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Humphrey Doermann's report on CIA financing gave the University a clean bill of health--almost. Doermann, assigned by Dean Ford to investigate possible CIA influence, told the Faculty Tuesday that Central Intelligence Agency "conduit" foundations have channeled $456,000 into the University from 1960 to 1966. Conduit foundations, unlike so-called "dummy" organizations, do not receive all their money from the CIA, and therefore there is no proof that the agency's dollars actually went to the University. There were no strings attached to the aid, so the government could not directly influence research or prevent its results from being published.
Yet, despite the belief of many professors that the CIA has had no voice in Harvard projects, this financial link was potentially dangerous. The degree of control the CIA exercised over the conduits is unknown, and there is no absolute guarantee that the agency was not able to influence research subject matter and personnel through the officials of these foundations.
Dean Ford has observed that in the future the Faculty may have to decide whether it will take funds from the Central Intelligence Agency for clearly-specified, unclassified research. When that question arises, he told his colleagues, the Faculty should not try to make blanket classifications of government agencies as to the acceptability of their funds; rather, it should appraise the individual terms of each grant proposal.
The CIA may indeed make more use of direct and open grants to the University now that President Johnson has forbidden the Agency to work through the conduits. But if the formula for government aid to academic projects is now to be open, it is unlikely that the CIA, by its secretive nature, would make such grants. If it should offer Harvard a grant for some specified work, Ford's proposal makes good sense. It would allow the University to determine at that time whether the terms of the CIA's offer did not undermine the credibility of Harvard as a haven for disinterested academic research. In any case, were the University to refuse to accept CIA research grants, the shadowy agency would have little trouble channeling its offers through another agrecy.
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