Seminar features ex-CIA officer

Former inspector general to speak on intelligence reform

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If you go

What: Fred Hitz, former inspector general of the CIA, will discuss "The Deceptive Nature of Intelligence Reform"

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park

Cost: The lecture is part of the Seminars at Steamboat free visiting speaker series. Donations are accepted.

— This week's installment of The Seminars at Steamboat will focus on the future of espionage in the U.S.

Speaker Fred Hitz, a former inspector general of the CIA, will deliver the seminar, "The Deceptive Nature of Intelligence Reform."

"People in Steamboat seem very interested in issues that relate to foreign affairs and certainly CIA issues relate to foreign policy," said Jane Stein, spokeswoman for the seminar series. "Fred Hitz will be in an excellent position to talk about this."

Hitz served as inspector general during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School and is the author of "The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage" and "Why Spy?" which will be published next year.

Hitz will speak on the rough times in the U.S. intelligence system as it faces widespread opposition to some of its tactics. Hitz believes practices at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will lead to reforms.

"It is only a matter of time before extraordinary renditions and secret prisons are explicitly outlawed for the CIA," Hitz has said. "The CIA will be the first to applaud. CIA officials do not like this seeming license to torture, directly or through surrogates, any more than their critics do."

Hitz also believes the CIA should relax its screening of Arab-Americans for positions within the agency.

"Our knowledge of the world's most potentially hostile cultures is desperately limited," Hitz said. "We have to find a way to bring more able Arab-Americans on board and not disqualify them simply because they have relatives still in the Middle East."

In addition to his expertise, Hitz was chosen for the seminar because he is a longtime friend of Linda and Charles Hamlin, part-time Steamboat residents, Stein said. Stein said that while intelligence reform is a hot political issue, the seminar series aims for neutrality.

"Seminars are bipartisan," Stein said. "They do not take positions. They're educational."

The seminar begins at 5 p.m. at Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park at the intersection of Pine Grove Road and Mount Werner Road.

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