Washington, D.C. - August 23, 2007. The National Whistleblowers Center, along with a broad coalition of liberal, libertarian and conservative groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, and the Liberty Coalition, condemns the Government's abuse of the State Secrets Privilege in the case of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and calls for swift action by Congress and the courts to stop this abuse.
Ms. Edmonds, a former FBI Language Specialist, brought charges of
wrongdoing, criminal activity, cover-ups, and national security
threats, inside the agency following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Edmonds was promptly fired. The United States Department of Justice
Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated her allegations, and
confirmed most of her claims. The OIG concluded that her firing was
illegal and that the FBI failed to investigate Ms. Edmonds' credible
allegations of security breaches and possible espionage inside the FBI
language services division. However, the Attorney General invoked the
"State Secrets Privilege," which covered up the FBI's wrongdoing and
malfeasance and resulted in the dismissal of Ms. Edmonds' retaliation
case. The OIG report is publicly available.
On August 23, 2007, it was revealed that the Justice Department
recently publicly revealed information that it had claimed was
"privileged" and "secret" in Ms. Edmonds' case. The DOJ's recent
actions show that it abused the State Secrets Privilege in Ms. Edmonds'
whistleblower case in order to convince the court to dismiss her case.
NWC President, Stephen M. Kohn, issued the following statement in support of Ms. Edmonds:
"The 'State Secrets' privilege undermines whistleblower protections.
Despite the fact that the Department of Justice's own watchdog, the
Inspector General, confirmed that Sibel Edmonds had been illegally
fired, the government used that alleged 'privilege' to have her case
thrown out of court and to cover up FBI wrongdoing. The government
abused a 'privilege' to undermine constitutionally protected free
speech and ignore an Inspector General's findings of retaliation. Every
national security whistleblower was threatened by this improper
assertion of a privilege. The National Whistleblowers Center joins in
asking Congress and the courts to place limits on this privilege so
that national security whistleblowers, such as Ms. Edmonds, can expose
serious wrongdoing, free from retaliation."
NWC General Counsel, David K. Colapinto, commented on the recent developments in Ms. Edmonds' case:
"This latest revelation proves that throwing Ms. Edmonds' case out of
court was a travesty because no state secrets would have been revealed.
The dismissal rewarded the FBI wrongdoers and, as the Inspector General
found, Ms. Edmonds' whistleblowing was the "most significant factor" in
her firing by the FBI. If the courts won't prevent the government from
using the State Secrets privilege as a trump card to cover up agency
wrongdoing and to defeat meritorious claims, like Ms. Edmonds'
whistleblower case, then Congress must act to stop this odious
Stephen Kohn and David Colapinto represented Ms. Edmonds during the OIG
investigation, and witnessed first hand the improper use of the State
Secrets Privilege in her case.
Paul Reveres or Benedict Arnolds: Whistleblowing in the Post-9/11 Age