USIA files, lot 56 D 581, “Info Guide Bulletin 303”

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts1


Following is Infoguide Bulletin 303:

Department circular telegram 889 (Infoguide Bulletin 272)2 of February 19 is herewith canceled. Following effective immediately:

Material produced by Communists or their agents or sympathizers should be used only with great care and when responsible persons judge them to be an effective way—and the uniquely effective way—to confound international Communism with its own words, to expose its fallacies and refute its doctrines. Responsibility for this judgment rests with directors of media services, PAOs and their designated alternates.
Our policy is not to identify by name any living international Communist unless absolutely necessary. This must not be carried to the point of absurdity in treatment of straight news but even here a conscious effort not to build up our living opponents by naming them should be made. As often as possible, writings or statements of living persons can be ascribed to some such anonymity as “a leading international Communist or Stalinist”. Skillful use of this treatment in commentary and in our own anti-Communist publications can be especially effective.
Our own press and radio have in the past built up Soviet personalities to such an extent that whatever they do or say commands [Page 1687] widespread attention. We should replace individual buildups with anonymity to those hostile to us.
Reputable, responsible US periodicals of program value may be included in USIS overseas libraries. However, the Mission should withdraw any individual issues containing any material detrimental to US objectives. Periodicals, which repeatedly publish international Communist propaganda, have no place in the program and cannot be used.
Works of Communist authors are banned from all USIS public libraries and information centers.

PAO in each country mission has responsibility for taking all reasonable efforts for removal of individual issues of periodicals “containing material detrimental to US objectives”. PAO must immediately carry out the ban against use of periodicals “which repeatedly publish international Communist propaganda” and the “works of Communist authors” by removing all material known to him or his staff to be within these categories. (For the purposes of this instruction authors who obviously follow the Communist line or participate in Communist front organizations will be considered Communists and their works banned.)

Realizing that the PAO and his staff may not be aware of all Communist authors or publications which repeatedly publish international Communist propaganda, the Department will attempt as promptly as possible to furnish specific guidance on individual periodicals and books to be banned. To facilitate review of material acquired locally, all posts which have not already done so, should provide Department with list of these acquisitions.

This directive also cancels any previous directives or sections thereof that may conflict with the instructions herein.3

  1. This message was transmitted as circular telegram 961, Mar. 17. The central file copy of this circular telegram (511.00/3–1753) was removed in July 1953. A notation on the source text reads: “Copied from carbon tissue, March 18, 1953.” The source text also indicates this message was drafted by W. Bradley Connors of the Office of Policy and Plans, U.S. International Information Administration, and by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Carl W. McCardle, and was approved for transmission by IIA Administrator Robert L. Johnson.
  2. See footnote 5, p. 1679.
  3. Infoguide Bulletin 303 was supplemented by two further instructions. Circular telegram 1065 of Apr. 28 reads as follows: “Ref. Depcirc. 961 (Infoguide Bulletin 303) dated March 17, 1953 books of persons taking refuge behind the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify as to their political affiliations before a Congressional Committee should be removed from the shelves of Information Centers. IIA hearing Wireless File FS section since March 16, 1953 contains names of persons seeking such refuge before McCarthy subcommittee. Further information will be furnished by IIA as secured from records of previous hearings and other Congressional committees.” (511.0021/4–2853) For documentation on the foreign policy aspects of Congressional loyalty and security investigations and concern over declining prestige abroad, see vol. i, Part 2, pp. 1379 ff. On June 18, certain diplomatic posts were told in circular telegram 1213 that, in reference to Infoguide Bulletin 303, “pending further instructions names, authors or titles books removed should not be made public.” (511.0021/6–1853)