Wayne State College

Presentation Takes Audience Inside the World of a CIA Spy on April 2, 2024

Published Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Seal for the Central Intelligence Agency

The program, free and open to the public, is presented as part of the Dr. Sheila Stearns President’s Lecture Series on Public Affairs.

James OlsonImagine living a lie for 31 years.

Former CIA spy James Olson confronts this notion when he shares his real-life experiences during his address “A Different Kind of Career: Under Cover in the CIA” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at Wayne State College. The event is being held in Gardner Hall Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

The program is presented as part of the Dr. Sheila Stearns President’s Lecture Series on Public Affairs.

Born and raised in Iowa, Olson never dreamed of being a spy. His aspirations were to serve in the Naval Reserve and work as an attorney. Then, a mysterious phone call changed his life forever. From that moment, as he targeted the Soviet KGB, terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and other national security threats, his career became a tightly held secret to parents, siblings, relatives, and friends.

In this presentation, Olson takes the audience inside the world of a CIA spy. He describes the rigorous training and difficult dilemmas faced daily. Olson explains how the global war on terror affects everyone and how the U.S. needs spies to protect the country and its vital interests.

Olson received his law degree from the University of Iowa. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, teaching courses on intelligence, national security, and international crisis management.

Olson served for more than 30 years in the Directorate of Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency, mostly overseas in clandestine operations. In addition to several foreign assignments, he was Chief of Counterintelligence at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Olson is the recipient of the Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Donovan Award, several Distinguished Service Citations, and excellence in teaching awards. He is the author of “Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying” and “To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence.”

The Stearns Lecture Series provides resources to bring speakers of national and international distinction inspiring students to examine global issues and engage in civic and public affairs. It is part of Dr. Stearns’ enduring legacy at Wayne State College. She served as president of Wayne State from 1999 to 2003.