Ashcroft may face prison over 9/11 cover-up, says Daniel Ellsberg by  Fintan Dunne 

15/06/04 UQ Wire: Ashcroft Faces Prison Over 9/11 Cover-Up

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Unanswered Questions : Thinking for ourselves., 15th June, 2004


Two whistleblowers stood side by side before a courthouse in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

Veteran of the Pentagon Papers scandal, Daniel Ellsberg was backing a protest by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, against a court gag order which has silenced her revelations about the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

The whistleblower pair were protesting yet another delay by Judge Reggie Walton of the District Court of Columbia in determining whether Edmonds' closed-door revelations to Congressional inquiries can be declared state secrets by U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

In a statement, Edmonds called Ashcroft's legal moves anti-freedom of speech and anti-due process.

Ellsberg's common cause with Edmonds is founded on his own battle to make public a top secret study of US decision-making in Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers.

Daniel Ellsberg

In in an exclusive interview with he said that Ashcroft's legal actions against Edmonds were: “clearly intended to keep her from bringing out in public information that could lead… to criminal indictments and possible convictions of major political figures.”

Ellsberg says that if Edmonds' allegations are confirmed, the current Attorney General could be judged obstructive and share the fate of A.G. John Mitchell —who in Ellsberg v. Mitchell famously tried to squelch Ellsberg's 1971 revelations, and served prison time over the affair.

“John Ashcroft may well sleep eventually in the same cell as John Mitchell,” Ellsberg said.

In a recent interview with, Sibel Edmonds alleged that the US State Department had blocked investigations showing links between criminal drug trafficking networks and the terror attacks on 9/11.

“Certain investigations were being quashed, let's say per State Department's request, because it would have affected certain foreign relations [or] affected certain business relations with foreign organizations,” she said in an exclusive interview. (Interview – 4:00 min.)

Edmonds also indicated that the FBI's intelligence translation service had been penetrated by an criminal, semi-legitimate intelligence group —not linked to any government. Her measured words hinted at politically explosive connections between non-terrorist criminal networks and the 9/11 attacks.

Since October, 2002 Edmonds has been bound by provisional gag orders while awaiting an opportunity for a full hearing and a definitive ruling. The recent moves in the case arose from a government bid to exclude her testimony from a class action lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims.

Judge Walton had scheduled Monday as the first ever hearing at which Edmonds was to be allowed counter the state secret privilege assertion by Ashcroft. But after an in camera presentation last week by the government side, he called off the hearing. Unofficial reports say a new date may be set for early July.

Talk of US government interference in 9/11 investigations, and the considerable volume of online analysis discounting the official conspiracy theory, resonates with Ellsberg.

“I'm not an expert on all this,” he admits. “But I am increasingly open to the explanation that people in the administration did see this coming… and may have indeed reduced some obstacles.., or opened the door, in effect. I haven't been absolutely convinced on that, but it does seem to me to be an open question that deserves investigation.”

“Now beyond that… it seems to me quite plausible that —plausible, that's all I'd say— that Pakistan was quite involved in this, and that many Saudis were well informed on this,” says Ellsberg.

“And to say that. To say Pakistan— is to me, to say C.I.A. Because I think the relations between the Pakistan I.S.I. [intelligence service] and CIA were very close from the beginning. And it's hard to say that the I.S.I knew something that the CIA had no knowledge of.”

“So if you say, do I accept confidently, and do I rely on the official interpretation? Certainly not. But, I wouldn't say that I have been yet been thoroughly convinced by any alternative.”

“I can add one thing though -from my own experience, that's relevant.”

“Is it possible… that an American president could have… welcomed an attack on America that he would interpret [as] justifying an invasion of another country?”

“Well, that's more than possible, that happened —under a president that I served. Lyndon Johnson did put American destroyers in harms way, deliberately provoking an attack.. in the Tonkin Gulf. Not only in August of '64, but in February of '65. …There was an attack on August 2nd, and that was not unwelcome to the United States at that point.”

Sibel Edmonds has already become somewhat of a flag-bearer for the diverse 9/11 truth movement, which ranges across advocacy groups, families of victims, individual investigators and a host of online web sites —all disputing the official 'Al-Qaida conspiracy' theory.

But an article today by Scott Loughrey on the Baltimore Chronicle online, alleges that Edmonds is offering a limited hangout version of events, and accuses her of “repeating the propaganda of the state.”

Loughrey writes that Edmonds blames intelligence failures, rather than more sinister explanations for the failure to prevent the attacks. That's misleading and unfair. Yes, the superficial reports of her claims in the mainstream media focus mainly on intelligence failures. Yes, Edmonds was coy in her early public statements —out of defenence to the sensitivity of her information and the gung-ho public sentiment at the time, no doubt.

But in closed session testimony to Congressional inquiries, Edmonds has given a much fuller account of her concerns. So dangerous an account that Ashcroft seeks to retrospectively cloak that testimony with state secret privilege

And as a disillusioned Edmonds has seen her evidence disappear unremarked into the black hole of those inquiries, she has blown the whistle publicly —as unreservedly as the gag order allows:

She says the pre-9/11 US intelligence system had been penetrated by a drug-linked, semi-legitimate criminal intelligence network, operating with seeming impunity inside the FBI.

The post-9/11 intelligence 'failures' included the willful quashing by the government, of investigations tracing those criminal networks.

The 9/11 terror plot itself, intersected with the activities of a drug trafficking network of international scope, in ways that form a “crystal clear” picture of what was going on —to quote Edmonds.

If that's a limited hangout, God help us. The truth must be awful.

If it's true, as Edmonds asserts, the official line is a shallow sham.


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