Who in Allied governments, the Vatican and the news media knew what about the Holocaust and when? What could and should have been done to save Europe's Jews? Ever since World War II, those questions have been fiercely debated.
In January 1942, the Nazis convened to map their Final Solution and by the following December the Allies knew or suspected enough -- mostly from escaped prisoners and other partisans -- to issue a public denunciation of Germany's ``bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination.''
Now, a U.S. government analysis suggests that while the evidence was incomplete, gruesome details from coded Nazi messages that Britain intercepted beginning in 1941 could have confirmed and exposed the scope of German genocide well before mid-1944, when Allied troops liberated the death camps and became witnesses to the horror.
In a striking parallel to assessments of intelligence gaps before Sept. 11, the analysis suggests that the Allies largely failed to understand the information they had, information that might not have given advance warning of the Holocaust, but could have prompted a military response that could have interrupted the deportations or mass exterminations, or at least a propaganda campaign against Nazi atrocities.
But there are more parallels.
Further, the report said, British and American efforts to sort evidence were hampered by large case backlogs and a shortage of translators.
And the report suggests that anti-Semitism may have helped create an atmosphere that affected how communications intelligence -- or Comint -- was handled.
Today it isn't anti-semitism, of course:
Gay Linguists Get The Boot
Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.
The soldiers' dismissals come at a time when the military is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism.
"We face a drastic shortage of linguists, and the direct impact of Arabic speakers is a particular problem," said Donald R. Hamilton, who documented the need for more linguists in a report to Congress as part of the National Commission on Terrorism.
And the problem is getting worse:
Despite more money, increased personnel and an attempt at improved technology, the FBI still has a backlog of untranslated terrorism-related audio intercepts. That's the unsatisfactory finding that Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine reported last week at a Senate Judiciary Committee FBI oversight hearing.
The backlog, Fine said, has more than doubled to 8,354 hours of unreviewed counterterrorism material from 4,086 hours in April 2004.