Monday, January 7, 2008

If this is true...

If this is true, it's earth-shattering.

Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator, turned whistleblower. Fluent in Turkish and Farsi, she was recruited by the FBI in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. In her capacity as a translator, she listened to thousands of hours of intercepted conversations. her employment with the agency lasted a mere six months - she was terminated after alleging that a colleague was acting to cover up illicit activity engaged in by Turkish nationals.

She has always insisted that she was fired for being outspoken and was vindicated by an Office of the Inspector General review of her case three years later. The IG investigation verified her claim, finding that one of the contributory reasons for her termination was that she had made valid complaints.

She claims that at least one well-known and high ranking State Department official has helped foreign governments obtain nuclear secrets. She charges that the official helped foreign governments place moles, mostly doctoral candidates in science, technology and engineering, into sensitive positions, including at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the security of the US nuclear stockpile. She charges that some of the moles received high-level security clearances with the help of the still-unnamed State Department official. She also makes the claim that a number of senior officials in the Pentagon had helped Israeli and Turkish agents.
She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.

“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials,” she said.

Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.

The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down, investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain’s Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations.

Edmonds has given testimony to closed sessions of congress, as well as the 9/11 Commission. Most of her testimony remains classified.

Frustrated by the lack of movement by authorities in the United States, she is trurning to the foreign press in an effort to draw some attention to the subject. “What I found was damning,” she said on record to the Times of London. “While the FBI was investigating, several arms of the government were shielding what was going on.”
In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was working for the network.

The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.

Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”

The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief.

Intercepted communications showed Ahmad and his colleagues stationed in Washington were in constant contact with attachés in the Turkish embassy.

Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.

The results of the espionage were almost certainly passed to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.

A.Q. Khan, who ran Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, became a wealthy man selling secrets to rogue states, such as Iran, North Korea and Libya. He also utilized a network of companies in Britaiin and the United States to acquire components and materiel.

Khan caused a whole lot of tresses to spontaneously combust when western intelligence agencies learned about meetings between aides to Khan and Osama bin Laden. “We were aware of contact between A Q Khan’s people and Al-Qaeda,” a former CIA officer said last week.

I have no special knowledge of Ms. Edmonds, nor her credibility, save what a 15 minute Google search reveals. What doesn't pop up if you Google "sibel edmonds" and "credibility" are a bunch of attacks against her character and her credibility. Instead you get Daniel Ellsberg and a hell of a lot of support.

And then there is all the independent corroboration. The IG finding in her favor. The CIA and FBI agents who peripherally supporting her claims.

What I do think is that there is enough "there" there to warrant a call to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees Monday morning. She has made what appear to be credible charges. Charges which demand answers.

[The Times of London states that in researching the article, representatives of the Sunday Times talked to one current and one former FBI agents, as well as two retired CIA officers who worked on nuclear proliferation issues. While none of these sources were aware of specific allegations against the officials she named, they did provide peripheral corroboration of her claims. One of the CIA agents verified that Turkey had obtained American nuclear secrests, then shared that information with Israel and Pakistan. “We have no indication that Turkey has its own nuclear ambitions. But the Turks are traders. To my knowledge they became big players in the late 1990s,” the source said.]

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