For 5 years after the September 11th attacks, the Federal Education Department shared student aid application information with the FBI.
Under the program, called Project Strikeback, the Education Department received names from the F.B.I. and checked them against its student aid database, forwarding information. Each year, the Education Department collects information from 14 million applications for federal student aid.
Ostensibly the aid dollars might have been used to fund terrorist activities. Now I don't know what a decent missile launcher goes for these days on the black market, but I wager it's more than the sad, scrappy funding grad students receive. Anything would reap a better financial reward.
There are 2 good things about this story: First, it's no longer happening; it happened to be cancelled 10 days after an investigator's in-person interview with a Department of Education official. Second: that investigator? A grad student at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism -- who, I hope, did her research with funding from the Department of Education.