Tweet of the Day: On Writing- Editing
You don’t know us,
You never heard of us,
We were never here,
For we don’t exist.
There is No Such Agency.
When a writer wants a super-double-secret government agency to operate behind the scenes, this is the trope the summon from the shadows. An entire agency made up cloak and dagger types so secretive that no one will even admit it exists. Of course keeping an entire government agency underwraps is nigh impossible, although that has never stopped governments (or writers) from trying. Even the agency that the trope was named for, the National Security Agency, didn’t remain secret for long. It is easier to keep a department within an agency secret (or an agency within a department, governments are complicated like that), since most people outside (and even inside) a given department/agency/ministry know how the whole operation works (everybody tends to stick to their own cubicles in most organizations). More to the point is the fact that careful messaging can be as effective as absolute secrecy. For example, hiding the budget of an agency just leads reporters to dig out any juicy details, since government graf is something many readers/viewers can understand. But hiding what is exactly done with the money is different, since most reporters can’t tell the difference between signals intelligence (listening to enemy broadcast) versus human intelligence (human spies).
So unless you want to lampoon government excesses, thread lightly. Who knows, they might be watching.