Americans have always been uncomfortable with conspiracy theories.
Nevertheless, the specter of Fifth Columnists, groups of organized traitors in America, has been a real and haunting shadow. Its origins come from the 1936 Spanish Civil War, when a rebel general spoke of his four columns advancing on Madrid, and that he also had a “fifth column” of covert collaborators in the city.
Thereafter, Nazi spies and sympathizers were commonly referred to as Fifth Columnists.
At the start of the Cold War, Winston Churchill warned that Communist Fifth Columnists would seek to weaken democracies by sowing dissent among their citizens. Though widely discredited for his conduct and abuse of power, many of the charges made by Senator Joseph McCarthy concerning Communist infiltration of government would prove to be true when Kremlin files were released after the Soviet Union collapsed.