Vol. 2, Issue 20, May 18, 2004
Rumsfeld Denies Knowledge of Scandals No One Knew About
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has been strenuously distancing himself from the unfolding Iraqi prison abuse scandals, went one step further today and denied any knowledge of a scandal which the media had not yet learned of.
"I also want to say for the record that the Iraqi Missile Defense contract was approved entirely without my knowledge, and that I have authorized a full investigation into the matter."
It transpired that Rumsfeld was denying knowledge of a $30 billion secret Pentagon program to install and test a proactive missile-defense system over Iraq near the Syrian border. This was news to the assembled reporters at the Pentagon, none of whom had ever heard even the slightest rumor of such a program.
"Are you saying the military is field-testing a huge clandestine defense system in Iraq without the public's knowledge?" asked a visibly stunned Colin Powell, who was also present at the briefing.
"I'm saying I don't know about such a system," said Rumsfeld, "and I had not heard about the forced labor camps used for construction either."
The High-Five system apparently employs high-powered chemical lasers fueled by massive underground nuclear power plants. Construction and use of the system has proved extremely hazardous, according to photos released by Rumsfeld, resulting in possibly significant loss of life among the thousands of Iraqi prisoners allegedly forced to build the system.
"This was a surprise to me," said Rumsfeld. "If such an operation did occur, then we will take all appropriate action. In addition, I did not know about the massive reallocation of funds from the V.A. hospital system to support this operation."
Reporters apparently sensed an opportunity and began asking Rumsfeld about other rumored scandals, as well as some imaginary ones. However, at this point Rumsfeld apparently realized his error and abruptly ended the press conference. Reporters' notebooks and tape recorders were all confiscated, and several reporters were taken into custody and have not been seen since. Details of the press conference were leaked anyway, though, thanks to a New Orleans Picayune reporter who used a portable webcam to provide a live feed to the Picayune website during the conference.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed dismay over the rumors but offered guarded support for the American military in spite of the allegations.
"Well, Rumsfeld is certainly becoming very good at this, I mean at apologizing and admitting things and such," said Blair. "It's not something he's had a lot of practice at until now I think. One could say, looking at it from a personal point of view, these travails will ultimately make him a better person, and for that I suppose we ought to be thankful that the, ah, scandals are taking place..." Blair then shook his head sadly. "Good Lord. One tries to be positive and all, but the Americans don't make it easy, do they."
With the details of the secret High-Five program out in the open despite Rumsfeld's about-face at the press conference, it is anticipated that he will be holding another press conference to deny knowledge of the attempted cover-up after the first press conference.
"Well, we can tell you this for sure," said Scott McClellan, White House spokesman. "The President had absolutely no indication that these massive secret military operations were occurring. I assure you he does not have the vaguest idea what's going on."
Reporters did not challenge McClellan's statement.