The progressive translator

The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum, a clearinghouse, where progressive translators and other interested persons may discuss issues of concern, including, but not limited to, political aspects of translation, translation theory, the policies and structure of the ATA, and activism at the local group level.


Ken Kronenberg is a German translator specializing in medicine, patents, and 19th- and 20th-century diaries and letters. The views and positions taken by guest bloggers are not necessarily those of Ken Kronenberg or the Progressive Translator.

Friday, November 03, 2006

U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques

I heard the awful news on NPR's Morning Edition about a U.S. soldier who killed herself after refusing to take part in torture of Iraqi prisoners, back in Sept of 2003. Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, was an Arabic speaking interrogator who was assigned to a prison at the Tal Afar air base in Iraq. She had earned her psychology degree on a military scholarship and was a gifted linguist.

The incident, which happened three years ago, would have not been public knowledge if it had not been for the tireless efforts of KNAU reporter Kevin Elston, who wasn't satisfied with the official account. He requested a transcript of the official investigation of her death under the Freedom of Information Act. The news was originally broadcast on Arizona Public Radio on Oct 31st, 2006. That story was removed from the KNAU website a day later, apparently due to objections from the military. See correction to Alyssa Peterson story.

The following are excerpts are from the Editor & Publisher article dated Nov 1, 2006:
Alyssa Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ....

Peterson became fluent in Dutch even before she went on an 18-month Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to the Netherlands in the late 1990s. Then, she cruised through her Arabic courses at the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., shortly after enlisting in July 2001. With that under her belt, she was off to Iraq to conduct interrogations and translate enemy documents. God only knows how many more translators and interpreters have found themselves in similar situations, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to?



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