Cryptic, boneheaded writings by spies

The CIA invites the public to read these two documents:

ELEGANT WRITING IN THE CLANDESINE SERVICES

ELEGANT WRITING-REPORT NUMBER TWO

Both documents purport to be written by Richard T. Puderbaugh. Puderbaugh collects and savors boneheaded writing by spies. The CIA web site calls this kind of writing “tortured prose“. Here’s a passage fromPuderbaugh’s first report:

the Senior Officer appointed me Official Word Watcher for the Division, by I don’t know what authority, and charged me with the following duties:

To collect from all CS communications outstanding examples of elegant writing, and to report upon my research at opportune times so that our writers may be edified and instructed thereby.

As soon as my appointment became known, I had a great deal of help ‘from other headquarters personnel, but I will acknowledge that help specifically only if the danger of lynching becomes clear, and I need help (or company).

Here, then, is my first report. I should like to begin it by listing some of the most elegant words we have in our correspondence, words which I urge one and all to use at every opportunity. I should like to see the day when not a single page of our prose escapes the use of at least one of these words. I especially urge our writers to try new uses for all these words, and not be bound by such things as tense, gender, number or mode. Caveat, for example, is in the Latin imperative mode, but that is much too restrictive, and we have quite properly used this word as a noun for some time now. Imagine my delight when I observed recently the first attempt that I know of to use it, as is, in the present indicative. When you consider that we have long since expanded its original sense of “warning” to include the sense of “conditions” or “provisos,” you can understand why the word is so important to us. I can right here remark that I should caveat some of the remarks I am about to make in this essay, and you will not have the slightest idea what I mean, but it sounds distinguished and important, and that is what matters.

Here is the list:

caveat
rationale
thrust
interface (used as a noun and a verb)
dichotomy
lacuna*
forthcoming (in the sense of “candid”)
profile (can be either high or low)
silhouette (can be either high or low)
options
life-style
posture
rapport…

Improbable Research