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FBI LACKS QUALIFIED CANDIDATES FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAM

The News editorial, "Fixing a flaw in the FBI," took some gratuitous cheap shots at the FBI without any real attempt to understand the causes of the problem. As a former FBI agent, I am somewhat mystified how accusations of gender and sexual orientation are in any way related to a shortage of qualified translators. The simple facts are that there are very few Americans with the requisite language skills who can successfully pass a detailed security background investigation. The FBI is also competing with the Department of State, CIA, NSA, U.S. military and many private corporations to hire qualified linguists.

Unfortunately, there are very few Americans who speak a second language, and even fewer who speak non-European languages such as Farsi, Urdu and Arabic. This lack of qualified candidates, coupled with the requirement for a comprehensive background investigation, are the reasons why the FBI is experiencing difficulty in staffing its foreign language program. The real "flaw" is the lack of emphasis that the United States places on foreign language training. In fact, I wonder how many members of the editorial staff speak a second language.

Jeremiah W. Doyle Jr.

Amherst

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