CIA Chief Asks US Muslims to Help with Anti-terror Efforts


Dearborn : The director of the Central Intelligence Agency asked Arab-American and Muslim leaders last Wednesday to join efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism in the US.
Speaking in the heart of Michigan’s large Middle Eastern community, Leon Panetta said the country was safer than when it was attacked on September 11, 2001, though Al Qaeda still remained a threat. “I need you. The nation needs you,” Panetta said during a 25-minute speech to about 150 people at an Iftar-dinner.
The address represented one of the CIA’s highest-profile efforts aimed at recruiting Arab-Americans and Muslims. This year, the CIA announced a five-year plan to boost fluency in Arabic and other languages the CIA deemed critical to its work. Panetta aims to raise foreign language proficiency inside the CIA from less than a third to at least half of all analysts and intelligence operatives.
Work force: He told the gathering he hoped to increase the share of the agency’s work force that has foreign language skills. The agency seeks highly skilled workers in 90 different areas, including analysts, engineers and doctors. “We have to reflect the face of this nation, and we have to reflect the face of the world,” Panetta said.

Earlier, he told reporters he never considered resigning from the job he took in February, despite a battle with Attorney General Eric Holder over the latter’s decision to investigate some agency officials in past interrogations of detainees. “My concern is... that we don’t get trapped by the past. My feeling is, ultimately we’re going to be able to move on,” Panetta said. “I think the reason I felt this way is because I don’t believe there’s a basis for any kind of additional action.” He also sought to allay concerns of many in the Arab and Muslim communities who said they had felt the sting of suspicion and discrimination since September 11.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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