Friday, January 19, 2007

Spy vs. Spy

America is desperatly short of translators of Arabic, Farsi and other languages important to our defence against Islamic terrorists.

Last Thursday, Brigitte Gabriel and I put out an Action Alert to the American Congress for Truth (ACT) membership, asking you for examples of how our government rebuffed your valued assistance as Arabic and Farsi linguists for critical intelligence translation work assignments in military, foreign and homeland security agencies.

In less than 72 hours were got dozens of responses and they are still coming in.

While a sampling they are nevertheless indicative of your concerns about why our government persists in denial of loyal American citizens offering to reduce the mountainous backlog of untranslated intercepts and transcripts of interrogations in Arabic and Farsi, in particular.

How mountainous is the backlog of untranslated intercepts? Read this comment from a National Security Agency (NSA) official quoted from Congressional hearings in a Washington Times article on the subject written by Rowan Scarborough and Bill Gertz in their column “Inside the Ring” entitled: “Intelligence backlog.”

NSA director, Army Lt. Gen. Keith in commenting in written response to Senators on the large backlog of time consuming labor intensive foreign language intercepts on terrorism noted:
“Today’s backlog is no longer confined to Arabic and its multiple dialect but also less commonly taught languages where linguists are in short supply.”
One knowledgeable insider in our national security apparatus wrote in response to the ACT action alert:
“The fact that the FBI and the military don’t have enough linguists/translators especially after 9/11 is a disgrace and the fact that those they have are possibly not reliable or trustworthy makes it imperative that new competent resources are found.”
Here are a couple of people who have applied to help and have been turned down
Brigitte Gabriel, ACT founder, Lebanese Christian.

Brigitte applied three times to the FBI in 2001 and 2002 VOLUNTEERING her services to help translate, in whatever capacity she could be used, to help our country in the fight against terrorism. She never got an answer. Finally the Government sent her a government application that stated that translators must be between the age of 25 and 35, (she had just turned 36), must have graduated with a degree in the language they wish to apply to translate and must have three years on job experience as translators. (utterly ridiculous bureaucracy) Meanwhile complaining on TV that they do not have enough translators.

Brigitte Gabriel speaks not only the classical Arabic which is the official language of all the Middle East, but also the local dialects, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Palestinian, and Jordanian.

From an Iraqi Christian.

‘I applied twice for the FBI. I never got an answer from them. I heard that the Recruiters are Egyptians and want translators with an Egyptian dialect. I don’t know if religion is a factor, but I’ve given up. I think it will be very intimidating under these circumstances. By the way I’m an Iraqi Christian living in the U.S. I worked as a linguist for the U.S. Army in Iraq.”
Here is a case that may illustrate the cause of the problem:
From a Lebanese American Christian.

“I was deployed from Ft. Benning, Georgia in May, 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Supporting our armed forces and intelligence units. In October 2004, I was injured by a suicide bomb blast inside the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. I had to come back for treatment. A year ago I was released by all doctors and they recommended that I could go back to work, but not in Iraq. I called my employer and to my amazement they offered me a job back in Iraq but not a stateside one because I lacked a security clearance. I refused and they sent me a letter in January, 2006 laying me off. I have tried in vain to find a job with the government or defense contractors. The recruiters are usually Muslim and some have told me that they have relatives working for al Jazeera TV. Can you believe that!”
Our translation services may have been compromised by agents of our enemies. Nothing new. During the Soviet era our spy agencies were compromised by Soviet Agents. Of course the cheese with the biggest number of holes was the British spy agencies; the Philby, Burgess, and McClean cases among others were notorious. In America we had the Walker spy ring in the Navy and Hanssen in the FBI.

The case of Jan Dickerson was reported on 60 Minutes.
The FBI has admitted that when Dickerson was hired last November the bureau didn't know that she had worked for a Turkish organization being investigated by the FBI's own counter-intelligence unit.

They also didn't know she'd had a relationship with a Turkish intelligence officer stationed in Washington who was the target of that investigation. According to [whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds, Dickerson tried to recruit her into that organization, and insisted that Dickerson be the only one to translate the FBI's wiretaps of that Turkish official. ...

Edmonds says that when she reviewed Dickerson's translations of those tapes, she found that Dickerson had left out information crucial to the FBI's investigation — information that Edmonds says would have revealed that the Turkish intelligence officer had spies working for him inside the U.S. State Department and at the Pentagon.
You know maybe that case and others like it explain why Christians, Jews, and Apostate Muslims are having such trouble getting jobs as translators. It may be that our espionage and counterespionage agencies are closed shops mostly run by our enemies.

Update: 19 Jan '07 0535z

Amir Taheri says our media has the same problem.
January 15, 2007 -- JUST outside Um al-Qasar, a port in south east Iraq, a crowd had gathered around a British armored car with a crew of four. An argument seemed to be heating up through an interpreter.

The interpreter told the Brits that the crowd was angry and wanted U.K. forces out of Iraq. But then a Kuwaiti representative of Amnesty International, accompanied by a journalist friend, approached - and found the crowd to be concerned about something quite different.

The real dispute? The day before, a British armored vehicle had an accident with a local taxi; now the cab's owner, backed by a few friends, was asking the Brits to speed up compensating him. Did these Iraqis want the Brits to leave, as the interpreter pretended? No, they shouted, a thousand times no!

So why did the interpreter inject that idea into the dialogue? Shaken, he tried a number of evasions: Well, had the Brits not been in Iraq, there wouldn't have been an accident in the first place. And, in any case, he knows that most Iraqis don't want foreign troops . . .

Since 2003, Iraq has experienced countless similar scenes, with interpreters, guides and "fixers" projecting their views and prejudices into the dialogue between Iraqis and the outside world.
My guess is that the intent is not totally biased. They are looking for the low cost producer of translations. Augmented by special contacts with otherwise uncontactable individuals.

In a way you got to hand it to these Iraqi guys, they must have studied "Wag The Dog" a hundred times. Reality doesn't count. Only what is in front of the camera counts.

The following is a real classic:
The industry geared itself to meeting demand. In 2004, for example, many journalists coming to Baghdad wanted to interview the "militants" who were attacking U.S. soldiers. The industry obliged by arranging interviews.

One popular interviewee was one "Abu Muhammad," who claimed to be a fisherman by day and "a killer of Americans" by night. One U.K. paper paid $2,000 (a tidy sum in the cash-starved Baghdad of those days) for an exclusive with Abu Muhammad, who later took up a full chapter in a book published in London. The scam ended when someone found out that Abu Muhammad was, in fact, a busboy at a local hotel who'd grown a beard and was "fishing" Western journalists, splitting the proceeds with his cousin, who acted as interpreter and guide.
Cross Posted at Classical Values

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