The Nation: Crickey! It's a Cricon

Official Washington has a way with words—a god-awful way. This month's special is "cricon," a contraction of crisis confrontation. It was apparently coined because apparatchiks and mandarins alike considered the words crisis and confrontation to be badly overused.

Among the more practiced perpetrators of mayhem on the English language are members of the U.S. intelligence community. Already they have flattened the phrase communications intelligence (the fruits of electronic surveillance or code breaking) into "comint" and reshaped human intelligence (information from spies) into "humint."

The White House also does its share.

President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was about to replace the Ford Administration's...

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