The absurd world of espionage

“From propaganda catapults to exploding seashells, why do “intelligence” services come up with so many bad, and often absurd, ideas?

Well, maybe they aren’t coming up with all that many stupid ideas: maybe they come up with exactly as many stupid ideas as, say, the U.S. House of Representatives, but we pay more attention to the CIA’s nonsense because we’re more surprised by it. After all, these people, at least, are supposed to have some idea of what they’re doing.

But reading through some of these stories, you start to wonder if there might be another explanation. The CIA’s looniest notions, after all, bear remarkable resemblance to the loony ideas that seem to constantly pour out of totalitarian dictatorships, including current ones such as that of North Korea. Maybe it’s the very fact of brainstorming behind closed doors — six guys in a room trying to figure out a way to do whatever currently seems impossible — that encourages it. Desperation plus not having anyone to laugh at you (whether because of secrecy or, in the case of North Korea, because you’ve got the entire country in a headlock) must be a pretty potent combination.”

More: http://m.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/spy-agencies-have-had-some-very-dumb-ideas-new-documents-reveal/253238/

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