A CAREER AS AN FBI CONTRACT LINGUIST?
Here's What It's Like: Up Close and Personal
Wayne Waggoner has had a fascinating life. He underwrote
international insurance in the U.S. and abroad in the 1980s.
In Brussels, Belgium, he managed the European Office of
the State of Arkansas. He's consulted with the electric
power industry in emerging Internet communication technologies.
He's taught college classes and ESL part-time. And he's
served as Economic Development Manager for the City of
Little Rock. In fact, he has enjoyed calling Little Rock
home for 18 years now.
But in 2001, he signed up as an FBI contract linguist--and
found he simply loves the work.
We asked him why--and
we asked him some other questions besides.
Mr. Waggoner: Why do I love the work? So many reasons.
Working in a
fast-paced environment with multi-talented and multi-cultural
teams of high achievers in the FBI is
ideal for a "loves learning" generalist like
work is intellectually stimulating in a calm, progressive
fashion, as the "picture" of what
is being investigated emerges through translation. With
every word, I solve a piece of a phrase, to solve a larger
idea, and on to the fully formed thoughts of individuals
expressing themselves in furtherance of their objectives.
This makes for a feeling of real productivity, spiked with
the occasional thrill of solving something larger or more
complex. From time to time I have been privileged to help
solve some big questions, but I continually solve smaller,
incremental questions--and that is very satisfying.
I also relish the occasional travel to different FBI field
offices to assist with cases...but really value the job
flexibility allowing me to stay home most of the time in
a wonderful place like Little Rock.
Q: What is a typical working day like?
Mr. Waggoner: I review various materials from multiple
sources. They run the gamut of FBI investigations --
from small crimes that happen to include some communication
in my foreign language, to outlandish international conspiracies
or allegations of such. They might pertain to international
white-collar crime, counterterrorism, or other intelligence
community matters. Less often, I translate unsolicited
tips or leads – maybe serious, but maybe from crackpots
or bizarre minds... these can make for entertaining reading!
When the materials turn out to be important, I produce
reports for further review or action by FBI squads. Though
I also produce straight document translations or verbatim
transcripts of conversations, most often I write brief
summaries of the information that is most pertinent and
useful to ongoing investigations.
Q: Last question, Mr. Waggoner: your most exciting experience
in the FBI?
Mr. Waggoner: I will never forget it. Only a few months
after the 9/11 attacks, I had been asked to come to New
York. Reviewing some materials there, I recognized an implied
national security threat. Quickly it was communicated to
our government's highest levels...and soon after, I was
able to recognize in news reports a very intelligent response
to the unpublicized threat.
to become an FBI Contract Linguist