Intelligence Units Tapped Telephone Wires to and From Government Offices in 1934

In 1934, this was big news and was the first Whisper ever.

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This year Washington Whispers turns 75, and to celebrate we're republishing some of our best Whispers through history. When the column originally debuted in The United States News in 1934, Whispers were succinct and all began with the expression THAT. And while they were stylistically different from what U.S.News & World Report publishes now, these Depression-era Whispers cover many of the same topics that are making headlines today, including issues pertaining to national security and an economic crisis.

Here's a select few from the first batch, which were published on Dec. 3, 1934:

  • THAT telephone wires to and from Government offices are tapped from time to time by "intelligence units."
  • THAT all personal mail in the NRA [National Recovery Administration] offices here and in some of the new emergency agencies of the Government is opened by someone before reaching the persons addressed.
  • THAT a detective system has been established to watch employees and executives in various Government establishments to determine loyalty to the Administration.
  • THAT if Japan wants a naval race, the United States is ready to build five ships for every three laid down by that country and that officials doubt that the Japanese can keep up the financial pace.
  • THAT the FERA [Federal Emergency Relief Administration] will not explain the 3,000 cans of poisoned meat caught by inspectors in the nick of time until it has a water-tight reason.
  • THAT the Senate investigation of insurance companies will explode as many bombshells as the Senate banking and stock market investigations.
  • THAT the FERA elimination of minimum hourly wages for relief workers has been hailed with glee by construction companies who see in it a step to effect lower wages of labor.
  • THAT a prominent Senator recently returned to Washington believes the unemployment situation and relief must be taken care of promptly because people are getting as "radical as the dickens."