Sibel Edmonds is a translator who was hired by the FBI after the events of September 11, 2001 to translate and transcribe wiretaps from investigations relating to the events of that day. During her period working for the FBI, Sibel Edmonds reviewed wiretap conversations which had already been translated and discovered that some of them were badly translated. Additionally, she developed concerns about a co-worker who was a member of an organization that was under FBI surveillance.
In addition, at this time Sibel Edmonds alleges that she was directed by the FBI to work more slowly than she was capable of. The purpose of these instructions, she alleged, was to give the impression that the FBI had more work than it could handle with its current budget and was in need of additional funding. Concerned, Sibel Edmonds reported her concerns to managers. She was fired by the FBI in March 2002. The news of her allegations inspired Congress to hold several hearings on the matter in June, during which the FBI provided documents which were examined in unclassified hearings.
In July 2002, Sibel Edmonds filed a civil lawsuit in the district court of the District of Columbia. The basis of her lawsuit was that she had been fired by the FBI in retaliation for her whistleblowing actions, which is against the law. While the case was making its way through the legal system, Sibel Edmonds testified before the 9-11 Commission about her experiences with the FBI in February 2004.
In May of that year, the Justice Department retroactively deemed that the information previously submitted by Sibel Edmonds in unclassified congressional hearings was now classified for reasons of national security. In response, in June of that year the Project for Government Oversight filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department on the basis that this action was a violation of Sibel Edmonds' first amendment rights.
In July of that year, the judge overseeing the original lawsuit Edmonds had filed dismissed her case. Noting that he was doing so with "great consternation," the judge nonetheless stated that he was convinced by the arguments of the Justice Department that to proceed with the case would cause secrets vital to the national interest to be exposed. Sibel Edmonds alleged that the judge took this action without meeting with her lawyers to discuss the evidence she planned to present, even as he met with lawyers representing the government twice. Additionally, she alleged that the judge, as an appointee of then President George W. Bush, had acted based on political motivations rather than by following the law.
In addition to these legal actions, Sibel Edmonds was also involved with a 2002 lawsuit filed by survivors of 600 casualties of the events of September 11 against a group of Saudi businesses and charities. This lawsuit was also dismissed, although Sibel Edmonds would have been prevented from testifying in it on the same grounds of national security that impeded her own lawsuit.