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January 10, 2024 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Invisible Ink: At the CIA’s Creative Writing Group A mildly-interesting piece by Johannes Lichtman in the well-known CIA cutout, The Paris Review.
posted by slogger (14 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder what the speaking fee was...

(Here's the piece, ungated)
posted by chavenet at 2:07 PM on January 10

slogger' previously.

love this.
"It was interesting to learn what you all can and can’t write about,” I said to Vivian. “I didn’t realize you had so much freedom to write about your jobs.”

"Nevertheless, (Stansfield) Turner was far from an openness radical. He expanded the authority of the CIA’s Publication Review Board (PRB) — originally established by Director George H.W. Bush in 1976 to review anything written by agency officers — to cover the writings of former officers as well. Turner also took CIA whistleblower Frank Snepp to court for publishing a book about the agency’s alleged betrayal of its South Vietnamese allies without clearing it with the PRB. The court awarded all royalties on Snepps’ book to the CIA and put Snepp under what amounted to a lifetime gag order."
posted by clavdivs at 2:15 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

You can’t violate the Hatch Act, showing your political affiliation

That's overstating it. For purposes of the Hatch Act, CIA employees are "Further Restricted Employees," so they cannot, for example, "campaign for or against candidates or otherwise engage in political activity in concert with a political party." But they can, among other activities, "Contribute money to political campaigns, political parties, or partisan political groups, Attend political rallies and meetings, and Express opinions about candidates and issues." While doing those things, however, they cannot wear the CIA t-shirt they got at the gift shop: "the expression is not permitted while the employee is ... wearing a uniform or official insignia."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:23 PM on January 10

The security sounds almost exactly like the corporte security at all the "big tech" places I've worked. "You have to be escorted" "parking is stupid" "who gave you a second badge" etc.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:09 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

Seems like pretty severe scope creep for a culinary institute, even in america
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 3:20 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]

This almost seems like a companion piece to "The Stasi Poetry Circle".
posted by Omon Ra at 5:04 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]

That’s a really unfair comparison, the Stasi destabilized way fewer governments.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:50 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

slogger' previously.

I KNEW there was a previously and spent a good 15 minutes looking for it. Amazing that it was my own post.
posted by slogger at 10:26 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

I sent this to a friend who worked in Intelligence, and they said, "It has to be better than the Navy SEALs creative writing group."
posted by mostlymartha at 10:54 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

At the Presidential portraits part I had to stop and go for a cigarette. Imagine the cognitive dissonance required for working at the George Bush Center for Intelligence under TFG.
posted by Molesome at 4:21 AM on January 11

Neat article. While I realize it's The Paris Review, it's maybe a little weird that the article didn't mention by name any of the former intelligence officers who have gone on to successful careers as novelists or other creative writers.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:44 AM on January 11

The problem with military people writing stories is that they can't stop using all those acronyms and initialisms and other bits of jargon. Which is a pity because there's something about military life that encourages great storytelling but you need a reference manual to understand what the hell they're talking about
posted by Baethan at 6:41 AM on January 11

No mention of Charles MCarry?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:19 PM on January 11

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