FROM GEORGETOWN TO LANGLEY: THE CONTROVERSIAL CONNECTION BETWEEN A PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY AND THE CIA

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    from MintPress News:


    If you have ever wondered, “where do America’s spies come from?” the answer is quite possibly the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. It is only a modestly-seized institution, yet the school provides the backbone for the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, State Department, and other organs of the national security state.
    From overthrowing foreign governments and conducting worldwide psychological operations to overseeing drug and gun smuggling and a global torture network, the CIA is perhaps the world’s most controversial and dangerous organization. All of which begs the question, should an educational institution have any formal relationship with it, let alone such a storied school as Georgetown?

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    Yet, with more than two dozen ex-CIA officials among its teaching staff, the school tailors its courses towards producing the next generation of analysts, assassins, coup-plotters and economic hitmen, fast-tracking graduates into the upper echelons of the national security state.

    The CIA has also quietly funded the SFS, as journalist Will Sommer revealed. The agency, based in Langley, VA, secretly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the department’s work, despite Georgetown insisting on its website that this money came from anonymous donations from individuals.

     

    SPY FACTORY

    Any number of “how to join the CIA” articles suggest studying at the School of Foreign Service, and the university itself leans into its reputation as a spy factory. “We have global thinkers in Georgetown… They are attractive to the intel community in both the public and private sectors,” Anne Steen, then-executive director of the SFS’ graduate career center, told CNBC in 2018, adding, “There are elements to intelligence that didn’t even exist ten years ago whether it is cyber or artificial intelligence, and our students are on the cutting edge.”

    There were 377 SFS graduates in academic year 2021, pursuing courses in security studies, foreign service, or a range of area-specific degrees, including Arab, Asian, Latin American or Eurasian and East European Studies.

    Perhaps the most CIA-specific degree on offer is security studies, with Georgetown itself claiming that “we offer a multidisciplinary master’s degree designed to prepare graduates for positions within the defense and security fields” and that the staff “recognize the benefit of having students who are currently working or interning in the security field.” In other words, CIA agents often go back to Georgetown to acquire skills that an academic environment can offer.

    According to Georgetown’s own reports, 47% of security studies graduates “quickly go into the public sector,” the lion’s share finding work in intelligence or the military. The CIA is the number one public employer of security studies grads, followed by the Department of Defense, Department of State, the Army and the Navy. The top private-sector employers are largely military contractors, including Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC and Northrop Grumman. The report claims that those working in the world of intelligence and security consider a School of Foreign Service security studies degree to be a “must have” credential.

    Georgetown Security Studies graduates graph
    A breakdown of the most common career paths of Georgetown Security Studies graduates. Source | Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

    This Georgetown-to-Langley pipeline is so well-established that the university even published a guide to applying to the agency on its website, filled with useful lists of dos and don’ts. Meanwhile, the School of Foreign Service offers its students the opportunity to hold one-to-one meetings with CIA recruiters, although it notes that these interviews are reserved for students who are not already in contact with the agency themselves.

    Last month, the SFS invited current CIA Director William J. Burns to campus, where it presented him with the Trainor Award for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy. Burns turned the event into a recruitment drive, stating in his speech“Nothing has ever given me greater pride than to serve my country with honor. It’s a lesson that I’ve learned and relearned over the past four decades, and I hope all the students in this audience will explore its promise.”

    Burns’ words echoed those of his CIA predecessor Leon Panetta, who, in addition to being the agency’s chief, was also Secretary of Defense. During a speech at Georgetown, Panetta praised the institution’s “leadership in the study of global security.” As he explained,

    I have had a deep and abiding respect for Georgetown throughout the almost 40 to 50 years that I’ve been involved in public service. And I have a deep respect for the generation of leaders that have gone forward from this campus to serve our nation.”

    Panetta added that, throughout his time in the national security state, he was surrounded by Georgetown graduates, describing them as:

    Talented, young individuals who have been at my side every day for the last four years, at both the CIA and the Pentagon, and I am deeply grateful for their work on behalf of me and on behalf of the nation. And I’m deeply grateful to Georgetown for training such extraordinary public servants.”

    In addition to training spies, the SFS also produces many of the country’s top journalists, including alternative media host Saagar Enjeti. When Enjeti left his job as host of The Hill’s show, “Rising,” he was replaced by another SFS graduate, Emily Miller. Interestingly, Enjeti himself was a replacement for original host Buck Sexton, a former CIA analyst.

     

    SPOOKS AND STUDENTS

    It is not just the students, however, that are associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. Studying the faculty, MintPress found at least 25 staff at the School of Foreign Service alone who once worked for or with the agency. There were many other former CIA agents in other departments, while other SFS staff also worked at different institutions within the national security state.

    Although the full extent of their activities remains classified and unknown to the public, many of these academics’ biographies hint at a dark past. For example, Michael Walker spent 29 years at the CIA before joining the SFS’ Center for Security Studies (CSS) as an adjunct professor,

    During the 1980s, Walker was stationed in Afghanistan, where he presumably played a role in Operation Cyclone, the CIA’s arming and training of Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen to oppose the Soviet invasion. Bin Laden would later use his skills to attack the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Walker would later return to Afghanistan to help the CIA oversee the U.S. occupation of the country. He eventually became the CIA’s Near East and South Asia Director, putting him directly in charge of CIA operations across the region.

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