2010 graduate Mattson made the most of his time at IWP

May 31, 2011  |  ARTICLES

Mike Mattson, IWP Class of 2010 and one of the first graduates in the M.A. in Strategic Intelligence Studies program, had the privilege of studying with Professors Dr. David Thomas, Brian Kelley, Gene Poteat, Kenneth deGraffenreid and other legends from within the US government. 

During those courses, Mike developed an interest in counterintelligence (CI), particularly the subject of successful penetrations (moles) of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) by various services including Soviet Intelligence (KGB/SVR and GRU) during and after the Cold War.  

While attending Professor Thomas' Counterintelligence in a Democratic Society course, Mike decided to develop a paper based on open source research, focusing on the well documented possibility of the existence of a "fourth mole," or a spy yet to be caught within the IC.  The term "fourth mole" not only refers to the possible existence of another spy, but more specifically a person who was active during the same time as three of our most infamous traitors of the Cold War: Aldridge Ames (CIA), Edward Lee Howard (CIA), and Robert Hanssen (FBI).  

One of the major strengths of IWP, our professor/practitioner faculty, proved invaluable to Mattson as he developed his thesis.  "As a Master's candidate at that time, my regular interactions with IWP's faculty facilitated access to primary sources (current and former IC experts) for interviews and unique perspectives.  As an IWP student, it is an advantage that such contacts and assistance remain very much in force during school and after graduation through participation in the IWP alumni program," of which Mattson is currently the Secretary helping facilitate networking within the greater IWP community.

Professor Brian Kelley was next to read the paper and agreed that Mattson's open source collection had really provided some interesting perspectives.  Kelley himself was interviewed for his unique insights and was able to direct Mike to key individuals such as one of the CIA's most senior officers Milt Bearden (now retired), whom Mattson interviewed. 

Mattson was then introduced to Dr. David Charney who was previously appointed by CIA to supervise the psychiatric assessment of a number of US traitors/spies including Robert Hanssen, the former FBI agent who spied for the Soviet Union and Russia for over two decades.  As a result of these and other interviews, Mike was able to complete successfully his class paper.  Subsequently, he continued to expand the data over the next year, and as a member of the AFIO (Association of Former Intelligence Officers) he was able to submit his work for publication in the AFIO quarterly journal, The Intelligencer: Download file Mattson: A Counterintelligence Cold Case File, Intelligencer 

"Clearly a young man with significant talent"

Elizabeth Bancroft, Executive Director of AFIO, observes of the article: "...one of the finest student papers we've published. It generated a lot of interest and fascinated many of our seasoned pros who have read extensively on mole theories."

Of Mike, she comments,

He is an impressive example of the caliber of IWP students. A paper of this quality and depth, and the guidance he received in the research and writing, underscores the benefits of the one-to-one contact IWP students receive from these special professors. Kelley, Thomas, Poteat, and Lenczowski are four examples of professionals coming back to instruct the next generation of intel officers. "Armchair intelligence" professors cannot easily bring the authenticity and "I was there" nuances students need to hear and follow.

One of his professors at IWP, Brian Kelley, has observed that Mike is "Clearly a young man with significant talent... He is the kind of person you want to have working for you."

Giving back while leading the way

Mattson is currently working as a contractor for Invertix Corporation which specializes in communication mission systems, enterprise information architecture, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) for public and private sector clients.  Mike asserts that the knowledge he gained at IWP has been highly applicable in his work.  He explains, 

The school provided unique insights, as well as help in understanding the ‘culture' that you can't learn from a textbook.  IWP helps you understand the marketplace, its components, and how they connect.  This definitely gave me a leg up when I was in the in the job market.

Mike advises IWP students to take full advantage of their time spent and connections made at IWP.  He recommends:

When networking or applying for a job, highlight the work you did at IWP, including the unique courses you took and the papers you wrote.  During my past interviews, I explained that I had been able to take courses with individuals who are legends in their field, and that these were the people who had taught me the core principals and fundamentals of intelligence and national security.  Even though I didn't have as much on-the-job experience, this type of information sets you apart from others entering the job market from other grad programs.  It shows that you already "get it." 

In the realms of intelligence and leadership, Mike is one of those who "get it".