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US Government Seeks Open-Source Translation 309

Posted by Zonk
from the penguins-at-the-keyboards dept.
valdean writes "The Boston Globe is reporting that last week the United States Government began publishing captured Iraqi documents on the web in order to harness the translating talents of the bilingual public. The article calls it 'the same open source principle' that created Linux. Check out the Foreign Military Studies Office's document portal."
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US Government Seeks Open-Source Translation

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  • Good, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:29PM (#14953398) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a great idea, but how many people will have to translate a document with similar results before it can be trusted?

    --
    Posted with the Slashdot Firefox extension. [mozilla.org]
    • by NXIL (860839)
      Just worked on one, got this: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP first, i must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction. this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and 'top secret'. i am sure and have confidence of your ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude involving a pending transaction requiring maxiimum confidence. we are top official of the iraqi government contract review panel who are interested in imporation of goods into
    • Re:Good, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AndroidCat (229562)
      Perhaps if they opened up a WikiIraqi? Let the differences be worked out in edit fights and revert wars. (But don't let any of those congress staffer yahoos in. ;)
      • Perhaps if they opened up a WikiIraqi?

        Actually, some sort of WikiTranslate or WikiTranslation sounds like a great idea, assuming something similar doesn't already exist. One could use it to translate not just these documents, but any documents/speeches/videos which are under a compatible license. It would also be quite a useful training corpus for machine-translation software.
    • Re:Good, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cfortin (23148)
      I think this is a great idea. Kinda like information triage. When someone finds something that looks tasty, then the military can have someone trusted confirm the translation.
    • Being Hungarian, all I can say to that is, my hovercraft is full of eels [thisisawar.com].
    • This whole story is odd. The American government has an annual budget exceeding $2.0 trillion [cia.gov], yet that same government cannot seem to buy top-notch translators graduating from the academic pentagon: Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, University of Illinois (at Urbana-Champagne), and University of Wisconson (at Madison)?

      I call, "BS", on this story.

      The American government already knows what those documents state, in the Iraqi language. The purpose of presenting those documents

      • "The purpose of presenting those documents to the public is to slyly hint, to the Iraqi insurgents, that Washington has even more documents and, more importantly, all the detailed information about their whereabouts and their next set of moves. Washington hopes that this threat just might scare the insurgents into leaving Iraq. Basically, Washington is doing psy-ops (psychological warfare) on the Internet."

        Is this like the time the American govt knew where there were 50 tons of chemical weapons in Iraq?

        A pl
      • " This whole story is odd. The American government has an annual budget exceeding $2.0 trillion [cia.gov], yet that same government cannot seem to buy top-notch translators graduating from the academic pentagon: Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, University of Illinois (at Urbana-Champagne), and University of Wisconson (at Madison)?"

        Yes. That is exactly the case. It isn't a matter of money. It's a matter of not enough people with the required skillset. The US government has had n
        • Yes. That is exactly the case. It isn't a matter of money. It's a matter of not enough people with the required skillset. The US government has had numerous open jobs looking for people with these skills for many years and they cannot fill them. This led to a lot of the Intel problems we had prior to Afghanistan and Iraq.

          People with the required skillset who apply for a job in the intelligence services are in fact suspect [danielpipes.org], and cannot easily get security clearance since 911. I isn't easy for an intelligence
      • by sasha328 (203458) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @07:03PM (#14953793) Homepage
        I think you've missed the point. The government is not targeting insurgents, it is targeting people outside of Iraq, people who have access to the internet. Especially people in the US, so they can "see how bad the previous regime was".

        I think many people project their status onto other, so if everyone you know has a computer and is connected to the internet, and just because you see insurgents advertising on the internet, does not mean that everyone has access to the internet. I've been to the Middle East (not Iraq), where the majority of people do not have computers let alone internet access.
        However, you are correct, I call BS as well that they need the "public's" help to translate documents.
      • If this is the open source that's the same that broght us Linux, then does that mean I'm free to modify the documents?

        This whole thing is a crock. It is a way to get more people to read documents. No doubt the documents have been well chosen to work for those presenting them.

      • I'm not sure what you're calling BS on. Do you NOT believe that they are releasing the documents?

        Good arabic translators (say rated 3+ on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale), particularly ones able to acquire a top secret clearance, command salaries of ~$150k+. This means they probably cost the government $300k+.

        At any rate, more transparency into these documents is unarguably a good thing.
      • Hypocrite (Score:5, Insightful)

        by N8F8 (4562) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @08:06PM (#14954081)
        US Government doesn't give enough information to the public there US Government is bad.

        US Government Gives Too Much information to the public there US Government is bad.

        US Govermnet translates documents to skew them to their own meaning there US Government is bad.

        US Government releases documents for the puclic to translate therefore US Government is bad.

        Give me a fcking break.

        And I won't even bother explaining the tons of goofy dialects that make translating Arabic from anywhere very difficult. You practically have to have a translator born in the neighborhood where the document was written. I took Arabis for a year and went nuts when learning every phrase went like: This is how the phrase is said in Saudi Arabis; this is how it is said in Egypt, this is how it is said in Kuwait, this is how it is said in this part of Bahrain... and so on.
      • The American government has an annual budget exceeding $2.0 trillion, yet that same government cannot seem to buy top-notch translators graduating from the academic pentagon...

        That's right. They'll spend $12 for a hammer but not even $2 for a translator!
      • Sibel Edmunds and others have pointed out that many of the translators that the CIA and NSA used were either incompetant or they were traitors, purposely lieing about what a doc said.

        While there may be a psych op going on, it is possible that they are post translating docs that have already been translated once( keep in mind that they had a serious backlog). If say 5 translation occur and they are similar, but the one that the cia employee did was wrong, it would indicate that there is a problem with them.
  • Classification? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Esion Modnar (632431) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:32PM (#14953414)
    What if it turns out that the document is talking about something that the US finds it needs to classify? Too late then...
    • What if it turns out that the document is talking about something that the US finds it needs to classify?

      From the article:

      US intelligence officials say nearly all the documents released have been given at least a cursory reading by Arabic experts. Beth Marple, Negroponte's deputy press secretary, said amateur translators won't find any major surprises, such as proof Hussein hid stockpiles of chemical weapons.

      --
      Posted with the Slashdot Firefox extension. [mozilla.org]

      • by plumby (179557) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:38PM (#14953453)
        ... such as proof Hussein hid stockpiles of chemical weapons.

        I think that's a pretty safe bet.

        • Not really (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CarpetShark (865376)
          Ermm, the question is whether he had any chemical weapons beyond what is known. The US and/or UK governments have admitted that he probably didn't after all.
          • Sorry. I think you might have misunderstood me - I meant it was a pretty safe bet that there would be no documents containing details of any hidden WMD.
          • That's true. At this point, it looks like he didn't ever have them (which surprised me).

            More interesting though, is that many of his own top generals and officials didn't know this. They thought he did have the weapons up until nearly the very end.

            Sadam wanted everyone to think he had those weapons. And he did one hell of a job convincing the world. Ironic that it lead to his downfall (we would have had a hard time going in and removing him without that, even though he still needed to be removed).

            • Re:Not really (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              he still needed to be removed

              Why? He was one of the less dangerous dictators. It would have made far more sense to go after a dictator that nobody denies is developing WMD, like Kim Jong-Il. Or after a dictator whose human rights violations are the horror of the civilized world, like Than Shwe or Saparmurat Niyazov.

              Or even, if we wish to think of our own interests first, after a leader whose anti-U.S. policies actually threaten our oil imports, like Hugo Chavez, or a dictator who is in a position to stri
              • It would have made far more sense to go after a dictator that nobody denies is developing WMD, like Kim Jong-Il.

                99 bottles of beer on the wall ... 99 bottles of beer ...

            • More interesting though, is that many of his own top generals and officials didn't know this. They thought he did have the weapons up until nearly the very end.

              That's because they were one of the three enemies he feared (the other ones being the Shi'a/Iran and the US). Saddam couldn't possibly have revealed to them (or Iran) that the emperor has no clothes.

              Sadam wanted everyone to think he had those weapons. And he did one hell of a job convincing the world. Ironic that it lead to his downfall (we would hav
        • The receipts are already in English.
      • Wouldn't it be good for the US to have that nugget of info to be released?
    • I think there could be a more sinister reason.

      This is an excellent way to disseminate lots of potentially inaccurate or out-of-context information from IRAQ to the rest of the world, without any corroberation on the content.

      Pretty cool idea really - let us translate and distribute propoganda ourselves.

    • This is a pretty good tactic by the US government. The effort here is not to appeal to slashdotters (most of whom couldn't form a cohesive view of politics or history, but are expert at mintue logical problems) but rather at this Historical community. These documents are the "Enigma" and "Magic" decryptions that led our intellegence agencies to firmly believe that Saddam had WMD. (By our, I mean most western intellegence organs -- even the french were convienced that he had WMD).

      These documents will form th
  • Open-Source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PocketPick (798123) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:32PM (#14953415)
    I fail to see how the term 'open-source' is applicable to a translation. Is the belief that if a number of people contribute to something, that it's open-source?
    • I fail to see how the term 'open-source' is applicable to a translation.
      You could make the argument that the source of the translation is open, as it wasn't performed by a government entity or some other unknown translation service.
      --
      The Games section is pretty now! [mozilla.org]
    • I think that, like, if you post something on the internet, then it is like, open-source or something.

      It's all very complicated.
      It involves binary.
      Do not question us.
    • Yep. If they had the sense to publish the documents on ODF, and encourage ODF responses along with recommending free ODF tools for any citizens who want to help, then they might be a little closer to harnessing the power of an open system.
    • Re:Open-Source? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sathias (884801)
      I would have thought that Open-Source also implies the Iraqi documents can be compiled into some sort of program.
  • Here it is (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:32PM (#14953416) Homepage Journal
    "I want to rip the American's throats out and shove it up their asses -- Anonymous Pissed Sunni"

    "I want to rip the American's throats out and shove it up their asses -- Saddam"

    "I want to rip the American's throats out and shove it up their asses -- Bin Laden"

    "I want to rip the American's throats out and shove it up their asses -- Iran"

    I think I'm getting the hang of this translation stuff.
           
    • by woolio (927141) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @06:28PM (#14953674) Journal
      Whew! You had me scared for a second.

      Luckily, your expert usage of English grammer re-assures me.

      Apparently they are only upset at one (unnamed) American who has multiple throats, and they wish to shove each of these up the asses of an (unnamed) third party that consists of more than one person. Or it could be that this particular individual's throats also have asses... which makes the action somewhat circular...

      Well, I don't have multiple throats, so my neck must be out of danger... But my ass might be the target of their threat.
    • (oop.ismad.com) If relativism were true, then truth would be relative so relativism's truth would be relative...

      Just because some things are absolute doesn't mean everything is absolute. Just because some things are relative doesn't mean everything is relative.

      For example, it is an absolute truth that the desk in front of me exists. This is universally verifiable by anyone who wants to make the trek to my residence. It is a relative truth that Coca-Cola tastes good. Some people like it; some peopl
    • I wish. More like:

      "I love America -- Anonymous Sunni"

      "I love America -- Iran"

      The government cherrypicks which articles they want to release, and then uses them to create a positive image of the war. The only thing being open sourced here is their propaganda machine. Based on Bush's past nominations, I'm guessing Armstrong Williams is going to be the head of this department.
  • Odd (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:33PM (#14953423) Homepage
    Why don't they put the NSA's crack team on ti, they seem to be good at this sort of thing. Or they couls hire translators? Maybe they are just trying to ferret out people who show too much interest in these documents?
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Uh, you do know the difference between decryption and translation? No, I guess you don't.
      • Uh, you do know the difference between decryption and translation? No, I guess you don't.

        So, I'm guessing from your flippant remarks that you have no idea what the NSA does? Really, neither do I for the most part, but I sort of speculate that code breaking is not the only thing they do, for example we do know they also bug phones... Maybe, just maybe, they also employ linguists? It's possible, you know.

        • by fm6 (162816)
          Sure, the NSA employs translators. So do many schools, courthouses, social services agencies, used car lots.... But none of these is somebody you go to because you need to hire a translator!
    • That's probably it. They are probably looking to gather names of more intelligent and educated arabs. These arabs are the ones most likely to be influential if the muslim community in the US ever gets its act together and starts lobbying and pushing for change. Right now they seem to be too afraid to speak up or otherwise get uppity (not that I blame them of course). Last I checked there were more muslims in the US then jews but of course you can't even begin to compare their political or cultural influence
      • That's probably it. They are probably looking to gather names of more intelligent and educated arabs. These arabs are the ones most likely to be influential if the muslim community in the US ever gets its act together and starts lobbying and pushing for change.

        If only that where true. You give the policy makers too mych credit, I think.

        • "If only that where true. You give the policy makers too mych credit, I think."

          Why? Are you saying they would never think to gather intelligence about possible influential arabs? The NSA, FBI and CIA have a long history of doing these kinds of things. From the weatherman and the black panthers in the sixties, to MLK, to John Lennon, to the peace activists today.

          This has been a standard operating procedure of the US intelligence for decades now.
    • by Heembo (916647)
      There is WAY to much information traffic to handle by human translators, and digital translators are not there yet. It's really that simple.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nothing to see here, move along... this piece of document is just a grocery list and does not hint at any secret treasure caches in the very least. Oh, and on an unrelated note, I won't be available for translation in the next couple of weeks, as I'm planning to visit my, uh, family in Iraq.

    See you, suckers!
  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:34PM (#14953427) Homepage
    Why don't they just make English the official language in Iraq?

    That would solve all these translation problems.

    I mean, as long as we are building nations, we might as well give them a decent language. The romans did it.. ...Yes, this is sarcasm...
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:37PM (#14953444)
    So "open source" is now anything that's a free/community project?

    Do the Amish then have "open source" barn raisings?
    • by Quixote (154172) * on Sunday March 19, 2006 @06:03PM (#14953570) Homepage Journal
      Do the Amish then have "open source" barn raisings?
      ... until it is raised; then it becomes closed source.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @06:18PM (#14953627) Journal
      So "open source" is now anything that's a free/community project?

      Coincidentally, the use of the phrase "open source" in the intelligence community actually predates its use regarding software, using it to refer to intelligence gathered from publically-available sources. From wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_intellige nce [wikipedia.org]

      Open source intelligence or "OSINT" refers to an intelligence gathering discipline based on analyzing information collected from open sources, i.e. information available to the general public. These sources include newspapers, the internet, books, phone books, scientific journals, radio broadcasts, television, and others. The term OSINT is unrelated to the term open source as that term is used in the computer software community to refer to programs whose source code is publicly available (and modifiable). OSINT should also not be generally confused with OSIF (Open Source Information) on which OSINT is based. OSIF is any information that is publicly available; OSINT is analytically-tailored OSIF designed to answer a specific tasking or to support decision-making.
    • Well, that's the progaganda, -- but what on earth kind of "community" would want to have anything to do with this? What "community", anywhere, is dedicated to donating free labour to Hallibu^H^H^H^H^H^H^HGeorge Bush? Everyone loses. It's not as if anyone's going to get kickbacks for this.
  • by Beuno (740018) <argentina@gmail . c om> on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:38PM (#14953455) Homepage
    Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking about doing, working for free for the US government ...
    • working for free for the US government

      Concidering Tax Freedom Day [taxfoundation.org] won't be till mid April, we're already working for the government for free. And here you are wasting your time on /.!

      But seriously... I would think this would be an interesting project. Peeps donate cycles and time to looking for ET signals, break factored codes, and any number of medical processing. Why not this? The government, in a this rare case, is putting the stuff out there for anyone to translate but if they just told us what it sa

    • Well... If we sent the job overseas, we'd have to pay them for it.
      Much better to keep it in house.
    • Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking about doing, working for free for the US government

      If you're not employed by the federal government and you live and work in the United States, you already do.

  • I'm sure we're going to get a bunch of shopping lists, a letter to a neighbor decrying imperialist nations, and a tawdry tale or two.
  • John Loftus translation services [matthewmiller.net] has volunteered hundreds of man hours (no woman hours please, he's a Republican) to ensure a "Fair and Balanced"(tm) translation.

    Amazingly enough, every singe document details proof that Saddam had WMD programs in place!

    We have the proof! Bush was right! The war is justified!

    We always had the proof.

    No one ever doubted Saddam had WMD. Clinton was a coward and a Commie for not going to war to kill him. Bush Sr. would have finished it but the French must have chickened out
  • erm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Maybe it's just me here, but most people in the OSS community seem pretty bright people. Bright people tend to rather dislike the Bush government and would go out of their way to NOT help them.

    I mean seriously, what type of people will want to support this government. All they get back in return is the loss of basic human rights and in the future finger pointing. It's a lose-lose situation.
    • Baloney (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XanC (644172)
      You have circular reasoning in your definition of "bright". To you, anyone who agrees with W can't be bright, so no bright people agree with W. You need to get outside your own little circle and see that there are plenty of smart people who disagree with you.
      • "Own little circle"? Two-thirds of Americans disagree with Bush. Anti-Bush "blue" states are uniformly better educated, smarter, richer, and contribute disproportionately more to the public treasury. A characterization of the typical Bush voter as having a double-digit IQ is strongly consistent with the observed data.

        The recent thinning of the Bush camp as those who are better in touch with reality make haste to leave the sinking ship can't have done the intelligence profile of the GOP any.

        As a Bush supp
  • not fun! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hogghogg (791053) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:52PM (#14953519) Homepage Journal
    I think they are forgetting that (for some deranged part of our society), creating Linux was fun. Will translating orders for toilet paper for the Iraqi National Guard mess hall be fun too? Only if you can write your translation as a perl poem!
    • I think they are forgetting that (for some deranged part of our society), creating Linux was fun.

      Bilingual people with enough time and interest in Iraq will read them, but there is really no point in putting effort into translating them unless you think they are relevant for the general public, which they obviously aren't according to the US government.

      Doing a good translation into a foreign language is more work than just reading stuff, or even writing for that matter. I don't even want to translate my own
  • US government publishing some "captured" Iraqi documents. Of course there are many documents that should not be published, like the process for purchasing poison gas from Don Rumsfeld to poison one's politically inconvenient neighbors. Maybe just the receipts and thank-you notes [google.com]. But I expect they won't be publishing many of the documents the US military captured when it raided Ahmed "Castro" Chalabi's office [google.com], before he fled back to his Iranian spy office. Because those Chalabi docs are all covered by Bush'
  • isn't this the same government that is trying to argue that having to get warrants for wiretaps tips our interest in a suspect?

    so what then is posting iraqi documents for every iraqi terrorist to read before anyone can translate them going to do?

    i say we get rid of everyone running this debacle and start over.
  • I'm perfectly bilingual but will never do that.
    The incentive of open-source is that a lot of people will benefit from your work, and not some greedy individual (Thanks to the GPL). For me, it'd be the same as if Gates started up a contest for who could come up with a better OS and Linus and the other hackers handed their work to him. Gates could have then started making profit out of their work.
    I am not American, but I'd guess most open-source enthusiasts out there are better informed than the average Jo
    • >> I am not American, but I'd guess most open-source enthusiasts out there are better >> informed than the average Joe and are more likely to be opposing the war in the >> first place.

      Yeah!

      We don't need to translate the documents - we're better informed and know what they say before we even read them!

    • I'm perfectly bilingual but will never do that. The incentive of open-source is that a lot of people will benefit from your work

      Think how many poor Iraqis would benefit from your work. Band new bombs delivered right to their door step.</sarcasm> Yes, I also have a hard time imagining why any arabic-speaking (muslim or not) person would want to contribute to the American intelligence effort.
  • Proper translation for international affairs requires in-depth understanding of culture as well as printed text. Automated translation is nice for basic tasks, but when a low-level government official reads "jihad" and starts telling everyone that someone has declared war, the worst is at hand.
  • In soviet America, the Government open sources you!!
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @06:19PM (#14953629) Journal
    Maybe I'm off base here, but isn't the government supposed to have large computers for things like the Carnivore project? Aren't they supposed to be capable to tapping into about anything on the Interweb? Why don't they just buy some software from babblefish.com and use it to pinpoint what parts of the Internet they really want to have experts read? To start with, a google for allah, then translate as required would be a good start, key words can be added to the process somewhere along the line... It seems unlikely that there would be more than say, oh... 100,000 arabic websites? Couple of days and its all done.. right?

    This seems quite an odd thing to me... unless they are trying to ferret out people in the US and allied countries that are both capable of and willing to translate such information. That sounds like some new kind of profiling to me... well, I could just be paranoid...
    • It seems unlikely that there would be more than say, oh... 100,000 arabic websites?

      Wow... Do you get out much?

      I mean, is that how you really see the Middle East? They're so backwards that they couldn't possibly have more than 100K websites amongst more than 300 million Arabic speaking people?

      I guess there must be... like 100 total Jewish language sites, since there aren't really that many Jews in the world. Right?

      Ignorance such as yours will not be changed by citing internet usage numbers. It obviously goes

    • by rmarll (161697)
      You are correct, this is pure propoganda. Nothing is served by these documents or peoples efforts to translate them other than to generate fear. This is how a flagging leadership retains control.

      Welcome to the war machine you nerds, didn't think your little hobby would get drug along as a mascott did you.

      You know what sucks, it works every time every where.
    • Okay, to clarify some things...

      First paragraph is sarcastic

      Second paragraph was semi-serious questioning of the motives of such efforts

  • From the website:
    "You are entering an Official United States Government System, which may be used only for authorized purposes. Unauthorized modification of any information stored on this system may result in criminal prosecution. The Government may monitor and audit the usage of this system, and all persons are hereby notified that use of this system constitutes consent to such monitoring and auditing."

    This is just to create logs of the slashdot effect so they can use this to bring down enemy websites.

    This
  • by ronocdh (906309)
    This is blatant PR on behalf of the military. FTFA:

    The US Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available.

    Wiki-style scholarship has been criticized sufficiently on /., so I needn't address the flaw in methodology. But the problem is that this is no genuine attempt at intelligence, it's merely a showcase for unflattering (and, as the disclaimer attests,
  • Since when was the spirit of open source based on "We'll do a bunch of work for you for free"?

    That's subtly different from why I work on OS projects. I want to do a bunch of work to solve a problem, and then make it so that no one ever has to solve that problem again, because everyone can benefit from my work.

    The difference is that (for me, at least), the motivation is to multiply the work accomplished in the world, per unit of manpower I put into the work. Just doing work for free, while perhaps generous
  • You need to translate from Arabic, so you...

    1. Fire many of your translators for being gay
    2. Wind up with a backlog
    3. Ask people you don't know or trust to do the work for free
    4. ????
    5. Profit!!
  • Anyone? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by NMerriam (15122)
    The burning question is, of course, are homosexuals allowed to work on these translations? I mean, we've been kicking Arabic linguists out of the military for being gay, so obviously reading these documents isn't so important that we'd want gay residue on the translations.
  • Except for the gluttonous militarism, countless deaths for little benefit other than engorging the pocket books of the few, sovereingty violation, and continued financial rape of the American taxpayer by elitist, self justifying, know-nothing symptoms of centralisation. The only benefit of repeated distruction is efficient destruction. cat `which military_industrial_complex` > /dev/null and die.
  • Sorry, the rest is classified.
  • I can't wait to see the lawsuits against the US government for copyright infringement.

  • ...can I just post a spec of what I need to do and let you guys fill it in for me?

    (I have to tidy up some code. One source file is 0.25MB of C++ and is basically one looong function. You'd love to help me wouldn't you?)

  • Maybe they don't want to see the translations, but rather, see who out there understands these languages? Especially people who read alot of it but don't contribute translations back . . . aha! Must be an evildoer!

    Naw, I don't really believe it. But it does sound like there must be some sort of workable paranoid conspiracy thing here somewhere . . .
  • by FishandChips (695645) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @08:43PM (#14954239) Journal
    Esteemed Sir

    I am seeking a person of the utmost trustfulness, which I believe you to be the same, to resolve a most delicate matter that has come to light in recently translated documents. I am the personal Financial and Securities Manager to Mr Tariq Aziz of Baghdad City who deposited the sum of 20 million dollars specie in the Bank of Santa Maria et Commerciale, Lagos, for the purchase of tractor parts and chandeliers. By twisted fate my client is unavoidably detained in his domicile to entirely unforeseen social eventualities and has let it be known via said translation that he seeks you to act as intermediary in this matter through a personal bank account ...
  • by mesocyclone (80188) on Monday March 20, 2006 @01:41AM (#14955072) Homepage Journal
    Since nobody seems to have anything other than the usual paranoid theories, perhaps some facts are in order.

    This stash of documents (tens of thousands) had been in government possession for a long time. It was also indexed.

    A writer (Stephen Hays [theweeklystandard.com]) at The Weekly Standard has been running a campaign to have them released to the public. At one time, the government was planning on destroying them.

    Then, ( congresscritters [wwmt.com]) asked that they be released, and after some fussing, the release was agreed to.

    The idea to release the documents onto the internet is brilliant. It is, in fact, the government recognizing the "Army of Davids" concept and using it. Since the Bush administration has demonstrated almost a total lack of ability to defend itself against even the most ludicrous of charges, this represents a rare instance where they have done something smart - put out the raw source material and let anyone on the internet translate and interpret it - with blogspace functioning as quality control if controversial documents are found (such as a couple already translated showing ties (fairly weak) between the Saddam regime and Al Qaeda.

    One would hope that the internet and blogger community would welcome this for what it is: the US government recognizing the power of blogspace and the net, unorganized and ad hoc, to do useful information processing. Also, importantly, one would expect the openness shown here to be applauded - the "cursory readings" are hardly enough to ferret out all documents that might be either damaging or helpful to the administration.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong

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