The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Associated Press:
One Arabic linguist was discharged from the military for violating its "don't ask, don't tell" sexual orientation policy in fiscal year 2004, according to records obtained by an advocacy group.

In the first 10 years of "don't ask, don't tell," the military discharged 54 Arabic and nine Farsi speakers for violating the policy, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. In fiscal year 2004, however, there was just one Arabic and no Farsi speakers discharged, the center said Wednesday. That compares to at least three enlisted personnel discharged the previous year.

"The military does not like to admit firing gay Arabic linguists during a dire shortage because the public doesn't understand why we would rather fire gays than have enough Arabic linguists to translate intercepted cables," said Aaron Belkin, director of the center based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission found the government "lacked sufficient translators proficient in Arabic and other key languages, resulting in a significant backlog of untranslated intercepts."
(I'm a proud member of the "I <3 Belkin" Facebook group)

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" has always been a stupid compromise policy, but beyond that, there's the irony of catering to religious fundamentalists at home, and how doing so in this case impedes our efforts in the war against... religious fundamentalists elsewhere.

What a great moral statement it would have been for, in the aftermath of 9/11, when the American people would have lit their own farts if Bush told them to, if the President had ended that policy in favor of inclusion. But alas, that was never going to happen. I don't know what the Vulcans were thinking with that Nixon/China proverb.


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