OSS Research and Analysis Branch – Intelligence Sources and Methods


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This CIA declassified document concerning OSS activities was recovered from the internet archive. It document was declassified in 2004.

This document is titled: Sources, Procedures and Methods

It is from: N/A to N/A


Document details

DATE: 1943


NAMES (or titles) mentioned:



Interesting points from documents –

This document talks about from what sources intelligence can be gathered, captured enemy info, etc. etc., but makes the point that making any list of sources would be meaningless for one very important reason.

This –

“The test of value is the usability of the source material for the specific problem at hand.

It also sort of points out that a lot depends on the analyst ability to know WHAT to piece together and from WHERE. Not limiting to some list of sources or thinking “scholarly” and only looking in official texts and periodicals. I agree with that. Some of my best work comes from piecing together items from the most unlikely places, but once viewed together as a whole, a previously hidden picture of a particularly aspect being studied suddenly locks into view.

Very difficult to teach, by the way, and even this isn’t really explaining it very well, but it’s better than most.

Noted separately each type of source material appears independently useful, but in actuality all are interdependent, one supplementing, correcting, or proving he other. Even within one type of source material many separate items must be pieced together so that, for example, analysts who partly based one study on seventy-eight books and periodicals at no point found more than six continuous pages pertinent to their problems.

This ability, by the way, is called flair by some and Intelligence impulse by others. Let me include an excerpt from this post as particularly relevant to what this document is trying to say here.

L. Ron Hubbard’s mentor Commander Joseph Cheesman “Snake” Thompson, a naval intelligence agent, once discussed with a fellow agent how important a person with an Intelligence “sense” is.  Apparently a more specific term came to be used to describe this type of person that they called a “natural”, Seoane called it an Intelligence Impulse.* This basically is a different wording for the same concept as this “sense” that Thompson was teaching Seoane originally back in the early 1900′s. One could probably rightfully conclude that Thompson was acting as a mentor to Seoane at that time.

*Beyond the Ranges, by Colonel Seoane as told to Robert l Neimann.

This “sense”, as Seoane described it,  was:

An Intelligence Impulse, the faculty for instantly recognizing what was valuable information, and what was not. And, most importantly of all, how to interpret and evaluate it.


That, is an excellent description. Especially the recognizing what was valuable and what was not part. Do you notice what is missing from this though?

HOW the person knows WHERE to look and how the person can assess what the scene is before having all the data, thereby knowing WHERE to look.

Think about that.

Here’s some more –

This particular way of referring to this quality as an Intelligence Impulse appears to have first been used by another ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) man – Sidney F. Mashbir* about 7 years prior to Seoane’s book.

*I Was an American Spy, Mashbir, Vantage Press,New York, 1953, p. 34,5

Sidney went into quite a bit of detail concerning just what this quality was, as he saw it.

He believed that intelligence officers were born, not made.

“You can send a candidate for Intelligence work to every school of every service, in every army and country in the world, but if that “inner spark” that baffles definition is lacking he will always be a dud. …You could study Intelligence, Cryptanalysis, Photo-Interpretation, Battle Order, Terrain, and Prisoner Interrogation all your life, but you’d never be worth a damn as a real Intelligence officer if you didn’t have that Intelligence impulse.”


See what I mean? These people are trying to figure out how to describe a “something”, but really it’s a someone.

“You must be able mentally to put yourself in the enemy’s brain.”

“You must be able to see the invisible, hear the inaudible, feel the intangible, taste what is tasteless, and smell what is odorless.”

The second Mashbir quote is in the realm of a someone and is very accurate.

Ok, so that’s what this document is trying to describe even when it comes to the subject of “what sources” to use for intelligence work. (so called).

The document goes on to list many of the very things Mashbir mentioned as sources or “methods” that you could teach until the cows come home and still not make “good intelligence”.

There is one very interesting, to me anyway, part. It discusses that even by 1943 the R and A division had “devised” a system of questioning Prisoners of War.

This source which has long been employed mainly for tactical information has recently, under new questioning procedures devised by R and A, yielded much economic and political data.

They were sending in “specialists” and interrogating one or two prisoners exhaustively (and not really getting anywhere). What they came up with was to question a large amount of prisoners and then try and fit the bits and pieces together.

Although the individual enemy GI is likely to be uninformed, biased, inaccurate and acquainted only with minor details, large numbers of them, skillfully questioned, have yielded valuable information on the average soldier’s ideas on such matters as the regime under Hitler and postwar desires. Equally well, bits and pieces of information can be fitted together for operational purposes.

Bringing this into a more current form, do you see how the above could be used by intelligence types in today’s social media platforms? Twitter would be especially useful if someone was thinking they could get a “read” on something by looking at large amounts of tweets.

Of course, they would have to be REAL PEOPLE and not a bunch of other intelligence operatives or bot-tweets or 60 year old men pretending to be 16 and so on, or it would be not only completely meaningless but more importantly it would be useless as valuable information.

However, that could all be done as an intelligence operation in and of itself to lead real people into certain directions – which is also most definitely being done.

R and A’s idea of questioning large amounts of prisoners could be easily defeated if the prisoners had agreed to say certain things about what they were being asked. Say one or two of them tells the others, and then they could together completely skew R and A’s picture if they’re being so lazy as to WANT to hear certain things or attitudes – especially negative ones in this case.

That’s why no SYSTEM can ever replace what Mashbir was talking about, and in fact, can be turned completely against someone who lacks that “inner spark” to know without seeing, hear without hearing, and so on, and is totally reliant on having tabulated facts and information in front of them before they can “know”.

About that “large numbers” idea. Propaganda expert Jacques Ellul wrote about that the fixation on needing large numbers in order to form one’s opinion is a NEUROTIC tendency. It is one you all (if you have it) really need to break yourself of out there.

Don’t look for “gross numbers” to tell you something is interesting, good, bad, or whatever. That is USELESS as actually valuable information. It’s also why people in, say, things like the controlled opposition anti-scientology movement obsess over how many followers they have, how many comments they have, how many “likes” they have – as if any of it means anything.

It doesn’t.

…the neurotic anxiously seeks the esteem and affection of the largest number of people…

– Propaganda: the Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Jacques Ellul. You can read it here.
As quoted in post by Virginia McClaughry:  Field Guide for Whistleblowers and Truth Tellers – Introduction to Tactics: One is not “just” One.

All in all, this document does provide a good comprehensive list of different types of sources one could look in, but again, one needs to choose which ones to start with and know where to look within that genre. This is all part of that “inner spark”.

Where this document goes way off the rails, in my opinion, is where it instructs people to be “objective” in their written reports. That is a terrible error. For example, there will always be certain topics, events, and especially persons, who should not be viewed “objectively”. To do so, would be to ask your intelligence officer to literally be a sociopath. No emotion, no understanding, no empathy for the topic under discussion.

Do you see the problem? I hope so, because I cannot stress enough that what this document means by “objectivity” is never, never, NEVER going to yield truly accurate or valuable “intelligence” when it comes to LIVE situations.

It’s a slavemaster thing, to want it to be that way. Sort of a projection of what they do to themselves to try and not have to deal with all the horrific shit they do to the world and humanity all day long.

The don’t want to FEEL anything when they read a “report”. And so their insanity spreads…

Intelligence reports, accordingly, strive for objectivity and though certain types of reports may be designed to persuade as well as to inform […] the conclusions must grow out of the carefully documented reasoning which is the report’s reason for being. In all cases, definite evaluation is to be made in terms of tacitly understood or precisely stated standards of measurement.

Look at that last bolded part. Seriously. What does that even mean?

In this case, you can tell the person who wrote this didn’t really know what the hell actually valuable intelligence is to be making such ridiculously convoluted statements.

Another point showing the frailty of their intelligence networks, is that they actually encourage laziness indirectly. They point out that those who read their reports can’t read the whole thing because blah-de-blah-de-blah.

Accordingly terseness and clarity in language and organisation are primary objeotives.

Sort of the equivalent of today’s internet speak (excuse) TLDR – too long didn’t read – for not reading something. First of all, that is NO excuse. If a person can’t fricking learn how to scan and how to actually read and identify valuable information in reports that are not short even though they are clear? Well, then. That person has no business being in any position to BE a recipient of any report.

You do NOT design your reports on important matters just for lazy-asses who can’t be bothered to read more than a few sentences at a time – get rid of the lazy-asses! (you wouldn’t think you have to point this out to them, but apparently you do)

Finally, the document notes two different charts that are supposed to be accompanying it, but I didn’t see them together with this document. If I come across them, I’ll add them later.


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)


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