THE BLOG

Special Operations Command Backs Away From Yale Training Center

02/22/2013 05:05 pm ET | Updated Apr 24, 2013

File this one under curiouser and curiouser: a controversial Green Berets center meant to train soldiers in "cross-cultural" interactions by using members of New Haven's immigrant community as interview subjects won't be coming to Yale University after all. The interview training program was supposedly going to be called the US Special Operations Command Center of Excellence for Operational Neuroscience.

But Thursday night School of Medicine Dean Robert J. Alpern announced in a statement that "Members of the Yale and New Haven communities have raised concerns about a possible center for operational neuroscience that was reported in the press. In light of the issues raised, we are not moving forward on any such center until we have fully investigated all these issues."

That was perhaps not surprising, given the backlash on campus, in the city, and among Yale alums. What is strange, though, is the Special Operations Command's reaction to the whole thing. Remember, US SOCOM was supposed to be ponying up a total of $1.8 million over three years to actually run the training program. They confirmed that in an email to me Thursday night.

But spokesman Kenneth McGraw also told me on Thursday that "I am not certain where the name US Special Operations Command Center of Excellence for Operational Neuroscience came from, and, to the best of my knowledge, USSOCOM has no intention of establishing a center of excellence for operational neuroscience."

Who came up with the name? I circled back to Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Charles A. Morgan III, who's at the center of this whole thing. He did not respond to my question. (He says he's knocked out with the flu.)

Friday afternoon, after Yale announced its hold on the center, SOCOM spokesman McGraw put out another statement:

After a review of the facts, we have determined the information initially provided to and released by this office concerning a center of excellence for operational neuroscience was incorrect. US Special Operations Command has not and will not provide Yale funds to establish a USSOCOM Center for Excellence for Operational Neuroscience. We sincerely apologize for any problems, concerns or confusion releasing the erroneous information has caused Yale, it student body and the citizens of New Haven.

SOCOM's reference to "erroneous information" probably won't be very satisfying to anyone who is wondering how this whole thing came about, or why the Department of Defense backed away from it so quickly. My efforts to get an explanation on the record have not been successful. But we do know this: that interview center won't be coming to Yale.