FBI Invites Academics to Confer on Security

04.13.10 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will co-host a conference (pdf) this month “to promote positive continuous dialogue between the U.S. Intelligence Community and the academic community.”  The conference will be held at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory on April 29.

Topics of discussion will include the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which “has been an invaluable tool in providing advice to the FBI on the culture of higher education, including the traditions of openness, academic freedom, and international collaboration, while serving as a forum for discussion of national security issues.”

In 2008, authors from the FBI and the Federation of American Scientists jointly reported on a survey of attitudes among scientists concerning interactions with the FBI.  “The attitudes of scientists toward law enforcement personnel are not vastly different from those of the general public. However, a larger percentage of scientists indicated cooler feelings towards the FBI than the general public, suggesting that these reservations are particular to the scientific community and require specific solutions with the scientific community in mind,” the survey found. “[S]cientists are suspicious of the FBI and feel that they do not work well with the scientific community.”

“By taking steps to address suspicions early in any interaction and by treating scientists respectfully and professionally, law enforcement representatives are more likely to build a foundation of respect with their interaction and displace existing hostility,” the authors suggested.  See “How Scientists View Law Enforcement” by Nathaniel Hafer, Cheryl J. Vos, Karen McAllister, Gretchen Lorenzi, Christopher Moore, Kavita M. Berger and Michael Stebbins, Science Progress, December 22, 2008.