CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
French filmmaker Mathieu Verboud is set to release a new documentary for European television this fall, which will reveal important new insights into the case of former FBI translator and president of the National Security Whistleblower’s Coalition Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds, a Turkish-American whose wrongful termination lawsuit was suppressed by the government’s invocation of the all-too-common “state secrets privilege”, reported to her superiors espionage and deliberate mistranslations on the part of fellow Turkish translator, Melek Can Dickerson. It seems Ms. Dickerson had relationships with targets of FBI investigation working at the Turkish Embassy and the American Turkish Council, a fact which meant that anything she translated was likely to be false. However, instead of receiving a promotion for bringing Ms. Dickerson’s’ espionage to the attention of her bosses, Edmonds was fired after she went in frustration to the U.S. Senate. The FBI refused to investigate Edmonds’ claims, at least in part, because the contract linguist had discovered quite a messy scandal: the content of the mistranslated documents revealed that some very powerful people in the U.S. government, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, were connected to foreign organized crime. Even worse, these foreign criminals connected to the high and mighty in the U.S. were also connected internationally, through the heroin trade and associated money laundering, to international terrorist organizations like al Qaeda.
Okay, take a deep breath and take a step back: it’s not a pretty picture. According to what we know so far from Sibel Edmonds’ many interviews and from the groundbreaking story on her case from Vanity Fair, >”An Inconvenient Patriot” , Edmonds found that within the U.S. a nest of Turkish spies, some working at the Turkish embassy, others affiliated with namely the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), the American Turkish Associations (ATA) and the American Turkish Council (ATC), were involved in espionage, bribery, illegal lobbying, drug trafficking and the infiltration of U.S nuclear research labs. Separately, from a former CIA Counterterrorism official, Phillip Giraldi, who himself was once based in Turkey, we know that some arms sales meant for Turkey and Israel were actually meant for resale to countries like China and India- and perhaps even to international terrorists- using fake end-user certificates. So we have Turkish nationals at the Embassy and NGOs stealing U.S. secrets for sale to the highest bidder, re-selling arms meant for Turkey, bringing in drugs from Europe, and pouring money into bribes and lobbying activities.
To understand how these activities fit together- Americans must first understand what Europeans call the Turkish ‘deep state’. In 1996, a car crash in a town called Susurluk revealed “link between politics, organized crime and the bureaucracy” in Turkey. As it turns out, its crippled economy in the 1990s meant Turkey had become the European equivalent of Colombia- a state almost completely dependent on the Turkish mafia and by extension, the Southwest Asian Heroin trade. Which is where the Turkish ‘deep state’ comes in- it becomes very difficult to determine where the ‘government’ ends and the ‘mafia’ begins. What we do know from Sibel Edmonds and other sources is this: Turkey’s secular establishment, including the Turkish military and intelligence services (MIT), as well as political parties associated with former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, appear to have been more connected to the Turkish mafia than the Turkish Islamic Parties that Washington abhors. Furthermore, it appears from reading into some of Edmonds’ statements that the Turkish mafia was partnered with Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda network in the drug trade- meaning Turkey’s secular establishment was more connected to al Qaeda- pre/9-11- than were the Islamists in Turkey. Which is quite ironic, to say the least.
If you think this story sounds too convoluted to be true, and you feel the instinct to dismiss Edmonds’ claims, think again. Every investigation into the whistleblower’s charges- from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General Report, has found that Edmonds’ story is corroborated within the FBI, which means her translations, not those of Melek Can Dickerson, were the correct ones. This also means that the aforementioned Turkish organizations, and certain Turkish diplomats, were indeed under FBI investigation. And all this put together means that people like Dennis Hastert probably were- and perhaps still are- on the payroll of Turkish ‘deep state’ interests.
A recent article published in the U.K. Guardian about the well-connected Kurdish Baybasin clan also gives important backing to the former translator’s story. The article details how Europe’s “Pablo Escobar“, Huseyin Baybasin, has “alleged that he had received the assistance of Turkish embassies and consulates while moving huge consignments of drugs around Europe, and that Turkish army officers serving with NATO in Belgium were also involved.” This information, of course, dovetails most precisely with what Sibel Edmonds has been hinting at for over 3 years now; that targets of FBI investigations linked with the Turkish embassy and Turkish organizations were involved in narcotics trafficking. It is clear the Baybasin gang and the secular factions in Turkey had a seemingly symbiotic relationship, with the government providing the traffickers diplomatic passports and thus free reign to travel around the world without fear of prosecution. Also involved in the scandalous Turkish drug running are the very notorious Pope-killing Grey Wolves, a fascist organization connected to human rights abuses in Turkey.
As for who else besides Hastert might have been on the payroll of Mr. Baybasin and friends- we turn next to the Executive Branch. In an interview with Chris Deliso of antiwar.com, Edmonds hinted at key roles played by some powerful unelected officials-important Neoconservatives like Marc Grossman of the State Department, and Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, formerly of the Defense Department. If we hit the rewind button and go back to a CBS 60 Minutes’ interview in October, 2002, we remember the ex-contract linguist stated that Turkish targets of FBI investigation had spies inside the U.S. State Department and at the Pentagon in order to “obtain the United States military and intelligence secrets.” It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Grossman, Feith and Perle might have been the persons to whom she was referring in 2002. Furthermore, the language specialist has repeatedly stated in past interviews that investigations into pre-9/11 terrorist financing activities were blocked “per State Department request“, leaving open the question whether it was Mr. Grossman, then Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, who actively hindered investigations into the Turkey-Bin Laden link.
Perle and Feith are an interesting case in this hidden scandal. Their consultancy, International Advisors (IA), has done extensive work for the Republic of Turkey, though it is questionable who is paying the invoices. Ms. Edmonds rhetorically asked the question of Phoenix radio personality Charles Goyette in January 2006, “For what [were they paid]? One could imagine, hypothetically, that passing state secrets might be one “service” provided to the Turkish mafia/government by IA. But would Perle and Feith have gone beyond that? Would they have introduced the Turkish mafia types to Denny Hastert, and counseled “deep state” interests in how to skirt U.S. campaign finance laws? After all, the Turks were reported to have made their initial payments from 1996-1998 through “unitemized (less than $200) contributions”, after which they allegedly delivered suitcases of cash to the Speaker’s front door. Someone had to teach them the intricacies of campaign finance law: was it IA? What we do know is that Perle was a key architect of the Israeli/Turkish alliance forged in the late 90s, and that Edmonds case also is connected to the AIPAC spy scandal- leaving lots of room for speculation on how the rest of the story pans out.
As messy and ugly as this, for lack of a better phrase, “Turkish DeepState Gate” scandal appears, the consequences of continuing to do nothing about it- of allowing the government’s outrageous use of ‘state secrets’ to insure Dennis Hastert, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Marc Grossman and others are never investigated, could be horrific. Ms. Edmonds plans to take petitions to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the coming months to finally force full and open hearings on her case. She will try to do the type of lobbying that does not involve foreign bribery or ill-gotten gains. This will be the simple type of petitioning guaranteed of every citizen in the Constitution under the First Amendment, a long forgotten portion of the Bill of Rights. Americans aware of the situation can only hope, and do everything in their power to insure, that Ms. Edmonds’ type of lobbying prevails.
MIKE MEJIA is a freelance writer with a Master’s in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he specialized in International Trade and Arms Proliferation. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.