Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VETS | Spy Museum and the O.S.S.

Montreal, 1948. Front row L to R: John, Spike
(O.S.S.), Liz, Hilda, Sheila. Back row,
L to R: Olga, Randal, Brigid. 
August 15, 2017 – The role and successes of individual American spies in World War II could not be discussed for decades after the war.

These intelligence workers were gagged when the war was over and they returned to civilian life.

1. Malcolm Nance

A member of the board of the expanding Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., Malcolm Nance, was visiting East Hampton, N.Y. over the weekend to promote his books – Hacking ISIS and The Plot to Hack America (both New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).

Malcolm is interested in the stories of spies from a family perspective and is seeking memorabilia related to them fro the museum He spoke with Michael and me about our fathers' work in espionage.

This post is about these two Americans in Europe during the war doing intelligence work, how their children came to find out what their fathers did, and the connection between them.

2. E. R. (Spike) Marlin, Dublin and London

My Dad, E. R. "Spike" Marlin took a competitive exam to work in  FDR's government in 1933 and was one of about 300 who was awarded a position, out of thousands who applied. His first job was at the Farm Credit Administration under Henry Morgenthau, Jr. – before Morgenthau succeeded William H. Woodin as Secretary of the Treasury.

L to R: Michael Collins and Malcolm Nance.
Photo by JT Marlin.
When Germany began invading its neighbors, my Dad was recruited by the O.S.S. to go to the Republic of Ireland under the light cover of an assignment in the U.S. Mission to Ireland (i.e., the 26 southern counties making up the Irish Free State or Éire).

Spike's primary qualifications were that he had (1) already established a decade-long U.S. Government service record in Washington, D.C. and (2) as a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin he  knew many residents of Éire.

The United States recognized the Irish Free State in 1924, after various legislative processes established partition between the six counties that make up Northern Ireland and the 26 that make up the Irish Free State. The United States did not send a full Ambassador to Éire until 1950. From 1940 to 1947 the U.S. "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" (shortened in practice to "Minister") was David Gray, Jr. (1870-1968), a novelist and playwright whose two main qualifications were that he (1) was married to Eleanor Roosevelt's aunt and close confidante Maude Hall Gray (1877-1952) and that he (2) had spent a lot of time in Cork writing a book and enjoying the excellent local hunting and fishing. Gray, who was 70, told his predecessor he wanted the post (http://bit.ly/2uYmwN3) and it was offered to Gray when the previous incumbent returned home.

Gray was unique as a U.S. envoy in that he was actively hostile to its leader, Éamon de Valera. As an opponent of the neutrality of the Éire government, Gray accused the Irish Free State of cooperation with the Nazi Axis. O.S.S. chief "Wild Bill" Donovan was sympathetic to the Éire government's need to maintain its neutrality given the recent history of partition, and wanted to find out whether Éire was cooperating fully with British intelligence. My father, reporting to Francis Pickens Miller in London, collected evidence that showed that the Éire government was working closely with British intelligence. Both the presence of the O.S.S. and my Dad's success in collecting the information that Donovan expected him to find were thorns in Gray's side.

Eventually, having done his work, Spike was reassigned to O.S.S. in London and a new spy was recruited who was not assigned to the U.S. mission and had the cover (revealed in a book Spies in Ireland) of a movie producer. I have spoken with the author.

After the war was over and the O.S.S. was disbanded, Spike was sent to San Francisco as a Budget Bureau representative to the formation of the U.N. He was seconded to the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) as Secretary and headed the secretariat for the creation of the ICAO in Chicago. FDR in January 1939 ramped up his interest in manufacturing airplanes and that year he showed his interest in aviation by making Orville Wright's birthday on August 19 (this coming Saturday) as National Aviation Day. Spike then joined the United Nations and became Director of Technical Assistance for the ICAO in Montreal. He spent the next two decades working for the U.N., ending as the highest-ranking American at the UNHCR in Geneva under Ambassador Félix Schnyder (who was the High Commissioner in 1960-65) and Sadruddin Khan. Spike then served in the State Department for three years in 1964-67 when I was working across the road for the Federal Reserve Board.

I didn't discover that my Dad had been in the O.S.S. until the 1970s, when a Ph.D. student contacted me with questions.

Sgt. Tom Collins
3. Tom Collins, Bletchley Park

My neighbor Michael Collins didn't find out that his father Tom was in the cryptography area until the end of the last century.

Sgt. Tom Collins was selected at 19 years of age to accompany the American Dragon 1 cryptographic machine, essentially an early computer.

His primary qualification is that in his civilian life before his war service, he was a telephone installer for Western Electric and would understand the wiring protocols for the machine that the company developed with U.S. cryptographers to crack the German code. He accompanied the Dragon 1 to Bletchley Park and spent year at the Park assisting British cryptographers under Turing with the maintenance of the Dragon 1.


1. Malcolm Nance: Hackers and MICE
2. E. R. (Spike) Marlin: Origins of the O.S.S.Post at ICAO
3. Tom Collins and his work in Bletchley:  CRYPTOGRAPHY | Americans at Bletchley Park . VET STORIES | Tom Collins, 1921-2011 .  BLETCHLEY | U.S. Contribution to British Cryptography . VETS | The Funeral of Tom Collins
4. Spy Museum: Spies' Choices

Saturday, August 12, 2017

VETS | Sgt. Tom Collins Funeral, May 21, 2011

Sgt. Thomas L. Collins,
1921-2011. Photo courtesy
of his sons.
May 22, 2011 – Sgt. Thomas L. Collins suffered a major heart attack on Wednesday morning, May 18, and did not recover. He was just one month short of his 90th birthday. 

The 2010 Memorial Day Service at which his wartime achievements were celebrated was his last.

During visiting hours on May 20, the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars paid its respects with a special service.

The Funeral Service was held yesterday at the Springs Community Presbyterian Church, which could not contain the large number of people who attended. The service was led by Rev. Anthony L. Larson, Pastor. In addition, Rev. George Wilson, former pastor, delivered a homily, speaking about the important ways in which the deceased contributed to the communities he belonged to.

Cedar Lawn Cemetery
Honor Guard Folds Flag. Photo by JT Marlin.
Thomas L. Collins, III and Brendan deMar Collins, grandsons of the deceased, shared memories of their grandfather's loyalty, determination and eagerness to help others. In addition to the grandsons, the pallbearers were Bobby Jones, Tim Miller, Tim Taylor, and Charles E. Miller, Jr.

Guest organist Bob Mulford came out of retirement to provide music for the occasion. He served as organist for the church over more than three decades. Among the hymns were one of Sgt. Collins's favorites, "Beulah Land".

During the Committal at Cedar Lawn Cemetery, an honor guard played taps, folded the flag and presented it to Anne Miller Collins, widow of the deceased. (See photos.) A reception for family and friends was provided at the Springs Fire Department.
Cedar Lawn Cemetery
Mrs. Anne Miller Collins accepts flag at Cedar Lawn
Cemetery. Photo by JT Marlin.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial gifts be directed to the Springs Church or the Springs Ambulance Service.

RUSSIA | Hackers and MICE

Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Wrightson Nance (born September 20, 1961) is an expert on protecting the United States from terrorism. He is an author and media commentator on terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture. He is a former United States Navy senior chief petty officer, specializing in naval cryptology.

Nance is much in demand as a speaker on the history, personalities, and organization of jihadi radicalization and al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL); Southwest Asian and African terror groups, and counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare.

Fluent in Arabic, he is active in the field of national security policy.
In 2014, he became the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), a think tank based in  Hudson, New York.

I think he is a true American hero in his dedication to protecting his country. In 2017, he had two books published Hacking ISIS and The Plot to Hack America (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).

I first heard about the second book via friends in Geneva and Florida. I have a copy of it and I was drawn to a part of his book where he discusses what the KGB and today's Russian equivalent look for in potential recruits to the Russian team – i.e., people who can be used as spies, apologists, sympathizers or "even opponents" (p. 43).

Nance talks about what the U.S. Government looks for in recruiting an "asset". He says the CIA uses an acronym, MICE, to help identify a good prospect. MICE "stands for Money, Ideology, Coercion (or Compromise), and Ego or Excitement." The idea is that the asset owner is the CAT (Country Asset Trainer?) and the assets are owned or played with.

The acronym could be shortened to ME and the message about what they want is clear – they cater to people obsessed by Money and Ego. Assets are recruited by a promise of Money or something else the individual might want like available women, and by an appeal to the person's Ego or wish for Excitement.

Retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin was open about using women as lures for getting information. This was the heart of Ian Fleming's novel From Russia with Love. But the most sought-after assets in the West, said KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov, are "Egocentric narcissists,"... (p. 45). To which Nance adds, ..."like Trump".