My hometown paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, wasn’t much interested earlier this year when WikiLeaks released “Collateral Murder,” the classified American military video which showed an Apache helicopter crew having a jolly time mowing down Iraqi civilians, including children and two Reuters news staffers.
But now that ghost face killa Joe Lieberman has given American business its marching orders to destroy WikiLeaks, the Inquirer has plenty of alarmist anti-WikiLeaks stories.
My favorite recent WikiLeaks scare, entitled “a hit list for al-Qaeda,” told of “infuriated” unnamed government officials who “expressed alarm” that WikiLeaks released a State Department cable of “potential targets” whose disruption by al-Qaeda could “jeopardize our national security.” Among the targets: the Panama Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and the Australian laboratory that produces polyvalent crotalid antivenin — the antidote for rattlesnake venom. Yup, public enemy number one, Julian Assange, went and told Osama bin Laden where the Panama Canal is — and we’d been keeping it from him for all these years!
The concern expressed for the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil is transported, was touching also. Touching, because many United States Congresspersons foam at the mouth for an Israeli attack on Iran which, in turn, would shut down the strait and cause gas prices to soar. But it all makes sense in Capitol Hell: if Israeli aggression causes me to pay $10 a gallon for gas that’s a regrettable but necessary thing, whereas if al-Qaeda causes this same result it’s an economic disaster for the world that can only be properly avenged by murdering a multitude of Muslim civilians.
As for the al-Qaeda/rattlesnake connection, well, this makes sense too. If you’re a person in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen, and America is converting your wedding parties into funerals, your rage is likely directed to one thought only: I’m going to get even by making sure that some poor bastard in West Texas, dying of a rattlesnake bite (which he probably deserved), knows in his dying moments, when he can’t get any antivenin, that Sharia law and baba ganoush have triumphed after all.
But what if the shadowy world of the pit viper family began working tail in hand with al-Qaeda? What would an al-Qaeda terrorist rattlesnake be like? If he was like the failed shoe bomber and the failed underwear bomber, and all the other terrorists who can’t find a gun or a knife or a match in America, he’d be a little bit off. To wit:
If a terrorist rattlesnake was coiled up in the seat next to you on an airplane he would probably appear furtive and wouldn’t “look right.” You might be too polite (or afraid) to say something like, “Shouldn’t you be in the cargo area?” Or you might think that this snake has connections, especially if he’s in first class — maybe this is Paris Hilton’s snake, maybe you should ask if he’d pose for a picture together. You should definitely tweet about it immediately. Everything must be okay with the authorities — and that’s all that matters — because the snake made it through the TSA scanner or got felt up just like you did.
Somewhere in your carry on bag you have your good digital camera, the one with the equivalent of a 300 mm zoom lens that pops out about 4 inches — you must have that close up of the snake’s tongue and his rattles. You turn in your seat and zoom in on his face — “Come on, show me your tongue, shake your rattlebooty, attaboy!” and — wham! — out of the blue, the crazy terrorist rattlesnake bites your forearm! But because this is a screw-up terrorist rattlesnake, instead of fangs he has molars and instead of venom he regurgitates a nauseating concoction of chocolate milk and barbecued Fritos all over your arm. You and several other passengers wrestle him to the floor and you end up getting that photo-op after all. You’re famous, baby.
In the weeks following this terrorist plot you and the rest of America learn one of two things:
1) For years the family, friends and neighbors of this particular rattlesnake were victims of a foreign invasion, torture and genocidal killing. It turns out that snake hunters — a tiny subset of America’s treasure trove of psycho killers and sadists — go to the canyons of West Texas and thread long tubing into narrow crevices in canyon walls where rattlesnakes sleep and then pour in gasoline and /or ammonia ( snake hunters care about nature, dontcha know) to drive out the snakes. Then the hunters bravely capture the snakes with long metal tongs and transport them to “festivals” where the animals are shot, burned with cigarettes and sometimes have their mouths sewn shut with wire before they are gutted and skinned. But don’t think this isn’t educational or fun for kids because the adults will let children hold the still beating heart of a decapitated snake and sometimes even the head itself, though it can bite for up to an hour later — see how cruel and vicious rattlesnakes are! So are we creating more terrorist rattlesnakes faster than we are killing them? A known known that only Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t know for sure.
Or, we learn this:
2) The FBI befriended and cultivated this terrorist rattlesnake and bought him the plane ticket. They knocked him out, drained him of all venom, filed down his fangs and promised him a fabulous garbage dump in paradise where, rather than 72 virgins, there will be 72,000 varmints.
After the plot is foiled the FBI offers this terrorist rattlesnake a deal and puts him in the same small cell as Private First Class Bradley Manning, whose 23rd birthday occurred on December 17. The rattlesnake — touted by the FBI as “pet therapy” — is a sop to civil libertarians who had complained about Manning’s mind-destroying solitary confinement, the 23 hours of each day with no contact with any living creature. The government’s impeccable reasoning is this: the snake scares or befriends Manning who turns on WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange who turns on all the people in the world who he doesn’t know who steal and anonymously leak classified information and who hate the American government and then, after a few decades, when everybody who has a contrary view to the US government is behind bars or dead, the war on terror is over and America wins. It all makes perfect sense — if it didn’t the American public wouldn’t believe it. And if it didn’t make sense, newspapers like the Philadelphia Inquirer would alert us immediately.