Condi Gets It Good!

Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York gave Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice an earful at Congressional hearing on the 2008 State Department Budget. After Rice repeatedly bemoaned the government’s lack of Arabic translators, Ackerman wondered if it had something to do with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Though Rice said her department doesn’t follow such discriminatory standards, Ackerman quipped:

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

Oh, Zinger!

In response to the verbal throw down, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – the organization that sent us press release on the matter – deputy policy director Sharon Alexander retorts:

Secretary Rice would have no trouble finding gay linguists. 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.

Now that’d be an awkward first date.

(Full release after the jump.)

ckerman Says ‘The Military Seems More Afraid of

Gay People Than…Terrorists’

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) today urged Secretary of State Condoleeza 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, 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. Secretary Rice responded that she “certainly will look at what we are doing right now,” when asked by Ackerman if the proposal was realistic.

“[I]t 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.”

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.”