- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

Brushing up on Osama
Wanted by the FBI: American citizens who can understand what Osama bin Laden is saying.
It's no secret that the FBI is facing foreign language capability shortages. Specifically, the bureau needs translators and interpreters to decipher major increases in intelligence data from fiber-optic cables, cell phones and the Internet.
Past intelligence gathering, it reminds us, focused mostly on wiretaps or capturing line-of-sight radio communications. The FBI's Language Services Section tells us new technology is expected to increase the volume of FBI foreign language work by as much as 30 percent per year.
As a result, the bureau has instituted a strategic work-force plan. It cites a "critical need" to hire by 2004 special agents with foreign language skills to support "specific FBI missions," the most urgent being to fight terrorism.
In addition, the FBI has supplemented its staff of full-time translators and interpreters with 463 contract linguists, each working an average of 16 hours per week. The FBI is also making use of other Justice Department agency staff on a temporary basis to fill low-demand language needs.
Last year, the FBI had 415 authorized translator and interpreter positions, but only 360 of the posts were filled. By next year, the FBI wants an additional 96 full-time translators and interpreters in addition to the 415 already authorized.
Until then, the bureau acknowledges "potential gaps in U.S. efforts to thwart terrorism," specifically "concerns over the thousands of hours of audiotapes and pages of written material that have not been reviewed or translated because of a lack of qualified linguists."

You a pro?
Good news for Washington's countless lawyers.
A new top-level domain ".pro" registry has been approved for the Internet, which caters to licensed professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants.
"This is the last agreement of the current round of seven top-level domain extensions selected by ICANN to be added to the existing domain name system," said M. Stuart Lynn, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The .pro extension creates the Internet's first top-level domain exclusively for credentialed professionals and is expected to start by the end of 2002.
Initially, registrations will be opened to the legal, medical and accountancy professions and associated institutions, such as hospitals.
Over the past year, ICANN has signed agreements with seven registry operators, leading to the launch of six new top-level domains in addition to .pro, namely: .biz, .info, .name, .museum, .coop and .aero.
Oh, as for the cost of registering .pro domain names, it should reach no higher than $300, pocket change for these pros.

Bush ammo
The Bush administration is deploying its top guns to Florida with the aim of electing Katherine Harris to Congress.
The latest being Leo Mackay, a former "Top Gun" fighter pilot and now deputy secretary for Veterans Affairs, who will attend today's Veterans' Town Hall Meeting in Bradenton, Fla., hosted by Mrs. Harris, who as Florida's secretary of state became famous after declaring George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 2000 presidential balloting.
Military veterans make up a large part of Florida's 13th congressional district, and the Republican Mrs. Harris is actively seeking their support.

Honorable Texans
We wrote this week about one brain trust of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, former Princeton professor Eric Goldman, who was dispatched upstairs by LBJ to ghostwrite school lessons of first daughters Lynda Bird and Luci Baines.
That's nothing, native Texans now write to Inside the Beltway, among them Ronald Best of Lakewood, Colo., who grew up in central Texas in the 1950s and graduated the University of Texas in 1963. One of his former girlfriends was an intern for LBJ.
"And he met most everyone in my family while out carousing and campaigning," says Mr. Best, who recalls one particularly intriguing LBJ story told by his great-uncle who attended college with Johnson.
"Much has been made of LBJ's poverty during the Depression," Mr. Best notes. "He worked his way through Southwest Texas State as a night janitor. What no biographer has reported is the extra money he picked up from fellow students.
"Lyndon had keys to the professors' offices and sold copies of tests to students the night before the test," he insists. "My uncle was superintendent of our school district in Caldwell County and an honorable man, so I am sure the story is true."

Remembering mom
Often-overlooked casualties of war, the mothers of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Vietnam will be presented with handmade Mother's Day cards from D.C.-area school children during a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Sunday.
Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, a Vietnam veteran who serves as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, will wish the moms well.


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