CIA officials address issues facing agency in 21st century

Catherine Marfin

Former and current CIA officials discussed the importance of educating the public on the CIA’s role in national security at a panel held Tuesday. The event, which is a part of the CIA Intelligent Studies Project, brought current CIA director John Brennan, former CIA director Porter Goss and project director Stephen Slick to address issues facing the CIA in the 21st century.

“We need to do a better job of communicating with the American people so that the individuals in this country better understand the value we bring to this nation,” Brennan said.  “We need a better understanding of the events going on that seem so far away from places like Austin. A lot of negative opinions are the result of ignorance about what the CIA does.”

The Intelligence Studies Project, founded in 2013, has partnered with the UT Clements Center for National Security and the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and was formed to foster a premier center for the study of U.S. intelligence at UT.

Members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, including Seth Uzman, a junior economics and math major, protested outside prior to the event. Uzman said that in its effort to improve national security, the CIA commits war crimes in other countries.

“The institutions that these men represent actively promote a global system of imperialism and racism,” Uzman said. “The Strauss and Clements centers present themselves as institutes of state craft when their real purpose is warcraft.”

Midway through the presentation, protestors stood up and exited, yelling “On trial, not on campus,” at the CIA officials on stage. Brennan said he was not discouraged by the protesters.

Jesús Nazario | Daily Texan Staff

“I am proud to see the University respects individual rights, liberties and the freedom of speech,” Brennan said.

Ann Todd, a recent UT doctoral graduate, said she was impressed by the presentation.

“John Brennan is an incredibly articulate man,” Todd said. “He’s possibly the best representative of intelligence that has ever come along. I especially appreciated these men wanting America to know what patriots are serving the intelligence community.”  

Brennan concluded by highlighting opportunities students have as a result of the project.

“My advice to current UT students is to learn as much as you can about how the world has changed,” Brennan said. “The agency has tremendous opportunities for people interested in working with some of the smartest and most patriotic people on the planet.”