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A classified Justice Department investigation determined that a whistleblower’s allegations of security lapses in the FBI’s translator program were at least partly responsible for her firing, the bureau director told senators. The department’s inspector general, Glenn Fine, did not conclude that the FBI had retaliated against the translator, Sibel Edmonds, when she was fired in April 2002, FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote on July 21 to the Senate Judiciary Committee. His letter was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. But Mueller acknowledged he was concerned by Fine’s determination that allegations by Edmonds “were at least a contributing factor in why the FBI terminated her services,” the director wrote, quoting from the classified report. Edmonds alleges she was fired after complaining to FBI managers about shoddy wiretap translations and telling them an interpreter with a relative at a foreign embassy might have compromised national security after the Sept. 11 attacks by passing information from an FBI wiretap to the target of an investigation. Edmonds’ lawyer, Mark Zaid, said the Justice Department informed him Thursday it will consider his request for copies of the report and some supporting documents. The department is working on a version of the report that would be stripped of its classified information and could be released publicly. The department’s report concluded the FBI failed to adequately pursue Edmonds’ allegation that her colleague committed espionage, Mueller wrote. He said the FBI conducted a “relevant investigation,” but he promised to review the case and conduct a further investigation if necessary. Mueller said he asked the inspector general to help determine whether any FBI employees should face disciplinary action. He also promised to report such an outcome to the Senate committee. A federal judge this month dismissed Edmonds’ lawsuit against the government over her firing. The judge agreed with claims by Attorney General John Ashcroft and a senior FBI official that a suit could expose intelligence-gathering methods and disrupt diplomatic relations with foreign governments. Edmonds is appealing the decision. Mueller told senators that the Justice Department investigation into Edmonds’ firing, which remains classified, determined that Edmonds never qualified for formal whistle-blower protection because she was a contract worker, not a full-time FBI employee. Mueller promised to write another bureau-wide memorandum warning supervisors against retaliating against employees who reveal internal problems. “I want all FBI employees, as well as our contractors and detailees, to know that I encourage them to raise good-faith concerns about mismanagement or misconduct,” Mueller wrote. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have said they will ask the Justice Department to release an unclassified version of the inspector general’s report. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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