Office of Strategic Services

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The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This agency was formed in order to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the branches of the United States military.


Origins and activities

Prior to the formation of the OSS (the American version of the British Secret Intelligence Service and Special Operations Executive), American intelligence had been conducted on an ad-hoc basis by the various departments of the executive branch, including the State, Treasury, Navy, and War Departments. They had no overall direction, coordination, or control. The US Army and US Navy had separate code-breaking departments (Signals Intelligence Service and OP-20-G). Also, the original code-breaking operation of the State Department, MI-8, run by Herbert Yardley, had been shut down in 1929 by Secretary of State Henry Stimson, deeming it an inappropriate function for the diplomatic arm, because "gentlemen don't read each other's mail".[2] President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about American intelligence deficiencies. On the suggestion of Canadian/British spymaster William Stephenson, the senior British intelligence officer in the western hemisphere, Roosevelt requested that William J. Donovan draft a plan for an intelligence service. Colonel Donovan was employed to evaluate the global military position in order to offer suggestions concerning American intelligence requirements because the US did not have a central intelligence agency. After submitting his work, "Memorandum of Establishment of Service of Strategic Information," Colonel Donovan was appointed as the "Co-ordinator of Information" in July 1941.

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