been almost five years now since former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds first
contacted the Senate Judiciary Committee to reveal the shocking tale of Turkish
bribery of high-level U.S. officials. In that time span, Edmonds has been
misled by members of Congress on several occasions: Numerous promises have been
made to the whistleblower by the Senate Judiciary Committee that her
allegations would be exposed in public hearings. Those promises have rung
with the Democratic victory in congressional elections, coupled with revelations that many of the
tapes she translated were probably obtained illegally through FISA warrants,
the Turkish-American translator�s case has gained new relevance. Edmonds
recently presented to Congress her petition of 15,000 individual
signatures and the support of 30 organizations, including the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), OMB Watch, Project on Government Oversight (POGO),
Government Accountability Project (GAP), People for the American Way, and the
Liberty Coalition, who have sponsored this petition and joined her campaign.
Furthermore, Edmonds has received assurances that the House Government Reform
Committee will hold hearings. And one would hope that with a very good public
servant, Henry Waxman, chairing that committee, a full public airing of Ms.
Edmonds� allegations would be a foregone conclusion.
time and time again, Congress has proven that, absent public pressure, a case
like that of Turkey�s corruption of U.S. government officials will not
automatically receive its due attention. And although the Democrats� recent
rise to power brings new hope, it won�t automatically guarantee justice. Unlike
the numerous Iraq war investigations that Waxman and other Democrats in
Congress are planning, the issues brought up by Sibel Edmonds may tarnish the
images not just of the Bush administration, but also of certain elements of the
Clinton administration. Further complicating matters is that members of both
political parties in Congress were also alleged recipients of Turkish
gratuities: When a country like Turkey decides to engage in illegal espionage
and lobbying, it spreads its funds generously. And though Edmonds�
case involves the nuclear black market, not even the potential of a nuke
reaching American soil is guaranteed to motivate our public servants,
especially when they fear some of the muck might splatter on their own party.
also recall the case of another famous whistleblower from years past to fully
understand the former FBI linguist�s dilemma. While it is well known that
Daniel Ellsberg �leaked� the Pentagon Papers to the press in order to expose
the lies used to mislead the country into the Vietnam war, what is not as well
known is the fact that Ellsberg first presented this information to
representatives of Congress -- including hallowed Democrats like William
Fulbright. According to Ellsberg, Fulbright and other Democrats in Congress
feared bureaucratic retribution from the Nixon administration and strung
Ellsberg along with promises for almost two years. It was only because of the
foot dragging by liberal Democrats that Ellsberg was finally forced to go to
the New York Times.
Edmonds� case, even the press might not be much of an option. The corporate
media has continually ignored each shocking new revelation surrounding her
tenure at the FBI. To be sure, certain outlets have touched parts of the story,
from CBS 60 Minutes� �Lost in Translation� to Vanity Fair�s �An
Inconvenient Patriot,� but I am told many other journalists have sat on
information given to them by Edmonds and others. Such information could have
blown her case wide open by now. In frustration, Sibel Edmonds has turned to
the activists and journalists on the Internet in order to build momentum for
hearings in the Congress.
correct to do so. When all is said and done, exposing Edmonds� charges and
curbing the abuse of the state secrets privilege will only happen with
grassroots pressure. Simply electing Democrats will not result in uncovering
and rooting out this kind of rank corruption in the executive branch and
Congress. Similarly, electing the right folks has not resulted in a rapid
withdrawal from Iraq. The only real hope for making these hearings happen
is to follow up on the Democratic electoral victory by holding the politicians�
feet to the fire. As Ellsberg is fond of saying, they may not see the light,
but they�ll feel the heat.
Let�s make them feel the heat.
Mike Mejia is a freelance writer with a degree
from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he specialized in
International Trade and Arms Proliferation. He currently resides in an
undisclosed location in the American Heartland and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.