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Project on Government Oversight
 

 

 

 

POGO and Public Citizen Urge Court to Open Hearing on Sibel Edmonds Case

April 20, 2005 

 

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and Public Citizen have filed a motion in support of making the hearing on Sibel Edmonds' case open to the public that is scheduled for tomorrow. POGO, 9/11 family members, and other good government groups filed an amicus brief in support of Sibel Edmonds' state secrets litigation earlier this year. Another lawsuit filed by POGO caused the Justice Department to back down on classifying information which had already been widely disseminated on the internet for two years concerning Ms. Edmonds' case (see POGO Alert here or Washington Post story here ).

Here follows a statement from POGO's Executive Director Danielle Brian:

"The public should be allowed to witness the proceedings that will determine whether the government can unilaterally silence national security whistleblowers. Until the public became engaged in the Sibel Edmonds' case, the government was able to thwart all her attempts to fix the national security vulnerabilities she saw while at the FBI. Only with the benefit of public scrutiny can the government's actions can be adequately assessed. The government has classified such mundane items as Ms. Edmonds' birthplace, the school she attended, and the languages she speaks. This makes a mockery of the government's claim that it is acting to protect national security. There very well may be some secrets that need to be protected, but certainly not everything concerning her case."

Below follows the text of an alert issued by the ACLU concerning its motion to open the hearing.

Extra Resources

Statement by POGO's Danielle Brian for Briefing on Growing Government Secrecy & the Sibel Edmonds Case, April 20, 2005.


*** MEDIA ALERT ***

DC Court of Appeals Closes Hearing in Case of FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds
ACLU Files Emergency Motion to Open Hearing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
April 20, 2005

CONTACT: Paul Silva, ACLU Nat'l, 917-406-4688 or 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org; Tracy Zimmerman or Crystal Streuber, 202-518-8047, tracy@PublicInterestPR.com

WASHINGTON , DC —The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this afternoon ordered the courtroom closed to the public during oral arguments tomorrow in Sibel Edmonds' hearing. The American Civil Liberties Union is filing an emergency motion to open the hearing on the grounds that the move violates the First Amendment.

Although the court has not issued a written order, it did orally instruct the clerk that the hearing would be open only to the attorneys involved in the case and Edmonds. The hearing is listed as closed on the court's calendar.

The ACLU said the decision does not appear to be based on state secrets concerns as it allows those without security clearance to be present for the arguments. Furthermore, the briefs being argued have been public since they were first filed in early 2005.

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. Edmonds challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing a lawsuit in federal court, but her case was dismissed last July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege," and retroactively classified briefings to Congress related to her case.

The government has argued that every aspect of Edmonds' case involves state secrets--including where she was born and what languages she speaks. Edmonds is appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to reinstate her case. Several 9/11 family member advocacy groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief in her support. Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU National Office, will argue on behalf of Edmonds.

Immediately following the hearing tomorrow, Beeson and Edmonds, along with 9/11 family members and other national security whistleblowers, will make public comments on the steps at E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse at 333 Constitution Avenue, NW .

 


Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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