Book Talk: Spy Schools

Exploring the dark relationship between intelligence services and academia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump  prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7.
Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON        (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)

American universities have become havens for spies, or at least that’s a central contention of Daniel Golden’s latest book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities. On this week’s first episode of The E.R., host Sharon Weinberger is joined by Golden, a ProPublica senior editor and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, to discuss his book released on Oct. 10.

Golden’s work explores the complicated relationship between academia and intelligence services. In classrooms and labs around the United States, foreign agents from countries like Russia and China are learning, and sometimes stealing, sensitive information from government-funded research projects. At the same time, these agents are forming relationships with other students and faculty to use as future informants, often with the universities themselves turning a blind eye to such actions.

In reciprocal fashion, U.S. intelligence agencies have infiltrated academia, enlisting professors and students as agents. Spy Schools seeks to explore the relationship between intelligence services, both foreign and domestic, and academia, while unearthing some shocking stories along the way.

American universities have become havens for spies, or at least that’s a central contention of Daniel Golden’s latest book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities. On this week’s first episode of The E.R., host Sharon Weinberger is joined by Golden, a ProPublica senior editor and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, to discuss his book released on Oct. 10.

Golden’s work explores the complicated relationship between academia and intelligence services. In classrooms and labs around the United States, foreign agents from countries like Russia and China are learning, and sometimes stealing, sensitive information from government-funded research projects. At the same time, these agents are forming relationships with other students and faculty to use as future informants, often with the universities themselves turning a blind eye to such actions.

In reciprocal fashion, U.S. intelligence agencies have infiltrated academia, enlisting professors and students as agents. Spy Schools seeks to explore the relationship between intelligence services, both foreign and domestic, and academia, while unearthing some shocking stories along the way.

Daniel Golden is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and senior editor at ProPublica. He is the author of the national bestseller, The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges–and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates. His latest book, Spy Schools: How The CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities is out today. Follow him on Twitter: @DanLGolden

They are joined in Studio by John Sipher and FP’s Jenna McLaughlin.

John Sipher is a Director of Client Services at CrossLead, Inc. He retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service. At the time of his retirement he was a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. He is the recipient of the Agency’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Follow him on Twitter: @John_Sipher

Jenna McLaughlin is an intelligence reporter for Foreign Policy, focusing on the culture, dynamics, and events happening in the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the other 15 members of the intelligence community—plus the way the sensitive information they gather and analyze informs and directs the White House and policy makers on the Hill. Follow her on Twitter: @JennaMC_Laugh

Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the WorldFollow her on Twitter: @weinbergersa.

Tune in, now three times a week, to FP’s The E.R.

Subscribe to The E.R. and Global Thinkers podcasts on iTunes.

More from Foreign Policy

Oleg Salyukov salutes to soldiers during Russia’s Victory Day parade.
Oleg Salyukov salutes to soldiers during Russia’s Victory Day parade.

Stop Falling for Russia’s Delusions of Perpetual Victory

The best sources on the war are the Ukrainians on the ground.

A fire rages at the Central Research Institute of the Aerospace Defense Forces in Tver, Russia
A fire rages at the Central Research Institute of the Aerospace Defense Forces in Tver, Russia

Could Sabotage Stop Putin From Using the Nuclear Option?

If the West is behind mysterious fires in Russia, the ongoing—but deniable—threat could deter Putin from escalating.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is received by his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo, in Mombasa, Kenya.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is received by his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo, in Mombasa, Kenya.

While America Slept, China Became Indispensable

Washington has long ignored much of the world. Beijing hasn’t.

A bulldozer demolishes an illegal structure during a joint anti-encroachment drive conducted by North Delhi Municipal Corporation
A bulldozer demolishes an illegal structure during a joint anti-encroachment drive conducted by North Delhi Municipal Corporation

The World Ignored Russia’s Delusions. It Shouldn’t Make the Same Mistake With India.

Hindu nationalist ideologues in New Delhi are flirting with a dangerous revisionist history of South Asia.