Great Britain & the USA “The Special Relationship”
During World War II Scotland suffered some 34,000 combat deaths, and approximately 6,000 civilians were killed, many in air attacks on Clydeside.
The phrase was first used by Churchill in a 1946 speech. It was his way of selling to the British electorate his belief in a high level of trust and cooperation that prevailed between the USA & Britain in economic activity, trade and commerce, military planning, execution of military operations, weapons technology and intelligence sharing.
But many politicians and a sceptical Scottish public were less enamoured of the USA, having been saddled with meeting the massive cost of the “lease lend contract” negotiated by Churchill & Roosevelt at the start of the war. The final repayment of which was not made until 1966, twenty years after the end of WW2. So much for the special relationship, more akin to stabling a Trojan Horse in the House of Commons.
There were also many in the Tory Party who questioned Britain’s decision to go to war with Germany in support of Poland, since the policy had not been debated at length in Westminster.
Such doubts were speedily squashed by the Labour government, which was determined to bask in the glory of winning a war with Germany, Japan and their allies. It is said that “the Victor writes the history” and questions such as, could war have been avoided? Were not examined and aired in the glory of triumph.
But in 1982 Robert Harris released an explosive BBC “News-night” report providing previously unknown information about events in the period 1938-45.
The report was centred on a former US intelligence officer, Tyler Kent who, up to 1940 was employed as a diplomat, (cyber decoding) in the US Embassy.
In 1940, he was arrested, tried and convicted by a secret court in London of violating the British Official Secrets Act, (which as an American citizen he was not bound to)
In an unprecedented act, again decided upon, in secret, at Presidential level, Tyler Kent’s diplomatic immunity was removed so that he could be arrested by MI5 and kept secure in a British prison until after the war.
There is no record of his trial. But he was sentenced to 7 years in prison, without appeal. He was released in 1945.
The Video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ctr04
The Strange Case of Tyler Kent was subsequently written up and published – Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt – Their Conspiracy to Take Britain to War
In May 1940, a 29-year-old American code clerk at the U.S. embassy in London was arrested by British authorities in his apartment. Tyler Kent was charged with having violated the British Official Secrets Act. “For a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interests of the state,” the charge stated, Kent had “obtained a document which might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.” He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released and returned to the United States after serving five.
Between June 1940 and December 1945, the Kent case was the subject of numerous American newspaper articles. Most were sensational or highly speculative, since reliable information was hard to come by. (At the time, the British press was strictly censored.) Many Americans wanted to know how a foreign government could secretly arrest and put on trial a U.S. citizen who held diplomatic immunity. Congressmen and newspapers speculated as to what the code clerk really knew about rumoured secret arrangements between President Roosevelt and British leader Winston Churchill.
Many wondered if Kent had been jailed to keep him from talking. But preoccupation with the war and official government statements satisfied the curiosity of all but a handful. When Kent returned to the United States in 1945 from British imprisonment, almost all interest in the case had evaporated in the general euphoria of Allied military victory. For many years the Kent story was virtually forgotten.
The passage of time and a more sober awareness of how American presidents operate encouraged new interest in the case. Dramatic revelations of illegal Presidential actions that emerged from the Vietnam War and the Watergate affair shocked Americans into a bitter realization that their Chief Executive could lie and break the law. In recent years, the Kent case has been the subject of several scholarly and semi-scholarly articles.
Highly acclaimed author John Toland devoted several pages to the affair in his 1982 revisionist book on Pearl Harbor, Infamy. In December 1982 the British television program “News-night” examined the Kent case. The broadcast included excerpts from an interview with Kent filmed near his Texas home. Several books about the Kent story have been published critically re-examining President Roosevelt’s path into the Second World War.
Tyler Gatewood Kent was born on March 24, 1911, in Yingkou (Newchwang), northern China, where his father, William P. Kent, was serving as the American Consul. The family had strong roots in Virginia. Kent’s English forebears settled there in 1644. President John Tyler was a distant relative. A grandfather was Speaker of the Virginia Assembly and lieutenant governor.
Tyler Kent attended St. Alban’s School in Washington, D.C., and received his higher education at Princeton (AB, 1931), George Washington University, the Paris Sorbonne, and the University of Madrid. From an early age he showed a remarkable aptitude for languages. Eventually he learned numerous ancient and modern languages. Like his father, Kent chose a career in the State Department foreign service.
His first assignment was to the American embassy in Moscow. From 1934 to 1939, Kent learned first-hand in the Soviet capital about life under Communism. His fluent command of the Russian language helped him to know the Russian people and the realities of Soviet life much more intimately than most diplomats. He developed an intense hatred for the Soviet system and for those who had foisted this monstrous tyranny on Russia.
Kent was appalled at Roosevelt’s support for Stalin’s cruel and despotic regime.
His personal experience and careful study convinced him that Communism represented a mortal danger to the world, and to the West in particular. President Roosevelt, though, considered the Soviet system a rougher but more progressive version of his own New Deal, both motivated by the same lofty humanistic ideals.
From Moscow Kent was transferred to the U.S. embassy in London. From October 1939 until that fateful 20th day of May, 1940, he served as a code clerk. This was an especially important position there because all diplomatic dispatches from American missions across Europe to Washington were routed through the London embassy’s code room.
When Kent began work, war had already broken out in Europe. U.S. law and overwhelming public sentiment seemed to insure that America would avoid entanglement in the conflict. But from his special vantage point in London, Kent quickly learned that President Roosevelt was doing everything in his power to subvert the law and deceive the people in order to get America into war.
Kent decided to make copies or summaries of diplomatic dispatches documenting Roosevelt’s secret policies and somehow bring them to the attention of sympathetic congressmen and senators. And so he took the course that led to his untimely arrest, briefly made him something of a celebrity, and cost him five years in prison. As he puts it, he got “tangled up in history.” In fact, he came very close to changing its course.
As code clerk, Kent intercepted hundreds of diplomatic dispatches between the embassies in Europe and the State Department in Washington. He made verbatim copies of most of the messages and paraphrased summaries of the rest. The most important and incriminating of these was the top secret correspondence between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, which began with a letter from the President dated September 11, 1939.
Until May 11, 1940, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty (or head of the British Navy). Thus, any exchange of communications between him and Roosevelt until that date was highly irregular because it took place behind the back of the head of the British government, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Officially, heads of state communicate only with their counterpart heads of state, and any communications otherwise are understood to be for the ultimate attention of the counterpart head of state.
In the case of the Roosevelt-Churchill correspondence before May 11, 1940, not only was that exchange designed to be kept secret from Prime Minister Chamberlain, it was indeed something of a conspiracy against him. Churchill wanted to supplant Chamberlain, and Roosevelt himself desired this end. For this reason, the exchange was kept especially secret. Until he became Prime Minister himself, Churchill signed his messages to Roosevelt simply, “Naval Person.”
The public revelation of the mere existence of a secret Churchill-Roosevelt exchange behind Chamberlain’s back would have been highly embarrassing to both correspondents. But if Kent had somehow succeeded in making the contents of the exchange known to the American public, there would have been loud demands for Roosevelt’s impeachment.
Kent intercepted and made a complete copy of Churchill’s message to Roosevelt of December 25, 1939 (Telegram 2720) in which Churchill informed the President that British warships would continue to violate American sovereignty to seize German ships within the U.S. three mile maritime territorial zone. However, in order to keep these violations secret, Churchill promised that the seizures would take place out of view from the American shore. “We cannot refrain from stopping enemy ships outside international three-mile limit when these may well be supply ships for U-boats or surface raiders, but instructions have been given only to arrest or fire upon them out of sight of United States shores.”
In his message to Roosevelt of February 28, 1940 (Telegram 490), which was also intercepted and copied out by Kent, Churchill wrote that the British would continue to seize and censor U.S. mail from American and other neutral ships on their way to Europe. “All our experience shows that the examination of mails is essential to efficient control,” Churchill told Roosevelt. This was, of course, a blatant violation of American neutrality and international law.
There was considerable astonishment in the United States when the full extent of Roosevelt’s connivance in the illegal British seizure and censorship of American mail to Europe became known many years after the war. If this message intercepted by Kent had been made public in 1940 or 1941, there would have been a first-rate scandal.
In the secret correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt intercepted by Kent, the two leaders conspired to insure that the United States government would secretly tolerate British violations of American territorial sovereignty and restrictions on neutral American shipping. The two men wanted to avoid any embarrassing incidents that would provoke public indignation in America over the illegal British actions. They also worked out procedures for joint British-American naval reporting of the location of German surface raiders and submarines which violated at least the spirit if not the letter of United States neutrality.
The fact that Kent’s diplomatic immunity was waived by the U.S. government so that British authorities could throw him into prison is itself proof that the Roosevelt administration was neutral in name only. If Kent had been discovered intercepting dispatches at the American embassy in Berlin, it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would have waived his immunity so that German authorities could imprison him. To the contrary, the Roosevelt administration would have done everything it could to protect him from any possible prosecution and imprisonment by the German government.
In response to a growing clamour in the press and among the public about a possible official government cover-up in the Kent case, the State Department issued a lengthy public statement on September 2, 1944. The cleverly worded document implied, without ever actually making the charge, that Kent had been a German spy. The State Department in effect admitted, however, that it had put British interests ahead of American interests and law in the case.
Kent’s trial had been held in secret, the statement said, “because of the harmful effects to British counter-espionage efforts which were to be anticipated if certain of the evidence became public.” Even more revealing was the official admission that Kent’s extraordinary treatment was because “The interest of Great Britain in such a case, at a time when it was fighting for its existence, was therefore pre-eminent.” At a time, it must be remembered, when the United States was publicly and legally neutral in the conflict between Britain and Germany, the State Department considered British, and not American, interests in the Kent case to be “pre-eminent.”
In 1939 and 1940, the vast majority of the American people wanted to avoid involvement in the European war. They felt that U.S. participation in the First World War had been a catastrophic error and wanted to ensure that the mistake would not be repeated. The Congress was likewise committed to a policy of firm neutrality, and had passed the Johnson and Neutrality Acts to make sure that America kept out of war in Europe.
The President is constitutionally charged with the duty to execute the will of the American people as expressed through the Congress. The Constitution reserves the power to make war and peace exclusively to Congress. But with brazen contempt for the will of the people, the law and the constitution, President Roosevelt conspired with a small circle of confidants to incite war in Europe and bring the United States into the conflict. He broke his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Over the years, numerous lies have been invented and spread about Tyler Kent. The most slanderous is that he was a traitor to the United States and a spy for Germany. In fact, Kent was a genuine patriot who put the welfare of his nation above his own personal happiness and security. He was never charged with violating any American law. Kent acted on the traditional principle that for United States government officials, American interests (and not those of Britain or any other country) come first. He was sacrificed to foreign interests by his own government.
In London Tyler Kent faced a painful dilemma: What should a government official do when he discovers that his boss, the President of the United States, is breaking the law? Kent felt a greater loyalty to his nation and its laws than to President Roosevelt. His sense of honour moved him to collect documentary evidence of Roosevelt’s treacherous crimes and try to bring it before the American people. Kent paid for his “crime” with five years in prison and a tarnished reputation for the rest of his life, while Franklin Roosevelt, who violated the Constitution and numerous laws, was re-elected President and praised as a hero.
If Tyler Kent had somehow succeeded in making public his collection of intercepted documentary evidence, he would have unleashed an enormous public outcry for President Roosevelt’s removal from office. At the very least he would have temporarily halted Roosevelt’s campaign to get America into war. Roosevelt might well have been so discredited that Wendell Wilkie would have defeated him in the 1940 presidential election.
It is difficult to say whether the Kent disclosures would have been enough to bring about Roosevelt’s impeachment. Certainly the documents provide proof of criminal activity sufficient to warrant removal from office. Congress would have been virtually compelled to begin at least preliminary impeachment proceedings. This much can be said with certainty: disclosure of the Kent documents would have dealt a powerful blow to Roosevelt’s prestige and credibility. Tyler Kent might then have significantly altered the course of American and world history.
More of the Special relationship in action
The British American Project – https://caltonjock.com/2014/11/13/the-british-american-project-the-corrupting-secret-alliance-hidden-from-the-public/
The Influence of the media – https://caltonjock.com/2015/03/25/how-the-media-manipulates-controls-the-minds-of-the-uk-public/