Tuesday April 27, 2004

 

An FBI translator says she has seen evidence of warnings that terrorists were planning to attack the US using airplanes.

Bush administration bids to silence intelligence failure witness

26.04.2004 - 1.00pm - By ANDREW BUNCOMBE

The Bush administration will today seek to prevent a former FBI translator providing evidence about September 11 intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al Qaeda.

Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks in New York and Washington to testify that she had seen information that proved there was considerable evidence prior to September 2001 that al Qaeda was planning to strike the US with aircraft.

The lawyers made their demand after reading the comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent.

But the US Justice Department is seeking to stop Mrs Edmonds from testifying, citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

Today in afederal court in Washington, senior government lawyers will try and gag Mrs Edmonds, claiming that disclosure of her evidence "would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States".

Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who had top secret security clearance while working for the FBI, claimed earlier this month that information she had seen while working in the bureau's headquarters in Washington proves senior officials knew of al Qaeda's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

Mrs Edmonds has declined to publicly reveal the specific information shes ays she has but she has provided sworn testimony to the independent panel appointed by President Bush to investigate the circumstances surrounding 9-11.

She was subpoenaed by the law firm Motley-Rice, which is representing hundreds of families who are taking civil action against a number of banks and two members of the Saudi royal family for allegedly aiding al Qaeda.

Mrs Edmonds would be in contempt of court if she refused to respond to the subpoena.

Last night her lawyer, Mark Zaid, said: "The FBI wants to shut her up completely.

They don't want her to say anything. "He said it was ridiculous to claim that everything Mrs Edmonds knew had national security implications.

Rather, he said, the FBI was seeking to silence his client to save its embarrassment.

"There is no doubt that what she knows is hugely embarrassing to the bureau," he said.

The Bush administration has been put onto the back foot by allegations that senior officials - and perhaps even Mr Bush himself - were provided considerable intelligence information warning of an imminent attack by al Qaeda and that they failed to act.

The accusations were first levelled by Richard Clarke, a former White House counter-terrorism official who claimed that his warnings about the threat from al Qaeda were repeatedly ignored.

Mrs Edmonds said yesterday: "What are they are afraid of? If I am not allowed to give evidence the families will not get the information I have -that will be that."

She said it was wrong for the Bush administration to claim it wanted a full investigation.

"If there is transparency there is going to be accountability and that is what they don't want."

- INDEPENDENT

Herald Feature: September 11

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