First appeared on Blogcritics.
As President Obama and his advisors contemplate action in Syria, many of us worry that some of the same issues that plagued the Bush administration are coming into play here. However, a “source” contacted me and promised to reveal the truth behind what led to the drive to invade Iraq and take down Saddam Hussein.
This source, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of the inside workings in the Bush White House, wished to remain anonymous as he told the troubling truth concerning “a major problem” with decision-making in the Oval Office. He told me on the phone, “This stunning information, while surprising, will lay to rest any of the American public’s concerns about how their country was being run at the time.”
When I met with the source at a local Dunkin’ Donuts, he wore thick sunglasses, a black hat tilted over his face, and a thick scarf wrapped around his neck. Despite the intense heat of the late summer weather here in New York City, no one in the store seemed to take notice of us. Of course, a man and woman respectively dressed as Uncle Sam and The Statue of Liberty were enjoying coffee and bagels at another table.
I asked him, “What shall I call you?”
He sat down and replied with a scratchy voice, “You can call me ‘Deep Throat’ or ‘Michael Douglas.’ Your choice.”
I decided to call him “sir” after that and I went to turn on my recording device.
His heavy gloved hand came down on mine and he said, “You may only take notes.”
I nodded, took out my pad and pen, and prepared to write. The following is the text of my interview with the source:
VL: When did you become aware there even was a problem?
Source: Around the summer of 2001, Mr. Bush let it be known that [he] was very concerned with tactical security in the White House, specifically inside the Oval Office. Wise in ways of the red tape in other departments, Mr. Bush called in Dick Cheney and charged him with the task of handling the matter.
VL: What did Mr. Cheney do?
Source: Initially, Dick talked to covert experts within the administration, but then expanded his research to outside individuals, most notably an outfit out in California.
VL: What were the results of Mr. Cheney’s efforts?
Source: It seems that the breakdown in security existed right in the Oval Office, so to better serve the president, Mr. Cheney went with the California outfit’s initiative.
VL: What did this entail?
Source: A high-tech security device was installed in the Oval Office. Apparently it had passed the outfit’s strictest measures of testing and protocols, and it had apparently been used numerous times by one of our security branches, which will remain nameless.
VL: When did Mr. Bush first use the device?
Source: Unfortunately, Mr. Bush didn’t get to use it until weeks after 9/11. At that time he decided to employ it for conversations with those most important to him: Cheney, Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld.
VL: Can you reveal what the device was?
Source: It consisted of two circular clear bubbles connected by a passageway to redirect voice patterns. It was lowered over Mr. Bush and the other party before they began speaking.
VL: You wouldn’t be referring to something called The Cone of Silence, would you?
Source: Well, you said it; I didn’t.
VL: So, this California outfit wouldn’t happen to have been a television studio?
Source: My lips are sealed.
VL: Are you aware of the television show Get Smart that featured this device?
Source: Certainly, I was aware of it. That only enhanced our interest in the product.
VL: Okay, so you claim that you witnessed these conversations.
Source: Yes, my job was to create a transcript of the conversations for…how did Dick put it? Consistency.
VL: Hmmm. Interesting. So, what is your evaluation of the security device’s effectiveness?
Source: It worked as expected. Mr. Cheney was pleased that it eased the president’s concerns about security. It also facilitated the invasion of Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.
VL: Can you recount any specific conversations between the president and others?
Source: Of course. (he produces papers with excerpts of transcripts). You may copy notes from these, but I must retain them.
VL: Understood. (I started copying from the first page).
TRANSCRIPT 1: Invasion of Iraq (Device is lowered over Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush’s heads)
Cheney: Hey, George, I feel like an astronaut.
Bush: Yes, Dick, it’s very hot.
Cheney: George, I said…
Bush: Who’s dead?
Cheney: Mr. President, about invading Iraq…
Bush: There will be an imminent attack?
Cheney: Uh, yes, that is right (Nodding).
Bush: Do we have any intelligence to back this up?
Cheney: Herbal Essence is a fine shampoo, sir.
Bush: So there is concrete evidence?
Cheney: No, there is nothing of the sort.
Bush: We will take who to court?
Cheney: Mr. President, we must embark on a pre-emptive enterprise.
Bush: Dick, I’m not sure I am hearing you correctly.
Cheney: Yes, Mr. President, there are weapons of mass destruction there.
Bush: I know, that Saddam is a pain in the derriere.
Cheney: So, should we go ahead with our plan?
Bush: (pulling on collar) Yes, go ahead and install a fan. It’s too hot in this bubble.
TRANSCRIPT 2: Condolezza Rice and Mr. Bush Discussing Her Planned European Trip. (Device lowered over their heads)
Rice: What is this thing? (pointing to the plastic device over her head)
Bush: It’s the latest in our quest for greater security.
Rice: Oh, how odd. Anyway, I am concerned about how to handle France.
Bush: No, I don’t like to dance. Besides, you know Laura gets jealous, Condi.
Rice: Should I try to bring up the Oil for Food Program and their apparent lies?
Bush: Yes, tell them we’re still calling them Freedom Fries.
Rice: What about the Germans? Should I emphasize the strategic importance of our bases on their soil?
Bush: Let them know we don’t want any Iraqi oil. Nunca. Nada. None.
Rice: Should I take a hard line with the Russians, sir?
Bush: What was that, Condi?
Rice: Should I be unyielding with the Russians?
Bush: No, Condi, no white Russians. I don’t drink anymore.
Rice: Mr. President, in all honesty, I am concerned about this trip.
Bush: Yes, of course: nice slip, and nice legs too, I might add.
TRANSCRIPT 3: Colin Powell and Mr. Bush Discussing Mr. Powell’s Appearance Before the UN (bubbles are lowered over their heads)
Powell: With all due respect, sir; isn’t this device from a TV show?
Bush: I am not sure what I know, Colin. That’s why I pay you.
Powell: I’m concerned about my appearance before the UN.
Bush: I’m not sure we can count on Sean Penn.
Powell: Those aerial photos of the weapons labs…
Bush: Labs are fine dogs, but I like poodles too.
Powell: Sir, I wonder if there is a chance the intelligence could be wrong?
Bush: My favorite song? Let’s see now…
TRANSCRIPT 4: Donald Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush Discuss Mr. Rumsfeld’s Image
Rumsfeld: (glancing up as the bubble is lowered over his head) What the hell is this thing?
Bush: (laughing) Yes, I like to sing too, Rummy.
Rumsfled: Mr. President, I honestly don’t think I have an “image problem.” I take offense.
Bush: The White House fence is quite secure; I assure you that.
Rumsfeld: Sir, I am talking about the way the media is portraying me here.
Bush: True, I would like a beer, but I gave up drinking. No cheating with mother around.
Rumsfeld: Sir, I am baffled as to the possible function of this device we have hanging over our heads.
Bush: No, Laura never makes the beds. I’m used to it by now.
Rumsfeld: I think I should respectfully hand in my resignation.
Bush: I love this nation too, Rummy. It’s the greatest.
Rumsfeld: Oh, and about those troop levels in Iraq…
Bush: (looking at watch) Yes, yes, just go and start the attack. I promised Jeb I’d watch Wheel of Fortune with him.
Rumsfeld: (chuckling in a sinister way) Got to love that girl, Vanna White.
Bush: Yes, out of sight; out of mind. Goodnight, Rummy.
I sat back and looked up from the transcripts at the source. “So, sir, you are telling me that a device from a TV show caused all these problems and led to the invasion of Iraq?”
He took the transcripts and stuffed them in his attaché case. “Absolutely. Everything was going fine until he showed the contraption to his old man.”
“What did George H. W. Bush think of it?” I asked.
Sir sighed. “The old man found he liked the bubble so much he absconded with it in order to protect all his future conversations with Dan Quayle and Barb. That old rascal!”
I nodded. “I see.”
Sir started for the door and looked back at me. “My advice would be for Mr. Obama to get his hands on it. His conversations with Biden and Holder would benefit considerably, I am sure.”
I stared at my notes and felt like I had nothing. “That is all that you have to share with me?”
He looked at his watch. “Yes. I have to run. I’m having lunch with Mel.” “Mel?”
I asked. "That wouldn’t be director Mel Brooks?”
Sir shook his head. “No, it’s a former Spice Girl. Good luck, son.”
My source then left the store and I stared at my notes. While this shed some light on what happened in the Bush White House, it seemed too far-fetched and would do nothing to help the current administration. There really was no story here, and Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty had already left to take their position up near the park, so it seemed that I was out of luck.
I went out into the hot morning, started going along the street, and saw actor Alec Baldwin walking two little dogs down the block. About twenty feet away from him were a few photographers. A smile came to my face as I lifted my pen and paper; it looked like I would have a story after all.
Photo credits: oval office-Whitehouse museum.org; cone-Kirby museum.org; don adams-wikipedia.org