What role does pornography play in international warfare? At least once in history, it had a psychological role, but to what degree is uncertain.
On June 26, 1944, assistant director D. Milton “Mickey” Ladd sent a memo to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, requesting pornographic pictures of Japanese women.
An unknown agent (name redacted) of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) “requested that permission be granted to a representative of OSS to come to the Bureau and select copies of obscene material” for “a project to combat obscene material being disseminated by the Japs.”
They believed that “the JAPS (sic) are sending obscene photographs of American girls through India and other such countries in an effort to create the impression of lax morals on the part of Americans” and OSS was “desirous of disseminating similar material with reference to Japanese girls through this same area (India).” OSS hoped the FBI had such pictures.
Sure enough, the Bureau discovered “25 or 30 photographs of this nature” in the Obscene File of its Crime Laboratory. Ladd suggested they provide OSS “a representative group” of photos and Hoover gave a handwritten “O.K.” for the OSS to do whatever they wished with said pictures. The material was given to the OSS on June 29.
What was contained in those photos and what was done with them remains a mystery. An open records request to the FBI produced the original letter from Ladd to Hoover, but nothing more. A request to the CIA may reveal further information…
FBI file 62-HQ-116758-EBF, memo from Ladd to Hoover June 24, 1944.
Riebling, Mark. Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11–How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security. Touchstone, 2002.