Intelligence and Crime Terminology: A Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

During my nearly 50 years of working in intelligence and crime analysis, I have compiled a list of words, acronyms, and abbreviations associated with the profession. About a year ago, it dawned on me that pulling together the most frequent terms, with their definitions, might make a useful resource for all analysts. These definitions come from a large number of United States Intelligence Community members. I do, in some instances, give alternative definitions and indicate from what area or field they come from, such as crime analysis or the military. When I found close definitions of the same word from a number of organizations, I defaulted to the CIA or National Counterterrorism Center definitions. In a few cases I have reworked the definitions to make them fit a wider number of intelligence agencies. Unfortunately when I began making the list I had no idea that someday I would try to publish it, so I cannot identify where I got all the definitions for the acronyms. I plan on updating and/or correcting the list annually. If anyone reading this has additional words or acronyms, and their definitions, to suggest please contact me. The same is true if you find any errors. Given the size of the U.S. Intelligence Community, I am sure I have left out something. I also know that intelligence terminology is not stagnant. So please help me make the list more complete and useful. I hope you find this a useful publication beneficial and helpful for your work.


on May 25, 2015
As a freelance editor who has worked with government related clients, I’m always very concerned with getting the definitions right for the various agencies and their related programs, regulations, and roles. Acronyms can be confusing, and sometimes even when I know what they stand for, I can miss how they are connected. Often these terms are so embedded in a client’s thoughts that they don’t realize they may need to define them in their writing.
David Cariens has created a valuable resource for any writer or editor working in or with law enforcement and trying to make sense of the unavoidable alphabet soup. Along with the acronyms, he defines many of the terms, program names, and personnel roles that one runs into when writing and editing in the field of intelligence and criminology.
The book is divided into two parts: a list of acronyms and a glossary. The Acronyms simply gives the meaning of each set of initials (such as C3 – command, control, communication). If an entry needs more explanation, then it is shaded, and this means that it can also be found in the Glossary.
The Glossary give a more contextualized meaning for terms. Not all the terms in the Glossary are acronyms. Some are words or phrases that we use every day, but which gain a more specialized meaning in the realm of intelligence analysis or crime reports (Collection Plan – the preliminary step towards completing an assessment of intelligence requirements to determine what type of intelligence needs to be collected, alternatives for how to collect the information, and a timeline for collecting the information).
Taken together the Acronyms and the Glossary make a valuable resource for understanding many of the specialized and sometimes unfamiliar terms one runs into when reading or editing works related to the fascinating field of intelligence and criminology.
Disclosure: I have worked with David Cariens in the past and received a free copy of this book to review. I had no part in the writing or editing of this book, and receive no compensation for this review.



David Cariens is a retired CIA officer – 31 year career. Most of his time at the Agency was spent as a political analyst dealing with Eastern Europe. In this capacity he wrote for all levels of the U.S. government – from the President to the working level analysis and policymakers. He served as an officer in Eastern Europe and asan editor at the BBC/FBI facility outside London. He headed the CIA University program to teach new analysts writing and briefing skills. He also served on the CIA’s Inspertor General’s staff. Cariens is a victim’s rights advocate (all volunteer) working with the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy. He takes no money for his work on behalf of school shooting victims and their families. He is the author of “Virginia Tech: Make Sure This Doesn’t Get Out,” published in January 2014.


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