Declassified CIA documents detail how to sabotage employers, annoy bosses

The previously secret guide might make you wonder whether your annoying colleagues are actually spies

Your annoying colleagues might actually be CIA spies, according to recently-released documents from the US agency.

A previously secret document titled “Simple Sabotage Field Manual: Strategic Services” details the various ways that spies should work to bring down companies that they are placed in. But the sabotage techniques sound very similar to those encountered in many offices today.

The document was published in January 1944, as a way of showing spies and concerned citizens how they could work to bring down the productivity of important Axis workplaces during the war.

It was produced to detail the “simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform”, allowing citizens to do damage to countries and companies using normal kit and “in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection and reprisal”.

Some of the document’s suggestions are difficult to carry out and involve work. But others just read like simple tips for avoiding having to do too much at work.

Those include suggestions that saboteurs should hold meetings during important times, and to be a jobsworth by “apply[ing] all regulations to the last letter”.

As well as means for being bad at their jobs, the CIA offers instructions to “Act stupid” and “Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble”.

Included in the spies’ orders for sabotaging a company are instructions to:

  1. 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.
  2. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  3. Misunderstand orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  4. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  5. Be unreasonable and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  6. Don't order new working' materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
  7. To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  8. Fill out forms illegibly so that they will have to be done over; make mistakes or omit requested information in forms.
  9. Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.

The full document is published in full on the CIA website.