Student activists have criticised the ANU’s decision to invite a former US national security chief as a Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor to discuss the nature of the US-Australia alliance.
An open letter on Facebook condemns the Vice-Chancellor, Brian Schmidt, for ‘endorsing James Clapper’s war-mongering views.’
Clapper, who is set to visit the ANU for four weeks in June, lied to the US Congress in 2013 about the nature of National Security Agency surveillance programs, later revealed by Edward Snowden.
In an opinion piece for Woroni, Dom Cradick, Vanamali Hermans and Marko Tucovic argue that Clapper has ‘utter contempt for privacy, free speech, human rights and the law.’
Speaking to Woroni, Cradick, an organiser of the ANU Students Against James Clapper group and NUS ACT Education Vice-President, questioned the legitimacy of having Clapper speak about the role of international security.
The group also notes that Clapper was involved in using the now-debunked narrative of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
‘We cannot stand idly by as the ANU presents a representative of the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War as a model citizen to be looked up to,’ Cradick writes for Woroni.
‘‘I’m looking forward very much to being involved with The Australian National University,’ Clapper said in a statement when his visit was announced.
‘I have tremendous respect and affection for Australia as an ally of the United States. I have long appreciated Australia’s distinct insights on security issues and I look forward to engaging more closely with thinking in Canberra.’
The ANU has been contacted for comment.
The open letter had attracted ten online signatures by Sunday afternoon, including the NUS National LGBT Officer, Lauren Saunders.
The ANU Students Against James Clapper group is made up of activists pooled from different campus groups, including the Refugee Action Committee.
More to come.