William Stephenson was England’s greatest spook, although his life has been, for the most part, strangely ignored. Ian Fleming was one of his thousands of secret agents, although Fleming’s James Bond was a pale, romanticized version of the real story. Perhaps Stephenson has yet to be mined by the media because his story illustrates how our own domestic counterintelligence operations have their origins in SIS and MI6 operations.
After the death of his father, Stephenson was raised by a working class family in Winnipeg, Canada. Never rising more than 5 foot two, he had two passions early in life: books and boxing. As a featherweight, he was rarely, if ever, defeated.
In January 1916, Stephenson volunteered to fight in Europe and was incapacitated by a gas attack within a week of arrival. In April 1917 he joined the Royal Flying Corp, shot down either 12 or 18 enemy aircraft, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross the following year.
Shot down behind enemy lines, Stephenson ended up in a German prisoner-of-war camp, where he escaped with a stolen can opener. Before escaping, he told a fellow prisoner he planned to patent the can opener in every country outside German influence. His Canadian company went bankrupt, however, and he decamped to England to start over, leaving unpaid debts in his wake. He teamed with an inventor working on wireless photography and got rich in the process, elevating into the orbit of the British oligarchy. Obviously, transmitting photos via radio waves was also a subject of intense interest to the secret services. In 1924, Stephenson married an American tobacco heiress.
Stephenson seems to have been operating as a private intelligence operative for Winston Churchill in the 1930s, long before Churchill was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. These two powerful characters would become forever entwined in covert ops on a massive scale. Although Stephenson was now in charge of factories building cars and radios, as well as running the largest film studio in England, he was spending most of his time in Germany gathering intelligence on the secret Nazi rearmament, while Churchill was using that information to make anti-Nazi speeches in Parliament as a way to advance his career. Before long, Churchill was Prime Minister, and among his first acts was secretly moving Stephenson to New York City, where he was tasked with the mission of getting America into the war. Very soon, Stephenson was running 3,000 operatives out of an entire floor of Rockefeller Center, provided rent-free. Among his thousands of spooks were William Donovan and the young Allen Dulles, and, of course, FDR. Stephenson was a frequent visitor to the White House and also forged a close relationship with J. Edgar Hoover. His operations included running the five types of spies as well as assassinating Nazi agents and neutralizing influential isolationists and peaceniks by-any means-necessary. Stephenson was not beyond carrying out wet work, and didn’t require a Smith & Wesson since he could dispatch targets with a single karate chop to the neck.
Of course, Stephenson had highly-placed operatives in the press to push his propaganda, and the highest among these were Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson. Pearson had a young intern named Jack Anderson who would soon play an influential role in beltway gossip. It should be noted that during the war, Pearson singlehandedly torpedoed George Patton’s career. Patton was famous for visiting his wounded warriors and became enraged when he found a soldier without visible wounds taking up precious hospital space. The Nazis were astonished when Patton lost his command. They could not believe the Allies would sideline their best general for something they considered so inconsequential as a general striking an enlisted man. But sidelining Patton could have been in the interest of British intelligence since he was upstaging Montgomery, their designated knight-in-shining-armor. Montgomery would soon be leading a tragic bridge-too-far fiasco, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths, while Patton might have easily captured Berlin earlier in the war, long before the carpet-bombing on civilian cities like Dresden or the bloody Battle of the Bulge. One wonders if all that last minute carpet bombing on civilians was actually necessary, or deployed to rack up profits for the bomb builders back home. It’s also interesting that Patton had retired himself and was on the eve of returning to America (where he would have immediately begun a political career to threaten Eisenhower’s) when he was killed by a freak auto accident. There was no autopsy and the driver of the vehicle was disappeared so as not to be available to the press.
Mark Wortman writes on the Daily Beast: Thanks to the British sympathies of Nelson Rockefeller and his family, Stephenson opened an office in Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, on the 36th floor of the International Building North, at 636 Fifth Avenue. The sign over Room 3603 read “British Passport Control Office.”
Room 3603 housed two operational arms under Stephenson’s control. The British Information Service (BIS) ran a so-called “white,” or soft, propaganda operation that published magazines and pamphlets, paid for radio broadcasts, including over a New Jersey radio station it controlled, and broadcasted multilingual shortwave programming around the Western Hemisphere aimed at boosting support for the British cause.
Decades before the terms “viral media” and “fake news” were on anybody’s tongue, the BIS began subsidizing Overseas News Agency (ONA), a branch of the Jewish Telegraph Agency, to feed manufactured stories, often couched within factual material, about German atrocities, British pluck under the German bomber onslaught, and Hitler’s threats against the Americas, to its New Jersey Radio Station, which tagged them with the news agency label.
During the war, Stephenson’s network worked closely with the FBI to monitor domestic and international communications, including reading the mail to and from targets before it passed through the system. Immediately after the war, Stephenson’s operations were gradually incorporated into the OSS, which morphed into the CIA, both run by Stephenson operatives. And, of course, Allen Dulles organized a secret Nazi surrender and the movement of war criminals to the west with new identities so they could deploy their talents for a new master.
In 1946, Donovan presented Stephenson with the Medal of Merit, the highest US civilian honor. He was the first foreigner to receive the award. So basically, Stephenson ran an anti-German spy and propaganda operation in violation of US law while we were still a neutral nation. This included neutralizing political targets and interfering in our internal affairs by manufacturing and spreading disinfo. At the same time, Bonesman Prescott Bush was running Union Bank and funneling money to the Nazi cause, while Allen’s big brother John Foster was setting up IG Farben as Germany’s mirror of Standard Oil with loans floated from his Sullivan and Cromwell clients on Wall Street. Surely, there is more here than what they’ve been telling us so far. But even from my lowly perch it sure looks like wars are orchestrated and mined for profit and social control.