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9.11 investigation

Ms. Whistleblower: Officials knew Al Qaida would attack by air

Ms. Edmonds, a Turkish-American translator, said there was sufficient information in Spring and Summer 2001 of an attack being planned. But the White House is seeking to silence her with a court order citing "state secrets privilege".
Officials Knew of Al Qaida Attack with Aircraft - Whistleblower
PA News, April 2, 2004

NEW YORK -- Top level US officials knew before September 11 that al Qaida planned to use aircraft to commit a terrorist outrage, a former FBI translator claimed today. The accusation by Sibel Edmonds starkly contradicts claims by senior Bush Administration figures that they had no prior warning of the attacks in 2001 on New York and Washington.

Ms. Edmonds told The Independent newspaper: "There was general information about the timeframe, about methods to be used -- but not specifically about how they would be used -- and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts or terror attacks. "There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities -- with skyscrapers."

The 33-year-old Turkish-American translator accused President George W Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, of telling an "outrageous lie", when she said intelligence officials had no forewarning. Ms Rice wrote in the Washington Post last week: "We received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using aeroplanes as missiles..."

But Ms. Edmonds said it would be "impossible" for that to be the case, based on documents she had seen during her time with the FBI, after the September 11 attacks. The White House has sought to gag Ms Edmonds with a court order citing "state secrets privilege".

Ms. Edmonds was one of many language experts who answered appeals for translators in the days following the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. She was tasked with translating documents and recordings from FBI wire taps -- some of which had previously been translated, and some which were new.

From the documents, she said, it was clear that there was sufficient information in Spring and Summer 2001 that an attack was being planned. She has already made the allegations before a secret-session of a Congressional commission investigating the September 11 atrocities.

Ms Rice will appear in public before that commission in Washington next week, after backing down from repeated refusals to do so under intense pressure. She had previously spoken to the commission only in private.

And she had come under severe attack from former counter-terrorism adviser to four White House administrations, Richard Clarke, who said she failed to do her job in the months before September 11. Ms. Edmonds went on:

"I gave the 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 said the Bush Administration was misleading the US public and the world with claims that there was no warning ahead of September 11. "President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said.

The latest claims come as another blow for the Bush Administration in an election year. Mr Clarke, who was counter-terrorism adviser to both Bill Clinton and Mr Bush, told the congressional commission last week that the Bush administration "for the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue".

He said the fight against terrorism and al Qaida was "extraordinarily" important under the Clinton administration and that Mr Clinton had "no higher priority" than combating terrorists. But under Mr Bush it was a less urgent issue. He said there was a process under way in the Bush White House to tackle al Qaida.

"But, although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way," he said. He also apologised to the families of those killed on September 11. "Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you," he said.

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FBI: Lost in translation? 01.Apr.2004 19:31

Shaun Waterman

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Angry lawmakers are calling for hearings on the FBI's translation unit, which they say has still not addressed problems of mismanagement and lax internal security more than two years after they were revealed by a bureau whistleblower.

In letters to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee's ranking Democrat, says that questions he began raising in the spring of 2002 "remain unanswered."

Sibel Edmonds, the whistleblower whose revelations about the translation unit are already the subject of inquiries by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, has also given evidence to the Sept. 11 commission.

Her three-and-a-half-hour classified briefing suggests that the commission is weighing an inquiry into the 200-strong unit at the FBI's Washington field office.

this could be it 01.Apr.2004 22:26

gerry

Maybe this is where evidence of the conspiracy begins to make it into the mainstream press. Perhaps we're seeing the singularity that begins the unravelling of this hideous administration.

'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes' 02.Apr.2004 03:40

Independent UK

Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
02 April 2004

A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the 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 added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers."

The accusations from Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who speaks Azerbaijani, Farsi, Turkish and English, will reignite the controversy over whether the administration ignored warnings about al-Qa'ida. That controversy was sparked most recently by Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism official, who has accused the administration of ignoring his warnings.

The issue what the administration knew and when is central to the investigation by the 9/11 Commission, which has been hearing testimony in public and private from government officials, intelligence officials and secret sources. Earlier this week, the White House made a U-turn when it said that Ms Rice would appear in public before the commission to answer questions. Mr Bush and his deputy, Dick Cheney, will also be questioned in a closed-door session.

Mrs Edmonds, 33, says she gave her evidence to the commission in a specially constructed "secure" room at its offices in Washington on 11 February. She was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on 13 September 2001, just two days after the al-Qa'ida attacks. Her job was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps.

She said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack. "Most of what I told the commission 90 per cent of it related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department. Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."

"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said. There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.

To try to refute Mr Clarke's accusations, Ms Rice said the administration did take steps to counter al-Qa'ida. But in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on 22 March, Ms Rice wrote: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists."

Mrs Edmonds said that by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie". She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'. That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency]. I am saying that is impossible."

It is impossible at this stage to verify Mrs Edmonds' claims. However, some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with separate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department.