Bush Wants Special Emphasis by CIA on Arabic, Persian, Pashto

Washington, Nov 25 (PTI) US President George W Bush, who has ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to increase the number of its spies and analysts by 50 per cent, has emphasised the need for the agency to have people proficient in Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

Bush has described these three languages, spoken in the Arab world, Iran and Afghanistan, as "mission-critical."

He has also asked the agency to ensure that a majority of the new recruits are drawn from "diverse backgrounds with the skills, experience and training needed."

Bush has also asked for doubling the numbers of CIA staff involved in research and development of new technologies to help with the war on terror and the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the expansion will have to be accomplished "within existing budgets."

"We have already been beefing up intelligence budgets. That will provide additional resources necessary," she said.

A former intelligence official said the goals are ambitious but achievable.

But critics said there is no way the goals can be reached without lowering standards. They scorned the idea of measuring success by the number of officers.

"The numbers," said retired case officer with the Defence Intelligence Agency Col Pat Lang, "will force them to lower the bar." He cited Naoleon's dictum: "In war, men are nothing; the man is everything."

Col Lang said there are very particular skills involved in recruiting and running agents. "People with the potential to become that don't grow on trees," he said.