William Stephenson and Operation Mockingbird
Posted 06 June 2012 - 04:00 PM
Stephenson is an important figure in American history (his efforts helped to bring the USA into the Second World War). He was the man who created the model for the CIA's Operation Mockingbird.
He came from a very poor background in Canada. In January 1916 he enlisted in the Canadian Corps. He served on the Western Front. Promoted to the rank of sergeant he was badly wounded during a gas attack later that year. In August, 1917, Stephenson transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he joined the 73 Squadron. Flying a Sopwith Camel he scored 12 victories before he was shot down and captured by the Germans on 28th July 1918.
During the First World War Stephenson won the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. It was later recorded: "When flying low and observing an open staff car on a road, he attacked it with such success that later it was seen lying in the ditch upside down. During the same flight, he caused a stampede amongst some enemy transport horses on a road. Previous to this, he had destroyed a hostile scout and a two-seater plane. His work has been of the highest order and he has shown the greatest courage and energy in engaging every kind of target."
Richard Deacon, the author of Spyclopaedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage (1987), has pointed out: "After the war he became a pioneer in broadcasting and especially in the radio transmission of photographs. By the 1930s he had become an important man involved in broadcasting developments in Canada, in a film company in London, the manufacture of plastics and the steel industry. As a sideline he also won the King's Cup air race in 1934 with a machine which had been built in one of his factories."
Gill Bennett has claimed that he "built up a highly successful career as a businessman, becoming a millionaire through enterprises such as the Pressed Steel Company, which apparently made ninety percent of car bodies for British automobile manufacturerers." While on a business trip in Nazi Germany he discovered that practically the whole of German steel production had been turned over to armament manufacture. Stephenson decided to create his own private clandestine industrial intelligence organisation. He then offered his services to the British government. He was put into contact with MI6 which was initially not very enthusiastic. Undeterred, Stephenson set up the International Mining Trust (IMT) in Stockholm, "under cover of which he aimed to develop contacts into Germany and elsewhere to provide industrial and other intelligence."
According to Richard Deacon Stephenson now took this information to Winston Churchill. "Only one man was willing to give him a ready ear and find out more - Winston Churchill. From then until the outbreak of war Stephenson became one of a small, unofficial team who supplied Churchill with intelligence on Germany." The author of Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009) doubts the truth of this story: "Although claims that he secretly furnished details of German rearmament to Churchill during the interwar period seem dubious, it is true that he built up an international network of contacts and informants concerned principally with obtaining secret industrial information to enable financial houses to judge the advisability of pursuing business propositions."
In 1937 Stephenson reported on Reinhard Heydrich: "The most sophisticated apparatus for conveying top-secret orders was at the service of Nazi propaganda and terror. Heydrich had made a study of the Russian OGPU, the Soviet secret security service. He then engineered the Red Army purges carried out by Stalin. The Russian dictator believed his own armed forces were infiltrated by German agents as a consequence of a secret treaty by which the two countries helped each other rearm. Secrecy bred suspicion, which bred more secrecy, until the Soviet Union was so paranoid it became vulnerable to every hint of conspiracy."
Stephenson eventually established the British Industrial Secret Service (BISS) and offered it to the British government. Keith Jeffery, the author of MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service: 1909-1949 (2010), has seen evidence of Stephenson working with the government: "Closer links were established after Dick Ellis began developing the 22000 network, and up to the outbreak of the war the IMT proved quite useful in providing information on German armament potential."
Ralph Glyn, the member of the House of Commons for Abingdon, arranged for Stephenson to meet leading figures at the Foreign Office. The meeting took place on 12th July, 1939. The official noted: "He is a Canadian with a quiet manner, and evidently knows a great deal about Continental affairs and industrial matters. During a short discussion on the oil and non-ferrous metal questions he showed that he possesses a thorough grasp of the situation." Desmond Morton described his information as invaluable and by September 1939, agreement was reached for BISS (now known as Industrial Secret Intelligence - ISI) to pass information to the Secret Intelligence Service.
Winston Churchill became prime minister in May 1940. He realised straight away that it would be vitally important to enlist the Unoted States as Britain's ally. Churchill appointed Stephenson as the head of the British Security Coordination (BSC). As William Boyd has pointed out: "The phrase is bland, almost defiantly ordinary, depicting perhaps some sub-committee of a minor department in a lowly Whitehall ministry. In fact BSC, as it was generally known, represented one of the largest covert operations in British spying history... With the US alongside Britain, Hitler would be defeated - eventually. Without the US (Russia was neutral at the time), the future looked unbearably bleak... polls in the US still showed that 80% of Americans were against joining the war in Europe. Anglophobia was widespread and the US Congress was violently opposed to any form of intervention." An office was opened in the Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan with the agreement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. Over the next few years he worked closely with William Donovan, the chief of the Office of Strategic Service (OSS).
One of Stephenson's agents was Ivar Bryce. According to Thomas E. Mahl, the author of Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 (1998): "Bryce worked in the Latin American affairs section of the BSC, which was run by Dickie Coit (known in the office as Coitis Interruptus). Because there was little evidence of the German plot to take over Latin America, Ivar found it difficult to excite Americans about the threat."
Nicholas J. Cull, the author of Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American Neutrality (1996), has argued: "During the summer of 1941, he (Bryce) became eager to awaken the United States to the Nazi threat in South America." It was especially important for the British Security Coordination to undermine the propaganda of the American First Committee that had over a million paid-up members. Bryce recalls in his autobiography, You Only Live Once (1975): "Sketching out trial maps of the possible changes, on my blotter, I came up with one showing the probable reallocation of territories that would appeal to Berlin. It was very convincing: the more I studied it the more sense it made... were a genuine German map of this kind to be discovered and publicised among... the American Firsters, what a commotion would be caused."
Stephenson approved the idea and the project was handed over to Station M, the phony document factory in Toronto run by Eric Maschwitz, of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). It took them only 48 hours to produce "a map, slightly travel-stained with use, but on which the Reich's chief map makers... would be prepared to swear was made by them." Stephenson now arranged for the FBI to find the map during a raid on a German safe-house on the south coast of Cuba. J. Edgar Hoover handed the map over to William Donovan. His executive assistant, James R. Murphy, delivered the map to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The historian, Thomas E. Mahl argues that "as a result of this document Congress dismantled the last of the neutrality legislation."
Nicholas J. Cull has argued that Roosevelt should not have realised it was a forgery. He points out that Adolf A. Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, had already warned Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State that "British intelligence has been very active in making things appear dangerous in South America. We have to be a little on our guard against false scares."
William Boyd has argued the BSC "became a huge secret agency of nationwide news manipulation and black propaganda. Pro-British and anti-German stories were planted in American newspapers and broadcast on American radio stations, and simultaneously a campaign of harassment and denigration was set in motion against those organisations perceived to be pro-Nazi or virulently isolationist". This included the America First Committee that had more than a million paid-up members. Stephenson was also the channel for intelligence between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and was responsible for the arrest of Alan Nunn May and 18 others in 1946.
After the war Stephenson bought a house on Jamaica overlooking Montego Bay. Stephenson had set up the British-American-Canadian-Corporation (later called the World Commerce Corporation) with William Donovan. It was a secret service front company which specialized in trading goods with developing countries. William Torbitt has claimed that it was "originally designed to fill the void left by the break-up of the big German cartels which Stephenson himself had done much to destroy."
In the 1960s Stephenson commissioned H. Montgomery Hyde, to write The Quiet Canadian (1962). According to his biographer, David Hunt: "Its numerous invented stories, based on briefing from Stephenson, created a certain sensation but it still came short of Stephenson's inflated ideas; and as fresh revelations of British successes in the intelligence sphere continued to appear - for instance the Ultra secret - he clearly wished to claim credit for them." Stephenson then commissioned William Stevenson (no relation of his), and provided him with a fund of fresh stories. A Man Called Intrepid was published in 1976. Hunt argues "it is almost entirely a work of fiction".
However, books published recently, such as Keith Jeffery's MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service: 1909-1949 (2010) and Gill Bennett's Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009) have admitted that the way he manipulated the American media was vitally important in persuading politicians and the general public in the United States that it was right to get involved in the Second World War.
Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:17 AM
Posted 02 July 2012 - 04:46 PM
Stephenson is one of the most interesting characters of the 20th century. The best book on the subject is Bill Macdonald’s The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents (1998). He argues that the first two biographies, Harford Montgomery Hyde’s The Quiet Canadian (1962) and William Stevenson’s A Man Called Intrepid (1976) are both unreliable as they were written in league with British intelligence.
Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:34 PM
Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:33 PM
Thankyou, John for the very interesting material on Stephenson, i noticed, as i make so very many myself, that there is an error in the spelling of capital city of Manitoba, it is spelt, Winnipeg, i..peg.....just mentioning it, thanks best b..d
Thank you for that. I have just uploaded some fresh information on Stephenson. By the way, according to the CIA, Thomas F. Troy, died in 2008:
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