Coffee Chats with the CIA: On Campus Recruiting During Ongoing Genocide

According to the University of Chicago’s Handshake page, on February 22nd students (but only those who are US citizens, of course) have the opportunity to register for a “coffee chat” with CIA representatives. While the opportunity to sit down and talk with a government agent may seem like a prestigious one, these “coffee chats” will not shed light on the CIA’s historical and continued practices of human rights violations, facilitations of assassinations and coups, documented torture, or current role in the genocide happening in Gaza. 

Take the Democratic Republic of Congo for instance. In 1960, mere months after the DRC gained independence from Belgium, President Eisenhower ordered the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba due to his request for aid from the USSR. After this order, declassified documents state that CIA agents planned Lumumba’s assassination, creating a poison and instructing a CIA employee in the DRC to ensure that he consumed it. While it was not this poison that ultimately killed Lumumba, the CIA’s propaganda campaign, sponsorship of opposing senators, and payouts to the president eventually paved the way for his assassination. Following Lumumba’s CIA facilitated assassination, the CIA assisted in bringing kleptocratic dictator Joseph Motubu to power, a thirty two year long dictatorship whose debilitating effects resulted in a series of civil wars killing millions and financial problems that continue to result in exploitative and abusive resource extraction today. Something to mention during your coffee chat.

But this sort of political interference is not an isolated incident for the people offering to sit down and drink a latte with you. The DRC is not the only nation in which the CIA has facilitated assassinations and coups. A similar story played out in Chile, followed by the implementation of a bloody military dictatorship, as well as assassination or coup plots in Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, and Indonesia, among dozens of others. 

In 2014, during the employment of many CIA campus recruiters, the CIA released 525 pages of a 6700 page report detailing the abuse and torture of CIA and Department of Defense detainees during the post-9/11 era. The released information contains what is referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture) that “not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.” These methods of torture included waterboarding, nudity, sleep deprivation, rectal feeding, continued beatings, and exposure to cold. Of the 119 tortured detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully imprisoned. During this nearly decade long period, the CIA purposefully withheld information about their torture sites from both Congress and the American people, and the majority of the 6700 page report detailing their actions remains sealed from the public. 

Today, as Israel continues to perpetuate a genocide in Gaza, the CIA continues to work closely with Israeli officials, including their intelligence agency Mossad. While, according to many, the US is the only nation that wields the power to force Israel to stop the bombing of Gaza and maintain a ceasefire, the CIA’s current director William J Burns is focused on reinforcing “our commitment to intelligence cooperation, especially in areas such as counterterrorism and security”, according to a US government official. The CIA clearly does not value the lives of Palestinians, nor those in the Middle East, as evidence by both their prioritization of cooperation with Israel over calling for an end to the ongoing genocide, and their documented torture in the name of counterterrorism. No, the CIA values US economic interests, with absolutely no regard for the lives of the millions that their interventions will harm. Once you sit down across from them for a chat, that economic interest includes you. It includes taking well intentioned students and making them grease the wheels of suffering. 

So, the CIA is holding coffee chats. On the one hand, they’re a well known government agency that, if employed, could give you a cushy salary and a nice office in Washington DC. On the other, you would be participating in unparalleled human rights violation, allowing for the torture, murder, and death of millions due to violent military regimes, by an agency that lacks any regard for human life. Ask yourself; do you really want to work for an agency that has facilitated such immense violations of human rights? Should our university, even, allow for such an agency to recruit students on our campus? If you work for the CIA, there is blood on your hands. It is up to us to wash the hands of our university clean.


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