OPINIONSrnThe British Were Coming!rnby Justin Raimondorn”Oh, that deceit should steal such subtle shapesrnAnd with a virtuous vizard hide foul guile.”rn—William ShakespearernDesperate Deception:rnBritish Covert Operations in thernUnited States, 1939-44rnby Thomas E. MahlrnWashington: Brassey’s;rn2S6 pp., $26.95rnI n the midst of his hattle to save our oldrnRepublic and keep the United Statesrnout ol^World War II, John T. Flynn wonderedrnabout the true identih of his enemies.rnAs a leader of the anti-interventionistrnAmerica First Committee and itsrnoutstanding strategist and spokesman inrnNew York City, he had plent)’ of them.rnIn New York, America First was besiegedrnby a campaign of organized disrupHoir,rnincluding infiltration, provocations,rnpickets, and violence. Flynn sensed arnpattern in these attacks, a unifying intelligence,rnand after the war came to believernthat these assaults were not “sporadicrnor casual” but instead “originatedrnin some central or unified group.” Flynnrntried in vain to get Congress to investigate,rnbut the post-war rout of the congressionalrnisolationists forced him tornlaimch his own iirquir)-. The result, asrnhe put it in 1944, was the discover,’ of “anrnorganization whose name was neverrnmentioned but which . . . sat more or lessrnat the center of this web of propaganda,rnintrigue and calumniation.”rnNow the evidence is in, and it turnsrnout that Flynn was right. At the center ofrnthe web was the British Securit’ Coordinationrn(BSC), the American arm ofrnBritish intelligence, and it was chargedrnwith coordinating a British fifth columnrnin this country.rnJustin Raimondo writes fromrnSan Francisco.rnThe story of British intelligence operationsrnin America during the crucial prewarrnyears is a saga of psychological warfare,rnblack propaganda, and Byzantinernintrigue at the highest levels of the U.S.rngovernment—a gripping tale more fantasticrnthan any fictional thriller. WhilernWilliam Stevenson’s 1976 book, A ManrnCalled Intrepid: The Secret War, gave usrna glimpse of the truth, not until DesperaternDeception has anvone revealed thernextent to which the U.S. was dragoonedrninto World War II b’ agents of a foreignrnpower. In piecing together the story ofrnhow British spooks, working in tandemrnwith FDR and other American Anglophiles,rnsought to “involve the UnitedrnStates in World War II and destroy isolationism,”rnThomas Mahl encounteredrntwo major problems: first, the refusal ofrnthe U.S. and British governments to releasernthe relevant documents, which arernstill “classified” in the name of “nationalrnsecurity”; and second, “the fact that untilrnrecently, the study of the intelligence historyrnof World War II has lacked respectability.”rnAs Mahl puts it, “The conventionalrncharge is that it smacks toornmuch oi conspiracy.” The author throwsrnhis hands up in despair: “How does thernhistorian avoid the charge that he is indulgingrnin conspiracy history when hernexplores the activities of a thousand people,rnoccupying two floors of RockefellerrnCenter, in their efforts to involve thernUnited States in a major war?”rnCovert intelligence operations are byrntheir nature conspiratorial, and, in anyrnevent, there is no need to answer thisrnspurious charge. Mahl’s carefully documentedrnchronicle of British interferencernin American elections, orchestratedrnsmear campaigns against anti-interventionists,rnand the planting of “agents of influence”rnin the beds of American politiciansrnis not just an “intelligence history”rnof how the llnited States got into WorldrnWar II: It is the true history of thatrncalamity.rnThe stor}’ of the BSC is wrapped up inrnthe person of its chief, William Stephenson,rnknown todav bv his New York cablernaddress, “Intrepid.” In 1940, Stephenson,rna millionaire businessman with arnwide variety of business and politicalrnconnections, was sent to the UnitedrnStates to head up the BSC, where herntook over the 38th floor of the InternationalrnBuilding in Rockefeller Center,rnwhich the Rockefellers had generouslyrndonated. The British Press Service andrnthe pro-war “Fight for Freedom” grouprnwere in the same building, also rent-free.rnOne BSC recruit, Bickham Sweet Escott,rndescribes his interview: “For securify’rnreasons,” he was told, “I can’t tell yourn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn