Author: Daniel Golden

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 978-1-62779-635-4

Pulitzer Prize recipient, Daniel Golden's intriguing Spy Schools: How The CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities is a comprehensive and wide-ranging overview of how universities have been the target of foreign and domestic espionage and why it is disturbing news for the security of the USA and democratic values.

Golden in his opening pages informs us that the premise for his book crystallized when he was having lunch one day with a former U.S. Government official. When he brought up his concern that academia was being invaded by intelligence services including that of the USA, the official responded that both sides were involved and were exploiting universities.

Ample, well-documented evidence exists that there existed in the early years of the CIA a close collaboration between it and academia, however, in the 1960s and 1970s there was a cooling off. But, as pointed out, no one has chronicled the resurgence of discreet U.S. Intelligence activity that has included the trolling for recruits at various institutions of higher learning or at conferences or referrals made to it by professors for agency employment. Insofar as foreign services are concerned, Golden states that their cyber-espionage against U.S. Corporations and government targets, has overshadowed their use of student and faculty compatriots to acquire information, contacts, and sensitive research at these at American universities. With this in mind Golden explores and examines why intelligence services are targeting American universities and what are the implications for national security and academic freedom.

Divided into two parts, the book first delves into the infiltration of foreign espionage at American universities and in the second part we learn about the CIA and how it stages academic conferences for the purpose of luring scientists in Iran's nuclear weapons program to defect. Some of the other topics include how CIA officers enroll as undercover agents in Harvard's mid-career and executive education programs for the purpose of cultivating unsuspecting foreign officials. Golden also explores how foreign exchange students as well as professors from China are recruited by their government to carry on espionage activities in the USA and we also learn about affiliations between Chinese spy schools and US universities.

Golden points out that all of these activities have taken on a disquieting real-world dimension as a front line for espionage. “Intelligence, which in academia used to refer to brainpower, increasingly means information and knowledge about the adversary.” I guess you can sum this up with the old adage, “knowledge is power.” Espionage is taking place from China, Russia, Cuba and other countries in the labs, classrooms, auditoriums that seek insights into U.S. Policy, recruits for clandestine operations and access to sensitive military and civilian research. And not to be left behind, the CIA and the FBI likewise engage in similar practices wherein they develop sources among international students and faculty.

An interesting revelation made by Golden in the Acknowledgments of the book is that it he would not have been written without University of South Florida professor from China, Dajin Peng and head of the university's Confucius Institute contacting him about a situation he found himself embroiled in with the FBI. Apparently, the professor had been approached to spy on his homeland. Weeks before the FBI agent showed up on his doorstep, Peng was dismissed pending investigation into allegations of inappropriate management of the Confucius Institute. When the FBI agent approached him, she told him that she had no influence over the university as to their actions concerning his investigation but she she did comment that the Confucius Institute was a hotbed for Chinese spies as it was funded by the Chinese government, and the Chinese universities supplied most of the staff. Left unsaid but insinuated was that Peng himself was a spy. Peng strongly denied these allegations . The reader is provided with more details of the twisting tale of Peng throughout the book.

For junkies of espionage be it fiction or non-fiction, the book is invaluable in understanding how the CIA and FBI as well as foreign agencies work and how they have penetrated academia and infiltrated almost every aspect of its culture. No doubt, much of what is revealed will prove to be shocking but it is a story that must be told if we are going to intelligently discuss and weigh competing values of national security and academic freedom. As Golden states, academics ignore espionage at their peril. He goes onto to assert: “As long as American universities conduct vital research, place alumni and faculty in upper echelons of government and business, and-perhaps most important-remain a bastion of access and international culture in a fearful, locked-down world, they will attract attention from intelligence services. Ultimately, unless they become more vigilant, spy scandals could undermine their values, tarnish their reputations, and spur greater scrutiny of their governance, admissions, and hiring.”

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Dan Goldin