We're attacking Iraq, please don't tell!

From: Director of CIA

To: All Secret Agents (you know who you are)

Re: Secret War Plans (shhhhhh!)

The President (code name: George W.) is increasingly alarmed about leaks concerning our plans to attack a certain country in the Middle East (rhymes with "I pack").

Despite our best efforts – including wide distribution of Cap'n Crunch Decoder Rings – rumors of our intentions to change the regime of S.H. (use the ring, use the ring!) continue to appear in the press.

(Plans to topple the NYT will be discussed in our next midnight meeting at the Big Oak Tree. George W. to bring s'mores.)

What's more troubling, I saw on CNN (Cable [something?] Network) that members of Congress are openly debating our war plans. We cannot and will not tolerate these threats to democracy. Effective immediately – or when the little hand reaches the 9 – all agents should institute the following top-secret precautions:

1) Remove "We're Comin' to Get YOU, Saddam!" bumper stickers from all undercover automobiles and trucks.

2) When making obscene phone calls to the Iraqi Royal Palace, put a cloth over the mouthpiece to disguise your voice.

3) Discreetly float decoy stories about US plans to attack France to confuse the enemy. (IMPORTANT: Do not actually attack France without prior approval!)

4) Agents who pose as Middle East experts should remove their CIA pocket protectors when appearing on Sunday morning TV shows. (And when sending thank-you notes to the interviewer, sign your name in invisible ink.)

By following these simple precautions, we can significantly reduce the level of preattack transparency and preserve the all-important element of surprise.

Signed,

XXX

(Agents who do not receive a hard copy of this memo can read it on the FOX News Network at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.)

• Ron Charles is the Monitor's book editor and an occasional satirist.

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