FBI director praises Texas A&M during Senate Judiciary hearing

Published: Jul. 23, 2019 at 8:18 PM CDT
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The nation's universities and colleges could learn a thing or two from Texas A&M, according to the director of the Federal Bureau Investigation.

Christopher Wray, in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, said the FBI appreciated the extra efforts Texas A&M University is taking to protect sensitive information and intellectual property from Chinese spies.

The comment was in response to a statement made by Senator Ted Cruz, who said he has serious worries about universities protecting vital information that could be of national interest.

“One concern that I have, particularly in the academic sector, is their leaders tend to be – in some instances – less aware of the scope of the threat and less sophisticated and savvy than some, in say, the Fortune 100 world in terms of means of defending against espionage and theft of intellectual property,” said Sen. Cruz.

Wray responded by saying that he shared the concerns of Cruz, and he has seen a flow of information from U.S. universities, particularly at the graduate level, directly back to China for “the advancement of its various strategic plans” and for the communist country’s goal of “economic dominance over us.”

"I think universities need to be more and more aware of who it is they're inviting over and what safeguards they can put in place," said Wray.

"We've had some very good work with Texas A&M recently to try to raise awareness in the university space. So, again, we're not requiring universities to do anything. That's not the FBI's role. We're trying to raise awareness so that they can make thoughtful voluntary decisions that are not just in the country's best interests, but I would argue, in the best interest of their own academic research," said Wray.

Much of the hearing focused on the national security and economic espionage threat posed by Chinese officials, which Wray described as “deep and diverse and wide and vexing.”

He said the Chinese threat was particularly complicated since the FBI has to contend not only with government officials but also “nontraditional collectors” — including scientists, students, and business — looking to steal American innovation.

to read more about Tuesday's hearing.

to watch the entire hearing.