Charles Willoughby, Cooked Intel, and the Far Right.
Cooked intel, as seen before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and more recently from the Trump gang, is a deeply embedded far right tradition.
Major General Charles A. Willoughby (1892-1972) was MacArthur’s chief of intelligence through most of World War II and Korea. He has been called the most incompetent and destructive American general officer of the twentieth century.
Willoughby’s contribution(s) during the Korean War is subject to some significant controversy, with several sources insisting that he intentionally distorted, if not out and out suppressed, intelligence estimates that showed the Chinese were massing at the Yalu River. Willoughby allegedly did so in order to better support MacArthur’s (mistaken) assertion that the Chinese would never cross the Yalu, and thus allow MacArthur a freer hand in his drive to the Yalu.
MacArthur affectionately referred to him as “my pet fascist.” Willoughby’s “vitriolic, paranoid, and frequently fantastic” notes included antisemitic insults towards Beate Sirota Gordon, who helped write the Constitution of Japan. During World War II MacArthur said, “There have been three great intelligence officers in history. Mine is not one of them.” John Ferris in his 2007 book Intelligence and Strategy calls this an “understatement” and calls Willoughby a “candidate for one of the three worst intelligence officers of the Second World War” (p. 261).
Writer David Halberstam, in his book The Coldest Winter, paints Willoughby as largely having been appointed head of intelligence for Korea due to his sycophancy toward MacArthur. He points out that many veterans of the war, both enlisted and otherwise, felt that the lack of correct intelligence regarding the Chinese presence resulted in poor preparation by field commanders.
Willoughby was a great admirer of Francisco Franco even before the Spanish Civil War. After Willoughby’s forced retirement in 1952, he worked as a lobbyist for Franco and also worked closely with Phyllis Schlafly’s mentor H.L. Hunt. and fascist preacher Billy Hargis. He was a founding member of the John Birch Society and a major figure on the far right until his death in 1972.
In the mid-50s, Willoughby publicly revealed the existence and success of of the Soviets’ Richard Sorge spy ring in Tokyo during World War II. Of course, this also revealed that the US knew about the ring, something many operatives had hoped to conceal from the Soviets. The lapse may have cost one or more assets in the Soviet Union their lives. Willoughby claimed, though, that Sorge (executed by the Japanese in 1944) was still alive and operating in the United States at that time.
Willoughby had also been the chief advocate for pardoning and even rewarding bio-weapons monster Shirō Ishii in exchange for data Ishii had collected at his infamous Unit 731, where Chinese and allied PoWs, including some Americans, were used as experimental subjects in lethal and inhumanly cruel experiments