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Faculty Profile: Dr. Ray Batvinis

 The Institute of World Politics is pleased to have Dr. Ray Batvinis in its ranks of top-notch scholar-practitioners.  After being a longtime guest lecturer at IWP, Dr. Batvinis began to teach the course entitled History of FBI Counterintelligence in the spring 2008 semester. 


After looking up to police officers and law enforcement officials throughout his youth, Dr. Raymond Batvinis joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation on July 17th, 1972.  Entering the FBI just two years before Watergate, he was able to watch firsthand the subsequent "Age of Reform" in that agency – which involved reform chiefly in the intelligence and counterintelligence communities.  He proceeded to spend twenty-five years in the FBI, gaining invaluable experience as well as deep knowledge about the organization itself. 

After working in Cleveland on organized crime and fugitive work, he moved to the Washington field office, where he was introduced to counterintelligence.  He eventually went to the FBI headquarters, and taught FBI agents about counterintelligence, espionage, and international and domestic terrorism investigations.

Dr. Batvinis also spent twelve years in the Baltimore field office as the Supervisory Special Agent of Counterintelligence.  He was responsible for counterterrorism and domestic terrorism, as well as counterintelligence.  There, he also arranged for training of the staff – and recommended to some of them that they attend IWP!  He ultimately attained a senior-level position coordinating the National Foreign Intelligence Program.

Twelve years into his retirement from the FBI, Dr. Batvinis works today as a Consultant/Investigator at RJB Associates.  He continues to teach history at FBI field offices around the nation, and he works for the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, which awards scholarships and grants, and engages in other charitable work in memory of the first Director of the FBI. 

Research and Academic Pursuits

Dr. Batvinis devotes much of his spare time to historical research and analysis of the FBI.  He explains, "I have chosen FBI history as an interest because I felt that there is a great deal of distortion and misunderstanding of the history of this organization."  For instance, many people mistakenly believe that the FBI has no experience in foreign intelligence.  In fact, the FBI was one of the first U.S. agencies involved in foreign intelligence, and began these activities long before the foundation of the Office of Strategic Services, which was the predecessor to the CIA.  The Special Intelligence Service (the FBI's foreign intelligence operation) was set up in July of 1940 under the instruction of President Roosevelt.  The foreign intelligence model developed by the FBI – and not an OSS model – was integrated in the template used by the CIA during the Cold War.

The FBI has a critical role in foreign intelligence collection, and Dr. Batvinis states that his course at IWP, in which he teaches the strengths and weaknesses of the FBI over time, is "valuable for any one trying to understand the political history of the 20th century."  He explains that while his course is useful in understanding intelligence and counterintelligence if one intends to be a political historian, it is absolutely "essential to people going into [the field of intelligence]."

One of the readings for his class at IWP is a book that he wrote himself: The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence.  This book, an outgrowth of the doctoral dissertation that he completed at The Catholic University of America, has been so successful that the publisher has begun to sell it in paperback this year.

Dr. Batvinis is now at work on a second book, which will explore FBI activities and operations during WWII.  He is considering ultimately dividing his extensive research into two books: one on the war against fascism, and one as an examination of the Soviet side of the Second World War.  He has already published several papers on various aspects of this period in the Bureau's history; an example of these may be read by clicking here.  (The essay concerns the wartime exploits of FBI [and later CIA] officer Louis C. Beck.)  Dr. Batvinis has also recently received an Isador Lubin – John Gilbert Winant Research Fellowship from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for research at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York.

Having such extensive experience working in the FBI, and having explored its intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities further as an independent historian, Dr. Batvinis truly brings to life the material his students learn in his course at IWP.