As anti-free speech forces dominate Berkeley, FBI report on spies forgotten

First Amendment gag

Image: The US Report

In 2011 the FBI released a report revealing concerns about what the public calls “spies” at US universities. Few in media paid it attention.

Now as Berkeley and other campuses thrive with an anti-American clampdown on speech encouraged by the left, the report is worth revisiting. 

For now, it is still online.

The report is titled Higher Education and National Security: The Targeting of Sensitive, Proprietary, and Classified Information on Campuses of Higher Education.

The main thrust of the report has to do with intellectual property, especially sensitive research that might comprise national security matters. Some case studies are included, such as the case of a Johns Hopkins graduate student who provided “classified information to Cuba on a regular basis for sixteen years until she was arrested in 2001.” Cuba then shared the information “with other countries not friendly to the United states.”

The FBI said:

“It is also likely her information contributed to the death and injury of American and pro-American forces in Latin America.”

The spy was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. The  FBI said she was “motivated by ideology.” Her name was Ana Montes.

Another case study involved a Saudi majoring in chemical engineering at Texas Tech University. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was busted in 2011 for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Authorities found a notebook at his residence:

“Excerpts indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United States and helped him financially, which he said ‘will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for jihad.’”

Those are two examples from the report, but in the context of the report, other data from Berkeley is intriguing. The university provides stats on international student enrollment which has experienced a steady increase over the last decade. While numbers aren’t overwhelming, it only takes one Ana Montes or Khalid Aldawsari to do a great deal of damage.

In Fall, 2016, the majority of foreign students at Berkeley sought degrees in the College of Letters and Science—liberal arts. That department includes not only social sciences and language but also biological and mathematical sciences.

An intriguing bit of info relates to the top 20 countries of origin for the internationals at Berkeley. None of the countries restrict government power over speech as the US does—our First Amendment has no equal. But the top country, China, is among the most restrictive over speech as are a number of others on that list, such as Turkey and Indonesia.

This isn’t to suggest that all international students are here as advocates for foreign nations. I do wonder, however, if much of the unrest and the fascism displayed by anti-First Amendment students is driven by individuals here to help drive divisiveness.

While the FBI report focused on intellectual property and research breaches, perhaps it is time to consider the potential for foreign countries to fan unrest and promote authoritarian ideas in order to further weaken the US. Our Bill of Rights certainly makes authoritarian leaders uncomfortable, in an age where technology permits the propagation of ideas across continents.

This tactic has succeeded before. We know the outcome of the Vietnam War was partly driven by foreign propagandists as well as US citizens, some of them famous, in order to benefit China and Russia.

Domestically, Democrats are not doing well on the issue of the First Amendment. The phrase “hate speech” has reared its ugly head and become part of our daily news cycle. That term is dangerous to the republic in part because who decides what is hate speech and what isn’t?

As an American, I see offensive comments every day on the social media cesspool that is Twitter. I have a folder full of hateful comments directed towards me and focusing on the fact I am an older woman. Do I like those comments? Not really. But I will defend those individuals’ right to say them until the day I die.

The unrest on our campuses is partly organic admittedly. But I am certain that this unrest, just like the chaos in the 1960s, is partly by design at the hands of other countries eager to see freedoms continue to diminish in the West. We should be having a conversation about that.

Related on the Web:

College and University Security Effort/FBI

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/April 25, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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