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Spy-mania in USA secret facts

Monday, January 10, 2011

The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, though long expected, created almost overnight an atmosphere of mass hysteria such as the world has perhaps never seen before or since.
This was the age of high nationalism and it was as though the dam of civilized thought was washed away by the flood waters of an: almost mindless patriotism. The British Foreign Secretary might: declare sadly in Parliament that the lights were going out all over, Europe. But the age of electricity had begun. The candles were not snuffed, one by one; rather was a switch turned, the light was gone, the dam burst. This was also the beginning of mass communications, the popular press raged, and those voices of reason that had prevailed even through the horrors of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were rendered inaudible by the howling hatreds of the masses unleashed. It seemed as if almost everybody really wanted this horrible bloodshed.

Among the first to go was the concept of Socialist internationalism. In Berlin the Social Democrats voted overwhelmingly for war credits, and old August Bebel wished he were young enough to shoulder a rifle and march into Russia. The French did the same despite the murder of their leader by an ultra-nationalist; but even if Jean Jaures had lived it is doubtful if he would have wished to, or been able to, oppose a war that soon enough saw German soldiers once again upon French soil. (And note the emotive cliché that should have been meaningless to Socialists.) Lloyd George had been pro ... Boer a dozen years earlier; now none beat the drum of British patriotism more fiercely than he. The Russian masses, ill-armed or even unarmed, stolidly marched to their death. It seemed as if 1905 had never been. The American President justified his country's neutrality not on the grounds of common sense or the futility and wickedness of Europe's suicide, but with the peculiar phrase that America was 'too proud to fight'. All the deadly sins, with the possible exception of sloth, were loosed upon the world and indeed not infrequently worshipped.

It was, however, in the matter of spies that the latent hysteria, mostly in England and France where it was in part attributable to the Dreyfus affair, assumed epidemic proportions. There were then no political refugees from Germany. In that atmosphere of hysterical nationalism, therefore, every German no matter how long resident abroad must be an extreme nationalist and probably a spy. If he had quietly concealed his nationalism, if he had been outspokenly pro-British or pro-French, if he had even changed his nationality it merely meant that he was all that more clever and dangerous a spy .. Shops owned by Germans, or merely with German names, were wrecked.
Spy-mania in Germany was in large measure, and more rationally, directed at the occupied territories of Belgium and northern France, where espionage was indeed to be expected. However, here the Germans over-reacted to a degree that would have been absurd had it not been bloodthirsty: in 1917, in Ghent alone, the Germans executed fifty-two persons as spies" In Russia the hysteria was easily channeled into the traditional anti-semitism. True, Ludendorff - soon to be one of Hitler's earliest followers ¬urged the Jews of Poland and Western Russia to remember that their Yiddish language was a bastardized form of German; true, the Russian Jews had no reason to love their Russian rulers and a few did spy for the Germans; but this did not necessitate the wholesale and brutal expulsion of whole Jewish populations from areas near the front.
This sort of hysteria very rapidly vanished among the fighting troops in the West. By Christmas 1914 the British were attempting to fraternize and even to play football with the Germans in the no-man's-land between the freezing trenches, until the scandalized staff threatened to turn the artillery on them.
The stupidest and cruelest forms of super-patriotism did not long outlive the enormous casualty lists, even among civilians, though the gap between the French, British and German fighting men and the flag-wavers safe and sound at home widened" But the spy-mania remained, and in some measure at least was deliberate government policy. The reasons that led the various governments to attach so much public importance to espionage were not always consistent, and varied in emphasis from country' to country. There were, however, three major ones.
The first is that, of course, the belligerents did employ spies both in enemy and in neutral countries. None of them had at its' disposal in those days the massive and skilled secret police forces of later date. (The Okhrana was massive but neither skilled nor particularly trustworthy. The security forces in Britain, France and Germany were skilled and trustworthy, but far from adequate. This is shown by one fact among many: more British warship tonnage was blown up in harbor, usually British harbors, by German saboteurs than was sunk in the one major sea battle of the war, Jutland. In Austro ... Hungary they were skilled and - until faced with defeat - reliable, but primarily concerned with the nationalist movements inside the Empire.) Therefore it was important that the people be used as a sort of auxiliary police and that the danger of spies, loose talk and so on be constantly presented to them.
Hence the vast publicity given, to such essentially trivial incidents as the Mata Hari case
Secondly this harping on espionage was a two-edged weapon of psychological warfare. It spread distrust and fear among the enemy to think there were spies in his midst. On the other hand it encouraged 'our' side to think 'we' were spying on the enemy  'Our spies' are heroes or better still heroines (Nurse Cavell, who was less a spy than a saboteuse) although we can of course say nothing about them until they are caught and executed. 'Their' spies and saboteurs are nasty, slinky fellows or whores.
Thirdly, since spies and spy networks are by definition secret, it is possible to attribute to one's own agents intelligence derived from an utterly different source, as was the case with Franklin D. Roosevelt and the misinformation he was given about the British breaking of German ciphers as described
Indeed this whole spy-mania - which has plagued our century, caused immense misery to millions, made huge fortunes for quite a large number of novelists and turned at least a dozen squalid traitors into film star figures - is a deplorable phenomenon worth examination. For with the decline of nationalist, as opposed to ideological, certainties, the black ... and-white distinction between their spies and ours has been eroded. Since most human beings are not ideologues, the difference between 'ours' and 'theirs' has become merged with the double agent, and the simultaneous decline of moral values has made the double traitor into a strange sort of anti ... hero, a grey figure beyond contempt or admiration.
Before the outbreak of the 1914 war, little importance had been attached to wireless interception by the great land powers. This was due in part to obvious chronology.

Guglielmo Marconi
(1874-1927) had only invented wireless telegraphy in 1895 and had sent his first, indistinct message across the Atlantic, from Cornwall to Newfoundland, in 1901. A further decade was to pass before wireless telegraphy became big business, and not until 1920, with the creation of commercial radio in Britain and the United States, did it really impinge on the public. As a form of communication between ships, and from ship to shore, its value was realized at an early stage by the great maritime powers. However, very- few merchantmen were equipped for radio before 1914, though navies - particularly Britain's Royal Navy - were aware of its enormous potential importance, and so therefore were the naval intelligence services. There were no air forces in 1914, and the few planes attached to the other armed forces did not carry radios. As for the armies, it seems that only the French and Austrians were particularly interested. The French had built a few listening posts on their German frontier to intercept German military radio traffic. Since this was extremely limited before the outbreak of hostilities, for German staffs were talking to one another on land lines, the French seem to have derived little if any advantage from their monitoring of the German air, and their interception installations were rapidly overrun. The Austrians, on the other hand, listened to their Italian allies - their past and future foe - during the Italian-Turkish War of 1911-12, and being already skilled at cipher-breaking they were certainly in this way more advanced than any other land power by July 1914. That they could not make more use of their expertise in the war that then began against Russia was due to the fact that the Russian imperial army had almost no radios and therefore almost no traffic to intercept and decipher.
On the very day that Britain declared war on Germany a British cable ship, the Telconia, sailed into the North Sea and on 5 August, off the German coast near Emden, raised and cut a great length off the German transatlantic cable. For the duration of the First World War the Germans were thus dependent either, on transatlantic cables under -British and French control or on' radio, for even if it had been possible for the Germans to repair the broken cable without naval control of the North Sea, the British could quickly have cut it again. This seemed, and indeed' was, a great initial triumph for British intelligence, particularly naval and diplomatic intelligence. (In the Second World War the Germans preferred to tap the London-Washington cable, and to listen. When the British Prime Minister spoke to the American President on a 'scrambled' line both thought that the scramble system was unbroken and indeed unbreakable; both were wrong.)

Wireless interception, at all levels, has importance in three major areas of intelligence. The first is in understanding what the enemy, potential enemy or even friend is saying. If what is being said is of any importance cipher-breaking will usually be involved. The enormous value of this intelligence operation, in British and American public usage, generally referred to as X, is obvious.
Secondly, there is the evaluation of the nature of wireless transmissions when the content of the message is not, or only partly, understood. This practice can also provide intelligence of the greatest value. In American and British public usage this form of analytical intelligence is usually referred to as Y.
Thirdly, simple triangulation makes it possible to fix immediately the location of a transmitter. In both world wars, and since the creation of the Red Fleet after 1960, this has been of primary importance to every naval intelligence service. It is less so, though by no means negligible, to army intelligence. In time of war it is possible to destroy an accurately located enemy headquarters; this happened, for instance, to Panzer Group West in Normandy, in August of 1944. In time of peace the movement of one or more senior headquarters can reveal a great deal about another power's fears or intentions or both; for example, the appearance in the early 19708 of large Russian army and air force headquarters near the Sino-Soviet borders was highly indicative of Moscow's attitude towards Peking, and hence of Soviet policy throughout the world. And the more precipitate such movements are in peace time, the more will the headquarters have to rely on air links at least until the necessary telephone lines are laid.

Y material

At the highest political level, however, such pinpointing of the source of transmission is usually irrelevant, since the source is normally static. But if, shall we say, the U.S. Combined Chiefs of Staff were suddenly to be operating their air traffic from South Dakota or their Russian equivalents from Irkutsk, then this would indeed be intelligence of a startling and probably terrifying importance.
Since every power has long known that every other power, hostile or not, is probably listening, how does it counter this? The most obvious way would be to dispense with radio altogether, but that is not possible, for the time lost would be intolerable. The alternative is to swamp enemy intelligence with X material, real or false. This is also impossible; since the enemy will rapidly distinguish the bogus from the real while the amount of skilled manpower needed to direct and actually transmit the bogus to saturation point would be of prohibitive expense. The answer - apart from the making of increasingly difficult ciphers has been a mixture of both. Wireless silence is preserved to the maximum, consistent with efficiency and the required speed. And a great deal of bogus material is sent out, usually in the form known as 'cover plans' intended not only to preoccupy the enemy's intelligence service but actually to mislead it. This use of 'cover' will be dealt with later.

Y material can be far more easily concealed by the saturation method. It is possible, quite cheaply, to produce the wireless traffic of, say, a non-existent army group and for a time to keep the enemy's cryptanalysts uselessly occupied in analyzing a mass of material that is in fact meaningless; but in due course the deception will be perceived. It was more difficult to carry out this sort of deception with an imaginary fleet. With long-range air reconnaissance and satellites it is probably now impossible, except perhaps in the case of submarines. To give one example: an unmanned sunken buoy could be so equipped as to emit, by remote control, an exact parallel to the radio traffic of a nuclear reissued sub, while the real and lethal vessel preserved radio silence a hundred miles or more away.
Finally there is no reason, except in very fast-moving land warfare, why a headquarters should not be located at a considerable distance from one or more signals centers through which it receives and transmits its air traffic. This, too, is done.
Battlefield intelligence is essentially but not exclusively tactical intelligence. Its very name indicates that it can only apply ill wartime, though a certain amount of its equivalent may be derived across frontiers in peacetime. It is sometimes referred to as' low level' intelligence, though this somewhat contemptuous phrase is hardly appealing to the soldiers, sailors and airmen: whose lives may be dependent on its speed and accuracy. And its enormous importance was recognized by the armies engaged in the static or semi-static trench warfare of the First World War
Patrols are almost as old as armies themselves - one wonders what would have happened at Thermopylae had the Persian. Patrols, if they existed, been more efficient - and many men of both sides lost their lives on patrol between 1914 and 1918. It was vital that the battalion, even the divisional, commander knew as precisely as possible the nature of the enemy whom he was about to attack, or who was about to attack him, or indeed if no attack were intended. For the navies, and later the air forces, of that war such intelligence was equally important though more difficult to glean. Finally battlefield intelligence, though usually ephemeral, can when quickly and efficiently evaluated contribute a great deal to strategic and hence to political intelligence at the 'highest' level. Any good intelligence organization will always regard its more clandestine sources as subject to instant re-examination if the information they supply is contradicted by the actualities of the battlefield.
There were and are three main sources of Battlefield intelligence. The first and most obvious is commonsensical use of the senses: to see where the enemy is and, if possible, how many of him there are, and to note what his guns and transportation are doing, if possible with identification of these. Since the enemy will certainly try to disguise his activities both visually and orally, the 1.0. (Intelligence officer) in the field must be able to see through any such deception. To know nothing can bring about total tactical, strategic and political disaster, as when Napoleon's staff at Waterloo failed to discover whether the cloud of dust of a distant approaching army was created by Bluecher's or by Grouchy's soldiers.

The second source of battlefield intelligence is the interpretation of enemy documents, taken from soldiers dead or alive, or found in captured enemy land installations, ships or crashed airplanes
A first glance at these by a trained officer will often reveal matters of immediate tactical importance, such as the arrival of a new enemy unit or formation. Further and more careful scrutiny by specialists far from the battlefield will on occasion give a deeper insight
 Evaluation of the mass of such papers frequently captured, particularly by an advancing army, is as tedious as it is time Consuming, but a letter or a Field Post Number may provide the missing clue. The real nugget, though, is rare indeed, as rare as the coup by the master spy. Codes and ciphers have been captured, on land as well as on or under the sea. However, all officers of all armies and navies are well aware that such material must be destroyed at all costs; when it is within their power to do so they almost invariably carry out this standing order.
Listening to the enemy's soldier's talk is possible, but extra ordinarily unrewarding as well as being excessively dangerous. The apocryphal story of the German, who reported that he had overheard a British officer say, 'Send reinforcements, we have our backs to the wall,' when the mythical officer actually re-: marked; 'Lend me one and four pence.
Taking a WAAC to a ball,' is not unlike the truth. A soldier creeping through minefields and barbed wire in, say, 1916, in order to hear what the enemy soldiers were saying to one another would only hear what all soldiers of all armies talk about ninety-nine per cent of the time, namely women, sport and grumbling gossip .. Since he would have to be a linguist of considerable ability to understand a private soldier from Upper Bavaria, Devon, Kazakstan, Alabama or Provence, it is rarely that his great talents will be risked for so futile a purpose.
The most important source of battlefield intelligence, however, is undoubtedly the successful interrogation of prisoners of war. The information they can supply is fresh, first hand and usually reliable
During the First World War prisoner interrogation became a highly developed skill, scarcely altered or improved' upon in the Second. In the series of smaller, undeclared wars that have followed the Korean War, in Indo, China, Black Africa, Algeria, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, skilled interrogation has deteriorated, principally due to the unofficial nature of the enemy, his brutality and the consequent use of torture by his captors. As will be seen, torture is a most unsatisfactory means of extracting information.
For the basic problem of the trained interrogator is to break the prisoner from his own discipline without destruction of the disciplinary principle and to convert this engendered acceptance: of orders into the new discipline inherent in his new status as a prisoner of war
The prisoner has been taught that he need not; and indeed must not, give his captors any information whatsoever save his name, rank and number. A man who abides absolutely by these instructions is impermeable. Few do, for a number of quite simple reasons.
The act of surrender, of holding up your hands and throwing away your weapon, is for most soldiers a most hideous, if not a traumatic, experience. He is likely to be highly disorientated and in a state of mind to accept other disciplines, that is to say other orders, as a surrogate. This state of mind will be of comparatively brief duration, but while it lasts the skilled enemy interrogation officer, who of course speaks his prisoner's own language fluently, will be a substitute for the officers he has known before captivity. The prisoner's reaction will therefore be to remember his instilled obedience above his instructions concerning 'name, rank and number'. He will identify his unit, which is probably already known to the interrogator and which he is merely asked to confirm, and from that point on the interrogator's job is fairly simple. Once a prisoner starts talking any interrogation officer worthy of his somewhat elaborate training can keep him talking and can direct his verbosity, which will increase, into interesting channels
For tactical purposes, all this has to be done with considerable speed. It is of little use to know where a squadron of tanks or even a machine-gun nest was located last week.
Officer prisoners are of course more difficult, being more aware of their knowledge and usually of their responsibility to their own country. This applies particularly to officers in possession of precisely the sort of information most desired by the enemy, usually of a technological nature - artillery, tanks and aircraft techniques - since such officers will be aware that they must on no account give their knowledge to the enemy. This intelligence, which can be quite correctly called secret, will usually be of a strategic rather than a tactical nature. And the interrogation of such officers will normally be carried out at a very considerable length of time and far from the sound of guns. There experts will be available, both in the techniques of interrogation and in the subject of especial interest to the officer's captors - say, the ballistics of a new tank gun, the nature of enemy airborne radio, the pressure resistance of submarine hulls - which would be of little meaning to the field interrogator.
Since most technicians derive satisfaction from the discussion of their techniques, a subtle approach by the well-informed interrogator, always implying prior knowledge of the subject and laced with flattery, will very often persuade the prisoner to talk. Bugging his supposedly private conversations with other P.o.W.s of his own or similar expertise is less satisfactory, though sometimes helpful.

An officer with the intellectual ability here in question would assume that such conversations are bugged; nonetheless hints useful to the interrogators may be detected.
Deserters, as opposed to genuine prisoners of war, are automatically suspect. They may be deliberately planted, but as such they are likely to be detected very rapidly; or more probably they are men of weak moral fiber, anxious above all to escape the war and therefore to tell their captors whatever they assume those captors might be expected to wish them to say, such as tales of cruelty, inefficiency and poor morale among their former comrades. From the intelligence point of view deserters are usually, though not invariably, a waste of time and of energy.
Torture will, in the end, compel almost any man to talk, but only by reducing him, and consciously, to the degraded status of the deserter. He will then say, first and foremost, what he believes his enemy wishes to hear, in order to obviate the pain; or he will submit to the drugs to which he is being subjected. Whether or not it is justifiable that a captured enemy be tortured in order to save lives or to ensure the victory of a cause or a country, this method of extracting information is far too crude to be acceptable. What a man says under torture has to be re-examined in a much more complex fashion, involving personality, circumstances and background, than whatever he may say voluntarily under the more gentle pressure of skilled interrogation. This axiom is only too frequently forgotten, particularly when dealing with 'terrorists'. The use of torture is only slightly less futile than the shooting of the captured enemy on capture.
Thus battlefield intelligence, applied with increasing skill between 1914 and 1918, was an essential component of the whole scene. It was not secret; it was seldom usefully brutal; but it served to confirm or deny intelligence received from secret sources for wars in this century are always won on battlefields, on land, on sea or in the air, and perhaps soon in space. . 


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