The Office
of Naval Intelligence:
A Proud Tradition
of Service

A Tardy

The Underside
of the Mexican
El Paso 1912

Imperial Germany's
in the US

Department of State and

From Robert
Lansing, With

From Robert

From Walter
Hines Page

Pre-World War I

in World War I

War Department
General Order

From Albert
Sidney Burleson

From Newton
Diehl Baker

The Witzke Affair:
German Intrigue
on the Mexican
Border, 1917-18

The Espionage Act
May 16, 1918

From Edward
Mandell House

The Red Scare

Military Intelligence

Post Civil War

Post Civil War

Post Civil War
End Notes


Military Intelligence Division

Neglect of Military Intelligence 1919
Prior to our declaration of war with Germany this essential general staff agency which is charged with gathering, collating, and disseminating the military information necessary as a basis for correct military decisions existed only in a rudimentary form. In April, 1917, it consisted of a section of the War College Division comprising a total personnel consisting of two officers and two clerks and supplied with only $11,000 by congressional appropriation for the performance of duty vital to the interests of the Army and the Nation. Every other army of importance was provided with a far-reaching military intelligence service directed by a well-equipped general staff agency recognized as a par with agencies charged with military plans, operations, and supplies. As a result of our neglect of this service, the valuable information gathered by the officers whom we had attached to European armies during the first year and a half of the war was never properly used. We were also without accurate data as to the powerful and insidious espionage , propaganda, and sabotage methods with which Germany at once attempted to thwart our military effort.

Organization of Military Intelligence Division
On July 1, 1918, the Military Intelligence Section, War College Division, General Staff, had been reorganized as the Military Intelligence Branch, Executive Division, General Staff, and consisted of 173 officers, 23 noncommissioned officers, and 589 clerks in Washington, as well as representatives in the more important cities of the United States, in all important foreign countries, and an extensive field force made up of specially chosen and instructed personnel in each military unit at home and overseas. This service had already rendered Gen. Pershing great assistance by supplying him with the required intelligence funds , with competent, loyal interpreters, agents, code and cipher experts, and other special intelligence personnel, with the material peculiarly adapted for intelligence needs.

The Staff reorganization, effected by General Orders, No 80, War Department, August 26, 1918, made the Military Intelligence Service a coordinate division of the General Staff and placed it on a par with similar services of general staffs of other nations of the world. The additional authority and prestige thus provided made it possible for this division to deal with other governmental agencies and with the intelligence services of our allies much more expeditiously and effectively than was possible under the previous imperfect organization. At the time of the armistice the Military Intelligence Division in Washington was made up of a highly specialized personnel consisting of 282 officers, 29 noncommissioned officers and 948 civilian employees, there field force had been greatly improved and enlarged, the assistance furnished the intelligence section of Gen. Pershing's staff was becoming daily more direct and more valuable, as was the staff was becoming daily more direct and more valuable, as was the cooperation with State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Post Office Department, Naval Intelligence, the War Trade Board, the War Industries Board, and the National Research Council.

Since the signing of the armistices the Military Intelligence Division, in spite of the necessary rapid demobilization of its civilian and temporary commissioned personnel, had contributed much valuable information to the American commission to negotiate peace, for which over 20 officer-specialists were furnished, and with which was effectively linked the military attaché system and the intelligence service of the American Expeditionary Forces. Investigation of alleged cases of enemy activity and disloyalty within the civil population in the United States which had been necessary during the period of actual hostilities terminated November 30, 1918, but the enormous financial interests of the United States involved in the cancellation of war contracts and the salvage of surplus stores has made necessary the continuance of a small bureau in this division for the investigation of alleged graft and fraud in connection with such matters. The gathering and effective use of military information is, however, held to be primary function of the Military Intelligence Division in time of peace; and it is upon this principle that the business of this division is now being conducted.

The duties assigned to Military Intelligence Division by General Orders, No. 80, War Department, 1918, are:

This division shall have the cognizance and control of military intelligence, both positive and negative, and shall be in charge of an officer designated as the Director of Military Intelligence, who will bean assistant to the Chief of Staff. He is also the chief military censor. The duties of this division are to maintain estimates revised daily of the military situation, the economic situation, and of such others matters as the Chief of Staff may direct, and to collect, collate, and disseminate military intelligence. It will cooperate wit the intelligence section of the general staffs of allied countries in connection with military intelligence; prepare instructions in military intelligence work for the use of our forces: supervise the training of personnel for intelligence work: organize, direct, and coordinate the intelligence service: supervise the duties of military attaches: communicate direct with department intelligence officers and intelligence officers at posts, camps, and stations, and , and with commands in the field in matters relating to military intelligence: obtain, reproduce, and issue maps: translate foreign documents: disburse: and account for intelligence funds: cooperate with the censorship board and with intelligence agencies of other departments of Government.

In order to perform the duties thus assigned it the Military Intelligence Division has been organized into an Administrative Section and 12 other sections, grouped according to the nature of their functions into three branches, Positive, Geographic, and Negative. The magnitude, importance, and variety of the work of this division can best be shown by a summary of the activities of its various sub-divisions.

The Negative Branch
This branch collects, collates, and disseminates information upon which may be based measures of prevention against activities and influences tending to impair our military efficiency by other than armed force.

This branch was created on August 18, 1918, by uniting four existing sections. The sections so united were the Foreign Influence Section, the Army Section, the News Section, and the military morale Section. In September, 1918, the Travel Section and the Fraud Section were added. On October 19, 1918, the Military Morale Section became the Military Morale Branch of the General Staff. The organization at the time of the cessation of hostilities, when the branch had reached its highest point of development, consisted of five sections, as follows: Foreign Influence (M.I. 4); Army (M.I. 3); News (M.I. 10); Travel (M.I. 11); Fraud (M.I. 13).

At its maximum the branch employed the services of 202 officers, 60 enlisted men (Corps of Intelli-gence), 65 volunteers (candidates for commissions), and 605 clerks. It directed the activities of thousands of officers and enlisted men in the field and through this organization did the War Department's share in completely foiling the well-laid plans of the enemy to impede our military program. In which aggregate more than the entire appropriation for Military Intelligence.

A consideration of the functions of the several subdivisions of the branch gives a comprehensive view of its activities, which included the handling of cases during the current year in number closely approximating half a million.

The Foreign Influence Section (M.I.4), is the present section from which grew the Negative Branch. As delimited by the diversion of specialties to other sections, the duty of this section in general is the study of espionage and propaganda directed against the United States or against its allies, and also the study of the sentiments, publications, ad other actions of foreign language and revolutionary groups both here an abroad, in so far as these matters have a bearing upon the military situation. The activities of a the section were carried on through seven subsections, as follows:

The Executive Subsection apportioned, supervised and coordinated the work of the section, determined questions of policy and represented the section in its relations ,important officials.

The Departmental subsection studied the intelligence situation in the territories embraced within the several geographical military departments of United States. It investigated enemy espionage activities and channels of communication, the financing of enemy activities and particular cases of enemy influence.

The Propaganda subsection studied and collated information on dissemination by the enemy of doctrines and false rumors aimed to create confusion of thought and so impair our military efficiency. It also studied and suggested methods for meeting and overcoming this imponderable mode to attack.

The Foreign Subsection studied the intelligence situation abroad and , in cooperation with the corresponding agencies of allied powers, determined the nature and extent of enemy secret activity and formulated methods for overcoming its effect.

The Legal and Liaison Subsection maintained liaison with the various Government agencies in Washington through officers familiar with the various departments. Specific recommendations of measures for fire prevention. It organized watch and guard systems for plants engaged in Government work and provided watchmen where necessary. It also devised plans and furnished agents for detecting and preventing sabotage or other malicious interference with the production. In addition, it systematically studied legislation, enacted or pending, proclamations, executive orders, and legal decisions affecting the Intelligence Service.

The Research Subsection took over from other subsections, cases which appeared to have reached unusual significance or importance, summarized all material information available a prepared such cases for final disposition.

The Labor and Sabotage Subsection handled all matters relating to the prevention or delay of deliveries of war materials by immobilization of resources, control of factories, or raw materials, subversion or intimidation of labor or physical damage to plants
or products.

The Army Section (M.I.3) — The Functions of this section is the organization, instruction and supervision of the Negative Intelligence Service within the Military Establishment: more specifically it protects the Army by the prevention and detection of enemy and disloyal activity among the military, including civilian personnel under military authority and in volunteer auxiliary associations. It supervises and coordinates the work of the Negative Intelligence officers stationed with each military unit and promulgates instructions for the operation and maintenance of the Negative Intelligence Service in the field.

The Executive Subsection coordinated the work of the section, assigned personnel and issued the bulletins and instructions which determined policy for the field organization. It also handled a variety of special and miscellaneous matters which did not fall within the province of another subsection. Among such specialties were the observation of conscientious objectors and of foreign church organizations and pacifist religious bodies operating among troops. The intelligence problems arising through there presence in the American Army of large bodies of Negro troops were studied in this subsection and much valuable information was secured and digested.

The Line Subsection cooperated with intelligence officers in line units in the field in investigating cases of disloyalty, sedition or enemy activity, either among troops or at points where troops were stationed. It also investigated and reported upon the antecedents and personal character for loyalty and integrity of candidates for commissions in the line of the Army. The duties of this section included not only the observations of dangerous tendencies or incidents arising within military units, but also those which operated from without directly upon the Army personnel.

Three other subsections performed for the technical and administrative corps and departments duties identical with those which the Line Subsection handled for the line of Army. This work was grouped as follows: (a) General Staff, Judge Advocate General's Office, Adjutant General's Office, Corps of Engineers, Ordnance Department, Quartermaster Corps, and Motor Transport Corps. (b) Medical, Dental, and Veterinary Corps and the Chemical Warfare Service. (c) Signal Corps ad Air Service.

The Personnel Subsection served all other subsections by conducting preliminary investigations of candidates for commissions and other persons under investigation, and so from further consideration all whose character for loyalty and integrity proved to be questionable. This subsection also performed a valuable service in detecting applicants for commissions in technical branches who had previously been rejected or discharged for cause from other branches of the service. One result of the investigations of this group was to prove the utter unreliability of letters of recommendation in estimating the fitness of individuals. Approximately 15,000 cases were handled during the emergency.

The Statistical Subsection, by means of maps and indexes, kept records of all military units in the United States and of the Intelligence organization of each; of the various cooperating agencies and of the status of the field service in general. It had custody of all literature issued by the section and attended to the mailing of circulars, bulletins, and instructions. It coordinated the administrative work of the field and the office. This subsection maintained liaison with statistical offices of other branches of the War Department.

The Instruction Subsection, studied the development of the Negative Intelligence system, evolved general principles and specific policies of general application and promulgated the result for the improvement of the service. It developed a well-considered plan for the personal instruction of Negative Intelligence officers, and prior to the signing of the armistice conducted schools for two groups of officers brought in from the field instruction.

The Plant Protection Bureau._This was a civilian organization which originated in the Air Service as a measure of protection for the airplane production program. It was taken over by Military Intelligence and its scope enlarged to include the protection of Government plants and construction projects as well as all private plants engaged in war work. This bureau systematically studied and inspected fire risks and made recommendations of measures for fire prevention. It organized watch and guard systems for plants for engaged in Government work and provided watchmen where necessary. It also devised plans and furnished agents for detecting and preventing sabotage or other malicious interference with the production of war material. Approximately 5,000 plants were under the inspection of this bureau, which employed and operative force of 373 and supervised the activities of thousands of guards and watchmen. Offices were maintained at Boston, Springfield, New Haven, Bridgeport, New York, Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, New ark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Nitro, Atlanta, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Dayton, Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Davenport, St. Louis, Fort Worth, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

An important by-product of the activities of this bureau arose from its intimate knowledge of the operation of plants working on Government contracts whereby it was in a position to frustrate false claims and overcharges. No account was kept from which an accurate statement can be made of the total savings effectuated in this way. One item amounted to $600,000. and the total is estimated as $2,000,000.

Liaison with American Protective League: American Protective League was a volunteer civilian organization of 3000,000 members, operating under the supervision of the Department of Justice, and thoroughly covering the United States. By special arrangement with the Department of Justice this agency of information was placed at the disposal of Military Intelligence Division, and to facilitate communication directly with the various local branches of the league a Liaison Subsection was created under the direction of an officer of Military Intelligence, who was also an officer of the American Protective League.

The News Section (M.I.10)_On June 11, 1918, the Director of Military Intelligence was appointed to represent the War Department on the Censorship Board and the work incidental to this additional duty was at first handled in several sections of the Negative Branch. On August 16, 1917, the Director of Military Intelligence assumed the duty of Chief Military Censor and this section, which was originally called the Censorship Section, was created to handle increased volume of work entailed.

Censorship_In practice it was found that much of the organization necessary to examine publications and communications for censoring served equally well for collecting and digesting current news in a manner which proved to be of great value to the War Department. As time progressed these informational functions became more and more important and when, with the close of hostilities, the censorship became unnecessary, this feature of the section, now called the News Section, was continued. At its maximum the section had 15 subsection, as follows:

The Executive Subsection coordinated and supervised the work of the section, handled necessary administrative details, together with miscellaneous matters which did not fall within the province of any other subsection, and maintained liaison with the boards of experts in other departments.

The Legal Subsection advised on the legal aspects of the censorship and recorded the precedents established upon rulings obtained from the staff of technical experts organized in the various bureaus of the War Department to cooperate with the Chief Military Censor.

The Postal Subsection maintained liaison with the Post Office Department and handled those matters which arose through the duties of the Chief Military Censor as War Department member of the Postal Censor ship Board.

The Prisoner of War Subsection censored all mail to or from prisoners of war held by the United States in the several war prison camps and coordinated the work in this country with that done abroad.

The Telegraph and Telephone Subsection conducted the censorship of telegraph and telephone messages to Mexico during the period that the regulation were in force.

The Radio Subsection supervised the interception of radio messages originating in Mexico and through this service obtained much invaluable information regarding the activities and intentions of the enemy.

The Official Photograph Subsection censored all official motion and still pictures and made appropriate recommendations to the Signal Corps, the Historical Branch, an the Committee on Public Information.

The Commercial Motion Picture Subsection surveyed the private motion picture field for harmful propaganda or indiscreet revelations and in conjunction with Customs Intelligence censored the importation and exportation of films.

The Photographic Permit Subsection in cooperation with the Committee on Public Information handled the matter of official permits to make photographs on or about military camps and reservations.

The Press Subsection examined newspapers and periodicals to detect violations of the voluntary press censorship, advised the press regarding the suppression of information which might be of military value to the enemy, and attended to the accrediting of war correspondents.

The Foreign Language Press Subsection examined publications in foreign languages published in the United States land foreign language material entering this country.

The Book Subsection examined books, pamphlets, posters and all publications other than newspapers and periodicals, reported on such as were contrary to the interests of the United States, and recommended repressive measures where necessary.

The Propaganda Subsection examined periodicals and publications clearly engaged in propaganda activities for the purpose of ascertaining if their teachings are inimical to the interests of the United States.

The Digest Subsection prepared a daily news summary, a semi-weekly digest of editorial opinion for transmission to France, and a weekly press review for the Secretary of War.

The Clipping Bureau maintained a newspaper and magazine clippings service for all of the Military Intelligence Division and several other branches of the General Staff.

The Signal Intelligence Service was housed in this
building from 1929 to 1942. The building was located on
Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.




Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Main