Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

WHISTLEBLOWING....Remember Sibel Edmonds? She's the FBI translator who charged the FBI with incompetence in the wake of 9/11 and was then fired. When she sued, the FBI said the case couldn't be brought to trial because it would involve divulging "state secrets." They've refused to release the documents that were the basis of an unclassified congressional briefing in which they admitted that much of what Edmonds said was true, and they even went so far as to try to reclassify letters that two senators had written to them and posted on their websites.

Via Melanie Mattson, it appears the FBI has partially thrown in the towel:

Last week the Bureau withdrew its claim about the congressional briefings. "We have stated that the information in those (letters from Sens. Leahy and Grassley) is ... not classified," Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller told United Press International Tuesday evening.

He declined to say what effect this might have on the department's assertion of the "state secrets privilege" but added that the department's lawyers would be filing papers in the case on Thursday that might make its position clearer.

OK, it's not much. Really, all they're doing is admitting that they can't reclassify stuff they've already released publicly. But it's a start. And since Edmonds claims that she was told to work slowly and build up a backlog of work (in order to justify funding increases); that completed translations were erased from her computer; that the Bureau hired translators who could barely speak English; and that they hired at least one translator who was working for a Turkish organization under investigation by....the FBI well, it's a pretty good guess that embarrassment and ass covering are more at issue here than state secrets. More background here from a 60 Minutes segment aired last year.

Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 4:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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