Rise Up To The Occasion… It Could Very Well Have Been You!

Every Single Person, Every Voice & Every Signature Counts


Have you ever pulled over your car on a highway shoulder to be a Good Samaritan and help a driver of a broken car desperately in need of assistance? Have you done it despite the heavy traffic, and a remaining long commute to get home after an exhausting long shift at work? Do you remember thinking ‘hope someone, some day, will do the same for me or my loved one’?

Have you ever found a wallet or a cell phone, and then taken the time and effort to locate and contact the owner? Have you done it despite a hectic schedule, having a long to-do list, and in the midst of daily crisis and demands? Do you recall thinking ‘hope someday, someone, will do the same for me?’

Have you ever been before a federal court judge, with your rights being taken away one by one, your entire biographical existence being classified one after another, and during all this, your entire legal team and advisors being removed from the court room in order to make the screwing of your Constitutional rights completely secret and unobserved? I have:

A federal court in Washington yesterday took the rare step of closing an entire oral argument to the public in the case of a former FBI translator who says she was fired for complaining about security breaches. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit announced that today's 30-minute argument in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a Middle Eastern language specialist fired in 2002, will be conducted behind closed doors. The court gave no reason for its decision.

The unsettling story of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds took another twist on Thursday, as the government continued its seemingly endless machinations to shut her up. The U.S. Court of Appeals here denied pleas to open the former FBI translator's First Amendment case to the public, a day after taking the extraordinary step of ordering a secret hearing. 

I am not going to recount that incredibly awful experience as far as the butchering of our Constitution and liberties goes. Instead I want to briefly recount a minor detail with a major effect on me.

As always on that rainy April day in court there weren’t many mainstream media, or even alternatives to speak of. Of course I had a few family members and supporters who had become my close friends. However, among those few people in front of the court stood a young man who walked up to me and said: ‘I truly appreciate and support your efforts, and I am here in solidarity.’ I asked if he was with one of the DC coalitions or organizations. He said ‘No,’ and added, ‘I drove all night last night to get here. I live in Kentucky, and after reading about the upcoming trial I decided to drive to DC and be here for you. I know the addition of one person is not much help, but still, better than none…

He was right. But he was also wrong. He was right in what he believed and put in action. But he was wrong about the addition of one person not being of much help. It helped me tremendously. It had a major effect on my resolve to keep pushing. It had a long-lasting impact on believing in the power of one. It turned my battle from one’s battle to one’s cause. And much more.

I was thinking of all this yesterday when I started reading about the protests and demonstrations for whistleblowers rights and transparency being organized around the Grand Jury investigations of Wikileaks and Bradley Manning.

Human rights defenders are presently heading to an Alexandria, Virginia courthouse to protest United States human rights violations of whistleblowers, targeted individuals persecuted for opposing government corruption, illegal wars, and unjust foreign policies. The Bradley Manning Support Network's founding member David House, ordered to testify today, Wednesday, June 15, before a federal Grand Jury in the WikiLeaks investigation, will be met by some of America's strongest rights defenders plus others demonstrating outside the courthouse at 9:30am ET before House enters the courthouse at 10:30am.

 Human rights advocates defending the rights of whistleblowers will also be demonstrating at 6:00 ET today in Boston, House's city of residence.

 "By conducting the people’s business in secret and persecuting transparency advocates, government decision-makers have abandoned core American values.” (Emphasis added)

 According to the Bradley Manning's Support Network, the protests are designed for supporting David House, opposing the grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks, and gaining attention to the ongoing pretrial confinement of PFC Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who stands accused of blowing the whistle on illegal and unjust foreign policies.

And I wanted to tell these protesters, organizers, and you, that what they do counts; no matter what the results or documentable success by various measures. I wanted to say that every single person’s participation makes a difference. I wanted to emphasize that every single action and participation, however small, is never too small or insignificant.

I know how easy it is for people to shrug off the importance of one signature, one participation, or any one action item. I know how often we disregard an opportunity to participate or contribute, and justify it to ourselves as ‘one signature won’t make any difference,’ or ‘one additional body in a demonstration won’t be noticed or felt,’…Please resists that tendency. Please overcome that defeatist pull. Please. Because for every one of these:

The Washington Post yesterday reported that a widespread FBI investigation has been invading the privacy of various groups of political activists, prompting objections from many civil libertarians on First Amendment grounds. This particular probe included “subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall.”

 The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers.

 …The apparent targets, all vocal and visible critics of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South America, deny any ties to terrorism. They say the government, using its post-9/11 focus on terrorism as a pretext, is targeting them for their political views.

They are “public non-violent activists with long, distinguished careers in public service, including teachers, union organizers and antiwar and community leaders,” said Michael Deutsch, a Chicago lawyer and part of a legal team defending those who believe they are being targeted by the investigation.

Add this to the multi-year FBI effort to investigate self-described anarchist and political activist Scott Crow who has been deemed a domestic terrorist and arrested a dozen times, despite having never been convicted of anything. They tracked his phone calls and emails, infiltrated his community of activists with undercover informants, sat outside his house in unmarked cars surveying his activities and visitors, went through his trash to find his personal finance documents, colluded with the IRS in a failed attempt grab him for tax evasion, and installed cameras along street poles outside his home, among other things. Mr. Crow filed a Freedom of Information Act request and got about 440 semi-redacted pages of the 1200 total pages of FBI documents on him.

  We need to have more of these:

 The following petition was co-written by Coleen Rowley and me, and has been backed by more than 25 government whistleblowers and over 20 organizations. Awarding the worst president in US history when it comes to government whistleblowers with a Transparency Award is a huge insult. Presenting a president who has dramatically increased government secrecy with an Anti-Secrecy Award is ridiculous. Rewarding one of the worst US presidents when it comes to invocation of unconstitutional state secrets privilege is ludicrous. This award is a major insult to all liberty-loving Americans. This award is a slap to all freedom-liberty seeking activists. This award is dumb, highly damaging, and extremely dangerous by what it says it represents. Please stand up and say ‘NO’ to this award by signing this petition. I urge you to demand that this award be taken back immediately. I implore you to not let them get away with this in your name. I am asking you to sign this petition and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Don’t let them mock our nation, our people and our values: Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back Now.

 Today, when I was having one of those defeatist and negative moments, I reached out to two friends. They helped pick me up, and this is what one of them sent me:

 “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing—for the sheer fun and joy of it— to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.” —I. F. STONE

 Two days ago we started our petition campaign Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back. The organizations that awarded this awful president are not hearing you. They are not acknowledging you. So far, they are refusing to take their award back, with an added insult. Maybe we are not screaming loud enough. Maybe not enough people are resisting the negative pull. Please overcome that. Please shout louder, or at least take a few seconds and sign the petition here:

Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back

And or tell these organizations that you count:

Tel: (202) 347-1122

Blog Site: http://pogoblog.typepad.com

Please help us accomplish this and then move to our next campaign: Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Sibel Edmonds

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  1. I considered starting the following petition, but nobody I spoke with seemed interested (this is a rough draft; I would have tidied it a bit):

    Dear President Obama,

    We are the people who supported you in 2008. We bought the t-shirts, put on the bumper-stickers, argued with our conservative friends and neighbors, defended you in countless arguments, and even actively campaigned for you as volunteers.

    As they like to say online, “all your base are belong to us” — because WE are your base.

    In the years since you took office, we have seen many of our hopes — indeed, many things that you promised us, and on the basis of which we voted for and supported you — betrayed.

    Still, we recognize that in the reality of politics, compromises must be made. Trades must be negotiated. Sometimes you must do terrible things to prevent even more terrible things from happening.

    We do not understand many of the compromises we have seen you make.

    Nonetheless, we are still willing to support you, if you will throw us this one bone:

    On July 4, 2011, you will free Bradley Manning, give him a full Presidential pardon, and give him a medal for his service to our country — specifically including his leakage of classified information to Wikileaks.

    If you do not do this, we are through with you.

    We will keep the “GOT HOPE?” bumperstickers, but underneath them will go another one saying: WELL, SO MUCH FOR THAT. Underneath the “Change You Can Believe In” stickers, we will add “just like Santa Claus and campaign promises”. We will make “Obama: so transparent, it’s like the lies aren’t even there!” and “Obama: those who fail to learn from history are ok with me” stickers and t-shirts.

    As those who supported you and got you into office, we bear responsibility for your actions. It is on us to admit that we were wrong, and to do what we can to prevent you from continuing to carry out the policies you have brought forward from the disastrous Bush administration.

    Unlike those who supported Bush, we are able to do this. We can admit mistakes.

    Unlike you, we are willing to evaluate the past, assign blame where it is due, and take corrective measures.

    We are open to further discussion of this matter if you wish to attempt to change our minds. Until there is free and open dialogue on this matter, however, our decision stands.

  2. Bill Bergman says:
  3. jpcarson says:

    Hi Sibel,

    I suggest we organize a moderated conference call with representatives of these groups, where they can defend their actions and respond to our concerns and we can decide about going after them with their funding sources.

    Their biggest reason for giving the award and getting face time with Obama – is $$, it “looks good” with their foundational funding sources. You know it, I know it, but that aspect is not being put “front and center” in the discussion of their motivations.

    We are getting some traction with “broken covenant” campaign – the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) http://www.dnfsb.gov just blasted the safety culture in Department of Energy at its Hanford Site, see

    I have been reaching out to it for approaching 20 years, it refused, refused, refused to do anything about my concerns – until it did. You know how it works, as your post describes.

    We’ll get there and you deserve much credit for fighting and fighting…

  4. My personal preference: Ugh, not a conference call. I would like to see this kind of thing conducted in text, in a threaded format so that questions and answers are clearly in context.

    I realize, however, that a lot of people are just more comfortable “talking it out”, and if that’s really what will be effective in making a dialogue happen, then fine — all I ask is that it be recorded, and the recording made publicly available, and that further commentary on the recording be considered part of the discussion, and instrumental in whatever agreement is ultimately reached.

    It’s difficult to have transparency when there is no record of the dialogue… and not all of us can frame a coherent argument (much less check facts) while on the phone… and it’s really difficult for everyone to be heard when everyone has to take turns and time is limited.

    Let’s not artificially narrow the dialogue.

  5. thymesup says:

    Sibel; I have been contributing a bit to the Government Accountability Project for quite some time. It supposedly protects whistleblowers, but perhaps not the governmental variety. Do you think this is a worthwhile organization? If not, I would just as soon transfer the ‘funds’ to one of your recommendation. Thank you. Also, please tell me when and how much I last donated to you. Many thanks for all that you do and the example you provide of courage, honor and intelligence used. lb

  6. @BillBergman: Thank you for the heads up on that. Something positive for a change:-)

    @JPCarson: All our attempts to have a dialogie with POGO: failed…Meanwhile we have received some interesting info and tips from an insider on a few foundations and donors with very very big money who have been running the show, including the transparency award. We are preparing a well-documented presentation on POGO, POGO funding, some interesting profiles of their $$$$$Donors & related data… Please stay tuned. I think things will start making more sense…

    @thymesup: GAP has been OK; soso. One good thing about them: They brought in an actual whistleblowee, Jess Radack, on board, and she’s been very good. She has been fighting on Drake’s case, she signed this petition, and in general, they have not engaged in whistleblowers backstabbing. The fact that they are spending time/energy and resourcesin helping some whistleblowers, and also the fact that they were not included in this transparency award cr.. good indicators.

  7. Hi Sibel,

    Good timing on your part. Today, I was having one of those frustrating what’s-the-point days as well.

    One suggestion as you publicize this. For whatever reason, not all but many progressive groups tend to think that their support base is only in one of the Top 10 Media Markets. I live in one of the Top 5, and am trying to connect with other progressives here. However, in the past I’ve dealt with some national groups that ignored potential supporters in smaller areas. Naturally, this only adds to the “what’s the point” frustration and hurts the overall cause.

    Just because the MSM ignores a lot of these people doesn’t mean that you have to do the same.

  8. The I.F. Stone quote could be applied to the “Two sides of the same coin” corporatocracy argument in favor of voting one’s conscience as well. It seems that spirit runs through much of what you promote, Sibel.

  9. Look forward to the piece on POGO. My childhood dog’s name. Bastards.

  10. Your tenacity and love for what is good in all of us is inspiring. Thank You.. I love the line about not being a defeatist in battles we may lose. In this upside down world, whistleblowers are critical for balance and the fight for justice, repairing the shredded US Constitution.

  11. “We’re sorry. We can’t accept this data.” is all I can get when trying to add a comment at the POGO blog on this topic.

  12. @Zica: I’ve been getting reports from many many people with the exact same exprience. Also, supposedly they went and deleted all comments from their FB page. Huh, maybe we should give them the NGO transparency award?;-)

  13. I liked their line in the comments about their donors not controlling them, but “they fund us BECAUSE of our agenda.” (emphasis theirs)

    Must be nice…

  14. Got one saved for moderation. I think maybe they’ve opened it up again.

  15. I guess it must take quite a while for them to moderate new comments. Well, here’s what I said (paraphrased), just so it doesn’t go unsaid:

    “I’m very optomistic about the public pressure that will be focused on Obama when you do rescind the award.”

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