Tyler Kent was an American diplomat working at the U.S. embassy in London during the early stages of WWII before America entered the war. He was against American participation in the war. He wanted Germany to defeat the Soviet Union. He got his hands on thousands of sensitive files, including correspondence letters between Churchill and Roosevelt in which Roosevelt expressed interest in entering the war.
In 1940, the vast majority of the American people wanted America to stay out of the war. Roosevelt won the presidency by falsely claiming that he would do everything in his power to make sure America stays out of the war.
Kent knew Roosevelt was lying and he wanted to expose his war aims and war preparations to the American people. But he was stopped from performing a Herculean historical feat by the British government in collaboration with the Roosevelt administration and the U.S. ambassador to England, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Kent's diplomatic immunity was revoked by Kennedy. He was imprisoned in England until the end of the war. His voice was silenced and his image was ruined. Glory escaped him. His government turned its back on him, and history forgot him. He died unknown like a common slave in a trailer park in a small town in Texas in 1988. He wanted to make history, nail the American king of war to the cross of peace, and save American lives. But the gods of history just laughed at his fate.
Adam Curtis, the filmmaker of the documentary, "The Power of Nightmares," wrote about Kent's aspirations to leak top secret documents on December 17, 2010, in a post called, "Wicked Leaks." Curtis wrote:
"Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst who is alleged to have leaked the thousands of state department cables, has often been compared to Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.It is amazing how the passage of time makes us reconsider the actions of deified leaders like Roosevelt and forgotten whistleblowers like Kent. Does Roosevelt still deserve to be glorified as a war hero after what we now know about the Pearl Harbor attack?
But I have stumbled on a film in the archives that tells the story of another leaker in America who tried to do the same thing, but even earlier.
He was a young State Department diplomat who stole and copied thousands of Top Secret cables. Like Daniel Ellsberg, his aim was to release them to stop America’s involvement in what he believed was a disastrous foreign war.
He was called Tyler Kent. He was a diplomat at the US embassy in London in 1940 and he wanted to stop President Roosevelt bringing America into the war to help Britain.
Back in 1982, Robert Harris tracked Tyler Kent down. He was living in a caravan in a trailer park on the US-Mexico border. Harris persuaded Kent to be interviewed and then made a film for Newsnight that told the story.
It is a great piece of historical journalism. Kent explains how his aim was to release the secret cables during the Presidential election campaign in 1940. Over 80% of the US population didn’t want to go into the war – and the cables showed President Roosevelt secretly promising Churchill help against Germany.
Harris makes a powerful case in the film that if Kent had succeeded America would not have entered the war. And history would have been completely different."
And how should we view Kent? Is he a hero or a villain?
I see Kent as an American patriot who kept his oath and respected the will of the American people. He tried to stop America from blindly committing itself to the European tragedy. WWII was not a good war, as historians absurdly claim. Roosevelt had his virtues but the fact of the matter is that he sacrificed millions of young Americans in a war in which America's national security was not at stake. Roosevelt provoked Japan through economic acts of war. So the U.S. government was the aggressor.
But who's to say who was right? Was Kent right, or his wrathful jailers? What if Kent succeeded in exposing Roosevelt's treasonous deceit, America stayed out of the war, and the Nazis conquered England and then moved on to defeat the Soviet Union? Would we now be speaking about an American-Nazi alliance instead of an American-Israel alliance?
Another proud American also tried to change history, and he succeeded. His name was General Smedley Butler, "the most decorated Marine at the time of his death." He exposed a Wall-Street/fascist plot to topple Roosevelt in the mid 1930s.
What if General Butler went along with the coup, President Roosevelt was overthrown, and the new American administration made a deal with Nazi Germany?
It is strange how history can sometimes be changed with the actions of one man. Both Tyler Kent and General Butler are admirable figures in history because they both took heroic action to save their country based on their sincere belief that they were serving their country correctly and justly.
Most historians believe that General Butler was right in his belief, while Kent was not. But maybe they're wrong and Kent was right to try to prevent American involvement in WWII. Or maybe Kent was wrong and he suffered his fate because the gods ordained that America enter WWII to defeat the Nazis.