Office of Strategic Services

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Office of Strategic Services

Office of Strategic Services (OSS), U.S. agency created (1942) during World War II under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the purpose of obtaining information about enemy nations and of sabotaging their war potential and morale. Headed by William J. Donovan, the OSS comprised personnel from all the branches of the armed forces as well as civilians. Although the “cloak and dagger” section gained the most publicity after the war, some of the most valuable work was done by the research and analysis section. Behind enemy lines, the OSS acted as a liaison with the underground in Nazi-occupied countries. The OSS was disbanded in 1945. Later many of its functions were assumed by the Central Intelligence Agency.


See S. Alsop and T. Bradon, Sub Rosa: The O.S.S. and American Espionage (1946, repr. 1964); R. H. Smith, OSS (1972).

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Future AUB President Stephen Penrose ran the Cairo headquarters of the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA's wartime precursor.
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