Friday, February 13, 2009

My Problem With Sibel Edmonds

This comes up periodically as in the comments on the Melissa Rossi thread. Sibel Edmonds has some reasonable credibility to novices on the 9-11 topic. Her supporters can point to her appearance on 60 Minutes, and the front-page story about her claims which appeared in the (UK) Sunday Times last year. We know at least that she's not another ridiculous fraud like Lauro Chavez or Mike the EMT.

I don't express any opinion about her revelations on the mainstream coverage of her because they're not part of our bailiwick. But I do have some problems trusting her because of the letter she wrote to the 9-11 Commission. Looking back I can't see where I've posted about that here, so I thought I'd take care of that today.

Here's the passage that concerns me:

More than four months prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama bin Laden. This asset/informant was previously a high-level intelligence officer in Iran in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan. Through his contacts in Afghanistan, he received information that: 1) Osama bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting four or five major cities; 2) the attack was going to involve airplanes; 3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States; 4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months. The agents who received this information reported it to their superior, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism Thomas Frields at the FBI Washington Field Office, by filing 302 forms, and the translator translated and documented this information. No action was taken by the special agent in charge, and after 9/11 the agents and the translators were told to "keep quiet" regarding this issue. The translator who was present during the session with the FBI informant, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, reported this incident to Director Mueller in writing, and later to the Department of Justice Inspector General. The press reported this incident, and a report in the Chicago Tribune on July 21, 2004, stated that FBI officials had confirmed that this information was received in April 2001.

Note the high degree of specificity:

1. Attack in the US targeting 4-5 cities.
2. Attack will involve airplanes.
3. Some of the attackers already in the US.
4. Attack coming soon.

Now, let's go to the Chicago Tribune article she cites. It's not on the Tribune's webpage anymore, but it's been archived on many 9-11 "Truth" sites like this one. Here's the nub:

Although the Asset has lived in the U.S. 25 years and speaks some English, the FBI has had trouble understanding him in the past. To guard against any misunderstanding, the two FBI agents assigned to interview him in April 2001 brought along an FBI translator fluent in his native language, Farsi.

The interview followed the standard FBI format. The agents posed their questions in English, which were then translated into Farsi. The Asset's replies were translated back into English as the agents took notes.

According to the law enforcement official, "there was talk about terrorists and planes," but no mention of when or where the attacks might take place.

It was the FBI agents' impression, the official said, that the target of the attacks could be "possibly here, but more probably overseas." The Asset also reported having heard a rumor that a plane would be hijacked to Afghanistan, the official said.

The FBI's translator, a former Iranian police colonel named Behrooz Sarshar, does not recall any mention of a hijacking to Afghanistan. But Sarshar, then a career FBI employee assigned to the translation section of the bureau's Washington field office, does remember the Asset saying the attacks might take place in the U.S. or Europe, and also that the terrorist-pilots were "under training."

So based on the article we can say the following about Sibel's specific claims:

1. Attack in the US targeting 4-5 cities. Status: False. In fact the article quite clearly states that the impression of the official was that the attacks would be overseas.
2. Attack will involve airplanes. Status: True
3. Some of the attackers already in the US. Status: False. No discussion of this in the article, and indeed, given that the belief was that the attack was more likely to take place overseas there is no reason to believe this claim.
4. Attack coming soon. Status: False. " mention of when or where the attacks might take place."

So, that's one out of four; not a bad average for a shortstop, but unacceptable for a whistle-blower.