OPEN SOURCES INTELLIGENCE (OSINT) AND TRANSLATORS’ BIAS OR POLITICAL AGENDA
Copyright: George Hatziathanasiou on line
Note: Mr. George Hatziathanasiou sent a letter to RIEAS on 30 July 2008.
In his article “Open Source Intelligence: A Strategic Enabler of National Security,” Mr. pallaris very correctly states that “[t]oday, OSINT’s importance is widely acknowledged. It is estimated that OSINT provides between 80 and 95 per cent of the information used by the intelligence community.”
In the paragraph “[l]imitations and weaknesses” Mr. Pallaris has overlooked one factor that is very important although frequently readers and analysts tend to overlook, as well. Since oftentimes analysts heavily rely on translated articles, they tend to take for granted their accuracy. They assume that the translator has done the best job s/he could and the text is as perfect as possible. They tend to ignore the fact of translators’ bias or political agenda. I am submitting a couple of such debadable translations.
On 25 July 2008 in the newspaper Kathimerini an article appeared by Yiannis Goulielmos under the title "The Talks Concern the Name," in which the author among other things states,
Refusing to comment directly on the issues the Macedonian side raised, the US official was cautious but clear in his remarks: "In the UN process," he stressed, "in which we have been involved for a number of years, a number of issues have been raised that are tied to relations between Greece and Macedonia.
But the original, which I submit as well, states the “FYROM,” not “Macedonia.”
Áðïöåýãïíôáò íá ó÷ïëéÜóåé åðß ôçò ïõóßáò ôá æçôÞìáôá ðïõ Þãåéñå ç óêïðéáíÞ ðëåõñÜ, ï Áìåñéêáíüò áîéùìáôïý÷ïò õðÞñîå ðñïóåêôéêüò áëëÜ óáöÞò óôéò äéáôõðþóåéò ôïõ: «Óôç äéáäéêáóßá ôïõ ÏÇÅ» ôüíéóå «óôï äéÜóôçìá ôùí ðïëëþí åôþí êáôÜ ôï ïðïßï åßìáóôå áíáìåìåéãìÝíïé, Ý÷åé åãåñèåß Ýíáò óçìáíôéêüò áñéèìüò æçôçìÜôùí ðïõ ó÷åôßæïíôáé ìå ôéò ó÷Ýóåéò ÅëëÜäáò-ÐÃÄÌ».
Another example from the same article is,
According to diplomatic sources in Brussels, Barrosso's letter will inform the Macedonian prime minister that as an institution, the European Commission does not have the jurisdiction to decide on the issues Gruevski is raising, and will probably refer him to the conclusions of the recent Summit of the 27-member EU, which talk about a "mutually accepted solution to the naming issue."
The original states:
Óýìöùíá ðÜíôùò ìå äéðëùìáôéêÝò ðçãÝò óôéò ÂñõîÝëëåò, ç åðéóôïëÞ ôïõ ê. Ìðáñüæï èá åíçìåñþíåé ôïí Óêïðéáíü ðñùèõðïõñãü ðùò ç ÅõñùðáúêÞ ÅðéôñïðÞ ùò èåóìüò åßíáé áíáñìüäéá íá ôïðïèåôçèåß åðß ôùí èåìÜôùí ðïõ åãåßñåé ï ê. Ãêñïýåöóêé, ðáñáðÝìðïíôÜò ôïí êáôÜ ðÜóá ðéèáíüôçôá óôï êåßìåíï ôùí óõìðåñáóìÜôùí ôçò ðñüóöáôçò Óõíüäïõ ÊïñõöÞò ôùí 27, óôï ïðïßï êáé ãßíåôáé ëüãïò ãéá «åîåýñåóç áìïéâáßá áðïäåêôÞò ëýóçò óôï èÝìá ôçò ïíïìáóßáò».
As an analyst, reading the translation I would be puzzled regarding Mr. Nimetz’s choice of words representing the United Nations which recognizes only the FYROM, not “Macedonia.” The same is true for the Greek author who uses the term “Macedonian” while he and his government fight exactly the same name for the Slavic population of the FYROM.
What is going on? This is the practice that goes on in “friendly” foreign service governmental agencies providing OSINT to their analysts and in a number of news agencies that translate documents and disseminate them to various publications or other mass media. Based on the above one wonder how often analysts fall victims of such biased translations that affect their own professional judgment.