ROTC for Spies

To cultivate a new generation of spies for a new generation of global threats, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have proposed the creation of a program to find and train potential agents from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Modeled on the military’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at U.S. colleges and universities, the program would seek out “first- and second-generation Americans, who already have critical language and cultural knowledge, and prepare them for careers in the intelligence agencies,” according to a description sent to Congress by National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair.

But unlike ROTC, an official familiar with the proposal told the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, students’ participation in the program would be kept secret to prevent them from being identified by foreign intelligence services. Universities would apply for grants to create courses and programs to meet the needs of the intelligence community. The U.S. intelligence community already funds national security studies programs at more than 14 U.S. colleges and universities. This new program would likely be a far more ambitious effort, building on a 2004 pilot project that provided financial assistance to students who studied cryptology.

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