The internet is at times (all of the times?) a capsule from the weird to the absolutely bizarre. And sometimes there comes a time when something happened, was recorded and the people who did it decided to put it on the internet.
Such is the case for the CIA and their Timeless Tips for “Simple Sabotage”
Since World War II, US intelligence agencies have devised innovative ways to defeat their adversaries. In 1944, CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.
This classified booklet described ways to sabotage the US’ World War II enemies. The OSS Director William J. Donovan recommended that the sabotage guidance be declassified and distributed to citizens of enemy states via pamphlets and targeted broadcasts.
Of course, I doubt Donovan thought that these tactics could be used just as well by domestic individuals. But many of these methods that Donovan lists are (as the site says) “surprisingly relevant”.
Here’s one that the site itself highlights:
Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
So basically the CIA (or its precursor) advised workers to engage in slow-downs and in very particular ways.
They also advocate managerial slow-downs through making things overly bureaucratic which strikes me as funny given the OSS, when it turned into the CIA, became one of the most important and thus likely one of the more bureaucratic institutions in the US. I sincerely doubt anyone within the OSS/CIA has drawn this connection however.
Within the pamphlet itself, the introduction is interesting as it gives some great conceptions of how “simple sabotage” works and what that tends to entail. For example it lists things like pebbles, cloth and other easily accessible objects that are mostly thought as innocuous and using them as weapons against easily accessible parts of their workplace.
Sabotage, simple or not, has the effects of demoralizing your enemy over the long-run and especially if this sabotage is widespread. It has the nasty effect of making people feel like they have little to no real control over the environment that they are supposedly ruling over. This is why, even psychologically, anarchists have embraced sabotage as a tactic.
Motivation is an interesting question which the pamphlet also touches on. It advises for people to give citizens some long-term indirect benefits as a way to get them into the mood for sabotage. The fall of your oppressive government or even just your manager and replacing it with something better could definitely work in bad situations.
Of course, then you run the risk that because it’s so bad, you might get caught and then the penalties for saboteurs may not be very lenient. But I suppose that’s the sort of risk you have to take if you’re going to do sabotage. And in any case it seems like the sort of sabotage this pamphlet advocates is more likely to be disruptive on the larger scale, not small.
That has its advantages and disadvantages. It means that the individual or even small scale efforts of a few workers in one town may not elicit much reaction but over the course of several towns it may warrant more attention. But if you can’t get it started over multiple localities then the actions may feel akin to a Sisyphusian task.
I wrote the above without noticing that one of the sections in the pamphlet says something quite similar to it:
(b) Since the effect of his own acts is limited, the saboteur may become discouraged unless he feels that he is a member of a large, though unseen, group of saboteurs operating against the enemy or the government of his own country and elsewhere.
Um, great minds think alike?
The value of laziness is also upheld:
(a) The saboteur may have to reverse his thinking and he should be told this in so many words. Where he formerly thought of keeping his tools sharp, he should now let them grow dull; surfaces that formerly were lubricated now should be sanded; normally diligent, he should now be lazy and carefree and so on…
Laziness is not only a great way to get things done but it’s an excellent way to disrupt production. I could have hung some price tags a few nights ago but instead I decided to read a book about doing nothing called Autopilot.
Here’s a great tip:
Try to commit acts for which large numbers of people could be responsible.
For instance, if you blowout the wiring in a. factory at a central fire box, almost anyone could have done it. On-the-street sabotage after dark, such as you might be able to carry out against a military car or truck, is another example of an act for which it would be impossible to blame you.
This goes back to the idea of using simple means on easily accessible materials. Both of these things combined makes it easy for you to deflect blame because of course anyone could have access to the target or the materials.
On the other hand if you using rather expensive equipment and specific targets that are locked up tight, the circle of suspicion may get smaller. But as the pamphlet suggests, even these actions may be alright once in a while so long as you have plausible excuses, apologize a lot and feign ignorance. Staying or leaving after sabotage can do a lot to arouse or decrease suspicion so you have to keep things in mind like that as well…the pamphlet advises, I mean.
There’s a lot more to this pamphlet about how to use tools, fire and water but I’ll let you read it for “educational purposes” only of course. Also, just to be clear, republishing this material on this site shouldn’t be taken as anything more than to interest my reader sin how funny and weird history can be sometimes.
But then again, I guess the CIA did grow up into being an organization dedicated to political sabotage, especially in Latin America. So if no one else got a lot out of use of this pamphlet, it looks like the CIA did.
Oh, and if you’re curious, the tips for workers are on pages 30-31.
Just so you know.
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