October 3, 2007
University Presidents Meet With FBI Officials to Coordinate on Security Issues
Washington — About two years ago, a blight of spray-painted graffiti had the police at Penn State University befuddled. "It looked very threatening," recalls Graham B. Spanier, the university’s president. So Mr. Spanier used his clout as chairman of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board to solicit help from an unlikely ally: the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Spanier recounted that episode at a news conference today following the 10th meeting of the advisory board, which was created in 2005 to foster communication between the FBI and the chief executives of major research universities. Seven new members joined the board today, bringing its total membership to 20.
Aside from an analysis of the Virginia Tech shootings and counterintelligence assessments, today’s meeting included a briefing about "the Animal Liberation Front and other extremism groups" from FBI officials, according to a news release. FBI officials at the news conference would not elaborate, but Mr. Spanier said universities were not interested in spying on their campuses.
"The majority of university leadership now is more apt, post 9/11, to have this closer engagement with the law-enforcement as well as intelligence communities," said Thomas J. Mahlik, a section chief for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. "We’re not here to impede the processes, but we really want to come up with a tailored solution, right down to the universities themselves, so that when there is something to share, we’re not building the relationship in a crisis."
As for the graffiti at Penn State, Mr. Spanier noted that someone was eventually arrested, but the conspiracy was not as broad as his campus police officers had feared. "It was not a terrorist thing," he said. "It was a teenager who was just acting badly." —JJ Hermes
To read more about the sordid history of FBI agents spying on campuses read Professor Sigmund Diamond’s book COMPROMISED CAMPUSES.
— msfreeh Oct 3, 2007