Senator John Kerry (D-MA) will be part of the Forward Attack Tactical Command (FATCOM) that leads the invasion of Syria or Iran, Victoria Clarke announced today at the Defense Department’s daily briefing on the National Overseas Tactical Aggression Ground Air Invasion Network (NOT AGAIN).
“Senator Kerry still looks good in his old Vietnam uniform, especially with all those medals,” said Clarke, with a twinkle in her eye. “He has everything it takes to fulfill the role of an American serviceperson: he’s smart, he’s strong, and he has that innate instinct to go for the jugular. You can’t teach that, believe me,” she said, “it’s gotta come naturally.”
When the lights went down, she added, “He’s also rich as sin, which is going to make this a very interesting operation. We won’t even need a supplemental appropriation to make this happen.”
(Ms. Clarke refused to comment on one question concerning the raucous laughter heard back in the direction of Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s office during the briefing).
Operation FATCOM represents one of the quickest response-times in recent memory at NOT AGAIN. It began with an informal agreement sponsored by Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). “Democrats aren’t sissies,” said Daschle flanked by Republican leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Iraqi exile potentate Ahmed Chalabi, who had been flown in from Baghdad for the occasion. “We’ve got guys who had more time in combat than Bush had in a uniform.”
“We worked through the night on this,” said a weary-looking Frist, “but finally we reached an agreement: We’d give them two photo-ops during acquisition of pre-selected enemy targets, and they’d give us floor votes on two appeals court judges.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch applauded the agreement. “We desperately need to begin filling these judicial vacancies,” he said, “and I appreciate John’s willingness to deal. War is hell, and gee, I think the photo-ops will be priceless. This just goes to show how far we Republicans will go to prove that we believe in fair play.”
Senator Kerry’s platoon will be brought to a secret maritime location by the nuclear submarine Franklin Roosevelt, skippered by former Navy nuclear expert Jimmy Carter. After being secretly inserted in-country, Kerry will lead his clandestine squad all the way to Tehran or Damascus, with several hostile encounters planned along the way. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), a former astronaut, will be handling the satellite phones. “Our orders will be sealed until we’re in-country,” Nelson said. “Secretary Rumsfeld will wait until the most opportune moment to give us our objectives, in keeping with the order of battle and the NOT AGAIN directives.”
A senior Defense Department official said that naming both countries as options was intended to “keep the enemy guessing” about FATCOM’s true mission.
A State Department source insisted that Secretary Powell had been “integrally involved” in the plan. “We’re going to get a great shot of them raising the flag at the American embassy in Tehran,” gloated the source. “It hasn’t flown there since Jimmy Carter was president.” (When asked what problems would be posed if the secret team was inserted into Syria instead of Iran, the source replied, “Damascus? No problem. Basically, all embassies look alike.”)
“That’s fine with me,” said the Senate’s oldest Democrat, Robert Byrd (D-WVA), when asked about the plan. “From what I understand, John isn’t just going along as a back-seat passenger for a photo-op like Bush did on that stupid boat — John’s really going to be killing people. That’s a big difference, and I’m glad to say that John knows what he’s up against. He’s not just some frat boy in a flight suit. Furthermore, to indulge in my obligatory boring, insipid classical reference, John reminds me of Shakespeare’s Fortinbras. He knows how to kick ass.”
Monday’s edition of Sports Illustrated leaked the news that Kerry has been undergoing refresher training in hand-to-hand combat in the Senate gym. “He’s beat the hell out of Bill Cohen half a dozen times,” said an unnamed Senate source. “But Cohen keeps coming back for more. Too bad he’s a Republican, he’d look great out on the front lines.”
A source close to Oliver Stone confirmed that the famous director had advised the FATCOM team on such technical issues as camera angles and the difficulties of filming the elimination of enemy personnel real-time in hand-to-hand combat under the cover of total darkness. “It’s frankly a difficult issue, when it’s supposed to be the dead of night,” said the source, who expressed great enthusiasm for the project. “We had to find some enemy soldiers that, while fighting to the death, wouldn’t by accident wound Kerry or anyone on his team by mistake.”
Sources in Istanbul confirm that Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s recent tirade against the Turks was helpful in this regard. “It took some doing, but he finally convinced the Turks to be less obstinate,” said the source. “As a good-faith gesture they’re going to give us some Kurdish terrorists that they were going to execute anyway. We’re still negotiating with their families, but we’re pretty confident we’ll eventually have a deal that everybody can live with — except the terrorists, of course. We haven’t checked with Garner yet on just how we’re going to collect those images, though, once we get’em on film.”
Bush was asked about the Kerry operation after a photo-op with the skipper of the Abraham Lincoln and an unusually jovial Donald Rumsfeld. Still wearing his flight suit from the carrier landing, the President strode pensively and deliberately to the microphones and, with a firm jaw and serious mien, intoned, “Laura and I send our prayers and heartfelt support to these brave men who want to go the extra mile for freedom.”
“Mr. President,” observed Brit Hume of the Fox Gung-Ho channel, “those are pretty somber words for such a patriotic occasion.”
“I know,” grinned the president. “But this is scripted.”
Christopher Manion [send him mail] writes from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.