Saturday, September 22, 2007

Excerpts of DOJ/OIG Report on the Sibel Edmonds Case

The Sibel Edmonds case is about concerns that Edmonds raised about corruption and espionage within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

When Sibel Edmonds complained to the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (DOJ/OIG), there was an investigation into the FBI's handling of the concerns that she had reported.

It is imperative to emphasize that Sibel Edmonds went through appropriate channels every step of the way; she did things as they were supposed to be done. First she took her complaints to the appropriate officials within the FBI; only later did she go to the DOJ/OIG and to Congress.

DOJ/OIG conducted an inquiry, then wrote a classified report. The classified report has a redacted, unclassified version, which is available on-line: A Review of the FBI's Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised By Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds, January 2005, Office of the Inspector General.

I present here excerpts of that report, with comments. Numerals in [brackets] refer to footnotes; see original.


This report describes the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) investigation of allegations raised by Sibel Edmonds, a former Contract Linguist (CL) for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Edmonds worked for the FBI from September 20, 2001, until March 2002, when her services as a CL for the FBI were terminated. Before that termination, she had raised a series of allegations regarding the FBI's CL program, including security concerns about actions by a co-worker related to potential espionage.

Sibel Edmonds' concerns were about a co-worker who had tried to recruit Edmonds to work for an organization that was under FBI investigation for espionage. The co-worker, Melek Can Dickerson, was a spy, an agent of a foreign power's lobby in the United States, and tried to get Edmonds onto that foreign power's lobby's payroll, too.

Dickerson was, it seems, sabotaging FBI surveillance efforts by taking critical wiretap information, including information about this organization that Dickerson worked for, and marking it as "not pertinent"; those wiretaps in fact had important information about ongoing criminal activity.

The case is about espionage, infiltration and corruption in the FBI, activity which, in turn, provides cover for a whole range of other criminal activity, including bribery by foreign powers of elected and appointed US government officials.


In this section, we examine the allegations Edmonds made against her co-worker. In the classified version of the report, we fully described and evaluated the evidence underlying nearly a dozen separate allegations Edmonds made regarding the co-worker which, when viewed together, amounted to an accusation against the co-worker of possible espionage. With respect to each individual allegation, we analyzed the facts supporting or refuting the allegation. We did not attempt to reach a definitive conclusion on the truth of each allegation or whether the implication of espionage was supported. Rather, given the available evidence, we assessed whether the FBI treated each allegation appropriately. Because the facts underlying each allegation remain classified, we cannot include our detailed description and analysis of each individual allegation in this unclassified summary. Instead, we describe our evaluation of Edmonds' allegations in general terms.

We found that many of Edmonds' core allegations relating to the co-worker were supported by either documentary evidence or witnesses other than Edmonds. Moreover, we concluded that, had the FBI performed a more careful investigation of Edmonds' allegations, it would have discovered evidence of significant omissions and inaccuracies by the co-worker related to these allegations. These omissions and inaccuracies, in turn, should have led to further investigation by the FBI. In part, we attributed the FBI's failure to investigate further to its unwarranted reliance on the assumption that proper procedures had been followed by the FBI during the co-worker's hiring and background investigation, which did not include a risk assessment, contrary to FBI practice. We also found that Edmonds was justified in raising a number of these concerns to her supervisors. For example, with respect to an allegation that focused on the co-worker's performance, which Edmonds believed to be an indication of a security problem, the evidence clearly corroborated Edmonds' allegations.

The background investigation on Edmonds' co-worker had not been properly conducted. Edmonds' concerns were justified, and many of her main allegations regarding that co-worker's performance were corroborated by documentary evidence and witnesses.

With regard to some of Edmonds' allegations, the OIG did not find evidence to support her allegation or the inferences that she drew from certain facts. However, Edmonds' assertions regarding the co-worker, when viewed as a whole, raised substantial questions and were supported by various pieces of evidence. While there are potentially innocuous explanations for the co-worker's conduct, other explanations were not innocuous. Although the exact nature and extent of the co-worker's security issues are disputed, it is clear from the OIG's investigation that the facts giving rise to Edmonds' concerns could have been uncovered had the FBI investigated Edmonds' allegations further. We believe that the FBI should have investigated the allegations more thoroughly. We also believe the FBI's handling of these allegations reflected an unwarranted reluctance to vigorously investigate these serious allegations or to conduct a thorough examination of Edmonds' allegations. As will be discussed in the next section, the FBI did not, and still has not, conducted such an investigation.

The FBI was not about to look into this allegation of possible espionage.

Is it merely a collegiate atmosphere, in which the FBI believes that its people just made a mistake, one that was not serious?

Or, was the corruption more widespread than Edmonds had thought?

Finally, as we discuss in Part V, rather than investigate Edmonds' allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract. We concluded that the FBI could not show, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have terminated Edmonds' services absent her disclosures.

She blew the whistle on the spies, and got fired for her efforts?


In this section of the report, we provide a chronological summary of relevant events and issues pertaining to Edmonds' allegations against the co-worker. [12] We also examine the FBI's handling of the allegations against the co-worker.


B. Edmonds Documents Additional Complaints in a February 8 Memorandum Written on Her Home Computer

In the two weeks following the January 25 meetings, Edmonds made additional complaints, including assertions that the co-worker was being protected inappropriately by a supervisor. [14] Edmonds also alleged that the co-worker threatened her. Ultimately, Edmonds was asked to provide the details of her complaints in writing. Edmonds asked if she could write them up at home due to her concerns about items being removed from her computer, and the Language Supervisor agreed to the request. Using her home computer, Edmonds wrote a memorandum about her complaints dated February 8, 2002.

Edmonds provided the memorandum to the Language Supervisor on February 9, 2002. That day, the Language Supervisor sent a copy of the memorandum to the Chief of the LAAU. Initially, the Language Supervisor expressed no concern to the LAAU Chief about whether Edmonds' memorandum contained any classified information, nor did the Language Supervisor indicate that he would contact the Security Office. The Language Supervisor explained to the LAAU Chief that a copy of Edmonds' memorandum was provided to others for response. In addition, the Language Supervisor spoke to the Special Agent who Edmonds assisted and asked him to conduct some follow-up on Edmonds' memorandum. In addition, the Language Supervisor decided to begin supervising Edmonds directly. The Language Supervisor also notified his superior about Edmonds' allegations.

She had the okay to write up her concerns on her home computer; that document was later reviewed, and evaluated as unclassified.

Later, however, Edmonds was accused of doing classified work on her home computer. That computer was taken and "cleaned" by the FBI, and concern that she had done classified work on her home computer became an issue.

The OIG found problems with the manner in which the FBI initially handled Edmonds' February 8 memorandum. In response to Edmonds' February 8 memorandum, the Language Supervisor provided a copy to a person (other than the co-worker) who was discussed in the memorandum, for his response, even though this created a risk that the investigation could be compromised. In addition, the Language Supervisor spoke to the Special Agent who Edmonds assisted and asked him to conduct certain follow-up, although this also could have compromised any investigation. Edmonds had raised an extremely serious allegation that deserved to be handled more carefully. The Language Supervisor's requested follow-up action was not a prudent step, given the possible consequences if Edmonds' allegations were true.

Not only would there be no serious investigation into possible espionage, but word got around fast that someone was suspicious, and that someone wasn't going to play ball with the nest of spies that had been discovered. It was done, however, in a manner to make it look like incompetence.

C. Security Office Investigation


We concluded that once the Security Officer was notified on February 11 of Edmonds' potential security violation, he took swift action with respect to the security violation Edmonds committed. The Security Officer quickly took custody of Edmonds' home computer and analyzed it. The Security Officer also deleted classified information from the computer and returned the computer to Edmonds.

Oh, they jumped on Edmonds when they had an allegation of a relatively minor indiscretion on her part, despite the circumstances described above -- the penalty one pays for rocking somebody's comfortable boat.

By contrast, we believe that the Security Officer's investigation of Edmonds' claims against the co-worker was significantly flawed. The Security Officer neither adequately prepared for nor adequately followed up on information obtained during the course of the investigation. The Security Officer also failed to memorialize adequately crucial information derived during the course of the investigation. While an investigator's impressions of the witnesses are significant in any investigation, in this case the absence of any effort by the Security Officer to corroborate information provided by witnesses with independent evidence suggests that he relied unduly on his subjective impressions of the witnesses. [15] Moreover, the Security Officer over-relied on the absence of corroboration of the threat allegation, which the Security Officer believed to be the most serious aspect of Edmonds' allegations. This overreliance resulted in a premature conclusion that Edmonds' security concerns lacked merit.

In addition, the Security Officer failed to perceive as a security issue what he considered were merely performance issues. He did not, therefore, adequately address these issues and, as will be discussed later, deferred to others completely for an evaluation of this aspect of the case. We believe it was the Security Officer's responsibility to gather all the facts related to these allegations, many of which the Language Supervisor would not have known, and it was inappropriate for the Security Officer to defer to the Language Supervisor or others on certain critical questions.

In sum, the Security Officer conducted a superficial investigation that focused almost entirely on Edmonds' allegation regarding a threat to her. The Security Officer seemed not to appreciate or investigate the allegation that a co-worker may have been committing espionage. Nor did the Security Officer refer the allegations of potential espionage elsewhere in the FBI. The Security Officer told the OIG that he believed, based on the amount of evidence at hand, a referral would have been pointless. Our review revealed that a thorough investigation by the Security Office would have shown otherwise.

But the well-founded -- and corroborated -- concern about espionage was swept under the rug.

There you have it, in the words of the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

Go read the report for yourself.

No comments: