Black Rumors Directive – Office of War Information and OSS


<—Back to Index listing of Declassified CIA documents



The first CIA declassified document was recovered from the internet archive as was the second. Both were declassified in 2004.

These two documents are titled: Rumors and OSS/MO Cable to be sent 12 September.

The first is from: Lt. Col. Herbert S. Little to Mr. Carleton Scofield, Major Donald Monroe, Lt. Charles Fenn, Mr. Robert Wentworth. (cc to Betty Mcdonald and Marjorie Severyns).

The second is from: Lieutenant Thomas J. McFadden, USNR, Acting Chief MO Pac/FE [Far East] to Dr. Norman Brown OSS planning staff and Mr. Cloak, MO School; MO Pac/FE Staff.


Document details

DATE: 20 January 1944

CIA # – 28569

NAMES (or titles) mentioned:

Lt. Col. Herbert S. Little
Mr. Carleton Scofield
Major Donald Monroe
Lt. Charles Fenn
Mr. Robert Wentworth
Betty McDonald
Marjorie Severyns
Jane Smith Hutton
Edith Sebald
Lieutenant Thomas J. McFadden, USNR, Acting Chief MO Pac/FE [Far East]
Dr. Norman Brown OSS planning staff
Mr. Cloak, MO School; MO Pac/FE Staff

Interesting points from documents –

The first document discusses that these people have been receiving weekly Black Directives “recommending in general terms certain themes or campaigns which might be exploited either in connection with or supplementary to the OWI directive” which they had all started receiving. It also discusses “black cables” where they are supposed to work out their own specific rumors directed at the desired targets.

The second document discussed what the British wanted done. Specifically, conferences for the weekly OWI directive were held on Tuesday mornings, followed by “black cables” discussion.

Last Tuesday a british was present who had recently returned from Chungking. He had conferred with several OSS representatives in the Far East and reported that our “black cables” had been received with considerable interest and apparently they have been very helpful. He said that the line which had been received from us with the most enthusiasm was the one relating to rumors about the Japanese Army plan to remove the Emperor and the Government from home islands to Manchuria. As you recall, we have been playing that up for several weeks.

Further suggestions that the British desired were:

1. Treachery of the Japanese Army clique in planning to desert the homeland for Manchuria.

2. Cleavage between Japanese Army and Navy


The main thing, the main LIE they wanted perpetrated, was that the Japanese were “on the defensive” – when they weren’t, of course.


Other Images and People


Lt. Col. Herbert Satterthwaite Little.

Herbert, a Seattle lawyer born in 1902, was appointed Far East Area Operations Office in May of 1944, then became MO chief on 30 November 1945 after the dissolution of OSS. You can see a nice list he made of all personnel under his direction when “liquidation” of the OSS was underway – here at the internet archive.

Herbert graduated U of W in 1923, was admitted to Washington bar that same year, became an associate at the Seattle firm Stratton and Kane for the next 12 years.

One of the more interesting activities that he got up to was working for the British intelligence front organization called Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, he was the chairman of the Seattle chapter in 1941. To read more about just what that was, please see William Allen White article and BSC Part VI: America Mine.

It was two years later, 1943, that he was “rewarded” by being recruited into the OSS. After the war he was with the firm Little, Leader, LeSourd & Palmer of Seattle and chairman of the Pacific Northwest Division of the Institute of Pacific Relations (which came under some sort of Senate investigation).

He also was happy to repeatedly spread the British spymaster Robert Vansittart propaganda line that Japan (and Germany) would need “generations” of “education” before they would be ready so as to “permit” a democratic government. (Bend Bulletin 30 October 1947; “Jap Militarism Seed Still Potent, Says Seattle Man“)

Mr. Carleton Scofield.

Head of the OSS detachment in India where Elizabeth McDonald first worked. Julia (McWilliams) and Paul Child were also under him.

Note: Scofield was a psychologist in civilian life.

Their boss Richard Heppner was none too fond of the British intelligence set-up – always having to ask them for permission to do things and they weren’t exactly forthcoming.

Heppner complained of the constant meddling by British intelligence – “SOE [Special Operations Executive] is getting in our hair more and more“-and warned of the dangers of being vulnerable to “the wiles of the British”. (A Covert Affair p. 92)

Note: Heppner would soon be over OSS China working the whole opium-guns thing with Chiang Kai-Shek. (See World Commerce Corporation article)

Donovan then sent a new OSS commander to Kunming. Colonel Richard Heppner…He and the new Theater commander, General Wedemeyer, were the best of friends. They had lived in the same barracks in Ceylon while Heppner was OSS commander at the South East Asia Command.

OSS – The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency by R. Harris Smith – 1972

Major Donald B. Monroe.

OSS Detachment 203. Boss John Coughlin had written a letter to General Donovan in which he formally discussed the problems they were having in China. He said that in Morale Operations, Major Donald B. Monroe has talked and written reams, but nothing is forthcoming from the Chinese—not even a translator. Tai-Li didn’t trust the OSS, once he had learned of their complicity with the British whom he hated with a passion. For good reason considering what they did to China.

In an interview in Chungking at the close of the war, Monroe of OSS gave his account of what he thought was happening, which he’s wrong about. He stated: “Perhaps one of the reasons for this action [not sharing intelligence] was that the Chinese didn’t want the Americans to get a first-hand picture of the nefarious actions going on in the no-man’s land of China, where smuggled goods passed from Jap to puppets to Tai- Li agents with great regularity.”

Nah. That wasn’t the problem. That’s just more British propaganda about Tai-Li basically. Half of what were called “Tai Li’s” agents were actually Chiang Kai-Shek’s agents and he was definitely a duplicitous motherfucker, no doubt about it.


Lt. Charles Henry Fenn

This is a picture of American OSS agents meeting with Ho Chi Minh (center) in January 1945. I think Charles may be the guy second from the right.

image found here.

Special Intelligence (SI) officer Charles Fenn was a British-born American journalist joined the OSS in 1943 and been trained in Maryland and Virginia. He met with Ho Chi Minh in March of 1945, and got his agreement to allow OSS agents and radio operators in Vietnam in exchange for arms and medicines for the Viet Minh.

So he helped start the later Vietnam War, basically.



Irish Times

On returning to the US in 1943, Fenn found himself, because of his knowledge of China, the subject of overtures from the Office of Strategic Services – the forerunner of the CIA. Fenn agreed to assist in intelligence work, and to provide cover for his activities he joined the Marine Corps (later becoming a captain) and returned to China to enlist Chinese agents in a spy network.

It was around this time that Fenn first met Ho Chi Minh, and a remarkable friendship which was to last for many years developed between the two men. Fenn recruited Ho as an American agent and managed to smuggle him into Vietnam. All this is detailed in Fenn’s book on Ho…


He wrote a book in 2004 (published posthumously) called At the Dragon’s Gate.


  • “In the early days of World War II, a young Marine named Charles Fenn was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for undercover operations in the China-Burma-India theater. Fenn had been a foreign correspondent in Asia, and William “Wild Bill” Donovan’s new outfit wanted a man there who already knew the lay of the land. Fenn turned out to be a good choice and a remarkable spy. He knew exactly what it took to get the job done, whether it was blowing up a bridge carrying Japanese troops across the Yalu, manning secret radio stations in Chinese convents, demoralizing Japanese morale, rescuing airmen from Japanese prisons, or getting to know an up-and-coming Vietnamese leader named Ho Chi Minh.”.
  • “Fenn’s wartime exploits are the stuff of legends, but not even his OSS compatriots knew the full extent of his espionage activities. Fortunately, Fenn’s skill as a spy is matched by his talent as a storyteller, and this account of his OSS days not only contributes to the historical record but also makes for an entertaining read. Added benefits are his descriptions of Chinese culture and lifestyle and his understanding of the motivations of Ho and the Vietminh.”–BOOK JACKET.

The CIA weighs in about the book –

On the surface, the author’s credentials for supplying a valuable memoir are outstanding: he served in China as a US Marine Corps officer assigned to the OSS from 1943 to 1945, when OSS personnel only began to arrive in China in strength; he was involved in operations with the civilian-controlled Gordon-Bernard-Tan (GBT) network, including work with Ho Chi Minh in French Indochina; and finally, he was assigned to a smaller branch of OSS, Morale Operations (MO), whose job it was to conduct psychological warfare against the Japanese. The book does deliver some valuable insights, but, Fenn strains his credibility when he takes credit for involvement in an operation in which his participation cannot be verified. He also presents himself as a bigger player in China than could possibly have been the case.

…The bottom line is that Fenn’s book is flawed and frustrating. Fenn might have provided valuable insights into OSS operations in China—particularly about the nebulous GBT network—but the apparent falsehoods make detailed research and fact-checking in OSS records a necessity before Fenn’s work can be taken as authoritative.

They didn’t like it much.

Charles won a Bronze Star for his work with Ho, though, so something is off with that rather scathing review. Perhaps it has to do with when Charles was deprived of his U.S. citizenship for several years during the McCarthy era because of “suspicions” about his connection with Ho.



Lieutenant Thomas J. McFadden, USNR, Acting Chief MO Pac/FE [Far East]

I didn’t find much about him, other than a document where he’s requesting a raise in salary for his Japanese translators/propagandists for the OSS. McFadden was another of Donovan’s stable of attorneys at his firm.

Dr. (William) Norman Brown OSS planning staff.

Colleagues with OSS men John W. Gardner who worked with Robert Tryon. (See BSC Part V: Back to the beginning)
Sent black cables to John Franklin Carter. Also see section on him in BSC part 1.


Mr. Cloak, MO School; MO Pac/FE Staff.

With a name like that, who needs more?

Seriously, didn’t find much on him. Without a first name and a last name like “cloak” and I’m looking into a spy agency? Yea. Didn’t go well.


The OSS “rumor” women


Mrs. Elizabeth P. “Betty” MacDonald
Undercover Girl

While making small talk with an Army major at an agriculture exhibit she was covering for the Scripps Howard News Service, she mentioned that she grew up in Hawaii, had lived in Manilla, spoke fluent Japanese, and was a newspaper reporter, the officer immediately pulled three application blanks from his briefcase and offered her an opportunity “to make a great contribution to the war effort [even though] he couldn’t explain the type of work because it was secret.”

MacDonald helped establish the OSS Morale Operations offices that originated and managed propaganda campaigns designed to demoralize and confuse Japanese soldiers in the field and Japanese civilians at home. She led the effort that created false newspaper reports, forged postcards and letters, faked radio broadcasts, and concocted rumors that were intentionally spread to Japanese spies. (McDonald archive sale)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Arrived in Kunming in early 1945, she reported that the crude printing presses using hand-carved characters that MO field units were using to wage psychological warfare were being effectively replaced by new lightweight aluminum offset presses developed in OSS in Washington. She was assigned to a project providing leaflets for Chinese and Korean agents with instructions on how surreptitiously to place OSS incendiary devices shaped like a piece of coal into railroad coal bunkers so that they would be shoveled into a locomotive’s firebox and explode at the proper time, thus disrupting the transportation of Japanese troops. The primary MO [Morale Operations] role in China, however, was directed by socialite and media man Gordon Auchincloss, who arrived from the European Theater in August 1944. MO set up a powerful radio transmitter and beamed programs in various dialects to different regions of China encouraging guerrilla action by Chinese against Japanese occupiers and providing discouraging news to Japanese soldiers.

OSS Training in the National Parks and Service Abroad in World War II by John Whiteclay Chambers II – 2008; OSS in Action: The Pacific and the Far East

Note: Gordon Auchincloss was a secret society ROOM member.

When the war was over the OSS was liquidated. MacDonald wrote her memoirs. At the end of that 1947 book Undercover Girl, Elizabeth “Betty” argued that all of the persuasion tools she and the OSS used could be countered through an informed population. Something she felt was a necessary requirement for citizens after WWII.

A funny idea she described they wanted to try, as told in this Bend Oregon newspaper announcing her book –

Then there was a Mr Erp who knew that all Japs were afraid of foxes. He proposed that U.S. submarines release phosphorescent foxes in Jap Waters. He said the animals would swim ashore and panic the populace. This experiment was tried in Long Island sound. The foxes promptly headed for sea and were never seen again.

Betty went on to work for the CIA, the successor to the OSS, becoming an Operations Officer in 1958. In 1998, she wrote Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS under her married name of Elizabeth P. McIntosh.


Mrs. Jane Smith-Hutton

Jane while interned by the Japanese at the American embassy after Pearl Harbor
image from Life Magazine


Jane’s husband Henri Harold “Hank” Smith Hutton was for two years (1937-1939) the fleet intelligence officer on the staff of the CIC (Commander in Chief) Asiatic Fleet. Returning to the American Embassy at Tokyo in April of 1939, he became the Naval Attache.

images courtesy of here

While on-the-job, Hank and his wife gathered a remarkable amount of intelligence showing that the Japanese were preparing to attack – in fact they are one of the sources that were conveniently ignored since British intelligence were actually arranging and wanting the Japanese to attack to force Americans into the war.

For example, they took a railroad vacation to the Inland Sea area. There, they observed ENORMOUS naval activity in and around several areas including Hiroshima Bay, involving amphibious and aircraft training as well as remarkable logistical preparations. Ambassador Grew sent Washington a report of their and his concerns, including their assessment that there was a distinct possibility of sudden military or naval action by the Japanese.

The report was ignored.

An interesting anecdote concerning a conversation between Smith-Hutton and Capain Nakamura Katsuhira of the Japanese Navy Ministry, just after Pearl Harbor –

I told him that my ambassador had sent me. I asked about an attack on Pearl Harbor, whether there was truth in the report and if so, when we could expect to get a notice of a declaration of war. He looked rather sad, because I think he was really a friend of the United States. He said, yes the report was true. He had just learned about it himself, and could verify it. As to the declaration of war, he couldn’t say, because that would have to come from the Foreign [Ministry] and was not a Navy department matter….He said I could report to the ambassador that the attack had taken place, and that he personally was not happy about it. I told him I wasn’t either, and I said that this might be the last time I would see him. I hoped he would survive the war. He said he hoped the same for me.

Commander Smith-Hutton was still serving as attaché when the Japanese attacked. He and his wife, Jane, went back to Washington where he worked at the CNO and she went to work at OSS headquarters as a manager for Far East Morale Operations – which is why she is mentioned in this document. She also liaison to Project Marigold, producing and disseminating slanted covert propaganda and rumors in Japan and China. Her husband was put in charge of the Operational Information Section until July 1943, then organized the Combat Intelligence Division working closely with Bill Sebald.

Jane was actually secretly working with Elizabeth in China in 1944, as this anecdote shows –

Donovan believed so strongly in the power of propaganda that he turned up in Allied-occupied China in the closing days of the Pacific war, where the OSS based its morale campaign directed at Japan. When Donovan appeared, Elizabeth McIntosh was sitting at her desk with her colleague, Jane Smith-Hutton, blithely blowing up condoms.

Because there were no balloons available in which to insert leaflets, the Morale Operations agents had to improvise, not expecting the country’s first chief of central intelligence to walk through the door and find them sitting behind desks cluttered with inflated prophylactics. Smith-Hutton stammered out some red-faced explanation, but Donovan didn’t seem to get it, recalls McIntosh. “Carry on,” he said.


Miss Marjorie Severyns (Ravenholt)

Marjorie graduated from University of Washington, traveled to Japan, China, and Korea as an exchange student. She was working for the Board of Economic Warfare when she was recruited into the OSS.

She worked with Elizabeth both in OSS New Delhi and China.

How did you set up the MO unit in New Delhi?

My colleague Marjorie Severyns and I developed people and material. The first was Bill Magistretti, an OSS analyst who had lived in Japan. He spoke absolutely flawless Japanese, and had a huge cache of Japanese newspapers, postcards, and photographs—just what we needed. Bill and I pooled ideas and worked really well as a team.

An example of black propaganda that they worked on together was operation “Project Black Mail”. It involved postcards written home from Japanese soldiers to their families before going into one of their last battles in which their unit was defeated. They also created forged official Japanese documents making sure to use the same quality of rice paper along with the proper dyes.

After the war Marjorie became a correspondent in China for Life magazine.


Edith De Becker Sebald

newspaper photo from 1946

She was a specialist for the OSS, married to later U.S. ambassador to Burma William J. Sebald. She was the daughter of Joseph Ernest deBecker, a South African-born British citizen, and a Japanese mother from the powerful Minamoto clan (and who claimed to be a direct descendant of Japanese emperor Seiwa). Edith was born in Kamakura, Japan. Her husband William served as political adviser to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in World War II, during which time she “consulted” on psychological warfare for the OSS. Mrs. Sebald remained in Washington and worked as a consultant in psychological warfare for the OSS.

William Sebald in 1957

image from here

Mrs. Sebald received national prominence in 1946 when she was “adopted” by the U.S. through a special Act of Congress. She had lost her Japanese citizenship when she married Mr. Sebald in 1927 and was unable to become a citizen of this country because of restrictions on Japanese immigration. (Washington Post obituary)


Images and PDF files


For those who don’t know – OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and when that is done on images, it makes it so you can search the images for certain words or phrases that you are looking for.

Here is an OCR’d PDF file of all the pages of this document.


Following are the individual images of the document, for those who prefer to look at them that way.

(click to enlarge)


<—Back to Index listing of Declassified CIA documents