Bill To Honor WW2 Espionage Agents Is Hung Up In Congress

Photo Credit: <a href=>OSS</a>
Photo Credit: OSS

A bill to honor the forerunners of the Central Intelligence Agency has run into a Congressional roadblock.

The bill, put forward last November by Rep. Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio), would confer the Congressional Gold Medal on the rapidly disappearing members of the Office of Strategic Services that became the CIA. The legislative document would also recognize the nation’s most elite units.

At the time, Latta said the legislation had an unparalleled effect on the structure of national security.  He called on Congress to cooperatively acknowledge the men and women for their labors, and esteem them for their service.

The measure has 320 sponsors in the House; a similar, companion bill was passed completely in March by the Senate. The impasse seems to focus on a congressional regulation that prohibits the medal being awarded to organizations or groups.

Prior to Congress’s most recent sitting, associations of Second World War vets, for example, the Tuskegee Airmen, a famed group of African American fighter pilots who fought in Europe, received the medal. The rule was waived early in the year enabling the award to be presented to civil rights activists involved in the 1965 ‘Bloody Sunday’ march in Alabama.

A waiver is required to bypass the rule, but thus far the House’s Republican leadership has remained mostly silent.

In a recent statement, the Office of Strategic Services Society stated that if the bill fails to pass prior the adjournment of the 114th Congress, it will be deceased and a number of superb heroes will not be recognized for their service. Their courage deserves recognition with a Congressional Gold Medal, said Society President Charles Pinck.

Organized in 1942, the OSS operated covertly internationally. OSS agents spied on Nazi Germany, helped acquire intelligence behind enemy lines, and trained Chinese resistance fighters, The Washington Post reported.

As WWII ended, the Services boat teams transformed into Underwater Demolition Teams then morphed again into SEALS.  Other sections of the OSS became the Special Forces Groups of the US Army.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE