Intelligence: May 26, 2005


The most dangerous intelligence job in Iraq is that of interpreter. The U.S. military, and civilian agencies, employ over 4,000 interpreters. So far, over a hundred have been killed by terrorists, including twelve who were American citizens. Many of the interpreters, and their families, have been allowed to live on American bases, and some are being offered permanent residence in the United States. Most of the interpreters regard the death threats from terrorists as part of the job. Its a good job, paying far more than most other work available in Iraq. Starting salary for interpreters is $600 a month, going up to $1,000 or more for particularly dangerous or difficult assignments. The average monthly salary in Iraq these days is about a hundred dollars. But the danger is great. While two out of every thousand American soldiers serving in Iraq gets killed, some 30 out of a every thousand translators dies. For many interpreters, the job is more than a big paycheck. English speaking Iraqis also have a better idea of how things work in the rest of the world, and are eager to help Iraqi overcome its gruesome past. However, many interpreters have to be hired in other Arab nations. This isnt as easy as it sounds, because not a lot of these non-Iraqi Arabs can easily deal with the Iraqi dialect. But the money is attractive, and many linguists in nearby Arab nations have learned the Iraqi dialect in order to get these jobs. There is also a feeling that Iraq will soon present many economic opportunities, providing less dangerous work for non-Iraqis who understand the Iraqi dialect.

The Pentagon has also asked  Congress to pass a law passed allowing fifty of interpreters, and their families, to be allowed into the United States with permanent resident visas each year. These visas would be given to interpreters who could no longer live in their country because of threats on their lives, or interpreters who had rendered outstanding service and wanted to move to the United States. 


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