Un-Gagged: FBI Whistleblower Testifies in Armenian Genocide Case


Sibel Edmonds arrives at the National Whistleblowers Center on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Greg Nash/Mirror-Spectator

Sibel Edmonds arrives at the National Whistleblowers Center on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Greg Nash/Mirror-Spectator

By Thomas C. Nash
Mirror-Spectator Staff
WASHINGTON — A high-profile Ohio election fraud case revolving around the Armenian Genocide now includes the testimony of an ex-FBI translator who claims the US government maintained a relationship with Osama Bin Laden until September 11, 2001.

Sibel Edmonds, who was recruited by the FBI as a Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani translator immediately after the September 11 attacks, was fired in 2002 after raising questions about the Turkish government’s influence on US officials and illegal activities involving drug and arms smuggling, money laundering and the sale of nuclear secrets.

The election complaint, stemming from accusations that an Ohio Republican House member took “blood money” from the Turkish government in exchange for denying the Armenian Genocide, has given Edmonds a chance to outline her knowledge of what she says are treasonous acts committed by Congressional, Defense and State Department officials to aid the Turkish government.

Edmonds has been fighting a “state secrets” gag order imposed in 2002 by former Attorney General John Ashcroft to stymie her efforts to make the information public. The Ohio case has provided Edmonds a chance to defy that gag order after being given permission to testify by the Ohio Elections Commission.

Edmonds gave a six-hour deposition at the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) on August 8.

“Every time I have attempted to [use the Freedom of Information Act], it’s ended up in court,” Edmonds said before the testimony. “I’ve been trying to put this information forth to the American people. This deposition may achieve this goal to a certain degree.”

‘Blood Money’

Edmond’s deposition was sought by Democratic Ohio Congressional candidate David Krikorian, who has been charged with making false statements during a 2008 campaign for Ohio’s 2nd district seat against Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt.

Schmidt took issue with the then-independent Krikorian campaign’s distribution of a flyer stating she had taken $30,000 in “blood money” to “deny the genocide of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks” as co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus.

While Schmidt, a four-year incumbent, won the election by a wide margin, Krikorian contends she filed a “false claims” complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission in April after learning that he was seeking the Democratic nomination as her opponent in 2010.

Krikorian, who two days before the 2008 election demanded Schmidt withdraw from the race and recommend she “seek the help of professional counseling,” said Edmonds’ testimony will prove Schmidt is unduly influenced by the Turkish government.

“There are no Turkish interests in this district,” Krikorian said after the deposition. “Who’s pulling her strings and why is she allowing it to happen? She lives in the greater Cincinnati area. Why was she the single largest recipient of Turkish PAC money in the 2008 campaign?”

After hearing Edmonds’ accusations, Krikorian said he now wonders whether Schmidt may have been forced to file the complaint by the Turkish government.

“Based on some of the stuff that we heard in Edmonds testimony, it’s clear that the Turkish government does, or did at least anyway, actively blackmail members of the US Congress.”

Schmidt’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Edmonds said she was happy to contribute to Krikorian’s defense, but that her information reaches far beyond the Turks’ disruption of the Armenian Genocide recognition legislation, which is awaiting review by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The Armenian Genocide issue is part of the information [for which] the US government has invoked the state secrets privilege,” she said. “In my case it includes other issues, but the Armenian Genocide is part of it. The request for [the state secrets privilege] to be invoked came from the State Department because of Turkish lobbying.”

The Link to 9/11

Much has been made of a recent radio interview in which Edmonds said Osama Bin Laden and the US government collaborated in operations in central Asia until the September 11 attacks. Edmonds said some operations were ongoing at the point of her termination in 2002.

Given the timing of her deposition and what some have deemed a “bombshell,” Edmonds stressed that the information is nothing new.

“I have been talking about that for seven years,” she said. “There’s nothing explosive about it. I don’t have any control over how certain groups use the information.”
Among the information that remains under the state secrets label is her knowledge to events preceding September 11.

Edmonds volunteered her testimony to the 9/11 Commission, but was ignored until the 9/11 Families Steering Committee, appointed to monitor the Commission, insisted she be included. The contents of her testimony were left out of the 9/11 Commission Report and remain sealed.

Since the gag order on Edmonds’ information has not been lifted, her ability to testify was in doubt up until and during the August 8 deposition.

In letters posted online by the NWC, General Counsel of the FBI Valerie Caproni and Senior Counsel with the Department of Justice Vesper Mei responded to a request by Edmond’s legal team to review the gag order by saying Krikorian’s subpoena to testify was not valid.

The Justice Department stated Edmonds is under “no compulsion” to testify and the FBI insisted that she, “does not have approval for any disclosure of any information.”

The deposition, however, went on as scheduled.

“I think people were pretty surprised that the [Department of Justice] did not show,” Krikorian said.
Although the Ohio Elections Commission instructed the NWC to ban the media, the NWC said it hopes to release a video and full transcript of the testimony.

Objections

Krikorian was on hand at the deposition alongside his attorney, former Michael Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos. Standing outside the NWC headquarters, Krikorian gave the assembled media his recollection of Edmonds’ testimony.

Among the highlights, Krikorian said, was Edmonds’ claim that a married female member of Congress was enticed into a sexual relationship with a woman paid by the Turkish government to videotape the affair.

“Ms. Edmonds said these types of ‘hooking’ exercises to uncover somebody’s weaknesses was standard operating procedure,” Krikorian said, adding Edmonds did not identify the blackmailed Representative.
Other lawmakers mentioned in Edmonds’ testimony, according to Krikorian, included Dan Burton (R-IN), who Edmonds alleges took bribes and “engaged in espionage” for the Turkish government, former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO), former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY).

Congressional newspaper The Hill reported in April that Hastert had signed a $35,000-a-month contract to lobby against the Armenian Genocide resolution. Gephardt, a former proponent of the resolution, began lobbying against it in 2007.

Bruce Fein, an influential Washington attorney and resident scholar at the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), is representing Schmidt and attended the deposition to object to the testimony.

“There are two grounds for the objection,” Fein said afterwards. “The first was the attorney questioning her was not admitted as an attorney in the case. The second was (the testimony) was totally irrelevant. (Edmonds) hadn’t even read the complaint and admitted to not knowing anything about the case.”

Fein declined further comment.

Fein is also representing historian Guenter Lewy in a lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center alleging they defamed him by reporting the Turkish government paid Lewy to deny the Armenian Genocide.

An outspoken critic of the Armenian Genocide recognition movement, Fein recently published an article in the Huffington Post titled, “Recommendations for the Armenian Diaspora,” in which he asks the diaspora to re-align its genocide recognition efforts toward, among other areas, “exposing the futility of political lobbying.”

‘This Is What I’ve Been Fighting for’

The Ohio election complaint is scheduled to be heard by the Elections Commission review board on September 3. Before then, Krikorian said his legal team expects depositions from Schmidt and TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy.

He added that Edmonds’ testimony will remain sealed from the public until September 3 in order to avoid further provoking the Justice Department before he is able to use it.

“Our intention right now is on winning the case,” Krikorian said. “We sought the deposition not as a public spectacle but for my defense. We’ll focus on winning this frivolous lawsuit … What happens after that we’ll have to wait and see.”

Krikorian added he was unsure as to whether the Justice Department could block the testimony from being used.
“Based on Ms. Edmonds testimony, I think just about anything our government wants to do, they can do,” he said.

For Edmonds, it may finally be her chance to bring to light the information she has been fighting to disclose for seven years.

Edmonds expressed doubt, however, in how much traction her story will gain from the deposition.

“The mainstream media date has completely ignored the facts confirmed by Congress, and the extremity of these gag orders have completely blacked it out,” Edmonds said. “The American people have a right to know.

They have the right to know about these incumbents and they have to be informed. In my case, forget about the foreign entities — it involves elected officials involved in criminal actions.”

Edmonds has often said she would make her knowledge public to any major media outlet that would present her complete, unedited story. None have taken her up on the offer.

“This is what I was fighting for for all these years,” she told journalists after the six hours of testimony. “At least now a good chunk of it is out.”