Government backs idea to train spies on college campuses

When Felix Moos proposed training intelligence officers for U.S. spy agencies on university campuses, he didn’t know what type of reception the idea would receive.

But Moos, a Kansas University professor of anthropology, received a vote of confidence when the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence included $8 million in a bill to look into the plan.

“I suppose this is really money to see if that is a viable, feasible program,” Moos said. “Eight million these days is nothing, but it’s a start.”

Moos worked with U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the committee, to gain unanimous committee approval for the proposal. Roberts could not be reached for comment Monday.

The bill would allocate $8 million to the Community Management Staff, a division of the Central Intelligence Agency, to “establish an ROTC-like program to encourage college students to pursue careers as intelligence analysts.”

The committee approved the bill, which also includes increased funding to standardize databases for tracking terrorism information, on May 1. No date has been set for a full Senate vote.

If the bill clears the Senate and House and is signed into law, Moos said it was unclear how the $8 million would be spent. He said it might be used for a small trial program.

Moos, who teaches a terrorism course at KU with Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin, suggested the program after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, noting no system is in place to train intelligence officers.

“The idea was that since our analysis in intelligence isn’t always complete, we really need a new generation of young analysts who have a much broader and different training,” Moos said. “They need language training and knowledge of different cultures. If America’s going to be engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq and North Korea, we need a new generation who thinks along really different lines.”

He proposed housing the program at the 50 U.S. universities that have ROTC programs for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

“Because the universities have already agreed to an ROTC program, you wouldn’t have to go to the administration to negotiate,” Moos said. “Many universities are against anything that smacks of intelligence and military. And since we already have ROTC units on campus, you’d already have staff and a mechanism to pay people.”

Moos said the program would take several years to establish because a curriculum would have to be developed. He has volunteered to be part of that process, though he admits it’s now a government project, not his own.

“I’ve declared I’m willing to help, whatever I can do,” he said. “The idea is beginning to become concrete.”