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January 18, 2005

Lost in Translation

What more proof do you need that the "war on terror" is based on promoting conservative ideology, not domestic security, than the fact that the Bush administration has kept firing Army linguists for being gay:

The number of Arabic linguists discharged from the military for violating its "don't ask, don't tell" policy is higher than previously reported, according to records obtained by a research group... The military previously confirmed that seven translators who specialized in Arabic had been discharged between 1998 and 2003 because they were gay. The military did not break down the discharges by year, but said some, but not all, of the additional 13 discharges of Arabic speakers occurred in 2004...

Experts have identified the shortage of Arabic linguists as contributing to the government's failure to thwart the Sept. 11 attacks. The independent Sept. 11 commission made similar conclusions.

As this report earlier this year indicated, the backlog of untranslated intelligence helped lead to 911:

That lapse underscored a major problem facing the U.S. intelligence community: a lack of translators specializing in one of the most important languages pertinent to counterterrorism, Arabic...In late September, a U.S. Justice Department audit revealed that the FBI has a backlog of hundreds of thousands of untranslated audio recordings from terror and espionage investigations.
The problem is that there are just not enough linguists who speak Arabic in the US, so the Army linguists fired can't easily be replaced. Which underscores that homophobia is trumping domestic security.

Posted by Nathan at January 18, 2005 06:38 AM