They knew which factories to burn, which bridges to blow up, which cargo ships could be sunk in good conscience. They had pothole counts for roads used for invasion and head counts for city blocks marked for incineration.
They weren’t just secret agents. They were secret insurance agents. These undercover underwriters gave their World War II spymasters access to a global industry that both bankrolled and, ultimately, helped bring down Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
Newly declassified U.S. intelligence files tell the remarkable story of the ultra-secret Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2.
Though rarely numbering more than a half dozen agents, the unit gathered intelligence on the enemy’s insurance industry, Nazi insurance titans and suspected collaborators in the insurance business. But, more significantly, the unit mined standard insurance records for blueprints of bomb plants, timetables of tide changes and thousands of other details about targets, from a brewery in Bangkok to a candy company in Bergedorf.
“They used insurance information as a weapon of war,” said Greg Bradsher, a historian and National Archives expert on the declassified records.
I am reminded of those war tactics today and the bodyguard of lies that have been so carefully constructed over the years to conceil some ugly truths about the insurance business. At slabbed we’re firm believers in knowing our adversaries and this story from the archives of the LA Times gives excellent background on the orgins of AIG. Continue reading “AIG and CV Starr: The Spies Who Shagged Us”
Please note It’s all just a game to State Farm has been edited. Hopefully, that means I’ve corrected garble and grammar.
A story in today’s Washington Post provides the context for those errors and others that may come as I devote time off-blog to some much needed work around the house – Study finds paint isle at Lowe’s best place to have complete meltdown.
According to a study published Monday in the Journal Of Mental Health, the paint department inside a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse has surpassed the shelving section of Ikea as the location most conducive to having a total psychological breakdown.
The study, which observed a cross-section of 750 average, mentally sound Americans as they shopped at a variety of retail outlets, found that the singularly chaotic qualities of a Lowe’s paint aisle, combined with its overwhelming number of product choices, make it the ideal place to completely fall apart.
“Even the most well-adjusted individual can be reduced to a feeble, trembling shell of his or her former self after a half hour of paint shopping at Lowe’s,” said Dr. Olivia Kang, a behavioral psychologist at the University of Texas and lead author of the study. “The pressure to make a decision between two seemingly identical shades of beige, the glaring fluorescent lights, the frantic patrons on all sides—it’s too much for the human psyche to process.”
“In terms of causing normal, healthy adults to completely lose their shit, the Lowe’s paint department amounts to a perfect storm,” Kang added.
I’ll not tell how many trips I made to Lowe’s paint isle last week – only that it’s amazing I was able to write a post at all!