If we were to repeat the past, I bet you’d find this story in the New York Times, circa July 1944
A secret code breaking group that both Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt authorized has broken a German code and has been using that information to gather intelligence about planned German military assaults, the Times learned from government and military sources. These same sources have revealed that, despite having had access to the Code for more than two years, the British and American forces have not acted to block Nazi military initiatives, thereby resulting in the loss of thousands of American and British military personnel….
I am, of course, talking about the Enigma project at Bletchley Park. You’ve heard about it: Enigma was an early computer that was used to create codes. In theory, the only way to read a letter coded by the Enigma machine was to have another enigma machine and the specific code that would enable you to calibrate the receiving machine the same way as the sending machine. Through a series of planned and accidental events, the British ended up with a German Enigma machine (which had been modified) and a code book. Brilliant scientists and logicians then worked to break the code.
What happened next was . . . very little. The British and Americans suddenly had the ability to decode myriad German communications, including battle and attack plans. The allies could have instantly intercepted even the smallest of these planned attacks, but chose not to — even at the cost of allied soldiers killed in battle. What they realized is that this information would enable the allies to position themselves to win ultimate victories against the Nazis, not just scattered battles. However, if they went after the scattered battles, the Nazis would quickly realize their Code was compromised, and change the code. This, of course, would leave the allies with nothing at all.
So, the allied command structure made the difficult decision to turn a blind eye to useful short term information so as to obtain a maximum long term benefit. Would you have made the same decision? I’d like to think I would. I also know that, if the New York Times in those days was as hostile to the Roosevelt administration as it is now to the Bush administration, the Times would have outed this information at the earliest possible opportunity, and would have done so in a way most likely to injure the administration — war effort be damned.Email This Post To A Friend
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