A few weeks ago, this story ran in Newsweek:
To fight the war on terror, the FBI desperately needs translators. Every day, wiretaps and bugs installed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) record hundreds of hours of conversations conducted in Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages like Farsi. Those conversations must all be translated into English—and quickly—if investigators are to head off budding Qaeda plots against the United States. Today, more than two years after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI is still woefully short of translators.
... A shortage of Arabic speakers has plagued the entire intelligence community.... A congressional inquiry after 9/11 found enormous backlogs. Millions of hours of talk by suspected terrorists—including 35 percent of all Arabic-language national-security wiretaps by the FBI—had gone untranslated and untranscribed. Some of the overseas intercepts contained chillingly precise warnings. On Sept. 10, 2001, the National Security Agency picked up suggestive comments by Qaeda operatives, including “Tomorrow is zero hour.” The tape of the conversation was not translated until after 9/11.
Today, this appeared in The Washington Post:
Cathleen Glover ... learned Arabic at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), the military’s premier language school, in Monterey, Calif. Her timing as a soldier was fortuitous: Around her graduation last year, a [General] Accounting Office study reported that the Army faced a critical shortage of linguists needed to translate intercepts and interrogate suspects in the war on terrorism.
“I was what the country needed,” Glover said.
She was, and she wasn’t. Glover is gay. She mastered Arabic but couldn’t handle living a double life under the military policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” After two years in the Army, Glover, 26, voluntarily wrote a statement acknowledging her homosexuality.
Confronted with a shortage of Arabic interpreters and its policy banning openly gay service members, the Pentagon had a choice to make.
Which is how former Spec. Glover came to be cleaning pools instead of sitting in the desert, translating Arabic for the U.S. government.
In the past two years, the Department of Defense has discharged 37 linguists from the Defense Language Institute for being gay. ...many studied Arabic. At a time of heightened need for intelligence specialists, 37 linguists were rendered useless because of their homosexuality....
...The Army gave Cathleen Glover a proficiency in Arabic, but it also typed the words “HOMOSEXUAL ADMISSION” on her official discharge papers. The best job she could find was cleaning pools....
OK -- we know that the military mulishly clings to anti-gay policies. But the FBI and other civilian agencies desperately need translators. So why can't Glover get a government job?
The Post notes that, after her discharge, Glover
moved to Washington, where she applied for a job at the National Security Agency. Since her security clearance had been revoked, a background check would take months.
Why? What on earth prevents the NSA from drawing the obvious conclusion that it's not necessary to conduct another time-consuming full security check on a person whose clearance was revoked solely because she was discharged for homosexuality?