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5 years after terrorist attacks only 33 FBI agents have limited proficiency in Arabic

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by DarrylS, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    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.
  2. FreeTedWilliams

    FreeTedWilliams pfadmins PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    "Arabic" has only about a thousand dialects! It is not like learning Spanish, or French, Chinese is even easier. It is very hard to find a "native speaker" who a.) can pass a background investigation and b.) doesn't hate the US.
  3. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    So it is ok we only have 35 people in the FBI who have a basic understanding?? I would have thought it was a priority to have more, particularly as there have been rumored al quaeda sleeper cells in the US for a couple of years now.
  4. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ted Williams is right, the FBI can't afford to "Hire The Real Thing" because there isn't one of them on this planet that the FBI can trust.
  5. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    To bad they don't speak spanish in the ME.
  6. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    No one say it is OK that we only have 35 experts in Arabic. It is a situation that is/will be hard to deal with. If you have a child that wants to be in the FBi major in Arabic and a job will await your graduation.

    BTW When I have posted translation of documents written in Arabic that we captured in Iraq. Many thought they were Forged, or couldn't understand why they hadn't been translated.

    A question How would we have forged 50,000 boxes of docs with the samll # of people we have who speak Arabic?

    Is it suprising that we haven't translated these documents? I would imaging the small # of Arabic speaking available are involved in dealing with intel concerning future threats.
  7. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    I think this is why there isn't that much concern.

    From the same article:


    FBI officials said it is not crucial for agents working in the ITOS sections to know Arabic or other foreign languages, because they rely primarily on documents or interviews already translated by FBI linguists. As for agents in the field in the United States or overseas, FBI officials say translators are readily available when needed by investigators, usually within 24 hours.


    It also stated:


    Margaret Gulotta, chief of the FBI's language services section, said in an interview that the bureau has made significant progress since 9/11 in increasing the number of translators who speak Arabic and other foreign languages. The number of translators proficient in Arabic has grown from 70 in September 2001 to 269 as of July -- an increase of nearly 300 percent -- while the overall number of linguists has nearly doubled.

    The FBI also has a "very aggressive training program" of foreign-language instruction for agents and other programs that make it easier to hire candidates with foreign-language ability, Gulotta said. In fiscal 2005, she said, more than 1,600 agents took classes.

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