brucekluger.com

    Salon.com, June 21, 2002

    Memo to George #10
    Arabs, Airports, Ari, et al...

    By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin


    INTEROFFICE MEMO

    Date: June 21, 2002
    To: The President
    From: Andrew H. Card, Jr., Chief of Staff
    Re: Home Sweet Homeland
    cc: Karl, Karen

    Mr. President:

    Hey, what's that blast of hot air sailing in from the South Lawn, through the Portico,
    past the portraits of Abe, George and Ronnie, and straight into the holy sanctum of
    the Oval? Could it be an errant easterly riding in from Colorado, where that
    whacked-out chick in khakis decided to go postal and torch the same trees she's
    been hugging for the past 15 years? Or is yet another WH visit by some Ron Silver-
    Susan Sarandon-fill-in-the-blank-Baldwin-brother-type, here to blather on about
    "save the whales" or "ban the nukes" or "stop using innocent lab monkeys to safety-
    test Revlon's no-smudge, no-run mascara?" (Who else are we going to use, Barney
    Frank?)

    No, sir—that uninvited warm wind that just wafted onto our premises is nothing more
    than the toasty breath of our donkey-loving friends in Congress, panting hot and
    heavy down our necks to deliver a blueprint for our Department of Homeland
    Security.

    Ever since "The Big Leak"—and I'm not talking about Ted Kennedy at a Capitol Hill
    kegger, but instead about some internal blabbermouth slipping it to the press that
    we were contemplating this monster move (anyone else thinking Ari?)—we've been
    getting squeezed for details tighter than the seat panel of Jerry Nadler's Levi's.

    What, it wasn't enough that we made history by being the first WH to create a new
    cabinet level post since "Bombs Away" Harry sucked all the top brass into the
    Department of Defense back in the Forties? Now we're expected to actually midwife
    this fat and feisty preemie? Well, I'm here to tell you that we've all been busting
    hump to bring this little nipper screaming into the world, and I think we've done it:
    Say hello and cootchy-coo to our bouncing $39 billion baby.

    Here are a few details from the birth announcement:  

    1. IF IT TALKS LIKE AN ARAB, AND WALKS LIKE AN ARAB…: OK, let's not
    pussyfoot around here. If we're hoping to keep America's terra firma cleaner than
    my Aunt Gert's guest crapper, we need to be on the lookout for those most likely to
    pee on the floor. In the case of national security, that boils down to two words:
    hanky heads. The way I see it, our new Department should pool its funding and info-
    gathering efforts on keeping tabs on our turbaned pals. (Karl calls it "Camel Jockey
    Containment," but I told him "Hanky Head" has a homier ring—and it's much more
    PC.)

    We'll start by rooting out the evildoers right in their own little 24-hour nerve centers.
    That's right, boss: convenience stores. As we speak, the Hardy Boys (aka "Don't
    Blame Me" Mueller and "Round 'Em Up" Ashcroft) are compiling a database on
    every 7-11, Cumberland Farms, White Hen Pantry and Mobil Speed Mart employee
    from Manchester to Mendocino. Once we're finished with our little re-con mission,
    those bad-boy Bedouins won't be able to squeeze a Slushie without Uncle Sam
    knowing what flavor it is. We're also making excellent progress on our newest high-
    tech spy tool, the JerkyCam, which should provide invaluable counter-top
    counterintelligence (that is, if we can ever get past the salt-corrosion problem). This
    is only the beginning, of course. In coming weeks, we'll begin similar background
    checks on newsstand employees, falafel shop owners, cab drivers, and any
    electronics store clerk that refers to customers as "my friend."

    2. TERMINAL TOUGHS: Since 9/11, we've all been casting a wary eye to the
    nation's airports—and for good reason. Maybe if we'd paid a little more attention to
    fortifying our gateways to freedom instead of fretting over whether poor Uncle Ed
    had wheelchair access to the friggin' Cinn-a-bon stand, we might have picked up
    those 19 Air Allah ass-wipes before they made it past curbside check-in. It all
    comes down to who we choose as our airport flatfoots—and that's where our new  
    D of HS can help out.

    Until now, our battalion of x-ray scanners and electronic portals have been manned
    (and womaned—jeez!) by a motley group of rent-a-cops who look for all the world
    like a cross section between that skinny geek who used to sit behind you in
    Geometry to a pack of background extras straight off the set of an Ice Cube movie.
    Not any more, Mr. Frequent Flyer. From now on, our national airport security will be
    handled by none other than the United States Marines Corps—and I'm talking
    about every damn landing strip from Dulles to LAX to Hokey-Poke Airfield in
    Crapsack, Kansas.

    Think about it: If we hand over airport security to our thick-necked men in Green
    Berets, not only can we ensure an air-tight, spit-shined, lock-and-loaded level of
    safety, but we'll also cut down on all that noisy griping from those pain-in-the-butt
    airline passengers. Missed your connection? Tough. I missed my connection in
    Saigon and now I've got a plastic leg! Lost your luggage? Too bad. Try losing your
    lunch because your buddy's severed head is lying next to you in a puddle of goo!
    Hot dog overpriced and overcooked? Shut your pie-hole, laptop-boy, and eat it like
    a man—and while you're at it, drop to your knees and thank the good Lord above
    that you live in a country where a fella can eat a $6 wiener in peace and freedom.
    Semper Fi, ladies, and make sure your tray table is in the upright position or I'll
    shove your ass into the overhead storage bin.

    3. "JEW OKAY?" Keeping Americans safe is one thing—keeping 'em happy is an
    entirely different matter. And if there's one group we know we're going to have to
    throw a shank bone to, it's our Homeland Hebrews. More than any other
    constituency, Jews have had the bejeesus (be-moses?) scared out of 'em since
    9/11, and if we don't let them know we're giving their tushes special protection, it will
    only be a matter minutes before Oscar Mayer Lieberman and Washington's Feinest
    (-stein and -gold) are kicking up a kvetchfest on Larry King.

    Short of making circumcisions tax-deductible (Karen: can we?), we need to do
    something to endear you to Hymie Q. Public. Therefore, our new Homeland
    Security Department will establish an Office of Jewish Appeasement, whose
    responsibility will be to make you and Jews as inseparable as pastrami and rye.
    First on the agenda: to get you into a yarmulke and in front of the cameras, ASAP.
    As you know, our own Ari Fleischer recently announced his engagement, and we've
    asked him to move up his wedding date (like, to next Saturday.) The sooner
    American Jews see you dancing the hora and scarfing down chopped liver at a
    buffet table, the more "nachas" they'll feel towards our shiny new Department. (FYI:
    "Nachas" means "joy." Complete Yiddish cheat-sheet to follow.)

    (By the way, don't think about Ari's wedding too much. I made the mistake of
    picturing him lying naked on his honeymoon four-poster, and now I can't get the
    image out of my head. Ewww.)

    4. FRONT PORCH PATROL: Besides the Crawford ranch, no home is more
    important to Homeland Security than America's Home—aka, our blessed little White
    House. Therefore, part of the D of HS budget will go to ratcheting up Secret Service
    protection for those of us who run the show around here. Naturally, some of us
    earn a little more protection than others—and that's where the fun comes in:

    Pretty much anyone in the country named Bush gets an increase in protection
    (except for Homer Bush, that wiry black second baseman for the Blue Jays. We can
    assume he's no relation, right?)

    The Veep, his wife, and his straight daughter also get an increase. (We figure the
    lesbo can protect herself.)

    Karl, Karen, and yours truly will get standard Secret Service coverage, with extra
    protection for our families and potential significant others. (We threw that last one in
    for Karl, but I don't think we need to worry about cost overruns in that department.
    Sorry, Karl, but the last time you had a date, Condi was still in Huggies.)   

    Colin Powell: The General once confessed to me that he bit the ear off a Turkish
    bong salesman in a Bangkok bar fight. No increase necessary.

    Paul O'Neill: Did you see that photo of him and Bono wearing dashikis together in
    Africa? A picture might be worth a thousand words, but it sure ain't worth an
    increase in protection. You're on you own, Paulie-boy.

    Don Evans: If something happened to Don, we'd not only lose a great Commerce
    Sec'y, but who would you shoot doves with? Big increase.

    Christie Whitman: Decreased protection. Let her hide out in a forest somewhere.
    Like Colorado.

    The Supreme Court: We only have enough funding to protect three judges. Hmm,
    I wonder who they'll be….

    Congress: We only have enough funding to protect 270 members. Hmm, I wonder
    who they'll be? (And, no, Jeffords didn't make the cut. Payback's a bitch.)

    —Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt: They get Girl Scout Troop 451 from Pikesville,
    Maryland, to protect them. Good luck, losers.

    Call me.

    Andy