SpyCast 2.22.22
Ep 527 | 2.22.22

“The National Intelligence University” – with its President Scott Cameron

Show Notes


J. Scott Cameron (LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss the National Intelligence University (NIU). He is the President of this unique “skiffed” institution. 

What You’ll Learn


  • The NIU – what it is, what it does, and what it does differently.
  • NIU’s position within the American intelligence ecosystem
  • How NIU “banks knowledge” without compromising intelligence
  • What it is like to be a student in a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS-SCI) research facility


  • 20th century institutions for 21st century problems
  • Scott’s journey from a plant biologist who has been shot at, to his recruitment into the IC at a high school soccer match, to NIU President

And much more…

Episode Notes

“TS-SCI” is one of the major terms you will hear with regards to American intelligence, but what happens if you cross Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information with the concept of “the university,” a place that relies on sharing information, pooling knowledge, and the free flow of ideas? To find out how this circle is squared, Andrew sat down with President of the National Intelligence University, Scott Cameron.

The NIU, which is housed at the Intelligence Community Campus Bethesda (ICCB), alongside our friends at the NCSC and quite a few other agencies, is unique in many ways. It is behind “guards, guns, and gates,” you need TS-SCI clearance to apply, and tuition is courtesy of the government. The staff-student ratio is also in the very top tier of the 4000 or so degree granting institutions in the United States. It transitioned from the DIA to the ODNI in June of 2021


Scott’s grandmother was from Glasgow, as was Allan PinkertonBobby ThompsonCraig Ferguson, and Christina Conte (try her fish n’ chips recipe!). Incidentally, there are many more Glasgow’s in the United States than in Scotland, at 21.

Quote of the Week

"We do work in secret. So how do you bank knowledge in that kind of a community? All communities that are healthy bank knowledge and learn from it. So, our job is not just to be a classroom, but to be that defender of knowledge building in the community to make sure that we're learning from ourselves, that we understand ourselves and advance our mission by better ideas and then empowering the next generation to take those and equip them with the confidence to go out there and do something with it." – J. Scott Cameron

 Guest Bio(s)

J. Scott Cameron became the third President of the National Intelligence University in 2017. Previous positions include a plank holder in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), serving at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) from its inaugural year 2004; and, in 2013 assuming the role of Director, Weapons of Mass Destruction Counterterrorism (WMD CT). Prior to NCTC, his federal service included a sabbatical as a Senior Scientist at the CIA and a  National Security Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA). As a scientist, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in South America and Africa and has been a longtime champion of STEM education and science literacy. He is a member of the Senior Executive Service, a graduate of the Department of Defense CAPSTONE program, and a plank holder in the ODNI's Senior National Intelligence Service (SNIS).

A Historians Reflection

Aonaibh Ri Chéile

Clan Cameron is one of the most ancient and well-known Scottish clans, many of whose members are distributed worldwide, especially in the English-speaking world. Broadly speaking, clans were kinship groups with a given surname, often related by blood, and living near one another. There were often several septs, sub-branches who followed the same chief but had a different surname, and other close associations (e.g., for Clan Cameron, Chalmers, Kennedy and MacMasters and Taylor were some of the many related names – although genealogy is far from an exact science). The Clan Cameron motto is, Aonaibh Ri Chéile, roughly translated as “Let Us Unite,” which pretty much sums up the nature of “a clan.” The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders (79th Regiment of Foot) was a British Army infantry regiment that existed from 1793 until a 1961 amalgamation; the Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia served in both world wars; while Canada still has the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. Historian Colin Calloway has examined some of the similarities between Native Americans and Scottish Highlanders, for example, “Both groups of people experienced displacement and other forms of colonial assault on their social and political structures, their cultures, language, and ways of life,” and the history of Highlanders in the Southeastern United States is particularly fascinating - generating figures such as Creek chief Alexander McGillivray, Cherokee chief John Ross, and the McIntosh’s. The chief of Clan Cameron is known as “Lochiel,” after Loch Eil, and both the loch and the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, lie within Cameron ancestral lands. If you want to learn more about how Donald Cameron of Lochiel – the last Jacobite to be hanged – met his fate as a result of betrayal by a notorious double agent, “Pickle the Spy,” you can do so hereherehere, and here. Skip Outlander – fact is much stranger than fiction.

Further Resources


Virtual Exhibition





Primary Sources

Wildcard Resource

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