Just today I came across a 1943 memo from the OSS – the Office of Strategic Services who were in many ways the prototype for the CIA. Its title is ‘The Motion Picture as a Weapon of Psychological Warfare’. This 11 page memo was declassified in 2004 – 61 years after it was written. It explains in some detail the potential for weaponising the US film industry, both in terms of production and distribution of films.
The memo outlines the power that films have to alter or sustain public perceptions, and the various means this could be put to as part of a militarised, psychological warfare operation. It then explains the agencies that existed already at that time who could be put to work as part of this effort, and the strengths and weaknesses of US knowledge and capability in this area at the time. It is a remarkably explicit memo which is presumably why some of the more ‘close to the bone’ lines have been penciled out, for example:
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