7
Jul
2004

LAWSUIT OF FBI WHISTLEBLOWER SIBEL EDMONDS DISMISSED

Secrecy News -- 07/07/04

The judicial process was trumped by the "state secrets privilege" as a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former FBI linguist Sibel Edmonds alleging misconduct at the FBI was dismissed yesterday by a federal court on the unusual grounds that it could not be litigated without compromising sensitive classified information.

"Because the Court finds that the plaintiff is unable to establish her First Amendment, Fifth Amendment and Privacy Act claims without the disclosure of privileged information, nor would the defendants be able to defend against these claims without the same disclosures, the plaintiff's case must be dismissed, albeit with great consternation, in the interests of national security," wrote Judge Reggie B. Walton.

The Court acknowledged that "dismissal of a suit, and the consequent denial of a forum without giving the plaintiff her day in court ... is indeed draconian."

"Denial of the forum provided under the Constitution for the resolution of disputes...is a drastic remedy that has rarely been invoked," the Judge wrote, quoting from prior case law.

Still, "Mindful of the need for virtual unfettered access to the judicial process in a governmental system integrally linked to the rule of law, the Court nonetheless concludes that the government has properly invoked the state secrets privilege" in this case and that the case must be dismissed.

Among other interesting features, the Court's ruling includes a summary history of the origins of the "state secrets privilege," dating back to the treason trial of Aaron Burr in 1807.

Explaining why he dismissed the case rather than staying it temporarily, Judge Walton opined that "the imminent threat of terrorism will not be eliminated anytime in the foreseeable future, but is an endeavor that will consume our nation's attention indefinitely."

A copy of the July 6 ruling dismissing the case Sibel Edmonds v. U.S. Department of Justice is available here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/edmonds070604.pdf

Ms. Edmonds's attorney, Mark S. Zaid, said the decision would be appealed.
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