Desperate Deception, A Review
by DCDave

Desperate Deception : British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44
by Thomas E. Mahl, Roy Godson (Introduction)
(Brassey's Intelligence & National Security Library, 1998)

This is a shocking book. No, let's put it another way. I would have been shocked by this book had I not been educated about the corruption of the press with a crash course during the Clinton administration. What's truly revealing about Mahl's book is how long the press has been sold out to prevailing political power. In the period covered by the book, the prevailing power was the British and their internationalist collaborators here in the United States.

The legacy of the British intelligence service in the U.S. lives on with their spawn, the CIA:

"Further testimony to the success of British intelligence operations can be seen in the actions of Americans who, having learned the intelligence trade from the British, later flattered their teachers by copying their successful methods. The aggressive offensive spirit of British intelligence at war became the model for generations of American intelligence officers and government officials in the Cold War."

"Was [British] Special Operations Executive officer Bill Morrell planting twenty items a day in the media? The CIA planted eighty. Did BSC organize opposition for political candidates? The CIA did the same: the Italian election of 1948 is a known example. Did BSC introduce women and agents of influence to politicians? 'The CIA maintanis an extensive stable of 'agents of influence' around the world..from valets and mistresses to personal secretaries....'"

The planted stories in the American press included polls by British-penetrated "reputable" polling firms giving the impression that Americans were a good deal more eager to support the British in the war in Europe than was actually the case. It also included buying off American journalists, a task made easier by the fact that the Roosevelt administration and powerful Americans like Walter Lippmann and Nelson Rockefeller collaborated with the British in their efforts.

The organization of political opposition included setting up the lifelong Democrat, Wendell Willkie, to oppose FDR as a Republican in the 1940 presidential election, giving the electorate no genuine anti-war choice.

The "agents of influence" were used to neutralize hopeless womanizer, Senator Arthur Vandenberg, who had been one of the most powerful voices against American foreign entanglements. His own carnal entanglements, with the help of the British, led him astray.

This book should be read along with Robert Stinnett's Day of Deceit, the Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor. Together, they remove all doubt that Roosevelt--or whoever was pulling his strings--put first priority on coming to the aid of the British. Mahl shows that he was quite willing to see our democratic institutions and our "free" press subverted to achieve that end. Stinnett shows definitively that Roosevelt and his coterie were also willing to provoke the Japanese into an attack while depriving commanders on the ground of the information needed to combat it, leading to the deaths of thousands of sailors and soldiers.

Maybe it is a concession they make in order to get their books published, but both Stinnett and Mahl suggest strongly that it was all worth it. Roosevelt and the conniving elitists with or for whom he worked, they imply, did it for our own good. I can't quite shake the suspicion, though, that they simply did it for their own purposes.

David Martin
November 16, 2000

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