Unbylined Turkish Coalition of America blog post slimes FBI whistleblower as 'disgruntled and discredited'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2009, 11:59am PT  

In a rather extraordinary unbylined blog item posted on Wednesday, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) has launched what appears to be an all-out assault on FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and her remarkable, long-awaited under-oath deposition taken over the weekend in the Ohio Election Commission (OEC)'s Schmidt v. Krikorian case.

Called as a witness for David Krikorian (who is Armenian-American), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)'s opponent in 2008 and 2010, Edmonds (who is Turkish-American) testified to infiltration, bribery, corruption, and blackmail within the U.S. Government, by current and former members of the U.S. House and other high ranking officials, on behalf of Turkish interests. Schmidt, the co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus has filed a complaint with the OEC alleging "false statements" by Krikorian during their 2008 contest when he had alleged she had taken "blood money" from those opposed to a Congressional declaration of Armenian Genocide by the Turks during WWI. Schmidt is also said to have taken more money from Turkish interests during the 2008 campaign than any other House candidate.

The TCA seems to have "declared war," according to Edmonds who touched base from out of the country via email on Wednesday. The scathing blog post alleges Edmonds' testimony was "a full-on assault against the national interests of the United States and the integrity of its justice system by the Armenian lobby"; says "Krikorian and his lobbyist backers are getting desperate"; and otherwise attempts to disparage Edmonds' character by describing her as "self-aggrandizing," and a "disgruntled and discredited former federal employee."

The report offers no evidence to support any of its allegations against Krikorian, Edmonds or "the Armenian Lobby." Many of the claims, particularly those concerning Edmonds, are directly contradicted by official reports from the FBI Inspector General's office, as well as senior, bi-partisan members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee...

"[S]he has a self-aggrandizing imagination inflating her position at the FBI to that of an interrogator of terrorists; and...has a book coming out this fall," the blog post claims about Edmonds. While we've interviewed Edmonds for many hours over the years, in depth, and read an extraordinary amount of reportage on her case, we've never heard or read any such claims of her having interrogated anybody. As to a book coming out, we know nothing of that either, though it would certainly be welcome!

While alleging in one breath that "Krikorian and his lobbyist backers are getting desperate," the blog post then goes on to make the rather, um, desperate, charge that: "The irrelevance and insignificance of Ms Edmonds' deposition can be evidenced by the fact that Mr. Geragos, Mr. Krikorian’s attorney of record, did not bother to show up."

Huh? Krikorian himself flew in from Ohio for the deposition, and celebrity-attorney Geragos' firm is, in fact, representing Krikorian, but it's rather common for other attorneys in any law firm to be present for a deposition. While we don't have any particular dog in the Turkish Lobby vs. Armenian Lobby hunt, the use of such a silly claim would seem to suggest the author of the Turkish Coalition's post was fairly desperate him/herself.

The TCA post goes on to ask why Edmonds' was called to testify in the case at all, since she admittedly had no specific information on Schmidt's personal involvement with the Turkish lobby or last year's race between her and Krikorian. Schmidt came to Congress in a 2005 special election, several years after Edmonds had left the FBI where she was a translator of pre-9/11 wiretaps.

Why would she testify then? Was the Armenian Lobby merely trying to divert the court’s attention away from the case at hand by introducing a witness who would make further unfounded accusations against the Turkish government, none of which involved the defendant or the plaintiff? Or, one might ask, has there even been a bigger waste of time for the American legal system?

We hate to say it, but this passage seems to offer still more desperation. The case concerns whether or not Schmidt has been unduly influenced by Turkish lobbyists and/or the Turkish government. Edmonds testified on just about a half dozen U.S. Congressmembers, current and former, who, she says, had been bribed, blackmailed, and otherwise cajoled or strong-armed into supporting Turkish causes. Offering up a first-hand witness to such behavior by others in Congress seems a perfectly reasonable part of anybody's defense in such a case.

The TCA continues by then attempting to simply disparage Edmonds' character, describing her as "a discredited former employee of the FBI (who served the federal government for a total of six months before being fired)."

They do not, however, offer any actual evidence for their claims that Edmonds has been "discredited," even as the actual on-the-record evidence suggests quite the opposite.

In 2005, for example, portions of the FBI's own Inspector General's report on her case were unclassified. They reported her allegations to be "credible," "serious," and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI."

As far back as 2002, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-NE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), then the senior members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, co-wrote letters on Edmonds' behalf to Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and DoJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, calling on all of them to take action in respect to the allegations she's made to Congress and, later, to the 9/11 Commission.

Grassley would discuss Edmonds' credibility on CBS' 60 Minutes in a 2002 report when he said "Absolutely, she's credible...And the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story."

To our knowledge, none of her on-the-record allegations about Turkish influence and/or infiltration in the U.S. government have been discredited. Though the TCA seems to have done a fine job of discrediting themselves with such an irresponsible, evidence-free, unbylined attack on an FBI whistleblower.

Here are just a few more snippets from the blog item, which largely speak for and/or discredit themselves:

Saturday’s deposition was nothing more than an opportunity for Ms. Edmonds to make unsubstantiated claims and air conspiracy theories ranging from the tragedy of September 11th, to lurid sexual innuendo regarding unnamed members of Congress, and briefcases full of money. Stories such as this belong in a John Grisham novel rather than a formal legal proceeding.
It is astonishing how low ANCA [Armenian National Committee of America] and its officials will sink to impose their view of history on others.
Furthermore, it displays the lethal mixture that results from a disgruntled and discredited former federal employee, a single-issue Armenian lobbying organization that serves the interests of a foreign government to the detriment of the security and interests of the United States, and a fringe candidate in a congressional election willing to make unfounded and slanderous accusations against public servants.

Um, speaking of "mak[ing] unfounded and slanderous accusations against public servants"...Hey TCA, Pot is calling on line one, says you're black.

The top of both the TCA website and blog notes their tagline: "Fostering Understand of Turkish American Issues through Public Education."

While noted earlier, we don't have any personal stake in either side of the centuries old Turk vs. Armenian debate, but an outrageous post like that of the TCA's certainly engenders sympathy for the Armenian side of the question. For us, anyway. If that's how the Turkish Lobby is willing to behave, if that is their version of "Public Education," and those are the sorts of scurrilous allegations they're happy to make --- without even putting anybody's name on them, or offering evidence to back them up --- it certainly smells like they're a helluva lot more "desperate" than the "Armenian Lobby" they claim, without evidence, is behind this entire brouhaha.

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