CIA involvement on Baruch's campus is an ‘honor,’ not a threat to students

The recent “Letter to the Editor: CIA is a threat, not an ‘honor,’” a reply to Davon Singh by the CUNY Internationalists Clubs (May 7), pushed back on an article written weeks prior defending the CIA selection of Baruch College as part of its Signature School Program. This, however, is still is an honor — not a threat.

The CIA’s mission is to protect the United States by providing the best intelligence to decision-makers.

Its involvement in the overthrow of the former Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz was immoral. U.S. policy at the time was to stop the spread of communism. The United States made a strategic choice for the CIA to interrupt Árbenz’s actions as he appeared too sympathetic toward communism.

I was accused of “[c]hanneling Cold War red-menace propaganda” to defend CIA incursions in other countries’ affairs. It is not propaganda as it is based on the extensive examples of the Soviet Union’s former Russian secret police and intelligence agency, the KGB, perpetrating these acts.

The author of the article then cites CIA involvement in the death of Patrice Lumumba. He incorrectly asserts that Lumumba was assassinated by the CIA. There is no evidence that the CIA had any role in the arrest and execution of Lumumba.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower did order the assassination of Lumumba before, but the plot was abandoned when the CIA Station Chief in the Congo, Larry Devlin, stopped it.

Claiming Lumumba expressed openness to receiving Soviet arms is disingenuous. He threatened the United Nations that if it did not provide support to put down a revolt against his government, he would invite Soviet troops to get the job done.

The CUNY Internationalists Clubs was incredulous at the notion that the overgeneralization of the CIA as “evil” and “sinister” was equivalent to the overgeneralization of Muslims as “terrorists” and Hispanics as “illegals.” How can you claim that every person working in the CIA is evil? It was also never stated that opposing the CIA is equal to the bigotry faced by minorities.

Claims spun from questions that were raised in the leaflet were senseless, highly unlikely and outrageous. The leaflet states that the CIA might simulate waterboarding and may set up a secret “black site” prison. Yes, these are completely foolish claims that only perpetuate fearmongering.

These two claims were conveniently left out of the response article. Bringing up the Department of Homeland Security and NYPD as examples to justify their outlandish claims is comparing apples to oranges, as both can operate domestically.

Next, the author carelessly mischaracterizes how the attorney general’s Guidelines work. They do not let the CIA spy as they please on U.S. citizens.

However, it does direct other agencies such as the NSA and the FBI to cooperate with CIA information requests. The guidelines were recently updated as well, requiring full documentation on how and why the information was collected and who provided the information.

The agencies must also explain the steps to retrieve the smallest amount of data needed. Finally, any unevaluated data on U.S. citizens that is not needed for a CIA mission must be purged within five years.

Additionally, The CUNY Internationalists Clubs attacks the CIA’s role in the use of drone strikes under the Obama and Bush administrations. However, drones have been incredibly successful. They have killed an estimated 3,300 terrorist operatives, including over 50 senior leaders of al-Qaida. A United Nations report from 2012 showed a marked drop in civilian casualties from aerial attacks. Critics of drone strikes fail to consider the fact that any alternatives are too risky or unrealistic.

“[T]he fact that Trump’s nominee to head the CIA has a ‘record of torture’ is not a ‘deal-breaker’ for Democrats, the media has reported.” Even if every single Democrat voted against Gina Haspel, she would still get confirmed by a 51-49 vote.

The CIA has a checkered past — no one is denying that. This was openly stated in the first article.  However, it really is not favorable to shun them from our campus. It begs the question as to whether it would be more beneficial to invite them to Baruch and have an open dialogue with them or create an echo chamber.

Is there no faith that Baruch students recruited to the CIA can change it from the inside? This is an opportunity that should be seized with two hands. Baruch’s diversity can make the CIA better.

Editor's note: This is a response to the Internationalists Clubs' letter to the editor