On the Importance of Counterintelligence

Two recent non-fiction books read more like spy thrillers. The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch and Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis bring to life the importance of counterintelligence during the Revolutionary War and World War II. 

The First Conspiracy tells of a hidden event that took place during the most critical period of America’s birth. Written as a historical mystery, the plot exposes an attempt to assassinate General George Washington. The heart of the book takes place after Washington’s arrival at New York City in early 1776.  After having to flee to a British ship docked in New York’s harbor, New York's Loyalist governor William Tryon devises a treacherous plan to kill the U.S. commander.  He enlists the help of the city’s mayor, David Mathews, and some in the civilian population who have divided loyalties and shifting allegiances.  All are willing to sacrifice their devotion to the highest bidder.

Shocked by these rumors, Washington decides to assemble an elite band of soldiers, the Life Guards, to protect him. In addition, he, along with Founder John Jay, established the secret Committee of Intestine Enemies, designed to uncover the traitors, learn their plans, and stop them. These clandestine operations showed how Jay regarded the importance of counterintelligence, and the Life Guards can be considered the precursor to the Secret Service.

Those in the still-forming government addressed the plot through a counterintelligence operation that uncovered spies, killers, counterfeiters, and traitors. Meltzer noted, “John Jay created a secret organization within our government that came out of the plot to kill Washington.  He is an incredible investigator who did interrogations to collect information.  He built a counterintelligence operation by using civilians to ferret out information about the traitors.  He built an entire system for the government to protect itself.  I call him the original American bad ass. The final sentence of the book says it all, ‘In our lowest moments we always find our greatest strengths.’”

The other spy thriller, Code Name: Lise, tells the story of Odette Sansom, who displayed courage and patriotism while having to endure endless torture by the Nazis. Born in France and living in England, Odette decides she wants to assist the Allied war cause.  Because of her knowledge of the French language and customs she was recruited into Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) program to conduct espionage in occupied Europe during WWII.  Working closely with Peter Churchill, her commanding officer, Odette carries out a number of dangerous missions. Peter became smitten with her and eventually they fell in love while playing a cat and mouse game with German secret police sergeant, Hugo Belicher. He takes advantage of a mistake by Odette and captures them, sending them to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. Put on a list to be executed, she and Peter are kept alive by the Germans because of two lies she concocted. She pretended that she and Peter were married (they would be after the war) and that Peter was related to Winston Churchill, realizing the Gestapo hoped to use herself and Peter as bargaining chips.

Loftis noted, “She was described as temperamental, a loose cannon, arrogant, relentless, fearless, and extremely patriotic.  I think she was chosen because women carriers were needed since men were picked up by the Germans to be drafted or put in forced labor.  There was also the need for people who spoke French without an English accent, which she did.  After being captured, Odette did not talk or give out any information even after being tortured that included pulling off all her toenails. To save those in her unit she confesses to an untruth, telling the Germans she is the leader and organizer of the circuit. She represents an amazing story of courage under pressure.  There is a reason she received all these medals.”

Both books are written as page-turners that inform readers about unknown facts. George Washington and Odette Sansom are both seen as fearless patriots. Washington is guided by a strong moral imperative in his fight against the British, while she displays that same moral spirit while fighting the Nazis.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Two recent non-fiction books read more like spy thrillers. The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch and Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis bring to life the importance of counterintelligence during the Revolutionary War and World War II. 

The First Conspiracy tells of a hidden event that took place during the most critical period of America’s birth. Written as a historical mystery, the plot exposes an attempt to assassinate General George Washington. The heart of the book takes place after Washington’s arrival at New York City in early 1776.  After having to flee to a British ship docked in New York’s harbor, New York's Loyalist governor William Tryon devises a treacherous plan to kill the U.S. commander.  He enlists the help of the city’s mayor, David Mathews, and some in the civilian population who have divided loyalties and shifting allegiances.  All are willing to sacrifice their devotion to the highest bidder.

Shocked by these rumors, Washington decides to assemble an elite band of soldiers, the Life Guards, to protect him. In addition, he, along with Founder John Jay, established the secret Committee of Intestine Enemies, designed to uncover the traitors, learn their plans, and stop them. These clandestine operations showed how Jay regarded the importance of counterintelligence, and the Life Guards can be considered the precursor to the Secret Service.

Those in the still-forming government addressed the plot through a counterintelligence operation that uncovered spies, killers, counterfeiters, and traitors. Meltzer noted, “John Jay created a secret organization within our government that came out of the plot to kill Washington.  He is an incredible investigator who did interrogations to collect information.  He built a counterintelligence operation by using civilians to ferret out information about the traitors.  He built an entire system for the government to protect itself.  I call him the original American bad ass. The final sentence of the book says it all, ‘In our lowest moments we always find our greatest strengths.’”

The other spy thriller, Code Name: Lise, tells the story of Odette Sansom, who displayed courage and patriotism while having to endure endless torture by the Nazis. Born in France and living in England, Odette decides she wants to assist the Allied war cause.  Because of her knowledge of the French language and customs she was recruited into Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) program to conduct espionage in occupied Europe during WWII.  Working closely with Peter Churchill, her commanding officer, Odette carries out a number of dangerous missions. Peter became smitten with her and eventually they fell in love while playing a cat and mouse game with German secret police sergeant, Hugo Belicher. He takes advantage of a mistake by Odette and captures them, sending them to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. Put on a list to be executed, she and Peter are kept alive by the Germans because of two lies she concocted. She pretended that she and Peter were married (they would be after the war) and that Peter was related to Winston Churchill, realizing the Gestapo hoped to use herself and Peter as bargaining chips.

Loftis noted, “She was described as temperamental, a loose cannon, arrogant, relentless, fearless, and extremely patriotic.  I think she was chosen because women carriers were needed since men were picked up by the Germans to be drafted or put in forced labor.  There was also the need for people who spoke French without an English accent, which she did.  After being captured, Odette did not talk or give out any information even after being tortured that included pulling off all her toenails. To save those in her unit she confesses to an untruth, telling the Germans she is the leader and organizer of the circuit. She represents an amazing story of courage under pressure.  There is a reason she received all these medals.”

Both books are written as page-turners that inform readers about unknown facts. George Washington and Odette Sansom are both seen as fearless patriots. Washington is guided by a strong moral imperative in his fight against the British, while she displays that same moral spirit while fighting the Nazis.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.