On Oct. 27, 1941, FDR, locked in mortal combat with an America First Committee that was resisting his drive to war, played his trump. On Navy Day, at the Mayflower Hotel, FDR declared,
“I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler’s Government – by planners of the New World Order. … It is a map of South America … as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. … This map makes clear the Nazi design, not only against South America but against the United States as well.”
Roosevelt was not done. I also have, he informed his audience, a Nazi document detailing plans “to abolish all existing religions, liquidate all clergy and create an ‘International Nazi Church.’
“In the place of the Bible, the words of ‘Mein Kampf’ will be imposed and enforced in a Holy Writ. And in the place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols – the swastika and the naked sword. … The God of Blood and Iron will take the place of the God of Love and Mercy.”
The Nazi plans for eradicating Christianity were never found. And the map? A forgery by British agent Ivar Bryce, who worked under Churchill’s man William Stephenson, who had been given his mission: Provoke America to go to war with Germany.
As Nicholas Cull relates in “Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American ‘Neutrality’ in World War II,” the “most striking feature” of Bryce’s fake map “was the complicity of the president of the United States in perpetrating this fraud.”
In his address to Congress calling for war, after Pearl Harbor, FDR did not even mention Germany. Yet Hitler stunned the world by declaring war on America. Why? Among the reasons cited by Germany was the provocation of FDR’s Navy Day speech and fake map.
Stephenson’s forgery was a triumph and served a backdrop for Clare Luce’s remark that Roosevelt “lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it.”
Though Stephenson used fraud and blackmail to goad us into a war that killed and wounded a million Americans, he is the hero of the best-seller “A Man Called Intrepid.” And not only has FDR been forgiven, he has been celebrated. His lies, it is said, were noble lies, to rouse an isolationist America into doing its duty and ridding the world of Adolf Hitler.
But it all depends on how a war turns out. And that is the problem for the president. In the 2003 State of the Union, he declared: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.”
For those who opposed war with Iraq as necessary, this was riveting. If Saddam was building nuclear weapons, the case for war was far more compelling than if all he had were Scuds, mustard gas and anthrax he could not deliver. Days after the president spoke, Dick Cheney raised anew the awful specter: “We believe he has … reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
Now, with Americans dying daily in our own Gaza Strip in Iraq, we learn that the critical document on which the president relied was also a naked forgery. Someone fabricated the document that supposedly proved Iraq was secretly trying to buy uranium from Niger.
Moreover, the CIA knew the truth, as ex-ambassador Joe Wilson had been sent to Niger to ferret it out. And Wilson had returned to report that the nuclear link to Iraq did not exist.
So, two questions remain. Who forged the Niger document? Who put the lie in the president’s State of the Union address?
Fingers are being pointed in all directions. President Bush gave the British government as his source, leading one to suspect the heirs of Bryce and Stephenson. The Brits point to the CIA. The Washington Post said that a foreign intelligence agency was the source. CNN cited officials who said it was not the Brits or Mossad. Lately, Italy has popped up as a possible source – and the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmed Chalabi.
Whoever did it, the forgery – so crude it suggests the author knew his recipient wanted it so badly he would not bother to verify it – was a war crime, a deliberate provocation of the United States to instigate a war on a country that did not threaten America.
“An enemy has done this to us,” the Bible reads. Congress should find out who that enemy is. With American kids dying in a new war in Iraq that has no end in sight, we have a right to know who deceived the president – who lied us into war.