Whistleblower Sues FBI for Right to Publish

     WASHINGTON – The founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition sued the FBI and the U.S. attorney general, saying they refuse to let her publish a book, though it does not contain any classified information.
     Sibel D. Edmonds worked for the FBI for 6 months as a contract monitor and linguist, from Sept. 13, 2001 to March 22, 2002, according to her federal complaint.
     Edmonds says she has “been featured” in national media, including “60 Minutes,” The New York Times and the Washington Post, speaking on “matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification.”
     She says the FBI hired her as a contract linguist 2 days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and “terminated” her after she “reported a number of whistleblower allegations to FBI management officials.”
     Her complaint states: “In January 2005, the OIG [Justice Department Office of the Inspector General] issued a 35-page, single-spaced, declassified report entitled ‘A Review of the FBI’s Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised by Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds.’ The report, which is publicly available on the OIG’s website, http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0501/final.pdf, stated that the OIG believes that the FBI terminated Ms. Edmonds in retaliation for what would have been a ‘protected disclosure’ for an employee. Because Ms. Edmonds was a contractor and not an employee, she was not covered by the FBI Whistleblower regulations. The OIG report also discusses and validates many of Ms. Edmonds’ allegations that she raised prior to her termination by the FBI, and made specific ‘systemic recommendations to the FBI in an attempt to improve its foreign language translation program.'”
     The OIG report concludes, in part: “The majority of the allegations raised by Edmonds related to the actions of a co-worker. The allegations raised serious concerns that, if true, could potentially have extremely damaging consequences for the FBI. These allegations warranted a thorough and careful review by the FBI.
     “Our investigation concluded that the FBI did not, and still has not, adequately investigated these allegations. Our review also found that many – although not all – of Edmonds’ allegations about the co-worker had some basis in fact. This evidence does not prove, and we are not suggesting, that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that espionage or any improper disclosures of FBI information occurred. However, we believe the FBI should have taken Edmonds’ allegations more seriously and investigated them more thoroughly. As discussed in this report, the FBI’s investigation of the information regarding the co-worker was significantly flawed. Had the FBI investigated the claims thoroughly, it would have found that many of Edmonds’ allegations regarding the co-worker were supported by documentary evidence or other witnesses. Instead, the FBI seems to have discounted Edmonds’ allegations, believing she was a disruptive influence and not credible, and eventually terminated her services. Even now, the FBI has not carefully investigated the allegations about the co-worker to determine if the co-worker compromised any FBI information. In light of the need for FBI vigilance about security issues, as demonstrated by the Hanssen case, we believe the FBI should have investigated these serious allegations more thoroughly.
     “Edmonds also alleged that the FBI retaliated against her by terminating her services as a CL. We concluded that Edmonds’ allegations were at least a contributing factor in why the FBI terminated her services. We recognize that the FBI Whistle blower regulations do not apply to Edmonds because she was a contractor rather than an FBI employee. We also recognize that her varied and insistent allegations of misconduct may have been frustrating, and that not all of her allegations were true. However, many of her allegations had a basis in fact, and the way the FBI responded to her allegations contributed to her persistent claims. Moreover, we believe the FBI should not discourage employees or contractors from raising good-faith allegations of misconduct or mismanagement and the FBI’s termination of Edmonds’ services may discourage others from raising such concerns.”
     Edmonds says she submitted her book manuscript to the FBI on April 26 for prepublication review, and “that nothing in the manuscript is classified and that nothing in her manuscript should be barred from publication.”
     But the FBI refused to respond, and when she appealed to FBI Director Robert Mueller III, he refused to accept service.
     She says the Justice Department violated her First Amendment rights and the Administrative Procedure Act.
     She seeks an injunction granting her permission to publish. She is represented by David Colapinto with the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund

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