January 12, 2005

Whither Translators II

Okay then. Not all our military translators are stuck in some warehouse in Qatar. Some of them are simply being fired because they're gay:
[T]he available data now confirm that, in addition to those fired before September 11, the military has continued to discharge gay language specialists despite the ongoing shortage. In total, according to Pentagon data, there were at least 73 people discharged from [the Army's Defense Language Institute] for homosexuality between 1998 and 2003. At least 37 of these discharges took place after the September 11 attacks. ...

The purging of gay language specialists persists in the face of ongoing pleas by military and political leaders to increase the numbers of Arabic translators. A Pentagon advisory panel recently reported that the United States "is without a working channel of communications to the world of Muslims and Islam." A Justice Department inspector general's report released in September 2004 said the government "cannot translate all the foreign language counterterrorism and counterintelligence material it collects," due largely to inadequate translation capabilities in "languages primarily related to counterterrorism activities," such as Arabic and Farsi.
But, y'know, gay soldiers would, like, totally mess up unit cohesion and stuff.
-- Brad Plumer 7:46 PM || ||