'Gag Ordered' FBI Whistleblower Gives Statement to BRAD BLOG Questioning Letter to Vanity Fair by House Speaker's Legal Counsel
Calls on Hastert to 'Come Clean' on $500k in Un-Itemized Campaign Donations, Relationship With Turkish Interest Groups
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2006, 10:43am PT  

In the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair, a lengthy feature article on former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds discussed a number of claims that Edmonds has by and large been disallowed from expressing publicly.

Her attempts at whistleblowing on the malfeasance and cover-ups she alleges to have witnessed during her time at the bureau in late 2001 and early 2002 --- during which she translated covert wiretaps recorded prior to 9/11 --- have been silenced by the U.S. government. An arcane "states-secret privilege" has been applied to her which effectively "gag orders" her from discussing her claims including allegations which the Dept. of Justice's own Inspector General found to be "credible" and "serious" and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI," according to a declassified version of their investigation into her claims.

One of the allegations discussed by reporter David Rose in the VF article concerned FBI intercepts out of Chicago that Edmonds claims to have listened to. Reportedly, those intercepts suggest that U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), may have been bribed by a large number of small "donations" emanating from shadowy Turkish interest groups. Such donations, $199 and smaller, are not required to be itemized in public filings according to Federal Election Commission rules.

Rose's article reports that Hastert's campaign received nearly $500,000 in such "un-itemized contributions" between 1996 and 2000. By contrast, Tom DeLay (R-TX), one of the House's best fundraisers, received just under $100,000 in such contributions. Only one other congressman, Clay Shaw (R-FL), received more in such contributions than Hastert, bringing in just over $550,000, during that same period.

In late 2000, Hastert announced he would support a resolution in the House declaring the killings of Armenians in Turkey from 1915 to 1923 to have been a "genocide". Armenians have long been pushing for such a resolution in Congress to little avail until Hastert's sudden interest in the effort. The Turkish government has long opposed such a resolution.

The VF article claims the reported content of one of the Chicago wiretaps is of "a senior official at the Turkish Consulate" claiming that "the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000." After Hastert was able to see the resolution through the House International Relations Committee, he withdrew it just minutes before the full House was to have voted on it, citing a plea from President Bill Clinton who is said to have warned the measure would harm U.S. interests.

The February issue of Vanity Fair finally offers a rebuttal of sorts from Hastert's counsel, Randy Evans, in the form of a letter to the editor. That letter, as printed in VF, is posted below, followed by Edmonds rebuttal which she submitted to us over the weekend for publication by The BRAD BLOG...

Edmonds' reply to Evans' letter, in which she calls on Hastert to fully disclose his un-itemized contributions and explain apparent contradictions in his claims about his relationship with Turkish interest groups follows...

1) Why is Hastert refusing to declare all donations?

On August 16, 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into whether Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's campaign committee illegally accepted campaign contributions from foreign nationals in 2000 and 2001. Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated "if Hastert for Congress received an unusually large number of contributions in amounts just under $200 in a relatively condensed period of time, the treasurer's suspicions should have been raised, particularly if many of these checks appeared to be made out by individuals with foreign names." "As a result," Sloan continued, "the treasurer should have followed the procedures outlined by the FEC to discover whether, in fact, the campaign illegally received contributions from foreign nationals."

"The sheer number of small contributions should have raised a red flag. Hastert's campaign committee was obligated to ensure that no laws were being broken. It is now time for a thorough investigation into Hastert's finances."

2) Why did Hastert's office refuse to provide Vanity Fair with information refuting the claims prior to the article being published despite many attempts by VF?

3) The article correctly establishes the timeline (Hastert receiving illegal donations) as 1996 to 2002. Why did Randy Evans pick only October 2000 for his letter in response to the article on Hastert by VF?

4) One of the sources for VF on wiretaps involving Dennis Hastert is identified as an FBI Counterintelligence official who worked on this particular case; does Mr. Evans accuse this source of lying?:

"It began in D.C.," says an F.B.I. counter-intelligence official who is familiar with the case file. "It became apparent that Chicago was actually the center of what was going on."

Its subject was explosive; what sounded like attempts to bribe elected members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican. "There was pressure within the bureau for a special prosecutor to be appointed and take the case on," the official says. Instead, his colleagues were told to alter the thrust of their investigation --- away from elected politicians and toward appointed officials. "This is the reason why Ashcroft reacted to Sibel in such an extreme fashion," he says "It was to keep this from coming out."

5) Mr. Evans states: '...and only five contributors (whose donations amounted to less than $1,000 total) were from somewhere other than Illinois.'

Nothing in the VF article suggested that questionable donations only came from OUTSIDE Illinois. It is likely that many (most) came from within Illinois --- after all --- Chicago is certainly in Illinois.

6) Why doesn't Hastert disclose all the contributions (those under $200), to all his PACs (he has several) for the years between 1997 and 2001? Many congressman do just that; why not come clean & show us yours Mr. Hastert?

7) In the VF article Hastert's spokesman says that Hastert has no affiliation with the A.T.C. [American-Turkish Council] or other groups reportedly mentioned in the wiretaps: "He does not know these organizations."

a. Please refer to Mr. Hastert's trips to Turkey (all trips that took place- 1996-2002); its sponsors --- they are self evident. Now how can he claim not knowing these entities (very intimately)?

b. Also, should we refer to Mr. Hastert's dealing with the named foreign organization via [former House Speaker] Bob Livingston's lobbying firm (Livingston Group)?

8) Finally, the article by VF had several sources in the congress and several sources within the FBI counterintelligence division. I was not cited as a source.

ED. NOTE: Sibel Edmonds is the Founder and President of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), "an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers," according to their website, "who have come forward to address our nation's security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation's borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct."

Edmonds has previously issued several statements to The BRAD BLOG. The first called on whistleblowers from U.S. intelligence agencies to come forward and offer testimony to Congress and the public as a "patriotic duty." And recently, she issued a statement lauding former Vice President Al Gore's recent speech calling for new National Security Whistleblower laws.

She has met with the '9/11 Commission' as well as several high-level U.S. Senators, including Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-RI) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in hopes of airing her allegations in open Congressional Hearings.