Guest Post by Doug Patteson: A primer on US Intelligence Vocabulary

A primer on US intelligence vocabulary for the press

In the wake of all the Snowden reporting, stories about the White House naming of the Kabul Chief of Station and other recent articles, many of us active or former intelligence folks have become increasingly annoyed by sloppy reporting and vocabulary by the press. So herewith follows a simple primer on the vocabulary of the intelligence world.

Let’s start with what makes most CIA officers furious – when the press refers to us as “spies”, “operatives” or “agents”. While those titles sound sexy, at the CIA, we don’t have spies, we have Operations Officers, sometimes referred to as Case Officers, Intelligence Officers or Core Collectors, whose job is to clandestinely spot, assess, develop, recruit and handle individuals with access to foreign intelligence. They are not spies themselves, although popular culture would like to portray otherwise.

The individuals that Case Officers recruit…

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