Newspaper logo  
 
 
  ACLU Charges That Government is Abusing 'States Secrets Privilege' to Cover Up National Security Blunders, ACLU Says

NATIONAL NEWS:

ACLU Charges That Government is Abusing "States Secrets Privilege" to Cover Up National Security Blunders, ACLU Says

Source: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

DC Court of Appeals is urged to reinstate the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmunds.
WASHINGTON, January 12, 2005--The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the D.C. Court of Appeals to reinstate the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, saying that the government is abusing the "state secrets privilege" to silence employees who expose national security blunders.

"The government should be applauding, not punishing, employees who risk their jobs to expose threats to our nation's security," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson in the ACLU's press release on this matter. "If the lower court ruling stands, many thousands of government employees will be unprotected from retaliatory dismissal, with no recourse in the courts, and others will be even less willing to risk exposing misconduct or corruption."

Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 after repeatedly reporting serious security breaches and misconduct in the agency's translation program. She challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing suit in federal court. Last July, the district court dismissed her case when Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called state secrets privilege. The ACLU is representing Edmonds in the appeal.

The ACLU has announced its willingness to support other national security whistleblowers and has encouraged others to come forward. Notable whistleblowers such as John M. Cole and Frederic Whitehurst support Edmonds' case, as do several senators, the families of 9/11 victims, the Project On Government Oversight and a long list of others. Many of them will be joining a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed later this month. Representatives of these groups will be present at a noon news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday, January 26.

In its brief, the ACLU sharply criticizes the government's "radical theory" that every aspect of the Edmonds' case involves state secrets and therefore it cannot go forward. In accepting the government's theory, the ACLU said, the district court relied on the government's secret evidence but denied Edmonds the opportunity to prove her case based on non-sensitive evidence. That approach, the ACLU said, "made a mockery of the adversarial process and denied Ms. Edmonds her constitutional right to a day in court."

"As a U.S. citizen, I am disturbed that my government is imposing such severe punishment on truth tellers," Edmonds said in a prepared statement to the press. "I am pursuing this appeal not only on my own behalf but on behalf of government employees everywhere who understand that nothing is more important than protecting our security."

The state secrets privilege, when properly invoked, permits the government to block disclosure of particular documents that would cause harm to national security. In the Edmonds case, the government used the privilege not just to protect particular documents but to urge dismissal of the entire case.

History has shown that the government has relied on the state secrets privilege to cover up its own negligence. In the 1948 Supreme Court case Reynolds v. United States, the government claimed that disclosing a military flight accident report would jeopardize secret military equipment and harm national security. Nearly 50 years later, in 2004, the truth came out--the accident report contained no state secrets, but instead confirmed that the cause of the crash was faulty maintenance of the B-29 fleet.

The government is engaged in a similar cover-up in the Edmonds case, the ACLU said. In 2002, at the request of Senate Judiciary Committee members Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the FBI provided several unclassified briefings to Members of Congress in which it confirmed many of Edmonds' allegations.

More than two years later, the Justice Department retroactively classified those briefings, which were reported in the Congressional Record, and asked Members who had the information posted on their web sites to remove certain documents. The ACLU said the move was a "blatant attempt to bolster the government's efforts to dismiss Edmonds' case on state secrets grounds." The retroactive classification has also been challenged in a separate lawsuit brought by the Project On Government Oversight.

Only two weeks after the district court dismissed Edmonds' case, FBI director Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Senator Grassley reporting that the Department of Justice Inspector General had completed a classified investigation and concluded that Edmonds' allegations "were at least a contributing factor in why the FBI terminated her services."

Later this week, in response to a separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Inspector General is expected to release an unclassified version of the report's executive summary. The rest of the report will remain classified.

Oral argument in Edmonds' case' is scheduled for April 21, 2005. Ann Beeson will be arguing on behalf of Edmonds. Co-counsel in the case are: Melissa Goodman and Benjamin Wizner of the national ACLU; Art Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area; Mark Zaid of the Washington law firm Krieger and Zaid; and Eric Seiff of New York.




Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on January 15, 2005.

 
Local Stories, Events
Health Care & Environment

09.18 'Terrifying' New Climate Models Warn of 6-7°C of Warming by 2100 If Emissions Not Slashed

09.17 New Report Details 10 'Critical Transitions' to Tackle the Climate Crisis and Feed the World

09.16 Common pesticide makes migrating birds anorexic [Neonicotinoids, again...]

09.16 ACT plans far-reaching electrification of vehicles and homes in drive to reduce emissions

09.16 'Like a sunburn on your lungs': how does the climate crisis impact health? [Important]

09.16 $1m a minute: the farming subsidies destroying the world [Important]

09.15 German Study: Alarming Levels of Dangerous Plastics in Children's Bodies

09.15 Sea levels may rise more rapidly due to Greenland ice melt

09.15 The world has a third pole – and it's melting quickly

09.14 Not Just the Bees, First-of-Its-Kind Study Shows Neonics May Be Killing Birds Too [A GESTALT: Like happened at Boeing, deregulation has displaced scientific and engineering professionalism in many companies and governments to focus on profits/economics almost exclusively. But after similar failure of scientific rigor, die-off reports of bees, worms and sea-life, generally, there must be a moritorium on production, sale and use of all potentially dangerous chemicals!]

09.13 Trump Rollback of Key EPA Water Protection Rule Denounced as 'Callous' and 'Immoral' Giveaway to Big Polluters

09.13 Worms fail to thrive in soil containing microplastics – study

09.13 Dolphins in Channel carry 'toxic cocktail' of chemicals [What is safe to eat?]

09.11 How Can We Address Climate Change Through Agriculture? [3:43 video]

09.11 New solar tech could revolutionise electricity production

09.11 'It can kill you in seconds': the deadly algae on Brittany's beaches

09.10 How to look after your mental health

09.10 Who’s Ready for the Electric Moped Moment? [Uses car lanes instead of sidewalks!]

09.09 The Climate Investment That Promises 400 Percent Returns

09.09 Suicide rates are rising across the US, especially in rural areas

09.08 Blend solar panels with agriculture, new study recommends

09.08 Before Hurricane Dorian, Charleston Already Had a Flooding Crisis

News Media Matters

09.16 From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing's Glass House

09.15 'No Policy, No Facts, Just Displays of Violence': Ocasio-Cortez Says Hysterical Ad Proves GOP Has No Response to Progressive Vision [0:30 video]

09.14 Sanders Campaign Hits Back Against 'Dishonest' Biden Attack on Medicare for All [The facts don't lie, but America's media totally does lie when paid by advertisers to distort single-payer as more expensive: 1:35 video]

09.12 Media bias is OK – if it's honest [‘It should be obvious that there can’t be such a thing as a neutral journalist.’]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.18 Why Trump Can’t Learn: An Educated Guess by a Veteran Teacher [Might dyslexia explain the Republican party, generally?]

09.18 'Heartless and Unconscionable': Outrage as General Motors Cuts Off Healthcare for 50,000 Striking Workers [Hideous corporate behavior putting 50,000 families at greater health and bankruptcy risk.]

09.18 Whole Foods Will Cut Health-Care Benefits for Nearly 2,000 Employees [Hideous corporate behavior putting 2,000 families at greater health and bankruptcy risk.]

09.18 US healthcare is booming. So why do one in five workers live in poverty?

09.18 Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘You’re not trying hard enough. Sorry’

09.17 'The silenced': meet the climate whistleblowers muzzled by Trump

09.17 Democrats have long blamed 'culture' for black poverty. Joe Biden is no exception

09.17 The Guardian view on the future of work: share out the benefits

09.16 America is stuck with Brett Kavanaugh

09.16 Sanders Responds to Biden's Praise for Pharma Companies: 'Their Behavior Is Literally Killing People Every Day'

09.15 'Americans are waking up': two thirds say climate crisis must be addressed

09.15 The Plutocratic War on People: Centrists and Conservatives are Ignoring the Giant Elephant in Our National Living Room

09.14 The U.S. Health-Care System Found a Way to Make Peanuts Cost $4,200

09.14 California church leaders 'used homeless as forced labour' [A coarsening of public behavior...]

09.14 Taco Bell customer who was treating homeless group to meals says she was kicked out of restaurant [A coarsening of public behavior...]

09.14 We Asked Prosecutors if Health Insurance Companies Care About Fraud. They Laughed at Us.

09.14 Elizabeth Warren’s Health Care Plan Still Leaves a Lot of Unanswered Questions

09.14 Medicare for All Would Cut Poverty by Over 20 Percent

Justice Matters

09.14 NY AG uncovers $1 billion in Sackler family wire transfers amid opioid probe: report

09.12 'Decades of Progress Are at Stake' as Trump Reaches 150 Lifetime Judicial Appointments and Right-Wing Court Takeover Accelerates

09.12 JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR ISSUES SCATHING DISSENT TO SUPREME COURT'S ASYLUM RULE DECISION: THE STAKES 'COULD NOT BE HIGHER'

09.11 Former top FEMA officials arrested on fraud charges in Puerto Rico

09.09 The great break-up of Big Tech is finally beginning [Facebook and Google effectuate the evil of data analytics]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

09.12 The insidious ideology pushing us towards a Brexit cliff-edge

09.12 Boeing's travails show what's wrong with modern capitalism

International & Futurism

09.18 If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil [1:45 video]

09.17 ONLY A GREEN NEW DEAL CAN DOUSE THE FIRES OF ECO-FASCISM

09.17 The Guardian view on Modi’s 100 days: trashing lives and the constitution

09.17 The Observer view on the threat posed to Israel by another Benjamin Netanyahu victory

09.17 For Palestinians, Israel’s elections promise nothing but defeat

09.17 I now look back on my 20 years of climate activism as a colossal failure

09.17 The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink

09.16 EXCLUSIVE: Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil plants

09.16 'We walk with our heads high': the women who care for country by fighting fire with fire

09.16 Inheritance tax would be scrapped by the Brexit party – good news for the very rich

09.16 Tunisian exit polls suggest shock victory for political outsiders

Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: