Great Britain, or Australia, or many other places, it’s highly likely you would have heard about FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.
I first learned of Sibel Edmonds’ story in October 2002, from a 60 Minutes interview in which it was reported: “This is the story of hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign language documents that the FBI neglected to translate before and after the Sept. 11 attacks — documents that detailed what the FBI heard on wiretaps and learned during interrogations of suspected terrorists. Sibel Edmonds, a translator who worked at the FBI’s language division, says the documents weren’t translated because the division was riddled with incompetence and corruption.”
I was stunned then, and over the years as more details about Edmonds’ story have been revealed, I’ve been shocked and dismayed by how little coverage it has received in the U.S. media. A documentary is now available that pulls the pieces of Edmonds’ story together in a way that has not been done before.
“Kill the Messenger” explores the abuses behind the State Secrets Privilege as invoked in Sibel Edmonds’ case as well as highlights the travails and persecution of U.S. national security whistleblowers. This film has been featured in prime time in France, Belgium and Australia, but don’t expect to see it on American television anytime soon — if ever.
The filmmakers spent nearly two years interviewing witnesses and researching Edmonds’ case.
Based on their documented findings and interviews with experts, the film presents a terrifying picture of Turkish networks’ trafficking activities in narcotics, illegal arms and the global nuclear black market — activities made possible thanks to highly placed co-conspirators and connections within the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Congress. The film examines the extraordinary efforts of officials within the U.S. government to ensure that the secrecy surrounding Edmonds’ case be maintained at any cost — from her termination from the FBI, to invoking the State Secrets Privilege, to gagging the U.S. Congress.
Here is what others have to say about Sibel Edmonds and the documentary, “Kill the Messenger.”
Official publicity for “Kill the Messenger”:
Out of love for her newly adopted country (Edmonds, an ethnic Azerbaijani, became a U.S. citizen in 1996), Sibel Edmonds agreed to join the FBI as a translator in the wake of 9/11. But her world gets turned upside-down when Sibel reports wrongdoings to her supervisors: one of her colleagues from the Translation Unit is secretly working for the same Turkish officials who are “targeted” by the top-secret FBI investigations that Sibel is working on. As a “reward” for her whistle-blowing, Sibel is fired from the FBI.
Today, she is fighting for the very ideals that American democracy relies on, and is facing, against overwhelming odds, some of the most reckless and powerful officials in the U.S. government. Sibel has granted a film crew full and exclusive access to document her story and her struggle. “Kill the Messenger” is a true spy story about the only American citizen who dared stand up to the FBI in an attempt to expose the truth on some specific yet hidden aspects of today’s “War on Terror” and give the American people the protection and security the U.S. government has failed to provide.
ACLU: Sibel Edmonds is “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.”
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA): “Absolutely, she’s credible. And the reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.”
Daniel Ellsberg: “What Sibel Edmonds has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers. What she has to tell deals directly with criminal activity and may involve impeachable offenses. And I don’t necessarily mean the president or the vice-president, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the information reached up that high. But other members of the executive branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress.”
Report, Inspector General, Department of Justice: “We believe that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”
I’m very excited about sharing this documentary. I’ve been itching for an opportunity to show it so that the story it tells can become better known, and so that more people can take action to help spread Sibel’s story. When Sibel Edmonds signed on after 9/11 to be a much-needed translator, all she wanted to do was to serve her country. The story she has to tell needs to be told fully. Those involved in silencing her, as well as those whose criminal activities Sibel has knowledge of, must face justice. The U.S. Congress must conduct complete, public hearings into what Sibel knows. Sibel must be ungagged.
— Roger Fulton is president of the Vashon-Maury Island Democratic Club.
Documentary to air on Vashon
“Kill the Messenger” will play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Land Trust Building. A donation of $2 to $5 is suggested. Prior to the screening, the original “60 Minutes” interview of Edmonds will be shown, as well as a 2004 interview with her on “Democracy Now!” Altogether, those pieces total 85 minutes. A discussion will follow the film.