Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Who are the FBI 'Juice men' in Sibel Edmonds case?

In a new-to-me 2004 interview, Super-Interviewer Scott Horton spoke to two FBI whistleblowers, former translator Sibel Edmonds and Frederic Whitehurst from the FBI crime lab in Washington, D.C.

Whitehurst observes that, due to the lack of any external audits in the FBI:
"The safest place in the USA right now for a criminal is within the walls of FBI headquarters. The safest place!"

Whitehurst also makes a related point:
The Bureau has an expression: 'Who is your juice-man back at HQ?' Who is the guy that is supporting you?

So who are the 'Juice Men' protecting the criminals within the FBI in Sibel Edmonds' case?

Those two quotes from Whitehurst juxtapose nicely against two other issues that I want to mention. We'll get to those in a minute.

First, some background.

Sibel's case involves a whole bunch of criminality from the nuclear black market, illegal weapons trafficking, heroin-trafficking, 911-related cover-ups and the bribery of congresscritters. For various reasons, these issues are rarely discussed, but one part of her story that everybody, including the corporate media, can agree on is that there were serious problems within the FBI translation unit - so let's focus on that for present purposes.

Sibel's boss was a guy named Mike Feghali. He was head of the Turkish and Farsi desks when Sibel was at the FBI, having been promoted from a contract linguist. Feghali's promotion to this position was itself suspicious - he was being investigated by the FBI for various corruption when he was a 'mere' translator and was repeatedly rejected for promotion. He hired an expensive 'white-shoe' lawyer (who paid for that?), claimed racial discrimination and was promoted to head the Turkish and Farsi desks.

In October 2001, the FBI hired a Turkish translator by the name of Melek Can Dickerson. Dickerson had worked for at least three organizations - all of them targets of FBI counter-intelligence operations (most famously the American Turkish Council (ATC)), and was close friends with targets from other counter-intelligence operations - none of this was picked up by any background checks. Within weeks of Dickerson joining the FBI, she:
1. Tried to recruit Sibel (and other translators) to engage in espionage
2. 'Apparently' started having an affair with Feghali
3. Re-arranged the 'work flow' (with Feghali's help and approval) at the FBI so that she, and only she, was translating all of the wiretaps of her friends, and the ATC
4. Intentionally mistranslated wiretaps, stole documents, etc

At the same time, Feghali was engaged in all manner of shenanigans with Sibel - from the very serious (refusing to send her extremely important 911 related output to FBI agents who were desperate for it) to the more 'administrative' (deleting her work product, telling her not to do any work etc)

Sibel reported all of this to FBI management and it was all confirmed in short order. Despite this, Melek Can Dickerson was allowed to stay on the job, translating (and probably still stealing, and probably still mistranslating) for another 6 months with Top Security Clearance after Sibel's claims were all confirmed. Even worse, Feghali was also able to stay on the job for another 6 months till he was fired has since been promoted and is now, today, head of the entire Arabic desk - with 300 translators under his command.

I've previously documented all this in "Sibel Edmonds' Corrupt Boss is STILL the key to National Security"

So my questions are this:
Who are Mike Feghali's 'Juice men' back at HQ?' Who are the guys that are supporting him?

and this:
Who were Melek Can Dickerson's 'Juice men' back at HQ?' Who are the guys that are supporting her?

In my recent "FBI, Congress: Sibel Edmonds case 'unclassified'" post, Kossak avahome commented
Who was the FBI agent in charge (of Sibel's case)? Sometimes if you dig backwards a little bit the big picture comes to light? (For instance US Attorney Carol Lam and FBI Agent Dan Dzwilewski who also involved in Guam, O'Neill dying on 9/11, and the latest case being dropped involving John W.(Bill) Crews..FBI Dave Hulser) It just boggles the mind what goes on in the FBI and what they know.

The answer is: Dale Watson, James Comey, John Ashcroft, Tim Caruso, and Robert Mueller.

Are these guys the Juice Men for the criminals in the translation department?

Ashcroft and Mueller you all know.

Dale Watson, "former Assistant Director for the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI, as such he headed the FBI investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks. " He left the FBI in 2002 to join the spooked-up Booz Allen.

James Comey joined Lockheed Martin.

Tim Caruso: "In June 2001, Mr. Caruso was designated Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterterrorisim Division at FBI Headquarters." In January 02, Caruso was promoted to Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism.

All of this might seem a little tin-foil-hattish, which brings me to the other issue that I wanted to mention. In late July, FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary Committee - and Betty Sutton (D-OH) (Nope, I'd never heard of her either) asked him about whistleblowers - specifically Sibel Edmonds, Colleen Rowley and John Roberts.

This will surprise you, but I actually want to focus on the John Roberts issue, rather than Sibel (specifically).

You see, John Roberts was the head of FBI's Internal Affairs Department. He was interviewed (he was given permission by the FBI) in the 60 Minutes segment on Sibel's case in October 2002 and was subsequently slammed by the FBI.

Here is the video of Roberts appearance (at least until CBS removes it. I've posted this before and it was removed)

ED BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Special agent John Roberts, a chief of the FBI's Internal Affairs Department, agrees. And while he is not permitted to discuss the Sibel Edmonds case, for the last 10 years, he has been investigating misconduct by FBI employees and says he is outraged by how little is ever done about it.

Mr. JOHN ROBERTS: I don't know of another person in the FBI who has done the internal investigations that I have and has seen what I have and that knows what has occurred and what has been glossed over and what has, frankly, just disappeared, just vaporized, and no one disciplined for it.

BRADLEY: (Voiceover) Despite a pledge from FBI director Robert Mueller to overhaul the culture of the FBI in light of 9/11, and encourage bureau employees to come forward to report wrongdoing, Roberts says that in the rare instances when employees are disciplined, it's usually low-level employees like Sibel Edmonds who get punished and not their bosses.

Mr. ROBERTS: I think the double standard of discipline will continue no matter who comes in, no matter who tries to change. You--you have a certain--certain group that--that will continue to protect itself. That's just how it is.

BRADLEY: No matter what happens?

Mr. ROBERTS: I would say no matter what happens.

BRADLEY: Have you found cases since 9/11 where people were involved in misconduct and were not, let alone reprimanded, but were even promoted?

Mr. ROBERTS: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

BRADLEY: That's astonishing.


BRADLEY: Because you--you would think that after 9/11, that's a big slap on the face. 'Hello! This is a wake-up call here.'

Mr. ROBERTS: Depends on who you are. If you're in the senior executive level, it may not hurt you. You will be promoted.

BRADLEY: In fact, the supervisor who Sibel Edmonds says told her to slow down her translations was recently promoted. Edmonds has filed a whistle-blower suit to get her job back, but last week, US Attorney General Ashcroft asked the court to dismiss it on grounds it would compromise national security. And also on the grounds of national security, the FBI declined to discuss the specifics of her charges, but it says it takes all such charges seriously and investigates them.

These are astonishing statements by John Roberts (at least, it's astonishing that someone at the FBI made them) - and it isn't surprising that the FBI came down on him like a ton of bricks. Apparently the Juice Men don't like to be called on their games. Let's not forget, he was the head of Internal Affairs - so he has some serious credibility. As he says: "I don't know of another person in the FBI who has done the internal investigations that I have and has seen what I have and that knows what has occurred..."

Roberts was attacked ferociously by FBI HQ - to the extent that his wife, who also worked at the FBI, literally collapsed in public.

Back to Betty Sutton and her questions to Mueller

Transcript (mine):
John Conyers: The Chair is pleased to welcome Miss Betty Sutton of Ohio.

Betty Sutton : ... At this moment I'd just like to talk to you a little bit about something we haven't discussed, the Whistleblower protections. We've had some problems in the Bureau and actually they reflect upon some of the facets and consequences that Mr Delahunt, the distinguished gentleman, points out, and it emphasizes the importance that we have proper Whistleblower protection, not just because governmental employees need to have that safeguard, but it's also a matter of ensuring that our national security, and the integrity of the Agency is intact. I know that you've given personal assurances in the past that you were going to take action to ensure that Whistleblowers would be proteceted, but we know that there's been a culture within the FBI through some years, where that just hasn't been the case.

So I'd like for a moment to go through a couple of those instances, and then you can share with me how things have changed so that their plight would have changed, and the outcomes would be different.

In 2001, Coleen Rowley claims that she was blocked at every turn from pursuing her concerns about 911 co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui. In a statement you issued in response to that case you stated that there's no room for the types of problems and attitudes that could inhibit our efforts.

In 2002, you're familiar with John Roberts' case. He blew the whistle on several senior FBI officials, all of whom were subsequently promoted and some of whom received bonuses, and of course, the Inspector General subsequently issued a report endorsing John Roberts' findings of wrongdoing within the agency, and concluded that the FBI suffered, and still suffers, from the strong perception that a double-standard exists within the FBI with regard to the treatment of senior officials versus lower-level employees. And, of course, he was humiliated, because he came forward with evidence of wrongdoing.

Does it seem a little less tin-foil-hattish now?

The testimony continues:

Betty Sutton: And we're all familiar with Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator, who did work for the Counter-Terrorism program, who was fired after reporting serious problems in the Bureau's translation services department. And of course, when she sought recourse, she was completely blocked after the Bureau invoked the State Secrets Privilege. So my question to you is: What have you done specifically to make sure that moving forward - not redressing these cases, but moving forward - that these things shall not happen, and the chilling effect that this culture produces, and the consequences beyond that, are no longer being felt?

Robert Mueller: Initially I had an outside panel come in and look at how we were handling OPR, how we were handling our response to incidents of misconduct including those that would be set out by whistleblowers, and we have changed our procedures. At least every year I set out statements that I will not put up with retaliation for persons who bring to our attention that which should be brought to our attention. Whenever that occurs it is immediately referred to the Inspector General so the Inspector General can do an indepenedent investigation, and I have followed the recommendations of the Inspector General as to what steps should be taken when retaliation has been found - retaliation for those who bring to our attention those matters that should be brought to our attention.

Betty Sutton : Well, could you be more specific in the changes that have been implemented?

Robert Mueller: I can get back to you, specifically I think the biggest change is the ability in putting in place the mechanisms to ensure an independent investigation of allegations of retaliation for whistleblower activities, and our willingness to followup immediately with the results of the independent investigation which has been done by the Inspector General.

Betty Sutton : Ok Director, but let's say that fails, and we have a situation like Sibel Edmonds, how does her plight change? How does she deal with the invocation of the State Secrets Privilege? How does she have any recourse?

Robert Mueller: Well, I can't get into the rationale behind asserting the State Secrets Privilege in the particular case. It's a matter that sealed by the court, but in that case as well, the case was investigated independently and actions that were necessary to be taken as a result of the investigation, as to individuals in the FBI, have been taken.

Betty Sutton : But with respect to somebody facing the same situation, they would face the same outcome. Is that correct?

Robert Mueller: It depends on the circumstances of the case.

I'll refrain from snarking about Mueller's responses - but good on Betty Sutton for raising the issue. You can thank her here and ask her what else she will do to help. Will she bring Sibel's case to the floor?

But I come back to Whitehurst's question? Who are the FBI Juice-Men in Sibel's case? Who 'owns' them? If we agree/accept that the translation department has been infiltrated, and there are people at HQ who are protecting those that are compromised at the Translation desk, then how much confidence can we have in those at HQ? As Sibel says
"I took an oath to protect my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I assumed that the enemy was foreign."

We know that there are at least four congresscritters on just the Turkish payroll. We know that foreign interests would love to penetrate the FBI, particularly the translation unit, and per Whitehurst, it seems that the safest place for criminals and foreign agents is within the walls of the FBI where they are apparently unaccountable. And it appears that there are those in FBI Senior Management who are protecting, and promoting, dodgy folks within the translation department.

We know from Roberts that senior FBI officials were promoted and given bonuses despite being involved in various misconduct. And we know from Sibel that senior management at the FBI covered up various criminality within the FBI and other places in the US Government.

So who are the FBI Juice Men in Sibel's case? And who are their Juice Men elsewhere in the USG?

(let me know if you want to be added to my email list for new Sibel-related post. Subject: 'Sibel email list.')

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