United States: 1865-1918

Border with Mexico

Benbow, Mark E. "All the Brains I Can Borrow: Woodrow Wilson and Intelligence Gathering in Mexico, 1913-15." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 4 (2007): 1-12.

"Wilson's efforts to cobble together information about Mexico's revolution illustrate some of the difficulties presidents faced when gathering intelligence before a more formal intelligence-gathering structure was established."

Boghardt, Thomas. "Chasing Ghosts in Mexico: The Columbus Raid of 1916 and the Politicization of U.S. Intelligence During World War I." Army History (Fall 2013): 6-23.

Abstract by author. "In early 1917, the U.S. government learned of a secret German alliance proposal to Mexico that would come into effect if the United States joined the Allies. American interventionists claimed that the so-called Zimmermann Telegram ... represented the culmination of a series of German plots in Mexico, designed to challenge U.S. hegemony in the western hemisphere. This article shows, however, that from 1915 to 1917 American intelligence had carefully investigated and comprehensively refuted recurring rumors of German plots in Mexico. It argues that American interventionists, led by Secretary of State Robert Lansing, deliberately disregarded these findings and inaccurately portrayed the Zimmermann Telegram as corroboration of earlier rumors of German conspiracies in Mexico. Consequently, the erroneous notion of a German security threat to the western hemisphere became an important rationale for America's entry into World War I. Based on research in British, German, and U.S. archives, the article demonstrates the difficulty for intelligence collectors on the ground of overcoming political bias at the top government level, and the far-reaching consequences of tailoring intelligence to suit a political agenda."

Harris, Charles H., III, and Louis R. Sadler.

1. The Border and the Revolution: Clandestine Activities of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920. Silver City, NM: High-Lonesome Books, 1988. [pb]

Surveillant 1.3 notes that the authors' thesis is "that the modern American intelligence community began during the period of the Mexican Revolution." Archer, I&NS 7.3, comments that the chapters here were first published as separate essays, a fact made clear by the episodic nature of the book. This is not a comprehensive study of clandestine activities along the U.S.-Mexican border in the second decade of the 20th century. There is research here from previously unexplored sources, but the work "does not change major interpretations of the Mexican Revolution."

2. The Secret War in El Paso: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906-1920. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2009.

For Benbow, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009), the authors' "story flows smoothly," and they "write with wit and humor." Although "Harris and Sadler failed to discuss in sufficient detail ... the role of third-party actors,... the book is well-done and should be read by anyone interested in the Mexican Revolution or in American intelligence operations in the years before the development of formal intelligence processes."

Hatch, David A. "The Punitive Expedition: Military Reform and Communications Intelligence." Cryptologia 31, no. 1 (Jan. 2007): 38-45.

When Gen. John J. Pershing went into Mexico after Pancho Villa in March 1916, his expeditionary force included radio-equipped trucks to provide communications with Fort Sam Houston. By June 1916, at least one truck was being used to intercept "Mexican official radio broadcasts." A year after the U.S. force left Mexico in January 1917, the Army established 14 intercept stations along the border with Mexico. These units were demobilized in August 1919.

Raat, William Dirk. "The Diplomacy of Suppression: Los Revoltosos, Mexico, and the United States, 1906-1911." Hispanic American Historical Review 56, no. 4 (1976): 529-550.

Calder: "Suggests that an espionage system was established by the US and Mexico to counter the activities of Los Revoltosos aimed at overthrowing President Diaz."

Smith, Michael M. "The Mexican Secret Service in the United States, 1910-1920." The Americas 59, no. 1 (Jul. 2002): 65-85.

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