- The art of the Con
A Brief History of Espionage
Espionage has probably existed every bit as long as communities
of people have joined together for their mutual defense. The Old Testament of
the bible mentions various classical cases of undercover or under toga work
as the case may be. An early example of this type of spying was: “About 1350
years before Christ, Queen Anhes-en-Amun, widow of King Tutankhamen of Egypt
sent a marriage proposal to Mursillis, Prince of Hittites. Mursillis smelled
a rat behind this proposal and engaged a spy named Hattu-Zitis to find out the
real intention behind this intriguing proposal. Prophet Moses had also trained
an excellent band of twelve spies who provided him with useful information.
They moved ahead of his caravan and brought news about the people and places
The earliest spymaster was considered to be Sun Tzu (500 BC)
who had broken the profession down into five different categories.
1. Local spies Recruited
agents who are inhabitants of an enemy territory
2. Moles Recruited
agents who are officials in an enemy Government
3. Double Agents Recruited enemy
spies who are used for your own purposes
4. Doomed Spies Spies used
for deception purposes and expendable
5. Surviving Spies Spies who produce intelligence
on your enemies.
He went on to say that: “When all five kinds of spy are
hard at work, none can discover the secret system or ‘divine manipulation of
the threadsâ€™. It is the commanderâ€™s most precious resource. More intimate relations
ought to be maintained with your spies than with your own army. None should
be more liberally rewarded. In no other field should greater secrecy be preserved.”
However, probably his greatest addition to the art of espionage was when he
said; “Those who know the enemy as well as they know themselves will never suffer
As evidenced by the first American spy, Nathan Hale, during
the Revolutionary War, both the United States and the British used espionage
to their advantage. Even such innocuous things as the Boston Tea Party, were
in effect acts of espionage. The British had a bit of an advantage due to the
fact that when the Colonies broke away from the Crown, many people living in
the America during this period remained secretly loyal to the British. However,
on the other side of the fence; behind every tree stood a double agent.
Many posed as farmers or store clerks but the British troops
could not move an inch without Washington knowing where they were and what their
strength was. Moreover, when Washington assumed the office of the first President
of the United States one of his first requests was for a “secret service fund”
for clandestine activities. Not that Americaâ€™s founding fathers were paranoid
or anything like that, but the secret service fund represented over 10% of the
budget of the country before two-years had passed.
The following American Presidents all resorted to
using the secret service for one thing or another and historians have said that
it was this agency that was responsible for the ceding of Florida to the Union
in 1812 under James Madison. Elsewhere in this journal we have discussed the
sophisticated networks set up by both the North and the South during the Civil
War but agents on both sides dispatched to Europe were able to make substantial
headway for their superiors in both sympathy and active support.
While these spy agencies were operating on a more
or less ad hoc basis up until this time, in 1882, the Office of Naval
Intelligence was created quickly followed by the Army Military Intelligence
Division. The first use of these agencies was in the Spanish American War when
became extremely active relative to logistics, and espionage. Moreover, the
U.S. Secret Service which by this time was involved in domestic counterintelligence,
was a able to destroy a Spanish spy ring that had its headquarters in Canada
and was about to infiltrate the U.S. Military. A forerunner of the National
Security Agency was created during World War I and was both active and effective
during the short period that the United States was engaged in the conflict.
In World War II, almost all of the espionage services
had come into being and the United States was extremely successful in areas
that had previously been discounted. Code breaking and aerial surveillance became
critically import during this period. During the war, the Office of Strategic
Services (OSS) came into being and soon afterwards in 1947 it became known as
the Central Intelligence Agency. Russiaâ€™s history of spying is even more advanced
than that of the United States where their history of spying goes all the way
back to the time of Ivan the Terrible in 1565 when he created a school for espionage.
England has produced an amazing cadre of super-agents beginning and ending with
James Bond - 007. The English spy network was called the Home Section of the
Secret Service Buireau of the War office, or M15 or M16 the agency that Bond
was affiliated with.
On June 15, 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917.
The act forbade espionage, interference with the draft, or attempts to discourage
loyalty. It greatly increased the Bureau of Enforcement's ability to deal with
espionage and subversion during the war, but a lack of personnel hampered Bureau
efforts in enforcing the law.
Be it enacted, that section three of the Act, approved June
I5, 1917, be amended so as to read as follows:
May 16, 1918
SEC. 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall
willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere
with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United
States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or
convey false reports, or false statements, or say or do anything except by way
of bona fide and not disloyal advice to an investor, with intent to obstruct
the sale by the United States of bonds, or the making of loans by or to the
United States, or whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully
cause, or incite, insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in
the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct,
the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, and whoever, when
the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish
any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government
of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military
or naval forces of the United States, or the flag, or the uniform of the Army
or Navy of the United States, or any language intended to bring the form of
government, or the Constitution, or the military or naval forces, or the flag
of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute, or shall
willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully, urge, incite,
or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things,
necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war, and whoever shall willfully
advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in
this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the
cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act
oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of
not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.
Interestingly enough, for most of years proceeding the later
part of the 20th century, womenâ€™s places were considered to be in
the home. However, in the world of spying, they were active in almost all engagements.
A short list of famous women is included below.