Studies in Intelligence. Volume 53, Number 2 (Summer Supplement 2009). Intelligence in Contemporary Media: Views of Intelligence Officers
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR STUDY OF INTELLIGENCE
Pagination or Media Count:
One of the least appreciated facts about the intelligence profession is that it exists in, and is influenced by, a very complex environment. The public is a particularly important part of this environment. But unlike military services, intelligence organizations do not have recruitment centers in every mid-sized town nor do most families have some member who has served in intelligence. Hence, what most in the public think about intelligence depends to a large extent on what they see in cinematic, documentary, and novelistic sources like those reviewed in this issue. This is particularly the case in the United States. As the reviewers make clear, what the public sees and reads is with rare exception fantasy mixed with a few kernels of truth. This is particularly true when it comes to American authors and directors. We have not yet produced an espionage novelist with the maturity and perfect pitch so frequently found in the work of British masters such as John le Carr. As important as detail is to all art, what often lingers is a dominant impressionwhat you remember days, weeks, or years after seeing a film or reading a novel. And in that respect, what I take from these reviews is modestly reassuring. When you look at all of the recent films about espionage, what lingers are several broad impressions intelligence officers are often courageous, prepared to stand on principle, forced frequently to deal with stressful or ambiguous circumstances, and quite willing to take risks. So enjoy the Intelligence in Contemporary Media section of this issue of Studies in Intelligence and take heart from the thought that if life truly does imitate art, that would not be an entirely bad thing in the case of espionage.
- Military Intelligence
- Information Science