Beware the Enemy Within!

The CIA has made the OSS Sabotage Field Manual available online. (

Now, before all you would be terrorists go rushing off in hopes of making your very first pipe bombs, you should know that (as you have probably already guessed) this document contains nothing that would assist a modern terrorist.

During the Second World War, thousands of copies of the manual were dropped by parachute to civilian populations in Nazi occupied countries in the hope that it would inspire them to make token resistance efforts. Basically, this manual is aimed at those who don’t feel brave enough to pick up a gun or a bomb, but who long to do something to resist, however small. Suggestions in the manual are as feeble as leaning more heavily on your wood chisel to help the blade wear out more quickly.

So far, so dull.

However, what is mildly amusing (no, we don’t get out much) is Section 5 (11)(a) of the manual: “General Interference with Organisations and Production”. Does any of this sound familiar?

1) Insist on doing everything through “channels”. Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

2) Make “speeches”. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” remarks.

3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration”. Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.

4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

7) Advocate “caution”. Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable “ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

This sounds like every committee meeting we have ever attended. And certainly about 99% of intelligence service committee meetings we have ever attended. If this also sounds familiar to you, then perhaps that boring colleague who sends you to sleep at every single meeting is really an enemy agent.

Time to take action. Turn to Section 6 of the Manual: “How to Eliminate a Troublesome Colleague at Work”…

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