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Spook jargon

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The C.I.A.’s “Bestiary of Intelligence Writing” Satirizes Spook Jargon with Maurice Sendak-Style Drawings

By Josh Jones 

Ten years in academia gave me a healthy dislike of clichéd jargon, as well as an appreciation for jokes about it. There are a few, like the academic sentence generator and Ph.D. Comics, that capture a bit of what it’s like to go to school and work in higher ed. Corporate drones, of course, have Office Space and Dilbert. But what about the spooks, those nameless, faceless agents who work tirelessly away in the basement of Langley, doing who knows what to whom? Where does the C.I.A. go to laugh at its peculiar brand of hackneyed doublespeak? Not that we were supposed to know this, but perhaps many of them turn to an article called “the Bestiary of Intelligence Writing” in a 1982 copy of internal agency newsletter Studies in Intelligence.



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