Washington Times reports,

The scarcity of Arabic speakers prior to September 11 led to the hiring of risky translators to assist the interrogation of detained al Qaeda suspects, say sources familiar with the military’s recruitment of interpreters.

The widening probe into espionage at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center raises questions in some quarters about whether the Pentagon was so pressed for Arabic speakers that it relaxed security standards.

The Pentagon’s “mission is time-critical and for that reason. . .they stretch, they push to get people through the clearance process,” says Kevin Hendzel, spokesman for the American Translators Association, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that acts as a liaison between the government and interpreters.

“The risk of that translator getting through has to be weighed against the lack of information that would occur without them.”

The cost-benefit analysis in such a situation is complicated, and the people who made this one are far better qualified than I am to assess it. But I find this amusing at a time when little old ladies are can’t get through airport security without being humiliated so that we can “fight terrorism.”

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JC says:

    It’s interesting to remember that the six people to speak Arabic, were dismissed from the military because they were gay. Strangely, right at the time we needed them. I wonder what the cost-benefit analysis that included the military’s position on homosexuals would reveal. . .

    I’m pretty certain these six would have been far better choices for Gitmo than what we ended up with using the bigoted calculus currently in vogue.