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Resolving the Detainee Problem

another successful government program for winning the war on terrorism

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From: Don Rumsfeld, Secretary, Department of Defense

To: Concerned Citizen

Subj: Resolving the Detainee Problem

          Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and al Qaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, as well as those sequestered at undisclosed locations under the rendition protocol in an effort to protect you and your family, your friends and neighbors, your colleagues and associates. Our administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear in our nation's capital.

          You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of good citizens just like you, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" project, or LARK for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new government program for winning the war on terrorism, we have decided to place one captive terrorist under your personal care.

          Your personal detainee has been selected, and is scheduled to be transported by a heavily armed guard for delivery to your private residence not later than next Monday.

          Your detainee, Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed), is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your recent letter of admonishment. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers, but we know that you will not permit minor inconveniences to hinder your absolute dedication. We will conduct weekly inspections of your detainee and his detention area to ensure that your standards of care for your personal detainee (ie: Ahmed) are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.

          Your detainee's meal requirements are fairly simple, given the dietary restrictions imposed by Islam, but we strongly suggest serving meals that do not require utensils, particularly knives and forks. Also, meals should be composed of "one-handed" foods since your detainee (ie: Ahmed) will not eat with his left hand, reserving it to wipe himself after purging his bowels — which he will do anywhere except a toilet — but look on the bright side: no increase in the water bill or grocery bill for toilet tissue, no environmental impact from wasted water or trees pulped for toilet paper.

          Your detainee generally bathes quarterly with the change of seasons, but only if it has lately rained, and like most medieval primitives, he uses this happy occasion to simultaneously wash his minimal clothing. We know that you, as a doctrinaire ecologist, believe that this abstinence is a higher form of devout environmentalism, but it is actually only another case of cultural bias, which entails some unfortunate ramifications. We regret to inform you that your detainee has a really bad case of body lice that's resistant to medical treatment, and will probably never be remedied. We recommend that children and pets be kept at a safe distance from your personal detainee to avoid contagion.

          Please heed the large orange notice attached to each side of your detainee's cage: "Does not play well with others." Although your detainee (ie: Ahmed) is sociopathic and extremely violent, we hope that your immoderate sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws. Think of this arrangement as a testing laboratory where you will have the opportunity to prove your hypothesis: "Give love a chance!"

          Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. He will bite you, given the chance, but we have had him tested, so you are not at risk from rabies and other diseases transmitted by saliva and sputum. We understand that you, as a laudable gesture of benevolence, plan to offer counseling and homeschooling. Your adopted terrorist is very proficient in hand-to-hand combat, and can extinguish human life with such simple everyday items as a pencil or nail clippers. We recommend that you do not invite him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga session or play date. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may want to keep access to those items locked away — unless (in your opinion) this eminently reasonable precaution might offend him.

          Because Muslims regard females as a subhuman form of property, your detainee will not welcome interaction (except sexually) with the female members of your household, so your wife and daughters should be isolated from the possibility of any inadvertent exposure to a cross-cultural conflict. Although this cultural bias is contradicted by the teachings of the suras, your adopted terrorist follows the crazed mumblings of fanatical imams and other zealous bigots. Consequently, this orientation makes him eager to assist with the education of your male relatives, so provide him with several copies (some in translation) of the Koran / Qur'an for this proselytism.

          And rest assured that your personal detainee loves animals, especially cats and dogs. He prefers them cooked on a skewer in the traditional shish kebab manner, but raw is fine, too, if they aren't more than two or three days dead. You may want to keep smaller children out of his reach.

          In fact, you may consider the responses of your adopted terrorist to culture shock to be somewhat over reactive and absurd — although they are quite predictable to an ordinarily observant and rational adult. Your detainee will consider books and magazines, secular music and sensual videos to be satanic and such fiendish fare will provoke him to violence! He cannot be soothed by soft tunes and pretty pictures — it will only remind him of Western decadence!

          Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when good folks like you, who always know so much more than the rest of us, take the time and effort to keep us informed of the proper way to do our job. We think that this watching over each other's shoulder is such a positive way for people to interact that we will soon be sending a team of federal officials with almost no expertise in your line of work to your place of business, just to help you do your job better. Don't be concerned that they have the power to close your business, seize your property, and arrest you for any violation of the 4,850,206 laws, codes, regulations and rules that apply to your profession. They're really there just to make sure you're doing everything the proper way — that's what you wanted — right?

          Well, thank you for this opportunity to interact with such a valued member of the citizenry. Be sure to take good care of your personal detainee (ie: Ahmed) — and remember — we'll be watching.