The University & the Security State

Gasser, Michael
Date Written:  2014-05-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2014
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20407

Gasser examines the implicit political agendas behind the offers of funding given to American universities by the Department of Homeland Security to research the "cognitive science of terrorisim."



The more modest National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS), headquartered at the University of Arizona, brings together 14 other universities and three think tanks, including the Rand Corporation.

This center has 26 faculty investigators and funds 15 graduate students. Among its extensive research facilities are the Deception Detection Laboratory, created with Army and Air Force funding; the College Ranch Test Range, a 100-square-mile "outdoor laboratory" in New Mexico for "testing border security technologies"; and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center at New Mexico State University.

The 29 research projects listed on BORDERS' website include ones dedicated to "automatic truth assessment," "biometric identification," "localization and tracking of vehicles, cargo and persons," "intelligent monitoring of human interactions," and "airborne detection of illegal activity."

DHS also provides scholarships and internships to students pursuing courses of study in areas related to homeland security or interested in careers in homeland security, placing a special focus on "minority-serving institutions," that is, historically Black, tribal, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities (

Finally, if we needed more evidence for a new homeland-security-academic complex, we have to look no further than the appointment last year of former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to head the University of California.

The significance of her appointment is summed up in a statement by the UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865): "We question the implications for academic freedom that arise from installing a law enforcement official with a background in surveillance, cyber-security, and border control in a central leadership role at an institution of free expression and learning."

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