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Contentions

Looking for Linguists

Rowan Scarborough, formerly of the Washington Times, raises an important issue in the pages of his current employer, the Washington Examiner. It is the way that long-established security rules make it difficult for our intelligence agencies to hire analysts and operatives who know anything about important “target” countries.

He cites the example of Minoo Krauser, a native of Iran who now lives in Maryland, where she is married to a military officer. Although a U.S. citizen with fluency in Farsi—precisely what the intelligence community needs—she hasn’t heard anything back after applying to the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Those agencies, of course, get lots of applications and they don’t have to give any reason for turning prospective hires away.

But, whatever her individual merits, there is an overarching reason why someone like Krauser wouldn’t get a second look: She has ties to a hostile country. As Scarborough notes, “Intelligence experts say the fear is that an employee can be coerced into becoming a spy because of threats to family members abroad.” That’s a legitimate concern, but by being so worried about this type of potential security breach, we are setting ourselves up for a much more serious security crisis because we fail to understand the societies where terrorism breeds and weapons of mass destruction proliferate.

Hyphenated Americans are a great asset for our country. We should be doing much more to utilize Arab-Americans and Persian-Americans, in particular, to help us in the Global War on Terror. But in order to do that, someone will have to take the responsibility for modifying our onerous security clearance procedures, which virtually ensure that only those who know little about foreign countries are allowed to study them for the U.S. government.



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