Notes from the Brooklyn Front
March 20

   At 4 A.M. this morning America struck a coup against Iraq by jamming radar screens with chaff in order to elude aircraft detectors. In a retaliatory move, the Iraqis stymied the U.S. by releasing a video of a man with a mustache.
   The video is of importance in determining whether Saddam is alive. If the man in the video is Saddam, this could be an indication that he IS alive. On the other hand, the video could have been made before U.S. forces killed him.
   Preliminary analysis indicates that this video is different from previous footage of meetings held by Saddam since in no other video were the men sitting in this particular order. However intelligence sources say that at a meeting last month, the men sat in a different order for the morning session then changed places after lunch in anticipation of the need for confusion. For the final hour of the meeting they turned around and faced the opposite wall so as to look as though they were at still another meeting at another location.
   Saddam experts are focussing on jowl size and number of chins in determining whether the man in the video is Saddam. The mustaches have been determined to be identical which, however, is inconclusive since they are also identical to the mustaches of 20 other members of Saddam's cabinet, 158 members of his family, the Republican Guard and the Arab League. "That's what makes the East so goshdang inscrutable," said one expert who wouldn't give his name.
   Eyebrows could be a significant indicator but unfortunately the man in the video is wearing glasses. Saddam experts say they don't look like his usual glasses but then, he might have gotten a new prescription.
Hairline could also be a dead give away but the video Saddam is wearing a beret.
   Analysis continued until this afternoon when it was halted by the release of another video. Experts are currently trying to figure out whether the man in this video (who has a mustache) is the same as the one in the first video.
   Further confusion emerged at a press briefing today when someone asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld whether or not the war had begun.
   "Sir, we've all seen the bombs and mortar and we've heard the explosions," said a reporter later identified by seasoned reporters as a rookie. "But we were told we'd be filled with shock and wonder. Did you mean we'd be wondering what the hell we're doing in Iraq?"
   "Not 'wonder,' you moron," Rumsfeld replied evenly. "'Shock and AWE."
   "Oh. Well yes I guess I'm awed that we're in Iraq but frankly, Sir, shock? Are you kidding? Anyway, Sir, my question is, 'Are we having fun yet?'"
   "You'll know it when you see it," Rumsfeld replied with the half smile that accompanies his more sadistic responses.

March 21

   Operation Shock and Awe got underway today when U.S. and British forces liberated the shit out of Baghdad. Meanwhile at the port of Umm Qasr on the Kuwaiti border, in a moment of inappropriate exuberance, U.S. Marines hoisted the American flag.   "Take that down, you morons," their commander ordered.
   "Why, sir?" asked one of the Marines. "You mean we're not American?"
   "No, you idiot," the commander responded. "This isn't a conquest, it's a liberation."
   "Shall I hoist the Iraqi flag, then, Sir?"
   "Do whatever you want."
   "But the Iraqis are dead, Sir."
   In the North, hostilities between the Turks and the Kurds prompted one viewer to wonder who would be the first reporter to spoonerize the pair into "Kurks and Turds." The prize went to Wolf Blitzer.
   Today's press briefing was dominated by reporters pestering Ari Fleischer about whether President Bush was watching the war on television. They were disappointed to learn that no, he wasn't; the President was no fan of the tube. Some reporters voiced skepticism about this since they had noted the President's increasing resemblance to the recently deceased Mr. Rogers, as though he had donned the departed soul's gentle mantle. For instance the President had taken to speaking in a folksy manner of Iraq's "neighborhood."
   "Look, the President goes to bed at ten o'clock," an exasperated Fleischer told CNN's John King. "He doesn't have time to watch the news and if he did it wouldn't be CNN."
   The protestation served only to fuel reporters' suspicion that the President gets up at seven in order to watch Mr. Rogers reruns.
   Work continued on determining the identity of the man with the mustache in the video released by Iraqi officials yesterday. The CIA concluded that the voice was indeed Saddam's and that therefore the rest of the man may also have been Saddam. But sources within the intelligence agency told news reporters that they had been in touch with a former mistress of Saddam, now in exile, who maintained the man was not Saddam nor even one of his forty body doubles. The sources did not reveal how she knew. She did not, for instance, have access to the sort of data that would enable Monica Lewinsky (and now, thanks to her, anyone in the world) to identify President Clinton under certain circumstances.
   "That's why you shouldn't take a mistress," concluded CNN's Aaron Brown at the end of the report, to the titillated delight of the control room.
   "Or if you do, don't exile her," grumbled a producer who'd been round the block a few times.
   The CIA vigorously denied having used the consulting services of Saddam's ex-mistress.
   "Maybe it was the Pentagon," they suggested, an indication that their longstanding rivalry with the FBI is a thing of the past.

Jenna Orkin