Agency Used Contracts to Censor Whistleblowers
Washington, D.C. April 10, 2012. Today, the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) revealed that the FBI required employees to sign employment contracts that are illegal under Federal law. The NWC launched the investigation in response to a nearly year long campaign by the FBI to prevent the publication of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' new book, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story.
On April 26, 2011, Ms. Edmonds followed official procedure and
submitted her manuscript to the FBI for pre-publication clearance. Under
the terms of her employment agreement and controlling regulations, the
FBI was required to review and approve the submission within thirty (30)
days. Instead of complying with the law, the FBI intentionally stalled
the approval process for over 341 days and has still refused to "clear"
the book for publication.
Ms. Edmonds will speak today for the first time about the FBI's attempts
to suppress her book. The interview will be aired live at 1:30pm ET on Honesty Without Fear, and the podcast will also be available for download.
The NWC is also releasing documentation
confirming that the FBI required employees, including Ms. Edmonds, to
sign the illegal contracts that allowed the FBI to censor issues of
"public policy" it found embarrassing. According to Ms. Edmonds
attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, "the controlling law strictly limits
government's ability to censor its employees. Agencies like the FBI may
require pre-publication review of its employees' writings, but may only
censor classified or secret information. The government may not censor
books or other writings on 'policy' grounds. The FBI's employment
contract with Ms. Edmonds is overreaching and illegal."
demonstrate that the agency acted illegally to prevent Ms. Edmonds from
publishing a manuscript that might embarrass the agency.
The book in question, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story,
discusses Ms. Edmonds's experience as an FBI Language Specialist who
discovered and blew the whistle on serious security breaches and
cover-ups at the Washington Field Office. The FBI fired Ms. Edmonds for
making protected disclosures about the misconduct she observed and later
invoked the "state's secret" privilege to suppress her story.
An independent investigation by the Department of Justice Office of
Inspector General confirmed her allegations and the illegality of her
termination. However, the Bush administration invoked the state secrets
privilege in 2002 in order to have Ms. Edmonds' whistleblower claims
dismissed and to protect the government from embarrassment.
In recognition of her work to expose intelligence failures, Ms. Edmonds
received the 2006 First Amendment Award, presented by the PEN American
Center and Newman's Own.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, also stated:
The FBI must stop harassing Sibel Edmonds. The law is crystal clear on
the government's ability to censor federal employees and contractors.
When reviewing their writings, the government has the single ability to
strike classified or secret information. The government may not censor a
book based on "policy." Here, the FBI has invented new powers for
itself, violating the Constitution. Congress should investigate all
employment agreements drafted by the FBI to ensure that they are legal
and not designed to censor speech protected under the First Amendment.
To schedule interviews with Ms. Edmonds and/or her attorney please contact Lindsey Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org