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rumint also RUMINT

noun [uncountable]

intelligence information from unreliable sources, especially information based on rumours rather than facts

'Ray McGovern, a retired C.I.A. analyst who briefed President Bush's father in the White House in the 1980s, said that people in the agency were now "totally demoralized." He says, and others back him up, that the Pentagon took dubious accounts from émigrés close to Ahmad Chalabi and gave these tales credibility they did not deserve. Intelligence analysts … refer contemptuously to recent work as "rumint", or rumor intelligence.'

New York Times 30th May 2003

'Another possible explanation is that the press has come to discount any information from the administration camp as "rumint," a rumor-intelligence cocktail that should be avoided …'

slate.msn.com 18th November 2003

Amid speculation that the recent conflict in Iraq was based on unreliable intelligence information, a new term has emerged in the US media during the past year: rumint. In gathering information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, President Bush and the CIA allegedly became victims of rumint, or 'rumour intelligence', as they accepted the credibility of information from sources surrounding the informant Ahmad Chalabi.

the word rumint has been used on both sides of the Atlantic, regarding the allegedly misguided case for the attack on Iraq

In the aftermath of war, the word rumint has been used on both sides of the Atlantic, thriving amidst ongoing discussion in the online and printed press regarding the allegedly misguided case proposed by the administrations of George W. Bush and Tony Blair for the attack on Iraq. The term is usually used with disparaging overtones and often betrays a sense of opposition to the war and the policies of President Bush.

Background – rumint

The noun rumint is short for rumor (UK rumour) intelligence or rumored (UK rumoured) intelligence. It was first coined in 1989 by analogy with intelligence community terms such as HUMINT (human intelligence), EINT (electronic intelligence – information from electronic surveillance), IMINT (imagery intelligence), COMINT (communications intelligence – information from interception of foreign communications), and SIGINT (signal intelligence – intelligence information from wiretaps).

The term rumint is formed by blending contractions of the words rumour and intelligence. The contraction of these words is described by linguists as clipping. Clipped forms rum- and int- are formed by removing the ends of the respective words, an established process in English word formation, which is illustrated by the short form ad or advert for the word advertisement.

In the military context, intelligence itself is often clipped to intel. Occasionally, clipped forms are produced by removing the beginnings of words, e.g. plane from aeroplane/airplane, and sometimes both the beginning and end are removed, e.g. flu from influenza.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 13th September 2004.

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