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October 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Inspector Gen. Report Says FBI Still Not Reviewing All Material in Counterterrorism Case

Page from old arabic book

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON — The FBI is still not reviewing millions of electronic files and thousands of hours of wiretapped conversations collected in counterterrorism cases, and needs to hire more translators, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General released Monday.

The report by Inspector General Glenn Fine, also noted that the “FBI cannot accurately determine the amount of foreign language material it collects and reviews because it lacks a consolidated collection and statistical reporting system.”

The report concluded that “not reviewing such material increases the risk that the FBI will not detect information in its possession that may be important to its counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts.”

“The FBI stated that it was not able to review all high-priority material requiring translation due in part to limited linquistic resources and proficiency in certain language,” the report said.

Broken down, the report says that since 2003, the FBI has not reviewed about 47,000 hours of audio files in counterterrorism cases. The FBI says the figure was miscalculated and amounts to only about 10 percent of that total.

In a formal statement, the FBI issued the following in response to the report:

“The FBI appreciates the Inspector General’s review of the FBI’s Foreign Language Program. This audit is a follow-up to the 2004 report and documents ‘significant improvements,’ in particular reducing the FBI’s counterterrorism audio backlog by 40 percent. The FBI has implemented measures to resolve all 24 recommendations identified by the OIG.

“As stated in the report, the FBI has reviewed all of its foreign language collections in its highest priority counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases in 2008 and 100 percent of the text pages it collected over the past three years. The FBI uses advanced technology to assist in the identification and prioritization of electronic and audio files that are most relevant to the FBI’s mission.

“The FBI also has strengthened the management of the Foreign Language Program through the development of a two-week introductory training program for new linguists and the establishment of the Quality Control Standards Unit, which ensures compliance with the linguist quality control standards.

“Despite a workload increase of 100 percent since 9/11/2001, the FBI’s translation capacity now matches its collection capacity in many languages. The FBI continues to recruit and hire linguists to fill any gaps. The FBI remains committed to reviewing all foreign language material in a timely manner and setting priorities to ensure that the most important material receives the most immediate attention.”

Read Full Report

Read N.Y. Times Report

Read Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Reponse

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