While it’s unfair to categorize TheDream.us as a convenient distraction for the CIA issue, the timing, have it be coincidential or intentional, is remarkable.
Former Washington Post CEO Don Graham announced on Tuesday the creation of a $25 million college scholarship fund for undocumented youth — or “dreamers” — as a token effort toward making college an affordable possibility for many, as Congress debates reforming the nation’s immigration laws. With the Congress deadlocked over if immigration reform should be comprehensive or not, and with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters that immigration law changes may not be resolved this year, Graham’s offer has been duly appreciated.
“I have yet to speak to one Republican who has said, ‘No, I’m not interested,’” said former Commerce Department Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — a contributor to the fund — during the scholarships’ unveiling at the Newseum, adding that he’s “heartened” by the fact that it’s a bipartisan program. “I’m so glad we’re on the right side of this.”
Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman Henry Muñoz, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Inter-American Development Bank have all signed on as financiers to the scholarship fund, and Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist have endorsed Graham’s initiative.
“I’m not wise enough to know exactly what the country should do on the larger questions of immigration,” Graham said in an interview. “This, we can do.”
The fund, TheDream.us, will award 1,000 non-liberal arts full-tuition scholarships over the next academic year to students who are temporary residents of the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is an executive order authorized under President Barack Obama that directs the Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grant temporary employment eligibility and deferment of the removal process to low-priority individuals that meet specific criteria. That includes arriving in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, being physically in residence in the U.S. the previous five years, being in school at the time of application, and not being recognized as a threat to national security or public safety.
Graham’s involvement with the fund comes at a time when the Washington Post’s involvement with the CIA is under attack. The Washington Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is also the CEO and main stockholder of Amazon.com, which has recently announced a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA. This creates a perceived conflict of interest in how one of the nation’s most vetted journalistic organizations cover the national intelligence apparatus.
With the CIA — along with the National Security Agency– at the center of the continuously-blossoming cyber-surveillance controversy, the notion that the Washington Post does not openly disclose its relationship with the CIA draws high criticism of the newspaper’s neutrality. Since Carl Bernstein’s 1977 Rolling Stones expose, many institutions — including the Washington Post and the New York Times — had their reputations marred from perceived complacency to the CIA.
Bernstein alleged, based on CIA documents, that in the quarter-century prior to the publication of the expose, more than 400 American journalists acted on orders from the CIA.
“The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception,” Bernstein wrote.
While it is unfair to say that TheDream.us is a convenient distraction for the CIA issue — Graham co-founded the District of Columbia College Access Program, a college scholarship program, prior to his involvement with TheeDream.us — the timing, have it be coincidential or intentional — is remarkable.