At CIA, Words Matter

Since roughly September 12 of 2001, I have been unnaturally focused on the Bush administration’s ability to introduce “war on terror” into the public lexicon and make it stick.  Even the snarkiest and most skeptical media outlets unquestioningly adopted this non-sensical phrase when covering the U.S. military’s efforts to “route out” Quaeda and Taliban evil doers.   The U.S. alongside, that is, its “coalition of the willing, “which turned out to be roughly as intimidating as a girl scout gang in front of a Kroger during cookie season, although considerably less persistent.

My beef is this:  terror is an emotion, and if we are in the business of declaring wars on emotions, I’d like to open up multiple fronts.  Let’s start with the true axis of evil:  fear, uncertainty, and doubt.   I’m talking frigging shock and awe, baby!  Anxiety demands a blockade at a minimum (think SSRI’s on a Cap Weinberger kind of scale), and ennui is bucking for its own police action.   The mind boggles at the possibilities.

What re-opened this mental can of worms was Steve Coll’s post on the New Yorker blog which had nothing to do with any of this, but did lead me on my maiden voyage to the CIA’s web site.  And sure as hell, the CIA refused to bite when even MSNBC caved a long time ago.  There it was plain as day:  “CIA and the War on Terrorism.”   Imagining that Steve’s idol George Orwell would have been proud of the CIA’s maverick linguistic precision is, well, something to imagine. 

And so much for the likelihood of tactical airstrikes on disenchantment any time soon.


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