The Brad Blog
October 6, 2009
An 18-year Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism Manager for the FBI has called for a Special Counsel to be appointed to investigate the allegations of FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. John M. Cole, who now works as an intelligence contractor for the Air Force, made his comments during an audio interview released late last week with radio journalist Peter B. Collins.
He also offered a detailed insider’s look at the concerns among high-level officials inside the Bureau as Edmonds’ disturbing allegations began coming to light back in 2002, before they would be quashed for seven long years by the Bush Administration’s unprecedented use of the so-called “State Secrets Privilege” to gag her.
Earlier last week, following the publication of a remarkable American Conservative magazine cover story interview with Edmonds — detailing a broad bribery, blackmail, and espionage conspiracy said to have been carried out between current and former members of the U.S. Congress, high-ranking State and Defense Department officials and covert operatives from Turkey and Israel, resulting in the theft and sale of nuclear weapons technology on the foreign black market — Cole had been quoted by the magazine confirming one of Edmonds’ key allegations.
“I am fully aware of the FBI’s decade-long investigation of” Marc Grossman, he said in response to the AmCon article/interview. Grossman had served as the third-highest ranking official in the Bush State Department and was alleged by Edmonds in the interview, and in a sworn, video-taped deposition a month earlier, to have been the U.S. ringleader for a massive Turkish espionage scandal reaching through the halls of power and into top-secret nuclear facilities around the country to the benefit of allies and enemies alike. Cole said that the FBI’s counterintelligence probe “ultimately was buried and covered up,” and that he believes it is “long past time” for an investigation of the case to “bring about accountability.”
In his subsequent interview with Collins last week (audio and text excerpts posted below) Cole elaborated on those comments in much greater detail, noting that Edmonds has been “one hundred percent right on the money, on the mark” and confirming the existence of an “ongoing and detailed effort by Turkey to develop influence in the United States” through various illegal activities.
“Yes, I can confirm that,” Cole told Collins, “That’s true.”
The FBI veteran executive also offered an insider’s account of the panic that ensued inside the highest echelons of the bureau following Edmonds’ first disclosure of information in 2002, recounting how an executive assistant director admitted to him at the time, just after the story first broke, “Well, all I know is that everything that Sibel is stating is true. I read her file. Everything she stated is, in fact, accurate.”
Cole further describes how the concerns about Edmonds ultimately led to the Bush Administration’s two-time use of the Draconian “State Secrets Privilege” in hopes of keeping her extraordinary information from becoming public. “Everybody at headquarters level at the bureau knew that what she was saying was extremely accurate.”
“I know they didn’t want her to go out and speak about it at all,” Cole revealed, “and I know they were trying to figure out ways of keeping this whole thing quiet, because they didn’t want Sibel to come out.”
He also offered information which directly counters one of the criticisms of Edmonds’ allegations as frequently offered by skeptics. Namely, that as a short time FBI contract translator — even though she was tasked to review some seven years of counterintelligence wiretaps made from 1996 to 2002 — she couldn’t have had enough understanding of the full scope of the investigations to understand what was really going on.
“The thing is,” Cole explained to Collins, “the position that Sibel was in, she had access to extremely sensitive information. The translators have access to some of the most sensitive information that we receive.”
He detailed how first-hand information goes first from the translators to the investigators who then act on it, as some of the most important information collected by FBI language specialists could have “implications that may affect even the White House, or policy.”
“So what I’m saying is, I know she had access to some very sensitive stuff, and I could see why the Bureau would squirm over her coming out and speaking about some of the things that were going on.”
The interview concluded with Cole’s reiteration of both his confidence in Edmonds’ credibility, and his call for accountability.
“I would love to see, especially with the allegations that Sibel has come out with, her allegations — which I believe are in fact true, I have no reason to doubt what she’s saying — I would love to see somebody take that, a Special Counsel or whatever, some group of people that you could trust, have them investigate those allegations and have people’s feet held to the fire. Have them be held accountable for their actions — and prosecuted if they’ve done wrong.”
“You know, no one’s above the law, and no one should be above the law,” he added, along with one more chilling thought: “You know, it really irritates me that people are getting away with murder, in some cases. They should not be allowed to get away with that. There needs to be accountability. And that’s what I’d love to see.”
The complete audio, and key text excerpts from Collins’ interview with Cole follow below…
Peter B. Collins interviews John M. Cole, 10/02/09, (appx. 30 mins)
Download MP3, or listen below…
On Edmonds’ credibility…
COLE: I’ve known Sibel now for, ya know, for a few years. And everything she says, she’s a hundred percent right on the money, on the mark. I’ve never — there’s not one thing I’ve seen Sibel be off the mark on. I mean, she’s 100%. She’s very credible. I give her a hundred percent credit on everything she says.
Some of the things I’m not aware of, ya know, that she claims. But, here again, you know we had the Department of Justice’s Inspector General review all this stuff too, and in their report they came out and said that there was a lot of merit to what she was saying and they ordered the Bureau to investigate her allegations. And, of course, they’ve never done it. It’s been how many years since they told them to do that, and nothing’s been done.
So, yeah, I’ve a lot of respect for Sibel Edmonds. I trust her. I don’t think she’d say anything that wasn’t true.
Confirmation of key allegations about Turkish espionage and high-ranking officials…
PBC: John Cole, based on your experience, going back to the early 1990’s, can you confirm that there was an ongoing and detailed effort by Turkey to develop influence in the United States, through a variety of means, some of which were not legal.
COLE: Yes, I can confirm that. That’s true.
PBC: Are you aware of any long-term collusion by U.S. officials that aided and abetted that desire by Turkey to develop influence in Washington. In other words, was this a two-way street?
COLE: As far as helping us, helping the America public, no. As far as helping certain politicians, yes. That’s correct. They would ask for favors, Turkish individuals would ask for favors — ya know, ‘you help me out and I’ll help you out” — and basically what would happen is the elected official would either receive money or some kind of gift. Or, if it was a government employee, I’ve seen it where after they retired, they get these very lucrative positions with a Turkish company, or whatever the country may be. … They get a very lucrative position that pays them an extraordinary amount of money. … So yeah, if you help them out, they help you out. Let’s put it that way.
PBC: And, based on your knowledge, was this centered at the American Turkish Council, was that the entity, the non-government agency that was used by Turkey to spawn and promote this desire to develop influence among important officials in the United States.
COLE: That was just one, there was others too, but yes, that was one.
PBC: And as you read Philip Giraldi’s article and the companion interview in the American Conservative magazine was there anything that jumped out at you, that was new to you?
COLE: I thought it was very interesting, the article was, and nothing really surprised me, let’s put it that way. You know, I thought, well, there was certain things I wasn’t aware of. I’ll say that. But nothing surprised me. I thought well this makes a little more sense on some of the investigations I had, I can understand now why certain things happened the way they did. But as far as jumping out at me, nothing was really a surprise.
On first hearing about Edmonds in a 2002 Washington Post article; Confirmation and reaction among higher-ups in the Bureau when the matter first came up; And the key role that translators play in the FBI’s counterintelligence divisions…
COLE: …When I went back to work the next day, after that article came out, I asked somebody, I said “Whose this Sibel Edmonds?”, and they said, a woman that I know, a female that I know that worked up on the seventh floor, which is where the Director’s floor is at, all the executives are up there — she told me, she goes “Well, all I know is that everything that Sibel is stating”, this is what she told me, she goes, “everything that Sibel is stating is true. I read her file. Everything she stated is, in fact, accurate.” And she goes, “The seventh floor better figure out what they’re gonna do about her, because she’s completely right.”
And then I asked her, I said, “Well, how can I get a hold of her? I want to meet with her. I want to talk to her and compare notes with her.”
And she told me, “It’s best you don’t get in touch with her.”
Everybody at headquarters level at the bureau knew that what she was saying was extremely accurate.
PBC: Aside from the woman on the seventh floor that you referred to, was there any kind of a buzz that ‘we’ve got to silence this woman, that this is dangerous for the FBI, dangerous for the U.S. government, could expose ongoing investigations?’ I mean some of it could have been put in legitimate terms, and others, like you just cited the woman on the seventh floor, seemed to be suggestion that a cover up was in order, because this information was not only true, but highly explosive.
COLE: Well, exactly. And there was an executive assistant director I used to talk to all the time, and I talked to her about it, and she said one time, she goes, “Well, the Bureau is gonna have to try to work something out with Sibel, because they don’t want this to go out and become public.” And said, “Well, I think it’s kind of late for that!” Ya know?
But I know they didn’t want her to go out and speak about it at all, and I know they were trying to figure out ways of keeping this whole thing quiet, because they didn’t want Sibel to come out.
The thing is, the position that Sibel was in, she had access to extremely sensitive information. The translators have access to some of the most sensitive information that we receive. I mean, we have stuff that is just mind-boggling, the stuff that comes in, the translators translate and we get. And they have first-hand knowledge of it, before anyone else does, because they’re the first ones to translate it, and they say ‘Oh, wow, look what’s going on here.”
And then they send it to the investigators, and we put the pieces together and say, ‘Okay, now this is pertinent to my case here, or this is pertinent to this’, or we send an IIR [Intelligence Information Report] out to the community saying ‘this is something you might want to be aware of. This has implications that may affect even the White House, or policy’. So you send an Intelligence Information Report out to those agencies.
So, what Sibel is saying, I don’t doubt whatsoever. There’s no reason for her to lie about it. And she’s been accurate on every other point that she’s ever made.
So what I’m saying is, I know she had access to some very sensitive stuff, and I could see why the Bureau would squirm over her coming out and speaking about some of the things that were going on.
Calling for accountability and a Special Counsel investigation of the Edmonds case…
PBC: John is there anything you’d like to add here, in regard to the Sibel Edmonds case, and what you would like to see in terms of exposure of her allegations and investigation of these various serious claims?
COLE: Well, I’d like to see — I feel terrible for Sibel, because I know what she’s gone through. I mean, I’ve gone through the same thing. I think she went through more than I did, as far as that, and I went through a lot. But what I would like to see, there has to be accountability and there has to be oversight. First of all, you need to have legislation that protects people that come out and do the right thing.
And it has to be enforceable, that’s the second thing. It has to be enforceable. You can have legislation, but if there’s nothing to enforce it, it’s useless. It has to be enforceable.
The third thing is, I don’t believe any agency should have their own control over their security programs, for security clearance. It’s just crazy that they have an inspection division within the FBI that goes out and inspects the FBI. Because everyone in that inspection division is trying to get promoted. And they know if they go out and find something negative about an SAC or an ASAC [Assistant Special Agent in Charge] or a high-level official in the FBI, they’re not going to report it, because it’s going to ruin their career. So you need to have a separate entity coming in and looking at that. The Dept. of Justice would be good, if they would do their job. But there needs to be some changes, and some major changes.
And I would love to see, especially with the allegations that Sibel has come out with, her allegations — which I believe are in fact true, I have no reason to doubt what she’s saying — I would love to see somebody take that, a Special Counsel or whatever, some group of people that you could trust, have them investigate those allegations and have people’s feet held to the fire. Have them be held accountable for their actions — and prosecuted if they’ve done wrong.
You know, no one’s above the law, and no one should be above the law. You know, it really irritates me that people are getting away with murder, in some cases. They should not be allowed to get away with that. There needs to be accountability. And that’s what I’d love to see.
And I’d love to see Sibel finally have her day in court, where she can come out and say what she wants to say, and she can be compensated for all the wrong-doing that they did to her. I mean, she’s an exceptional person, and she’s a patriot, and she should not have been treated the way she’s been treated. That’s what I’d like to see.