They used to be known as agents

Posted by Tory Historian Friday, August 15, 2008 ,

And we used to be proud of them. Indeed, many an academic on both sides of the Atlantic has referred with a knowing smile to his or her career in the hush-hush part of the Second World War and the only annoying part of it all is that it is not always possible to find how true the individual claims are.

All of a sudden these people have become known as spies, a term that has a distasteful aspect and programmes about people who fought the enemy through gathering and analyzing vital intelligence are full of disdainful verbal grimaces.

Tory Historian once sat through a completely pointless talk, which asked whether Raoul Wallenberg, the one undoubted hero of the Second World War and victim of the other totalitarian state, could have used his position as a Swedish diplomat to supply information to the Allies as well as rescuing Jews in Hungary.

In the end, the speaker had to admit that he had no evidence for any of his speculation. But the question that was left in the mind of the audience, made up as it was from analysts, writers and former practitioners of the intelligence service is why that should be a problem. The war was fought to be won and intelligence was an important weapon.

Now the subject of wartime agents has cropped again in what sounds like a shock-horror story produced by CNN. Apparently, the famed chef Julia Child and Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg

served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The full secret comes out Thursday, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States. The National Archives, which this week released a list of the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives.
Very interesting, of course, and Tory Historian would like to know a little more about it but there is an objection to the language used, which somehow indicates that there was something underhand and unworthy in all these people becoming “spies”. Why should that be?

1 Responses to They used to be known as agents

  1. Simon Harley Says:
  2. Since CNN chooses to identify the O.S.S. with the C.I.A., unsavoury comparisons are natural.

    I would be very interested as to how Quentin Roosevelt, "[son] of President Theodore Roosevelt" was involved with O.S.S., as he died in action in 1918.

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