"Those students are required to go abroad and study a language or study culture," Lenora Peters Gant, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, March 17.
ODNI, the umbrella agency which oversees the 16 intelligence bodies, established the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) four years ago, to recruit students for futures in the CIA or other spy agencies.
Universities and schools receive a grant "to identify students to become IC CAE scholars," said Gant, who oversees the pilot program.
According to the IC CAE, eligible students selected must be US citizens.
Other requirements include the completion of a summer internship with a US intelligence agency such as the CIA or National Security Agency.
But officials affirm the program's main target is students from religious and ethnic minorities and those with diverse cultural backgrounds.
The program aims to "bring in groups to the intelligence community -- women, minorities, what have you -- who were previously under-represented," says Jim Robbins, director of the IC CAE program at Trinity University in Washington.
Since 2005, nine universities nationwide have enrolled more than 400 students in the program.
Once selected, students receive a grant to join the ODNI curriculum.
The stipends encourage students to enroll in courses and overseas fellowships in Middle Eastern studies, critical languages, analytical thinking, Islamic studies and other specialties.
"People want to go to China, to Brazil to study Portuguese, to Spain," David Twigg, associate director of the Gordon Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship Studies at Florida International University (FIU), told AFP.
"They want to study Arabic, which is a critical language need."
Florida University has already sent 16 students abroad last year as part of its IC CAE program.
"So far we have had people go to Morocco, Jordan and Egypt."
Twigg, however, insists the IC CAE is not a spy training program.
"They're not going there as spies.
"They're going there as people who are trying to understand what's going on."
Gant, the ODNI official, says that when the students return to the US they are not obliged to work for intelligence agencies, but they do any way.
"We do go out and recruit them, but we don't make them work for us."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mart 2008, 18:29