Sibel Edmonds case: Dennis Hastert was getting secret cash from Turks, she discovered?!


So apparently former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds processed some wiretaps that indicated House Speaker Dennis Hastert was getting huge sums of money from shadowy Turks to implement pro-Turkish policies. That's not the sort of thing that simplifies your day, assuming it's true. There's a big story in Vanity Fair about it, and a summarization via Corporate Crime Reporter. It seems exciting but I don't have any way to know if it's truly going to pan out.

Corporate Crime Reporter: "Vanity Fair: Turks Boasted of Payments to Hastert:"

Turkish officials boasted of giving “tens of thousands of dollars in surreptious payments” to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) in exchange for political favors.



That allegation is contained a profile of Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) whistleblower Sibel Edmonds in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine.


The article, “An Inconvenient Patriot,” by British writer David Rose, reports that Edmonds was asked to listen to wiretaps as part of what appeared to be an FBI public corruption probe into bribes paid to members of Congress – both Democrat and Republican.


Rose, citing “some of the wiretaps,” reports that “the FBI’s targets had arranged for tens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks.”


The article notes that under Federal Election Commission rules, “donations of less than $200 are not required to be itemized in public filings.”


The article reports that Edmonds has given confidential testimony on several occasions – to congressional staffers, to the Inspector General, and to staff from the 9/11 commission.


“Edmonds reportedly added that the recordings also contained repeated references to Hastert’s flip-flop, in the fall of 2000" to “the continuing campaign to have Congress designate the killings of Armenians in Turkey between 1915 and 1923 as genocide.”

Worth following. The ACLU, who has been helping Edmonds out, point out that this case has major ramifications for people trying to blow the whistle on crappy government practices and general nastiness (crimes?), and urges the Supreme Court to look at it:

Edmonds' case is not an isolated incident," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. "The federal government is routinely retaliating against government employees who uncover weaknesses in our ability to prevent terrorist attacks or protect public safety."

[....]The ACLU is also asking the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. appeals court's decision to exclude the press and public from the court hearing of Edmonds' case in April. The appeals court closed the hearing at the eleventh hour without any specific findings that secrecy was necessary. In fact, the government had agreed to argue the case in public. A media consortium that included The New York Times , The Washington Post , and CNN intervened in the case to object to the closure.

Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 and filed a lawsuit later that year challenging the retaliatory dismissal.

Her ordeal is highlighted in a 10-page article about whistleblowers in the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair which links Edmonds' allegations and the subsequent retaliation to possible "illicit activity involving Turkish nationals" and a high-level member of Congress. The ACLU said the article, titled "An Inconvenient Patriot," further undercuts the government's claim that the case can't be litigated because certain information is secret.

In addition, a report by the Inspector General, made public in January 2005, contains a tremendous amount of detail about Edmonds' job, the structure of the FBI translation unit , and the substance of her allegations. The report concluded that Edmonds' whistleblower allegations were "the most significant factor" in the FBI's decision to terminate her.

The outcome in Edmonds' case could significantly impact the government's ability to rely on secrecy to avoid accountability in future cases, the ACLU said, including one pending case charging the government with "rendering" detainees to be tortured.

(more ACLU stuff about the course of the case here)

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