Friday, January 14, 2005

Good Lord -- we're still doing this?

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....

Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military under a Freedom of Information Act request.

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....


A New Republic article by Nathaniel Frank (available here to subscribers and here as a PDF from the CSSMM) has more:

In total, according to Pentagon data, there were at least 73 people discharged from DLI [the Defense Language Institute] for homosexuality between 1998 and 2003. At least 37 of these discharges took place after the September 11 attacks.

At least 73 people? A letter from Undersecretary of Defense David Chu to Representative Marty Meehan (PDF) helps clarify that -- the military, it seems, is also dismissing quite a few gay linguists who speak Korean, Russian, Chinese, and Serbian Croatian.

Feel safe?

For the willfully obtuse, here's Nathaniel Frank again:

National security experts have identified the shortage of Arabic linguists as contributing to the government’s failure to predict the September 11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report’s assessment of the nation’s preparedness for those and future strikes indicated that the government “lacked sufficient translators proficient in Arabic and other key languages, resulting in a significant backlog of untranslated intercepts.” A 2002 General Accounting Office study concluded that staff shortages in Arabic and Farsi “adversely affected agency operations and compromised U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, counterterrorism and diplomatic efforts.” And an October 2001 House Intelligence Committee report found that “thousands of pieces of data are never analyzed, or are analyzed ‘after the fact’ because there are too few analysts, even fewer with the necessary language skills.”

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