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Shadowy names?
June 25, 2012 5:13 PM   Subscribe

What are some obliquely named bureaucracies, organizations, and companies?

I'm looking for real and fictional names of governmental departments, various bureaucracies, shadowy organizations, and private or public companies that have non-specific yet vaguely threatning or 'mysterious' names. Names that give a small hint as to what they do, but cover much more.

One example would be The Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, a real organization.

Another would be the Umbrella Corporation or Massive Dynamic.
posted by the man of twists and turns to Writing & Language (46 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Research and Analysis Wing sounds like a harmless R&D outfit.
posted by vidur at 5:18 PM on June 25, 2012

The Foundation for a Better Life (I dunno, I find that creepy although I've never been able to actually disagree with any of their billboards.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:18 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

My favorite has always been the General Services Administration.
posted by Drastic at 5:21 PM on June 25, 2012

Excel Specialty Corporation is an abandoned sign on a building near me. It has always struck me as one of those vaguely threatening names, although I think in real life "Specialty corporation" is a common business-type in construction.
posted by bleep at 5:26 PM on June 25, 2012

Acxiom Corp: The 'faceless organization that knows everything about you'
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:35 PM on June 25, 2012

Samizdata, from Samizdat, is my favourite example of this.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 PM on June 25, 2012

The Summer Institute of Linguistics is a missionary organisation that was given a secular academic name in order to gain access to Latin American countries.
posted by nomis at 5:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

General Dynamics (defense contractor)
posted by allnamesaretaken at 5:48 PM on June 25, 2012

I worked for a while at a company which was doing contract work for NSA. First day I started there, I was told that we were never to use that name. Our customer was always to be referred to as "Fort Meade". (To this day I don't know what they thought they were accomplishing by doing that.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:52 PM on June 25, 2012

There actually was a SMERSH that the James Bond version is loosely based upon.
posted by porpoise at 5:53 PM on June 25, 2012

List of fictional evil corporations (Wikipedia)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:58 PM on June 25, 2012

The huge evil medical company in "Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy" was named RORITOR.
posted by hermitosis at 5:59 PM on June 25, 2012

Aperture Science and Dharma Initiative.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:02 PM on June 25, 2012

I've always thought that the Project for the New American Century sounded creepy/dystopian.
posted by Mr Mister at 6:07 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sort of previously.
posted by jeudi at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2012

This one is not menacing - it's just fun. Telstar Logistics. Read the About Us page for the story.
posted by yclipse at 6:16 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Intelligence Support Activity, or The Activity.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:18 PM on June 25, 2012

Mitre is a CIA cover.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 PM on June 25, 2012

As long as fictional is OK, I always liked Special Circumstances.
posted by mukade at 6:28 PM on June 25, 2012

The Family aka The Fellowship.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:31 PM on June 25, 2012

Mitre is a CIA cover

What!? Mitre is a research spin off of MIT, I believe it was MIT Research and Engineering originally. I am sure that have many CIA contracts, but they take government money from any agency that will give it to them. They are not a CIA front.
posted by procrastination at 6:50 PM on June 25, 2012

These are all great - keep 'em coming!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:55 PM on June 25, 2012

The School of the Americas. The Illuminati and the Bilderberg Group.
posted by lakeroon at 7:26 PM on June 25, 2012

You get all this at one low price:

Group 4 Falck
G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:32 PM on June 25, 2012

Ooh, that same company, or a related company, has even more good euphemistic names if you let your mind go to its dark places:

International Service System
Kjøbenhavn-Frederiksberg Nattevagt (Copenhagen-Frederiksberg Night Watch)
Det Danske Rengørings Selskab A/S (The Danish Cleaning Company)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:35 PM on June 25, 2012

USX Corporation
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:36 PM on June 25, 2012

The Symbionese Liberation Army.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:38 PM on June 25, 2012

The PHOEBUS Cartel
posted by carsonb at 7:47 PM on June 25, 2012

Chicago's very own General Growth (although it looks like they're going by GPP now).
posted by centerweight at 7:57 PM on June 25, 2012

Landmark Corporation.

Xe. (Now, I think, it's called Academi).
posted by allnamesaretaken at 8:49 PM on June 25, 2012

And before Academi and Xe they were called Blackwater.
posted by carsonb at 9:22 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

General Devices in lower downtown Denver. Thirty some years ago, before LoDo started redeveloping.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:29 PM on June 25, 2012

Consular Operations in Ludlum stuff
Universal Exports in Bond stuff
posted by juv3nal at 10:00 PM on June 25, 2012

There's always Acme, Wile E. Coyote's preferred provisioner of projectiles and munitions.
posted by rube goldberg at 10:53 PM on June 25, 2012

Omni Consumer Products, the evil corporation from RoboCop.

(I'm surprised that hadn't been mentioned yet.)
posted by brundlefly at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2012

Applied Research Center actually does decent stuff, despite having a sinisterly vague name.
posted by klangklangston at 1:05 AM on June 26, 2012

American International Group

United Technologies

Though if you want some really creepy names, look at the top owners of your bath & body, food, and clothing businesses. You think you're making a choice between 2 cans of peas, or 2 shampoos, or 2 pairs of jeans, but it's often really a carefully regulated system designed to make you think you're giving your money to a more expensive brand, a better cause, or healthier ingredients.

There's nothing like realizing you're a cog to make that wheel suddenly sound tarnished and squeaky, like a door in an old horror movie.
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:52 AM on June 26, 2012

A comment on jeudi's link reminded me of the Kaospilots.
posted by divabat at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2012

As long as we're including Acme and Omni Consumer Products, there's always the Engulf and Devour Corporation.
posted by carmicha at 6:14 AM on June 26, 2012

The US Military has many Directorates which clearly state what they do, but Directorates is mildly creepy in a Soviet Russia / KGB way....

Army Publishing Directorate
Army Cyber Directorate
Navy Biological Defense Research Directorate
Naval Systems Engineering Directorate
Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate (!!!)
Air Force Space Superiority Systems Directorate
Coast Guard Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate
Coast Guard Enterprise Strategic Management & Doctrine Directorate
posted by lstanley at 6:41 AM on June 26, 2012

The one that I thought of immediately was the Civil Cooperation Bureau. They were around during Apartheid and Wikipedia describes them as a "government sponsored hit squad". Speaking of South Africa, some of the private military companies also have some innocuous names like "Executive Outcomes".
posted by FJT at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2012

Service Corporation International, a death care firm. No, really.
posted by rdc at 7:48 PM on June 26, 2012

INTER, Incorporated; we're INTER everything! Heinlein I think.
posted by ergomatic at 11:37 PM on June 26, 2012

Babylon 5's Ministry of Peace.
posted by MinusCelsius at 11:40 PM on June 26, 2012

The Way Ahead Group, whose 'mandate revolves around constitutional issues surrounding the monarchy, such as the question of royal marriages to Roman Catholics or the end of precedence for male heirs '
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:27 PM on June 27, 2012

Wells Fargo's internal trading division is/was called 'Customer Accomodations.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:05 AM on January 15, 2013

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