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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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  • Re:Classification? (Score:3, Informative)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:33PM (#14953425) Homepage Journal
    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]
  • Re:Classification? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19, 2006 @05:41PM (#14953471)
    "What if it turns out that the document is talking about something that the US finds it needs to classify?"

    I am fairly certain this is just a way for the government to help the translators with proper security clearances concentrate on the classified stuff. More than likely the items posted to the public will be subject to a cursory review to make sure nothing of high importance is released.

    No need I can see to classify Saddam's granny's apple pie recipe just 'cause.

         
  • Re:Ironic, because (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19, 2006 @06:08PM (#14953590)
    If you think Bush lied about Iraq's WMDs, here are some other "lies" you also shouldn't forget:

    "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

    "This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

    "Whereas Iraq has consistently breached its cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the United States, entered into on March 3, 1991, by failing to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, and refusing to permit monitoring and verification by United Nations inspections; Whereas Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological capabilities, and has made positive progress toward developing nuclear weapons capabilities" -- From a joint resolution submitted by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter on July 18, 2002

    "Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998

    "(Saddam) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983" -- National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Feb 18, 1998

    "Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

    "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002

    "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." -- Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

    "What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

    "The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

    "In t
  • Re:Open-Source? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sathias (884801) on Sunday March 19, 2006 @08:19PM (#14954143)
    I would have thought that Open-Source also implies the Iraqi documents can be compiled into some sort of program.
  • Re:Ironic, because (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19, 2006 @08:45PM (#14954244)
    Maybe you should post a source link, telling us all where you copy/pasted the list from, lest we believe you have actually done some independent research on the topic?

    This is all very OT, but a quick search finds it on http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp [snopes.com]

    From Snopes: " All of the quotes listed above are substantially correct reproductions of statements made by various Democratic leaders regarding Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's acquisition or possession of weapons of mass destruction.
    However, some of the quotes are truncated, and context is provided for none of them several of these quotes were offered in the course of statements that clearly indicated the speaker was decidedly against unilateral military intervention in Iraq by the U.S.
    Moreover, several of the quotes offered antedate the four nights of airstrikes unleashed against Iraq by U.S. and British forces during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, after which Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced the action had been successful in "degrad[ing] Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons." "
  • If you look at history, after WWII there were American soldiers being killed by insurgents in both Germany and Japan for about seven years.

    No, that was just more spin from Condi Rice.

    According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq [rand.org], a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany--and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases--was zero.
    Slate [slate.com]
    What they are hoping for is people like you, aka morons,

    And one "moron" like reporter (666905) raising interesting questions is worth a thousand anonymous cowards regurgitating the government party line.

  • 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.

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