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Spengler

Gulliver Tied Down by Lilliputians

September 2nd, 2013 - 7:18 am

One in five applicants for jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency have ties to Muslim terrorist organizations, according to the latest round of Snowden leaks. And Israel is a major target of American counterintelligence. Washington is insane.

Three years ago, the Washington Post sketched the elephantiasis in the U.S. intelligence establishment without, of course, access to the detailed numbers leaked by Edward Snowden last week. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend if you can’t hire people you can trust. If you spend $52 billion in the “black budget,” you create so many conflicting bureaucratic interest groups as to cancel out any possible signal with a wave of noise.

As I pointed out in a 2010 post at First Things, reproduced after the page break, at last count there were fewer than 2,500 Americans studying Arabic at advanced university courses (not counting, of course, the internal training of the U.S. military). Fewer than 250 were studying Farsi. The total pool of truly competent Arab speakers coming out of American universities per year probably is in the low hundreds. How many of these can U.S. intelligence agencies recruit? If we can’t recruit translators among Americans whose background is verifiable, we rely on first- and second-generation immigrants from Arab countries whose background is not verifiable. We should assume that our intelligence services are riddled with hostiles. We are Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians.

Israel, by contrast, has a surfeit of Arabic translators — the language is taught in every Israeli high school, and is easy for Hebrew-speakers to master. Israeli friends of mine who were trained as Arabic translators for intelligence work were sent to guard duty in the Negev because the military had too many skilled linguists.

The U.S. has relied extensively on friendly Arab intelligence services, above all the Egyptians, to fill the gap — except that the Obama administration did its best to bring down the Egyptian military in 2011 and install the Muslim Brotherhood. The Israelis have plenty to tell, but little that Washington wants to hear: Israel never fell victim to the mass delusion about the so-called Arab Spring, and has warned throughout (along with Saudi Arabia) that Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be crushed. Israel therefore is treated as an intelligence target rather than as a collaborator, while the Arab intelligence services who most might help us — Egyptian and Saudi — must regard us with skepticism in the best of cases and hostility in the worst.

America is flying blind into a hurricane. Americans who write about the Middle East now depend on what other countries choose to leak to us. Washington isn’t in the loop any longer.

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Top Rated Comments   
Thankfully only about two-thirds of them wind up getting the job.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Amen to that. The only good terrorist is a dead one.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More accurately Islam is at war with us and we are in denial. If we weren't in denial Hussein would never have been elected POTUS. Good grief, it wasn't enough that he was the narcissistic son of 2 commies. He was not the son of 2 citizen parents and thus not a a natural born citizen as that term was understood when the Constitution was drafted. When you add in the failure to check Muslim immigration after 9/11 and President Bush's religion of peace nonsense you have a prescription for disaster.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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More accurately, Gulliver tied down by Gulliver.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I resent the analogy. - David Gulliver
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
DLI in Montery is still up and running, is it not?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These are not new problems, the US faced similar issues 80 years ago with Japan. The difference is, the POS POTUS we have to deal with today. If instead of FDR in the White House in the 1930's, we had had Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu, Hirohito's brother, running the government, the situation would have resembled the current mess. Suffice it to say, WW II in the Pacific would have had a far less benign outcome for the United States.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First of all, it is NOT a matter of Washington not being in the loop. ALL being taken into consideration, it's a wilfully blind individual who thinks our problem is a matter of misguided foreign policy. And now we have Boehner agreeing with and supporting President Obamas choice of actions. PLEASE, does anyone get the picture yet on what here in this country we are up against?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's a difference between the number of applicants w/t terrorist ties who *apply* for intelligence jobs, and the number of applicants *hired*.

They wouldn't be much of an adversary if they weren't smart enough to try to penetrate their enemies' systems, now would they?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thankfully only about two-thirds of them wind up getting the job.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The skills sought in a truly competent interpreter include being bi-lingual in the two languages and being bi-cultural. Under most circumstances this combination of skills is learned at mother's knee, not taught in college. So, the "mother tongue" is learned at home and English is picked-up in grade/high school. The mother tongue may be polished at university. Ergo, the person sought to fill this niche will be a first or second generation immigrant. Most first generation immigrants will not be able to qualify for a top secret security clearance so they will not be employable by the intelligence community. Being sent to visit relatives or go to school for while in the "old" country would help both with getting current in the language and in acculturation. But, good luck with convincing the CIA/DIA/NSA that you are a good and loyal American.

The alternative, used by all of the intelligence agencies, is to send 20 somethings to "language" school for a year to two to "learn" the required language. Then the new agent spends six to ten years in that part of his/her agency. However, the siren call of promotion will, eventually, cause him/her to move on and the language skills will slowly disappear.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is a black ops move. Elect a plant as the last POTUS. Destroy the dollar. Cause a civil war in the US. Finally invade & dominate. When the whole thing is done get rid of Muslims after they have been used as usual.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You forgot, "cause suspicion of the US intelligence operation so that it is destoryed and the country is laid bare to its enemies".

OK, I'll bite. By whom?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The impression I get regarding Israel differs between (*) your two articles.

From this article I get, "Israel should be a valuble ally, but the US doesn't want to listen".

From your First Things article I get, "Israel and maybe India can help, but we should be careful whom we trust".

the messages are quite different, almost conflict. Why?

(*) among?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We are at war with Islam yet we continue letting Islam into the country. There will be hell to pay. Low-information humans will simply have no idea how the chaos and carnage happened.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More accurately Islam is at war with us and we are in denial. If we weren't in denial Hussein would never have been elected POTUS. Good grief, it wasn't enough that he was the narcissistic son of 2 commies. He was not the son of 2 citizen parents and thus not a a natural born citizen as that term was understood when the Constitution was drafted. When you add in the failure to check Muslim immigration after 9/11 and President Bush's religion of peace nonsense you have a prescription for disaster.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good old modern liberal media - how well they have brain washed the average US Citizen
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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