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Bryan Denson discusses “American Traitors: Fathers and Sons”

On Friday, October 7, the Institute hosted the last IWP event planned by the late Professor Brian Kelley.  The lecture, which was on the topic of “American Traitors: Fathers and Sons,” was part of IWP’s Case Studies in Counterintelligence class, which had been taught by Prof. Kelley, and now is being taught by Prof. John Quattrocki. 

And this event was more than just a class, but a remembrance for Professor Brian Kelley.  The evening began with Jim Stambaugh offering an invocation. While introducing the class, Professor Quattrocki reflected on his relationship with Professor Kelley, joking about how he used to receive notes and Christmas cards from Professor Kelley signed “GD” for his nickname “Great Deceiver.”  He then spoke a little bit about his involvement in the strange case of Jim Nicholson and his son Nathan.  Jim Nicholson had worked as a spy for the Soviet Union, and when his son ran into financial trouble, he brought him in under the guise of providing him some financial assistance.

Bryan Denson, Reporter for Federal Courts/Investigations for The Oregonian, then talked about his investigation in writing an article (and ultimately putting together a book) on the Nicholson case. He made special mention of how helpful Professor Kelley was in his research. The Nicholson case possessed unusual drama, even by the standards of ‘spy stories.’ Denson traced the Nicholsons’ meetings with “Boris,” and described how the younger, tech-savvy Nathan was able to contribute to the covert information exchanges. Nathan, however, was eventually forced to testify against his own father. The two were not allowed to see each other. The elder Nicholson, in reading his statement, said that the worst decision of his life was recruiting his son, and putting him through the experience of bearing witness against his father.

After the lecture, Associate Dean John Tierney invited several students to the podium to share their reflections of the life of Prof. Kelley.  Please click here to read remarks by IWP student Chance Johnson and Amanda Williams.  

Gene Poteat, 100711