After 9/11, the Pentagon thought it wouldn’t need translators for Arabic, Pashto, etc.

A reader, not otherwise known to me, writes:

I know of someone, American ex-military, now working abroad as a contract translator for DOD, who post-9/11 offered to learn Arabic, Pashtun, or other mid-East languages. He was told that such language skills were not needed. This person does not want to come forward because he needs his job.

The Pentagon convinced itself that they wouldn’t be in Iraq long (except maybe at isolated air bases) so of course they wouldn’t need to speak the local languages.

Update: Another reader notes that permanent resident aliens (i.e., non-citizen Green Card holders) aren’t eligible for federal employment, which cuts out lots of potential applicants.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: