The Kerry-Edwards campaign hopes Americans believe that their administration would mean peace and prosperity. Anyone who knows their real record on Clinton Executive Order 13166, which declared that all recipients of federal funds must provide translation services into any language anyone speaks at any time, knows better. E.O. 13166 Compromises America’s National Security The number of interpreters of languages critical to our national security is finite. According to Kirk Belnap, a professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University, no more than 200 non-Arab Americans in the entire country had a professional-level proficiency in Arabic in 2001. That shortage has not lessened. According to The 9/11 Commission Report, “The total number of undergraduate degrees granted in Arabic in all U.S. colleges and universities in 2002 was six.” Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor to Bill Clinton and then-advisor to John Kerry, was caught smuggling documents out of the National Archives [see “Will Justice Indict Berger?”]. Among those reportedly stolen documents, as the New York Post revealed on July 29, lay proof that the Clinton Administration knew about the Arabic translator shortage prior to deciding to make it even worse via E.O. 13166:
“Urgent complaints that the FBI could not decipher bugged conversations between members of a Brooklyn mosque and Afghan terrorists because it lacked translators were included in the documents former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger removed from the National Archives.”
While the FBI was begging for translators, the Clinton Administration chose to take care of its pals, the trial lawyers, instead. This fact, Berger may have recognized, would further undermine public confidence in the Democratic Party’s ability to put America’s national interest ahead of its own self-interest. Bush Administration Reluctant on E.O. 13166; Kerry-Edwards Enthusiastic Bush Administration appointee, Assistant Atty. Gen. Alex Acosta, has continued Clinton’s language policy. Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza has said that Acosta “played a pivotal role” in the continued enforcement of E.O. 13166. In addition, numerous Clinton holdovers who have burrowed in as career employees of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR), are now deciding how E.O. 13166 should be enforced. The result: the Tucson Unified School District, where at least 40 languages are spoken, signed a 2002 consent decree with HHS OCR agreeing to provide translations and interpreters upon demand. Their Senate records show that a Kerry-Edwards Administration would be far more aggressive in its enforcement of E.O. 13166. Both Senators Kerry and Edwards have cosponsored Sen. Tom Daschle’s (D.-S.D.) “Health Care Coverage for Minorities” legislation (S 1833), which would codify E.O. 13166 as a permanent part of federal law. E.O. 13166 and Medical Malpractice There remains a pot of gold for trial lawyers as a result of E.O. 13166: increased malpractice litigation due to translation errors both real and imagined. E.O. 13166 regulations propounded by HHS OCR insist that friends or family members should not be used as translators. Granted, a 2003 study published in Pediatrics Magazine found that family members made at least one translation error roughly 77% of the time in a medical setting. But according to that same study, trained, professional interpreters still made at least one mistake 53% of the time. Poor people seldom sue their equally impoverished relatives for translation mistakes. Suing an employee of a wealthy hospital is quite another matter. What might these lawsuits cost? Consider that a plaintiff in a 1984 case was awarded $71 million when paramedics misinterpreted just one word “intoxicado.” Ethnic Activists’ Double Standard Efforts to require hospitals to determine whether patents are legally here have been attacked as interfering with urgently needed medical treatment. Yet a doctor or nurse is expected by E.O. 13166 to determine the precise language and dialect spoken by every patient who is carried through their door. E.O. 13166 also ensures that there will be lawsuits when a hospital sends a speaker of Mandarin Chinese to translate for a speaker of Cantonese Chinese, or a speaker of Castilian Spanish is asked to interpret for a speaker of Puerto Rican Spanish. Americans pay millions of dollars to provide health care and medical treatment for illegal aliens. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the U.S. government will help subsidize “a four-year, $1 billion program to pay some of the costs of treating illegal immigrants [without requiring] hospitals to ask patients about their immigration status.” Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.) fostered this latest federal subsidy with funds in the Medicare bill. As an example of costs to American taxpayers consider Houston’s Harris County Hospital District, which, according to the February 2003 Phyllis Schlafly Report, spent $330 million to treat and immunize illegal aliens over three years time. On top of these already-staggering costs, E.O. 13166 means that every word uttered in a hospital to people who should not even be in the United States could provoke a ruinously expensive lawsuit. Congressmen King, Istook, Fighting E.O. 13166 Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) has introduced legislation (HR 300) to repeal E.O. 13166. His bill has attracted 77 cosponsors to date. Rep. Ernest Istook (R.-Okla.), from his post on the House Appropriations Committee, has twice included language into an appropriations bills that ensures that states and localities are not required to post road signs in languages other than English. As the Bush Administration ponders the potential impact of Clinton E.O. 13166, the hope remains that President Bush will do the right thing and repeal it.