Lantos, Ackerman Urge State Department to Hire Former Soldiers With Critical Language Skills

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Jun 26 00:57:42 UTC 2007


--         *Earthtimes.org *(Press Release)*
*
------------------------------

*
*   *Lantos, Ackerman Urge State Department to Hire Former Soldiers With
Critical Language Skills *   Posted on : 2007-06-25 | Author : House
Committee on Foreign Affairs
News Category : PressRelease** **

WASHINGTON, June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Tom Lantos
(D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman
Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and
South Asia, today sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte
calling for the State Department to act quickly to hire language-qualified
soldiers dismissed from the armed services solely because of their sexual
orientation.

"We are writing to you regarding one of the most regressive, counter-
productive policies we could ever imagine -- our military's 'Don't ask,
don't tell' policy," the letter reads. "We are writing to urge the
Department of State to take a specific step -- the hiring of our unfairly
dismissed, language-qualified soldiers -- so our nation might salvage
something positive from the lamentable results of this benighted policy."

In the letter, Lantos and Ackerman note that the Government Accountability
Office has reported that "Don't ask, don't tell" has resulted in the
dismissal from the military of more than 300 soldiers with critical foreign
language skills, including Persian and Arabic. They stress that the
dismissed soldiers, denied the ability to work for the United States armed
forces, often take their language skills to contractors, who sell their
services back to the American government -- and its taxpayers -- at a
considerable markup. The letter urged Negroponte to "immediately initiate a
process of interviewing and hiring" these former servicemen and servicewomen
for State Department positions.

"While we lament our government's anachronistic and short-sighted adherence
to the bigoted 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy, we see no reason why our
nation's diplomatic mission should suffer for the military's lack of
vision," Lantos and Ackerman wrote.

The letter highlighted the urgent need for skilled diplomats with critical
foreign language skills, pointing out that the 9/11 Commission drew a direct
connection between under-investment in critical foreign languages and
threats to our national security.

In a February Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Secretary of State
Condoleeza Rice emphasized the Department's desperate need for translators,
prompting Ackerman to ask about hiring translators discharged under the
military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The full text of Lantos and Ackerman's letter follows. The Honorable John D.
Negroponte Deputy Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520 Dear Mr. Deputy Secretary:

We are writing to you regarding one of the most regressive, counter-
productive policies we could ever imagine -- our military's "Don't ask,
don't tell" policy. More particularly, we are writing to urge the Department
of State take a specific step -- the hiring of our unfairly dismissed,
language- qualified soldiers -- so that our nation might salvage something
positive from the lamentable results of this benighted policy.

As you know, the Government Accountability Office has reported that "Don't
ask, don't tell" has resulted thus far in the dismissal from the military of
more than 300 soldiers with skills in critical foreign languages, including
Persian and Arabic. This is an appalling indictment of an absurd and highly
biased policy that cripples our national security, particularly while dozens
of our troops are dying each week in the Middle East and South Asia. Worse,
many of these patriotic individuals, whose skills were either acquired or
honed at taxpayer expense, upon their discharge from the military are
snapped up by contractors who then offer their translation services back to
the United States Government, at a considerable mark up, of course. Thus,
the taxpayer is compelled to pay for these essential services not once, but
twice.

Secretary of State Rice testified before our Committee, in February of this
year, that she and you are coordinating with Secretaries Gates and Spellings
to address a national deficit in foreign languages critical to fighting the
war on terror. In fact, the National Security Language Initiative that
President Bush signed in January is a positive long-term step toward
mitigating this important national security concern, and we particularly
welcome its measures to train more advanced-level experts in foreign
languages.

However, as the 9/11 Commission documented with painful clarity, our
nation's under-investment in critical foreign languages presents an urgent
and immediate threat to our national security, a threat that cannot be
ignored while we train new foreign-language experts. Therefore, we urge you
to consider using your authority to immediately initiate a process of
interviewing and hiring for positions at the State Department those former
servicemen and servicewomen with critical language skills who have been
dismissed from our Nation's armed services as a result of "Don't ask, don't
tell."

You are clearly sensitive to the pressing need to recruit more speakers of
critical languages into the Foreign Service, having seen with your own eyes
how urgently we need additional, and more fluent, Arabic speakers at Embassy
Baghdad. While we lament our government's anachronistic and short-sighted
adherence to the bigoted "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, we see no reason
why our nation's diplomatic mission should suffer for the military's lack of
vision. We hope you will agree.

Sincerely, TOM LANTOS GARY L. ACKERMAN Chairman Chairman Committee on
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

CONTACT: Lynne Weil (Lantos), +1-202-225-5021, or Jordan Goldes
(Ackerman), +1-718-423-2154, both of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs


http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,128374.shtml

**************************************
N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its
members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or
sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree
with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)
*******************************************
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lgpolicy-list/attachments/20070625/7fe0fd00/attachment.html>


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list