John Russo (’06) and Tim B. (’12) were recently awarded the “Director’s Award for Excellence” in the category “Outstanding Counterintelligence Investigation” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). John and Tim shared the award with a small team from across the United States. This award is the most prestigious FBI award: only one investigation out of more than several thousand is selected each year.
The investigation in which John, Tim, and their teammates participated was launched in 2011 to combat a foreign intelligence threat. This counterintelligence investigation involved multiple agencies working together to deter foreign spies from penetrating the U.S. intelligence community (IC) and recruiting federal employees to commit espionage.
The scholar-practitioners at IWP taught me that counterintelligence is more than just catching spies – it’s also about conducting offensive operations to have a strategic impact on our foreign adversaries’ behavior.
The work of John, Tim, and their teammates formed the basis for a shift in the way the FBI addresses the threat of spies being recruited within the IC.
The program of the 2019 Director’s Annual Awards for Excellence stated: “This team’s exceptional work led to a complex recruitment/disruption operation, two high-profile indictments, two national initiatives against the threat, and the identification of Foreign Intelligence Services tradecraft that the IC has used to protect national security.”
I can say with confidence that the school’s curriculum assists me with the work I do daily.
Tim commented: “IWP was my first exposure to the world of counterintelligence, and I can say with confidence that the school’s curriculum assists me with the work I do daily. While most casework is at a tactical/operational level, my IWP education provides the strategic understanding of the threats faced by the United States and helps provide the ‘why’ behind the actions of foreign intelligence services.”
John also reflected on his IWP experience: “I chose IWP because it offered what no other school did – an education in all the tools of statecraft. What I did not realize at the time was how well it would prepare me for my career in the FBI. IWP introduced me to the fascinating world of counterintelligence, a critically important but poorly understood discipline often referred to as a ‘wilderness of mirrors.’ The scholar-practitioners at IWP taught me that counterintelligence is more than just catching spies – it’s also about conducting offensive operations to have a strategic impact on our foreign adversaries’ behavior. Armed with knowledge from studying historical counterintelligence successes and failures, I’ve been able to apply the lessons learned to my current job of combating foreign intelligence services at the tactical and strategic levels.”