American Intelligence in War-time London: The Story of the by Nels MacPherson

By Nels MacPherson

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Extra info for American Intelligence in War-time London: The Story of the OSS (Cass Series--Studies in Intelligence)

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The GC&CS experts at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, were fortuitously able to penetrate the various keys of Germany’s main cipher system, which utilized the ‘Enigma’ machine. Enigma was first broken regularly by Polish cryptographers in the years 1934–38 by means of a reconstructed device, and by an electromechanical instrument designed to scan the multitudes of letter combinations known as a ‘cryptographic bombe’. The Poles subsequently informed the French and British cipher departments about the secret in July 1939 since they needed help penetrating the more complex Enigma system adopted by the Germans at the end of 1938.

MEW’s ‘impending disbandment’ raised the issue of responsibility for SOE. The war with Japan continued, while ‘in liberated territories and in neutral countries there [might] be…useful scope for a covert organisation to further the policy of HM Government’. Eden would therefore regret abandoning all ‘special operations’ machinery even after the war. His preference was to put SOE activities and SIS ‘under the same controlling head’ since only chaos would result through two independent secret organizations working in foreign countries during peacetime.

Two decades of relative neglect and lack of direction were offset only by a late realization of the need to mobilize intelligence for potential war in the manner of 18 AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE IN WAR-TIME LONDON the armed services. 8 One of the most pressing requirements with the onset of war was to develop an effective means of executive control and direction over intelligence. Some progress had been made on this front through the establishment within the Chiefs of Staff organization of a Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee in 1936.

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