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Fears over CIA 'university spies'

BBC News | June 2, 2005

A 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.

Britain's Association of Social Anthropologists called the scholarships ethically "dangerous" and divisive.

'Detailed knowledge'

The ASA's president, John Gledhill, told the BBC News website the scholarships could foster suspicion within universities worldwide and cause problems in the field.

He said: "Anthropologists go all over the world for long periods and gain detailed knowledge of places, such as Iraq or South America.

"This is information which would be useful in security circles, which is not what anthropology is for."

Social anthropology: the study of (esp. primitive) peoples comparatively through their kinship systems, associations, institutions, culture, etc, and the forces that affect their social systems
Oxford English Dictionary

Undergraduates taking part in the scholarship programme must not reveal their funding source and are expected to attend military intelligence summer camps.

Dr Gledhill said: "If we are writing about sensitive areas, we anonymise place names and, often, people. If research enables people to identify human beings, there is no guarantee that nothing harmful is going to happen.

"There is also the suspicion factor. If people on the ground in foreign countries get the idea that some anthropologists work for the CIA, then they are not going to feel like being very friendly."

The $4m (£2.2m) Pat Roberts scholarships were launched in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks to improve US intelligence gathering.

The CIA's website says that a "number of scholarships are awarded to highly qualified students specialising in critical subject areas".

Scholars are expected to go on to work for its directorate of intelligence.

The website also says: "While the CIA does not make foreign policy, our analysis of intelligence on overseas developments feeds into the informed decisions by policymakers and other senior decision makers in the national security and defence arenas."

Dr Gledhill said the ASA would review its code of ethics to cover the initiative.

However, Felix Moos, an anthropology professor at the University of Kansas, defended the scholarships.

He wrote in the journal Anthropology Today: "The United States is at war. Thus, to put it simply, the existing divide between academe and the intelligence community has become a dangerous and very real detriment to our national security at home and abroad."

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