Throughout history, spies have played important roles in wars. Many battles have been won thanks to the bravery and sharp wit of these brave patriots.
Even in America’s own history, espionage has been vital in winning conflicts against more powerful opponents. Some important wars fought with espionage include the American Revolution, the Cold War, and both World Wars. The use of spies, as well as actions taken to protect the U.S. against them, have helped shape American politics/government and military strategies into what they are now. Before he became the nation’s first president, George Washington was a successful general in the American Revolution. Being the founder of the Culper Spy Ring, he was also America’s first spymaster. During the American Revolution, spies were a vital part of relaying information between the front lines of war and Washington himself.
In the summer of 1778, General George Washington ordered Major Benjamin Tallmadge to organize a small group of spies. Set right in the middle of British occupation, the spy ring executed a chain of well calculated plans from New York City to help the Patriots stay one step ahead of their oppressors. (1) As a precursor to modern day intelligence gathering organizations, the Culper Spy Ring was relatively primitive yet surprisingly effective. Centuries later, in the 1900s, World Wars 1 and 2, and the Cold War became examples of how espionage proved useful. World War 1 was a global war fought between the United State and much of Europe over the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The action sparked an immediate war due to high tensions that already existed between eastern European countries at the time.
During this time, the citizens of the United States objected to America’s joining the war. They preferred to follow a policy of isolationism. Because of this ideal, many people began to voice their discontent with the American government and its decisions. In response to protests, President Woodrow Wilson passed the Espionage Act of 1917.
Part of this act states”Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury or the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicated, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to, … to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, … either directly or indirectly and document, writing, … or information relating to the national defence, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years: Provided, That whoever shall violate the provisions of subsection:(a) of this section in time of war shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years.
” (2)This act, once amended to include the Sedition Act of 1918, made it illegal for anyone to speak or write ill about America’s involvement in the war, the Constitution, or the military. Many believed that the act was a direct breach of the Bill of Rights’ establishment of the freedom of speech, similar to the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by John Adams in 1798. .
The document made it easy for anyone who spoke against conscription to be prosecuted, but it was also helpful in targeting and incriminating potential anarchists. If anyone was found guilty of speaking against the American government, they were either fined over $10,000, sentenced to at most 20 years in prison, or even both. The act was amended several times throughout the years before finally being repealed in 1921. Even today, many are demanding further amends to be made to the Espionage Act when any information is up for grabs, putting national security and classified information at the risk of falling into the wrong hands- as was suspected with the recent investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails. World War 2 was waged between the Allied Powers (including America, Britain, Soviet Russia, and France) and the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan). , President Roosevelt appointed William J Donovan as the head of a new organization for intelligence gathering, called the Office of the Coordinator of Intelligence (COI). Initially, the organization was only supposed to handle the analysis of intelligence and organize propaganda, but soon it also took on the task of carrying out covert operations and espionage.
This organization did not last long, as the nation’s entrance into the second world war caused Roosevelt to turn the COI into the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Upon its creation, there were some initial rivalries between other organizations within the government and the OSS. At first, the OSS was prohibited by the FBI from receiving or decoding any intercepted messages from the Axis powers. The OSS was originally not created with the intentions of being a spying organization, much like its predecessor, instead it was intended to strictly provide covert information, research, and disseminate propaganda. Eventually, however, the OSS established a valid intelligence branch of its own, which was not authorized in the Western Hemisphere it did begin operations, however, in regions abroad such as North Africa. This unit was called the Secret Intelligence Branch. The Pacific had no use for the OSS, so they were not included in interactions with Japan. The OSS did have effective communications with the British, though, and their partnership provided the less experienced organization with training and information.
For example, during World War 2, an SI station chief, Allen W. Dulles, was able to obtain information on Germany’s deployment in France as well as information on travel and transport between Switzerland and the Reich. Thanks to Dulles’s interactions with German officials, the British were able to uncover the location of a German spy stationed in Britain.(3) William Donovan also created the X-2 unit in order to share German intelligence (ULTRA) with the British.
Political relations between America and Britain improved becasue of these interactions between the two world powers during both world wars. So, the Secret Intelligence Branch and X-2 unit not only gathered important data and research asparts of the OSS, but also proved helpful and effective in aiding the Allies carry out well thougt out attacks on Germany.The creation of the OSS opened up job opportunities for professionals from various disciplines, such as economists, psychologists, anthropologists, and historians.
The OSS also offered work for women and “at its peak in late 1944, OSS employed almost 13,000 men and women … About 7,500 OSS employees served overseas, and about 4,500 were women”. (4) Because of Donovan’s firm belief that a treu intelligence organization would utilize the minds of all people, especially ethinic minorities and women, to their fullest potential. No onewould suspect a woman of knowing secrets that cold take down countries. The Research and analysis branch was the most valued sector of the OSS. When the OSS was shut down, a unanimous decision was for the branch to be preserved. The Cold War was a political stand-off between a capitalist United States and Communist Soviet Union. Although the two world powers never engaged in physical warfare, both were constantly at the ready for nuclear war.
Espionage during the Cold War was one of many factors that strained U.S. and Soviet relations. During the war, the American government handled the liquidation of and creation of intelligence organizations. The OSS was dissolved on October 1, 1945, under executive orders from President Truman, effectively moving the espionage branch to the Strategic Services Unit. He then created the Central Intelligence Group on January 22, 1946. Both of these organizations were the predecessors of our current Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, which was established on July 26, 1947 when Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947.
In a memorandum to the President dated September 19, 1945, the Director of Strategic Services requested for the establishment of a central intelligence agency and outlined three steps for creating it, the first being”An executive order setting up a National Intelligence Agency (composed of the secretaries of state, war, and the navy, and a representative of the joint chiefs of staff), a director of the central intelligence agency (appointed by the president), and an intelligence advisory board (heads of the principal military and civilian intelligence agencies).” (5)The CIA was made up of both new recruits and veterans of the OSS. Although the initial act was passed in 1947, the CIA was not authorized to have funds for covert operations until 1949. The organization did not become an official part of American government until 1953.