- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

A group of whistleblowers and relatives of September 11 attack victims will begin a campaign this week in support of fired FBI translator Sibel Edmonds.

The group says it is alarmed by increasingly aggressive administration efforts to suppress public discussion of problems inside the nation’s security and intelligence agencies.

Six September 11 family groups have filed friend of the court briefs supporting Miss Edmonds’ case against the Justice Department, said Anne Beeson, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, adding that it was the first time the groups had directly joined a whistleblower case.

“The families want accountability,” Miss Beeson said. “They want to know what went wrong and if it’s been fixed.” For that, she added, a proper airing of the Edmonds case was essential.

“The administration says secrecy is necessary to protect the country. … But ironically, in a number of different contexts, we’ve seen them use secrecy to hide their own blunders” or mismanagement in the national security arena, Miss Beeson said.

Miss Edmonds’ suit says she was fired in retaliation for bringing to light problems in the FBI’s translation unit. Miss Edmonds — who was a contract employee of the unit hired in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks — reported widespread incompetence, sloppy handling of classified materials and a serious counterintelligence vulnerability on the part of a colleague.

She went to congressional oversight committees after her complaints to FBI management were not addressed. After she was fired, and after officials had acknowledged in congressional briefings that many of her accusations were true, she took her story to the press.

Justice Department officials repeatedly have declined to comment on the case, but an inspector general’s report last year found that retaliation was “at least a contributing factor in why the FBI terminated her services.”

The report was classified, but an unclassified version was released earlier this month.

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