Pentagon IG has just one Arabic-speaking auditor.

In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing today on waste, fraud, and abuse, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questioned two Iraq watchdogs on how many of their auditors speak Arabic. Pentagon Inspector General Claude Kicklighter responded that of 196 auditors, just one speaks Arabic. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen said that his team has only four. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/03/kickbowen.320.240.flv]

Last year, the New York Times reported that just “29 of the 610 people deployed in Iraq as part of the provincial reconstruction program have extensive knowledge of Arabic culture, history and language.”


LEAHY: And we will have questions.

Just one thought occurs to me. I just want to make sure understand. The number of auditors going in there, how many speak the language?

KICKLIGHTER: Sir, I would say very few, if any.

LEAHY: Thank you. I was afraid of that.

Mr. Bowen?

BOWEN: Thank you, Senator Leahy.

And just on that point, I have three auditors on my staff who speak Arabic and one investigator. So, we are — that has enhanced our capacity to provide oversight and engage with the Iraqis.

LEAHY: Thank you.

KICKLIGHTER: We have one.

LEAHY: Thank you.