I remember a big criciticism of the 9-11 attacks was that most of our intelligence and investigative people did not know Arabic, well folks little has changed now there are 33 out of 12,000. NOt sure if this extends to NSA and the rest of the agencies, but it would seem that the agency who is concerned with the possibility of terror in the US would have more agents proficient in this language. As important as undertanding the language is understanding the subtleties associated with the language and it accompanying culture. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/10/AR2006101001388.html Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics. Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words -- including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test -- just 1 percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show. The numbers reflect the FBI's continued struggle to attract employees who speak Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of the Middle East and South Asia, even as the bureau leads a fight against terrorist groups primarily centered in those parts of the world. The same challenge is facing the CIA and other agencies as the government competes with the private sector for a limited number of applicants with foreign-language proficiency, according to U.S. officials and experts. The shortage of agents with foreign-language skills also shows the extent to which the FBI has focused on translators since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in part because officials believe it is more valuable to have specially trained linguists.