My Silicon Valley friend, one of the most innovative scientists in the
country, the one who invented the truth-spray "B.S. Away,"* ushered me
into his lab.
"This new invention is only in its trial phase," he said, eyes gleaming in
excitement. "But if the current tests are any indication, this device will
revolutionize spying, journalism, the whole concept of privacy,
everything. I call it 'The Flying Wi-Fi'."
Since his expected patent hadn't come through yet, he swore me to secrecy
for how this insect-drone worked. He needn't have bothered, as I couldn't
follow his jargoned explanation of nano-technology anyway, but I can tell
you this much: The Flying Wi-Fi is about the size of a small moth, it can
stealthily hover or remain stationary almost silently in any location, and
it's equipped with an ultra-sensitive wi-fi camera (with an amazing
wide-angle lens) and microphone.
"Do you get it now?" he asked me. "Basically, with miniaturized, improved
wireless technology components, it sends signals back to the computer
base. The data can be viewed, listened to or transcribed into text. Want
to see how it works?"
He didn't have to ask me twice. We stepped out into the garden, where he
dispatched the Flying Wi-Fi to a house halfway down the block. It hovered
outside a second-floor bedroom screen; back at our garden base, we were
able to aim the camera and listen to a husband and wife arguing about how
they should deal with their teenage daughter's affinity for smoking
marijuana in the school bathroom.
I was amazed, but horrified at the same time. "There isn't any privacy
anymore!" I shouted. "Even in your own bathroom or bedroom, someone can
overhear what you're doing and talking about!"
"Bernie, don't be so naive. That kind of directional sound-collection
technology has existed for decades; you see variations of it every week
when TV covers professional football -- those guys on the sidelines with
their primitive round sound-collectors aimed at the action. The difference
here is that you get clear visuals, too, and you don't need a whole team
of cops or spies or sound- and camera-men; you just send out your little
Flying Wi-Fi drone and sit back at your computer base and everything comes
to you, without anybody being the wiser."
"That's the part that scares me," I said. "Currently, at least you might
be able to spot somebody across the street aiming a sound-collector toward
your house. But with this little guy, it will be seen, if at all, as just
the proverbial 'fly on the wall,' no need to worry."
"Well, I told you that this was going to revolutionize the concept of
privacy," he said, "but don't forget that it will also totally alter the
way journalists and bloggers gather information and dispense what they
learn. The democratization, and instant dissemination, of information.
Government officials better watch what they say."
Three days later, we were in Washington, D.C. (he paid for the airline
tickets) for a more meaningful test run. What follows are snippets of
conversations we overheard all over town by sending our Flying Wi-Fi into
or close to private offices, departmental buildings, officials' homes and
cars, and so on.
KARL ROVE'S OFFICE
Unidentified Staffer: Oh you're good, Karl!
Rove: Yeah, this time I've got their nuts in the cracker. If the Dems vote
to support Bushboy's military tribunals at Gitmo, we win. If the
Demoncrats oppose the trials of those major al-Qaida prisoners, we just
say they're supporting Osama bin Laden. It's a win win for us; either way,
it'll pay off at the polls in November. We can worry about what the courts
say about our in-their-face approach much later, and, if we have to, keep
making adjustments until the cows come home. Christ, we can probably play
this out until after the 2008 vote!
We've still got a hell of a lot of work to do. True, we've got our
dumbskull fundies; they're such True Believers they'd stick with us if
photos appeared of Bush servicing a lonely sheep in the Oval Office. But
our poll numbers with the rest of the folks who usually vote Republican
are in the toilet. We're doing the fear number and denouncing those who
oppose our war policies as terrorist-supporters -- hey, did you catch the
Swift Boating version of 9/11 on ABC? Right on schedule! But so far, the
numbers aren't going up fast enough. Either the public is on to us, or we
just aren't frightening them enough. Seems like Americans move toward us
only when they're scared out of their wits, as they were on 9/11. Hmmm. I
wonder what might possibly happen this month or in October.
Might not even have to think about that. Our friends are active in so many
states in making sure the voting rolls are purged of those who shouldn't
be allowed to vote, if you get my drift. And the voting machines are as
reliable as usual -- which translates into being very helpful for our
side. So come November 8, we should be holding onto the House and the
Senate. Not by much, but I don't care. One vote over 50% is all we need to
continue on for another two years, full steam ahead. Those pinko suckers,
as usual, will never know what hit them.
DICK CHENEY'S OFFICE
Cheney (talking into tape-recorder): Memo for my book project. Looks like
I'm off the legal hook on the outing of Plame. Armitage fessed up that he
was the one to leak to Novak. That loser doesn't even realize that we put
the ball in motion with all our inquiries about Plame and Wilson, but if
that Powell toady wants to take the hit, that's fine with me.
I'm still nervous about Fitzgerald, though. Many months ago, when zeroing
in on Scooter, he said publicly that "multiple people in the White House"
were involved in the Plame outing and covering it up. (Fitzgerald went on
in his April 5 court filing: "Given that there is evidence that ... White
House officials ... discussed Wilson's wife's employment with the press
both prior to, and after, July 14, 2003, it is hard to conceive of what
evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House
efforts to 'punish' Wilson." Bastard!)
I'm hoping Fitz has pulled in his horns for good -- maybe he finally got
the message that his career was going to go nowhere if he persisted in
poking his nose inside the White House -- but he has never officially
closed down his probe. In my worst nightmares, I imagine him coming after
me: After all, Karl and I orchestrated the rest of the White House Iraq
Group to take Wilson down.
Oh well, we can handle it, assuming, of course, that Karl has the election
in hand in November; he certainly should, since I and Rummy and Bushboy
and others have been painting our Dem opponents into the
terrorist-supporting traitor corner. But If we lose the House, Fitz and
the sharklike forces behind him may smell our blood in the water and
decide to re-open the investigation.
So, first things first: Destroy the Dems for November, by whatever means
necessary, in order to keep the House and Senate; then we can come back at
our enemies with newfound strength. If worse comes to worst later, we
"re-assign" Fitz and move in one of our guys to handle the situation. God,
I love this job!
THE OVAL OFFICE
Bush: I tell you, Karl, you're gonna earn your money, OR NOT, as we reach
November. I understand why you had me confirm that the CIA was indeed
running secret interrogation camps abroad where we could extract
confessions from those high-level al-Qaida prisoners: My announcement was
so we could box in the Democrats and announce some high-publicity
terrorist trials prior to the elections, especially since we can't produce
Osama bin Laden, dead or alive.
But I'm taking a big hit on that one -- first you had me denying we
tortured, and now I'm talking about all the valuable info we got from guys
we sent to the secret CIA interrogation centers where we tortured them. I
feel like an idiot! And it gets worse. Now with the Senate Intelligence
Committee report virtually saying we lied big time to get the country into
Iraq, I'm radioactive out there. Goddamn it, our side controls that
committee, and they issue that kind of damning report! Not even Pat
Roberts could stop it. This is terrible!
No Republican running for re-election wants to be seen, or associated,
with me. I raised lots of money for those ungrateful fuckers, and now
they're behaving like they don't even know me. I'm toxic, I tell you.
People boo me, make fun of me on TV, demonstrate wherever I go. Was fun
when it was happening to Bubba during Lewinsky, but it's just vicious now.
Rove: Yeah, we're gonna have to take some big lumps for the next few
months. But remember that it's all done to keep the House. The more races
we can pull out for Republicans -- and our demonizing the Democrats as
soft-on-terrorism may be starting to work -- the less I have to worry
about those election-result numbers on Voting Day. That's risky business,
you know. Luckily, before the Dems were aware of our plans, we had Denny
Hastert swear in Bilbray, even though his San Diego victory numbers
weren't officially certified in his home county. Might have been a bit
outside the law, but one more vote for our side.
Bush: Your election strategy better pay off, Turdblossom, or it's the
crapper for all of us.
DONALD RUMSFELD'S OFFICE
Stephen Cambone: Well, the Dems' attempt at getting you fired fizzled
Rumsfeld: It was just political theater: They knew it wasn't going to
happen. They still are pussies, too afraid to go frontally after Cheney
and Bush, so I'm the designated punching bag. I can take it.
But unless things improve soon in Iraq, I may have to resign at some point
before November. Damn those Iraqis! This was all supposed to come out
different: We march in there, topple Saddam, they cheer and start working
with us to reconstruct the country, install democracy and free markets,
the rest of the Middle East follows Iraq's lead. Instead, those ungrateful
Iraqi bastards start attacking us, and Iraqis across the board want us to
leave so the level of violence will go down.
Cambone: Well, at least the pundits are not talking about torture and Abu
Ghraib anymore, where, I remind you, both you and I are extremely
vulnerable. At least, we've got Americans' anger directed onto Iraqis who
are killing each other in 'sectarian strife' -- no 'civil war' admitted --
and on how the new Iraqi government is starting to take over control of
their own security, with us 'helping' them a bit, of course.
Rumsfeld: Yes, torture's sorta off the table. But our big plans to remake
the geopolitical map of the Middle East is in great jeopardy -- unless we
can pull out something that we can spin as a sort-of victory in Iraq, so
our military forces can be freed up for Iran.
Ken Mehlman (on phone): Look, I understand why your gay magazine wants me
to talk about my sexual orientation, but you've got to understand that the
political situation is really tenuous right now. Maybe I'll be in a
position to speak more about this issue after the elections. But we have
to keep a united front with religious conservatives and fundamentalists at
least up until election day in November. And even mentioning gays without
a pejorative can rile them up and they might sit on their hands on
No, I can't fix you up with Jeff. Goodbye.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN'S OFFICE
Unidentified Staffer: Senator, I just don't see how it can be done.
McCain: I haven't quite got it figured out either. I can't run to the
right of the Bushies, as those voters don't trust a Republican 'maverick.'
And I can't run to the left of the moderates, since my strong pro-war,
anti-abortion stands wouldn't stand that much scrutiny. So I guess I have
to keep running somewhere in between those two, branding myself as a
likeable, honest hard-liner but definitely independent and not as arrogant
or lunatic as the crowd in power now. So that means bashing Bush on
certain policies, but cuddling up to the fundamentalist base for support.
Staffer: That's a mighty dangerous high-wire act -- lots of heavy
political wind up there.
McCain: You got it. But what am I going to do? I'm more than 70 years old,
and this is my last shot. I've got to do the political zig-zag dance: step
to the right to win the nomination, step to the center to win the
Staffer: You don't think Rove and the rightwingers won't shoot you down
again as they did so viciously in South Carolina in 2000?
McCain: They might, in which case this time I'll take 'em on and go for
their jugular. But I don't think they will. They want Republican rule to
extend into perpetuity, so they can keep collecting all the power and
money goodies. I can win the middle, and they know that. So I won't be
exactly what they're looking for, but they can live with me in the White
House, since they can continue making out like bandits with them in
control of Congress and in wars abroad. It's a win-win, baby!
Those excerpts should indicate that my Flying Wi-Fi
inventor-friend is quite correct. The word "bugging" is about to take on a
whole new meaning. And a whole new career for scores of privacy attorneys
joining the ACLU. #
Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner
*For two articles about the fictitious "truth spray,"
link. Bernard Weiner, a poet-playwright, worked as a writer/editor
with the San Francisco Chronicle, has taught government & international
relations at various universities, and currently co-edits The Crisis
Papers (www.crisispapers.org). For comment: