Wednesday, June 24, 2009

OBAMA'S CLASSROOM SPIES

David Price, Counterpunch - Four years ago I wrote a series of CounterPunch exposes on the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, then a pilot project funded under the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act. PRISP links undergraduate and graduate students with US security and intelligence agencies like the NSA or CIA, and unannounced to universities, professors or fellow-students, PRISP-students enter American university campuses, classrooms, laboratories and professor's offices without disclosing links to these agencies. PRISP was originally conceived by anthropologist Felix Moos, long a proponent of using anthropological knowledge in waging of counterinsurgency campaigns-an area of growing interest to the Obama administration as it prepares for prolonged soft power counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan. . .

While the National Intelligence Director's move to make PRISP a permanent budget item will damage the academic freedom and integrity of American universities, it will likely be met by the open arms of university administrators facing crashed university endowments and dwindling budgets. . .

This development is just the latest installment in on ongoing efforts to increase the militarization of American higher education. . .

Back in the early 1990s when the National Security Education Program was first introduced it was widely condemned by professional associations like the Middle East Studies Association and the African Studies Association, Latin American Studies Association for blurring the lines between independent scholarship raised by NSEP's its requirements that program participants later seek employment in governmental agencies. But with the depressed economy, plummeting endowment funds at universities and foundations, the difficult academic job market, and scarce academic funding sources, I fear that professional associations' reactions against these developments will be muted. . .

As this new generation of programs covertly brings undeclared and unidentifiable students into our universities they disrupt university identities and transforms the roles all who teach, research, study and work there in ways that they will not necessarily understand-as institutions of higher learning further lose their independence and become unwitting agents of state intelligence functions.

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