ADVERTISEMENT
Related topics

Former Special Agents of the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps Gather With AM-War, Bjt

September 2, 1989 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ Fifty years after the start of World War II, the white-haired men who have gathered here for a weekend reunion hold the key to one of the military’s best kept secrets: the Army’s clandestine Counterintelligence Corps.

They were a group of more than 20,000 who ferreted out spies and thwarted saboteurs from Europe to the Pacific Theater. Until recently, little about them was known. For 120 former spycatchers who arrived in Boston last week, wearing tiny gold sphinxes as tie clasps, the loss of anonymity has been a shock.

Much of the secrecy surrounding the CIC, as former agents call it, ended in 1983 after the capture of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in Bolivia and his extradition to France. A former agent went public with the information that the CIC had used Barbie as a paid informant.

The resulting controversy is one that the former agents are sensitive about. In fact, many are sensitive to just about everything. Although some tell war stories, others won’t even give their age.

″You people forget we were at war,″ said Jack Brockway, 75, of Highlands, N.C., who attended the reunion and is one of the 1,800 surviving CIC agents. ″It was kill or be killed. I’m loyal to the United States. We had to pay Barbie. He turned in a bunch of Nazis.″

Among themselves, the agents swap the kind of stories that sound as if they came out of Cold War-era potboilers.

CIC agents were involved in the hunt for Japan’s Gen. Tojo and the elaborate security surrounding D-Day and the Manhattan Project. They also found and brought back to public life Konrad Adenauer, who had been under house arrest by the Nazis, and who later became the first chancellor of West Germany.

Two of the most famous alumni of the CIC, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and reclusive author J.D. Salinger, did not attend this weekend’s convention.

Robert C. Ebaugh Jr., one of those who did attend, was 30 years old when he was used as a decoy for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in December 1943.

Allied leaders, meeting in Tehran, had learned that German agents had parachuted into the area to assassinate Roosevelt. Ebaugh, who bore a resemblance to FDR, rode in the president’s car during a five-mile trip from the airport to the city, wearing Roosevelt’s hat and cape with a cigarette holder that he placed in his mouth. Luckily, nothing happened.

ADVERTISEMENT

CIC agents were culled from the Army’s finest, according to the authors of a just-published book, ″America’s Secret Army.″ Many were lawyers, journalists and teachers. All had to be at least 24 years old and have an IQ of 120 or above.

The CIC had its origins in the Corps of Intelligence Police in World War I, a pioneering group of spycatchers that all but died out after the war. It was revived and renamed the CIC at the start of World War II.

The CIC maintained a low profile during the war that contrasted with its rival group, the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, that was a forerunner of the CIA. But from 1945 to 1947, during a period between the demise of the OSS and the start of the CIA, the CIC was America’s only intelligence organization abroad.

CIC agents were recalled for the Korean conflict but the organization was later merged with general Army intelligence and died out in the 1970s.

″We were all guinea pigs,″ said Brockway, recalling the organization’s heyday. ″There was really no organized intelligence for us to go on. We did what we had to do and made up the laws as we went along.″