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WASHINGTON – An FBI whistleblower who charges the FBI had more specific
information about the 9-11 plot than it acknowledges has fired off a list of
questions she wants the 9-11 Commission to ask FBI Director Robert S.
Mueller at tomorrow’s hearings.
“Director Mueller, is it true that certain translated information pre- and post-9-11 contained specific information regarding terrorists and their direct and indirect support networks’ activities in the United States?” asks Sibel Dinez Edmonds in a two-paged letter to Congress and the 9-11 panel, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.
An Aug. 6, 2001, presidential briefing by the CIA, portions of which were declassified last week by the White House after public pressure, said the FBI had opened 70 full-field investigations related to al-Qaida suspects and sympathizers in the U.S. Mueller maintained after the attacks that the 19 al-Qaida hijackers operated independently in the U.S. and were an isolated case.
“As far as we know, they contacted no known terrorist sympathizers in the United States,” Mueller testified in June 2002 before the joint congressional inquiry into 9-11.
The congressional panel, however, found that some of the hijackers had contacts with more than a dozen FBI persons of interest who helped them find housing, open bank accounts, obtain drivers licenses and locate flight schools, among other things. Some of their facilitators were Saudi nationals. Details of Saudi activities were censored from the final 9-11 report by the White House.
In one of her more explosive queries, Edmonds, the former FBI translator, suggests she has information the FBI allowed “several top targets of FBI investigations related to support networks of terrorist activities” leave the country after the 9-11 attacks “without ever being questioned.”
Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke testified last month that former assistant FBI director Dale Watson OK’d emergency outbound flights for Saudi nationals, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, within days of the attacks when flights were banned.
Clarke said the Saudi evacuation request may have originated with White House chief of staff Andy Card’s office. A spokeswoman there refused comment.
Phone calls to Watson, now a security consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton here, were not returned. The politically connected Watson, who rose through the ranks of the bureau without ever having served as an inspector or special agent in charge, was not called by the 9-11 panel as a witness.
Edmonds, 33, worked as a contract linguist at the FBI’s Washington field office. She was hired shortly after the 9-11 attacks and fired six months later for unspecified reasons.
Edmonds lodged complaints with top counterterrorism officials in the bureau, including Watson, about alleged security breaches, disloyalties, mistranslations, incompetence and blocked investigations in the foreign language unit, which translates terrorism-related wiretaps, e-mails and documents. Many of her allegations, including one against a Turkish translator who has left the country, have been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Edmonds sued the bureau, but her federal case has been blocked by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who invoked a rare legal procedure called State Secret Privilege. Edmonds took her case to the Justice Department’s inspector general about two years ago, but no findings have been released. The Judiciary panel has vowed to look into the delay. She says a classified version of the report should be shared with the 9-11 panel now, since it contains sensitive and relevant information she provided the inspector general.
A copy of her letter, dated April 11 and addressed to Judiciary member Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a long-time FBI watchdog, was sent to the 9-11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. In the letter, Edmonds proposes Judiciary members and 9-11 commissioners ply Mueller with the following questions:
- Director Mueller, is it true that certain translated information pre- and post-9-11 contained specific information regarding terrorists and their direct and indirect support networks’ activities in the United States?
- Is it true that some of this information was available as early as April and May 2001?
- Is it true that some of these investigations were not forwarded to Counterterrorism, even after 9-11, due to certain “diplomatic relations,” as was cited in Attorney General Ashcroft’s assertion of State Secret Privilege? How do you justify this, in light of what we experienced on 9-11?
- Director Mueller, is it true that several top targets of FBI investigations, related to support networks of terrorist activities, were allowed to leave the United States, months after the 9-11 attacks, without ever being questioned? Why?
- Director Mueller, is it true that certain counterintelligence and criminal investigations concerning individuals involved in support of terrorists in the United States were not transferred or shared with on-going counterterrorism investigations, due to certain “reasons,” even months after 9-11? What are these “reasons”?
- Director Mueller, you have repeatedly made public statements after 9-11 that all efforts have been made in improving the FBI’s intelligence gathering and sharing capabilities. Is it true that six months after 9-11 the FBI sent a translator to Guantanamo Bay, who by the FBI’s own admission was not even qualified in basic English, nor was he proficient in the target language? Is it true that this translator is still in the language department, responsible for monitoring, translating and transmitting intelligence related information? Is it true that there are other translators, with similar lack of qualifications, within the translation department?
- Director Mueller, is it true that certain information from investigations regarding terrorists and their supporters’ activities were intentionally blocked?
- Is it true that certain field agents re-sent blocked or mistranslated information to the WFO [Washington field office] to be checked again, due to suspicions of the original translations?
- Is it true that administrative personnel, after becoming aware that translations were being intentionally blocked and mistranslated, engaged in cover-ups and never provided the field agents with accurate translations?
- Is it true that even after the FBI’s own confirmation of these incidents, a supervisor involved was placed in charge of a very important translation unit?