Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sibel Edmonds in War Declared by Turkish Lobby Group & CIA Torturing Still

Is there anyone left in the country who doesn't understand the power of foreign entanglements (lobbies)? And the importance of investigating the machinations and torture-related history of the CIA after 9/11?

Because if so, they must be BFF's with Joe Lieberman, Paris Hilton or Goldman Sachs.

Take a look at the characters who have supported Edmond's testimony in the past (Grassley, Leahy, Ashcroft(?)).

If you are confused after reading this essay about who is probably one of the great patriots of our time, read the Comments Section after this essay . (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Turkish Lobby Group'Declares War' on Sibel Edmonds' Under-Oath Testimony

In a rather extraordinary unbylined blog item posted on Wednesday, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) has launched what appears to be an all-out assault on FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and her remarkable, long-awaited under-oath deposition taken over the weekend in the Ohio Election Commission (OEC)'s Schmidt v. Krikorian case.

Called as a witness for David Krikorian (who is Armenian-American), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)'s opponent in 2008 and 2010, Edmonds (who is Turkish-American) testified to infiltration, bribery, corruption, and blackmail within the U.S. Government, by current and former members of the U.S. House and other high ranking officials, on behalf of Turkish interests. Schmidt, the co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus has filed a complaint with the OEC alleging "false statements" by Krikorian during their 2008 contest when he had alleged she had taken "blood money" from those opposed to a Congressional declaration of Armenian Genocide by the Turks during WWI. Schmidt is also said to have taken more money from Turkish interests during the 2008 campaign than any other House candidate.

The TCA seems to have "declared war," according to Edmonds who touched base from out of the country via email on Wednesday. The scathing blog post alleges Edmonds' testimony was "a full-on assault against the national interests of the United States and the integrity of its justice system by the Armenian lobby"; says "Krikorian and his lobbyist backers are getting desperate"; and otherwise attempts to disparage Edmonds' character by describing her as "self-aggrandizing," and a "disgruntled and discredited former federal employee."

The report offers no evidence to support any of its allegations against Krikorian, Edmonds or "the Armenian Lobby." Many of the claims, particularly those concerning Edmonds, are directly contradicted by official reports from the FBI Inspector General's office, as well as senior, bi-partisan members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee . . . "[S]he has a self-aggrandizing imagination inflating her position at the FBI to that of an interrogator of terrorists; and . . . has a book coming out this fall," the blog post claims about Edmonds. While we've interviewed Edmonds for many hours over the years, in depth, and read an extraordinary amount of reportage on her case, we've never heard or read any such claims of her having interrogated anybody. As to a book coming out, we know nothing of that either, though it would certainly be welcome!

While alleging in one breath that "Krikorian and his lobbyist backers are getting desperate," the blog post then goes on to make the rather, um, desperate, charge that: "The irrelevance and insignificance of Ms. Edmonds' deposition can be evidenced by the fact that Mr. Geragos, Mr. Krikorian’s attorney of record, did not bother to show up."

Huh? Krikorian himself flew in from Ohio for the deposition, and celebrity-attorney Geragos' firm is, in fact, representing Krikorian, but it's rather common for other attorneys in any law firm to be present for a deposition. While we don't have any particular dog in the Turkish Lobby vs. Armenian Lobby hunt, the use of such a silly claim would seem to suggest the author of the Turkish Coalition's post was fairly desperate him/herself.

The TCA post goes on to ask why Edmonds' was called to testify in the case at all, since she admittedly had no specific information on Schmidt's personal involvement with the Turkish lobby or last year's race between her and Krikorian. Schmidt came to Congress in a 2005 special election, several years after Edmonds had left the FBI where she was a translator of pre-9/11 wiretaps.

Why would she testify then? Was the Armenian Lobby merely trying to divert the court’s attention away from the case at hand by introducing a witness who would make further unfounded accusations against the Turkish government, none of which involved the defendant or the plaintiff? Or, one might ask, has there even been a bigger waste of time for the American legal system?

We hate to say it, but this passage seems to offer still more desperation. The case concerns whether or not Schmidt has been unduly influenced by Turkish lobbyists and/or the Turkish government. Edmonds testified on just about a half dozen U.S. Congressmembers, current and former, who, she says, had been bribed, blackmailed, and otherwise cajoled or strong-armed into supporting Turkish causes. Offering up a first-hand witness to such behavior by others in Congress seems a perfectly reasonable part of anybody's defense in such a case.

The TCA continues by then attempting to simply disparage Edmonds' character, describing her as "a discredited former employee of the FBI (who served the federal government for a total of six months before being fired)."

They do not, however, offer any actual evidence for their claims that Edmonds has been "discredited," even as the actual on-the-record evidence suggests quite the opposite.

In 2005, for example, portions of the FBI's own Inspector General's report on her case were unclassified. They reported her allegations to be "credible," "serious," and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI."

As far back as 2002, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-NE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), then the senior members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, co-wrote letters on Edmonds' behalf to Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and DoJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, calling on all of them to take action in respect to the allegations she's made to Congress and, later, to the 9/11 Commission.

Grassley would discuss Edmonds' credibility on CBS' 60 Minutes in a 2002 report when he said "Absolutely, she's credible...And the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story." To our knowledge, none of her on-the-record allegations about Turkish influence and/or infiltration in the U.S. government have been discredited. Though the TCA seems to have done a fine job of discrediting themselves with such an irresponsible, evidence-free, unbylined attack on an FBI whistleblower.

Read the rest here.

And how long do you think the CIA stayed in the torture business? (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

CIA Accused of Third Torture Prison in Europe

Spiegel Online

As Americans continue to debate the torture era of the Bush administration, a new report has emerged about the alleged existence of a third secret prison used by the CIA in Europe. According to ABC News, the CIA operated a "black site" prison in Lithuania until the end of 2005.

Following reports on "black site" prisons in Poland, ABC News is now reporting that a third jail existed in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. According to the report, as many as eight prisoners were held there for at least one year.

The United States is believed to have used the third black site prison in Europe to hold high-value al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to question them using "special interrogation techniques." These included the simulated drowning of prisoners through the practice known as waterboarding. With the development, the debate in America over government interrogation techniques and torture appears to be taking on a greater European dimension.

ABC News reports that the site wasn't closed until late 2005, after newspapers and TV stations first reported on secret prisons in Europe used by the US after the 9/11 attacks. The broadcaster cited former CIA sources either directly involved or briefed on the secret program to detain the suspected al-Qaida terrorists in Europe.

The US intelligence agency refused to comment on the report. "The CIA does not publicly discuss where facilities associated with its past detention program may or may not have been located," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano told ABC News. "We simply do not comment on those types of claims, which have appeared in the press from time to time over the years. The dangers of airing such allegations are plain. These kinds of assertions could, at least potentially, expose millions of people to direct threat. That is irresponsible."

The Lithuanian government approved the secret prison because it was interested in improving its relations with the US, a former CIA agent told ABC News. The country, however, wasn't offered any incentives for its cooperation. "We didn't have to," a former intelligence official in the program said. "They were happy to have our ear."

Flights Between Secret Prisons

The Lithuanian Embassy in Washington has denied the existence of a secret prison in the Baltic state. However ABC News claims to have seen flight logs that document flights between the various secret prisons in Lithuania, Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Morocco.

"We've known for a long time that there had to be a third site in Eastern Europe," John Sifton of the New York-based human rights organization One World Research told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

"But unfortunately we never knew where it was." Sifton has also obtained records which show flights to Lithuania, mainly in 2004 and 2005. Aircraft belonging to the company Richmor Aviation, which has been proven to have carried out flights on behalf of the CIA and which has repeatedly come under suspicion of transporting prisoners for the intelligence agency, landed in Vilnius on several occasions. "Admittedly that is not proof, but it is at least a significant piece of evidence," says Swifton.

Additionally, a cargo plane with the number N8213G, which also belongs to one of the CIA's partner companies, is alleged to have flown to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. One theory is that the cargo plane may have been bringing food and other supplies to the black site. However, aircraft did not always fly directly to Vilnius - some flights also took place via Poland.

A Gulfstream jet with the tail number N379P, known as one of the so-called "torture taxis" used to carry out renditions, often landed at the small Szymany military airport in the northeast of Poland. The Americans maintained a secret prison about an hour's drive away from Szymany, where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the 9/11 attacks was held, among other prisoners. In March 2003 alone, Mohammed was subjected to exactly 183 incidences of water boarding - an average of eight times a day. The Polish secret service is alleged to have put 20 of its own agents at the CIA's disposal. A Warsaw prosecutor has been investigating the former Polish government for abuse of authority for over a year.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed later told a team from the International Red Cross, who questioned him in late 2006, that he thought he had probably been held prisoner in Poland. "I think the country was Poland," he said, according to the Red Cross report. "I think this because on one occasion a water bottle was brought to me without the label removed. It had (an) e-mail address ending in '.pl'. The central-heating system was an old-style one that I would expect only to see in countries of the former communist system."

If the allegations against Lithuania are confirmed, it could lead to further investigations. Like Poland and Romania, Lithuania has signed the United Nations' Convention Against Torture.

Suzan ______________________________

No comments: