Interpreter Shortage Signals Gitmo Gridlock

Lawyers struggle to find interpreters for cascade of cases
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2008 3:29 AM CDT
Interpreter Shortage Signals Gitmo Gridlock
A guard tower is visible behind a razor-wire fence, at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.    (AP Photo/Randall Mikkelsen, Pool)

Hundreds of cases filed by Guantanamo prisoners will be delayed by a shortage of qualified interpreters, reports the Washington Post. Lawyers are swamped with work since the Supreme Court ruled that terror suspects have the right to seek release in federal court—and they desperately need translators. Interpreters who can earn the trust of detainees, navigate cultural nuances and speak obscure dialects are rare.

"It's already difficult enough to get to Guantanamo to see a client," said a lawyer who represents two men. "Without an interpreter, the meeting can't take place." The problem was made worse recently when authorities rescinded security clearances for several Arab interpreters without explanation. Federal authorities have refused to speed the process by allowing phone calls and videoconferencing. (More Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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