Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bush administration knew Al Qaeda would attack

American citizens should be extremely concerned about the reliability of President Bush's claim that "We're on a constant hunt for bin Laden. We're keeping the pressure on him, keeping him in hiding" (1).

An FBI whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, was fired from her job as a contract linguist in 2002 after complaining that the war against Al Qaeda was plagued by ineptitude at the FBI in the critical area of intelligence translation. Fluent in Azerbaijani, Farsi, and Turkish, Edmonds complained repeatedly about sloppy and incomplete translations produced by bureau linguists before and after 9/11. She also complained that the bureau allowed diplomatic sensitivities with some nations to affect the translation of important intelligence. Finally, Edmonds accused a Turkish linguist of protecting acquaintenances who came under suspicion (2).

For her courage and integrity, Mrs. Edmonds was fired. How's that for reforming the ailing intelligence services? See a problem? Keep your mouth shut.

Now, a federal appeals court said the Mrs. Edmonds' suit should not proceed, because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." Who are we protecting anyway? It's not as though sensitive intelligence has to make the evening news. They can keep the sensitive stuff in the judge's quarters.

Is it any wonder the Bush Administration hasn't captured Osama bin Laden yet?

This isn't the first time Edmonds has appeared in the news. Back in April, 2004, the White House obtained a gagging order from a court, citing a rarely used "state secrets privilege". It seems the Bush Administration was embarrassed by her claims that senior officials knew full well of Al Qaeda's plans to attack the U.S. with aircraft months before September 11th (3).

Edmonds said she gave the 9/11 Commission "details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."

She contends that President Bush and Condaleeza Rice were parsing words when they said there was no way anyone could have predicted that people would attack with hijacked airplanes.

"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," Edmonds said. Contrary to President Bush's assertion, however, Edmonds argued that there was plenty of general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was months away.

As evidence continues to mount that President Bush knew more than he admits, Americans should demand that a more complete accounting for past mistakes than the 9/11 Commission performed, not just to punish people who weren't doing their jobs, but to make sure that everything really is being done now to prevent another attack.

1) "Bush: Stopping Bin Laden 'Greatest Challenge'," New York Times, 3 March 2005.

2) John Files, "Justice Depart. Opposes Bid to Revive Case Against F.B.I.," New York Times, 26 February 2005.

3) Andrew Buncombe, "I Saw Papers That Show US Knew al-Qa'ida Would Attack Cities With Airplanes," Independent/UK, 2 April 2004, reprinted in, 28 February 2005.


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