Administration's Miracle Weapon
January 7, 2003
By Bernard Weiner, The
The lobbyist for the industrial giant Takeheed-Martin had
a giant grin on his face, as he placed his model on the Secretary
of Defense's desk.
"With this device, America can be secure," said the lobbyist,
Jack Tarter. "This identity-tagger will keep the bad guys
away from our borders."
"How's it work?" asked Rumsfeld.
"It's so simple," said the lobbyist, who also was the CEO
of Takeheed-Martin. "With this identity-tagger, which can
be focused via satellite on the bad guy's skin, we can detect
him hundreds of miles from our borders. We either arrest him,
waste him right there, or simply deny him entry when he gets
to our shores."
"Or," said Rummy, "since he's wearing the tracer-spot, we
could let him in and see where he goes and who he meets, get
the whole lot."
"Ashcroft will love it," said Tarter. "You could invite all
Arab-American males to register with the government and when
they appear, they get zapped -- without them ever realizing
it -- by the identity-tagger. Voila! You've got several million
young men tagged and locateable at all times. Even the Secretary
of Labor will love it: Tracing the potential bad guys will
open up hundreds of thousands of new jobs -- non-union, of
"Sounds sweet," said Rumsfeld. "Lots of jobs working on the
identity-tagger technology, lots of jobs searching for the
guys outside our borders, lots of jobs tracing the guys inside
America. Even the liberals will be hard-pressed to object,
given the state of our economy."
"Right," said Tarter. "Few will bother to ask questions,
other than a few fringe politicos and journalists, and those
wackos on the Internet claiming the billions we're spending
on this project could go to education and cleaning up the
environment and funding social programs."
"Right," said Rumsfeld. "It's a win-win all around. Great,
Jack! Now tell me about the testing; what are the results?"
"Well, Rummy," said Tarter. "The identity-tagger, which right
now we're calling 'Spot-on-the-Johnny,' is in the preliminary
phases of development, and --"
Rumsfeld interrupted: "You're trying to tell me that it doesn't
"Not at all," said Tarter. "But the early tests have been
inconclusive. When we've locked radar on the suspected targets
before tagging them from the satellites, a few of the tests
have proved quite successful. But more recent tries have not
worked as well."
"Well, why not, for heaven's sake?"
"Well, Rummy, there are a few minor glitches," said Tarter.
"Turns out we can't control the actions of the individuals
once they've been annointed with the spot. Some take baths
or showers and the effect gets too diluted to be useful. The
ingestion of garlic seems to interfere with results, as does
lettuce. And hummus. And Pepto-Bismol."
"Jack," said Rumsfeld. "We've been buddies since college,
and I trust you. But what I'm hearing is that this miracle
tagger has so many things that can go wrong that it's basically
worthless in the real world."
"But we're working on it," Rummy. "We're in constant R&D
with it, and we should have a prototype that works within,
say, 10 or 12 years. But we've got this lovely little model
"That's good enough for me," said Rumsfeld. "We'll order
six thousand satellite-taggers now and start deploying them,
first in Alaska -- just in case something goes wrong. You
guys need the money to keep that R&D going -- along with your
donations to our re-election campaign -- and the American
people, scared silly, will applaud our efforts at dealing
with the terrorists and will go along, hang the costs and
the fact that it doesn't work. It's not the economy, stupid;
it's jobs and the feeling of security."
"Thanks, Rummy. We appreciate your faith in our efforts."
"And let me know, Jack, if you come up with any other sketchy
schemes that we can fund that will be win-win all the way
around: profits for you and the other defense contractors,
political benefit (and donations) for us, the population feeling
more secure. And, who knows?, these new technologies might
even work some day?"
"Thanks, Rummy. Can I meet the President now?"
"Sure, let's go over and I'll introduce you to Rove."
Bernard Weiner, co-editor of the progressive website The
Crisis Papers, has authored numerous satires, including:
"A Peek Inside Dick Cheney's Diary," "Inside Karl Rove's Election-Night
Diary," "I nside Saddam Hussein's Diary," and "Advance Draft
of Bush's Astounding 9/11-Anniversary Speech."