FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- March 8, 2007
WHISTLEBLOWER CENTER JOINS COALITION
"STATE SECRETS" WHISTLEBLOWER HEARINGS
Petition with strong left-right support headed to Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2007 -
The National Whistleblower Center, along with a broad coalition of 30 liberal, libertarian and conservative groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Citizen Outreach, OMB Watch, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Government Accountability Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Libertiy Coalition, the National Coalition Against the Censorship, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition and the Project on Government Oversight sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform urging prompt hearings on the case of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.
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 avaliable at http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/0501/index.htm.
NWC President, Stephen M. Kohn and NWC General Counsel, David K. Colapinto, issued the following statement in support of the hearings:
"The 'State Secrets' privilege undermines whistleblower protections. Despite the fact that the Department of Justifice's own watchdog agency, the Inspector General, confirmed that Sibel Edmonds had been illegally fired, the government used that alleged 'privilege' to have Ms. Edmonds' 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 Whistleblower Center joins in petitioning Congress to place rational limits on this privilege so that national security whistleblowers, such as Ms. Edmonds, can expose serious wrongdoing, free from retaliation."
Stephen Kohn and David Colapinto represented Mrs. Edmonds during the OIG investigation, and witnessed first hand the improper use of the State Secrets privilege in her case.
The petition drive is being coordinated by the Liberty Coalition. In a statement issued by the Coalition's National Director, Mr. Michael Ostrolenk stated: "Mrs. Edmonds is not a national security threat but a national hero and the American public deserves to hear the truth of her case. Congress must act and act now by having public hearings. Without them, the cover-ups and criminal activities will just continue."