Sunday, June 29, 2008

Language And Conflict: Prosecuting Terrorism

Andrew McCarthy wrote a book about his role in the prosecution of the "Blind Sheikh" who was behind the 1993 failed attempt to destroy the World Trade Center.

In an interview he gave with Hugh Hewitt (both men are conservatives), McCarthy said there were two types of people he didn't want on the jury.  Lawyers, because they know the business and no Prosecutor wants to be second guessed, and Arabic speakers, because he didn't want someone to say that the Arabic language tapes they played didn't say what the government said they said.

I didn't actually get the idea that the government had fudged in their translation, which they used as evidence before the jury, but instead simply that translation is tricky, and doubt might ruin the case.  Still, it points directly how language can be part of trial, in this case, one of the more important trials in modern anti-American terrorism.

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