To the People

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Monday, August 31, 2009

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

There was a good piece in the Moonie Times today about the fact that eight years after 9-11, we still don't have enough translators of Arabic, Urdu, Pashto and other languages used by radical Islamic terrorists:
The gap has become critical in the war effort, especially in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, where al Qaeda and Taliban operatives text message, e-mail and talk in languages that the intelligence community had largely ignored before 2001.
Why don't we have more of these people? As the Times explains, because that would have hurt the promotion prospects of people working in the government intel field:
"In the Cold War, people studied Russian or Chinese and came up through the ranks speaking those languages. But in the war on terror, with these languages, it just came upon the United States," Mr. Kohn said. "It was all of a sudden different languages are needed. No one spoke it. In the entire FBI, at the GS-15 level and above, there were three fluent Arabic-speaking agents at the time of 9/11. Three in 15,000. The same thing for the CIA.

"If they made Arabic or any of these other languages required, those people who were in line to get management jobs, and had friends, wouldn't get the jobs. So I can tell you at the FBI, as startling as this sounds, they decided consciously not to require Arabic speaking for any supervisory position in the entire FBI."(Emphasis added.)

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