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Michigan, USA - “Chaldeans remain unsure about the sincerity and commitment of the current U.S. administration policies,” says Mathew Qashat, 26, of Wayne State University. The part-time law student rejected an invitation to join other Chaldean Christians, as well as Muslim Arabs, to hear CIA Director Leon Panetta speak. The outspoken law student has studied Middle Eastern affairs and plans on practicing international law. Qashat is fluent in three languages and stands to be the type of candidate the U.S. would want to appeal to as a new chapter in Middle Eastern diplomacy is being built.
“To me, it is a dog and pony show. What this administration needs to make clear is that they can be trusted. With each new administration we have promises being broken and backs being stabbed. Obama’s administration needs to show real tangible support, both in America and abroad in areas of security, economic recovery, and accountability.”
Panetta visited Dearborn in an effort to boost CIA recruitment efforts in Arab and Muslim communities, where the agency hopes to attract more applicants with Middle Eastern language and cultural expertise.
“Chaldeans are perhaps some of the most patriotic Americans in the United States. We value the opportunity and freedoms of America and pray to see a true democracy form in Iraq. We want economic and religious freedoms. But, we are insulted by the disrespect and lack of interest shown by the past or current administration. We have over a million refugees roaming the deserts, families torn apart, Christian churches bombed weekly, and little or no real concern by American legislatures or the president,” adds Qashat. “Immigration, economic support, and empowerment are real things that the U.S. can show to Iraq to prove their commitment to fixing what they broke.”
The recruitment speech culminated in a direct pitch to audience members as Panetta said he hopes to increase diversity among CIA ranks, with a goal of raising the number of minority and ethnic employees from about 20 to 30 percent.
“The CIA has to reflect the face of the nation that we protect and it has to reflect the face of the world that we are involved with," he said.
A large portion of Panetta's speech Wednesday was dedicated to describing the different divisions and duties of the CIA.
"That job, frankly, is the work of all Americans," Panetta said. "That's why I look to welcoming more Arab Americans, Chaldean Americans, and Muslim Americans to the CIA's mission. I need you. The nation needs you."
Over the past several years, the CIA has spent thousands on advertising in Middle Eastern community.
Many Chaldeans feel that the CIA is being one sided. “They only seem to want to recruit spies,” says Dominic Kassab, a Cooley law student. “America is really not working to partner with the Middle Eastern community, just looking to recruit. In Iraq the sentiment is that any American Iraqi trying to help their native homeland is seen as a spy and targeted. The CIA is going about this all wrong. Where is the local legislature support, state and federal grants, or support from the State Department, Immigration Offices, Department of Education, lending institutions, or other agencies? The CIA spends a few thousands amid a budget of billions and Middle Easterners are to be grateful. To build good-will requires more than a few penny ads by the CIA in a community newsletter. ”
Qashat says, “forget about your quotas and snake oil recruitment pains. America has to stand by its word. Many Iraqi’s applauded America and wanted our help to free Iraq from their dictatorial stranglehold, if not publicly, for sure privately. What they didn’t appreciate is the lack of follow-through by the past or current administration. Former Secretary of State Collen Powell told America, ‘if we break it we own it,’ and it seems both Bush and Obama are perfectly okay with breaking it and walking away. In the first gulf war we promised Iraqi’s that their support would be rewarded with protection, and like Vietnam, we abandoned the people and left them to slaughter. We are doing the same thing again.”
Qashat goes on to say that Panetta was the wrong person to send to Michigan. “We don’t need the CIA to speak. We need to keep our promise to Iraq. We need to help stabilize Iraq’s security situation and grow their economy. We need Iraq to become self-reliant and self-sufficient. America needs to recruit American Iraqi businesses, not spies. ”