CIA Document: How to Co-opt Academia
[ The CIA asked University of California administrator Earl Clinton Bolton, who was spending some time at CIA headquarters, to suggest ideas on how to improve relations between the Agency and academia. ]

Academia 01, p.1

5 August 1968
SUBJECT: Agency-Academic Relations

This is an attempt to make some observations and suggestions about Agency-academic relations. In doing so I am grateful for the stimulus furnished by your outline. Although I believe I have addressed myself to most of the questions you have raised I have done so in free form rather than by a point by point consideration. I have also used "head notes" for purposes of organization and in an attempt to highlight the crucial questions in the subject.

Justifying an Agency-Academic Relationship: Let me stress at the outset that I believe Agency-academic relations are for the most part very good. Though I have no quantitative data to support such a conclusion my guess is that 99% of the members of the academy would be willing to assist the Agency if properly and skillfully approached, and that only a small fraction of that other 1% would be angered by an invitation to assist or would attempt to embarrass the Agency in any way.

However, on occasion when a university or an individual has acknowledged any contact with the Agency there has been some outcry by a few vocal members of the academic community.

In a later part of this paper I suggest "an affirmative program" designed to improve the Agency's reputation in academic circles and thus decrease the risks (costs) of association with the Agency. However, until either the passage of time or an image bolstering plan changes the cliches of the moment an educational institution or individual electing to assist the Agency may be on the defensive.

In my view the best way to defend association with the Agency when such a defense is necessary is:

Academia 01, p.2

The Functions of a University: There is almost universal agreement that universities do (and properly should) engage in the following basic functions:

Authorities will differ as to whether a sub-function e.g. the training of a leadership elite to be innovative and responsive should be included under "1" or "3" above, but there is little disagreement that what higher education is all about is encompassed within these general goals.

The Agency should phrase its requests to academia in such a way that the service being sought relates as clearly and directly as possible to one of these traditional functions and when necessary the university and individual scholar should explain involvement with the Agency as a contribution to one of these proper academic goals. It should also be stressed that when an apologia is necessary it can best be made: (1) by some distant academic who is not under attack, (2) in a "respectable" publication of general circulation (e.g. Harpers, Saturday Review, Vital Speeches, etc.), and (3) with full use of the jargon of the academy (as illustrated below).

Traditional Mores of the Academic: Every profession develops a certain ethical or philosophical penumbra which is more or less sacred and which protects from attack the most vulnerable or least understood rites of that profession. This body of doctrine usually develops by "common law" and is subsequently codified. (Incidentally the codified dogma never precisely articulates the full scope of the protective doctrines; hence there is sufficient vagueness in the total traditions of the profession to provide a skillful polemicist with formidable ammunition for defense.)

Academia 01, p.3

Two doctrines fiercely protected by the academy are "academic freedom" and "privilege and tenure." The former is the absolute right of the scholar to investigate any subject within his competence, in any lawful way, at any time. The latter doctrine holds that a fully initiated member of the profession has certain irrevocable privileges, including but not limited to, the right to continue his association with the university until retirement without fear of termination except for a very few egregious offenses.

When attacked for aiding the Agency the academic (or institution) should base a rejoinder on these sacred doctrines. For example, a professor's right to undertake classified research is unassailable if he stands on the ground of academic freedom and his privileges as a scholar. And he should be reminded that although his derogators may undertake a good deal of no loud rhetoric they really cannot impair his tenure.

Contracts and Grants: I have discussed [several words deleted] the matter of research arrangement between the Agency and academic world. Here are some of my further ideas on the subject.

Academia 01, p.4 Academia 01, p.5

"The Image": An Affirmative Program: Good public relations means excellent performance publicly appreciated. Because of the nature of the Agency's work discussions about performance must be limited, and efforts to gain public appreciation minimized. However I think it is possible to improve acceptance among that "public" which is the academic world.

To accomplish such a result would require a positive, long-term public relations plan. My impression is that the Agency has excellent press relations, but is not affirmatively interested (probably intentionally) in overall public relations. As to the academic community I would suggest that a very well considered, affirmative public relations program be developed.

The evolution of a public relations plan follows well recognized steps. These steps are suggested by the following questions.

It is of course unlikely that the goal in 3 above will just happen by accident; the goal is obviously more likely to be reached if there is a plan.

It is difficult to suggest implementing techniques without first knowing the precise future image the Agency would like to have in the academic world. However, I believe the following suggestions would generally improve that image among academicians.

Academia 01, p.6 Academia 01, p.7

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