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Academia Hernando presents “Spies, Lies and Betrayal”

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Whether portrayed in the frames of big budget movies or the pages of books or newspapers, spies are an endless source of fascination for many people. The community has the opportunity to learn more about this intriguing subject at the next installment of the spring edition of the Academia Hernando community learning series as Col. Mike Pheneger will present “Spies, Lies and Betrayal” starting at 10 am on February 24, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

“Spies, Lies, Betrayal: The Secret World of Espionage. We will also look at members of the U.S. military, CIA and the FBI who betrayed our country…their motives, the damage caused and why so many remained undetected for so long,” stated an event notice.

Academia Hernando is a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization providing quality instruction and learning experiences for adult students throughout Hernando County and beyond. Their goal is to inform, educate and inspire adult learners through a series of weekly lectures on a wide variety of topics.

Colonel Pheneger served 30 years on active duty as an US Army Intelligence Officer retiring in 1993. His key assignments include: Commander, US Army Intelligence School (Fort
Devens – then part of the National Security Agency’s Cryptologic Training System);
Director of Intelligence, US Special Operations Command (MacDill AFB); Deputy Director
of Intelligence, US Central Command (MacDill AFB); Commander, 470th MI Group
(Panama); G2, Second Infantry Division (Korea), and Director of Operations, 66th MI
Brigade (Germany).

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“I am a retired 30 year Army intelligence officer and former director of intelligence for US Special Operations Command. In my career, I served in Germany, Vietnam, Korea, Panama and the Middle East (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on lengthy TDYs),” he explained. “I have taught for USF’s Learning in Retirement program for almost 25 years. Courses include the constitution, the Bill of Rights, geopolitics, cyber warfare and others. The spies courses are new. The segment I have condensed for Academia Hernando will focus on the worst CIA And FBI officers who spied for the KGB, the mole hunts that led to their exposure, their motivation and the damage they caused. In one case, Robert DeNero had a minor, inadvertent role.”

Pheneger has a rich and varied history in this field. “I’ve been interested in espionage since I was young. I lived in Van Wert, Ohio, as a kid. Isaac Van Wert (actually Van War was one of three revolutionary colonial militiamen who captured British Major Andre who had the plans for the fort at West Point (which he received from Benedict Arnold) in his boot,” he explained. “Andre was hanged, Arnold escaped, and Van Wert and his fellows received land grants in the Northwest territory (a portion became Ohio). I was a charter member of the Van Wert County Historical Society and wrote an account of Van Wert’s actions that they handed out for years. Recent scholarship has revealed the militiamen were a bit shady.
Several of my army assignments involved counterintelligence and the conduct of counterespionage operations.”

As USSOCOM’s first Director of Intelligence, Pheneger led the development of the world-wide intelligence architecture for US special operations to ensure the command could receive, rapidly integrate all-source information, and exploit all available intelligence. As J2, Colonel Pheneger campaigned to end the intelligence community’s duplicative intelligence production to provide the resources to expand our focus to relatively neglected third-world and low intensity conflict situations that were more likely to require the deployment of US forces. In 1995, he received the Open Source Solutions Golden Candle Award for his ground-breaking efforts in that regard and for expanding efforts to obtain and integrate information from “open sources.”

For three years, he led the development and presentation of the US Army Intelligence School’s MI basic and advanced intelligence courses and participated in the development of the Intelligence Doctrine. He received the USAIS’ Distinguished Instructor Award. He is a graduate of the US Army War College; the Command & Staff Course, US Naval War College; and was the Distinguished Graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer’s Advanced Course. After military retirement, he created UFS’ Professional and Workforce Development Division and developed specialized training programs for adult professionals. He regularly teaches courses on the Bill of Rights, The Constitution, Terrorism and Geo-Politics for USF’s OSHER learning-in-retirement programs.

Colonel Pheneger previously served on the ACLU’s National Board of Directors and its National Executive Committee. He speaks frequently on issues involving Civil Liberties and National Security and the ethical and constitutional aspects of intelligence collection and military operations. He submitted successful declarations in federal court proceedings as an expert witness in support of ACLU Freedom of Information Act requests for the release of documents pertaining to US actions during the “War on Terror.”

“I served as president of the ACLU of Florida and served on the ACLU’s national board and national executive committee,” Pheneger said. “I have always thought defending the Bill of Rights was critically important.”

Sharon Printz, board member of Academia Hernando, looks forward to welcoming Pheneger to the Academia Hernando stage. Printz shared, “Col. Pheneger has a strong and expensive background in his field. The topic of spies and espionage is so intriguing, and very popular right now.”

Academia Hernando presentations begin promptly at 10 am and last two hours with a 15-minute intermission. The spring series will continue via the presentation of “Simon & Garfunkel” presented by Bruce Gobioff on March 3.

To register for the entire lecture series in addition to an excursion that will take guests to Chinsegut Hill, print the registration form found at https://www.academiahernando.org/fall-series and mail with your check for $80 payable to Academia Hernando Inc. and mail to:
Bev Nuzzi
15027 Middle Fairway Drive
Brooksville, FL 34609

Checks also can be brought to an Academia Hernando presentation; in addition, walkin admissions are available at $15 per presentation. Visit the Academia Hernando website for more information or call (352) 345-8345.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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