Letter to the Editor: Dec. 1, 2009


Dear Editor,

The ‘Sex and the Nation State’ symposium, held Nov. 10, discussed issues concerning sex/gender and national security. The keynote speaker was an official from the Central Intelligence Agency, an indication that the methods and activities of government intelligence agencies not be questioned in this conference. But let us look at some of the activities of the CIA.

It has overthrown elected leaders, for example in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973. It supported a military coup in Greece in 1967, two days before elections which would install a leftist government; it backed death squads in El Salvador in 1980 that murdered tens of thousands including Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was speaking out in behalf of the poor. It has more recently engaged in water boarding and other forms of torture; and just last month more than a dozen CIA agents were convicted in Italy for their act of “extraordinary rendition,” kidnapping an innocent man and transporting him to another country to be tortured. These are just a few of the many cases of torture, abuse and violations of international law for which the CIA has been responsible. These are not in question but have been fully documented in William Blum’s “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” among other sources.

Why are we are accepting a conference on this campus where the CIA has such a prominent role, offered as a model for government activity? Rather, we should be seriously questioning its goals and methods. If there is to be a symposium involving the nation’s intelligence agencies, the basic facts about their purposes and activities must be made clear and made prominent, not assumed with tacit approval.

Charles Crittenden
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy