MBAs hide behind their pretentious jargon. Likewise, spies get by with their khufia code words. The CIA, being the big daddy of them all, has a rich history of generating cryptonyms for everything under the sun, moon and stars. Of late, they’ve been quite liberal about sharing their stash of covert euphemisms. No one’s paused to wonder why. Conspiracy theories aside, here’s what we’ve culled out from our Deep Throats in Langley:
Everybody knows that POTUS is the President of the United States and his aircraft is the Air Force One. But do you know what the CIA calls Air Force One? It’s ‘Angel’. His limousine, by the way, is code named ‘Stagecoach’. The popular term for it though is ‘the beast’. And the presidential motorcade carries the curious tag ‘Bamboo’.
But the real fun names are dished out to presidents. John F. Kennedy was called ‘Lancer’, which is an allusion to his reputation of being a lothario of sorts. Richard Nixon’s snoopy tendencies were beautifully captured with ‘Searchlight’. Ronald Reagan’s cowboy image was reflected in ‘Rawhide’. George Bush used to run a timber business at some point. So his was ‘Timberwolf’. Since George Dubya Bush used to binge on drinks in his younger days, he was aptly labelled ‘Tumbler’. His deputy Dick Cheney was into fishing and later heavily into spinning the media, ergo ‘Angler’.
Bill Clinton was labelled ‘Eagle’. Not sure if it was inspired by his love for golf. Barack Obama was handed out ‘Renegade’ which might have been a dig at his supposed conversion from Christianity to Islam. Obama embraced it sportingly although his supporters claim that he chose ‘Renegade’ in the first place.
There’s undeniable evidence that CIA had a mildly racist streak. Apparently in the Eighties, Jesse Jackson, one of the leading Democrat presidential candidates, was code named ‘PONTIAC’. For those who are wondering how that’s discriminatory, well, PONTIAC the acronym stands for that famous slur: ‘Poor Old Nigger Thinks It’s A Cadillac’. Talking of Afro-Americans, Martin Luther King Jr, had a secret name too. It was ‘Zorro’, the black-masked comic character.
Even first ladies were assigned names. Dependable-as-a-rock Hillary Clinton was ‘Evergreen’. The current incumbent Michelle Obama happens to be ‘Renaissance’. There’s a tasteless joke about a possible CIA code name for Monica Lewinsky. They say it’s ‘The Hoover’. In case you didn’t get it, The Hoover is a vacuum cleaner that sucks muck! Ain’t that complicated?