Annoying beasts and where to find them
October 3, 2014 8:03 AM Subscribe
The CIAs' Bestiary of Intelligence Writing (PDF) is an illustrated guide of buzzwords written by CIA employee ███████ and published in 1982 in the Agency's newsletter "Studies in Intelligence": Older employees may recall that when the Headquarters Building was being constructed, guard dogs stalked the corridors by night to sniff out trespassers. Practically no one is aware, however, of the collection of strange fauna in a corner of a sub-basement, the location of which must remain secret. This collection known as the Bestiary of Intelligence Writing, consists of specimen samples of cliches and misused or overused word combinations that CIA editors have encountered frequently over the years. More information about the bestiary at War is Boring.
The 15 beasties:
The 15 beasties:
- A multidisciplinary analysis looks like two or more conventional one-dimensional analyses welded together.
- Viable alternatives, nature's born troubleshooters, are moody and shy.
- Mounting crises are frequently detected by intelligence analysts, but genuine crises are rare, and most sightings probably are of the larval form, known as problems and difficulties.
- Legless creatures, parameters must be "established" by the analyst, who typically places them at the fringes of activity.
- Heightened tensions are easily recognized by their elongated shape - conventional tensions teetering about on stilts.
- Dire straits are another of nature's unpleasant beasties, notable primarily for their large mouths, voracious appetites, and penchant for ambushing the unwary.
- The far-reaching implication is an animal that governments often ignore because of its odd physiognomy: its body tends to be ethereal, and most of its substance is concentrated in long mandibles, or arms.
- One of the most awe-inspiring creatures is the available evidence, sometimes called the available information, which intelligence analysts frequently use to support shaky conclusions.
- Foreseeable futures are the favorite pets of political and economic forecasters.
- The almost inevitable, cousin to the virtually certain, is an indoor pest of the genus eventuality that has defied man's eradication efforts since the Dawn of Time.
- Analysts and bookies are fond of ferreting out nonstarters, those unfortunate beasts that because of their physiognomy are destined never to enter, much less win, a contest.
- Economic constraints have become a common pest in the 1980s after being introduced into this country following World War II by soldiers returning from Europe.
- Broad outlines are gluttonous predators that feed on the imaginations of professors, students, and political analysts.
- The net effect is a hybrid beast of burden developed by political scientists jealous of the net assessment that Secretary of Defense McNamara's "whiz kids" bred in the Pentagon basement in the early 1960s.
- The overwhelming majority is the best known of a species of draft animal used by many analysts to carry the burden of their argument and analysis. Its popularity stems from its versatility: it can believe, support, and advocate.
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