Who knew? Among the government’s millions of documents, the CIA has a style guide to help agents write better reports. Apparently the MLA Style Sheet isn’t good enough for the spooks, so it’s invented its own. I’m not surprised. They’ve bent the language before (Blog 10/17/2014).
The agency’s definitions which appear below were reported in the October 2014 edition of Harper’s Magazine. (Pg. 21). The comments in parenthesis are mine:
regime: Has a disparaging connotation and should not be used when referring to democratically elected governments or, generally, to governments friendly to the United States. (So Turkmenistan which sometimes works with us but is headed by the brutally repressive, Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedav, isn’t a regime, but hostile North Korea headed by Kim Jong- ll is?)
torturous, tortuous: Torturous mean extremely painful. Tortuous means twisting, devious or highly complex. (When reading government documents it might be difficult to make a distinction.)
disinformation, misinformation: Disinformation refers to the deliberate planting of false reports. Misinformation equates in meaning but does not carry the same devious connotation. (I accept that the government must be told the difference.)
impact: If you do use it as a verb, you should always use it intransitively. A missile does not ‘impact a target,’ it impacts on a target or in a target area.” (Distinction without a difference to someone standing in the impact area.)
decimate: Use it only when referring to people, and only when actual deaths are involved. (Good to know.)
Free World: Is at best an imprecise designation. (And a vanishing one.)