A Year After Camelot

LHD-3 Santiago, Chile May 7, 1966

“We always thought it was a good thing for trained Americans to come here,” said the Chilean sociologist. “But since Camelot we are very careful. There is a new awareness.” He looked tired somehow, and he sighed. It had been a long year.

The sociologist’s reaction represents one long-term effect of the Camelot affair. A compatriot put it more harshly: “We were naive. We lost our virginity.” One year after the rape the U.S. social science community does not seem to have been chastened, nor has the Chilean counterpart replaced its loss with wisdom.

Twelve months ago a Chilean-born U.S. professor arrived in Santiago and began to lift the flap on the briefcase Camelot. Within two months the intellectual city was rent and the nation’s relations with the United States had been strained by the revelation that the seemingly disinterested research project was in fact sponsored by the U.S. Army. What began as a study of internal war in-developing states ended in charges ranging from misrepresentation to espionage. In the uproar there were grave predictions that Chile would be closed forever to U.S. academic research. Investigators from the House of Deputies demanded that all study proposals be subjected to governmental scrutiny.

Today North American academicians come and go in clusters, at least some still using the now jeopardized survey method of empirical research that was to have played a major role in the Camelot project. No official restriction of academic freedom has materialized. But few subjects today trigger more bitter response here than Camelot. And lost the public forget, the far left dailies invoke its image frequently -- when a national opinion survey asks politically important questions, when the Michigan State case and other CIA Stories filter south. Communist deputies seek to tar Peace Corpsmen with the brush.

A precise measure of the effects of Camelot could be determined perhaps only by the application of the very research tool it blunted, the survey by questionnaire of valid population samples. However, conversations with principals and others affected offer some conclusions:

• Much bad and some good quantitative research involving political motivation was killed outright or suspended. Mario Planet, head of the University of Chile’s School of Journalism was forced to cancel an opinion survey project when preliminary investigation indicated public cooperation would be lacking. Planet’s credentials as a leading national journalist .ire unquestioned. He was to have cooperated in the project with a U.S. professor. Some U.S. researchers turned off their mimeographs and went home. Others shifted to more conventional forms of research with a facility that at least raises the question of the importance of their initial intent.

• The accessibility to the Chilean left by North Americans has been restricted. Among those affected is U.S. researcher and author Kalman Silvert, who points out that before Camelot it was quite easy to reach the Communists and Socialists in the free political air of Santiago.

• The survey method itself has been damaged. The few opinion polls that continue are showing much higher percentages of persons who refuse to cooperate, especially among the better educated. Among those who do respond there is an unmeasured bias induced by the Camelot publicity as well as a real repudiation of the entire discipline of social attitude measurement. Silvert suggests that survey tools are available to determine the bias, much in the manner that the disastrous 1948 Gallup Poll was rerun to measure the error induced by political leanings of the polltakers. But this remedial action would be very expensive and doubtless will not be attempted. Curiously, a poll by a national sociologist taken at the height of the controversy last August showed that only 16 percent of those interviewed had heard of Camelot. But they were the top 16 percent in terms of education and all of them denounced the project.

• Most Chilean educators continue to react strongly to the international politics of the case without placing similar emphasis on the implications for the integrity of their own group. The underhanded way in which the project came to Chile was trumpeted, but the evidence indicates that jealousies among the involved Chileans, as much as the fact of foreign intervention, induced the denunciation of Camelot. Now, as one Chilean observer put it, “These people are only beginning to realize that the ones they hurt the most are themselves.” With the public querulous on the subject of social science, its practitioners have not resolved their ethical conflicts.

• There has been little effort to scrub the smudged face that U.S. social science presents in Chile. Many Chileans offer broad praise for the work of some U.S. grantees here, but they add that often they are disillusioned. The visiting professor who simultaneously carries out a research project may in fact never enter the classroom. More serious, perhaps, is the charge of academic imperialisms or rather mercantilism. In Silvert’s highly critical appraisal of Camelot for the American Universities Field Staff, “American Academic Ethics and Social Research,” he cites the case of a prestigious U.S. professor who completed a study here with the aid of a UMSCO agency. Asked to leave his results, the professor refused. Silvert charitably surmised that the material would be sent later, although too late to avoid Chilean presumption that an agreement, plus the observation of academic openness, had been violated. In fact, the results have not been returned. To this has been added another case where information was gathered and carried away but as yet has not been published. This grantee under a U.S. program is now serving as an international investment counselor, provoking the strong presumption that he is marketing the information obtained here under what the Chileans assumed was a research program.

Some conflicts in this picture of the new science of sociology abroad can be explained in part, perhaps, by the emerging awareness that valid public opinion samples are salable stuff. A carton of processed IBM cards can mean the difference between victory and defeat in a close election campaign, and profit or loss in a sales gamble on public preference.

Even in the developed modern academia of the United States the line between research and application remains obscure. The commercial exploitation of survey methods, typified by the Gallup and Harris offerings, have always come wrapped in a sheath of professional detachment that the public must sometimes confuse with academic discipline. Indeed the stance of Gallup and Harris is a necessary one, given the nature of the goods they are selling.

But the difference is that they are selling their findings, to newspapers or television networks or industries. The academic researcher ideally publishes his results for the purpose of expanding knowledge and certainly does not withhold them from other interested colleagues. When both academic and applied polltakers seek the same sort of information, distinctions muddle. Valid information is valuable to both, but should the exchange be at commercial rates? This conflict is inherent in a slightly different form in the Camelot-inspired concern here about the true source of financial support of whatever visiting U.S. researcher. Two seeming requisites, a researcher’s credentials and a clear statement of the use to be made of offered information, have not been forthcoming in all cases.

The confused U.S. example has scarcely guided Chile in its still most fra6mentary entry in the field. Apparently the only recurring systematic social survey rose-arch here has been carried out by Eduardo Hamuy, director of the Center for Socio-Economic Studies of the University of Chile. Using a fairly large population sample developed by a U.S. expert, Hamuy has canvassed public opinion periodically since his initial effort, on the reaction here to the launching of the first Soviet satellite.

Several base questions have been included in subsequent inquests on varying subjects. The satellite survey was published, but the results of the later efforts have not been, although in some instances important fragments have appeared in the press. The survey of reactions to Camelot last August was his. On the basis of polling with the previously developed samples, Hamuy predicted with great accuracy and saw and publicized the margin of President Eduardo Frei’s 1964 electoral victory.

He recalls that the Communist-Socialist Front ridiculed the prediction and the method. But then he predicted the landslide Christian Democratic victory in the following House of Deputies election. He saw eighty of the 147 seats going to Frei’s party while the most optimistic predictions had run 15 seats lower. In fact it won 83. Soon thereafter the Communist Party created its own division of public opinion research. Its work foundered on the rock of objectivity, equivalent in this case to a politician’s vote in a popularity contest. But when the Party next had an opportunity to criticize Hamuy’s work, it did so from a more informed point of view.

This was the recent survey that the Communist Party sheet El Siglo I called the national Camelot. Hamuy was in fact one of the principals in the original Camelot, one of the Chileans approached by the visiting professor with the briefcase. There is no agreement here on the motives of all concerned, but it is generally agreed that Hamuy was among those who helped the final unmasking of the project.

This time Hamuy was not acting under his university role but in conjunction with a just-formed private company. The survey came at the time that the government was receiving much notice for its policy of a “firm hand” against its opposition. Many of the questions concerned this policy. The Communists charged that the new company was a screen for the government, which was seeking to test the reception of its firmer stand and to justify its continuation. El Siglo offered a detailed argument that many questions, which it distinguished from the recurrent bloc going back to Hamuy’s original satellite survey, were loaded to serve the government’s purposes.

Hamuy denies that the government provided any money for the survey. He says that its purpose was to attract publicity to the product of the new firm, which hopes to vend its product through programs on both of Chile’s television channels. This gives yet another twist to the convoluted tale of academic jealousies, in that one channel is operated by the University of Chile and the other by the Catholic University. Hamuy says both are interested in exclusive programming. He suggests that the reasons for his turning to the private arena for his surveys -- as distinct from his research -- are the desire to institutionalize public opinion polling here, the necessity to avoid conflicts within the university over the acceptability of controversial questioning, and finally the desire to make money. This transition, then, from social, science research to actual social involvement would seem to epitomize the conflicts involving the academic discipline.

In a sense Camelot only laid on an additional international political layer to existing local conflict. The affair also happened to provide a vehicle for acting out old rivalries between the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. But there were further complications introduced by the sometimes-arresting personalities, entwined with coincidence and confusion. And a twist of irony: evidence indicates not only that the hapless professor who loosed all the furor never really worked for the project at all, but furthermore that Chile was never seriously considered as a site for carrying out the study.

The project development plan does not discuss specific sites. It lays out the objective of studying internal war in developing states. The objective seems to have been a means of developing a policy to counter such wars. It was this that was to raise the specter of espionage and intervention for the Latin Americans. The contract went to SORO, the Special Operations Research Office of American University in Washington.

Information available here includes a mass of documents and testimony compiled by the investigating committee of the House of Deputies, including a pirated text of the project development plan, plus conversations with participants and observers in the affair. Some conversations indicate that while extensive fieldwork was anticipated, probably in Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela, Chile was not among countries seriously considered. This would seem logical, in that Chile has a singular record of civil peace ad civil liberty.

The above-mentioned sources offer this catalog of the roles then and now of the names most prominent in last year’s events:

Hugo Nuttini -- The former Chilean who came to Santiago in April of 1965 to follow up initial contacts made in the previous December. In both cases he sought to interest Chilean social scientists in participating in the Camelot project. He talked of large salaries and spoke in general terms of broad support among top U.S. professors for the project. But the evidence strongly suggests that Nuttini was given this assignment more by favor than design, that he was not authorized to discuss salaries, and that while he was charged with studying Chile as a potential site for the study, his actual importance was pursuant to appraising a site never seriously considered. Nuttini was asked to leave Chile after the unveiling. He is and was an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I am ‘Sap’ Nuttini, associate professor of the prestigious University of Very Chicago.” “But tell me, what do you want?”

“Look, we want to apply the ‘Plan Magnificent’ in your country, which is the most magnificent there is, but Chilean scientificos should help us to learn if the Communists wear red underdrawers.” “I don’t know what to say, because your explanations aren’t very clear. Tell me more.”

Cuttings from a strip called “Yankee Espionage in Chile!” appearing in last August’s Audacia, the Communist Youth magazine here. “Yankee Imperialism appears in a thousand and one forms,” it warned, “and the youth better be vigilant…

Rex Hopper -- Director of Project Camelot for SORO. He apparently still works for SORO and there has been no indication that the funds, reportedly $6 million for three to four years, have been reallocated,

Johan Galtung -- Norwegian sociologist instrumental in exposing the pragmatic nature of Camelot to Chile. He was teaching at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, a graduate school sponsored largely by UNESCO. He had first heard of Camelot during a visit to the United States, later received here a synopsis along with a written invitation from Hopper to take part. He wrote his refusal and strongly criticized the project. He said, in part, that his refusal to participate “is not because it is supported by the Department of the Army, … (but because) I have never in my life seen a project proposal that smacks more of upper class management... I consider the project an insult against Latin America.” He found the proposal heavily weighted toward an exploration of U.S. military intervention, with an emphasis on a sense of “we studying them.” When he heard Camelot discussed among Chilean sociologists, Galtung persistently explained the faults as he saw them. Later, in a letter to the Interior Ministry that was published by the House of Deputies investigating committee, Galtung expanded on the reasons for his distaste for the project. He said it presented a scientific face while hiding its political one, and it offered such high salaries to Latin American social scientists as to endanger the market. His letter also made these points:

• In his conversations with interested Latin Americans he had the impression first that “all of them rejected the project in principle and second, that although they didn’t express it, they not only did not want to denounce the project openly, but perhaps wanted to participate for the salaries and the sense of being close to North American power.”

• Among his conversations was one with the aforementioned sociologist-poll taker Hamuy. “It was evident that Hamuy know the project well. Rex Hopper, passing through Santiago in early April, had spoken with him and although Hamuy at every opportunity repeated his firm resistance to the project, I am not completely convinced.”

• Among his conclusions Galtung says that “the weak point for penetration of this type of U.S. effort is on the left side of the political spectrum here in Latin America. I think the reason is the following: first they have less money and therefore need more…. Second, these same leftists consider themselves more clever than the gringos. For this reason I have heard several times the idea of entering in the Project Camelot, taking all the money that the gringos offer and sabotaging the project from within…”

Galtung is director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. He was a frequent visitor to Latin America, but has not returned to Chile. He is said to have been sharply criticized from the left side of the House committee, by one account, on the theory that he might be a stand-in for the Pentagon’s hard line, which supposedly opposes the very idea of social science surveys as an adjunct to tactics. The claim of a U.S. Defense Department rift was introduced by Galtung in his letter to Chile’s Interior Department.

Alvaro Bunster -- The Secretary General of the University of Chile, one of the persons initially contacted by Nuttini, along with Bunster’s sister, Ximena, an archeologist, who had worked with Nuttini previously in the south of Chile. Bunster apparently was intended to serve as Nuttini’s entre into the University faculties. This raises the question of the degree of control that a sponsor -- in this case the U.S. Army -- has over a contracted project, since it is generally acknowledged here that Bunster stands on the far left of the Chilean political spectrum. This and his position at the University are bound to have influenced his attitude towards Camelot, though there is no agreement on the effect if any.

In the letter quoted previously, Galtung describes the decisive luncheon of April 23, 1965; with Bunster am host and guests including Nuttini and social scientists contacted by him. One of them, Edmundo Fuenzalida, was on the same faculty as Galtung and had been informed by him of the political nature of Camelot. It fell to Fuenzalida to unmask the project before its advocate Nuttini. According to Galtung’s letter, however, Bunster also had been informed, a day before the lunch, of the true nature of the project. Nevertheless, says Galtung, ”according to what I have been told by Fuenzalida, Bunster exerted some pressure before the meeting. . . against Fuenzalida speaking out: ‘Please, Edmundo, do not say anything.’”

But according to the accounts of the meeting, Fuenzalida did press the matter. The result was a denunciation of the project by Nuttini, who went to see Galtung the next day, April 24. By this time, then, principal members of the faculties of both universities were fully informed on the project. But it was not until over a month later that the next definitive step was taken, a lunch including Galtung, Hamuy and others plus the Minister of Finance, Sergio Molina, who was also dean of the faculty of economic sciences at the University of Chile. The date of this meeting is not precisely determined but was about June 1. This apparently was the first knowledge the Chilean government had of the plan.

As for Bunster, he retains his position with the University but currently is at the University of California in Berkeley under a grant. His sister also is In the United States.

Raul Urzua -- Director of the School of Sociology of the Catholic University. He seems to have been the first person Nuttini contacted in his search for possible collaborants in Camelot. According to the House investigation, on April 20, 1965, Nuttini gave Urzua what is assumed to be the only copy ever to reach Chile of the actual 100-page Camelot investigation plan. This was after Urzua had written to Nuttini his objections to the earlier outlined proposal on the basis that the salaries offered would disrupt the Chilean social science field. He seems to have discouraged official contact with the Catholic University.

By the 20th Nuttini was also pursuing his interests at the University of Chile (though nominally a government institution, decidedly an autonomous one). On May 3, according to the House study, Urzua told Nuttini that the Catholic University would not participate and that he, Urzua, would try to see that none of its scientists did either. He said this decision followed discussions with Galtung.

On a date not fixed in the public record Urzua gave his copy of the complete Camelot plan to the editor of the Communist daily El Siglo. Not until the meeting with the finance minister or the handover of the text, whichever occurred first, had Chile’s educators moved to extend their ever month-long discussion on Camelot outside the academic halls. When this occurred it was rather haphazard. In mid-June El Siglo began to publish the text. There was no indication of any aggressive investigative newspaper reporting. An El Siglo story on the project seems at last to have appeared June 12, to be followed by an increasing wave of allegations of espionage, fed by the publishing also of such diverse items as a U.S. Army Field Manual on “Operations Against Irregular Forces” and the questionnaire of an earlier inquest among members of the Chilean armed forces, this made by Roy A. Hansen for his doctoral thesis at Berkeley.

The editor of El Siglo later gave the Camelot text to the House committee, which published it also. In testimony before the committee Urzua offered these reasons for failure to participate in Camelot: First, “It transgressed a series of basic norms that a sociologist ought to keep in view.” Second, “The project’s content. You understand that it is difficult for a Chilean to participate in a project with political causes in which a foreign country intervenes.”

Urzua, also, is presently to be found in the United States.

Ralph Dungan -- U.S. Ambassador to Chile who complained to the U.S. State Department that the first time he had heard of the project was when he read about it in the Chilean press. This focused the case’s inherent conflicts between the interests and authority of the State and Defense Departments. Asked about the long-term effects of the Camelot incident, Dungan said that the consequences were less severe today than he had expected them to be.

Walter Pincus -- Writer for the Washington Star who introduced the case to the United States press in a story June 27. This article was written from Washington sources and it emphasized the interdepartmental rivalry. It was followed by heavy U.S. press coverage generally, of other aspects plus revelation of a similar study project financed by the Army in Brazil. Early this year Pincus wrote an article on mounting criticism of the use by the U.S. government of opinion polls abroad in forming foreign policy.

Today Pincus Is editor of the Sunday supplement of The Washington Post.

What positive results, if any, from all this? Clearly the Chilean academic community has developed a skepticism that is probably healthy in its dealings with counterparts from abroad. This was always extant on one plane. Many Chileans at the higher university levels tell of U.S. researchers coming with poorly developed projects or foregone conclusions, of misunderstanding of the culture in which the study is performed, of imprecise methods, of projects that have no importance for Latin America. “The majority of the projects have been very bad,” was the way one Chilean recently put it. Nevertheless he is among those who has welcomed U.S. professors. To the skepticism concerning efficacy there has been added the new wariness of the basic honesty of the outsider.

Within the U.S. social sciences there may be a start toward a moral reassessment. Silvert’s strong indictment in the American Universities Field Staff article would indicate this. He says that the Camelot disgrace was not exceptional but was “well prepared by the ethical incomprehension, cavalier attitudes, and tolerance of ignorance manifested by American universities and scholars for many years.” He denounces the attitude of prestigious U.S. universities that have consigned Latin American studies to the bottom of their scholastic shelves. He laments the blurred line between disinterested U.S. research and work contracted with the some people by the government. Today, nearly a year after he wrote the article, Silvert says that he only regrets not having written it in stronger terms. He has been sharply criticized by his colleagues, he adds, for his frankness. Few Chileans had seen the article but those who now have characterize it as gratifying reading.

Another of the ironies of Camelot and sociology in Chile is that the Chilean scholars who found themselves beset by the North Americans are in n1most every case partially U.S.-trained. “I studied at California and Wisconsin,” says Hamuy, “and I sent my assistant to Wisconsin.” And so it goes through the ranks of the social science community, which of course is not terribly large in this nation of 8.5 million people. There are perhaps 25 fully trained Sociologists, more with lesser training, with equivalent representation in the other social sciences. Few have trained in Europe, although some Europeans are here.

One, Belgian Roger Veckemans, is director of the Center for Economic and Social Development for Latin America and a Jesuit often considered to be a top theoretician behind the Frei government. He was apprised early of Camelot but evidently took no active role in its evolution. In testimony before the House investigators he said: “What worries me most of all in this incident is that the liberty of investigation could be damaged, cut back, limited, when, by my thinking, that liberty is perhaps more surely important than the other liberties so defended by a democratic regime.”

In the post-revelation rush to control social science research, Veckemans is cited as one of those who felt the need for an organism that would protect and group social investigators. Among parliamentarians who called most vociferously for governmental control there were said to have been many Christian Democrats. Most social scientists concurred in the potential evils of such a course, and in a negative way one of the positive results of Camelot may turn out to be that no such restriction was ever imposed.

And with all the travail, the considerable number of persons here with experience elsewhere in Latin America generally concur that Chile still stands alone in receptivity to social science investigation. Its libertarian tradition, abetted lately by United Nations enclaves here as well as the two prominent universities, have given Chile an advantage in the social sciences.

While most broad fundamental survey projects are now in abeyance here, Silvert has managed to salvage his research on the relationship between education and changes in attitudes and behavior. At one point it took a letter from the Santiago archbishopry to the parents of the 5000 questioned parochial students to keep the survey alive. Now David Apter of Seymour M. Lipset’s Institute of International Studies is expected to base here for a big, expensive multinational research effort in comparative government. Exchanges between California’s academic centers and Chile’s continue to expand under a broad program.

There are probably over 100 U.S. funds, foundations and ouch with ties to Chile, some in research, others in economic development broadly defined. They support a fair number of the U.S. citizens here. Nobody seems to know just how many of these there are, though Interior Ministry figures indicate this breakdown of persons entering in 1964: tourists 15,265; official residents 1764; diplomatic residents 343; residents under contracts 598; students 43; temporary residents 498, and general residents 411. About the same numbers departed in the same year and about the same rates held in 1965. The parliamentary investigators also asked for and received from the Foreign Ministry a breakdown of official U.S. residents: 65 diplomatic functionaries, 36 National Aeronautics and Space Administration employees, 48 military advisors, 11 geodesic surveyors, and 89 members of the Inter-American Institute. There are about 250 Peace Corpsmen. The investigators asked for the names and number of CIA agents but this apparently was not forthcoming.

Of this U.S. community, the visiting academic researchers make a distinctive clan. Many are very young, sometimes not long in graduate school. They gather in the bars of the Carrera Hilton, meet in the Embassy reception room and the better restaurants, argue in their offices -- often proffered rent-free by Chileans -- among the scattershot buildings of the city’s universities. Over pisco and empanadas at all-U.S. parties they compare what they have known to what they expected and what, often, they were dis. appointed to find. Most of them are quick to condemn Camelot, sometimes after personal experiences. Many seem not to realize that by their position they carry the potential of creating their own bite size Camelots.

Often one wonders, after hearing another abstruse title of a dissertation theme, whether all this research is fruitful or necessary or desirable -- for the student or the general knowledge or Chile. This question obviously has occurred to some Chileans, and it has crossed the minds of some people in the Embassy here as well. But so far, the reasoning of sound heads has been that much pedestrian scholarship can be tolerated in the interest of fomenting the good and the important.

This comes alive when one encounters that exceptional North American -- often a Chilean will urge the introduction -- who by his Yankee trader wit has invested his hours here in understanding. Over that homely ingredient of enlightened scholarship the social scientists from the extremes of the hemisphere seem able still to reach out for the old undistorted Arthurian ideal -- that “one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot.”


Mr. Diuguid is a 1965 Alicia Patterson Fund fellowship award winner on leave from The Washington Post. Permission to publish this article may be sought from the Foreign Editor, The Washington Post.

Received in New York May 110 1966.