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 practice.”
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.