Celebrating 9/11 at the FBI


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jsalcedo
February 12, 2004, 03:57 PM
Celebrating 9/11 at the FBI
By Paul Sperry
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 11, 2004


When linguist Sibel Dinez Edmonds showed up for her first day of work at the FBI, a week after the 9-11 attacks, she expected to find a somber atmosphere. Instead, she was offered cookies filled with dates from party bowls set out in the room where other Middle Eastern linguists with top-secret security clearance translate terror-related communications.

She knew the dessert is customarily served in the Middle East at weddings, births and other celebrations, and asked what the happy occasion was. To her shock, she was told the Arab linguists were celebrating the terrorist attacks on America, as if they were some joyous event. Right in front of her supervisor, one translator cheered:

"It's about time they got a taste of what they've been giving the Middle East."

She found out later that it was her supervisor's wife who helped organize the office party there at the bureau's Washington field office, just four blocks from the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

"This guy's wife brought the date-filled cookies for the celebration," Edmonds, 33, recalled.

At the time, the supervisor, Mike Feghali, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Beirut, was in charge of the FBI's Turkish and Farsi desks.

But he's been promoted since then, and now also runs the all-important Arabic desk, which is key to intercepting the next al-Qaida plot.

It gets worse.

The language service squad is the front line in the FBI's war on terrorism, collecting all foreign language tips, information and terrorist threats to homeland security. Agents act on what the squad translates and reports. The sooner they get the information, the sooner they can thwart terrorist attacks. Investigators had missed clues to both the 2001 and 1993 World Trade Center attacks because they were buried in a backlog of untranslated wiretaps and documents in Arabic.

Despite the backlog, Feghali told Edmonds and other translators to just let the work pile higher, according to Edmonds. Why? Money. She says Feghali, who has recruited family and friends to work with him at the high-paying language unit, argued that Congress would approve an even bigger budget for it if they could continue to show big backlogs.

"We were told to take long breaks, to slow down translations, and to simply say 'no' to those field agents calling us to beg for speedy translations so that they could go on with their investigations and interrogations of those they had detained," said Edmonds, who was fired without specified cause by the FBI after she reported breaches in security, mistranslations and potential espionage by Middle Eastern colleagues.

She claims Feghali actually tampered with her work to slow her down.

"My supervisor went as far as getting into my work computer and deleting almost completed work so that I had to go back and start all over again," she said.

Edmonds, a Turkish-American who is not a practicing Muslim, made the allegations last month in a 9-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She also claims that Feghali threatened to sue the bureau for racial discrimination, but dropped the suit once the bureau promoted him, says Edmonds and other sources. The FBI, which like the army suffers from a severe shortage of Arabic translators, instated a bureau-wide Muslim-sensitivity training program after 9-11.

Reached by phone at his Maryland home, Feghali was brusque and refused to talk about the allegations.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss this thing, OK?" he said before abruptly hanging up.

The spokesperson for the FBI's Washington field office, Debbie Weierman, did not return repeated phone calls.

Feghali, who holds several foreign language degrees, has been an FBI language specialist for several years. He was a key translator in the government's case against al-Qaida operatives charged in the U.S. embassy bombing in Kenya, and even testified in court.

Sources say he is planning to move back to Lebanon.

A key player in the 9-11 plot and the likely pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, the suicide plane that crashed apparently en route to the U.S. Capitol, was Ziad Samir Jarrah, a Lebanese.

Edmonds has also complained about Feghali and other Middle Eastern translators to the Justice Department inspector general.

And on Wednesday, she is scheduled to give a detailed briefing to members of the 9-11 commission in a secure room here.

She claims terrorist "investigations are being compromised," and has demanded an independent probe of the FBI's language department.

"If there were, and are, persons within the language department that either intentionally prevented translation because of their agendas, or persons who were, and are, not qualified to properly translate, it is likely that terrorist communications prior to 9-11 were missed; and it is likely that current and future terrorist communications will likewise be missed," Edmonds wrote Justice's Inspector General Glenn A. Fine in a Jan. 5 letter. "I have alleged, and the FBI has confirmed (to Senate investigators), that there are in fact such persons in the language department."

Fine still has not released the findings of his internal probe, even though Edmonds first filed her complaint with his office almost two years ago. Speaking for Fine, Justice official Carol Ochoa said the investigation is "still ongoing."

"We are working hard to complete it expeditiously," she said in a Jan. 6 letter to Edmonds.

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OF
February 12, 2004, 04:01 PM
I'm not sure I believe that story...sounds like a load of BS to me.

If it's true, someone needs to be shot - but I doubt it's true.

- Gabe

Cosmoline
February 12, 2004, 04:39 PM
Exceptionally difficult to believe. But of course the allegations should be taken seriously and investigated.

Mark Tyson
February 12, 2004, 05:38 PM
I will refrain from smashing things around the house long enough for those allegations to be corroberated.

TheBluesMan
February 12, 2004, 05:41 PM
"BS!" cried the moderator from Ohio...

Sean Smith
February 12, 2004, 05:45 PM
Sounds bogus.

Should it somehow prove true, the miscreants in question should be taken out back by a dumpster and summarily shot.

TheBluesMan
February 12, 2004, 05:48 PM
One more thing... We could use a little less of the "Let's shoot somebody!" mobspeak around The High Road.

Thanks. :)

-Dave

Sean Smith
February 12, 2004, 05:50 PM
Well, we can't give them cookies for it, because they've already got those... ;)

7.62FullMetalJacket
February 12, 2004, 06:39 PM
I smell bogusness. I was trained in Al Arabi by ex-pat Arabs at government institutions. They were so motivated as Americans, and so anit-ME that it was overwhelming. There were no multi-cultural PC spin in that atmosphere.

OTOH, I can believe the backlog assertion - just enough to add false credibility. But the cheering and anti-American antics in highly secure areas is extremely doubtful.

kbr80
February 12, 2004, 06:43 PM
If it is true, heads need to roll.

greyhound
February 12, 2004, 06:58 PM
Not buyin' it....

BowStreetRunner
February 12, 2004, 09:03 PM
sounds fishy to me :rolleyes:

c_yeager
February 13, 2004, 06:29 AM
I'd believe ONE arab-american in the FBI was celebrating, heck two even. But, not this. Ive met WAY too many good and decent arab-AMERICANS in my time to believe that you could find so many scumbags in one place. Bear in mind that these are people who took low paying civil service jobs for THEIR country in the first place. Fibbies are generally patriotic to a fault.

Michigander
February 13, 2004, 11:36 PM
I wonder what Edmond's motivation would be to lie about all this?

I also wonder if similar accusations were made against certain other government agencies after certain other "incidents," would the accusations be so flatly rejected as false?

artherd
February 14, 2004, 03:59 AM
I'll have to side on the 'no f-ing-way' side.

I've met enough people similar to those 7.62FMJ has, and I agree with his assessment.

They are AMERICANS working to protect the country and people they love.

There's a reason they took a low paying, high-risk job where they dedicate their lives to stoping things like 9/11 from happening.



At best, I do belive the forced-backlog in effort to seek more funding. That alone stinks to hell and back, but I can also see why it was done. Dosen't make it right.



No, all in all this sounds more like the pot calling the kettle black.

Whiner: "I'll blow your big secret of backloging work unless you promote me!"
FBI: "Here's $1.25 and go ???? yourself. Oh, you're fired."
Whiner (to press): "OMG, there's rag-heads in the FBI! And they're stacking work up. AND THEY'RE TERRORISTS! COME GET IT! I MEAN THEM!"


TheBluesMan- I don't know, treason is a cappitol crime still...

joonya187
February 15, 2004, 01:09 AM
I smell bogusness. I was trained in Al Arabi by ex-pat Arabs at government institutions. They were so motivated as Americans, and so anit-ME that it was overwhelming. There were no multi-cultural PC spin in that atmosphere.

That was there. This is here, my friend. I imagine how clever a handful of americans would be, being in the same positions, and having the same liberties of office. With all due respect (really), that sounds just like the old "It can't happen to me" ideaology. I could act pretty damned motivated at times, especially if under threat.

Don't get me wrong, I hope to God that it IS bogus. But this isn't a situation where we want a simple 'oopsie' if it ISN'T wrong. Throwing speculation after it (especially speculation to the negative) could potentially propagate some very, very bad shizzle.

Malone LaVeigh
February 15, 2004, 01:20 AM
When I saw the title of the thread, I thought it made sense. Job security.

Waitone
February 15, 2004, 10:08 AM
I don't want to believe it as true. However, I do admit it is consistent with a lot of what has subsequently come out about 911.

The consistency part comes from Meuller's performance on 911. WTC was in flames or had collapsed. There was a hole in the pentagon. An airplane had just cratered in a Pennsylvania field. The media just finished telling the world that on a normal day upwards of 40,000 people work in the WTC. We had no idea how many people had just been killed.

Shift to a press conference consisting of statements by George Tenet and Bob Meuller. Tenet mumbles his immortal words, then Meuller says the following (almost an exact quote), "The FBI will not tolerate acts of discrimination against minorities."

It was clear the most devastating attack in our history had just occured. We had no clue how many people were dead. We did not know what else would be attacked. And the first words out of the FBI's mouth was about PC claptrap?

Yea, the article does have an odor (in my view a very slight odor) but the behavior exhibited my the narrative is perfectly consistent with the director's personal words.

I ain't dismissing it as bogus.

jsalcedo
February 15, 2004, 10:50 AM
I remember on the day of 9/11 all the politicians were on TV congratulating each other on what a fine job they were doing and what a credit they were to our country in a time of need.

The FBI, White house, Guiliani all of them were acting like it was some big achievment that they can go on TV and talk about how good they are at disasters.

I'm not so sure about how many Arab American translators were happy about 9/11 but there was indeed some effed up behavior in and around that fateful day.

HBK
February 15, 2004, 07:27 PM
As far as I'm concerned, all the crowds of muslims in any city that were dancing in the streets celebrating that day deserve to have some bombs dropped on them.

Parker Dean
February 16, 2004, 12:01 AM
"My supervisor went as far as getting into my work computer and deleting almost completed work so that I had to go back and start all over again," she said.


Uh huh.

And how would you be able to tell the difference between that occurrance and the work not being done in the first place?

kbr80
February 16, 2004, 02:49 PM
As far as I'm concerned, all the crowds of muslims in any city that were dancing in the streets celebrating that day deserve to have some bombs dropped on them.

Several times over, just to make sure.

confed sailor
February 16, 2004, 08:57 PM
dear god in heaven i hope and pray that was a hip deep load of manure.

If not id like to be on the Firing Squad

TheBluesMan
February 16, 2004, 10:09 PM
Bottom line on this is that if it is true, it would be enraging to many members.

The lack of additional credible sources or outright proof leads most reasonable people to believe that it is untrue.

Therefore, getting enraged about it is pointless.

Ergo, this thread has become pointless.

Let's all go find something *real* to get mad about. Shouldn't have to look far...

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