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Book Says Yale A Fertile Recruitment Source For World War II Spies

September 28, 1987 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Scholars make good spies, according to a new book that says Yale University provided the United States with many of its World War II-era intelligence agents.

Dozens of Yalies became spies during the war, and some stayed on to shape American intelligence operations in the decades that followed, said Robin W. Winks, a Yale history professor and author of ″Cloak & Gown.″

″The great majority of people doing intelligence work are doing research and analysis in an office or in a library,″ Winks said in a recent interview. ″They are doing very much what an academic does.″


″Cloak & Gown″ profiles the careers of five Yale graduates or teachers who worked for the CIA or its predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services.

Among them was James Angleton, Yale class of 1941, who became the CIA’s director of counterintelligence; super spy and later author Donald Downes, Yale, ’26; and Norman Holmes Pearson, a faculty member who headed the counterintelligence branch of the OSS in London.

Yale provided the OSS and the early CIA with more spies than any other university, Winks said.

″There were at least 42 members of the class of 1943 alone, for example,″ he said. About 30 faculty members on leave and a ″goodly number″ of doctoral students, worked on intelligence that year, Winks said.

Winks said Ivy League schools provided good candidates for the intelligence service because most students learned a foreign language, were familiar with life abroad and were taught that service to country was desirable.

Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library provided a World War II cover for Joseph T. Curtiss, a faculty member who worked for the OSS, Winks wrote.

Winks said that $25,000 of OSS money was laundered by a Yale alumnus before it was ostensibly donated to the school for a library book-buying spree in Turkey. Curtiss, who was the book-buyer, became head of the OSS in Instanbul.

The university’s head librarian at the time, Bernard Knollenberg, knew of the OSS mission, but Yale’s president, Charles Seymour, did not, Winks wrote.

Curtiss did not gather much valuable intelligence in Turkey, Winks wrote, but did bring back 4,078 pounds of books. After the war, Curtiss returned to Yale to teach English until 1966.

The Yale crew coach from 1946 to 1950, Allen ″Skip″ Walz, was simultaneously paid by Yale for his athletic work and the CIA for recruiting on campus, Winks wrote.

Some authors have speculated that Angleton, who directed CIA’s counterintelli gence operations for two decades, may have been ″Deep Throat,″ The Washington Post’s Watergate source.

″The clues make it fairly clear that Deep Throat was a person of a certain age, was a Yale graduate, and was of course very sensitively placed in government,″ Winks said.

Angleton, who died early this year, demurred when the historian asked him if he was ″Deep Throat.″

″I wouldn’t mind continuing to pursue the subject,″ Winks said. ″There are a lot of Yale graduates in Washington.″

Yale alumni have been prominent in the intelligence community through the nation’s history.

One of Yale’s most famous graduates, Nathan Hale, was hanged as a spy by the British during the Revolutionary War. Another Yalie, Vice President George Bush, was CIA director from 1976-77.