A collection ol articles on the historical, operational. Doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ot intelligence.
All siatcmenls of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are (hose of
the authors. They da not necessarily reflect official positions or views of (he Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in ihe contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
COMMUNICATION TO TITE EDITORS
This letter is prompted by the suspicion thativerting essay. "The QreatcrStudies.n the need for good English prose in intelligence was not calculated only to entertain, which It did. but was alsoto Instruct, which, regrettably. It did not The very solemnity of your Journal compels the assumption thatthe author's frivoloushaucer, Shakespeare. Conrad, O'Neill, Wolfe, Spillane" [imagine putting Wolfe Inies the open water of Serious Purpose. The reader is admonished at the outset that "the time is upon us when we should face and begin toarrier even greater than that of foreignEnglish languageFace It we then do. throughout much of the remainder of the article. But penetrate it we do not.
The article does seem about to get down to business in the section called "Spying theevoted to discovering three constituent parts ot the barrier, or perhaps factors which obscure Its(which Is merely the universal human tendency to avoid recognition ofhe "Literary Bent"ommon subjective falling [or triumph, depending on who hasnd the forced "Viability of theith Its offspring. "Unguisticut having identified these characteristics of badthe author abandons us, the article ends, it is necessary to identify symptoms in order to diagnose an illness, but we do not ordinarily stop there and seek to cure the diseaseere analgesic. The proper pathology finds the agentfor the condition and then treats it with antibiotics, nothe problem with diseased writing is not the determination of the all-too-obvious symptoms, but theof the causal virus.
A word or two must be put In here In defense of thethe estimates,predictiveoursays. Is "useful only to the extent that It Is Can this be an accurate axiom? We thinka matter of fact, estimates which are too liberallyprecise qualifiers sometimes seem to rose'their way.
To the Editors
There Is still room, we think, even in an estimate, fordegrees of emphasis, perhaps innuendo. For many readers, the neat shadings of probability are either lost or soon forgotten. What is more often remembered is the general driftaper, the over-all impression shaped by many things, qualifiers among them. Thus the writer of anthough duty-bound to assign exact degrees ofu* he can, must also remember that he Isounded imageharp picture. We do not mean to rise here in defense of slovenly presentation orqualification; we merely hope to refute the urikindthat an estimate must stand or fall solely on the strength or weakness of its adverbs and adjectives, important as they are.
Moreover, the precision gained by assigning such words as "possible" andalueathematical scale appears to upset your author most of all; by usinghe says, we have "departed the realm ofhe factordathematical meaning, however, does not entitle him to suggest that it is noart of our language. Words, after all. are used to express feeling or thought, mathematical or otherwise. Should we follow his argument to its absurd end and conclude that using the word "oak" would propel us from the "realm of language" into the realm of trees?
Beyond dlsiinguishing the estimate from otherGreater Barrier" makes no attempt to subdivideof intelligence writing. That is too bad, for there isthing as mtelligence writing in general. Not yet,And if that's what Dr. Bennett arid the Office ofwould like to establish, then woe to us all. There Isnor should thereommon-school of prose for,national estiroates, and technicalThere are certain standards of good practiceaU mtelligence writing, but most such standards canto all prose; Self-Exculpation, the Literary Bent,are certainly not the exclusive properties of the
-Perhaps, in some instances, we should admit that learning to writeopeless task; some of us Just cannot .master ft. Why should this be any more disgraceful than the proposl-
Jo Ihe Editors
lion that some of us just cannot draw, or paint, or sculpture? But let us assume that most of us are not completely hopeless, and need only apply to the Office of Training for Instruction in the art. No special talent is needed toecognizable chair, nor any great gift to write an understandable sentence. And presumably, with training and experience, the minimal chair or sentence can be improved upon.
Now one critical ingredient in such training and experience is not mentioned by your author and might be overlooked in the OTR. We should not begin by endlessly drawing chairs or endlessly writing sentences. First we must took at chairs. And first we must read before we write. Any normallyperson, exposeduantity of good reading, will soak some of It up. There is no point at all inourse in creative writing, intelligence writing, or any other kind of writing for persons who have not read. This is not to say that reading will make it so. Not all readers are writers But there Is no such thingriter who has not read And
while thisshouldit is all too frequently forgotten.
Exhorting us to write better, to communicate more clearly, and to surmount the Greater Barrierious exercise but one with Utile hope of practical accomplishment. It willthose who probably cannot that they should. It may also remind those who can that they can. It may even lead to some worthwhile self-examination for those who areIn between. But until Dr. Bennett loses his modesty and tells us how he penetrated the barrier, he must, in all good grace, rest content, albeit surrounded by all of us self-exculpltators.Original document.