US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice has been grilled by a congressman over her complaints that the military has a lack of translators, when gay and lesbian military linguists have been dismissed.

Congressman Gary Ackerman urged Rice to consider hiring military linguists discharged under the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.

During hearings on the 2008 State Department budget on Wednesday, Ackerman pressed Secretary Rice to address the government’s foreign language deficit by employing discharged lesbian and gay linguists with training in Arabic and Farsi.

Rice responded that she “certainly will look at what we are doing right now,” when asked by Ackerman if the proposal was realistic.

“It seems that the military has gone around and fired a whole bunch of people who speak foreign languages – Farsi and Arabic, etc.,” Ackerman said. “For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are [of] terrorists, but they’re very brave with the terrorists,” he continued. “If the terrorists ever got hold of this information, they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad,” Ackerman said.

“Considering the critical shortage of linguists in the armed forces, a platoon of Arabic-speaking lesbians may be just what the military needs,” said Sharon Alexander, deputy director of policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

“In fact, faced with the shortage of language experts, the military would do well to consider Congressman Ackerman’s point. We cannot afford to lose critical personnel because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ There are many brave gay men and lesbians who report for duty every day, and their contributions are immeasurably important to our national security,” she said.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon has dismissed more than 300 language experts under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” including more than 55 who were fluent in Arabic.

“Secretary Rice would have no trouble finding gay linguists,” said Alexander. “In fact, our government could go a long way in addressing the shortage of language expertise by doing just as Congressman Ackerman suggests. SLDN would be happy to introduce Secretary Rice to our many clients who speak Arabic but have been dismissed because of the ban.”

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend