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Brian J. Kelley Memorial Remarks by Professor Robert W. Stephan

Robert StephanThe following remarks were given by IWP professor Robert W. Stephan during a Dedication Ceremony in honor of the late Professor Brian J. Kelley on September 7, 2012.

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is certainly a great honor to be here tonight, and I would like to thank the IWP Alumni Association for asking me to speak at this tribute to Brian Kelley.

I had known Brian for 25 years.

Everybody who knew Brian, professionally and socially, knew that Brian had that Irish gift of gab.  He couldn’t help it. He was born with it.  He could talk to anybody. In fact, he was so good at it he talked his way into working on a garbage truck one summer to pay his way through college.

Can any of you imagine Brian working on a garbage truck?

But he perfected that gift of gab and eventually was promoted to “Master Storyteller.” Even the DDCI Steve Kappes remarked during Brian’s memorial service on his genetic ability to tell stories.

Now that by no means is meant to be derogatory. On the contrary it a talent he put very good use:

You, ladies and gentlemen, and no doubt hundreds of others throughout his 45 year career, have greatly benefited from Brian’s innate ability to teach. Teaching was in his DNA. He loved operations. But in my own opinion, he loved teaching, his students and IWP much more.

You could see it 25 years ago when I first worked for him when he was Chief of the Illegals Branch in CIC and then a few years later when he became chief of a branch that coordinated double agent operations.  In fact, he became the community’s expert on Illegals worldwide.

He trained and mentored dozens of CI officers and young career trainees both by giving career advice and by tutoring them in the arcane mysteries of counterintelligence operations, even while assigned to operational entities.

He trained his officers in his illegals branch so well that one KGB defector who had been an Illegals Support Officer remarked in one of his books how impressed he was with the questions he was asked by Brian’s officers.

I was present at many of Brian’s innumerable briefings he gave on Soviet illegals and other subjects. His presentations, courses, and briefings were always highly rated and very well received.

He was the main factor in the unmasking of the highest-ranking US government employee ever to spy for the Soviet Union, Felix Bloch.

How did he do that? Much is still classified, but it was accomplished through literally years of dogged  persistence, intimate knowledge of the target, the luck of having a few enlightened bosses who believed in him, and alert surveillance teams.

He was well respected, well liked, and had an extraordinary range of contacts in the US CI community.

The people who worked for him genuinely liked working for him, and he treated them very well. People clamored to work for him, and that is no exaggeration.

There were over 250 people at his retirement ceremony (which was held one year after he retired).  In attendance were the ADDO for CI and other senior Agency officials.

You have all heard the adage, “Those who can’t teach.”

In short, Brian is absolute proof that  “Those who can DO teach.”

This plaque shows IWP and its students were and still are impressed with Brian’s highly successful 45 year career in CI, his ability to make counterintelligence come alive, and above all his ability to motivate a good number of you to seriously consider a career in counterintelligence.  That is one of the highest compliments you can pay a teacher.  You have shown that Brian’s service to you, to IWP, and to the country was extraordinary.

So on behalf of Brian, and as a colleague, friend and co-worker, I would like to thank the IWP Alumni Association for a fitting and lasting tribute to an exceptional teacher. Thank you very much.

Robert Stephan
IWP Professor