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Penn graduate David Vise speaks about his latest book, The Unmasking of Robert Phillip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI [Cynthia Barlow/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

A degree from Wharton does not always equal a permanent sentence to 80-hour weeks on Wall Street. David Vise, a 1982 College and 1983 Wharton graduate is a prime example.

Vise, who spoke last night before roughly 50 members and guests of the World Affairs Council at the Union League of Philadelphia, is author of The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Phillip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI History.

Surprisingly, Vise started out as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs, his first job after obtaining his Wharton graduate degree.

It did not take Vise long, however, before he returned to The Washington Post, where he had interned one summer during his undergraduate years. Once there, he reported on the practices of the Securities and Exchange Commission and drew attention to several SEC oversights.

Vise won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for his four-part series in the Post on the SEC. In light of the award and the broad national acclaim that accompanied it, he was promoted to editor, but he quickly chose to return to "the front lines" of reporting.

It was a decision that Vise said led him to what he called "the most fascinating story I've come across in 18 years as a reporter."

The story is that of Robert Hanssen, an intelligence agent for Russia working in the FBI for 25 years, who was arrested on Feb. 18, 2001 for committing espionage against the United States.

In The Bureau and the Mole, Vise details Hanssen's crimes, which include informing the Russian government about the secret tunnel under the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.

According to Vise, Hanssen increased the risk of nuclear war by selling the U.S. continuity of government plan -- which explains how U.S. government leaders, including the president, would survive a nuclear first strike on Washington -- to the Russians, thereby increasing their confidence in their ability to successfully attack the United States.

Vise also discovered that Hanssen had posted both descriptions and photographs of him and his wife having sex on the Internet, a fact that was otherwise unknown to the FBI.

This act of matrimonial and political betrayal contrasts sharply with Hanssen's character -- he was a devout Catholic who attended mass daily and a political conservative who was vehemently anti-gay and anti-communist -- and has made Hanssen's story perfect fodder for a film.

Vise sold the rights to the book to Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney's Touchstone Pictures before he had even written it or found a publisher.

"When I read the affidavit, I immediately saw a movie in my head," Vise said.

Vise mentioned at the beginning of his talk that it was great to be back in Philadelphia, to see Locust Walk and Penn -- where he met his wife Lori -- and to eat a Pat's cheesesteak.

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