Originally published 04:45 a.m., August 31, 2009,
EXCLUSIVE: Lack of translators hurts U.S. war on terror
The necessary cadre of U.S. intelligence personnel capable of reading and speaking targeted regional languages such as Pashto, Dari and Urdu “remains essentially nonexistent,” the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence wrote in a rare but stark warning in its 2010 budget report.
Phi Beta Iota: This is, eight years after 9-11 and 21 years after General Al Gray called for redirection toward the Third World in his article “Global Intelligence Challenges in the 1990’s,” a failure of leadership in Congress, the White House, and of course within the US IC. It is also a failure of imagination. The private sector works in 183 languages–33 of them core languages including 12 distinct dialects of Arabic. Anybody who thinks they can solve this problem with language training for native Americans who qualify for clearances should not be in a leadership position. And if Leon Panetta thinks “doubling” anything from a base of less than ten is significant, he needs a new staff. OSS/EIN can solve this problem in under 90 days. This will not happen because the lack of integrity in this town, combined with the lack of imagination and the lack of accountability, leaves the beltway bandit mafia as the sole beneficiary of the hard-earned taxpayer dollars (and the newly-printed leap of faith dollars). Our domestic enemies are now a much greater threat to the Republic than any combination of foreign enemies.