tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN January 2, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
so he followed these guys. they miked up their houses in places they frequented like bars and restaurants. they went into the houses and changed the telephone cords so their phones, not only so they could tap the phones, so they could turn the phones themselves into microphones so they could listen to all the conversations throughout the house. all of this without warrant. no fisa court. this is about as far of an over reach as you could possibly get when it comes to, you know, the kind of invasion of privacy that you could expect from it. these were investigations into scientists who were suspected leftists. these are two of the scientists i gave you on the third tier of steve nelson's group. i am blowing this up a little bit, so that you can see it a little bit. this is about one of the scientists in nelson's rank. in the middle under remarks it says, subject has been an active member of the communist party, and while his party affiliations are not evident at present, he is still considered to be associated by local communist party leaders, and it is believed that he is still
sympathetic with communist principles. for this reason subject is dangerous as an employee at the radiation laboratory. this is the cal laboratory. pash single-handedly could keep people from getting jobs inside the manhattan project. here you have three of the top people on that third tier of scientists under steve nelson's command. i want to read you the recommendation for max friedman, who was one of these guys providing information. it is recommended that subject be immediately separated from his employment on this project. drafted into the army, and then removed as soon as possible to an outpost where he is not in position to obtain additional information about the project or transmit information that he already possesses.
there is a second letter where they say they want to clarify what he means. send him to siberia. or send him anywhere but here. so that's really what pash is trying to do. there is a third win. counterintelligence diplomacy. an attempt to use agreements and international processes to keep the soviets from getting this information. the first is the quebec agreement. this is between the united states, canada and great britain that says that we will not, either of us in this case, the united states and great britain, communicate any information about tube alloys, that's the british name for the manhattan project, to third parties except by mutual consent. we're saying we're not going to tell anybody else. the real reason for this is we didn't want the british to tell the french anything about the atomic bomb program. then you get the combined development trust in june of 1944. this is the idea that the british and americans are going to do everything they can to buy up all of the uranium worldwide that we possibly could. we didn't understand at the time that uranium was everywhere, but we thought there was uranium in czechoslovakia, there's a lot in korea, the belgian congo. let's make a deal and buy it all up so they won't have any for
themselves. if we dug straight down, we would run into uranium. it's everywhere. we were trying the best we could. there's something a little bit controversial called the smythe report. this is named after a princeton physicist who did not work on the atomic bombs. general groves wanted someone to come into the project and write about it. that sounds kind of counterintuitive when it comes to the idea of keeping things secret. the idea that groves had was that you could have somebody write about the science of the atomic bomb, we could publish this, and that would provide parameters by what you could say and what you couldn't say. does that make sense?q"b,ñ i know it doesn't. at first i'm like why would you tell anybody? the idea was that, at the point in 1945, groves sat down with the scientists and said, what is going to be widely understood information in the world of international science in the next year? what can a first year graduate student in physics figure out from the atomic bombs in the next year or so? let's release that information
now. let's put it out there so everyone knows at this point what they can and can't say to journalists and foreign operatives. or anything else. they said, we are going to release the smythe report and this is as much as you can talk about. when oppenheimer was interviewed after the war, all these atomic scientists were rock stars after the war was over, they knew they could only talk about what was already released in the smythe report. for groves this is a way to kind of contain the information. to say anything outside of this, you're instantly breaking the law. finally the mcmahon act and this is really heavy handed. in june of 1946, after allen nunn may was outed, it looked as though there was some pretty significant leaks in the british atomic bomb program. we didn't think there were any leaks in our program, but the british were leaky. the mcmahon act was passed, named after brian mcmahon who was the head of the atomic
energy commission in congress, saying that we basically were cutting the british off. we're saying thanks for helping us build the bomb during the war, but you're on your own. we are no longer going to share information with you about atomic weapons. this is an attempt to plug the leaks from the british side and keep this information from getting out. of course, the argument has been made in the last 60 years about, why didn't we do enough? hopefully, i've shown you we did a significant amount. i'm even going to argue today that we did too much. i'm a left-winger myself, but there was some significant counterintelligence overreach. during this time period. it actually had some detrimental effects for the american scientific community, and in essence the american national security community. there is a real backlash against nuclear theorists in the united states. because of claude fuchs, allen nunn may, the rosenbergs and others, every theorist was
painted with this brush of they're leftists, they're communists, they're sympathizers. the argument made at the time -- oppenheimer has said this to one of his subordinants, when algar hiss was outed it didn't make lawyers look like they're communists, but when one or two nuclear theorists are outed every single nuclear theorist was looked at as being a security risk. it had real implications on american science. most universities around the country instituted loyalty oaths for their professors and scientists. even berkeley had a loyalty oath. that tells you a lot. it caused a real brain drain. it caused a real problem with retaining top-level scientists in government service or nongovernment service. by the spring of 1949, berkeley lost all of its theorists. every single one of them resigned because they either refused to take the loyalty oath or because they were outed as being too left wing. this had a real problem, real impact on u.s. national security. if you want top scientists in the field of government, if you
want people building the next atomic bomb or the next fighter aircraft or the next spacecraft, you need scientists. scientists were having a real problem getting clearance. from the u.s. government. somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 scientists and engineers were backlogged waiting for clearance in the early 1950s every year. that's 20,000 to 50,000, these are top people that we needed to beat the russians into space. top people that we needed to develop the plane to rival the mig-15. but they were waiting, they couldn't get clearance because of this overreach, and this fear of soviet spies everywhere. so i'm going to read you -- i was going to read you a longer one, but this is the money sentence at the very end, someone that was talking in front of a group of scientists during this time of real overreach and he ends a long talk when he talks about the fact that we need to have an environment of trust, an environment of openness in science with this last paragraph. it's such an atmosphere talking
about this atmosphere of fear and suspicion. such an atmosphere is un-american. the most un-american thing we have to contend with today. it is a climate of a totalitarian country in which scientists are expected to change their theories to match changes in the police state's propaganda line. not steve nelson. it's not some berkeley scientist, it's president harry s. truman. speaking before a group of scientists in 1948. this gives you an indication about how far we have gone. this is before mccarthy. i'm still talking 1948 and the problem that scientists ran in to. okay, so finally, and then i'll wrap up and open up for questions. how much does the spying matter? how much did it make a #i# difference? would they still have gotten the bomb? great quote the only secret about the atomic bomb was whether or not it would work and
that question had been answered by hiroshima and nagasaki. the man doing the quote is glenn seaborg. discoverer of plutonium, the manhattan project scientist, he is somebody who knows. there is a longer quote i'm not going to read all of, but this is from a man who was the chief scientist for what is called the american mission to discover what the german atomic bomb program was doing -- he understood scientific intelligence. so this is after the bomb, right after the soviet bomb came out. and said, the recent revelations of early leaks of atomic revelation to russia reflect a state of mind which should fill each of us with grave concern. the general impression seems to be russia has a bomb, therefore someone must have given her our secrets. we skip down to the bottom. by all means let us understand clearly and admit openly that the russians constructed their bomb all by themselves without any help from us or from captured germans. it is very wrong to underestimate one's adversaries. the question is, did they get the bomb because of the spies? the answer to that is that probably not. they were going to get it anyway. atomic science is not nationalistic. we talked about this before.
the basic tenets were understood worldwide. the discovery of fission opened the field completely. within minutes of hearing about the discovery of fission enrico fermi held up his hands in the united states and said this much uranium and poof it's all gone. and within days after the discovery of fission robert oppenheimer was drawing crude designs of bombs on his chalkboard. this is instantaneous understanding. this wasn't something that was going to be a secret for long. the argument that soviet scientists were idiots, as much as we tried to embrace that argument, there's a great story here i have to tell you. a man named herbert york, and york was a second generation manhattan project scientist. he was a very young guy in the manhattan project and then became one of the top people working on the later project.
york told a great story in his memoirs that come out later on. he says he was called in by the u.s. military, a bunch of generals, who were worried about the soviets sneaking in a suitcase-sized bomb into washington or new york and then starting world war iii by blowing up one of these cities with a secret bomb. so the generals asked york, is this a possibility? could the soviets do this and york said absolutely not, there's no chance. and the general is like, how can you be so sure? york said tongue-in-cheek, the soviets haven't mastered the technology of the suitcase yet. so that's the perception a lot of people had of soviet science. but soviet science was as good as everybody else. we just didn't want to believe they knew what they were doing. the same people that the american manhattan project scientists studied under in europe in the 1930s the soviet scientists studied under. this is going to happen one way or another. i'm actually going to skip this because it is really long. this is the first real talk about atomic bombs.
look at when it is. 1914. h.g. wells wrote a book called "the world set free" where he talks about the atomic bombs being used in a war in the future. this wasn't an idea that we came up with. this is an idea that had been around since the very beginning of the 20th century. so the idea that we were going to be the only ones to have the bomb and the soviets were too stupid, it would have happened one way or the other. so the spies can be forgiven for that. now the other question that matters, how much more quickly? how much faster would they have gotten the bomb? more quickly based on what? that is a key question involved in all of this. the american scientists had one vision of this. academics like oppenheimer saying they're going to get the bomb in a year or two. don't underestimate these guys. government scientists were giving a much broader prediction. herbert york is giving you an idea. the military people, leslie groves, were predicting 20 years before the soviets got the bomb. politicians like harry truman very famously when asked when would the soviets get the bomb,
said never. that asiatic comment gives you an idea of what he was thinking. then the intelligence agencies, they had a different view. so they had some -- i'll go through this quickly. the first estimate of when the soviets would get the bomb in 1946. soviets would develop an atomic bomb sometime between '50 and '53. the next estimate was the joint nuclear energy intelligence committee, same prediction as before, by july '48 they acknowledge it's impossible to determine when they're going to get the bomb, but maybe by 1950s, most probable date mid 1953. not a lot of changes here. june '49 report, same as above. july '49 report, just a month before. the office of scientific intelligence said information now available substantiates the date already estimated in the '49, '48, '47 and '46 report, earliest date mid '50s, most probably mid '53 but new
information suggests it would not be before mid-1951. my favorite was 1949, predicted a first soviet bomb in mid 1953. this is 23 days after -- all right. so you can see how well the intelligence community was doing when it came to predicting this. real quickly, the argument for the idea that spies were important we've already gone through all this. intelligence showed the soviets what path not to take. the mistakes we made they didn't have to make. the russian defense ministry later on, when koval was awarded 2007 hero of the russian federation said that the intelligence allowed the soviets to make the initiator prepare to the recipe provided by coval. stalin, beria, soviet science, all these wanted american know how and american influence
tell them where they were going. stalin said i don't believe what our scientists say unless i see the west has done it first. technical drawings are very important. the ones that greenglass provided were key to figuring out the soviet bomb and then of course we talk about uranium separation and petroleum production for things that took us years to figure out and it was easier for the soviets. the quick argument against, the smythe report. this provided a lot of the information necessary right off the bat that there wasn't needed to be stolen that gave the soviets the theory behind the atomic bomb. it provided form but not function. what i mean by that is it gave the recipe, but it didn't give the experience of how to actually cook the meal. my wife and i are dramatically different in our cooking skills. you could hand us both a
complicated recipe and mine would be set on fire and hers would be a beautiful, great meal. we knew how to cook. the soviets didn't. we provided them with a recipe but not the experience on how to actually do things. in this case, it's not about building one bomb. it's about building lots and lots of bombs. so the technical capability of building this stuff was not something you could provide with just drawings and information. most of the claims about how great the soviet intelligence was comes from retired kgb officers. so take that for what it's worth. liked i talked about before, you just give the recipe, means they had to redo a lot of the experiments, investigate competing processes for separating uranium and plutonium and it still took longer for them to pull off than the manhattan project. this isn't primarily because of uranium and industrial capacity. it took them much longer to refine uranium and much longer to build all of these apparatuses in this industrial background. we had to build cities for the manhattan project. oak ridge tennessee was built from the ground up, not to mention los alamos which was just desert. that took time. the soviets needed to catch up with that industrial capacity. so arguments for, arguments against. i will end it there and take questions. i want to give you guys a chance
i could talk forever but i don't want to do that. i'm going to make c-span crazy by taking the mike and moving around. i don't like standing in one spot. wait for the microphone to get to you. laura right there. >> thanks very much for the presentation. not only do you know a lot about this stuff you structured it very, very well to help us. a couple of questions of detail. should we believe david greenglass when late in life he says he lied about his sister? secondly, what was steve nelson's background before he became a naturalized american? i'm dreading that you'll say he's a brit. >> so we actually don't know a lot about steve nelson before he came to the united states, to answer that question second. he actually gave different
stories for where he came from. he know he was naturalized at one point. again the documents, because he was a private citizen, that wasn't under surveillance before that, there's not a lot of research into his background. he wasn't a brit."tr he was most likely something russian background. there are arguments about was he latvian? or was he one of the pre-baltic. but he was from eastern europe or eurasia beforehand. to answer your first question, it is always tricky when you're dealing with deathbed confessions or later in life confessions but what makes greenglass perhaps believable was his motivation at the time for lying. he wanted to make sure his wife was not implicated in this. so pushing off and agreeing to testify against ruth -- i'm sorry ruth was his wife, against ethel and julius rosenberg was his way of keeping the blame from being pushed onto his wife. so it is one of those kind of courtroom, get immunity for telling a lie kind of things, where it is more believable in my mind that ethel probably was certainly knowledgeable, but a willing participant. she didn't know anything.
she really could have done nothing but type. and if typing gets you the death penalty, that is a pretty steep process -- even hoover, interestingly enough, j. edgar hoover was gung ho behind let's get them, you know, thrown in prison for the rest of their lives, we need to get them convicted. when the judge passed down the death sentence, he was like, whoa. i wasn't expecting that. it was very harsh. i mean certainly for ethel. julius you could argue one way or the other. julius certainly gave information. but if you compare them to what the british knew, allen got ten years and served six. claus gave way more information than does julius rosenberg. we just have harsher punishment here in the united states than other places. yes? wait for the microphone. >> is there any evidence that soviet participants with the
research were giving information to the west about the progress of the soviet atomic program? >> yes. that is a great question. we get to go the other direction. i love that. eventually there would be a book about that. about yet. so, yes, there are some. there are a lot of hints that come out of the soviet union that there is a process happening. there is an active offensive intelligence operation to try to discover what is happening inside the soviet union. so there are people, we call it the scientific underground, passing information from scientist to scientist to scientist. that becomes really problematic. it's like the game of telephone. you whisper something in one person's ear and then it goes around the room because by the time it gets back to the united states it's gone through 15 different iterations and all of a sudden who knows whether it's real or not. the real issue we run into at that time is it is double sided. one is the american intelligence apparatus collapses after the war. with the collapse of the oss, the cia takes a long time to get
going. the cia gets going, but intelligence gets left behind a little bit. you don't have the office of scientific intelligence, which is the office created to do foreign intelligence towards the atomic program. until the very beginning in 1949. that's when the program is created. it takes some time to get their act together. by the time the russians had the bomb, you could see what they are putting out. it's not very good. the second problem is that there is no real impetus to have a strong scientific intelligence program for the soviets. most americans think they are a bunch of idiots. most americans are looking at the soviets from the perspective that the scientists are stupid, that their industry is so backward that there is no way they could produce these kind of weapon systems. that it will take them years to refine enough uranium. to make a bomb. the fact the soviet system itself is not designed for innovative science and innovative technology. the idea of bush, who was the top u.s. scientist during the
second world war, wrote a book actually in 1949 talking about how the free world will always have better science than the totalitarian world. basically said the nazis, the soviets, same basic idea, you just don't have the creativity to do high level state-of-the-art science. so we had this perception that they just couldn't do the state-of-the-art. there really wasn't a lot of pressure behind american intelligence to find out what's happening inside the soviet union. and some actually historians have written about, incorrectly, about that there was this real big program to figure out what they were doing. they are taking bits and pieces of documents from the archives, look, so-and-so was trying to find out what was happening. this person was hunting down uranium. but it is kind of the exception that proves the rule in many respects. we can find a couple of these examples that try to make it look like it's a program. there's no program. at the highest levels, nobody cared. again, groves, was in charge of this -- 20 years. he didn't care about the scientists. he thought they were smart.
he said they can't reproduce what i did. groves was a proud man. the u.s. built three cities. the u.s. spent $2 billion on the manhattan project in 1941. you can extrapolate that to hundreds of billions of dollars today. about the cost of one f-35. but lots and lots of money. the soviets just didn't have that infrastructure, or at least we thought they didn't have that infrastructure. so it was somewhat, nah, they'll eventually get it but we'll be ready for them when they do. right here. >> yeah. last year, i read diana west's latest book on the new deal era, the roosevelt times. she went into great detail about harry hopkins being a soviet agent of influence, and also she talked about somebody saying
that, that nuclear materiel was shipped through montana by air to the soviets. do you agree with that? those -- >> -- harry hopkins. they got 2.5 pounds. 2.2. they got one kilogram. the soviets requested tons of uranium, refined uranium. you had people within the administration -- hopkins being one of them, certainly henry wallace being another -- the story of henry wallace is fascinating. he wasn't a communist himself all his friends were. and he was vice president of the united states until he was replaced by harry truman. and all of his top aides were spying for the soviets. so if fdr had died with henry wallace as his vice president the president of the united states would have been the greatest conduit to the soviet union you ever had. the answer to the question is they asked for tons of enriched uranium.
of course the white house agreed because diplomacy carried the day. but groves got in the middle of v it. groves went berserk, as you can expect, went to george marshall. groves was one person as a one-star general that could walk into george marshall's office screaming and throwing stuff and not get court-martialed for it. he went into the office screaming bloody murder. convinced marshall of the stupid idea. then convinced stimson this is a really stupid idea. groves got in the middle, slowed it down and eventually conceded as a compromise to give them one kilogram of enriched uranium. 2.2 pounds which you can't do a whole lot with. this is like 10% refined uranium, too. you couldn't even make a nuclearaucóz reactor out of this. you need about 80%, 90% refinement of uranium to make a bomb. so, yes, he was very much -- forget the spying. they were very much looking to please the soviets because they were allies, but there was no transfer of uranium that made a difference at this point. yeah, right back there with the glasses. and then directly next to you
after that. and i saw you up here. >> i have a couple questions real quick. could you say the germans were going about it the wrong way with this heavy water? >> right. >> was that absolutely the wrong way to go in light of what the united states did? second question is, do you think it's true that the counterintelligence under leslie gross was actually investigating and spying the wrong people? >> i'll answer the second question first. yes and no. pash wisely almost identified every member of nelson's spy chain. he got all the low hanging
fruit. he got all the lower tier people. the issue was pash, by the time it mattered, by 1943 when the american atomic bomb program was in full swing, when you could have potentially stopped the clock, he doesn't come over until then, you could have stopped the rosenbergs, pash with all the experience of counterintelligence, the best of the best, had a new mission and it was to go over to europe and find out what the germans were doing. he became an offensive intelligence guy. see, you lost a lot of this institutional knowledge at this time. i'm a big fan of boris pash and g-3 i'm biased in this regard but that's my answer to that question. the first part, heavy water is an interesting concept. the germans do not mess up because of heavy water. heavy water is something we investigated as well. heavy water is a -- water where the hydrogen atom actually has -- it's two protons. it's d2o. it's heavy hydrogen. that's all we need to talk about. so it's a process that you can potentially use to create
fissile material. we did it in this country and found it didn't work very well. it was a very bad way to try to create the -- the -- the kind of necessary materiel for creating a nuclear chain reaction. we ended up using graphite in this country instead of heavy water because graphite had a much better job in absorbing neutrons which you need to do. you look at the science behind it. you need to be able to absorb neutrons. graphite was easier to use. heavy water was much more difficult to develop. heavy water in the german case was an easy target. the german heavy water was in norway and we sent, the british sent two missions saboteura of special forces in to try to take out this heavy water plant. it did it temporarily. groves wasn't very happy with that so groves bombed it into the stone age. and decided he wanted to make sure that he wasn't going to tip off the germans that he was targeting a heavily water plant so he bombed several other cities around it, too, just for good measure to try to hide what
he was actually bombing. over 1,000 planes went over. that's how groves did things. what really derailed the german atomic bomb program is a simple math mistake. that's one of those what ifs in history that is fantastic. there were trying to figure out the critical mass for building an atomic on. how much material did you need to build a bomb? the head of the program turned to one of his top, top scientists, a guy who was, theoretical math beyond any of us, said figure it out, do the math. the guy took a couple of days -- did the math. this is math that took like a whole notebook for one equation. did the whole thing and said we need way too much critical mass. we need instead of pounds we need tens of pounds or even hundreds of pounds of mass. and he's like that's too much. it's impossible to do. it turns out he made a simple math mistake in the middle of
the calculation. for us it would be the equivalent of not carrying a one or doing something very simple. for him, it was a differential equation. but for somebody at that level, it was a simple math mistake but no one checked it. because everyone assumed this is the best guy we had for math. you could have given a first year grad student his equation and he would have said oh, there's a mistake here. the mistake ended up when highsenberg was called in front of german command and said could this be done? maybe. it's going to take a lot of resources. it's going to be very difficult to do. and the german high command said unless you say definitely and we can do it for cheap we're not going to do it. we need to build bombs, we need to build tanks, submarines, we don't have the money to do both, so since you say maybe and it's going to take a lot of money the plan is to just kind of do laboratory research. at the same time the americans were ramping up the manhattan project in 1942 the germans were
ending their real serious research into an atomic bomb. and so a lot of what happens after that, like the bombing of the heavy water plant, was overkill. it was groves flexing his muscles to make sure. we didn't know that yet. we had no idea until the very end of 1944. we were very worried. the nazis with a bomb is the ultimate terror at this time. the gentleman right next to -- yeah. >> i run around the city talking about different topics but what hit me when you mentioned ethyl rosenberg was the actually the execution of eethal rosenberg, and mary surat, she may not have been involved but she knew about it, but what got her was the political climate of the time. >> exactly. >> how much of what happened applied to what happened to ethel rosenberg. >> there's no question. i think, if you look at the spying since then. if you look at some of the spies. the atomic bomb is about as important as it gets. but there have been spies we have captured since then. robert hansen, aldrich ames,
john walker who arguably had a larger impact on -- forget the atomic bomb, had a larger impact on u.s. foreign policy and they got prison, they didn't get executed. we're not executing people anymore for even the most heinous of espionage crimes. ethel didn't do anything. even if she did type stuff up, she typed stuff up. she wasn't stealing secrets, she wasn't passing stuff on to the soviet union. so there's no way, in my opinion, to talk about this without saying that absolutely was a blood lust based on the political environment of the time. the mccarthyism is really coming into full swing. the idea that it looked like the united states was losing the cold war. at this time period. if you look at the progression of events from 1948 on, you have the berlin blockades, the soviet bomb, losing china, the korean war, you know, 1953, in 1954 the soviets get the hydrogen bomb. it looks like we're going
backwards. it looks like we're losing the war. so within this hysteria, within the red scare you get all of a sudden these are the guys that gave them the bomb. i mean, it's -- if ethel wasn't executed she may have been strung up in the town square. that's how much animosity was against this. and if you look at the polling from the time period, the majority of americans wanted her taken out. even if they had -- they understood that there was still confusion about her role. the majority of people like, yeah, fry them. there wasn't a lot of sympathy for them. i -- i'll go to him and then go here. i saw earlier. >> there [ inaudible ] espionage activity at the hanford engineering works? >> there was an attempt. hanford was difficult because the process there was something that a lot of people didn't quite understand. hanford was primarily producing plutonium, and most people at the very beginning did not know
what plutonium was. or what it did. an american discovers it. it was the discovery during the manhattan project. it was accidental. in many respects. so hanford was a target later in the war when people said plutonium might be an issue. he ted hall and fuchs were able to pass some secrets, this is something you might want to pay attention to. so there was, hanford especially from the northern californian spies. steve nelson's group. steve nelson's group had been outed by boris pash so we knew exactly what to look for and we were able to keep them out of hanford. they were far more successful at oak ridge and los alamos, but these are higher-level spies we weren't expecting. hanford tended to be more of an industrial plant. it was not a lot of innovative research. once you figured out how to do it at los al motion and refined it at oak ridge then it finally went to hanford as a finished product to many extents. so the real research wasn't being done there. that's why you didn't have a lot of the scientists being sent to hanford. does that make sense? the microphone right there.
>> the last one. >> the last question. make it a good one. >> getting back to the germans and the atomic bomb, in baseball lore there is a story about mo byrd, who was a mediocre catcher, but a terribly brilliant person. >> right. >> he knew seven languages and couldn't hit in any of them. >> twelve. >> is it true that he was recruited by the oss to go to the meetings in switzerland? if you're hysenberg, and byrd was to stake out his revolver and shoot him. is that a true story? >> it is a true story. so byrd is the one we had at the spy museum yesterday nicolas davidov to wrote the book the catcher was a spy. he was here. he talked about it. it's the 20th anniversary of that book. made him feel a little older than he wanted to. yes, it is absolutely true. so mo byrd so heisenberg was somebody we were terrified was going to be integral in building the german atomic bomb.
heisenberg takes quantum mechanics, which is the other real major physics movement of the 20th century, the relatively theory which is einstein's movement, and then quantum mechanics which wasn't invented by heisenberg, he was the one who made it work. he created the uncertainty principle which is the most important principle in quantum theory. he is as good a scientist or perhaps better than the einsteins of the world, than the oppenheimers and fermis of the world. what we found out through the scientific underground is he was going to give a talk in zuric, switzerland. this is on a neutral country during the war.frpñlwiúoo-ñwokd8 g=a)
>> good evening and welcome. >> several of his books were best sellers including among others, i pledge allegiance the true stories of the walkers an american spy family that was turned into a great mini series on cbs, perhaps some of you watched it in the past. "gangland how the fbi broke the mob" in 1993. the eve of destruction the untold story of the young kipper
war in 2003. american lightning terror mystery and the crime of the century in 2008. a floor of heaven, a true tale of the last frontier and the yukon gold rush in 2011. warner brothers is preparing a film of dark invasion starring bradley cooper. please welcome, howard blum. >> pick up a newspaper and just glance at the headlines. check the internet and read almost any post. there is news about terrorism anywhere and it is all very frightening. one day they're saying new york city is a target and the next
day is chicago and then las vegas and even the air force academy. the president tells us we don't have to worry isis is not going to attack the homeland yet. then a republican presidential candidate comes out and says maybe we do have to worry, our borders are very porous. there is no doubt about it. my children are growing up in a world of terrorism terrorism has become part of the dna of is the times in which we live. consider this very harrowing and they begin bombing munition factories and mu fligz and the industrial complex is targ lted in a bold assassination attempt. from a covert biowar fare lab
just six miles from the white house, a biowar fare attack is launched on three american cities. the president is told by his chief adviser this is a time of fear, we have to worry that bridges and subways and buildings all around the country are going to be attacked. the government in response puts, forms a task force to look for these terrorists. it's headed by a new york city policeman. he goes off and with 12 men tries to bring these terrorists to justice. now this scenario that i've outlined it sounds like a movie and it would make a pretty good movie or it could be maybe at the pentagon and as they try to figure out what the next terrorist attack is going to be made against the homeland. but in reality, all this happened. this happened in 1915.
it's a story i tell in "dark invasion" and a story i want to share a little bit about tonight. the story begins, really, at a time when the u.s. is still neutral while europe is at war and in germany they decided to target the united states. they decide that the only way to keep the united states out of the war is to bring terror to our shores. they decide that they need to stop the united states from sending arms and material to the allies who are fighting against germany. so they begin to target the united states. it's a time when the united states realizes that this is a nation full of targets. the cia in their in-house journ journal look back on this period and the first defense of the homeland and the man made in charge of this defense of the homeland captain tom and i'll speak about him really is the
first head of homeland security. he and his little 12-man squad are really the precursors of a homeland security network which now has 240,000 people and an annual budget of $98.8 billion. it's also a time that we learn to live with fear. to understand where this story begins, i think we have to go back to two month before the war, before the war is broken out in europe. we have to go to germany berlin where walter nicoli is head of the german secret service and nicoli has served on the russian front. he has been a handler and sent agents deep into russia. he set up the german spy academies and they've sent agents into france and into england and, as i said, into russia. but suddenly occurs to him that
war is about to begin and he knows in a couple months that the germans have taken their battle plans out of the safe and dusted them off. he suddenly realizes we forgot about the united states. in the united states, as 1914, the summer of 1914 approaches. germany only has one agent in the entire country. a man who works in a emission ss so nicoli realizes that something has to be done. if germany is going to win this war, which is about to break out, we have to keep the u.s. out of the war we have to keep the u.s. military machine, if it's ever built up from working against the germans and we have to prevent the united states from sending supplying the allies. he decides the only way we can do this, the only way germany
can do this is to set up a network. germany ambassador to the united states and burnstof gets this summons to report back immediately to berlin for meetings. and he's rather upset about all this because he has his whole summer planned. he has a rich american wife with an estate on the north shore and a girlfriend with her house in newport, rhode island. spent part of the summer with his wife and then high tail it off to newport and spend the rest of his summer with his girlfriend and the parties up there. now, he's summoned back to berlin. a bit of an inconvenience. he hopes to get it over rather quickly. he goes off to berlin and he's brought down to nicoli's headquarters, really. it's a basement room underneath berlin and he's a little off, but he's an ambassador and being
lectured to by a major. he's been told that he is going to head the german spy network in america. he's upset about this because in america. spying is a little beknead him. he is given a briefcase in the briefcase are $150 million in treasury notes. and he's told to bring this money into the united states. he's to travel back under an assumed name. if the ship is boarded by inspectors don't let them get this money. don't let them know what we're up to. better to throw it into the sea than to let the british get their hands on it. and so, he comes back to the united states. he brings the money with him. and he begins to set up his organization. during the day, he lives as
cover, as they say in this spy business, very well. he's still going out to parties all around washington. he is still on the social circuit. he's going up to new port, but he is also has sent his agent, his military and naval partners to run this spy network. and they're based in lower manhattan around wall street and they've also been able to recruit many assets to work with them. not only is there a large german population in new york, for example, in yorkville who were sympathetic to the fatherland, but also ships had been interred in new york harbor and hoboken and these are filled with german sailors that can't get back to germany because of the war and they have nothing to do and they're looking to help the father fland fatherland in any way. this is an army that is really based in new york that's at germany's beck and call. they have $150 million to spend. so they start beginning sabotage. they set up a safe house in new york, not too far from here on west 15th street. it's funded by funds from the german government run by martha held, a former opera singer. they meet there late at night and it's a great cover to planetary ris activities because anyone who is watching it is
anyone who is watching it is not surprised to see men coming and going at all hours of the night. so they begin to do this and suddenly ships are blowing up at sea, munitions factories are going up in smoke and the american authorities really don't know what's going on. is this an industrial plague of industrial accidents? is there a labor protest? they really don't suspect that germany could be behind this. then the british share some
information with us. the british since the start of the war have been intercepting germany's cable. and they have broken the code. they do it in the old building. they get a whole bunch of oxford dons and cambridge dons and they are able, very ingeniously, brilliantly, in fact, to break the german code and they're reading germany's messages and they read them and they say, oh my gosh, they've declared war, even though there isn't a real declaration of war against the united states. so they pass this on to the so they pass this on to the government. the man in charge of intelligence activities at that
new england and the new york city police chief went to groten and his chief deputy went to groten, they're all groten and harvard men, to go to the old-boy network. and he goes to them and he says, maybe you can help me with this. he trusts them when he doesn't trust people in the federal government. so arthur woods, the new york city police chief who taught at groten for a while after his graduation from harvard, he and his deputy guy skull decide that they've got just the man. he's an irish street god, tom. at this point he's heading the bomb squad.
the bomb squad in those days is really not concerned with with the people who make them. and they tell him he has just run a very successful cover operation, one of the first undercover operation ever in the history of the new york city police department. a anarchist group is going to put a bomb in st.
patrick's cathedral. he had one of his men infiltrate his group. they were able to grab the bomb that was left out in front and stop it from being -- stop it from exploding. and this has given him a great5 deal of credibility with the department, so he's called to a secret meeting at the new york city police head quarters on center street, the big dome building is now luxury condominiums that go for several
million dollars a piece. and in the commissioner's private office, there's a backway in the back of the building, you go up a prooit elevator into a wood panel room with the fire going and there is the commissioner and his deputy guy skull and they're telling him we have this mission for you. we want you to, in effect, be head of homeland security. they say we're going to give you a special office right across
the way above a bar. you answer only to us. take the men you need. the plots that von ritalin spins in the united states -- let me give you an idea of some of them. one is an ingenious invention is to sabotage ships at sea as they leave the new york harbor after they've been loaded with ammunitions that will go to france or england or russia. one of his men invents what's called a cigar bomb. it's a piece of metal tubing about the size of a cigar. in the middle of it is a bit of
copperplating and the other side is acidthat will eat through the plating in the middle in a number of days. they throw this into the bowels. many of the stevedores are irish and they're willing -- because any enemy of england is their friend. they're willing to work with these german terrorists and they put them in the ships going off to sea and then two days out at sea, the acidis eaton through
and the ships blow up and the evidence doesn't exist anymore because it's all been come busted in the explosion and tuny has to figure out how this is done. another plot he haslw to deal with is germ warfare. in 1907 in a former stables that was turned into a veterinary clinic outside of berlin, the german government had begun experimenting with an tracks and glander. when mustard gas begins being used in the battlefields of europe, why not bring it here to the united states? why not use that in america? the real target is war horses. the corrals of horses that have been gathered up and being shipped to the war that are so necessary for fighting in world war i. they decide, we'll poison these animals. but there are ancillary incidents and people die from germ warfare in the united states. the main agent who is doing this is a doctor. this doctor is this sort of enemy agent that we still worry about today. he was born in the united states then he goes off to germany to study medicine.
he's living in germany when the war breaks out and he volunteers# to help the germans. but he has an american passport. his father, in fact, won the congressional medal of honor in the civil war and now he's also of german decent and he's -- they're willing now to help germany. so he comes to the united states. he's given money by nicoli and he sets up a germ warfare factory, in effect. he sets it up six miles from the white house in a house he's r%%kur' the basement and he's -- his sister lives upstairs and in the basement he and his brother who used to run a brewery are brewing up vats or test tubes really of an tracksnchyp and glanders. he brought the cultures over with him from germany and now t>'s producing them and then they recruit interns to spread them in the port of new york, in
baltimore, and in new orleans. and there's a germ warfare attack on three american cities. people die as these germs are spread. there have been several deaths that only after the war did the u.s. authorities are being caused by germ warfare. and tom tuny has to try to stop this. an attack on america that he does not quite understand. then there's another (lot, rather interesting. the assassination plot on jp o&qk morgan jr. jp morgan jr. is now heading a consortium of banks that are lending over $900 million to the allies, to
russia, france, and largely england. and walter nicoli and van ritalin are going to stop this. and the way to stop these loans, which are funding the allied war is to get rid of jp morgan jr. but that brings them to find the perfect person to do this, which turns out to be a man by the name of eric munter. in 1906 eric munter is a professor at harvard. he is teaching german there and is also expecting his second child. but his wife is having a difficult pregnancy. he leaves his harvard office everyday, he goes home to see
her and he spoon feeds her every night this special broth that he's made to help her through this difficult pregnancy and/+ he's a very solicitous husband. the neighbors talk about how much he cares about his wife. the nurses report him. oh, professor munter, he cares so much about her. and despite her illness, she is able to give birth and everything seems okay but then four days afterwards she dies. and munter is filled with grief and he decides that he will bring the baby -- the newborn baby and his other infant baby with him to his in-law's house in chicago. they'll bury his wife leona there.
and he goes up to chicago with the nurses and the two babies. after the funeral, he tells his father-in-law, i just need to think about things. let me spend two days and then i'll be back. he never comes back. and while he's away, the cambridge, massachusetts police come looking for him. it seems the autopsy on the organs that were taken out of
his wife's body shows that she was poisoned. the broth that he was#] feeding her is arsenic. the harvard professor is now on the lam. he goes by frank holt. he goes down to mexico, hangs out two years there. he works as a bookkeeper for a mining company then slowly begins to come back to the united states. >> he enrolls in a college outside of dallas. meets his new wife there. her name is also leona. he finds another leona and her father is a methodist minister in dallas, comes from a very respectable family and he does very well. he graduates and becomes an teacher, working his way back to cornell university, back to the
ivy league, a professor there again under this assumed name. no one has noticed him. he has a new wife and he thinks everything is fine. when war breaks out in europe, he's overwhelmed by this. he decides what the united states is doing, sending arms to the allies is not right. he has to do something about it. when the term ends, he sends his
wife and their baby daughter down to dallas to see his father-in-law, the reverend and he's going to go to new york to do something about this. what he does in new york is pretty much like lee harvey oswald did when he went to the cuban embassy in mexico. he volunteers his services to the german cause and he becomes really an agent for von ritalin. the details only come out after the fact. later tom tuny is able to put things together. holt, who originally was munter comes down from cornell to new york city with only $5 in his possession. he's able to buy a car, stay in a hotel, rent a cottage out in long island as he does reconnaissance of jp morgan's
mansion out there. he's able to buy 178 pounds of dynamite and he also has a great cover identity. he goes around as member of the summer new york social register, so he is able to get into all the great houses of long island because they all want to be listed in the social register and he's able to do a1c1h reconnaissance of jp morgan's mansion on the north shore. and then he decides to launch his plot.
first step in this plot is he plans -- goes up to washington on july 2nd, 1915 and plants a bomb in the u.s. capitol building.luñ this bomb goes off 10:00 p.m. at night. it does great damage to the u.s. capitol building and having accomplished this, he then goes the next morning, takes the train back to new york and makes
his way to jp morgan's mansion. he introduced himself as the reporter to the social directory, but jp morgan's butler, physic says, this doesn't seem right. the guy looks weird and wild. munter takes out a revolver, forces his way in and chases the butler down the great hall of the mansion. finally he sees jp morgan's
children, grabs them and starts walking up the staircase. jp morgan's wife sees this man with a gun on her two children, she screams, that alerts morgan and he very courageously throws himself right in front of holt. holt shoots him once, then another time, twice. then the gun jams. there are serious wounds and then he falls on top -- he falls on top of%u the assassin while the butler and the rest of the crew come up and beat him unconscious. so tom tuny is brought in to do the questioning of this assassin. and the interrogation -- and i pulled a lot of it because the transcripts are available in my book are really reminiscent of
lee harvey oswald. he is an assassin who isn't saying anything other than he's innocent. gives great many smirking replies to the interrogation and he goes off to see what will happen and he tells the guards b careful. put him under solitary confinement. make sure -- keep a guard on him at all times, but take him to the jail. while he's in the jail, the
first report is there's a shot and he's been killed by a lone gunman, an assassin stuck a rifle into the jail cell. the next day this is contradicted. it says he got on top of his jail cell and jumped down an smashed his head open but j1gr there's no autopsy. police chief woods is saying there's more people involved. the bottom that he ignited the very sophisticated bomb. he knew nothing about making or fabricating bombs and then mysteriously the story disappears. it just stops. and tuny becomes convinced that the u.s. president, president wilson is just not prepared to go to war. they don't want america, if this comes out, america will have no choice to go to war. at this point, in 1915, america is just not ready for it. but, within two years, wilson's patience breaks away and america goes to war. tuny and his men are drafted into the military intelligence.
he becomes major tuny. his squadron now army officers and they are now policing the homeland. it would be wrong to say that one event made president wilson change his mind, convince the man who is soex complex as wilson to go to war. there was black tom. the zimmerman telegram that you'll read about in the guns of august suspension before. but, to give some insight into what pushed the united states into war is a flag day speech made in june, 1917, just months after the declaration. and it's a very candid speech by president wilson. he seems deeply grieved. he has taken what the german ambassador has done, what the german spy network has done as being very personal. he's still shocked that gentlemen would behave this way. he said they would come into our homes as our friends and then betray this country. what self respecting nation should not go to war. and so because of terrorism largely, america goes to war in 1917. now, it's nearly a century later and, you know, terrorism, as i said, has become part of our lives. we still have to deal with it. and yet what i find so troubling, soi) disturbing that one of the chief problems that tuny and police chief woods had to deal with in 1914, n+ 1915, 1916 is still a problem here in the united states today. let me explain. after the war, chief -- police chief arthur woods said, america can never be caught napping again. our intelligence agencies must be federalized and banned together. but he also said, what the last war taught us is that america couldn't -- and that new york i,cnb city, rather, could not count on
the federal government to protect us. that's why i had to take a new york city policeman. that's why i had to take tom tuny and appoint him to protect this &ncity. after 9/11, ray kelly, former new york city cop, former marine, he takes the job and he has the same reaction. he says, it's all doom and gloom and we can't count on the feds to protect us. he makes his own intelligence network. he takes a former director of operations from the cia, brings him to new york city and then has him set up agencies representing new york in various capitols, all different capitols around the world so that new york will get the information it needs right away without having to rely on the federal gover'2q9 and after the boston marathon
bombing, commissioner/b@ kelly again raises the issue. the fbi knew about these two brothers. why didn't they pass it on to the police? so, here we have this same concern, the same concern that was bothering police chief woods, captain tuny is now bothering the people in charge of new york city and other
cities today. intelligence is only valuable if it's shared. we have all the eyes and ears in the world listening to us, who knows who is listening to me speak rftonight. but if this information is not shared with the people who are protecting our various cities, it's really not helping the cause too much. and what makes this particularly frightening is that while we have not cured this problem, our enemies have gotten much more powerful. you think of german doctor sitting in his little lab and chevy chase making anthrax with his test tubes. mobile labs in where in the
middle east and brought to the united states. we have to we livew!sq in an open society where we have super bowls and stadium baseball stadiums, shopping malls, office the black tom arsenal which was over new jersey, which wound up causing millions of dollars worth of damage and was felt it blew up in new jersey and the windows of the 42nd street library were blown out. that's how powerful the explosive -- explosion was. and it killed three people. that was also masterminded by von ritlin. he was sent the original plan for that and that was a more standard bomb. but the ingenius part of the cigar bomb is that it would disappear. you wouldn't see it.
so for the first year that it was happening, they weren't sure if this was caused by a labor dispute or an angry seaman or whatever. one other thing about the cigar bombs. von ritlin managed to convince the russians under his assumed identity of emile gashe that he would buy supplies for them. so he would take their money, millions of dollars to buy supplies and then he would say it was being loaded on to a ship. he would then have that ship blown up at sea so, a, the russians wouldn't get the supplies and b he was able to keep the money because he didn't even have to buy it. it was a very -- he was very ingenius and very ruthless. he wound up in the atlanta penitentiary for 15 years. your other part of the question i'm not quite sure? >> who was targeted for germ warfare? >> here in the united states? what they did is chemical
factories first, the dupont factory, the factories in new jersey various fireworks factories, and every ship that was leaving for sea, theype went up to van cortland park and did the horse corrals there war horses that were going off to europe. they did that also by the new york ports. they really wanted to stop war materiel from going over to the allies. that's how they then moved on to j.p. morgan, because he was the one who was supplying the money to buy it. . . on all >> one of the interesting things i note in your book is how this really didn't become a hysterical attempt to crack down on, you know, all german americans or kind of like a witch hunt. as later happened with the red scare around 901920, so i wondern:ñ why isn't that?
they learned from tunney, you know, we can do this small. we can target just the right people and get them, and there's no need to, like, round up thousands of people. >> i think -- well, i would disagree a bit because they didn't realize what was happening at the time. later, when they figured out that these were german americans were working with the german government, that led to the internment of japanese. this was brought up in congress as a rationale for the way they acted in world war i. it's just that they didn't quite understand -- they were learning. tom tunney had become head of homeland security, had to understand everything, and he was a street cop who had a lot of guts and was inventive and tenacious, but he had to learn on the job. and also the press -- and part of his edict was to keep this out of the press. and the press really wasn't brought into it until
afterwards. >> on the security and freedom debate, what do the naysayers tell you at conferences and things? >> the naysayers who 00:44:09 ? unidentified speaker are against security? well, back then or now? now. against security. well, i mean, it's a very delicate balance. as i said before, we live in an open society. we have to balance our freedom and our privacy against our protection.
the classic example is, do you want to be patted down before you go on an airline or take your chances? and at the same time, my kids, i did a piece for the wall street journal several months ago called generation lockdown. i have three kids in college and they're all experienced one way or another being locked down, having to worry about different threats. they have grown up living through 9/11, and the boston bombing. you know, this is part of their dna. and so you have to worry about the freedoms that will allow these children, my children, your children, to grow up and be who they want to be. at the same time, we have to protect them. so it's, again, it's a delicate balance. >> i am interested in your vocabulary that goes through this fascinating story. you constantly use the words terrorist and terrorism. i'm interested in that. we usually use it to refer to events like 9/11, the london subway bombing, the madrid bombing, the ballet bombing.
so all of which were primarily targeting civilians in order to spread terror among the civilian targets. these attacks were primarily, i know there were some exceptions, there's the morgan assassination attempt, but they're basically against war shipping, war munitions, war horses. primary, the civilians tend to be more collateral damage. would you also use terrorism to describe the sabotage programs of the british soe or the american sos in world war ii?5q though we ordinarily reserve terrorism for programs that primarily spread terror among civilians? >> you raise an interesting point. i'm using the vocabulary that's
something like 54 people were just workers in the various munitions factory blew up. black tom, there were three deaths. thee were all civilians. the people killed in the ancillary amtrak attacks on the horses were civilians. this was basically an attack on our homeland. jp morgan, a civilian. i think when people come to our shores and we're not in a state of war and try to do damage to american lives, that's m
>> he worked for the hamburg-american lines, and he was a real brute of a man. he was the 00:48:29 ? unidentified speaker enforcer. the german-american line sort of ran the port of new york on the west side, the west side ports. and he took his whole crew of tough guys with him to work for germany. he received a great deal of the money that german ambassador had to spread, and tom tunney had to
follow him around. ultimately, he gets the information on him and he discovers, he goes up to his apartment up by columbia university, and he has a secret diary where he's recorded in german and in english meticulous prussian fashion, how he superintends hisspends his day, everyone he meets with, all the things he wants to do, that he's going to stop smoking, stop drinking, and by the way, i'm also going to place a bomb on this ship on such and such a date. his key operative are he gives code names to d-1, d-2, d-3. part of the story that i tell in dark invasion is how tunney and his men track down these various operatives once they have this code book and how they, too, w8sdq have to break this code and finduú]
these people. >> yeah, fdr was undersecretary of the navy. he had his own private force of 30& enforcement and 00:49:59 ? unidentified speaker investigators. i know that he was basically tracking down the immorality of the american naval people and he got censured by the congress for doing that, which wasn't thought of as that important. i'm wondering, when the war
began, did he still maintain this investigatory squad -- squad, i would call them, or did that come at all into your -- >> no, it didn't. it does sort of come into the book i'm writing right now, which is a world war ii story where fdr is now president, and 00:50:33 ? unidentified speaker he's using his friends, really, jacob aster, and robert vanderbilt, they have a group of
very well connected men who work out of a room that the vanderbilts own in a building on 63rd street, and they're an informal spy network before america goes to war, trying to put the pieces together for fdr, before pearl harbor. >> you mention one of the german culprits, and you said that his father was a civil war hero. >> a medal of honor winner. right, and you said they were involved. was the father involved in this? >> the father was not
involved. his brother and his sister were involved. the father died, but you know, you pick up the papers today, and the fear is that someone from isis will have an american passport, will be an american kid from detroit or wherever and he's now going to work with the enemy and he'll be able to go right through security because he's an american. there's no way to stop him. well, that's what the germans did. they got -- and tom dillinger, who was an american citizen, had an american passport, was able to come here, didn't have to travel under an assumed name and was able to bring with him in a little medical bag, the cultures for anthrax, and he set up this covert lab six miles from the white house. >> right. you mentioned the film that was made. i think i vaguely remember seeing it, just for nostalgia purposes, do you remember the stars, who was starring in that? >> the film i was referring to is the film that is going to be made of my book. >> i think there was something similar maim. >> nothing similar, no way. >> somebody was exploding certain things on ships during wartime. >> this will have bradley cooper dashing about very excitedly. >> it wasn't wartime, thank you. you talked about what has been done by this particular network. what's your interpretation, how effective this was? because obviously, this is an act that brought us into war against the germans with devastating effect. >> yes. you raise also a very good point. many ways, while it was effective in the shortterm, in that it stopped supplies going to europe, it resulted in deaths of about 100 americans, tens of millions of dollars of damage. but in many ways, it lost the war. it was a very narrow strategy for germany because it got the united states into the war. it energized the united states. i mean, what our enemies think today, they think if they blow up the world trade center, we're going to be cowards and we'll back down and a muslim caliphate will go up and america will be overwhelmed. they don't understand the american character. the american character has a real streak of don't tread on me. and this energized america. >> i have a second question. have you looked into the covert operations that the british were undertaking in america at the same time to get us into the war? i mean, they weren't exactly, you know, hands off. they put a massive propaganda and covert operation activity
into getting us into the war. >> from what i have been able to discover, britain was very active in world war ii, before the united states was in the war. rockefeller center, they set up the british security coordination units. and that was really a propaganda operation and a spy operation. they ran british spies here in the united states. many of them with the knowledge of j. edgar hoover and people in our government, to try to help bring us into the war. in world war i, they weren't that organized in the sense. they had a man who was running things under the cover of a film executive, and he was trying to get propaganda out. they had a former naval captain, guy gaunt, who was a member of mi-6, and he was based here in wall street, and he was in communication with arthur wood and tunney, and he america might not have discovered for another two years really what was going on, that this was a german plot against america, if the british hadn't passed on the information they had gotten from breaking the german codes. but sure, britain was determined to get the united states into the war, and they succeeded, and to assassinate jp morgan jr. in what sounds like a very amateur assassination attempt. why would he, you know, one day bomb the capitol, and then -- i just don't understand the logic of it? >> well, the logic was one of terror. and terror has no logic. cf1 o that would excite things and cause terror, they provided him with the weapon. they said, let's see what happens. he's not one of our professionals.
we have a hands-off relationship with him. and then they could use him, this sort of guided weapon, to get jp morgan. if it works, great. if it doesn't work, we'll see what happens next. >> he had an american wife, lived here. can you tell us about why these people didn't get or have american citizenship? what kind of issue that was in those days. >> he was a member of the german government. he was a german ambassador to the united states. he married -- he was here for 11 years. he was actually born in london. his father was the german ambassador of britain, and he grew up in a very rarefied atmosphere in britain and germany and then here in the united states. one of their big scam ss that he runs when he first comes to the united states is making phony passports for people so german sailors interred here can go back to europe and fight for germany. at that point, passports were pretty easy to get. you just send in to the secretary of state, i think he signed them all himself, and they would hire drunks from the bowery and have them pose for these passports and give them to
the german sea menmen until those plots were uncovered. >> i read your book, i enjoyed it. i read it in one day. >> thank you. >> though it's more than 400 pages. what i wonder is how the germans could be so stupid. they said trust this probably psychotic psychopath to kill jp morgan, and they're not afraid just by hiring this guy, they're going to end up in a war with the united states, which i don't think was inevitable. at least they had to keep it up as long as possible. why were the germans so stupid and in a sense naive. >> i think they were naive and desperate. you could look, why hire lee harvey oswald. was he a lone gunman or recruited by some other country. would you hire someone who had gone to live in the soviet union who was so -- such a strange temperament to say the least? it's very similar. people in intelligence agencies don't make the wisest decisions sometimes, but it almost worked. jp morgan jr. was severely wounded. eric munter managed to get into his house. he managed to evade the authorities who were looking for him for over a decade for murdering his wife. he had a very successful spy.
>> yes. i wouldn't say the germans were that stupid. but first of all, von pappen is a 01:00:06 ? unidentified speaker three-tiered operation going on. you're trying to prevent munitions ships going through, and taken out morgan wasn't a bad idea because he's tied with the british, who are critical, and getting shot twice, they nearly succeeded. but there's also what you haven't mentioned is the indian conspiracy. from punjab in particular and also the irish connection, too. all under von pappen, as i said it. he was indicted later on, but he got away with it because he was canceler. you know, the incitement of rebellion in ireland and in india, i mean, the home base seems to be new york. oddly, it's a safe haven. it's not a bad idea what they're trying to do. obviously, it kind of backfired a bit, but what they initially were trying to do made perfect
sense. >> the home base, from my understanding, would have been berlin. and water nicholai sent out all his agents, pulling as many strings as he could. he was trying to create confusion as best he could all over the globe, in ireland, india, and in new york. jp morgan was key. under jp morgan, this consocm was put together that raised $900 million, 1915 dollars, for the allies. and with him gone, the consortium would have fallen apart. and for a while, it looked like he was severely wounded, but he did recover. and if the gun hadn't jammed after the two bullets had entered his abdomen, he might have succeeded and been killed
and history might have been different. >> just a point of information for one of your other answers, the british security coordinating commission, which was led by sir william stevenson, who was canadian, whose wife was american, did not have as his primary objective to bring america into the war. it was coordinating espionage activities with actually colonel con van and with the approval of fdr. >> i would respectfully disagree with you. stevenson mandate, as was given to him and as they made clear in the proviso of the british security coordination unit, was to bring america into the war. after america goes to war, then they're working more hand in hand with donovan. but before that, it came from really, they had a different agenda. >> we disagree, both of us. okay.
>> you have a nice bibliography. how did you get your hands on some of this stuff and could you have done it 10, 20 years ago? >> i was raising my kids 10, 20 years ago, but so much -- one of the things that is interesting to me when i try to tell these stories and talking about what i have done. i did a book on the uconn gold rush about a detective. i did a book called "american lightning" about the bombing of the l.a. times. these are sort of history that are true stories yet they're written with drama and suspense. the way to do this is you have to be able to tell what the
characters are thinking. i look for subjects where there are diaries, where there are memoirs, actual people who talked about what they did so i can say what's on their mind. tunney wrote a book called "throttle "about his career as a policeman, so i'm able to say what he felt about it. all this information is out there. the internet makes it really easy. you can sit in a room and pull up all these books right on your screen and read them, and it's like being brought back to the times themselves. so it's all out there. it's finding a way of putting it together, finding the characters who will drive you through this narrative. >> one of the little things you haven't talked about today is the rutter bomb, which i found fascinating. >> that was another ingenious
get out of the front? it's too dangerous. i'm not going to survive this war. so here's an engineer by training, and he comes up with this device, which he then is able to show to the intelligence officer of his unit, makes its way to berlin, sent to the united states, and it's a rutter bomb. it attaches. you go onto, underwater to a ship in port. you attach this little bomb to the rutter, and it gets charged up, as the man steers the boat out of the harbor, he's putting the fuse into the bomb. and it explodes when it goes out of sea. that's the rudder bomb. he worked out of a boarding house in new jersey, and tunney and his men track him down.
01:05:57 ? unidentified speaker they did, but one never knows. i mean, the man was all over the place. and i think they saw that here's a chance where we can take this guy who is out of control. we can pull the strings, but we can pull them from a distance and send him out and have him do our bidding, but we won't get the blame. because what they were doing, you know, if germany was involved in the assassination of jp morgan, that would have brought the united states into war. that's why he had to be eliminated. that's why there's been -- when my book came out, the dallas morning news did -- this is lee harvey oswald all over again. they said that's why oswald had to be eliminated, because we couldn't really trace back to whom he was really working for. there are many mysteries that haven't been solved yet. >> i have a question about how the germans chose their agents. one has the impression of people coming to the german embassy and knocking on the door and saying i want to work for germany. how did they sort through these people? how did they know some of them weren't double agents? how did they pick and choose? because i'm planning my own second career, and planning to work for an unnamed foreign power. >> what happened many times was, this was a german club on central park south, and the german military attache and 01:07:38 ? unidentified speaker the naval attache would hold court there and people would come up to them at night. when word got out von ritlin was working under a pseudonym at wall street, people would come to his office. he would see in the course of a day, 20, 30 people who have fantastic schemes. most of them he would send away, but every now and then, he would
find someone who had something to offer. their bases and that's where the their bases and that's where the hamburg american line had their er headquarters, and that's where they rented the offices. and as you say, after world war ii, the german agents also went head an off and worked for other ts als nations, too.and work and after the fall of the berlin wall, east german agents all these plans, nefarious n plans, it's. ended up with the zimmerman telegram, the germans when it gets intercepted by the british. you know, they're trying to convince the mexicans to come in against the united states so they could have, you know -- and it remind me of some of the es stuff that, you know, other powers, including ourselves, have done.e of some really nitwit things. where is the mental thing on ot some of this?he you don't want to irritate the -- some of these major elve powers. so where does the mental ideas ment come? the thinking?
>> far be it for me to get in r 0x the mind of what makes spy ? master things to convince mexicoar be to go to war against the united it me states and it works, but it agai becomes, as always has taught and i us, a great deal of arrogance of people in power and they think -- arrogant people think they can do whatever they want. they can change the course of history. and sometimes they do. thank you very much. >> thank you. [ [ applause ] >> you've been watching american history tv on c-span3. we want to hear from you.histor follow us on twitter @cspanhistory. connect with us on facebook at story. facebook.com/cspanhistory where at you can leave comments and check out upcoming programs on our om/csp website at c-span.org/history. every sunday night at 8 p.m. and
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at the national archivals author michael blanding recounted mr. smiley's career as a dealer chael and thief. this is about an hour. >> thank you all so much for >> t coming here this afternoon. i'm not particularly pleased to be giving this talk at the y national archives, wonderful be repository of old books and manuscripts and the reporting of this book i became a great loverreport of archives, going to the going to the in institutions that smiley ended up taking rare maps out ofy.aking i got to see a lot of these old documents myself. t there's nothing like seeing an docu original document and being able to touch it with your fingers and see it with your own eyes. it's really a wonderful service th your that buildings like this provide and providing access to these bu materials.
so i'm going to dive right in here with a reading from the dive rig beginning of my book. i start with the first sentence from the first chapter so there's nothing you need to know going in.th then i'm going to talk a little ch about the strange character forbes smiley who i got to know very well over the past three years and then show you some images of some of the maps that he stole, particularly focusing on the virginia and wash d.c. area. let me dive right in here. fo this is the beginning of my book "the map thief.".c. e. forbes smiley ii couldn't stop coughing. no matter how much he tried to ght suppress it the tickle in the back of his throat kelp kept breaking out in hacking cough, drawing glances from the patronsoughing around him. except for the low hum of the v=p÷ air conditioning and the ugh, clicking of fingers on keyboards, making smiley painfully aware of the noise he was making. at one point he pulled a hank cking kerchief out of his pocket to
muffle the sound . as he d an exacto knife blade aware wrapped aside fell softly onto at the carpet floor. he folded the cloth and put it back in his pocket, oblivious toacto kni what had happened. he was in the beinecke, an annual gathering of hundreds of he folde map collectors to buy, sell and ha trade antiquated maps. when people thought of forbes smile y as he was known as friends, dealers, clients and e, an libraries, a few words sprang to mind, gregarious, jolly, larger than life.erwhen he spoke to the family of a ords s italian tenor. his voice was full of money. when he made phone calls he madet sure to announce he was calling
from the vineyard. his upper crest affectations ed were tempered by charming self-deprecation.storie reciprocated with entertaining new stories or travel around the world or the progress of the new home he was building on martha vineyard.gneya hi moss of all, people thought of his laugh. for years people revelled in smiley's laugh which only increased in volume the longer it went on.onger it was the kind of laugh that hindered him three tickets from h t theater producers who sat him in the front row to egg on ree audience. and excused the pretension when he was on his obsessions, architect, new england history, the blues and, of course, maps. whether they liked him or not they were seduced by his hen knowledge.nings, on morning of june 8, 2005, none of the librarians recognized him. had they known him, they would have been shock add the transformation had undergone. in addition to the cough that ha had developed overnight, he was
suffering from a splitting headache left over from a night of drinking. smiley had been drinking a lot these days.days it was the only thing that took his thoughts away from problems that multiplied in his mind whentiplie he was sober. he was abysmal of managing the business, no matter how entertaining the story, the truth is he was overextended and hemorrhaging money. as studios as he looked he was n] feeling a fresh sense of desperation. sitting in a coffee shop he coffee turned his actions over in his rned mind. he could take the train to new york today and fly to london early. and or he could abandon the whole d abando plan and head back to the financi vineyard saving the expense and
the situation in the reading room changed radically in his absence. smiley may have missed the libr exacto knife blade that fell from his pocket, but a librarian had not. the lie brains make regular sweeps of the room to make sure materials are handled properly mo and to suddenly alert patrons e who they were being watched.ilding she immediately spied the blade on the floor. few objects could be more disturbing to someone who works in a building full of rare books than a tool that can separate the pages of a book from its binding. she picked up the blade in a tissue and walked back out of the room.ge so, that just gives you a littleed uf flavor for how i start the book and also a flavor for this character of forbes smiley, who th as i say, i got to know veryat ou well and all of his avor contradictions. even though that's the beginning of my book, it was the end of the story for forbes smiley. that day, as the librarians found the exacto knife blade, they began googling the names of the patrons in the library and recognized forbes smiley was a dealer in rare maps and this h $ip made them even more nervous. so they called the yale police ey beg department and as smiley left the library, a plains clothes re
police officer was following close behind. this is a map i made for the book. i say that i made it. poli i actually thought originally i lef was going to make my own maps for the book. plain i thought if i was going to write a book about maps, i should have my own maps. it took me ten minutes of drawing on paper to realize thati say th wasn't going to happen.ctually i hired an illustrator from the make netherlands, which i was pleased by because the netherlands is where the golden age of map-making was in 1500s and 1600s. this is a map he drew of the yale university campus. you can see right up here at the top is the library and smiley walked down the street, past the
tower all the way to the yale e british arts center. it was there that the police officer introduced himself and said he was with the library and asked if smiley had per chance inadvertently taken anything with him. smiley, even though he was under no obligation to cooperate, he decided that he would go back with this officer to the ld beinecke and they began looking through his things. first they looked through his briefcase and found a number of ooking rare map there is but smiley said he had brought those with him.him. they found no evidence to find that wasn't true. then they noticed him fidgeting with his blazer pocket and something in his blazer and they f asked him to take it out. when they did, he took out this. this is a map of new england by john smith in 1616. this is yale's copy that was done in 1631. i want to pause for a moment andin 161 tell you about this map and done explain what makes it so i163