How diploma mills are threatening national security

Clay Risen in The New Republic:

DiplomaitalianoIt was early 2003, and the newly created Department of Homeland Security was looking for someone to help oversee its vast computer network. The department soon found a candidate who appeared to be a perfect match: Laura Callahan. Not only had Callahan been working with federal IT systems since the mid-’80s, but she came with outstanding academic credentials: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science, topped by a Ph.D. in computer information systems. In April 2003, Callahan was brought on as the department’s senior director in the office of the chief information officer, pulling down a six-figure salary. 

But Callahan didn’t last long. A few weeks after her hiring, the Office of Personnel Management opened an investigation into her resumé following the publication of articles questioning her degrees’ provenance. It turned out that Callahan’s vaunted academic achievements were anything but–all three degrees had come from Hamilton University, a now-defunct degree mill operating out of a former Motel 6 in Evanston, Wyoming, that claimed religious affiliation. In June 2003, she was placed on administrative leave. By the time she resigned, in March 2004, a new picture of Callahan had emerged: not a skilled IT executive, but an unqualified hack.

More here.