CIA desperately seeking linguists

The Central Intelligence Agency is to launch a new campaign to recruit linguists who are US citizens and can teach Chinese and Arabic to its personnel.

    Military and intelligence agencies want Arabic speakers to help bridge the divide

    Advertisements will be placed in major US newspapers from this weekend, said CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield on Thursday. The agency is also seeking Korean, Pashto and Farsi speakers.

    With the United States stepping up intelligence activities since the 11 September attacks two years ago, experts have often pointed to poor foreign language skills as one of the major weaknesses of US intelligence agencies.

    "Foreign languages are critical in order to perform our mission," commented Mansfield. "It doesn't matter whether they are operational officers, analysts or support staff."

    Dismissals

    The CIA’s new recruitment drive contrasts sharply with events in the US military last year.

    Despite the paucity of foreign language speakers in the army, nine soldiers being trained as translators were discharged during 2002.

    "There aren't a lot of Arabic speakers in the military to begin with, so the loss of six Arabic speakers is a very significant loss to the country"

    Steve Ralls,
    Servicemen's Legal Defence Network

    The dismissals included six who were being trained as Arabic speakers, two in Korean and another in Chinese. The reason? They are gay.

    Their linguistic skills were not in question. All nine translators received discharge papers stating that the reason for their dismissal was their sexuality.

    Big loss

    "All the service members 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 Defence Network in November 2002.

    "There aren't a lot of Arabic speakers in the military to begin with, so the loss of six Arabic speakers is a very significant loss to the country," Ralls said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.