The original Predator (source)
I'm not sure what was worse; sitting in an auditorium for a speech by the head of CIA clandestine operations, or having most of the audience give a standing ovation afterward.There were some low points in between, too.
On Thursday, I went with my friend Ray McGovern, and some current and former Fordham students to a lecture at Fordham University given by Michael Sulick, Director of the National Clandestine Service, the guy in charge of counter-terrorism and covert ops.
Ray and Sulick are both graduates of Fordham, and both worked for the C.I.A.One difference between them is that Ray quit long ago.
Fordham, a Jesuit school, has a very active Peace and Justice program led by a tenured professor, which just the evening before had held a commemoration of the assassination 30 years ago of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador. It was noted that Romero was killed by graduates of the School of the Americas, with alleged help from the CIA. [For more on Romero, see Consortiumnews.com "El Salvador: Ghosts at the Polls."]
But Fordham also produces a lot of FBI and CIA agents. For Sulick, the student center was decorated with the kind of puffy, shiny balloon letters junior high schools use for birthday parties, with silvery "C-I-A" floating in the lobby.I felt it was going to be a strange night.
Ray was tipped off about the lecture by anti-war students.He offered himself as a "respondent" to the lecture, but the administration declined that offer.
Ten or 11 professors protested the CIA lecture, and around noon on Thursday the administration invited one of them to respond to it on stage.She declined, as she would have no time to prepare.
The lecture was off the radar; not on Fordham's Web site, and a non-event as far as the Public Relations office was concerned.They wanted no press.
The administration called the student leaders to find out if any protest was planned, with the intimidating implication that they would be held responsible for any disruption.
Ray invited me to meet with about 15 students before the speech. We learned that, for the first time in public lectures at Fordham, questions would only be taken in writing, giving no one the opportunity to speak from the floor.And you know what that means.
We discussed questions we'd like to ask:
--Director Sulick, Could you comment on the April 17, 2009 NBC News report that the CIA is paying Pakistani agents to identify targets for drone bombings in Pakistan, and that those agents were dropping electronic chips in farmhouses solely to get paid?
--Director Sulick, Could you comment on a statement by Georgetown professor Gary Solis in the Washington Post of March 12, 2010, that civilians working for the CIA in the drone program are unlawful combatants under international law?
--You resigned from the CIA in 2005 as world public opinion turned against the Bush administration's use of "alternative interrogation methods."What do you know about the Agency's destruction of video tapes of waterboarding that surfaced just after you returned to the CIA in 2007?
--Agence France Presse, covering March 23 congressional hearings on the CIA's drone program, reported that American University law professor Kenneth Anderson testified that those who target for the drone operations "could face possible charges abroad."Would that include you and those you supervise?
Well, of course, none of these questions were read to Sulick by the student government leaders moderating the Q&A.