Join 3,518 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Big Spook On Campus
June 24, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

The 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act included funding for a pilot program that provided scholarships in exchange for recipients completing at least one summer internship in the intelligence agencies. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) was praised in National Review but criticized by humanities organizations as a threat to academic integrity. The 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act [400kb pdf] submitted to Congress by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair makes the program a permanent budget item.

Program applicants are encouraged to use discretion before disclosing their interest in the Agency to friends and family.
posted by Joe Beese (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is one of those things where my gut reaction is to go "this is bad!" before I fully understand it.

so here's me saying "i... is this bad? this is bad, right?"
posted by shmegegge at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2009


Meh. The Daily Outrage with Joe Beese used to be a lot more outrageous before he sold out (to the CIA).
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2009


Just the name "Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program" is so chock full of ominous cognitive dissonance that it risks becoming a collapsar composed entirely of wtf-ons.
posted by adipocere at 10:25 AM on June 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wasn't Obama recently saying something about how a program like this program was a good idea, and we should have an ROTC-like system set up to supply talented people to the intelligence services, instead of solely the military? Here it is.

This seems like a summer-school version of the kind of thing Obama was talking about.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2009


Heh, I tried to join the intelligence services (and the foreign diplomatic service) when I got out of the Army (where I was a tri-lingual psyops and communications guy), and they turned me down because when I was 17 I got caught with two joints (while I was *inside* juvie, so they didn't have to take me far, up one floor). Ah well, their loss, and I have no regrets, looking back with hindsight.

I like the idea of such programs -- get more folks an education, and some nice valuable training at the same time, and maybe the cream of the crop will stay with intelligence as a career, where we as a country always need more quality people.
posted by jamstigator at 10:46 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


God knows we dont need any more smart people in the intelligence community.

Oh a bunch of anthropologists complained, huh. Understandable, if the government got their hands on the new kind of Problematizing Ethnography who knows what evil use they'd turn it towards!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:57 AM on June 24, 2009


I see I'm not the only person who reacts to this without understanding it.

I keed. I keed.
posted by shmegegge at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2009


This is good.

If you have your intelligence agencies (and military) filled with people who form a distinct group that sees itself as totally distinct from civil society then they can much more easily used as tools of internal oppression.
posted by atrazine at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


So this wasn't just a Doonesbury storyline?
posted by zamboni at 11:28 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I started my Masters degree, I was offered a spot in a similar program (albeit one for computer security geeks), which is called the "Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service."

This program will likely be similar. They pay your tuition, give you 30k a year as a stipend, optional summer internships with a federal agency, and they they require you to work for the Feds for one year for each year that you got money from them.

The main problem from my perspective, was that of security clearance. Namely, they give you the scholarship without first putting you through the clearance process. Two years later, once you've graduated, you have to go through the NSA/DOD clearance process -- and if they reject you for whatever reason, you are told that you need to pay all the money back, right now.

I opted to turn down the scholarship -- the very real risk of being forced to pay back all that money 2 years later was far too scary for me.

Unless they fix that issue with this program, I think it is quite likely that they will scare away quite a few good students.
posted by genome4hire at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2009


they give you the scholarship without first putting you through the clearance process. Two years later, once you've graduated, you have to go through the NSA/DOD clearance process -- and if they reject you for whatever reason, you are told that you need to pay all the money back, right now.

That is ludicrous.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2009


Ludicrous, yet totally believable, just like the program in question.
posted by eclectist at 12:58 PM on June 24, 2009


This exact program (PRISP) works this way at a former intelligence organization I am familiar with:

All new hires who come straight from college graduation are encouraged to apply. Everyone is allowed to apply at any time for up to one year after the hire date.

After your package is reviewed, you are awarded up to $25,000 to pay off previously accrued student debt. (You must prove that you have the student debt as part of your package)

I don't think it is used as part of the recruitment process, since most people I talked to didn't know about it until after they started.
posted by bagels at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2009


Oh a bunch of anthropologists complained, huh.

See, I've always found this kinds of interesting, in a "wow, that's short-sighted" kind of way. Having gotten my undergraduate degree in religion and anthropology, anthropology seemed to me to be a good background for potential intel analysts. Criminal justice programs LOVE us, both physical and cultural anthropologists. Yet, it's never listed as a desired background. Political science, yes. Psychology and sociology, yes. Never anthro.

My only guess is that they've figured out that anthropologists are mostly just hippies that like to talk to people or play with dead things.
posted by elfgirl at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


^er, kind of interesting. Or all kinds of interesting. Take your pick.
posted by elfgirl at 4:54 PM on June 24, 2009


« Older "Text Utilities"...  |  Economists Matthew Weinzierl (... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments