Baghdad and Saigon; the CIA’s New Campus Spies; More on Matron’s Chill Hand and the Duke of Windsor’s Diaper

From Saigon to Baghdad

Today, January 28, the US today lost a third of the soldiers it lost around Saigon on the first day of the Tet offensive thirty-six years ago.

Even as George Bush was giving jesting with a docile press corps this morning, the CNN newswire running under the images of President Mushbrain disclosed that 36 American soldiers have died this same day. On January 30, 1968 the National Liberation Front launched its Tet offensive across South Vietnam. In the Tet assault on Saigon 110 US servicemen died, against 1,100 NLF. For a period the NLF took over large parts of the city and invaded the US embassy compound.

When it was over, the US dead across South Vietnam ran to 1,100, and their South Vietnamese troops, 2,800. The NLF and the North Vietnamese Army lost 35,000 men killed, 60,000 wounded and 6000 POWs. Militarily the US claimed victory. But the Tet offensive was devastating in its impact on US opinion. And, yes, the US scheduled its Iraqi elections on the anniversary of Tet.
The CIA’s New Spies on Campus

After disclosure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s effort to set a new and spectacularly unaccountable version of the CIA in the Pentagon., the sprouting forest of secret intelligence operations set up in the wake of 9/11 is at last coming under some scrutiny. Here’s sinister one in the academic field that one that that had escaped scrutiny until this week.

Dr David Price, of St Martins College, in Olympia, Washington is an anthropologist long interested in the intersections of his discipline with the world of intelligence and national security, both the CIA and the FBI. CounterPunchers know Price’s work well. Now he’s turned the spotlight on a new test program, operating without detection or protest, that is secretly placing CIA agents in American university classrooms.

With time these students who cannot admit to their true intentions will inevitably pollute and discredit the universities in which they are now enrolled. Subscribers to our CounterPunch newsletter are now receiving the edition with Price’s full investigation. Herewith a brief resume of his expose.

Even before 9/11 government money was being sluiced into the academies for covert subsidies for students. The National Security Education Program (NSEP) siphoned off students from traditional foreign language funding programs and offered graduate students good money, sometimes $40,000 a year and up, to study “in demand” languages, but with pay-back stipulations mandating that recipients later work for unspecified U.S. national security agencies.

When the NSEP got off the ground in the early 1990s there was some huff and puff from concerned academics about this breaching of the supposed barrier between the desires of academia and the state. But there wasn’t even a watch-pup’s yap about Congressional approval for section 318 of the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act which appropriated four million dollars to fund a pilot program known as the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP), named after Senator Pat Roberts (R. Kansas, Chair, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence).

PRISP is designed to train intelligence operatives and analysts in American university classrooms for careers in the CIA and other agencies. The program now operates on an undisclosed number of American college and university campuses. Dr Price has discovered that if the pilot phase of the program proves to be a useful means of recruiting and training members of the intelligence community then the program will expand to more campuses across the country.

PRISP participants must be American citizens who are enrolled fulltime in graduate degree programs. They need to “complete at least one summer internship at CIA or other agencies”, and they must pass the same background investigations as other CIA employees. PRISP students receive financial stipends ranging up to $25,000 per year and they are required to participate in closed meetings with other PRISP scholars and individuals from their administering intelligence agency.

From his enquiries Dr Price has determined that less than 150 students a year are currently authorized to receive funding during the pilot phase as PRISP evaluates the program’s initial outcomes. PRISP is apparently administered not just by the CIA, but also through a variety of individual intelligence agencies like the NSA, MID, or Naval Intelligence.

Secrecy is the root problem here, with the usual ill-based assumption that good intelligence operates best in clandestine conditions. Of course America needs good intelligence, but the most useful and important intelligence can largely be gathered openly without the sort of covert invasion of our campuses that PRISP silently brings.
Anyone doubting the superior merits of open intelligence has only to study the sorry saga of the non-existent WMDs whose imagined threat in vast stockpiles was ringingly affirmed by all the secret agencies, while being contested by analysts unencumbered by bogus covert intelligence estimates massaged by Iraqi disinformers and political placemen in Langley and elsewhere.

Dr Price says, “The CIA makes sure we won’t know which classrooms PRSIP scholars attend, this being rationalized as a requirement for protecting the identities of intelligence personnel.” But this secrecy shapes PRISP as it takes on the form of a covert operation in which PRISP students study chemistry, biology, sociology, psychology, anthropology and foreign languages without their fellow classmates, professors, advisors, department chairs or presumably even research subjects (knowing that they are working for the CIA, DIA, NSA or other intelligence agencies.

“In a decade and a half of Freedom of Information Act research,” Dr Price continues, ” I have read too many FBI reports of students detailing the ‘deviant’ political views of their professors.” In one instance elicited by Dr Price from files he acquired under FOIA, the FBI arranged for a graduate student to guide topics of ‘informal’ conversation with anthropologist Gene Weltfish that were later the focus of an inquiry by Joseph McCarthy). Today, Dr Price maintains, “These PRSIP students are also secretly compiling dossiers on their professors and fellow students.”

The confluence between academe and intelligence is long standing and pervasive. In 1988 CIA spokeswoman Sharon Foster bragged that the CIA then secretly employed enough university professors “to staff a large university”. Most experts estimate that this presence has grown since 2001.

But If the CIA can use PRISP to corral students, haul along to mandatory internships and summer sessions, douse them in the ethos of CIA , then it can surely shape their intellectual outlook even before their grasp of cultural history develops in the relatively open environment of their university.

Academic environments thrive on open disagreement, dissent, and reformulation. As Dr Price writes,” The presence of PRISP’s secret sharers brings hidden agendas that sabotage fundamental academic processes. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program infects all academia with the viruses dishonesty and distrust as participant scholars cloak their intentions and their ties to the cloaked masters they serve.”

From the CounterPunch Mailbag

Why those boyish testicles in matron’s chill hand? Here are a couple of answers.

Dear Mr. Cockburn,

In your piece, “Prince Harry’s Travails”, you say:

“How well I remember Matron at my own school, Heatherdown, who used to line us little boys up and then clasp our testicles in her chill hand and demand we cough. I’m never quite sure why; maybe to detect signs of incipient syphilis in case we eight-year olds had been infected by the girls at Heathfield, the other side of a wall even more forbidding than the one the Israelis are running through the occupied territories.”

The nominal answer is: to detect inguinal hernias. The Freudian analysis is more complex.

Daniel Wirt MD, Houston.

You crave more details? Here’s Rowan Berkeley from London:

A hernia can occur when a part of the intestine pushes out from the abdomen and into the groin or scrotum (the sac of skin that the testicles hang in). Some people believe that this can only happen when a person lifts something heavy, but usually this isn’t the case. Most hernias occur because of a weakness in the abdominal wall that the person was born with. If a piece of intestine becomes trapped in the scrotum, it can cut off the blood supply to the intestine and cause serious problems if the situation isn’t quickly corrected.

A doctor is able to feel for a hernia by using his or her fingers to examine the area around the groin and testicles. The doctor may ask you to cough while he or she is pressing on or feeling the area. Sometimes, the hernia causes a bulge that the doctor can detect; if this happens, surgery almost always repairs the hernia completely.

At least one CounterPuncher didn’t care for another paragraph in that same diary of mine, which went as follows:

In his wonderful The Duchess of Windsor (recently reissued with sensational new material along with his equally gripping Howard Hughes) my friend Charles Higham quotes the Duke’s equerry, Sir Dudley Forwood, who used to peer through the bedroom keyhole, as saying of saying of Windsor that “It is doubtful whether he and Wallis ever actually had sexual intercourse in the normal sense of the word. However, she did manage to give him relief. He had always been a repressed foot fetishist, and she discovered this and indulged the perversity completely. They also, at his request, became involved in elaborate erotic games. These included nanny-child scenes: he wore diapers, she was the master.”

Jason Rhodes wrote:

a) people who look through keyholes and report on bedroom activity are such human scum that they are ipso facto untrustworthy, and have no place in any account of anything

b) what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors is private, even among the worst people. criticize what they do on a social level ­ don’t try to shame them, even post humously, with what they did with their genitals.

i’m taking it too seriously. i don’t realize that these all these people are just the flabby, pathetic, mind-addled so-called british royalty. they deserve any and all vulgarities we commoners can throw at them. etc. etc.

but it doesn’t wash. people who look and tell, in hopes to shame, are far more effective sexual police than any alabama sodomy law. i hate it, and the implication that we all should perhaps stop and make sure that our own sex somehow measures up to a new standard of “counterpunch” normal. what’s wrong with feet, diapers and nanny the bedroom? do we all have to like sex like you?


and power to the people

–jason rhodes
seoul, korea

Hi Jason, Despite what you charge, I can’t say I have any problem relaying Sir Dudley Forword’s observations. When he told Higham what he’d seen through the keyhole, the Duke and Duchess were long dead, as you note. And I don’t think Forwood had anything to gain by making stuff up. Higham didn’t pay him. And he wasn’t trying to shame the Duke. Like most English people he just wanted to gossip. He even gossipped vigorously about himself, so Higham told me, about the preferences of some of his previous wives. His current partner at the time of Higham’s interview at the Forword manse in the New Forest referred jestingly to Sir Dudley’s knee ailments incurred through long years of klyditrykascopy. We shouldn’t take any of it too seriously. It helps to know what makes people tick; whether they were being blackmailed etc etc. Best Alex

And on another front Ian Miller wrote:

In her article “The Anti-War Movement and the Iraqi Resistance” on the CounterPunch web site Sharon Smith states:

“To be meaningful, however, supporting the ‘right to resist’ must include support for that resistance once it actually emerges.”

I beg to differ. Supporting a right in principle is not the same as supporting the right to pursue that principle through violence. I do not think that there is any contradiction in supporting the aims of the Iraqi resistance while condemning their methods.

Ms Smith’s argument is fundamentally the same as the war-party’s claim, shortly after the start of hostilities, that it was a patriotic duty to support the war once it had started. I rejected that argument, as I reject Smith’s.

Ian Miller


Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined!, A Colossal Wreck and An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents are available from CounterPunch.