From Congressional Quarterly:
“The FBI uses a combination of Special Agents, Language Analysts, and Contract Linguists to address its foreign language translation requirements, all with tested foreign language proficiency as determined by the Interagency Language Roundtable,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said.
The number of FBI Special Agents who could speak at least some Arabic had increased from 29 to 46 since Sept. 11, 2001, he said. The number of Contract Linguists and Language Analysts “who meet FBI Arabic language test standards” has ballooned from 70 to 285 in the same period.
“The FBI also has access to the National Virtual Translation Center, which serves as the clearinghouse to provide timely and accurate translation of foreign intelligence for Intelligence Community agencies,” Kolko added. “Although we always look to increase the numbers through our recruiting efforts, we have the tools available to do our job.”
This would mark the first time I’d seen a spokesman talk about contract linguists (perhaps it was the first time a reporter had asked). To see in-house analysts, contractors, and the NVTC mentioned in the same rebuttal shows that the FBI is presenting its “we have the tools, stop criticizing us” message better than before.