Cloak and Classroom

Aurolyn Luykx aurolynluykx at
Tue Mar 22 16:43:10 UTC 2005

While recruiting anthropologists to do intelligence
work, or simply using their findings for
counter-insurgency purposes, is not new, this is a
disturbing new turn. The American Anthropological
Association's ethical guidelines were indeed tightened
to prevent just this sort of thing, and I can think of
no way that the described program could meet them. Of
course, if the recruited students don't have to tell
their professors what they're doing, I guess they
wouldn't tell the IRB either. Not only does this
proposal make a mockery of the notion of "informed
consent" in social science, it potentially endangers
thousands of ethically solid researchers working in
politically sensitive areas.
Anthropologists are frequently suspected of being CIA
agents (I've been accused of it myself on occasion),
and there are places where such accusations can put
one at serious risk.
Also, while the intelligence community is certainly in
need of more specialists in terror-prone areas (and
their associated languages), they've compounded their
own problems with their ideological purges of that
same specialist pool.
Finally, David H. Price, my old classmate who is cited
throughout the article, is DR. Price, not "Mr."

--- "Harold F. Schiffman"
<haroldfs at> wrote:

> >From the Chronicle of Higher Education,
> >From the issue dated March 25, 2005
> Cloak and Classroom
> Many social scientists say a new government program
> will turn fieldwork
> abroad into spying. Can secrecy coexist with
> academic openness?
> In 1995, as the American Anthropological Association
> debated a revision to
> its code of ethics, Felix Moos made an argument that
> was unpopular among
> his peers. Anthropologists, he said, should be
> permitted -- indeed, should
> feel a duty -- to conduct classified research that
> might help the U.S.
> government understand global conflicts. His
> opponents said that secrecy
> had no place in academe, and that his proposal would
> put scholars in bed
> with clandestine agencies that have, at best, a
> spotty record of
> protecting human rights.
> Six years later, after the attacks of September 11,
> 2001, Mr. Moos, who
> emigrated from Germany in 1948 and has taught at the
> University of Kansas
> since 1961, began to press his case with new
> urgency. He worked the phone,
> sent faxes, knocked on doors. To anyone who would
> listen, he presented a
> two-page proposal for a new program, modeled loosely
> on the Reserve
> Officer Training Corps, that would prepare college
> students to become
> analysts for the Central Intelligence Agency.
> After all, he reasoned, people across the political
> spectrum now agreed
> that the U.S. government desperately lacked
> knowledge of the history,
> languages, and cultures of Central Asia and the
> Middle East. Why not
> create a pipeline that would send trained, motivated
> social scientists
> directly into intelligence agencies?
> Last spring Mr. Moos's efforts bore fruit. Since
> April 2004, dozens of
> analysts-in-training have entered American
> universities to burnish their
> skills in certain languages, cultures, and technical
> fields that U.S.
> intelligence agencies deem to be critically
> important.
> This pilot project -- the Pat Roberts Intelligence
> Scholars Program -- is
> seen by some observers as a long-overdue effort to
> remedy the federal
> government's collective ignorance about foreign
> lands. Other scholars,
> however, view the semisecret program as a profound
> threat to universities'
> integrity and to the ethical norms of social
> science. If Mr. Moos faced a
> tough crowd in a roomful of his fellow
> anthropologists in 1995, he now has
> a far larger audience -- and there is an actual
> program for critics to
> attack.
> "It is nave to suggest that the CIA has not
> historically collected
> information about what goes on in the classroom,"
> says David H. Price, an
> associate professor of anthropology at St. Martin's
> College, in Lacey,
> Wash., who is the Roberts program's most prominent
> detractor. "And it is
> nave to say that they would be off-mission to do
> this."
> Mr. Moos finds such concerns misplaced. He says that
> "a one-man Church
> committee" -- referring to the 1970s Congressional
> panel that held
> hearings on the CIA's behavior -- "is not what
> American academe really
> needs at this moment. We need to get our act
> together to produce
> individuals who know areas and know languages."
> Speed and Stealth
> One of the first people Mr. Moos contacted after the
> September 11 attacks
> was Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who is
> chairman of the Senate
> Select Committee on Intelligence. Mr. Roberts, whose
> voice carries a dry
> Great Plains wit not unlike Bob Dole's, had been
> worried for several years
> about the quality of American intelligence analysis.
> "We have on the Intelligence Committee what I call
> 'Oh my God' hearings,"
> Mr. Roberts says. "As in: 'Oh, my God, how did this
> happen?'" He sat
> through such hearings after terrorists bombed a U.S.
> military-housing
> complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, after the United
> States mistakenly bombed
> a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan in 1998, and
> after the CIA failed to
> predict the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests that
> same year.
> After September 11, the senator says, those
> intelligence weaknesses seemed
> not just embarrassing, but catastrophic.
> When Mr. Moos flew to Washington to pitch his
> concept to Senator Roberts
> in person, he emphasized speed. The program, he
> said, could produce new
> analysts within a year or two. The promise of quick
> results appealed to
> Mr. Roberts. The professor also said the government
> should not rely solely
> on federally financed area-studies centers (known as
> "Title VI centers,"
> after a section of the Higher Education Act) to
> produce an adequate crop
> of motivated analysts. "I'm a former director of a
> Title VI center," he
> says, "and I think it would take a decade to reform
> that system or to
> create a new title from scratch."
> What's more, he argued, the National Security
> Education Program -- a
> 14-year-old scholarship program that he otherwise
> admires -- "just wasn't
> producing the numbers we need." Students who receive
> scholarships through
> the NSEP are obliged to seek employment in
> government agencies related to
> foreign policy, but only a small fraction of the
> recipients become
> intelligence analysts.
> Mr. Roberts and his committee decided to bring Mr.
> Moos's proposal to
> life. They crafted a three-year, $4-million pilot
> program -- set to last
> through September 30, 2006 -- to train a maximum of
> 150 analysts.
> Participants receive tuition and stipends (up to
> $25,000 annually) for
> university programs that have been approved by any
> one of 15 U.S.
> intelligence agencies. In exchange for the
> scholarship, which typically is
> good for two years, each participant promises to
> work as an analyst for
> the approving agency for at least 18 months. About
> 110 people have entered
> the program so far. An unspecified number of them
> (officials declined to
> estimate how many) have not been sent anew into
> universities, but instead
> have been reimbursed for previous graduate study --
> in essence paid a
> bonus to sign on.
> The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program
> differs in noteworthy ways
> from Mr. Moos's original conception. He had imagined
> an ROTC-style program
> that would draw in undergraduates, but the pilot
> project has, at least so
> far, been used to finance academic study for
> slightly older people --
> typically in their mid-20s -- who have already been
> hired by an
> intelligence agency.
> And although Mr. Moos had imagined an essentially
> transparent program, in
> which the participants' names would be known on
> their campuses, the
> Roberts program allows its participants to choose
> whether to tell their
> professors and fellow students about their
> intelligence roles. No public
> list of the participants exists, and officials of
> the CIA and the Senate
> Intelligence Committee declined a reporter's request
> to be put in contact
> with a participant, even when anonymity was
> promised.
> A smaller agency, however, did make a participant
> available for an
> interview. In January the National
> Geospatial-Intelligence Agency used the
> Roberts program as an inducement to hire Tito (he
> declined to reveal his
> last name), who recently earned a master's degree in
> physics from North
> Carolina A&T State University. The agency has paid
> off his student loans,
> in exchange for which Tito has committed to work as
> an image scientist for
> at least three years. He spends his days operating
> computer systems that
> process satellite images.
> "I think this is an excellent opportunity for people
> interested in serving
> their country," Tito says. "I do feel that we're
> making a difference daily
> in protecting our country, and I think especially
> the war fighter --
> helping the soldier in the field."
> Disclosure and Denial
> It is the program's semisecrecy that most alarms its
> critics. After all,
> they point out, it is intended to train deskbound
> analysts, not people who
> will serve in the agencies' covert, or "operations,"
> arms. Why, then, the
> need for opacity?
> For skeptics, the presence of anonymous intelligence
> personnel on campus
> raises memories of the cold-war era, when the FBI
> kept elaborate files on
> professors' political affiliations, and the research
> agendas of
> area-studies centers were shaped by the CIA's needs.
> If the government
> wanted a forecast of Ukraine's potato harvest for
> 1956, Harvard
> University's Russian Research Center would produce
> one. In 1951 the CIA
> secretly financed (and guided) the anthropology
> association's first effort
> to create a comprehensive database of its members.
> The roster included
> information about what languages the scholars spoke,
> which countries they
> had visited, and their political contacts overseas.
> "A key defining feature of an open, vibrant
> democracy, it seems to me, is
> that there are sectors of society, including higher
> education, that should
> be independent of the state -- particularly from
> agencies of the state
> that are involved in things like propaganda
> dissemination and spying,"
> says David N. Gibbs, an associate professor of
> history and political
> science at the University of Arizona, who wrote The
> Political Economy of
> Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S.
> Policy in the Congo
> Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 1991).
> More notoriously, American social scientists
> occasionally joined secret
> research projects that were intertwined both with
> the CIA and with
> authoritarian regimes overseas. In the late 1960s,
> several anthropologists
> worked on classified projects designed to stabilize
> the government of
> Thailand. Among other things, they surveyed
> villagers about their
> attitudes toward communism. It is believed (although
> not known for
> certain) that the Thai military used the survey data
> when deciding where
> to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
> After the Thailand projects were exposed, in 1970,
> the American
> Anthropological Association tightened its ethical
> rules for researchers,
> declaring, among other things, that "the aims of all
> their professional
> activities should be clearly communicated by
> anthropologists to those
> among whom they work." That sentence has generally
> been taken to mean that
> if field researchers have relationships with
> governments, the military, or
> for-profit companies, they should disclose those
> relationships to their
> research subjects.
> If the analysts-in-training of the Pat Roberts
> program go overseas to
> conduct research for a degree in, say, South Asian
> studies, will they
> disclose their future intelligence roles to their
> research subjects? If
> they have kept their government-financed
> scholarships a secret from their
> professors and classmates, why tell villagers in
> Pakistan?
> "It's fine with me if someone wants to work for the
> CIA and go live in
> another country and conduct fieldwork," says Mr.
> Price, of St. Martin's
> College, who wrote Threatening Anthropology:
> McCarthyism and the FBI's
> Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists (Duke
> University Press, 2004).
> "But they need to tell people -- not just at the
> airport, when they're
> being let into the country, but the people they talk
> to -- who they're
> working for." The long-established principle of
> informed consent, Mr.
> Price says, demands that potential research subjects
> have access to full
> information about a researcher's purposes and
> affiliations.
> "When you're working with human beings, you need to
> practice openness and
> full disclosure," says Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, a
> professor of anthropology
> at Rhode Island College and chair of the
> association's committee on
> ethics. She concedes that the Roberts participants
> are -- at least
> officially -- not yet intelligence analysts, and are
> conducting fieldwork
> only in order to deepen their language skills and
> cultural knowledge. "But
> that is walking a very, very fine line," she says.
> The Roberts program's acting manager, Thomas P.
> Glakas, estimates that
> only 10 percent of current participants will go
> overseas as part of their
> studies. In those cases, he says, "I guess you can
> disclose that you're
> working for the United States government. But do you
> have to disclose that
> you're going to school to become an analyst for a
> certain intelligence
> agency? Just disclosing that you work for the U.S.
> government," he argues,
> ought to satisfy the ethical concerns of the
> anthropology association.
> "You do need to train people, and there are
> trade-offs," Mr. Glakas says.
> "Nothing is perfect in this life."
> A related worry is that efforts like the Roberts
> program might give
> authoritarian regimes -- say, Uzbekistan's -- an
> excuse to forbid all
> American social scientists to conduct research in
> those countries, on the
> ground that they are spies. "Those who are carrying
> out intelligence
> activities make it difficult for the genuine
> researcher," says Ms.
> Fluehr-Lobban, "because people don't know how to
> distinguish one from the
> other. So it harms the overall scientific effort."
> To that concern, a staff member at the Senate
> Intelligence Committee
> replies, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to
> it." Senator Roberts
> points out that there is already an enormous amount
> of paranoia about the
> CIA throughout the world, and that a $4-million
> training program is not
> likely to make much difference. "In some countries,"
> he says, "if a
> traffic light goes out, the government will blame it
> on the CIA."
> Mr. Price finds such responses too glib. "Their
> careless disregard of
> ethical issues and the safety of researchers needs
> to alarm everyone in
> academia," he says. "They don't care about us. They
> don't care about our
> research, they don't care about the people we study,
> they don't care about
> our well-being, they don't care about our
> reputation. We need to care
> about it, and we need to distance ourselves from
> them."
> 'Erosion of Confidence'
> Mr. Price and his allies worry that the Roberts
> program will compromise
> ethics not only overseas but also in the classroom
> itself. "The door is
> open for the CIA to return to its historical
> practice of operating within
> universities," he says. He fears that Roberts
> participants will be
> encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, to tell their
> intelligence
> colleagues about professors who seem hostile to U.S.
> policies, or who
> might be willing to share their skills and expertise
> with the government.
> Mr. Roberts finds that absurd. The Church committee
> and other 1970s-era
> reform efforts, he says, have erected a huge array
> of safeguards against
> inappropriate domestic surveillance. He calls Mr.
> Price's argument "an
> Internet conspiracy theory."
> "Sometimes people do learn from their mistakes,"
> says Mr. Glakas. "There
> is stuff that was done back in the 50s and 60s that
> we do not want to
> repeat. ... J. Edgar Hoover is no longer director of
> the FBI."
> Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel
> of the CIA who is now
> dean of the University of the Pacific's McGeorge
> School of Law, agrees
> with Mr. Roberts and Mr. Glakas about the
> unlikelihood that the Roberts
> program will foster abuses in classrooms. She adds,
> however, that "to some
> extent, it doesn't matter whether I'm right or I'm
> wrong. The mere fact
> that people are asking this question is a sign of
> trouble. Some of the
> things that have been happening -- whether it's Abu
> Ghraib or the CIA's
> straining the rules about turning prisoners over to
> other nations -- all
> of this erodes confidence. And it's this erosion of
> confidence that causes
> such concern."
> Ms. Parker and other observers sympathetic to the
> program suggest that the
> air could be cleared with more openness -- if the
> participants were
> instructed to be candid with their professors and
> fellow students about
> their scholarships.
> Loch Johnson, a professor of political science at
> the University of
> Georgia, who served as Sen. Frank Church's assistant
> on the Senate's 1970s
> intelligence-reform committee, supports the Roberts
> program's goal.
> "September 11 shook us the way Sputnik did," he
> says. "There was a deep
> realization that our analysts' work is not what it
> should be."
> But he also believes strongly in greater
> transparency. "This program is
> violating the most important norm of the campus," he
> says, "which is
> openness."
> Not everyone agrees. "It seems to me that it's
> absolutely essential not to
> tell," says Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst
> and covert operative who
> (as "Anonymous") wrote the much-discussed Imperial
> Hubris: Why the West Is
> Losing the War on Terror (Brassey's, 2004). "There
> seems to be a
> tremendous amount of hostility on campus toward the
> intelligence
> community. You'd probably want to keep the
> participants' identities secret
> just to make sure that they'd get a fair shake from
> the faculty."
> On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lesley Gill, an
> associate professor
> of anthropology at American University and author of
> The School of the
> Americas: Military Training and Political Violence
> in the Americas (Duke
> University Press, 2004), suggests that she would
> oppose the Roberts
> program even if it were more open. "Part of the core
> notion of
> anthropology," she says, "is that you won't use your
> work to undermine or
> harm your subjects -- and it seems to me that going
> to work for an
> intelligence agency undermines that commitment." She
> has refused to write
> a recommendation for a student who wanted to apply
> for an NSEP fellowship,
> she adds, because she regards that program, too, as
> unethical.
> Gilbert W. Merkx, Duke University's vice provost for
> international
> affairs, once sat on the informal academic advisory
> board that oversees
> the NSEP fellowships. He says the Roberts program
> should strongly consider
> creating a similar body.
> "I'm not concerned about the principle of federally
> funding the training
> of people who want to become intelligence officers,"
> he says. "I have no
> objection in principle to that. I am concerned about
> how it's done. ... I
> think what one wants is maximum transparency. Over
> the long run, that's
> what puts suspicions to rest."
> If people are worried about intelligence agents
> being inserted into the
> classroom, Mr. Merkx says, a transparent system and
> an academic advisory
> board might help assuage them. "How you conduct the
> program," he says,
> "can either feed that fear or allay that fear."
> Mr. Glakas says such an advisory board may indeed be
> created.
> Measuring Success
> Alongside those debates over morality lies a more
> pragmatic question: Will
> the Roberts program function as advertised? Will it
> make a dent in the
> CIA's goal, announced last November, of increasing
> its roster of analysts
> by 50 percent?
> The program is less than a year old, so it is too
> soon for any real
> assessment. Mr. Glakas, the acting manager, will
> soon submit to Congress a
> progress report -- much of which, he says, will
> probably be classified.
> Oversight of the program is currently in flux, as it
> is being placed under
> the newly created office of the director of national
> intelligence.
> Some observers see room for optimism. Mr. Scheuer,
> who has written
> caustically about what he views as the CIA's
> profound weaknesses, says the
> Roberts program may be a small sign that the agency
> has finally woken up
> and recognized its skills deficit.
> He adds, however, that the effort will succeed only
> if the CIA ditches its
> habit of favoring "generalists" in its hiring and
> promotion decisions.
> Program participants, he says, should be encouraged
> to concentrate on a
> single language, region, or technical field
> throughout their careers.
> For his part, Mr. Moos says, he is proud of the new
> program, although he,
> too, says he wishes that the list of participants
> would be made public. In
> the intelligence-reform bill that Congress passed in
> December, lawmakers
> authorized (but did not finance) a project very
> similar to the Roberts
> program.
> It seems almost certain that the Roberts program, or
> something like it,
> will become permanent. "I think it was long past
> time," says Mr. Moos,
> "for us to try something new."
> Section: Research & Publishing
> Volume 51, Issue 29, Page A14
> Copyright  2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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