A former FBI translator with top-secret security clearance says
she has provided detailed information to the panel investigating
September 11 that proves senior officials knew of al Qaeda plans to
attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes in New York
She said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's claim that
there was no such information is "an outrageous lie".
Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a
closed-door session with the commission's investigators providing
information circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of
2001 suggesting an attack using aircraft was just months away and
the terrorists were in place.
The Bush Administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and
has obtained a gag order from a court by citing the rarely used
"state secrets privilege".
She told the Independent: "I gave [the commission] details of
specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target
information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I
gave them everything [so] that they could go back and follow up.
"This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These
things can be established very easily."
She added: "There was general information about the time frame,
about methods to be used - but not specifically about how they would
be used - and about people being in place and who was ordering these
sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were
mentioned. Major cities - with skyscrapers."
The accusations of Edmonds, a Turkish-American who speaks Arabic,
Farsi, Turkish and English, will reignite the controversy over
whether or not the Bush Administration ignored warnings about al
Qaeda. That controversy was sparked most recently by Richard Clarke,
a former senior counter-terrorism official, who has accused the
Administration of repeatedly ignoring his warnings about the threat
posed by al Qaeda in the months after President Bush assumed office.
This issue - what the Administration knew and when - is central
to the investigation being carried out by the 9-11 Commission which
has been hearing testimony in both public and private from
Government officials, intelligence officials and secret sources.
Earlier this week, the White House undertook a major U-turn when it
said Rice would appear in public before the commission to answer
questions. Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney will also be questioned
in a closed-door session.
Edmonds, 33, from northern Virginia, was hastily hired as a
part-time translator for the FBI's Washington field office on
September 13, 2001, just two days after the al Qaeda attacks that
killed almost 3000 people. Her job was to translate documents and
recordings from FBI wire-taps, some of which had already been
translated and some of which was new.
She said much of the information relating to the terror attacks -
particularly about the funding of the operation - was not obtained
from agents working strictly in counter-terrorism but in areas such
"President Bush said they had no specific information about
September 11 and that is accurate but only because he said September
11," she said.
There was, however, general information about the use of
aeroplanes and that an attack was just months away.
Feature: September 11
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