Thursday, November 19, 1998

UH professor asks
Inouye to help in CIA-
related case

By Susan Kreifels


Intellectual honesty is the heart of academic research.

Tamper with it, says Alexander Malahoff, president of the University of Hawaii faculty union, and the "whole idea of scholarship goes out the window. It opens up an incredible window of abuse. It can't happen at a university."

Even if the CIA is footing the bill.

UH professor Gary Fuller believes he's been victim of such abuse, and plans to ask Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye to call for a congressional investigation of his case.

Fuller says the university, under pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency, sold him out by removing him from a $245,000 study on ethnic trouble spots in Asia that was CIA-funded.

He speculates that his research, which found that any breakup in China was unlikely in the next three years, ran counter to prevailing belief in the agency. He says he was reinstated as head of the project only after he threatened to sue the university over allegedly violating his contractual right to noninterference with scholarly research.

Fuller, who has been at UH for 29 years, further believes that the university retaliated by denying him the chair of the geography department. Malahoff said the UH Professional Assembly executive board is likely to agree to arbitrate that grievance in a meeting this weekend.

The office of UH President Kenneth Mortimer, who is in Asia, had no comment. The CIA, according to a Reuters news report, also had no comment on Fuller's study.

Richard Dubanoski, UH dean of social sciences, said he took Fuller off the research -- although the CIA gave no reason for its request -- because he believed he had no other choice. He learned later that the CIA had no right to remove Fuller, only to cancel the entire contract.

Dubanoski also decided that the CIA had treated Fuller unfairly, and returned the professor to the project. He said he made that decision before any threat of a lawsuit. A letter about his reinstatement later went to the CIA as part of a settlement of his grievance on being removed.

Dubanoski pondered accepting funding from "potentially tainted organizations," and only did so when he was assured that none of the research would be classified.

Dubanoski also said he gave an acting department chair to another faculty member after Fuller and a second nominee tied for the spot. He said his decision was based on the good of the department, not retaliation against Fuller.

Fuller, a geography expert on population studies chosen last year to head the study, said two CIA representatives came to the UH for an informal meeting on methodology in December. At the meeting, Fuller mentioned that any ethnic breakups in East Asia were unlikely. Shortly after, the representatives threatened to cancel the contract.

"They told us flat out that our report was useless unless it matched what officials on East Asia said," Fuller recalled.

Fuller, a consultant to the CIA since 1985 and once a scholar-in-residence at CIA headquarters, said he was unaware of anything wrong with the research. But under pressure from the CIA, the university removed him as supervisor of the research in mid-March.

"Without even a hiccup, they (university) said sure," Fuller said. "In fact, all they were interested in was getting payments from the contract."

Citing former colleagues at CIA headquarters, Fuller said that after the agency failed to predict the Soviet collapse, in-house analysts had apparently been moving toward the belief that ethnic conflict in China would spark a breakup there.

"People supervising these grants are under heavy pressure to get results that are satisfactory to everyone," Fuller said

According to Reuters, the CIA declined comment on Fuller's study, the reason for wanting him pulled, or its opinion on ethnic breakdown in China. But it praised Fuller's work in the past, according to references from a CIA official on Fuller's behalf in 1990.

"He has been instrumental in our efforts to identify problems of the next century before they assume crisis proportions," wrote Richard Stakem, then-director of the CIA's Office of Resources, Trade and Technology.

Reuters reported that the CIA said it often turned to academics to "challenge conventional wisdom and engage in healthy debate." Seven scholars across the country contributed to Fuller's August report.

It described Xinjiang province, home to Sunni Muslim Uygurs and Kazaks, as the major flash point for ethnic tension. However, "while it is not inconceivable that a portion of China might break off some day, we are convinced this will not occur within the three-year time horizon of this study."

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