The Whitehouse is seeking bring all departments in line with Department of Defense practices and has issued a Presidential finding that it henceforth be official US policy that dead people are militants. This follows an earlier move at the Pentagon to formalise a de facto policy that had been followed on an ad hoc basis.
At a joint DoD/Whitehouse press conference, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Clint “Rambo” Stallone explained that this practice had been followed sporadically “for many moons, since the time of my forefathers”. He continued by explaining that it been “actuated” when circumstances were such that it “seemed necessary; was deemed necessitated; and/or was felt to be necessitudinal or in any sense worth a try”.
Lt. Col.Stallone declined to take questions or make eye-contact with the gathered journalists, yielding the podium to Whitehouse Press Secretary Jay Carney. Carney immediately found himself in hot water when questions were posed by ABC correspondent Claire Shipman:
“Jay, if I understand this correctly, this new finding would be a blanket labelling of all deceased persons who will henceforth be designated as ‘militants’. Now, I am sensitive to the fact that these are matters of national security and I, of course, would not wish you to cross any lines here. I don’t want to cross any lines myself. In fact, if I did overstep any lines, any lines at all with respect to national security, I would fully expect you to arrest me, detain me, to torture and humiliate me with cruel conditions, to try me in a kangaroo court and to lock me away for ever. So, you know, I don’t want to overstep those lines, but what exactly is the government’s understanding of what a militant is?”
“Well, um, you know. A militant.”
“Yeah, but what is a militant?”
“I think I have a very personable demeanour.”
“That is not answering the question.”
After asking around unsuccessfully to find if anyone knew what the word “militant” actually means, Carney was finally able to acquire a dictionary:
“There we go, a militant is someone who is militant. I hope that answers your question. I still maintain that I am, in fact, quite personable. Perhaps this would be a good time for Lt. Col. Stallone to explain something more about the historical context of this policy.”
Reading from typewritten sheets, Stallone held forth in his distinctively melodic monotone:
“Since time immemorial there has always been the noble and honourable practice of killing men. This is the job of our heroes, the proud people of the United States military who are heroes because it is their job and their sacrifice is to lay everything on the line to be heroes. They are in harm’s way.
“Killing men is honourable and valid and it is allowed under Rules of Engagement, but sometimes it turns out that the men are not armed. Some times it turns out that they were helpless and wounded, or unarmed and running away, or zip-cuffed with a bag over their head. Sometimes they are actually women and children. This is OK because you can’t just kill the ones with weapons. The ones with weapons can be very dangerous and it is usually safer to choose someone else to kill.
“Because people watch too many movies, they think we should only be killing the people with guns. This is mad. You would be as likely to end up being killed as to kill the other guy. We don’t want that to happen to our heroes do we? When we were killing people in Vietnam we couldn’t just kill the guys with guns because we had to produce body counts. The guys with guns would hide from us, but the people in the villages couldn’t just run away into the jungle. According to Army records during one operation called Speedy Express in Vietnam over 6 months the 9th Infantry division killed 10,899 ‘enemies’ and only got 748 weapons. In one week 699 were added to the body count, but the division only had one tragic American death and only found 9 weapons. When a reporter asled about this, we told him that we had killed lots of ‘unarmed guerillas’. That’s why we had the mere gook rule. The mere gook rule said that ‘if they are Vietnamese and dead, then they are VC.’ That’s what we told the people who watch too many movies, that these were VC, as if that meant they were soldiers with weapons. That is all they needed to hear. They like their heroes.
“It turned out, though, that the ‘mere gook rule’ was racist. Lots of us in the military were surprised. We never thought of ‘gooks’ in racial terms, and so it was a shock find out that this sort of thing is racist. To someone like me, the way I think, a race is like ‘blacks’ or ‘whites’ or maybe ‘Mexicans’. A gook is like, just a dink. A little thing, more like some kind of species than what I’d call a race. But that is how it was.
“When we went to Iraq, though, we did it much better. We didn’t call it the ‘mere Haji rule’ but the same thing applied, except now the dead were just the ‘bad guys’. It was perfect because it was exactly what the people who watch too many movies would expect. The heroes kill the bad guys. They didn’t need to know the details because they had seen it all so many times before on a screen.”
Amid angry murmuring from the assembled journalists, Carney once more stepped forward to the podium. “Well, I don’t think we need to get bogged down in detail here. I think the point that we all need to take away from this is that bad things happened in the past and we are working strenuously to to rectify those mistakes that come from a dark period in our history. Even more recently we have been age and gender specific with regards to our drone programme, automatically designating all military aged males killed by drones to have been militants. We want to assure people that there is no place in this administration for the continuation of any racist, ageist or sexist policies. Now, are there any final questions?”
“Does the Whitehouse anticipate any positive operational effects from these policies when they are applied in the field?”
“Well, it is interesting that you should ask that because, although this policy is very new, it has already proven to be the greatest boost yet in our efforts to secure our national interests. Yesterday’s tragic helicopter collision in Afghanistan, for example, resulted in the deaths of 16 militants. No matter which way you look at the ethics of the circumstances, that is 16 less militants out there who might do harm to these United States, and I am not going to apologise for thinking that that is good news. Right, one last question.”
“Does this ruling on militants apply retrospectively? Does it apply to historical figures?”
“Could you give me a for instance?”
“Say, Mark Twain”
“Oh yeah, right of course. Yes it would apply to Twain.”
“What about Thomas Paine?”
“This conference is over.” Carney gestures to security personnel.
“Ronald Reagan? What about Jesus Christ, or Moses? No. Wait! It was just a question. No. Please! Don’t tase me bro!”