The CIA's Classified Clichés: CONFIDENTIAL article poked fun at Agency's bad writing

The CIA’s Classified Clichés: CONFIDENTIAL article poked fun at Agency’s bad writing

Managers in the Agency’s Directorate of Operations couldn’t help but rib their own writing style

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

Any office environment settles into its own quirks, frustrations, and comedic breaks. The Central Intelligence Agency’s world of repetitive reports and reviews - even those from spydom - is no exception.

A 1994 issue of the CIA’s inside academic publication, Studies in Intelligence, includes a piece by Carol Willett excerpting and poking fun at the way certain managers expressed themselves in performance appraisal reports, or employee evaluations. Pulled from the CIA’s CREST archives, the article highlights some of its managers’ more egregious literary flourishes.

Lazy language …

strained metaphors …

and general vagaries are personal failings even the Agency sees in its own recordkeeping.

Of course, the critics in this case are the promotional panels of the Directorate of Operations, whose parenthetical peanut gallery reactions are culpable of their own sort of corniness.

We’ll leave them to do the parting shot.

You can see the whole piece here and more issues of Studies of Intelligence in CREST.

Image by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers