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February 18, 2004

Clans in the FBI?

Is the Islamic cultural practice of clan primacy infiltrating the FBI? Randall Parker has an informative survey piece on cousin marriage that addresses the problems that Iraq may encounter from this practice, but this article in FrontPage Magazine inadvertently illustrates the practice taking hold within the civil service culture of the FBI.

The language service squad is the front line in the FBI's war on terrorism, collecting all foreign language tips, information and terrorist threats to homeland security. Agents act on what the squad translates and reports. The sooner they get the information, the sooner they can thwart terrorist attacks. Investigators had missed clues to both the 2001 and 1993 World Trade Center attacks because they were buried in a backlog of untranslated wiretaps and documents in Arabic.

Despite the backlog, Feghali told Edmonds and other translators to just let the work pile higher, according to Edmonds. Why? Money. She says Feghali, who has recruited family and friends to work with him at the high-paying language unit, (emphasis added) argued that Congress would approve an even bigger budget for it if they could continue to show big backlogs.

While the act of recruiting family and friends into the civil service is not uncommon, the process as applied to a culture within a culture milieu is more troubling, for the Arab translation department seems to be a fiefdom with the greater whole of the FBI and attaining a congruence of goals seems to be problematic (as the rest of the article argues.)

Posted by TangoMan at 01:32 PM