Classified Woman: A Memoir, by Sibel Edmonds, Alexandria, Va.: Sibel Edmonds, 2012, 340 pages, paperback.
Imagine that you have a Top Secret clearance and are privy to some of our country’s most sensitive national security information. In that capacity, you discover that some of the highest elected and appointed political leaders in the land are engaged in espionage and treason, accepting bribes and selling weapons and information (including nuclear weapons secrets) to foreign powers, including our enemies. Moreover, you learn that some of your co-workers are in league with these conspirators, covering up the evidence trail and misdirecting those tasked with preventing such security breaches.
Shocked at the blatant betrayals you have discovered, you do the right thing and report this to your superiors. It’s not only the morally right thing to do; you are duty-bound, oath-bound to do no less. Agency policy and federal law require you to do no less. Having done your duty, you expect that higher-ups in the chain of command will do theirs. But time passes and nothing changes. You press the matter with superiors only to be told not to “rock the boat.” But with so much at stake, you refuse to simply drop the issue and allow treason to continue unchallenged. Some colleagues are sympathetic but warn you that you are pursuing a futile course that will only bring retaliation, harassment, and even danger to you and your family. Undaunted, and with no other option, you jump rank and take the matter to the top of your agency. Action is swift, but not what you had expected. Instead of investigating and prosecuting the spies and traitors, it is you who are subjected to investigation, surveillance, harassment, threats, and intimidation.
The scenario sketched above does not even begin to describe the real-life, upside-down Twilight Zone experience of Sibel Edmonds. In her book Classified Woman: A Memoir, Edmonds recounts the incredible story of her efforts, for more than a decade, to warn her adopted country of imminent perils, only to be slapped down, harassed, smeared, and threatened. To prevent her explosive testimony from seeing the light of day, President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used (until recently) “state secrets privilege” to gag not only Edmonds, but also committees of Congress that were investigating her case, as well as the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Review.
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