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Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities

By Daniel Golden. Book Review

This book is written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden about the underworld of espionage in the least expected place: academia.

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The author collects information in an investigative manner through interviews and reports to blow the lid off a practice of intelligence—American or otherwise—in which they approach students in foreign countries to recruit them as spies. The students could be sent as spies to foreign countries or be approached by foreign intelligence to spy against their own nations.

The book is meant to expose the unethical level the educational system has reached. The book is more about how vulnerable it has become to accept foreign students from around the world, and give them access to rich research and information.

This book is full of stories and insights about how the CIA works. The author remains objective about the stories told, you can draw your own conclusions. Here are some of mine.


Of the almost one million international students at U.S. universities in 2014–15, 31 percent (304,040) came from China, up nearly eightfold in two decades.
The CIA took a strong interest in Iran, which was not only a major oil producer but was also ruled by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whom the agency had entrenched in power in a 1953 coup. The agency scoured academia for Iranian informants who could return home and keep an eye on the shah and his enemies.

That's how coups work.

The CIA “was all over the campuses.”

Jabbari, the Iranian student being approached abroad by the CIA to spy on Iran,

It was those golden youth who, among all the students that traveled to the United States, saw the hypocrisy of communism,

about the shine of capitalism and how it overshadows communism. I would rather think this is the arrogance of the West, believing that their capitalism outranks the others' communism.

A cap also ran counter to traditional U.S. policy that exposing as many foreign students as possible to American democracy would in the long run reap allies and influence worldwide.

Again, they speak of it with a tone of righteousness; we read about it and cringe. Our enemies are the enemies of humanity. Those barbarians think they can teach us civilization! Right was Ibn Khaldun when he said the loser in a war is forever infatuated by the victor. Though he should have added: so is the victor of himself! The CIA was worried about the openness, though, because some of the attacks in the USA were carried out by men who came in on student visas.

We are the school for everyone

co-principal of a Swedish school that accepts students from war-torn countries. It looks like it's for everyone, as long as they stand in line.

Fidel Castro himself might as well have dictated our policies and positions concerning Cuba.

Describing how effective Ana Montes, the Cuban spy, was in infiltrating American policymakers

USAID, which strives to end extreme poverty and promote democracy,

Their version of democracy has a six-color flag of perversion and family destruction. I don't trust anything that comes out of USAID, do you?

They take the view that a small investment now, spread widely, may pay dividends later.

About Russian intelligence operations and how they are under no obligation to produce instant results, unlike Western intelligence.

Another questioner wondered how to change the perception of most Americans that China and Russia are “bad guys.” A female undergraduate rejected the premise. Her generation sees Syrian refugees and illegal Mexican immigrants as villains, she explained, not Russia or China.

A student debates in a class led by a Chinese teacher, Yingjie Luo, who's believed to have brainwashed them.

Almost 99 percent of voters favored independence, and South Sudan seceded six months later.

I saw that 99 percent somewhere. Where? Oh yes! Dictators' election results China invested in Sudan's army to repress the rebels, and apparently America invested to cut off the oil source in a separate nation. The Sudanese are the only losers in all of this mess.

So many intelligence failures over the years stemmed from American ignorance of the world.

Well, of course, their source of information about the world is Hollywood!

The FBI, for its part, had harassed civil rights and anti–Vietnam War protesters by wiretapping them and smearing them in anonymous letters to parents, neighbors, and employers.

Deep state. even in America.

“We sent an awful lot of Arabs” to state universities in the Southwest, this ex-officer recalls. “They all wanted to study petroleum engineering." "Those schools had a huge Arab population, and they fit right in.”

In exchange for having informants in foreign countries, the CIA pulls some strings to place their kids in American schools. So there you go, the rosy world of espionage.

Disillusioned by the CIA's use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” on prisoners such as Zubaydah, Kiriakou resigned in 2004.

They still have a number of captives in Guantanamo Bay that were never proven guilty, except with sadist methods that proved they never work.

Removing their shoes as a sign of respect for Islamic culture, they sat at his kitchen table and unfolded a black-and-white map of Libya, asking where he was from.

A Libyan student approached by the CIA and harrassed for at least five times, making use of his ignorance of his own rights. The university official was overridden by the FBI.

Willie Sutton famously said when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that's where the money is.” While a university campus may have only one or two professors of interest to an intelligence service, the right conference ,  on drone technology, perhaps, or ISIS ,  may have dozens.

Targeting conferences to recruit spies.

ENOUGH SCIENTISTS DEFECTED to the United States, through academic conferences and other routes, to hinder Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the ex-officer familiar with the operation told me.

They would ask to be enrolled in the MIT for exchange, how cheep!

Iran hanged him in August 2016.

A traitor who sold out to America in 2010, then later Americans sold him out by exposing him to his government. That's what it looks like to lean on your enemy, especially if it an unethical one.

“On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead,” former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said in 2011, while seeking the Republican presidential nomination. “I think that's a wonderful thing.”

Of course it is. Men of science are targeted by American death machine, in Gaza as well. That's how America stays competitive, by eliminating the competition.

Their information, he added, saved American lives.

The CIA traded information from South Vietnamese prisoners with health care they needed, and deserved. The author seems uneasy about the fact they mistreated their prisoners. I am appalled at the idea that they think American lives are more worthy of saving than Vietnamese. Satan's work on earth.

“In order to win, we need to understand,” Bezrukov later explained. “In order to understand, we need to love. So you must love the country in which you work.”

A Russian spy explaining their how they melted in the American life to extort information. Love! The dea of the university he enrolled in stated that this spy went to far. He could have signed up as a Russian student and found out the same information.

Vladimir Putin's dictum that “there is no such thing as a former KGB man.

Him included.

with riffs of humor and repartee, the spoonfuls of sugar that made the educational medicine go down.

That was funny, but true. Education is a bitter medicine.

Invited or not, openly or not, U.S. intelligence today touches virtually every facet of academic life.

And that's the final conclusion.

Stories worth reading about

Two stories worth reading about: Eyad Ismoil, a Jordanian, entered the United States on a student visa in 1989. Four years later, he parked a van packed with explosives in the garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, where it blew up and killed six people. A youtube movie was created: Game of Pawns: The Glenn Duffie Shriver Story to tell the story of an American student played by Chinese to provide intelligence. The movie creates a false image of Glenn, as he is more cocky, and less naive in real life.


Daniel Golden

This isn't a usual book to read, there is no sequence of events to follow, nor building blocks. It is full of information, written in journalistic style, which is my favorite. I think I need another dose. I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars.