McLEAN, VA (AP) — The U.S. is its own worst enemy when it comes to the desperately important task of recruiting immigrants as spies, analysts and translators in the war on terror, new Americans are telling intelligence officials. The government's policies raise suspicions and fear in the immigrants' home countries and disturb potential recruits here who might otherwise want to help.
The U.S. knows it needs the help. At the heart of a Friday summit with immigrant groups was a stark reality: The intelligence agencies lack people who can speak the languages that are needed most, such as Arabic, Farsi and Pashtu. More importantly, the agencies lack people with the cultural awareness that enables them to grasp the nuances embedded in dialect, body language and even street graffiti.
At the suburban Virginia summit, not far from the CIA and National Counterterrorism Center, officials gathered more than a dozen representatives of recent immigrant and other ethnic groups to get their recruiting assistance.
"We are going to ask you to open up your communities to us," said Ronald Sanders, an assistant national intelligence director, and the son of an Egyptian immigrant mother.