Project Camelot Exposed
The project backfired. University of Pittsburgh anthropologist and Camelot consultant Hugo Nutini tried to promote the plan among Chilean scholars by lying to them about its fiscal sponsors; he told them it was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). But a concerned Norwegian sociologist, Johan Galtung, had already leaked preliminary versions of Camelot's research design, and the crucial fact of its military sponsorship, to Chilean colleagues. When they heard about it, outraged left-wing journalists in Chile decried the plan as an ominous indication that U.S. policy was shifting its sights from bananas to behavior and predicted that social science research would replace dollars as the leading edge of U.S. diplomacy.
Even though Chile had not been among those countries mentioned by Camelot's planners, the project was publicly denounced in a special session of the Chilean Senate, where politicians called it "a plan of Yankee espionage" masquerading as science. Protests were lodged in Washington by the incensed U.S. ambassador to Chile, Ralph Dungan, who had never been informed about Camelot's existence. Finally, the whole project was canceled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on 8 July 1965 because of all the unfavorable publicity. A subsequent memo from President Johnson, dated 2 August 1965, ordered that all future foreign area research be cleared by a new review agency, the Foreign Affairs Research Council, located in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. (This adjustment in the bureaucratic location of final decisions apparently had little short- or long-term effect on the nature or funding of overseas research for government agencies, but was intended to calm fears that civilian authorities had lost their grip on the direction of the U.S. military.)
On the very day Camelot was canceled, the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened hearings intended to get to the bottom of the scandal. The testimony of army and SORO bureaucrats made it clear that they saw Camelot as a logical continuation of behavioral experts'
role in World War II, Korea, and a wide spectrum of Cold War agencies, including the OSS and the CIA. They reiterated that, as far as they were concerned, "the U.S. Army has an important mission in the positive and constructive aspect of nation building as well as a responsibility, to assist friendly governments in dealing with active insurgency problems." Obviously, they had absorbed the mainstream social-scientific view that militaries were the leading edge of the modernization process.
Military planners readily pinned the blame for Camelot's cancellation on either Communist distortions or bureaucratic rivalries between the Department of Defense and the Department of State (DOS). While they realized that Camelot-like projects would have to be handled more discreetly in the future, they were also somewhat surprised by all the fuss. In the end, Camelot could hardly have been as consequential to its military funders, who had very deep pockets, as it was to the behavioral scientists who saw it as either the crowning achievement or failure of their careers. Camelot's fiscal sponsors had plenty of money and behavioral science was a relative bargain. Even a multimillion-dollar project, such as Camelot, was described by its military sponsors as a "feasibility study." The scandal, in any case, did not put even a tiny dent in levels of DOD funding.
Dante Fascell (D-Fla.), chair of the investigating subcommittee, was typical of Camelot's congressional critics. For him, the episode proved that DOS was being bypassed on key foreign policy decisions and DOD was all too willing to jeopardize foreign alliances in sensitive areas of the world. Fascell accused the DOD of inappropriately involving itself in nonmilitary business and concluded that behavioral science had not been at fault. Support for foreign area behavioral research was repeatedly expressed during the hearings; it was called "one of the vital tools in the arsenal of the free societies."
The committee ended by chastising the DOS for spending such a minuscule amount of money on behavioral science—less than 1 percent of the federal government's total for foreign area research, according to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It firmly recommended that civilian foreign policy bureaucrats invest in a much bigger behavioral research program and the executive branch establish an Office of the Behavioral Science Adviser to the President. In June 1966 Dante Fascell filed House bills designed to further these goals and correct civilian policy-makers' relative neglect of behavioral science.