I don't know if you saw, but Retired Admiral John Poindexter has decided to step down as head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. DARPA has fallen on hard times, I think. From an agency that in former days founded such things as, well, the Internet (originally called "DARPA Net"), DARPA under Adm. Poindexter had the foresight to propose such brilliant ideas as "Total Information Awareness" -- a massive, Big Brother-like computer search engine that would read through all credit card, banking, and medical databases around the country to find terrorists -- and a "terrorist futures market" -- where anonymous traders would make money by buying financial futures and derivatives related to the probability of future terrorist actions like bombings, assassinations, and coups. It kind of makes you wonder what they're putting in the water at the Pentagon these days.
In honor of DARPA's track record under Adm. Poindexter, let us imagine what Congressional confirmation hearings for his replacement might be like:
Senator: You are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew?
Dr. Honeydew Yes Senator, I am.
Senator: What do you see as your primary qualifications for this job?
Dr. Honeydew Well Senator, we at Muppet Labs have been developing all kinds of anti-terrorist technology to protect the United States from terrorist attack. May I show some video tape?
Senator: You may.
Dr. Honeydew Here is the latest test of our anti-terrorist brainwave scanner. For this test, my assistant Beaker will strap on the brainwave scanning helmet. Once it is activated, he will be able to read the minds of terrorists around the world... and here I am, throwing the switch...
Senator: And is that smoke coming out of your assistant's ears?
Dr. Honeydew Yes Senator, it is.
Senator: I see.
Senator: You are the artist Javacheff Christo?
Christo: I am.
Senator: You're an artist?
Christo: Yes Senator, I am.
Senator: And what do you see as a viable strategy for preventing terrorism against the United States?
Christo: I think we should wrap the borders of all terrorist countries in blue plastic, held up with lime green umbrellas.
Senator: Lime green umbrellas?
Christo: You think they should be yellow?
Senator: You are the Artist Formerly and Currently Known as Prince?
His Royal Badness: *LONG pause* Yes.
Senator: What do you think qualifies you for this job?
His Royal Badness: *sings falsetto* I'm one sexy mutherf*cker! Bring on the funk!
Senator: You are Lyndon Larouche?
Mr. Larouche: Yes I am, Senator.
Senator: How do you see the United States combatting terrorism in the 21st Century?
Mr. Larouche: We will move to Mars.
Senator: Mars, Mr. Larouche?
Mr. Larouche: Yes, not only will it re-ignite our flaccid economy, it will allow us to threaten any country in the world with impunity after we complete construction of powerful batteries of laser weapons on the moon.
Senator: You are Dr. Theodore Kaczynski?
Unabomber: I am.
Senator: Dr. Kaczynski, speaking as a terrorist and a former academic, what sort of initiatives would you see as important to defending the United States?
Unabomber: Bombs in the mail.
Senator: Bombs in the mail?
Unabomber: Yes, bombs in the mail.
Senator: And what if these terrorists don't recieve mail regularly because they live in remote parts of the world?
Unabomber: Well, obviously we need to research ways to improve mail service to the entire world.
on 2003-08-01 at 10:35 a.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond