Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate

Goddamn, can the Bush Administration do anything right?

The shortage of Arabic translators in Iraq (news – web sites) has made it harder for U.S. soldiers to protect themselves, jeopardized interrogations of suspected al-Qaida terrorists in U.S. custody in Cuba and left almost no one to defend American policy on Arab television stations.

Despite an aggressive effort to recruit Arabic speakers in the two years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. government still suffers from a shortage that is hampering military, diplomatic and intelligence operations in the Middle East.

Solutions seem hard to come by. Arabic and other languages of the Middle East are very different from English. It can take non-native speakers several years to learn and speak it comfortably.
. . .
The government didn’t begin aggressively recruiting Arabic speakers until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, carried out by Arab extremists from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Congress criticized U.S. terrorism-fighting agencies for missing the growing threat of an attack. Many problems stemmed from agencies not sharing information, but the shortage of Arabic linguists may also have played a role.

The FBI has acknowledged it needs more experienced translators of all languages but especially Middle Eastern. CIA officials say they need native Arabic speakers familiar with foreign cultures to blend in overseas. The armed forces also need Arabic speakers who understand military jargon and are in good enough shape to keep up with troops.

American troops on duty in Iraq often speak little if any Arabic. They must shout in English or gesture their way through dangerous confrontations.

Of course, stories like this from almost exactly a year ago show exactly how low a priority hiring Arabic translators really is :

Nine soldiers being trained as translators at a military-run language school have been discharged for being gay despite a shortage of linguists for the US war against terror, officials and rights activists said Friday.
The nine were discharged from the army’s Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California over the course of this year, said Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

They included six who were being trained as Arabic speakers, two in Korean and another in Chinese, he said. “All the servicemembers had stellar service records and wanted to continue doing the important jobs they held, but they were fired because of their sexual orientation,” said Steve Ralls of the Servicemen’s Legal Defense Network.

“This is a very vivid illustration of how ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and anti-gay discrimination harms the national security of the United States and the war on terrorism,” he said.

Hey Democrats, next year when Bush keeps bringing up gay marriage and tries to make you look “anti-family” or something, don’t forget to bring this up. If you need a little quip to throw in at debates and campaign speeches, try this one :

George Bush hates gay people more than he hates terrorists!

That’ll show all the undecided voters what an asshole Bush really is.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate

  1. This brings me to an old complaint: Just what in the hell are gay republicans thinking?

    At what point have they ever been treated as anything other than useful idiots by the party they so lovingly support? And why do they continue to bash the only party that has ever vocally, if tepidly, supported their rights not to be beaten by homophobes?

    Same goes for sluttish “republican feminists” like Ann Coulter. What the hell?