Lawrence Wright tells The Economist:
Our intelligence community was extremely poorly prepared before 9/11. Since then it hasn’t done a good job of hiring the kind of people who speak and understand the languages and cultures of that region. One of the heroes of my book and my film, Ali Soufan, the FBI agent who came closer than anyone at stopping 9/11, was one of eight Arabic-speaking agents at the FBI on 9/11. Now there are nine. The really woeful thing about it is that if Ali Soufan tried to work in the FBI now, he probably couldn’t get security clearance. I talked to the guy who’s the head of the army translation corp, and he said that after 9/11 many Muslims and Arab-Americans came forward and offered their services to American intelligence and were spurned. The army picked up a number of them and they went to Iraq to become interpreters, which is the most dangerous imaginable assignment. He said after four years of serving their country they still can’t get a job in American intelligence because they can’t get past the security clearance. Well what other declaration of loyalty do you need to make?
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