Saturday, May 28, 2005

Paging Philip Roth: 'Spooks' in the Classroom

I'm a little rusty here. How do I do this again? I just write about things that I found in the news and on the internet that are both humorous and thought provoking? That's it? That can't be right, but oh the sad organ that is the blogosphere. My contribution to this growing piece of techy-trendery:

First I would like to diffuse the rumor that I was mauled by a grizzly while filming a Discovery Channel documentary about eating fish, and that is why I haven't posted in a while. I started that rumor so it is only fitting I end it.

NEWS: David Price of the political newsletter CounterPunch has been about the only person who writes words for a living that has been tracking the interesting and bizarre program that is the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) here and here. Offered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the program was tagged on to the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act and was appropriated $4 million, all while we slept soundly in our waterbeds in the not-so-safety of our homes.

WHAT IT IS (HO)?: The program - which is largely the product of Jayhawk anthropology doc Felix Moos - relies on the belief that academia is an institution that guards great knowledge important to the CIA. Moos and Roberts argue that for years the academy has blocked spooks and G-Men from entering campuses and gaining access to classes I slept through like foreign language and anthromapology. The CIA reflects and recognizes two areas in which it is completely lacking. 1) Understanding of foreign cultures, and 2) Understanding of foreign languages. Since the CIA does not have the time or the TA's to teach these things they invented this program to siphon information from universities. The kicker: the CIA employees that now cheat of you in "Origins of Man," do so under a cloak of secrecy, where their identity is uknown to the school and teachers alike.

THE BEEF: The last time a program like this existed it was run by a guy named McCarthy and it was used to compile dossiers on commie professors. Contemporary teachers worry that having secret CIA operatives in the classroom may be a breach of their privacy. As well, the money allocated for PRISP is subsequently ripped from legitimate language programs like Fullbright and Title VI.

THE SUPPORT: Government agencies dealing in foreign interventions need better information on the cultures they are bombing. It's not a violation of privacy because Roberts says that, "legal safeguards against domestic spying are in place that weren't in the 1950s and 1960s, when the anti-Communist fervor of former Sen. Joe McCarthy and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover created a climate that contributed to agency abuses. Specifically, a 1981 presidential executive order clearly prohibits physical surveillance of American citizens by agencies other than the FBI." And the reason for the secrecy - just ask Valerie Plame. Peep Child of Reagan here.

While it is true that a white GI from 'Bama yelling colloquialisms at an Iraqi merchant from Karkuk may constitute a "communication breakdown" it is not certain that the info CIA agents will take from the academy will be put to good and ethical use. Consider torture. With no knowledge of Islam how did a group of punkass 20-somethings know that Arab men by law can't be naked together, or that they abhor dogs, or to tear the Koran before them, or that they don't like having prostitutes menstrations wiped on their faces?


Post a Comment

<< Home

Blog Directory Add Your Blog