Wash. (AP) – In an unprecedented action, federal agents today
placed under strict quarantine a man suspected of harboring buckine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad Okie disease."
A task force composed of agents from the FBI, DEA, BATF, and the
Office of Child Support Enforcement, backed by the Army, Navy, Air
Force, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, took into custody without
incident Edmonds resident Robert (Buck) Higgs at his modest home
on a quiet street in this tranquil town.
force spokeswoman Norma Rule told reporters that the operation had
been a complete success. "This mission has placed a tremendous
strain on everyone involved during the months of arduous preparation
and training, and we just thank God that no one was hurt. The potential
for catastrophe was immense. Even one mad Okie on the loose could
wreak incalculable damage. Pretty soon every redneck in the county
would be falling behind on apartment rent and car payments."
a carefully choreographed press conference, Miss Rule said that
this part of the country had been free of mad Okie disease for more
than twenty years, and children born to displaced Okies, many of
whom live in nearby Lynnwood, have no natural immunity and might
easily have become infected during one of Higgs's periodic trips
to that city's Alderwood Mall. "Heaven forbid," said Rule.
"Those kids are already smoking, drinking, and sniffing glue.
Once infected with BSE, they would stop changing their underwear
and applying deodorant." Although the task force expects to
continue mopping-up operations for several years, she said the government
now has the problem well in hand, and she saw no need for panic
at this time.
was placed in a sealed BATF vehicle and escorted by the 439th
Ranger Battalion to a FEMA facility in Bothell, Washington, which
formerly served as an nuclear-bomb-proof command center for federal
officials in the Puget Sound region. There he was placed under 24-hour
surveillance and denied access to low introductory rates on credit
cards and to advertisements by Oriental rug dealers promising last-time-ever
good deals during their annual going-out-of-business sale. In conformity
with President George W. (Shrub) Bush's policy of compassionate
conservatism, Higgs was allowed to keep his Sears card on the condition
that he not purchase too many things he didn't really need.
after his confinement, Higgs began shouting, "Free the Microsoft
six million, Free the Microsoft six million." To quiet him,
the warden promised that corn bread and pinto beans with little
bits of ham would be served for supper, but Higgs persisted in his
protestations, vigorously waving a pocket-size copy of the U.S.
Constitution that he carries at all times. Some reporters at the
scene thought they heard the Assistant U.S. Attorney reply, "That's
nothing but a parchment barrier, chump."
many others might have contracted the disease was not known at the
time of Higgs's quarantine. In an effort to determine whether the
infection has spread, Labor Department personnel will closely monitor
the frequency of Monday absences at area workplaces. "We'll
also keep a close watch on new filings for disability benefits,"
said Vince Abel of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other officials
promised that in the wake of any widespread outbreak, the federal
government would immediately bring in "as many grief counselors
as the situation warrants."
the FEMA confinement facility, Higgs vowed that he would continue
to demand respect for his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, and
he reserved the option to invoke even more amendments up to and
including the Twenty-First, if need be. He has appealed for support
from the ACLU and from the Displaced Okies Protection Effectuation
Society (DOPES). Several left-wing organizations, however, favored
confining him indefinitely. Mandy Haeter, a spokeswoman for NOW,
said that if Higgs were released he would pose an unacceptable threat
to women who wear short skirts and too much makeup. Whalen Nutt,
a Greenpeace spokesman, publicly stated, "We have no problem
with the extinction of the Okie species. The sooner they die out,
the sooner subjects and verbs will agree."
Higgs is the editor of The