Fieldnotes: BBC NEWS - Fears over CIA 'university spies'

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The BBC News is reporting on 'Fears over CIA 'university spies':

CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (27,500) a year.

They are expected to use the techniques of "fieldwork" to gather political and cultural details on other countries. CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (27,500) a year.

Although the article is dated June 2, 2005, this is very much old news. While the Pat Roberts scholarships are post-911, the CIA and the U.S. Defense Department has always funded fieldwork in other nations through various initiatives. When I was a grad student (1994-2001), there were flyers for these programs posted on the bulletin board in my department.

In our bomb-first-ask-questions-later political environment, perhaps the DoD and CIA (not to mention Congress and White House) need more culturally savvy anthropologists, and not fewer. The problem is, of course, the basic working methods of the intelligence community (namely, subversion) run counter to the most deep seated beliefs of the majority of anthropologists and to our Code of Ethics. How can anthropology help guide national security policy while remaining true to its roots and to its responsibilities to those that it conducts research with? There is no easy resolution to this quandary.

Boy am I glad that I do work on a non-defense social policy issue with a staunch U.S. ally (said firmly tongue in cheek).

1 Comments

You may be interested in Oneman's post on Anthropologists as Counter-Insurgents.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on June 3, 2005 7:26 AM.

Photos: Disability Protest 2005.05.12 sneak preview was the previous entry in this blog.

Grants: The Abe Fellowship Program (applications due 2005.09.01) is the next entry in this blog.

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