I'm a native English speaker and yet these words make no sense to me. I may have missed the obvious. In S2E1, Charlotte and Bernard descend into a secret research station manned by drones. Bernard is understandably confused by this room's existence.

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Bernard: What is this?

Charlotte: I can tell you what this isn't. This isn't me reading you in, Bernard.

Well that didn't answer the question in the slightest. Can someone explain what this means?

  • 14
    Just because I let you into the kitchen, doesn't mean I'm giving you my secret recipe... Apr 26, 2018 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


To “read «someone» in” is intelligence community jargon; it means that «someone» is being given information that is of limited distribution due to security classification. The line above basically means that Charlotte is not going to answer Bernard’s question, and is also indirectly telling him that she’s not doing so because he isn’t cleared (authorized) to know.

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    This is incorrect. Reading in is telling someone what parts of a project are classified, and to what level. Specifically, you read the "security classification guide" (which itself is often classified) and sign an NDA. After being read in, you can be given classified info.
    – fectin
    Apr 27, 2018 at 2:33
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    FWIW @fectin's comment is supported by the Wikipedia article that Valorum linked (and more importantly, the source material it links to). But it's a detail thing; fundamentally, she's not giving him access, even though she's taking him to the secret location. Apr 27, 2018 at 15:24
  • @T.J.Crowder Pedantry is fun and all, but I had more in mind than that :) Once you're read in, you have relatively free access to whatever set of controlled information. She may have just shared some specific piece of information with him (which may have made sense in the circumstances) but isn't going to give him generalized access.
    – fectin
    Apr 28, 2018 at 13:45
  • @fectin / Jeff: Could she also be saying she does not want it known that she has given him information?
    – PJTraill
    Apr 30, 2018 at 22:53
  • @PJTraill - Without context, it could be - however, I wouldn't interpret it that way since it's a direct response to his question. I haven't seen the episode in question, so I don't know what follows immediately after she makes the remark at issue; if she then proceeds to actually tell him what it is, then your interpretation would be correct. In isolation, however, I would stand by my interpretation. May 1, 2018 at 11:21

It refers to security protocols regarding sensitive information and being granted formal access. While this is normally used in reference to a recognized intelligence organization (National, military, etc), it can be used in other contexts.

It is generally comprised of a few different parts:

  • Recognition that an individual needs access to the information in order to accomplish their job/mission
  • Being briefed on the information
  • Signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Note, that it may or may not entail the entire operation, it may be limited in scope to specific items of information. I would suggest that the above caption indicates that Bernard is being told something that normally he wouldn't regarding one of these operations, but by her telling him that he isn't necessarily being formally read in on the information.

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    – Valorum
    Apr 26, 2018 at 15:00
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    @Valorum - Thanks.I just answered from experience.
    – JohnP
    Apr 26, 2018 at 15:03

In the intelligence community (or in Hollywood's version of it), "reading you in" means "sharing a (government) secret with you". This doesn't mean the entire secret. Secrets, particularly complex ones, are often compartmentalized: each person is only told the part they need to know.

"Being read in" itself implies something special: you're an outsider, not someone normally read in as part of the operation. But compartmentalization still applies; even when "read in", you're still not told everything.

In your example, she is saying "I plan to give you even less information than the part you'd get if I was reading you in".

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