AS YOU KNOW, since we at the Department of Defense have not for many years developed or maintained any kind of expertise in the actual defense of our country, this department issued a plea last Thursday for all patriotic Americans, from large corporations to ordinary citizens, to come forward with their ideas for thwarting terrorism.
We are pleased to announce that since that time, our office has been flooded with suggestions, many submitted in careful childlike handwriting with 20 or more photocopied pages of meticulous documentation of the patriot's past alien abduction or brain damage due to government-sponsored mind rays. These suggestions have been uniformly excellent and helpful, and we have rushed to implement as many of them as possible.
Here is but a small sampling of the tactics submitted to us that we have enthusiastically embraced:
*A suggestion that an infidel from Madison Avenue (preferably a woman) with a proven record of success in selling shampoo be hired to convince the Islamic world that America is really on their side. Status: done.
*A suggestion from anonymous of Langley, Va., to allow the Central Intelligence Agency to begin dealing with the intelligence agencies of Libya, Syria, and other countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism; and to lift restrictions on employing agents with documented human rights abuses so the agency may train a new generation of operatives to replace bin Laden, Noriega, Saddam, and all the others it has lost. Status: done.
*A suggestion from Lockheed Martin and Boeing to appropriate an unthinkable amount of money for development of a technically dubious weapons system that would supposedly prevent a threat that does not exist and is not currently being developed anywhere in the world, on the theory that prospective terrorists will be laughing so hard they'll forget to attack. Status: done.
*Suggestions from the heads of each major U.S. TV network news division that they show their regular entertainment programming rather than tapes of Osama bin Laden. Status: done, although it's not entirely clear how this prevents suicide.
*Numerous suggestions to refund all corporate taxes paid since 1986 that would have been avoidable under countless previous tax loopholes. Status: passed House, awaiting Senate action. An additional tax cut for the rich has also been thrown in, out of habit.
*Several generous contributions to increase the reward for the insinuation of guilt (never mind a trial or conviction) of any individual alleged to have been peripherally involved with the attacks of Sept. 11. Status: done, because people obsessed with the notion that their planned crime will literally lead to an eternity in paradise will respond really well to bribes.
*Suggestions from numerous airline executives to dissuade prospective hijackers by making seats excruciatingly uncomfortable and eliminating food service so that plastic forks and hardened miniature pretzels cannot be used as weapons. Status: done, with a generous industrywide bailout to assist implementation.
*A suggestion from one Kenneth L. of Houston, Texas, to write another large check to Enron. Status: pending.
*A suggestion to mail large packets of information on preventing bioterror to every office worker in Washington, D.C., including samples to give workers an idea of what an actual attack might look like. Status: done.
*A new Immigration and Naturalization Service campaign to harass employers of Mexican nationals, since bin Laden might speak Spanish. Status: done.
*An educational campaign in schools across America to convince young prospective terrorists that mass murder isn't cool because it doesn't present much of a challenge. Reinforce by distribution of millions of free bumper stickers and T-shirts to remind youth and the general public that destroying airplanes is really easy. Status: done.
*Retaining underpaid, undertrained, privately employed personnel to screen baggage at airports, in the belief that the ongoing campaign contributions of the corporate contractors are a matter of great national security. Status: done.
*Shipment of millions of unused bottles of Pentagon Wite-Out (at $463 per bottle) to schoolrooms across America so that the Fourth Amendment can be removed from posters of the Bill of Rights. Status: done.
*Branding a scarlet letter A on the forehead of all those who worship Allah. Status: pending.
Secretary Rumsfeld emphasized that many other suggestions, which could not yet be made public, had been received and approved. "With the ingenuity of the American public as our greatest weapon," he commented, "those evildoers don't stand a chance. But," he continued, "this will be a long war, and there will be many free-market opportunities. We encourage all Americans to keep coming forward, either to this office or to the fund-raising office of the Republican National Committee. God Bless America."