Spies vs. investigative reporters

Stephen Baker

OK spies. I've been reading about blunders in Korea. Maybe things would work better if you took a page or two from investigative reporters. Sometimes after spending a month or two or three on a big story--they're still missing a key piece of evidence. What then? All is not lost. They simply refashion the story into a narrative, or they profiile one of the leading figures. Can you imagine Bush asking for the latest on Iran and instead receiving a memo beginning like this:

It was just one crazy bounce that sent the soccer ball past the flailing arms of the goalie. But on that distant afternoon in Tehran, the defeated goalkeeper, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rose slowly to his feet, wiped tears from his eyes with a grit-covered thumb, and embarked on a life blah blah blah.

Hey, maybe it's not "intelligence" or even intelligent. But unlike mistaken espionage, it's benign. And who knows? Maybe by flexing their narrative skills some frustrated spies will discover their true vocation.

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