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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lost in Translation

More from Sibel Edmonds:
Over two years ago, and after two ‘unclassified’ sessions with FBI officials, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent letters to Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft, and Inspector General Glenn Fine regarding the existence of unqualified translators in charge of translating high level sensitive intelligence. The FBI confirmed at least one case: Kevin Taskesen, a Turkish translator, had been given a job as an FBI translator, despite the fact that he had failed all FBI language proficiency tests. In fact, Kevin could not understand or speak even elementary level English. He had failed English proficiency tests and did not even score sufficiently in the target language. Still, Kevin Taskesen was hired, not due to lack of other qualified translator candidates, but because his wife worked in FBI Headquarters as a language proficiency exam administrator. Almost everybody in FBI Headquarters and the FBI Washington Field Office knew about Kevin. Yet, Kevin was given the task of translating the most sensitive terrorist related information, and he was sent to Guantanamo Bay to translate the interrogation of and information for all Turkic language detainees (Turkish, Uzbeks, Turkmen, etc.). The FBI was supposed to be trying to obtain information regarding possible future attack plans from these detainees, and yet, the FBI knowingly sent unqualified translators to gather and translate this information. Further, these detainees were either released or detained or prosecuted based on information received and translated by unqualified translators knowingly sent there by the FBI.
After more than two years since Kevin Taskesen’s case was publicly confirmed, and after almost two years since CBS-60 Minutes broadcasted Taskesen’s case, Kevin Taskesen remains in his position, as a sole Turkish and Turkic language translator for the FBI Washington Field Office. After admitting that Kevin Taskesen was not qualified to perform the task of translating sensitive intelligence and investigation of terrorist activities, the FBI still keeps him in charge of translating highly sensitive documents and leads. Those individuals in the FBI’s hiring department and those who facilitated the hiring of unqualified translators due to nepotism/cronyism are still in those departments and remain in their positions. Yet, your report does not mention this case, or these chronic problems within the FBI translation departments, and within the FBI’s hiring and screening epartments.
Again, this is from an open letter sent one year ago by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds to 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean.

There must be reasons why this wasn't and isn't a huge story, why in 2004 Taskesen was still "translating" Turkish into English for the FBI (which apparently would be a lot like me translating Swahili into Swedish), and why it wasn't mentioned in the 9/11 report. There must be reasons. But they can't be good ones.