Spying For The Yanks

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“Now, FitzGibbon, the position is this. We are not happy about American intelligence.”

He paused, as if expecting a comment, but I decided to make none.

“In fact,” he went on, “we are very unhappy about it. The apparatus lacks structure.”

Again he hesitated. I felt I must say something: “Yes, Sir.”

“Our liaison with Navy and with Army G-2 is good, but not good enough. I am referring to the O.S.S., you understand.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“With State it’s even worse. Have you noticed this?”

“No, Sir. Not at my level. But I do know.…” I hesitated.

“Yes?” he asked.

“That almost everything we get at Army Group from Washington is useless to us. ”

I did not choose to include the O.S.S. in this blanket condemnation.

“Exactly,” he said. “You rely on London. ”

“For what comes down to us, yes. Of course, we get intelligence from the armies under us.”

“Now,” and he leaned forward, “we are not happy about this. The President is not happy about it. It won’t do.”

I did not feel this called for any comment from me.

He went on: “We therefore propose, at the very highest level, to set up a centralized intelligence organization which will coordinate all our sources under a single roof. After all, we may not be able to rely on the British next time.”

He paused for such a long time that I felt I must say something: “I see your point, Sir.”

“Good. Now this is where you come in. You were in British intelligence?”

“At a low level, Sir.”

“But still you may not want to abuse your, er, past position. And you could easily pass as a British intelligence officer again if need be. I mean your accent and so on. ”

“Yes, Sir,” I said.

There must have been something in my tone which made him say, quite quickly, “If you don’t want to do it, just say so, and forget this conversation. ”

“But I don’t know what you want me to do.”

“I want you to find out, as quickly as possible, how the British coordinate all their sources of information at the top level, War Office, Admiralty, S.I.S., Foreign Office, anything else you can think of.”

I hesitated. I knew nothing about all this, though I could have told him, more or less accurately, how the Germans coordinated theirs.

“Have another bourbon.”

“Thank you,” I said, really in order to give myself time to think.

He went on: “Needless to say, if you are caught, we shall completely disown you.”

“I know the rules,” I replied, in rather a dry voice, I now assume. I thought I saw the answer.

“Well?” he asked.

“And I imagine,” I said, “that I am allowed to choose whatever means I see fit to get you this, er, information.”

“With any help you may need from my technicians.”

“That will be unnecessary,” I said, and remembered to add “Sir!”

“Good,” he said, “and remember the very highest levels want this urgently.”

I got to my feet.

“Another bourbon, before you go?” “No thank you, Sir. I think I can get you what you need.”

Then I saluted and left the room, was checked by the guards, hailed a taxi. It was a five-minute ride to the War Office. The D.M.I.’s secretary told me his boss was not busy.

“He’ll see you now.”

The D.M.I. asked, “Well, Fitz, what can I do for you?”

“The Yanks want me to spy on you, Sir.”

“Splendid!” he said. “What do they wish to know?”

So I told him. He glanced at his wristwatch: “Three twenty-five. Come back in one hour and I’ll have the charts ready.”

An hour later I looked at the administrative chart upon his desk.

“I hope it’s enough,” said the D.M.I.