Hey, Let's Play Ball
The insular world of intelligence reaches out for a few new ideas
The concern over intelligence work is particularly acute among the nation's 15,000 anthropologists, whose overseas fieldwork and language skills are of special value to U.S. intelligence. The American Anthropological Association has pulled a CIA recruiting ad from its website and recently launched a commission to investigate the field's ties to U.S. intelligence. "I have one issue with all this: secrecy," says David Price of St. Martin's College, a critic of the growing ties and author of the forthcoming Anthropology at War, a study of the field's work during World War II. "My worry is what happens to our entire discipline when the notion of being involved in secrecy or covert operations gets in the mix."
Bad old days. Another point of contention is scholarships funded by the intelligence community. At least three scholarship programs are doling out millions of dollars to prospective analysts and spies-up to $25,000 annually per student-for study of key languages and regions such as China, central Asia, and the Middle East. One particularly controversial scholarship is the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, which funds about 100 students. It has been denounced by some scholars because its recipients perform internships at intelligence agencies and remain unidentified to professors and classmates-a reminder for some of the bad old days of the 1960s, when the FBI and CIA kept tabs on the political views of U.S. professors. Critics like Price also argue that rather than opening intelligence-agency minds, the scholarships may have the opposite effect, pigeonholing young scholars prematurely and fostering the very kind of groupthink that reformers hope to avoid.
Along with money for intelligence training and study, other funds are pouring into campuses for homeland security and terrorism studies. The National Academic Consortium for Homeland Security, founded in 2003, now counts over 350 member colleges and universities. The Department of Homeland Security is putting $82 million into a half-dozen universities, funding so-called Centers of Excellence that look at security issues and counterterrorism strategy. The DNI is considering whether to expand the idea across the intelligence community, with other agencies funding similar centers.
The ties between academia and the intelligence community have long blown hot and cold. As many as half of America's anthropologists joined the war effort during the 1940s, working for military intelligence and the CIA's predecessor, the Office of Special Services. Both the OSS and the early CIA drew heavily from Ivy League faculty among various departments. But during the Vietnam War, anthropologists were implicated in work on classified projects linked to counterinsurgency operations in Thailand. The resulting firestorm prompted ethics rules within the profession, prohibiting secret research or reports.
"Streetcraft." The DNI's Fingar is sympathetic to such concerns. The new outreach effort, he says, "has to be 100 percent transparent. There'll be no effort to trick somebody." But transparency and intelligence work don't typically go hand in hand. The problems were readily apparent at the SHARP workshop, where suggestions of intelligence agency funding of fieldwork raised alarm among some scholars. The DNI allowed U.S. News to observe several days of the workshop, with the understanding that no participants be identified by name. "Most scholars are unwilling to admit to any dealings whatsoever with the intel community," confided one anthropologist in attendance. "The reason is that the connection, at least in anthro, is so reviled that it can negatively impact one's career."