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When 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Means Don't Translate

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When 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Means Don't Translate

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When 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Means Don't Translate

When 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Means Don't Translate

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/11186464/11186465" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Former Navy petty officer Stephen Benjamin, trained as an Arabic translator, was headed to Iraq when he was dismissed from the Navy under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Benjamin is gay; his supervisors knew he was gay, and most of his peers also knew, and he says he was always accepted as a member of the team. Two other gay Arabic translators were also dismissed.

Now, in part because there's a shortage of Arabic speakers working as translators in the military, a group of U.S. legislators has asked the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on the ousted linguists, stating that the continued loss of such "capable, highly skilled Arabic linguists continues to compromise our national security during time of war."