Open main menu

Wikipedia β

List submitted to Congressional Record of academics collaborating with Project Camelot

Project Camelot was a counterinsurgency study begun by the United States Army in 1964. The project was executed by the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) at American University, which assembled an eclectic team of psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, economists, and other intellectuals to analyze the society and culture of numerous target countries, especially in Latin America.

The goal of the project was to enhance the Army's ability to predict and influence social developments in foreign countries. This motive was described by an internal memo on December 5, 1964: "If the U.S. Army is to perform effectively its part in the U.S. mission of counterinsurgency it must recognize that insurgency represents a breakdown of social order and that the social processes involved must be understood."

Controversy arose around Project Camelot when professors in South America discovered its military funding and criticized its motives as imperialistic. The Department of Defense ostensibly canceled Project Camelot on July 8, 1965, but continued the same research more discreetly.



Military-funded social scienceEdit

Government-funded social science projects, especially in the field of psychology, increased dramatically during and after World War II. By 1942 the federal government was the leading employer of psychologists, most of whom it coordinated through the Office of Scientific Research and Development.[1] The military employed psychologists to study tactics in psychological warfare and propaganda as well as studying the United States troops themselves.[2] The Office of Strategic Services also cultivated a Psychology Division, directed by Robert Tryon, to study the group behavior of humans for warfare purposes.[3] A memo from William J. Donovan in November 1941 called for collection of information about the personality and social relations of "potential enemies" and for the creation of an intelligence organization "to analyze and interpret such information by applying to it not only the experience of Army and Naval Officers, but also of specialized trained research officials in the relative scientific fields, including technological, economic, financial, and psychological scholars."[4] Research in psychological warfare was widespread, and according to University of Michigan psychologist Dorwin Cartwright, "the last few months of the war saw a social psychologist become chiefly responsible for determining the week-by-week-propaganda policy for the United States government."[5]

In Britain, an interdisciplinary study called Mass-Observation was used by the Ministry of Information to evaluate the effectiveness of war propaganda and other influences on public behavior.[6] Germany maintained a special cadre of military psychologists which assisted the Ministry of Propaganda, the Gestapo, and the Nazi party.[7]

Military social science projects increased after the war, though under a reorganized structure under the Office of Naval Research and often contracted to private institutions.[8] Project TROY at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—a study of "getting the truth behind the Iron Curtain"— exemplified the new model.[9] Project TROY lead to the creation of MIT's Center for International Studies (CENIS), which received funding from the Ford Foundation and the CIA to continue its mostly-classified research on "political warfare."[10] The armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency pursued these projects independently of civilian oversight, despite presidential directives such as Eisenhower's NSC-59 which called for coordination of research under the Department of State.[11]

Counterinsurgency studiesEdit

By the late 1950s, military-funded social science research had expanded from group dynamics and psychological operations to interdisciplinary counterinsurgency studies, seeking to explicate a continuum of social situations from stability to revolution. Counterinsurgency studies built on wartime findings on crowd psychology, morale, and national identity, while incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives from economics, sociology, and developmental psychology.[12]

An instigator of this change, and progenitor of Project Camelot, was the Research Group in Psychology and the Social Sciences, or "Smithsonian Group", established by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and hosted by the Smithsonian Institution.[13] The Smithsonian Group comprised intellectuals from the RAND Corporation, the Psychological Corporation, General Electric, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Smithsonian itself, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as top universities including University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern.[14] The new use for social science in this model was predicting the behavior of potential enemies.[15] Therefore, as Princeton professor Harry Eckstein wrote in a report for the Smithsonian Group:

There is practically no limit to the research that can be, and ought to be, undertaken on the subject of internal war. In a sense, the study of internal war is commensurate with the whole study of society, even peaceable society, for anything that increases our knowledge of social order can potentially increase our understanding of civil disorder.

— Harry Eckstein, "Internal War: The Problem of Anticipation", 1962.[16]

The recommendations of the Smithsonian Group led to a wave of research programs, explicit changes in the funding priorities of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a March 26–28, 1962 symposium at the Special Operations Research Office called "The U.S. Army's Limited-War Mission and Social Science Research".[17] This symposium, attended by 300 academics, was the first public effort to recruit social scientists for counterinsurgency research.[18]

Geopolitical contextEdit

Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were obvious targets for the new techniques of social and psychological warfare. Tensions were also escalating in Latin America as the United States followed its pro-business agenda known as the Mann Doctrine.[19] The populist president of Brazil, João Goulart, was forced from power in a United States-backed military coup on April 1, 1964, shortly after he promised the masses a program of land reform and industry nationalization. In the Andes Mountains (in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia), multinational companies interested in sugar, mining, and petroleum faced strong resistance from indigenous people whose land they sought to expropriate.[20] This indigenous bloc represented a formidable obstacle to corporate plans for resource extraction and thus was targeted from various directions, including population control programs and USAID assistance for national police and military forces. Military planners wanted an integrated team of social scientists to coordinate these different programs and enhance their effectiveness.[21]

Special Operations Research OfficeEdit

Chart entered into Congressional record describing the hierarchy pertaining to Project Camelot and the Special Operations Research Office

The Special Operations Research Office (SORO) was created at American University in 1956 by the Army's Psychological Warfare office. (In fact, it was at first called the Psychological and Guerrilla Warfare Research Office, PSYGRO, but this name was changed three days after American University and the Department of Defense signed a contract to create the agency.)[22] Initially focused on creating handbooks for United States personnel overseas, SORO soon expanded into studies of the social context for counterinsurgency.[23] Its researchers could pore through boxes of classified military and intelligence reports unavailable to most university researchers.[24] By the 1960s, the Army was paying SORO $2 million each year to study topics as the effectiveness of United States propaganda and including research into the social and psychological makeup of peoples around the world.[25]

SORO was directed by Theodore Vallance. Irwin Altman directed the division of psychological warfare research.[26]

SORO was publicly known to conduct research in other countries on the effectiveness of United States ideological warfare. Echoing United States Information Agency director Edward R. Murrow, Vallance testified in 1963: "Mr. Murrow, I am sure, will agree with the general tenor of what I have to say, and you might consider my remarks as an extension of his general assertion in early testimony before this committee, that there is indeed a need for more and more better research to help in the guidance of our various and complex problems which make up the U.S. ideological offensive."[27]

Vallance articulated his concept of counterinsurgency research more thoroughly with a 1964 article in American Psychologist, co-written with SORO colleague Dr. Charles Windle. "Psychological operations," they write, "include, of course, the relatively traditional use of mass media. In the cold war these operations are directed toward friendly and neutral as well as enemy countries. In addition, there is growing recognition of the possibility and desirability of using other means such as military movements, policy statements, economic transactions, and developmental assistance for psychological impact."[28] The article also promoted "civic action" operations: "military programs, usually by indigenous forces and often aided by United States materiel and advice, to promote economic and social development and civilian good will in order to achieve political stability or a more favorable environment for the military forces."[28]

Concept and organizationEdit

The recommendations of the Smithsonian group passed to the Defense Science Board, which advanced the plan to create a massive database of social information. The order for a "centrally coordinated applied research effort" originated in early 1964 with Office of the Chief of Research and Development, and passed through the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering and the Army Research and Development Office. By summer of 1964, the army had offered the project to the Special Operations and Research Office (SORO) at the American University of Washington DC.[29][30] The full name of the project was Methods for Predicting and Influencing Social Change and Internal War Potential[31] Its goal was to assess the causes of conflict between national groups, to anticipate social breakdown and provide eventual solutions.[29]

The Army contracted with SORO to pay $4–6 million for 3–4 years of work.[32] American University adopted a hands-off policy on the project, which it maintained throughout the controversy.[33][34] The Director of the project was Rex Hopper, chairman of the sociology Department at Brooklyn College.[35] The project attracted such notable intellectuals as James Samuel Coleman from Johns Hopkins, Thomas C. Schelling from Harvard, and Charles Wolf, Jr., of the RAND Corporation.[31][36] Vallance wrote in 1965 that he had spread word of Camelot to "65 of the best and best-known members of the social science fraternity."[37]

Documentation of project's roleEdit

On December 4, 1964, Theodore Vallance sent out a letter to a list of academics worldwide who were considered for involvement. The letter described the project as follows:

Project CAMELOT is a study whose objective is to determine the feasibility of developing a general social systems model which would make it possible to predict and influence politically significant aspects of social change in the developing nations in the world. Somewhat more specifically, its objectives are:

First, to devise procedures for assessing the potential for internal war within national societies;

Second, to identify with increased degrees of confidence those actions which a government might take to relieve conditions which are assessed as giving rise to a potential for internal war; and

Finally, to assess the feasibility of prescribing the characteristics of a system for obtaining and using the essential information for doing the above two things.[38]

The letter indicated that the project would be well-funded by the United States military and that its first major target area would be Latin America.[39] The context for Project Camelot, the letter said, included "much additional emphasis to the U.S. Army's role in the over-all U.S. policy of encouraging steady growth and change in the less developed countries in the world."[40]


An internal memo issued by the Army's Office of the Chief of Research and Development on the next day, December 5, 1964, called for "comparative historical studies" in:

  1. (Latin America) Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela.
  2. (Middle East) Egypt, Iran, Turkey.
  3. (Far East) Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand.
  4. (Others) France, Greece, Nigeria.[35]

The same memo listed "survey research and other field studies" for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Iran, and Thailand.[35] Teams of researchers were to work discreetly for a period of several months in their target countries, returning to Washington to write reports and process the information they gathered.[41]

According to the December 5 memo,

The U.S. army counterinsurgency mission places broad responsibilities on the Army for planning and conducting operations involving a wide spectrum of sociopolitical problems which are integral parts of counterinsurgency operations. […] If the U.S. Army is to perform effectively its part in the U.S. mission of counterinsurgency it must recognize that insurgency represents a breakdown of social order and that the social processes involved must be understood. Converely, the processes which produce a stable society must also be understood.[42]

Plan to create a databaseEdit

The information gathered by the researchers would funnel into a large computerized database containing useful information about foreign areas. This information would be used for forecasting and social engineering, as well as active counterinsurgency.[32] SORO planned eventually to automate this system for autonomous data analysis and prediction of social instability.[43]


According to sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz, academics saw Project Camelot as a social science equivalent of the Manhattan Project.[44] " Social science already worked extensively with the military, and thus to insiders Project Camelot was considered unique because of its scale more so than its underlying ideology.[45] Its scale was unprecedented for a social science project,[46] though unspectacular for a military budget item.[44] The Department of Defense's annual spending on psychology research had risen from $17.2 million in 1961 to $31.1 million in 1964. Spending on other social sciences increased from $0.2 million to $5.7 million during the same period.[47]

Motives for participationEdit

The motives of academics for joining the project, which themselves became a topic of some discussion, varied widely. The project's director, Rex Hopper, had prophesied the possibility of revolution, even in the United States, resulting from the "emergence of a numerically significant, economically powerful, intellectually informed marginal group."[48] Sociologists such as Jessie Bernard and Robert Boguslaw considered social change inevitable and professed a desire to see it take place non-violently.[49][50] Some participants saw collaboration as an opportunity to guide the military towards less violent ways of accomplishing its goals.[51] Still others saw an opportunity for free, even Platonically idealist thinking, outside the constraints of university academics.[52] Researchers were enticed by the promise of studying new sources, including classified materials made available by the military;[24] psychologists were excited to study data from wider populations than their usual samples of college freshmen.[26]


According to the testimony of SORO director Theodore Vallance, the name Camelot came from the premise of a peaceful and harmonious society of Arthurian legend, as envisioned by T.H. White.[29] (Some Spanish speakers may have been more likely to associate the name with the word camelo, meaning joke, or camello, meaning camel.)[53]


Hugo Nutini, an Italian-born Chilean professor of Anthropology, was a consultant in the conceptual stages of Project Camelot and he asked for permission from SORO to approach Chilean social scientists with the idea of conducting a study in their country.[29][54]

Nutini wrote to Alvaro Bunster, Secretary General of the University of Chile, explaining: "The project in question is a kind of pilot study in which will participate sociologists, anthropologists, economists, psychologists, geographers and other specialists in the social sciences, and which will be supported by various scientific and governmental organizations in the United States."[55] Nutini concealed the role of the Army in sponsoring the research—but the Chilean academics were skeptical.[29]

Their fears were confirmed by professor Johan Galtung—then teaching at the Latin American Social Sciences Institute—who had rejected an invitation to an early conference about Project Camelot and produced the letter as proof.[56][57] (Galtung had responded to project director Rex Hooper in a letter on April 22, 1965, rejecting the invitation and condemning the project's "imperialist features".)[58]

Bunster expressed his doubts to colleagues who then confronted Nutini. When Nutini was unable to deny that the project had military backing, a letter to the editor was sent to the Latin American Review of Sociology and the whole affair was exposed in the media. Critics claimed that the project violated scientific professional ethics.[29] (Ironically, Nutini had not been a central member of Project Camelot, nor had Chile had been listed as one of its first targets.[59]) The Chilean Senate condemned Project Camelot as a form of imperialist intervention and vowed to investigate.[35][60]

The U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in April 1965 sharply exacerbated concerns about military research by demonstrating the adoption of a more hardline doctrine towards Latin America.[61] One Chilean newspaper suggested that the United States research prepared the way for a possible "anti-democratic coup" in Chile.[60] The Soviet news agency Tass opined that Project Camelot provided "a vivid illustration of the growing efforts of the Pentagon to take into its own hands the conduct of U.S. foreign policy."[62]

Embassy recently became aware through university community of serious anxiety middle-of-the-road scholars with this project and specifically with the manner in which university people here were approached by SORO personnel. I consider, particularly under current conditions, this effort to be seriously detrimental to U.S. interests in Chile and urgently request full explanation of Department Army actions in this regard. Was this project approved by the Department?

— U.S. Ambassador to Chile Ralph Dungan, Telegram to State Department, June 14, 1965[63]

Official complaints from Chile prompted the State Department to deny its involvement, which further intensified the spotlight on role of the Army in organizing the research.[64] The issue became known to the United States public through newspaper stories beginning on June 27, 1965, and three days later Congress resolved to respond.[65]

Cancellation and continuationEdit

Reproduction of letter from the U.S. Army, informing Congressman Dante B. Fascell that "Project Camelot" has been canceled on the day hearings are scheduled to begin

The Office of the Secretary of Defense publicly ordered the cancellation of Project Camelot on July 8, 1965—the same day Congressional investigations began.[57][66] Secretary of Defense McNamara's press release said his office had "concluded that the project as currently designed will not produce the desired information and the project is therefore being terminated."[67] On August 5, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson publicly instructed the Secretary of State to review all government sponsorship of foreign area research.[57]

Effect on social scienceEdit

Among social scientists in the United States, the publicity around the project led to a discussion about the appropriate relationship of academics to the military. Commentators identified an apparently conservative influence of Army sponsorship on sociological investigation, citing the central focus on "stability" as the most desired outcome.[68][69] Anthropologists were more critical of the project than followers of other disciplines, and the American Anthropological Association later passed a resolution against participation in "clandestine intelligence activities"[70] along with a nonbinding ethical code for practitioners.[71] On the whole, however, United States social scientists did not contest the validity of working with the government to analyze and influence foreign societies.[72]

In Latin America, the backlash against Project Camelot created problems for United States social scientists wishing to study there overtly.[73] Chile banned Hugo Nutini from returning to the country.[74]

Continuation of researchEdit

SORO changed its name to the Center for Research on Social Systems (CRESS) and received an annual grant it had requested for discretionary spending, along the model pioneered by the RAND Corporation and the United States Air Force.[75] The army assigned a uniformed representative to maintain daily presence at the research office.[76] American University severed its relationship with the SORO/CRESS entirely in 1969.[77]

However, policy makers indicated clearly that research of this type would continue.[78][79] Congress reaffirmed the importance of behavioral science research for national security and vowed to maintain funding for these projects.[80] And indeed, Congress increased the Department of Defense budget for behavioral and social science research from $27.3 million in 1965 to $34 million in 1966.[74] Social scientists noted hopefully, if with regret for the circumstances, Congress's ratification of their discipline's legitimacy.[81]

An 18 August 1965 memo from Director of Defense Research and Engineering Harold Brown called for better operational secrecy to rectify the cause of the Department's recent embarrassment:

Sensitive aspects of work having primary interest to the US Government (as opposed to a foreign government) must be treated in such a way that offense to foreign governments and propaganda advantage to the communist apparatus are avoided. This means that task statements, contracts, working papers, reports, etc. which refer to US assistance or potential US assistance to foreign countries in the internal defense area; or which express US concern over internal violence or revolution, whether communist inspired or not; or which refer to the development or examination of US policies for the purpose of influencing allied policies or actions; or which could imply US interference or intervention into the internal affairs of a foreign government, will have to be classified and marked as not for disclosure to foreign nationals except where a specific and well-considered exception is made.[82][83]

A directive released on July 9 explicitly called for the social science research to continue, subdivided into smaller tasks rather than classified under one label.[84][85] Social scientists made visits to target countries in July and August 1965, despite the protests of ambassadors fearing continued blowback.[86] Code names for the new Camelot subdivisions included "Project Simpatico" in Colombia and "Operation Task" in Peru.[87] Researchers for Project Simpatico asked rural Colombians questions such as, "If a leader of the people should arise, should he be tall, short, white, black, armed, married, over 40 years of age, or under?"[88] Revelation of a similar project in Quebec induced Vallance to write an apology letter to Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson.[89]

The military continued to contract with private firms, such as Simulmatics Corporation, which in 1966 deployed a team of researchers to Vietnam to create psychological profiles of the natives.[90]


The "POLITICA" computer program confirmed the Chileans' fears of an "antidemocratic coup". Project Camelot consultant Clark Abt received the Pentagon contract to create Politica later in 1965.[91] As described in 1965, POLITICA was

designed to reproduce the role of the military and other factions in the politics and economic dynamics of a nation by structuring the roles of major national actors and groups, placing them in conflict or cooperation in a game environment and identifying from the resulting interaction the societal and human variables relevant to the study of incipient insurgency. By sequential search of various patterns of variables under various initial conditions, the game is designed to highlight those variables decisive for the description, indication, prediction, and control of internal revolutionary conflict.

— Gordon, Blaxall, Del Solar, Moore, & Merrill, "COCON-counterconspiracy (POLITICA): The development of a simulation of internal national conflict under revolutionary conflict conditions"; Abt Associates, Inc., November 17, 1965.[92]

Inputs to the program included a list of at least forty groups of variables, such as popular trust in institutions, cultural values, paranoia, hostility toward outsiders, attitudes towards change, institutional alignments, and other such analytical concepts from social science.[93]

This automated simulation based on social science data did indeed serve as justification for the U.S.-backed coup d'état which took place in 1973. Researchers ran a version of the simulation "to determine if the situation in Chile would be 'stable' after a military-take over if Allende were still alive. It was determined by analysts based on POLITICA that Allende should not be allowed to live."[94][95]

Academic participantsEdit

  • Clark Abt, Abt Associates
  • Kathleen Archibald, sociology, UC Berkeley
  • Jessie Bernard, sociology, Pennsylvania State University
  • Frank Bonilla, political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for International Studies
  • Thomas Caywood, partner, Peat, Marwick, Caywood & Schiller
  • Ira Cisin, sociology, George Washington University
  • James Samuel Coleman, sociology, Johns Hopkins University
  • Lewis A. Coser, sociology, Braindeis University
  • Theodore Draper, Stanford University, Hoover Institute
  • Harry Eckstein, political science, Princeton
  • Shmuel Eisenstadt, Hebrew University
  • Frederick Frey, political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • William Gamson, sociology, University of Michigan
  • Gino Germani, sociology, Columbia University
  • W. J. Goode, sociology, Columbia University
  • Robert Hefner, psychology, University of
  • Arthur Hoehn, Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO)
  • Richard Jung, sociology, Cornell University
  • Samuel Klausner, Bureau of Social Science Research, Inc.
  • William Kornhauser, sociology, UC Berkeley
  • Sheldon Levy, psychology, University of Michigan
  • Jiri Nehnevajsa, sociology, University of Pittsburgh
  • Hugo Nutini, anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
  • William Riker, political science, University of Buffalo
  • Rudolph J. Rummel, political science, Yale University
  • Gilbert Shapiro, sociology, Boston College
  • Thomas C. Schelling, economics, Harvard University, Center for International Affairs
  • David Schwartz, government, University of Pennsylvania
  • Neil Smelser, sociology, UC Berkeley
  • Carl C. Taylor, USDA retired
  • William Taylor, analyst, Peat, Marwick, Caywood & Schiller
  • Gordon Tullock, economics, University of Virginia
  • Charles Wolf Jr. of Michigan, RAND Corporation

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 186–187. "By 1942, the federal government was the largest single employer of psychologists in the country (Britt, 1942, p. 255). A single government agency coordinated all scientific research done more or less openly at universities, research institutes, corporate laboratories, and the like: although everything was to be kept secret from the enemy, not everything operated under deep cover. The agency was called the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), and was directed by Vannevar Bush."
  2. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 16–17. "The history of government sponsorship of, and utilization of social science research, as noted above, goes back to the 1920s and the New Deal (and in some cases even earlier), but the relationship really took off during World War II. Psychology in particular showed itself to be of immense importance to the U.S. military establishment in a variety of areas including intelligence testing and effective utilization of new enlistees (Gould, 1981; Herman, 1995); psychological warfare, propaganda, and domestic troop morale and cohesiveness (Herman, 1995; Lerner, 1971); and man-machine interfaces and ergonomics (Bray, 1948; Lanier, 1949). Psychologists even lent their expertise to the design, construction, and operating of the Japanese internment camps which would eventually house over 112,000 Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast (Herman, 1995).
  3. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 166. "[...] the trail finally led into the lap of the Psychology Division of the Office of Strategic Services, headquarters of psychological warfare in World War II. It was there that I found the reason for social psychology's rosy future: the 'socio-psychological' study of population was the social scientific centerpiece of psychological warfare strategy."
  4. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 195.
  5. ^ Dorwin Cartwright, "Social Psychology in the United States During the Second World War", Human Relations 1.3, June 1948, p. 340; quoted in Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 269.
  6. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 189. "By 1940, Mass Observation had given over its talents to the British Ministry of Information, cognate organization to the U.S.'s Office of Coordinator of Information (Mass Observation Archive). Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1938) analyzed Mass Observation right away as a domestic intelligence service.
  7. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 198–200. "Many features of the Nazi state's organizational forms for psywar were taken as models of the U.S.'s own version--for example, a special psychological staff under military command and the centralization of sociological, psychological, and other cultural information into a raw materials dump for psywar ordnance fabrication."
  8. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 166–167. "At the end of World War II, all the agencies put together to administer a vast war had to be reorganized both because enabling legislation had run out with the cease-fire and because the practical situation had changed. It was back to the more usual, lower level of U.S. armed involvement around the planet. The contracting-out system of research administration which had been developed during the war simply continued, with some administrative reorganization. For social psychologists, work became a practice definitively impregnated with the slant imparted to it by psychological warfare, enforced by the development funding supplied to it through the velvet-gloved fist of the Office of Naval Research."
  9. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 17–18.
  10. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 21. CENIS was funded jointly by the Ford Foundation and the CIA (Herman, 1995) and served, as the original TROY team had hoped, as a model for similar programs at other universities, programs such as SORO at American University, which would come to oversee the development of Project Camelot."
  11. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 19.
  12. ^ Herman, Romance of American Psychology (1995), pp. 136–148.
  13. ^ Herman, Romance of American Psychology (1995), pp. 148–149.
  14. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 294. "Soon called the Research Group in Psychology and the Social Sciences, it was chaired by Charles Bray, who had headed the Applied Psychology Panel of the World War II Office of Scientific Research and Development. Working from the assumption of 'a need for the products and guidance of psychology and the social sciences in the long-term world conflict in which the nation is engaged' (Fitts et al. p. 1), the ad hoc group began a seven-year-long effort which culminated in the infamous project CAMELOT of the mid-1960s. Sheltered behind the benign visage of Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Institutution and financed by the Office of Naval Research contract number Nonr 1354(08), the group's members worked out the systematic feed-in of social science work to the counterinsurgency strategy then being formulated by intellectuals of the corporate-military nexus.
  15. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 301–302. "Prediction, and thereby prevention, of coming conflict within a society was the new element. Internal war was to be controlled from the outside. Which is where social science, including social psychology, came in.
  16. ^ Published in Social Science Research and National Security [pdf], ed. Ithiel de Sola Pool and Others, A Report Prepared by the Research Group in Psychology and the Social Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, March 5, 1963; Quoted in part by Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 302.
  17. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 303–304.
  18. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 305.
  19. ^ Colby and Dennett, Thy Will Be Done (1995), p. 474. "With Thomas Mann's appointment, Johnson had signaled that the Alliance for Progress was to change its goals from kennedy's rapid social and political reforms to the traditional path of political devolution based on gradual private economic development funded by loans and investments by the largest American banks and corporations."
  20. ^ Colby and Dennett, Thy Will Be Done (1995), p. 467. "CIA analysts were convinced, not inaccurately, that they were confronting an international guerrilla alliance. Their only mistake, as in Vietnam, was overestimating each guerrilla group's national origins and sense of patriotism as motives for its willingness to fight and die. But two things the CIA did not underestimate: the danger to U.S.-backed regimes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia posed by unrest spreading along the Andes among 11 million Quechu Indians and the potential of disciplined guerrillas to spark the Andean tinderbox into a continentwide revolution."
  21. ^ Colby and Dennett, Thy Will Be Done (1995), p. 479. "The social sciences were the brains, what a computerized guidance system is to a deadly missile. In July 1964, the U.S. Army gave the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) at American University in Washington, D.C., the largest single grant ever awarded a social science project. The project's targets for 'field research' in Latin America were Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Colombia. Its name was project Camelot. […] Project Camelot was to be a broad sweep for local data collection, including everything from the language, social structure, and history of peoples to labor strikes, peasants' seizures of haciendas, and violence. Anthropologists, linguists, psychologists, sociologists, and economists would be joined by political scientists, mathematicians, and the military to produce a deliberate political objective of social control."
  22. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 28.
  23. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 23–24.
  24. ^ a b Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 32. "Most of SORO's research projects required them to mine classified government intelligence files and military records for information. Their work often remained classified as a result, keeping researchers from gaining public credit for their toil. But for many, that was a fair trade-off for access to the most up-to-date sources on international politics in the Cold War."
  25. ^ Rohde, "Gray Matters" (2009), p. 103. "The army determined its budget, which reached $2 million a year by the mid-1960s, and the military personnel worked with SORO's staff to determine the scope and method of its research projects. The army held SORO accountable for producing usable scientific knowledge. Its contract required it to conduct research that provided 'commanders and staff agencies of the Army with scientific bases for decision and action.' / SORO was a key site in the scientific struggle for hearts and minds. It was the brainchild of the Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare, the army section responsible for political, psychological, and guerrilla operations—activities that could provide a bulwark against Communist subversion in the new nations.
  26. ^ a b Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), pp. 32–33. "Irwing Altman, a psychologist and head of psychological warfare research at SORO, argued that most academic research in psychology suffered from a major methodological shortcoming: it was typically performed on college students in laboratory environments. As such, it was oversimplified, sanitized, and almost irrelevant. SORO, on the other hand, offered access to real-world subjects; it brought researchers face to face with the men and women living on the front of the global Cold War."
  27. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 3–4.
  28. ^ a b Quoted in Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 172.
  29. ^ a b c d e f George E. Lowe (May 1966). "The Camelot Affair". Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. 22 (5). 
  30. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), p. 320.
  31. ^ a b Rohde, "Gray Matters" (2009), p. 115.
  32. ^ a b Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 445. "Global Counterinsurgency: What was Project Camelot? Basically, it was a project for measuring and forecasting the causes of revolutions and insurgency in underdeveloped areas of the world. It also aimed to find ways of eliminating the causes, or coping with the revolutions and insurgencies. Camelot was sponsored by the US Army on a four to six million dollar contract, spaced out over three to four years, with the Special Operations Research Organization (SORO). This agency is nominally under the aegis of American University in Washington, D.C., and does a variety of research for the Army. This includes making analytical surveys of foreign areas; keeping up-to-date information on the military, political, and social complexes of those areas; and maintaining a 'rapid response' file for getting immediate information, upon Army request, on any situation deemed militarily important."
  33. ^ Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 451. "The difficulty with American University is that it seems to be remarkably unlike other universities in its permissiveness. The Special Operations Research Office received neither guidance nor support from university officials. From the outset there seems to have been a 'gentleman's agreement' not to inquire or interfere in Project Camelot, but simply to serve as some sort of camouflage. […] American University maintained an official silence which preserved it from more Congressional or executive criticism."
  34. ^ Horowitz, Rise and Fall (1967), p. 25. "American University seems to have been little more than window dressing, a fund repository raking off several hundred thousand dollars for administrative services and having no control over the project and little contact with its directors."
  35. ^ a b c d Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 446.
  36. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 188.
  37. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 67.
  38. ^ Quoted in Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 26.
  39. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 168. "The letter describes the unusually high level of planned funding for the project, although it does not mention this funding as being unusual: 'The project is conceived as a three to four-year effort to be funded at around one and one-half million dollars annually. It is supported by the Army and the Department of Defense, and will be conducted with the cooperation of other agencies of the government.'"
  40. ^ Quoted in Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 169.
  41. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 159.
  42. ^ Quoted in Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 170–172.
  43. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 160. "As if that plan alone were not ambitious enough, Project Camelot also included a provision for the creation of a computerized system based on the final social systems model. One of the most imposing barriers to the prediction and prevention of revolution, Sorons believed, lay in information management. Camelot would tackle this problem by developing the means to scientifically process information rapidly enough that policymakers could actually intervene before it was too late. One of the project’s anticipated end products was an automated 'information collection and handling system' into which social researchers could feed facts for quick analysis.12 Essentially, the computer system would check up-to-date intelligence information against a list of precipitants and preconditions. Revolution could be stopped before its initiators even knew they were headed down the path to political violence."
  44. ^ a b Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 452. "Then why did the military offer such a huge support to a social science project to begin with? Because $6,000,000 is actually a trifling sum for the Army in an age of multi-billion dollar military establishment. The amount is significantly more important for the social sciences, where such contract awards remain relatively scarce. Thus, there were differing perspectives of the importance of Camelot: an Army viewe which considered the contract as one of several forms of 'software' investment; a social science perception of Project Camelot as the equivalent of the Manhattan Project."
  45. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 218. "It should be understood that Camelot represents no new departure, that the actors might well have felt no need to consult the academic community concerning the ethics of the matter because so much similar work has already been done, and is still being done.
  46. ^ Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 448. "Most of the men viewed Camelot as a bona fide opportunity to do fundamental research with relatively unlimited funds at their disposal. (No social science project ever before had up to $6,000,000 available.) Under such optimal conditions, these scholars tended not to look a gift horse in the mouth."
  47. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 180.
  48. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 161.
  49. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 162.
  50. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), pp. 54–55.
  51. ^ Herman, "Psychology as Politics" (1993), p. 293. "Few participants were naive enough to defend CAMELOT for its basic scientific value, but many maintained their remarkable optimism about the potential of behavioral science in government, regarding CAMELOT an example of socially engaged research, even a rare opportunity for science 'to sublimate' the military's unfortunate tendency toward violence."
  52. ^ Horowitz, Rise and Fall (1967), pp. 6–7. "Second, a number of men affiliated with Camelot felt that there was actually more freedom under selective sponsored conditions to do fundamental research in a nonacademic environment than at a university or college. One project member noted that during the fifties there was far more freedom to do fundamental research in the RAND Corporation than in any college or university in America. Indeed, once the protective covering of RAND was adopted, it was almost viewed as a society of Platonists permitted to search for truth on behalf of the powerful. A neoplatonic definition of the situation by the men on Camelot was itself a constant in all of the interviews that were conducted."
  53. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 217. "In colloqual Spanish, camelo means joke or jest; hence, Project Camelot is often spoken of as Project Camelo(t). Camelo is also close to camello, or, "camel", a notoriously nasty beast.
  54. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 219. "The person who made the first contact in Chile for Camelot was Dr. Hugo Nuttini, an ex-Chilean, now an American citizen and an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, according to Chilean press reports."
  55. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 219.
  56. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), pp. 219–220. "Galtung, deeply dedicated to his task and profoundly loyal to his students, had been invited to attend a Camelot planning session during the month of August in the Washington area. He was thus fully informed concerning the nature of the project, which was never handled with any duplicity at all in the United States. Nutini, confronted by Galtung with documentary evidence (the completely open and frank letter of invitation to the conference), persisted in proclaiming his ignorance of the Department of the Army connection."
  57. ^ a b c Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 447.
  58. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 27.
  59. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 28. "Nuttini strongly desired to be a part of Camelot, as no doubt did many American social scientists at the time. He pled his case to Camelot director Rex Hopper, but was never made a formal member of the Camelot team. However, because of his perseverance and his connections in Chilean social science circles, he was paid a nominal fee and asked 'to report on the possibilities of gaining the cooperation of professional personnel' (Horowitz, 1967b, p. 12) within Latin America and specifically Chile. Hopper insisted this work not be formally aligned with Camelot. Nonetheless, as Horowitz notes, 'Nuttini somehow managed to convey the impression of being a direct official of Project Camelot and of having the authority to make proposals to prospective Chilean participants' (p. 12). This is even more curious considering that at that time Chile was not one of the countries designated as part of the Camelot study."
  60. ^ a b Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 29.
  61. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 220. "Until this moment the affair had not gone far beyond university circles. But then came the American intervention in the Dominican Republic. This action was widely interpreted in Latin America as signlating the political end of the Alliance for Progress, and a regression to support of right-wing military governments throughout Latin America as the best insurance against Castroism. This conclusion was reached not only by civilians, but also by many military groups, which began immediate agitation of both an internal and external nature, leading to mobilization of at least two armies in South America. Project Camelot then snapped into another focus; it became intimately laced in public opinion with intervention and militarism, with the image of the United States as a power dedicated to the throttling of any revolutionary movement of whatever center-to-left stripe."
  62. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 185.
  63. ^ Ralph A. Dungan, "249. Telegram from the Embassy in Chile to the Department of State", Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico, Document 249, ed. Edward C. Keefer, 2004.
  64. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), pp. 220–221. "It was the diplomatic protest of the Chilean government against Project Camelot that precipitated the revelation of these discrepanices among official American agencies. In answering the official protest of the government of President Eduardo Frei, the Embassy was forced to make clear its lack of prior knowledge, and its embarrassment at the entire situation. This event served further to convince many Chileans that the United States' Latin American policy was really being made in 'The Pentagon.'"
  65. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 71.
  66. ^ Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 445. "On July 8, Project Camelot was killed by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's office which has veto power over the military budget. The decision had been made under the President's direction."
  67. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 166.
  68. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 187. In this charged national context, American scholars wrote extensively about the politics-patronage-social science nexus, exposing the underlying assumptions about social stability and revolutionary activities, the conservative political values, and the managerial mind-set implicit in Project Camelot, and in military-funded studies more globally. A close look at the languageused by scholars and military personnel associated with counter-insurgency research helped to reveal Camelot's negative stance toward revolution and in favour of social stability."
  69. ^ Horowitz, Rise and Fall (1967), pp. 30–32.
  70. ^ "Herman, "Psychology as Politics" (1993), p. 299. Quoting the AAA: "Constraint, deception, and secrecy have no place in science. . . . Academic institutions and individual members of the academic community, including students, should scrupulously avoid both involvement in clandestine intelligence activities and the use of the name of anthropology, or the title of anthropologist, as a cover for intelligence activities."
  71. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 85
  72. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), pp. 35–38. "As was mentioned previously (and is demonstrated by the passages cited above), the initial criticism of Camelot voiced both by the academic community and by the military and government agencies connected to it had more to do with issues of diplomacy, tact, and appearances than with any substantive concerns about the nature of the research, the methodology, or the wider issue of military sponsorship of social science studies."
  73. ^ Silvert, "Lesson of Project Camelot" (1965), p. 215. The crisis, long recognized as latent by sensitive observers, has now passed into an acute stage. At this moment, not a single survey research study can be done in Chile. Throughout Latin America quantitative studies have halted or been impeded, and all scholars, whether in teaching or research, find their actions questioned in direct correlation with the sophistication of the persons with whom they deal."
  74. ^ a b Herman, "Psychology as Politics" (1993), p. 301.
  75. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), pp. 202–203. "In the wake of the affair, the Army finally gave in to SORO's repeated requests for 'institutional funds'—an allotment for unprogrammed studies of the researchers' own choosing. This money was intended to allow researchers to explore 'long shot and high risk, high potential ideas.' While RAND had long applied ten percent of its budget to such studies, the Army reluctantly gave the okay for SORO to direct a maximum of five percent of its funds to unprogrammed work. With the support of the Army and the University—both of which sought to distance SORO from the Camelot incident—SORO finally got a new, less military name. In May 1966, the research office was rechristened the Center for Research on Social Systems (CRESS)."
  76. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), pp. 88–89. "In September, Vallance welcomed a new member to his staff. Major John Johns, an official in the army's Social Science Research Division, was assigned as SORO's army liaison officer. Henceforth, a uniformed army man would be an almost daily presence at the research office."
  77. ^ Rohde, "Gray Matters" (2009), p. 99. "In 1969 American University's administration exiled SORO from its campus and severed the university's ties to the military."
  78. ^ Horowitz, "Life and Death" (1966), p. 448. "However, the end of Project Camelot does not necessarily imply the end of the Special Operations Research Office, nor does it imply an end to research designs which are similar in character to Project Camelot. In fact, the termination of the contract does not even imply an intellectual change of heart on the part of the originating sponsors or key figures of the project."
  79. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 196. "Despite the historical claims that have been made in its name, what is most remarkable about the Camelot episode is how little changed in its wake. The project's cancellation in now way signaled an end to Pentagon sponsorship, design, and management of foreign area research."
  80. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 186. "The congressional Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements, which had already been studying the role of ideological factors in American foreign policy, placed Camelot squarely in relationship to American foreign policy objectives. Florida Democrat Dante B. Fascell, the head of the subcommittee, assured the military that it could 'get all the money' for such research that it wanted 'without much question', because this research obvioulsy strengthened 'national security'. In the subcommittee's final report, the military's growing commitment to the development and use of the social sciences to further US interests also received firm support. Not incidentally, this report employed military imagery in describing the social sciences as 'one of the vital tools in the arsenal of the free societies.'"
  81. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 186. "For social scientists who believed in the value of military-sponsored research, the subcommittee's assessment was excellent news. Sociologist Robert A. Nisbet remarked that he could 'think of nothing more edifying for social scientists than a reading of this two-hundred page document; edifying and flattering'. (Yet there was a touch of sarcasm in this comment since Nisbet, as noted below, was critical of Project Camelot.)"
  82. ^ Solovey, "Epistemological Revolution" (2001), p. 191
  83. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 198.
  84. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), pp. 196–197. "The Army could hardly have made it more clearly in the weeks following the project's cancellation that that the study of internal warfare, social change, and counterinsurgency would go on. The day after it was cancelled, Camelot had a new task statement, titled 'Measurement of Predisposing Factors for Communist Inspired Insurgency.' […] Sorons' new job was to break Camelot into a series of seemingly unconnected, small studies. In case the new task statement did not make it clear enough, the Director of Army Research informed SORO's staff that "all SORO research was to go on" after Camelot was cancelled."
  85. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 86.
  86. ^ Rohde, "The Social Scientists' War" (2007), p. 177. "The project itself, however, went on. Despite the objections of the Bogota and Caracas embassies, the State Department insisted that they agree to an embassy-only visit by one of the study’s researchers. State officials in Washington explained to its ambassadors that, although they opposed the conduct of field research for the project, the Department was 'reluctant to block reasonable requests' for fear of appearing 'negative' to social research."
  87. ^ Herman, "Psychology as Politics" (1993), p. 301. "Still, very little about behavioral science funding or design changed after CAMELOT was canceled. A similar project was uncovered in Brazil less than two weeks later and others were launched in Colombia (Project Simpatico) and Peru (Operation Task), sponsored by SORO and funded by the DOD, exactly as CAMELOT had been." Also see: Ellen Herman, "Project Camelot and the Career of Cold War Psychology" in Universities and Empire: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences During the Cold War, ed. Christopher Simpson (New Press, 1998).
  88. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), p. 92.
  89. ^ Rohde, Armed With Expertise (2013), pp. 93, 175.
  90. ^ Joy Rohde, "The Last Stand of the Psychocultural Cold Warriors: Military Contract Research in Vietnam"; Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 47(3), Summer 2011; DOI:10.1002/jhbs.20509.
  91. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 30. "Another, perhaps even more salient, connection between Camelot and Politica comes through the social scientist and defense consultant Clark Abt, whose consulting firm Abt Associates received the DOD's Advanced Research Projects Agency's (ARPA) 1965 contract to design Politica. Only several months previously, Abt had been a consultant on Project Camelot (Herman, 1995, p. 169)."
  92. ^ Quoted in Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 186.
  93. ^ Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 327–330.
  94. ^ POLITICA researcher Daniel Del Solar, Berkeley Barb, September 14–20, 1973; quoted in Cina, "Social Science For Whom?" (1981), pp. 327
  95. ^ Hunt, "Military Sponsorship" (2007), p. 30. "The last objection is quite interesting, since one of the projects spawned from Camelot's ashes was concerned with exactly such a question and eventually helped speed events toward the assassination of Chilean President Salvador Allende. The project relied on a computer model of Chilean society. Dubbed 'Politica,' the computer program 'was first loaded with data about hundreds of social psychological variables...degrees of group cohesiveness, levels of self-esteem, attitudes toward authority, and so on... In the case of Chile... the game's results eventually gave the green light to policy-makers who favored murdering Allende in the plan to topple Chile's leftist government. Politica had predicted that Chile would remain stable even after a military takeover and the president's death.' (Herman, 1995, p. 170)."


  • Cina, Carol. "Social Science for Whom? A Structural History of Social Psychology." Doctoral dissertation, accepted by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1981.
  • Colby, Gerald and Charlotte Dennett. Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. 0-06-016764-5
  • Herman, Ellen. "Psychology as Politics: How Psychological Experts Transformed Public Life in the United States 1940–1970." Doctoral dissertation accepted by Brandeis University, 1993.
  • Herman, Ellen. The Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts. University of California Press, 1995.
  • Horowitz, Irving Louis. "The Life and Death of Project Camelot." Reprinted from Trans-action 3, 1965, in American Psychologist 21.5, May 1966.
  • Horowitz, Irving Louis. The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot: Studies in the Relationship Between Social Science and Practical Politics. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1967.
  • Hunt, Ryan. "Project Camelot and Military Sponsorship of Social Research: A Critical Discourse Analysis." Doctoral dissertation, accepted by Duquesne University, November 2007.
  • Rohde, Joy. Armed With Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War. Cornell University Press, 2013. ISBN 9780801449673
  • Rohde, Joy. "Gray Matters: Social Scientists, Military Patronage, and Democracy in the Cold War." Journal of American History, 96.1, June 2009.
  • Rohde, Joy. "'The Social Scientists' War': Expertise in a Cold War Nation". Doctoral dissertation, accepted by the University of Pennsylvania, 2007.
  • Silvert, Kalman H. "American academic ethics and social research abroad: the lesson of Project Camelot." Background 9.1, November 1965.
  • Solovey, Mark. "Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus." Social Studies of Science 31.2, April 2001.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit