Stefan Halper

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Stefan A. Halper
Voa chinese Stefan Halper 8Apr10.jpg
Halper in 2010
Born (1944-06-04) June 4, 1944 (age 74)
EducationStanford University (BA)
University of Oxford (PhD)
University of Cambridge (PhD)

Stefan A. Halper (born June 4, 1944) is an American foreign policy scholar and Senior Fellow at the University of Cambridge where he is a Life Fellow at Magdalene College and directs the Department of Politics and International Studies.[1] He served as a White House official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations, and was reportedly in charge of the CIA spying operation by the 1980 Ronald Reagan presidential campaign that became known as "Debategate". Halper had through his decades of work for the CIA extensive ties to the Bush family.[2] Through his work with Sir Richard Billing Dearlove he had ties to the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6.

Halper assisted the FBI with its early investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Russian contact and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Stefan A. Halper[5] graduated from Stanford University in 1967.[6] He received a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1971.[6] He was appointed Director of American Studies at the University of Cambridge's longstanding Department of Politics and International Studies in 2001.[1][6] He received a second Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2004.[6]


United States government (1971–1984)[edit]

Halper began his United States government career in 1971 in the United States Domestic Policy Council, part of the executive office of the president, serving until 1973.[6] He then served in the office of management and budget until 1974, when he moved to the office of the White House chief of staff as assistant to the chief of staff where he had responsibility for a range of domestic and international issues. During this time, Halper worked as an assistant for three chiefs of staff, Alexander Haig, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. He held this position until January 20, 1977.[6]

In 1977, Halper became Special Counsel to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and Legislative Assistant to Senator William Roth (R-Del.).[6] In 1979 he became National Policy Director for George H. W. Bush's Presidential campaign and then in 1980 he became Director of Policy Coordination for the Reagan- Bush Presidential campaign.[6]

Halper played a central role in a scandal in the 1980 election. But it was not until several years after Reagan’s victory over Carter that this scandal emerge. In connection with his position Halper's name came up in the 1983/4 investigations into the Debategate affair, which was a spying scandal in which Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials passed classified information about Carter administration’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering (Iran hostage crisis). Reagan Administration officials cited by The New York Times described Halper as "the person in charge" of the operation.[7][8] Halper called the report "just absolutely untrue".[9]

In 1983, the UPI suggested that Halper’s handler for this operation was Reagan’s Vice Presidential candidate, ex-CIA-Director George H. W. Bush, who worked with Halper’s father-in-law, ex-CIA-Deputy-Director Ray Cline.[9] After Reagan entered the White House, Halper became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.[6] Upon leaving the Department in 1984, he remained a Senior Advisor to the Department of Defense and a Senior Advisor to the Department of Justice until 2001.[6][2][10]

Business (1984–1990)[edit]

From 1984 to 1990 Halper was chairman and majority shareholder of the Palmer National Bank of Washington, D.C., the National Bank of Northern Virginia and the George Washington National Bank.[6] Palmer National Bank was used to transfer money to Swiss Bank Accounts controlled by White House aid Oliver North.[11]

According to Peter Dale Scott's book The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in Reagan Era on the Iran-Contra scandal, Ray Cline's son-in-law Roger Fontaine "made at least two visits to Guatemala in 1980... (with General Sumner) drafting the May 1980 Santa Fe Statement, which said that World War III was already underway in Central America against the Soviets and that Nicauragua was the enemy. And some Reagan aides felt that Halper "was receiving information from the CIA."[12]

The Palmer National Bank, where Halper worked, was described as "the DC hub by which Lt. Col. Oliver North sent arms and money to the anti-Sandinista guerrilla Contras in Nicaragua. One of Palmer’s founders, Stefan Halper, had no previous banking experience but was George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy director during Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign.” [13]

Halper later set up a legal defense fund for Oliver North.[14]

Academic and media (1986–2000)[edit]

From 1986 to 2000 Halper wrote a national security and foreign policy-focused weekly newspaper column, syndicated to 30 newspapers.[6]

Halper has worked as a senior foreign policy advisor to various think-tanks and research institutions, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Center for the National Interest, where he is a Distinguished Fellow, and The Institute of World Politics where he is a Research Professor. He has served on the Advisory Board of Directors of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and contributed to various magazines, journals, newspapers and media outlets. These include: The National Interest, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, the BBC, CNN, SKY NEWS, ABC, CBS, NBC, C-Span, and a range of radio outlets.

Professor Halper is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, and the Travellers Club in London.

In a 2007 book, The Silence of the Rational Center, Halper analyzed "institutional failures" in United States policy-making:

"Three times since World War II, Big Ideas have seized the political discourse and driven policy experts to the sidelines: during the Red Scare of the early Cold War; during the entry to the Vietnam War, with its talk off democracy and dominos; and at the onset of the Iraq War. Each time, framing concepts rooted in Big Ideas turned complex foreign policy challenges into undifferentiated, apocalyptic threats to the nation's very existence. Professionals and area experts were excluded from the debate if they diverged from the patriotic consensus, and the mainstream institutions and publications that could have opposed the rush to simplification were either silent or instead provided an echo chamber for the dominant narrative."[15]

Russian Berlin-based journalist Leonid Bershidsky wrote in May 2018, that "the Trump-Russia scandal born of this operation [FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign] could be added to The Silence of the Rational Center as a fourth institutional failure."[15]

United States government research (2012–2017)[edit]

Halper's more recent work for the United States government was classified.

FBI Operation ‘Crossfire Hurricane’[edit]

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept wrote in May 2018, "Over the past several weeks, House Republicans have been claiming that the FBI during the 2016 election used an operative to spy on the Trump campaign, and they triggered outrage within the FBI by trying to learn his identity ... But now, as a result of some very odd choices by the nation's largest media outlets, everyone knows the name of the FBI's informant: Stefan Halper."[2]

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned Republican lawmakers that it would be "potentially illegal" to reveal the identity of an FBI informant. President Donald Trump tweeted, "if the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal."[16]


In 2014, Halper met General Michael Flynn and "...  was alarmed by the general's apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance".[17]

In July 2016, Halper met with Carter Page at a symposium held at Cambridge regarding the upcoming United States election. At the time, Page reportedly did not view the meeting as suspicious.[18]

In August 2016, Halper contacted and met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis. According to Clovis, Halper did not volunteer to work for the campaign, but offered to share research information.[19]

In September 2016, George Papadopoulos was summoned to England by Halper, who offered to pay him to discuss energy issues involving Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus, which was Papadopoulos' area of expertise.[20][18]

On November 3, 2016, five days before the United States election, Halper was interviewed by Sputnik News and said, "I believe Hillary Clinton would be best for US–UK relations and for relations with the European Union. Clinton is well-known, deeply experienced and predictable. US–UK relations will remain steady regardless of the winner although Clinton will be less disruptive over time."[21]

In December 2016, former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, Halper, and historian Peter Martland resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), an academic forum on the Western spy world. Halper said that "unacceptable Russian influence" was the reason for his sudden resignation.[22] The resignations led to the journal Intelligence and Terrorism Studies being shut down. Veruscript, its publisher, dismissed the suggestion and said it is "a serious and wholly unfounded allegation" and went on to say, "The decision was made after a range of spurious and completely unfounded claims were made in UK media about a small sponsorship of under £2,000 of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminars solely to provide marketing funds."[23]

Personal life[edit]

Halper's former wife, Sibyl Cline, is the daughter of the former CIA deputy director for intelligence, Ray S. Cline.[8]


He is the co-author of the bestselling book, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, published by the Cambridge University Press in 2004, and also co-author of The Silence of the Rational Centre: Why American Foreign Policy is Failing (2007). In April 2010, his book The Beijing Consensus: Legitimizing Authoritarianism in Our Time, was published by Basic Books. Also a bestseller, it has been published in Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and France.


Halper is a recipient of the State Department's Superior Honor Award, the Justice Department's Director's Award, and the Defense Department's Superior Honor Award.


  1. ^ a b "Prof Stefan Halper". The Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on December 5, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Greenwald, Glenn (May 19, 2018). "The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election". The Intercept. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  3. ^ Harnden, Toby (May 20, 2018). "Cambridge don Stefan Halper named in Donald Trump spy row". The Times. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  4. ^ Porter, Tom (May 20, 2018). "Who is Stefan Halper? Cambridge professor named as FBI's Russia probe secret source". Newsweek. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Clarke, Robert Costa; Leonnig, Carol D.; Harris, Shane (May 21, 2018). "Who is Stefan A. Halper, the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation?". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 22, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Stefan Halper". The Institute of World Politics.
  7. ^ Gelb, Leslie H. (July 7, 1983). "REAGAN AIDES DESCRIBE OPERATION TO GATHER INSIDE DATA ON CARTER". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gelb, Leslie H. (July 7, 1983). "Reagan Aides Describe Operation to Gather Inside Data on Carter". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2018. An operation to collect inside information on Carter Administration foreign policy was run in Ronald Reagan's campaign headquarters in the 1980 Presidential campaign, according to present and former Reagan Administration officials. ... The sources identified Stefan A. Halper, a campaign aide involved in providing 24-hour news updates and policy ideas to the traveling Reagan party, as the person in charge. Mr. Halper, until recently deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs and now chairman of the Palmer National Bank in Washington, was out of town today and could not be reached. But Ray S. Cline, his father-in-law, a former senior Central Intelligence official, rejected the account as a romantic fallacy.
  9. ^ a b Lesar, Jack (July 7, 1983). "A former Ronald Reagan campaign official charged Thursday administration ..." United Press International.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Pizzo, Stephen; Fricker, Mary; Muolo, Paul (September 29, 2015). Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-0070502307.
  12. ^ Peter Dale Scott: The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Eravon Jonathan Marshall, page 250
  13. ^ Patricia Goldstone: Interlock. Art, Conspiracy, and the Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi, page 120
  14. ^ Thomas, Kenn; Keith, Jim (2004). The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro. Feral House.
  15. ^ a b Bershidsky, Leonid (May 22, 2018). "Wisdom on Trump-Russia From an FBI Asset". Bloomberg L.P.
  16. ^ "Schumer: GOP efforts to identify FBI informant 'close to crossing a legal line'". The Hill. May 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Hart, Benjamin (May 19, 2018). "What You Need to Know About the FBI's Trump Campaign Informant". New York. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Was there really a spy inside the Trump campaign, as the president says?". NBC News. May 18, 2018.
  19. ^ York, Byron (May 28, 2018). "Trump campaign vet Sam Clovis says informant used him to get to Papadopoulos". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  20. ^ Ross, Chuck (March 25, 2018). "EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos's Suspicions". The Daily Caller. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "Clinton Best Option for US–UK 'Special Relationship' – Ex-White House Official". Sputnik. November 3, 2016.
  22. ^ "Cambridge spy seminars hit by whispers of Russian links as three intelligence experts resign". The Daily Telegraph. December 17, 2016.
  23. ^ "Cambridge spy journal shuts after row over links to Russia". The Daily Telegraph. December 28, 2016.

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