If you look hard enough, current events always have precedence in history. Maybe the players are different and the circumstances changed but, to turn a phrase from Mark Twain, “History may not repeat itself but it does rhyme.”
In a few days we will swear in a new president whom many think was put in place thanks to third party meddling. True or not, it’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first time strings have been pulled by an overseas power in order to influence our election to favor a particular outcome.
Steve Usdin, who is working on a book about the topic, posts on Politico about a time when our closest ally, the United Kingdom, resorted to all manner of subterfuge to influence the largely isolationist United States to enter into the war against Germany.
British intelligence employed the full range of cloak-and-dagger techniques in America in 1940 and 1941: forgeries, seductions, burglaries, electoral dirty tricks, physical surveillance, intercepting and reading letters sent under diplomatic seal, illegally bugging offices and tapping phones. British intelligence even listened in on a telephone call in June 1940 between President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House and his ambassador to Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. A report on the call was quickly relayed to Churchill, alerting him that the U.S. was making contingency plans in case the U.K. fell to the Nazis.
Wartime England even used another familiar ruse in order to sway public opinion. Fake News went by another name in Churchill’s England. “Sibs,” short for sibilare, the Latin word for whisper or hiss were the brainchild of a secret clandestine government outfit, the Underground Propaganda Committee.
While rumors spread in Europe by word of mouth, in the U.S., they were disseminated through a network of friendly reporters and, starting in the spring of 1941, by the Overseas News Agency, a news service that received subsidies from, and was controlled by, the BSC. ONA articles appeared in newspapers around the country. Especially prior to Pearl Harbor, these stories were picked up by newspapers in Germany, Japan and occupied countries.
Using intelligence hacking and fake news to swing an election? Same as is everwas.