FBI This Week: Leveraging Linguists for FBI Investigations


September 9, 2016

FBI investigations span cultures, languages, and borders, which makes it necessary for linguists to collaborate with special agents.


Audio Transcript

Mollie Halpern: FBI investigations span cultures, languages, and borders, which makes it necessary for linguists to collaborate with special agents.

With more than 1,500 language specialists assigned across globe, the FBI has one of the largest linguist capabilities in the United States Intelligence Community. Errol Smith, an assistant section chief in the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence, says in addition to knowing more than 100 languages and dialects…

Errol Smith: Many of our linguists come with specialized expertise from various industries—to include medical, financial, and technical—and have higher educational degrees.

Halpern: Language specialists provide more than interpretation and translation services. Unit Chief Nilsa Moreno explains.

Nilsa Moreno: They also provide analysis, cultural background, and actionable intelligence to different kinds of investigations, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber, and criminal.

Smith: They are engaged with agents. They are continuously providing that support from the start of an investigation to the end—and, in many cases, all the way to the arrest itself.

Halpern: From FBI Headquarters, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau with FBI, This Week.

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