Monday, April 7, 2008

Is Your Professor A CIA Asset?

In addition to having a special interest in U.S. presidential elections, the U.S. mass media and Indonesia’s domestic political situation, the CIA has also always had a special interest in the U.S. university world. According to a chapter titled “Cloaks and Gowns: The CIA In The Groves of Academe” by University of Georgia Professor Loch Johnson, which appeared in Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society, in 1986 “the number of campus people working with the CIA…still figured in the hundreds at over 100 American colleges and affiliated research centers.” University of California at Berkeley Administration Vice-President Earl Bolton, for instance, “reportedly carried out covert contract work for the CIA (which consisted largely of advice on how to obtain services from the campuses more effectively without having the relationship revealed),” according to the same book.

Professor Johnson also recalled that in 1976 the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee reported that “academics (including administrators, faculty members, and students) researched and wrote books and articles for the CIA, spotted and assessed individuals for agency use, served as `access agents’ to make introductions between the CIA and potential agents or employees (foreign and American), provided information (with or without prior instructions), and performed an assortment of other intelligence-related activities.”

Professor Johnson provided more specific examples of the nature of relationships between U.S. university professors and the CIA’s National Collection Division (NCD) or other divisions of the CIA:

“…They can be as limited as asking a professor just returned from a trip abroad to drop by the local NCD office to share his impressions (a `debriefing’)…Or they may involve a formal, paid association in which the professor counts for the CIA the number of deep-water ships he sees in Luanda while doing research on African migratory butterflies. The work done by academics for the CIA, then, may be voluntary or paid, and may include occasional or systematic collection and recruitment tasks, or even covert action and counterintelligence.

“A professor may be asked by the agency through the NCD (or some other entity) to attend an international conference of scholars (say, physicists). At the conference and under CIA instructions, he will seek out a foreign scientist…and as subtly as possible weave into their conversation a set of questions (`By the way, just how well is the Becker jet-nozzle, uranium-enrichment process really working out, old chap?’). If the scientist were also a state minister or a well-placed government aide, the American professor could easily enter the realm of covert action or counterintelligence. He may pass a CIA propaganda theme along to the minister, thereby serving as an agent-of-influence (covert action). He may also be used…to plant the false notion that he himself might like to work secretly for the minister’s government to spy on the United States. He could thus become a double agent who, in this guise, might be able to glean modus operandi and other information about the foreign government—including what its own agents may be after (counterintelligence). These are only a few examples of the numerous ways in which the agency might wish to employ an academic overseas in covert action or Central Intelligence operations.”

Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society also notes that “The CIA believes strongly in the importance of recruiting foreign students within the borders of the United States” and “to accomplish this task effectively the agency also believes it requires covert contacts to focus the recruitment effort.” The same book also describes how U.S. academics go about secretly helping the CIA recruit foreign students on U.S. campuses:

“In the course of these secret efforts to spot, assess, and recruit on behalf of the CIA, academics may involve themselves in a number of activities…Taking advantage of a student’s sense of trust toward faculty, for example, a professor may gather information for the CIA about his ideological views, his attitudes toward American foreign policy objectives in general and the intelligence mission in particular, his financial situation, and the like. Seminar discussions, office counseling, social gatherings, term-paper grading, and other contacts between faculty and their students provide several opportunities for agent spotting.”

Ironically, at the same time it secretly recruited foreign-born students on U.S. campuses to serve its special interests, the CIA illegally spied on native-born U.S. students between 1967 and 1973, as part of its "Project Reisistance" U.S. campus operation. According to Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society:

"At the request of the director of Personnel, the CIA director approved a policy (Project RESISTANCE) in 1967 ordering the Office of Security to protect the well-being of CIA recruiters...The primary impetus for the stepped-up security was an episode at Columbia University, where a CIA recruiter was held hostage for several hours by student radicals...''

"Documents released by the CIA under a Freedom of Information Act request indicated that the Office of Security pursued this mission with zeal. From 1967 to 1973, files were developed on various universities and colleges; meetings of protestors were attended; new informants were recruited; advance visits were made to campuses `to determine attitude of dissidents'; black student activities were monitored and reported; and, a close working relationship was established between the CIA and the local police."

(Downtown 7/8/92)

Next: Columbia University’s Historic Gannett Media Conglomerate Connection