Seeking to overcome years of gag restraints, former FBI contract translator Sibel Edmonds reportedly claimed in an Aug. 8 deposition that several leaders in Congress and other high-level U.S. officials were suspected early this decade of being bribed by Turkey's government.
Edmonds, who had been silenced by a gag order obtained by the U.S. Justice Department from a federal judge under a "state secrets" doctrine after the FBI fired her in 2002, reportedly said in her deposition that her FBI work made her aware of high-level officials and lobbyists from both parties discussed as potential bribe-takers. This account of her testimony was by Wayne Madsen, one of a handful of alternative media journalists talking to participants of the deposition held at the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund headquarters in Washington, DC. His subscription-only website cited sources who identified the suspected officials, including one in Congress allegedly trapped by a sex-sting using a prostitute. Reporter Brad Friedman of Los Angeles, who spoke by cellphone with Edmonds and several other key deposition participants, wrote a parallel "live-blog" account on his non-subscription website. His most recent story was headlined: "Deposition of Sibel Edmonds Completed, DoJ a 'No Show', Bombshells Under Oath."
More background is available on the witness's own website. Allies of Edmonds suggested that they want to release videos of her deposition as soon as possible.
I attended the first 90 minutes or so of the reporter stake-out of the deposition site, and spoke to several of the proceeding's participants as they emerged during a break. But I'll defer on substantive claims to those who stayed five and a half hours through to the end, and who have reported for years on a story seldom covered in detail except in the alternative media.
Edmonds was a contract FBI employee for about six months, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. The FBI fired her in 2002 after she complained that colleagues had produced error-prone and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Justice Department has argued as recently as this week that the witness's employment agreements forbid her from disclosing any information learned during her work. The FBI's interests include protecting sensitive investigative work regarding officials, and in maintaining good relations with the government of Turkey, an important U.S. ally in the Mideast. Turkey would be particularly sensitive regarding allegations of bribery, of course, and of allegations that the government was involved in genocide against Turkey's Armenian minority early last century. U.S. voters of Armenian descent want the U.S. to pressure Turkey to confess to genocide, which Turkey resists.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has imposed an order forbidding Edmonds from describing government secrets. Edmonds and her attorneys have maintained that her FBI agreements do not prevent her from responding to a subpoena for oral testimony, particularly as a whistleblower informing the U.S. public about important matters. Ohio Congressional candidate David Krikorian, a Democrat, subpoenaed her as part of his defense against a "false statements" complaint by U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, before the Ohio Election Commission.
Schmidt's attorney Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar and a former high-level official during the Reagan administration Justice Department, told reporters today that he objected to many responses by Edmonds during her deposition.