May 10, 2012
Sibel Edmonds’ new book, Classified Woman, is like an FBI file on the FBI, only without the incompetence.
The experiences she recounts resemble K.’s trip to the castle, as told by Franz Kafka, only without the pleasantness and humanity.
I’ve read a million reviews of nonfiction books about our government that referred to them as “page-turners” and “gripping dramas,” but I had never read a book that actually fit that description until now.
The F.B.I., the Justice Department, the White House, the Congress, the courts, the media, and the nonprofit industrial complex put Sibel Edmonds through hell. This book is her triumph over it all, and part of her contribution toward fixing the problems she uncovered and lived through.
Edmonds took a job as a translator at the FBI shortly after 9-11. She considered it her duty. Her goal was to prevent any more terrorist attacks. That’s where her thinking was at the time, although it has now changed dramatically. It’s rarely the people who sign up for a paycheck and healthcare who end up resisting or blowing a whistle.
Edmonds found at the FBI translation unit almost entirely two types of people. The first group was corrupt sociopaths, foreign spies, cheats and schemers indifferent to or working against U.S. national security. The second group was fearful bureaucrats unwilling to make waves. The ordinary competent person with good intentions who risks their job to “say something if you see something” is the rarest commodity. Hence the elite category that Edmonds found herself almost alone in: whistleblowers.
Reams of documents and audio files from before 9-11 had never been translated. Many more had never been competently or honestly translated. One afternoon in October 2001, Edmonds was asked to translate verbatim an audio file from July 2001 that had only been translated in summary form. She discovered that it contained a discussion of skyscraper construction, and in a section from September 12th a celebration of a successful mission. There was also discussion of possible future attacks. Edmonds was eager to inform the agents involved, but her supervisor Mike Feghali immediately put a halt to the project.