Interpreter Gags on Order

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A part-time State Department interpreter left his job last month. That's not interesting, but the reason is:

He had to quit after refusing to sign a new secrecy agreement that would have barred him from ever mentioning anything about his work to anyone for the rest of his life.

According to the Oakland Tribune story, "the secrecy language is being presented to all of the State Department's approximately 1,600 part-time interpreters."

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  1. Kind of a bitch to get a reference, eh? 🙂

  2. So one guy quits. Yea! Kudos to you for having courage and conviction. However, secrecy is a serious and growing (and how!) problem. One part-timer walking away, does not a popular revolt make. These days, not many people care much about what sort of corruption and abuses our government is getting up to behind closed doors. By the time they do take notice… hang on, there’s someone knocking.

  3. Lovely. God forbid our federal government should aspire to anything remotely resembling transparency and accountability – can anyone say TSA? – but every time I take a shit my bank has to tell Ashcroft about it (I’ve got to quit going to my bank to shit).

  4. If interpreters were allowed to disclose just how much time federal employees spend on coffee breaks then the terrorists will win!

    (I’m taking a break from my tired “Of course, Kerry would be worse” line and going back to a line popularized after 9/11: “If this does/doesn’t happen, then the terrorists will have won.”)

  5. I think you’re completely misrepresenting the situation here. If you read the actual terms involved:

    >The contractor … shall not communicate to any
    >person or organization any information known to
    >them by reason of their performance of services
    >under this agreement that has not been made
    >public, except in the necessary performance of
    >their duties or upon written authorization of
    >the contracting officer

    It doesn’t say he can’t talk about anything related to his job. He can say where he works, what he does there, etc.

    All it does is prevent him from playing amateur Secretary of State by disclosing things in the documents he’s translating.

  6. (I’m taking a break from my tired “Of course, Kerry would be worse” line and going back to a line popularized after 9/11: “If this does/doesn’t happen, then the terrorists will have won.”)

    And that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

  7. No, Slag. Don’t you see? Christmas is all about toys… that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

  8. “If this does/doesn’t happen, then the terrorists will have won.”

    And that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

    I’ve actually written parts of a 24 fanfic where terrorists are trying to stop Christmas. If Jack can’t save Santa, the terrorists will win!

  9. If what Stormy Dragon posted is true, then where is the problem with this. It sounds like a confidentiality clause, which are common in private industry.

    He still gets to reference his job on his resume. Beyond that, what’s the need to talk about the performance of the job? If he were to disclose something illegal to the press, wouldn’t he be covered by whistleblower protection?

  10. So Stormy, if a translator comes across a plot to do something illegal, lets say a run of the mill corruption scandal that was being covered up, the employee should have no right to bring this to light? Whistle blowers should be encouraged to come forward.

  11. Are you all unemployed, or have you never signed a confidentiality agreement?

    That is pretty standard language for a confidentiality agreement, especially for a contractor of any kind.

  12. Professinal interpreters work according to a sort of code of ethics under they would never tell anyone what they translate (aside from the obvious danger, illegality, criminal exceptions). As one who works with a lot of interpreters, I can say with some confidence that this is important.

  13. >Whistle blowers should be encouraged to come
    >forward.

    Whistleblowers aren’t just encouraged to come forward, they’re REQUIRED to. If you, as a contractor, are aware of illegality at your company and fail to report it, you become liable for it. Whistleblowing would be covered by the “except in the necessary performance of their duties” clause.

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