Michigan State News

November 25, 1975

"….past MSU link recalled…."

by Jerome McGuire


MSU is certainly no stranger to controversy concerning the CIA. In fact, MSU has one of the most celebrated, albeit alleged, histories of contact with the agency.

In 1966, the radical Ramparts Magazine published a lurid accusation of MSU cooperation with the CIA in undercover activities in an extensive MSU technical aid program to South Vietnam from 1955 to 1962. Stanley K. Sheinbaum, a former MSU economics instructor and a member of the MSU program, instigated the Ramparts expose. The MSU aid was mostly in the field of police administration and other governmental administration.

"Sheinbaum’s charge was that everyone in the project, including then-president John Hannah, knew about the CIA involvement," said Charles Killingsworth, now director of the Labor and Industrial Relations Dept. and then a member for six months of the Vietnam project.

The Ramparts article reported that the University spent millions of dollars on weapons and that the campus was so police and CIA infested that it was impossible to get a parking space on campus for the police cars.

The University refutation of the Ramparts charges, personally delivered by Hannah, listed 53 inaccuracies in the article. Hannah defended the basic idea of the project—that a University would provide a broader public service than merely turning out graduates. In term of terms of the Viet project, Hannah called it "assistance in public administration."

"Public administration" included University involvement "in the field of counter subversion," Hannah said, where project members "could only be recruited from other government agencies."

These agencies were mainly military intelligence ones but Hannah denied any CIA recruitment.

However, former CIA head Lyman Kirkpatrick at the time of the controversy (April 1966) said in regard to the MSU program: "I don’t see anything wrong with the use of the aid mission as a front. I don’t see anything contrary to academic interests of an American university."

The same article in the State News reported Kirkpatrick saying that the CIA signed a contract with the University to support a police training project in South Vietnam.

The State News story also reported that Hannah started the project in Vietnam after government pressure.

In his refutation, Hannah regretted the form the aid took (direct involvement with the government organs) and said, "Today (1966) we try to make contracts with other (foreign) universities or ministers of education but not with the governments themselves."

Arthur Brandstatter, director of the MSU Criminal Justice Department, said Tuesday, "I have no apologies. It is a dead issue. There was no one else to provide this technical service. The police service is a sensitive service." Many highranked persons were in the program, such as the current head of the Kalamazoo Police dept., Ralph Turner of the MSU faculty and Ralph Smuckler, the current director of International Programs at MSU. Brandstatter was one of the original four top members of the aid program in 1955.

About the current recruiting controversy Brandstatter said: "Personally, the students should be able to seek out any opportunity available to them. It is a violation of the right of students to deny them that ability."

And so the question of who is the CIA and what it is doing here remains an issue. And ten and twenty years later MSU is still involved in the controversy.