Students Engage With Intelligence Community on Classic Challenges and New Threats

Mar 08 2016
By Martha Jachimski '17
Source Woodrow Wilson School

On Jan. 8, 2015, the “Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy” undergraduate Policy Task Force visited the Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to present its research and policy recommendations. The task force was led by Keren Yarhi-Milo, assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

The students met with Peter Clement, who worked with the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence and served as briefer to Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as a panel of senior intelligence analysts working on issues related to arms control, terrorism, public and military relations, among others.

Following a presentation by Olivia Hompe ’17 and Martha Jachimski ’17, the panel engaged with students on how to leverage social media for intelligence and the appropriate level of disclosure on the part of the intelligence community. They also discussed the inherent difficulty of studying current intelligence issues without access to classified information.

“The trip to the CIA was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had as a Princeton student,” Richard Peay ’17 said.

“We had the opportunity not only to share our task force findings with analysts whose focus revolved around our topics but also to ask questions and engage in discussion with them,” Sarah Lossing ’17 said. “For me, the experience really emphasized how relevant our research was and how incredible it was that we, as juniors, have the access and ability to see the implications of our research in such a legitimate setting.”

Throughout the course of the semester, the seminar examined the evolving challenges the intelligence community must grapple with and its relationship with policymakers. The students engaged in lively debates about the balance between national security and civil liberties, drew lessons from high-profile intelligence failures and examined the evolving nature of security threats.

In addition to Clement, the task force also hosted several key members of the intelligence community as guest speakers: Kathleen Rahal of the National Security Agency; Robert Hutchings, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council; and John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA.

The summary task force report reflected the research and recommendations of Sarah Mendenhall ’17, Olivia Hompe ’17, Sarah Lossing ’17, Martha Jachimski ’17, Sofia Charania ’17, Richard Peay ’17, Robin Spiess ’17, Yekaterina Panskyy ’17, Charles Kanoff ’17 and Curtis Fink ’17. Anya Gersoff ’16 served as the senior commissioner and Brendan Gallager served as the graduate commissioner. The students were directed by Yarhi-Milo.