June 10, 2014



The CIA joined Twitter on Friday. Not everyone was thrilled about that. (via Wikimedia)

The CIA joined Twitter on Friday. Not everyone was thrilled about that. (via Wikimedia)

The CIA better watch its back—at least in the Twittersphere. As The Guardian reports, the government agency’s inaugural tweet—which, inexplicably, was met with giddy admiration by the mainstream media—inspired The New York Review of Books to go on the offensive.

On Friday, the literary journal went on the offensive with a series of tweets directed at the CIA. The esteemed publication began by tweeting a blog post on the CIA by David Cole at the massive federal spy agency; with the headline “The CIA’s Poisonous Tree,” the NYRB’s tweet was no slap on the back. Then, tweeting the table of contents from a confidential 2007 report, which was included in a 2009 NYRB article by Mark Danner, they went further:



Inspired by the NYRB’s use of their archive, I’ve been flipping through Torture Taxi by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson—published by Melville House back in 2006. As the first book to systematically investigate “extraordinary rendition,” the program through which the CIA kidnapped people and detained them at secret prisons all over the world, Torture Taxi contains enough material to bombard the CIA’s Twitter account for weeks (if not months).

Since it’s Twitter we’re talking about, I’ll keep it concise, and leave you with the words of a U.S. official quoted in Torture Taxi: “We don’t kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so that they can kick the shit out of them.” Direct, punchy language that gets straight to the point, clarity, humor, some nice repetition—all under 140 characters. Maybe the CIA and Twitter are meant for each other after all.


Ben Sandman is a Melville House intern