Commentary Magazine


Lost In Translation

Pick a foreign language, any language (except Spanish and Bureaucratese), and I can guarantee that U.S. intelligence has a severe lack of personnel conversant in that tongue. The more critical the language to our intelligence efforts, the worse the shortage.

Take Chinese. The National Security Agency lacks Chinese speakers to translate all the decrypted commuications it picks up. What does it do in response? It hires outside translation services. One of them, unfortunately, was run by Chinese intelligence itself.

Naval intelligence officials familiar with the Chinese spy penetration said the access to both “raw” and analyzed intelligence at Kunia caused significant damage by giving China’s government details on both the targets and the sources of U.S. spying operations. Such information would permit the Chinese to block the eavesdropping or to provide false and misleading “disinformation” to U.S. intelligence.

The redoubtable Bill Gertz has the full story in today’s Washington Times.