American Universities Infected by Foreign Spies

Photo: Lovelac7 (CC)

Photo: Lovelac7 (CC)

An alarming (or is it alarmist?) report by Daniel Golden for Bloomberg News:

Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon contacted the Central Intelligence Agency in late 2009 with an urgent question.

The school’s campus in Dubai needed a bailout and an unlikely savior had stepped forward: a Dubai-based company that offered to provide money and students.

Simon was tempted. She also worried that the company, which had investors from Iran and wanted to recruit students from there, might be a front for the Iranian government, she said. If so, an agreement could violate federal trade sanctions and invite enemy spies.

The CIA couldn’t confirm that the company wasn’t an arm of Iran’s government. Simon rejected the offer and shut down undergraduate programs in Dubai, at a loss of $3.7 million.

Hearkening back to Cold War anxieties, growing signs of spying on U.S. universities are alarming national security officials. As schools become more global in their locations and student populations, their culture of openness and international collaboration makes them increasingly vulnerable to theft of research conducted for the government and industry.

“We have intelligence and cases indicating that U.S. universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services,” Frank Figliuzzi, Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a February interview in the bureau’s Washington headquarters…

[continues at Bloomberg News]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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4 Comments on "American Universities Infected by Foreign Spies"

  1. REPUBLICAN SENATOR OF THE NEAR FUTURE: Are you now, or have you ever been, in a university setting in which the word ‘communism’ was uttered?

    STUDENT: Uh, yes…I’ve heard the word before…

    SENATOR:  GUILTY! I’m going to recommend the death penalty.

    •  that’d be funny, except that the state department was actually riddled with Russian spies from the 1930s-1950s.

  2. Given that many American universities, particularly the so-called elite schools, are hotbeds of anti-American radicalism, it’s not surprising that  foreign governments would use universities for espionage.

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