Thursday, April 27, 2006

“I Have a Lighter Side”


Washington, April 24 -
The White House announced today that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will be a guest on “Meet the Press” this Sunday. Rumsfeld’s appearance is an attempt to counter charges that he was directly involved in supervising the abuse of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

According to the announcement, “special staging arrangements” have been made with network staff for the broadcast. Although full details were not disclosed, highly placed sources within the administration, speaking on background, have said that Rumsfeld will reproduce for the studio audience various practices he authorized for the interrogation of prisoners.

Prior to his appearance, Rumsfeld will be forced to kneel for eight hours with his hands behind his back. He will also be inundated for forty-eight hours by high-decibel rap music from three different stations played simultaneously, and will be awakened every 45 minutes if he manages to fall asleep.

Once the program begins, the Secretary will stand naked before a panel of female reporters while they badger him with accusations that he is a homosexual. Then he will don a bra and bikini underpants while guards urinate on the Bible and the panel screams that his mother and sister are whores. Snarling guard dogs will be sicced onto the Secretary to lend authenticity to his performance, but will be kept leashed and muzzled at all times. The release cautions that “anything Secretary Rumsfeld says, under the circumstances, cannot be taken seriously.”

For the grand finale, he will perform a series of dog tricks on the end of a leash. “Fetch! Roll over! Beg! Sit! Speak! Heel! You name it, he can do it,” said one aide who has been present at rehearsals. “He picked it all up in no time. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”

The program is expected to attract a record audience. “I’m looking forward to it,” said Rumsfeld. “It will give people a chance to see another part of me. I’m not always the inflexible, arrogant misanthrope the public is accustomed to. I have a lighter side.”

In the past, treatment of the kind described, whether carried out by Nazis or by communists, has been greeted with opprobrium, scorn, and contempt by the American public. Rumsfeld, however, will argue that the events, far from being psychological torture, were simply “an attempt to provide entertainment” for guards and prisoners at Guantanamo. “It’s hot down there, they’re wedged into those tiny cells, they get almost no exercise.… I just felt they needed something to break the monotony,” he said.

The Secretary hopes, with this appearance, to persuade skeptics that he was being truthful in his earlier claim that “…the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is proper, it's humane, it's appropriate, and it is fully consistent with international conventions. No detainee has been harmed; no detainee has been mistreated in any way.”

Nonetheless, some observers have had misgivings about the acts portrayed on the show. “I feel so sorry for him, going through all that,” said a network associate who has watched rehearsals. “I don’t know how he can stand it.”

“I feel the same way,” said a technician who has also been present. “And he’s only doing it for one day. A lot of the prisoners have been there for three years. No wonder so many have tried to commit suicide.”

The program will be preceded by the following message:

Warning: Because conduct displayed on this program may violate national and international standards of decency, viewer discretion is advised. Videotaping or audio taping of the program, in whole or in part, is expressly prohibited, and use of any description of the program is forbidden without written consent from the Secretary of Defense.
© Tony Russell, 2006

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