When I heard about this last week it almost made my head explode:

306px-iraqiinterpreterThe U.S. military has barred Iraqi interpreters working with American troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to disguise themselves, prompting some to resign and others to bare their faces even though they fear it could get them killed.

This is almost as infuriating as the U.S. government’s stinginess with visas for translators that have to flee the country in fear of their lives, or displaced with their families by the fighting. And what’s the reason? Part of some self-congratulatory pat on the back about the military’s “professionalism”:

“We are a professional Army and professional units don’t conceal their identity by wearing masks,” Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the U.S. military, wrote in an e-mail. He expressed appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the interpreters but said those dissatisfied with the new policy “can seek alternative employment.”

Nice bit at the end there – same line used by asshole employers trying screw people the world over and throughout time – “Oh you don’t want to work with toxic chemicals/ with men who grope you/ for slave wages/ for 18 hour shifts? You’re free to go somewhere else.”

Argh! How does no one stop these folks and say “Hey! Ok, we’re professional! But we this makes us look like heartless dicks!” I think we need a Department of PR to stop the government from making idiotic moves like this.

I was pleased to see this though:

Thirteen members of Congress and an association of interpreters this week urged the Pentagon to rescind a policy that prohibits interpreters who work with U.S. troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to conceal their identity…. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and 12 members of the House of Representatives on Thursday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging him to allow interpreters to wear masks. “Members of Congress were dumbfounded,” Wyden said in an interview yesterday. “The Pentagon’s position defies common sense.”

As a final note: “More than 300 interpreters working with U.S. troops in Iraq have been killed since 2003.

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