Gagged, but Still Going Strong

The appeal court’s decision on the Sibel Edmonds case is out: case dismissed, no opinion cited, no reason provided. The court’s decision of Friday, May 6, has generated a string of obituaries; “another major blow, maybe the last one, to Sibel Edmonds, a woman who has faced an unprecedented level of government secrecy, gag orders, and classification.” Well, dear friends and supporters, Sibel Edmonds may be gagged, but she’s not dead.

On Oct. 18, 2002; three months after I filed my suit against the Department of Justice for the unlawful termination of my employment caused by my reporting criminal activities committed by government officials and employees, John Ashcroft, then attorney general, claimed the rarely invoked state secrets privilege. According to Ashcroft, everything involving my case and my allegations was considered a state secret, and whether or not I was right in my allegations, the United States District Court had to dismiss my entire case without any questions, hearings, or oral argument, period. According to Ashcroft, the court had to grant his order and dismiss the entire case with no hearings solely because he said so. After all, our government knew best. That day, my case was gagged, but I continued on.

In April 2004, after attorneys for a large group of 9/11 family members subpoenaed my deposition, Ashcroft made his next move: He invoked the state secrets privilege for the second time, and this time, he designated my place of birth, date of birth, my mother tongue, my father tongue, my university background, and my previous employment all state secrets, classified, and matters of highest-level national security. Based on this new ruling and designation by our ironically named Justice Department, my passport would be considered a top secret document since it contains my place of birth. My Virginia driving license would be considered a top secret document, since it contains my date of birth. Heck, even my resume would be considered top secret since it contains my linguistic credentials and my degrees. That day, I officially became a gagged whistleblower, but I continued on.

In May 2004, two years after two ranking senators (bipartisan) had, in public records and documents, announced me credible and my case and allegations confirmed and supported, an emboldened Ashcroft struck again. This time, he decided to gag the entire Congress on anything that had to with my case. He ordered two ranking senators to take everything referring to me off their Web sites; he ordered them to consider all documents and letters related to my case top secret; and he commanded that members of Congress shut their mouths on any issue that in any way referred or related to me. Our senators obliged, disregarding the principles of the separation of powers, dishonoring the United States Constitution, and disrespecting their own prestige and status. That day, the United States Congress was gagged about my case, but I continued on.

In June 2004, the United States District Court bowed to His Highness John Ashcroft and announced its decision to no longer honor the Constitution’s guarantee of due process: it dismissed the case and excused itself from providing any real explanation, on the grounds that any possible explanation, or lack thereof, might be classified state secrets. Our court system, too, was unwilling to stand up for its authority and its separation from the executive branch. In other words, the District Court allowed itself to be gagged, but I continued on.

In July 2004, after two years of unexplained foot-dragging, the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General announced that its long overdue investigation of my case complete and issued its report. The further empowered and emboldened attorney general stepped in on that same day and gagged his own inspector general’s findings and report by classifying it. The supposedly independent inspector general’s office wrapped and duct-taped its report, bowed, and left the scene, but I continued on.

On April 21, 2005, for the first time in these three gagged years, my attorneys and I finally had, or thought we had, our day in court. Just hours before our hearing, the appellate court judges issued an unexpected ruling barring all reporters and the public from the courtroom. Numerous media entities tried to flex their weakened muscles by filing a motion to oppose this ruling. The judges denied their motion without citing a reason; when asked, they responded that they didn’t have to provide any reason. Everyone was kicked out of the courtroom except for me, my attorneys, and the large corps of attorneys from the Department of Justice. All the doors to the courtroom were locked, and guards were placed in front of each door to watch out for eavesdroppers. Then came the next shock: after bypassing our brief, asking a couple of puzzling and irrelevant questions, and allowing my attorneys 10 minutes or so of response, the appellate judges asked my attorneys and me, the plaintiff, to leave the courtroom so that the government attorneys could secretly answer questions and make their argument. The guards escorted us out, locked the doors, and stood there in front of the courtroom and watched us for about 15 minutes. So much for finally having my day in court: here I was standing outside the courtroom, guarded, while in there, three judges were having a mingling cozily with government attorneys. Then, it was over; that was it; we were told to leave. My attorneys and I were barred from being present at our own hearing, but I continued on.

On May 6, two weeks after this Kafkaesque proceeding, my attorneys and I were given the verdict: The lower court’s decision was upheld, meaning my entire case, whether or not we had an inspector general’s report that confirmed my allegations, whether or not we had several congressional letters confirming my case and my allegations, was prevented from going forward because of some unspecified state secrets that were so secret even the judges could not hear or see them. In fact, the appellate judges in my case did not cite any opinion because the opinion itself would have been considered secret. Doesn’t this mean that the appellate court and these three judges were in effect gagged? It appears so, but I will continue on.

In the past three years, I have been threatened, I have been gagged several times, I have been prevented from pursuing my due process, all reports and investigations looking into my case have been classified, and every investigative authority dealing with my case has been shut up. According to legal experts familiar with my case, the level of secrecy and classification is unprecedented in the entire history of U.S. courts. According to other experts, I am one of the most, if not the most, gagged woman they have ever heard of. Why?

Those of you who still think my case is about covering up some administrative blunder or bureaucratic mismanagement, please think again.

Those of you who still think that the unprecedented secrecy is justified, please think again.

Those of you who still think that our leaders may be investigating the criminals involved in my complaints, please think again.

The inspector general’s report confirms my core allegations. What were those core allegations, and whos did they involve? Not just some low-level terrorist or terrorist organization; not just some possibly critical foreign entities. No, trust me: they would not go to this length to protect some nobody.

It is way past time for a little bit of critical thinking. The attorney general cites two reasons to justify the unconstitutional, panic-driven assault on me. Reason one: to protect certain diplomatic relations – not named since our officials are obviously ashamed to admit to these relations. Reason two: to protect certain U.S. business interests. Let’s take each one and dissect it (I have given up on our mass media to do that for us!). Since when is the Department of Justice in the business of protecting U.S. diplomatic relations? They appear to be acting as a mouthpiece for the State Department. Now that’s one entity that has strong reasons to cover up what will end up being considered a mammoth blunder. It is the American people and their outrage they must be worried about; they wouldn’t want to have a few of their top officials held criminally liable; would they?

As for reason two, I can assure you that the U.S. foreign business relations they may be referring to are not among those that benefit the majority of the American people. But the American people’s security and best interests are being sacrificed for a handful of military-industrial entities and their lobbying arms. And since when are nuclear black market activities considered legitimate business, one may wonder? If you want the answers to these questions, please ask your representatives for hearings – not behind closed doors, but open, public hearings where these questions can be asked and answered.

And lastly, for those of you who think that since I have been gagged and stopped by almost all available official channels, I must be ready to vaporize into thin air, please think again. I am gagged, but I am not dead. Not yet.