WASHINGTON, DC—Unveiling its newest weapon in the fight against terrorism Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced the deputization of Rufus, a big ol' mongrel ornery enough to make Al Qaeda think twice about carrying out an attack against the U.S.

Ridge introduces Rufus to the national press corps.

"Rufus here has one wild hair up his ass 'bout most everything," said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, as he introduced the dog, a Rottweiler-pitbull-Doberman mix, to the White House press corps. "But I got a feelin' Rufus has a 'specially wild hair to fetch him up some of them Ay-rab terrorist types."

"Don't you, boy?" added Ridge, yanking hard on Rufus' choke chain as the dog barked and jumped to nip at his face. "Huh? I said don't you, boy? Hell, yeah!"

Attorney General John Ashcroft applauded the announcement, praising Rufus for his commitment to fighting terror, as well as for his unswerving loyalty to Ridge.

"No one can touch Rufus 'ceptin' Tom," Ashcroft said. "He plumb loves Tom. And he don't always growl at me no more since I done okayed his appointment and give him scraps of my beef jerky. But I sure as hell ain't goin' to try and pet him, on account of I need that hand to wipe my ass."

The primary role of Rufus—previously employed by a Georgetown-area Gas 'N' Go to intimidate drunken late-night patrons and would-be shoplifters—will be one of deterrence. Beginning June 1, the dog will be deployed to various U.S. bridges, national monuments, and other potential terror targets, where he will be chained to a pair of cinderblocks and instructed to bark, growl, and leap at potential terrorists—defined as individuals who come too close, make eye contact with him, or just don't smell right.

"The hijacker ain't been born that won't load up his overalls when ol' Rufus here up an' come at him," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said. "And if'n they don't run, well, they gonna be explainin' to the Muslim St. Peter why they's got a hole in 'em big enough to throw an angry cat through."

"That ol' dog's so mean, he ain't done nothin' but eat nails and shit nickels ever since he was born," added Ridge, holding back Rufus as the animal lunged at the throat of CNN commentator and former Clinton press secretary Paul Begala. "Lookit him go! Ain't he a caution? Two hunnert pounds a mean in a 80-pound bag, I swear."

Rufus' appointment has caused a considerable stir on Capitol Hill.

"That thing almost bit my fingers clean off," said U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who required rabies shots after offering Rufus one of his barbecued ribs in a gesture of bipartisan friendship. "It oughta be destroyed right quick-like. Or given overseas duty. This here's a civilized country."

Ridge, peering from beneath the bill of a "War On Terrorism" mesh trucker's cap, dismissed the complaint as "typical liberal hand-wringing."

"What, I ask you, do you expect?" Ridge said. "I trained Rufus up mean for deputyin' and catchin' the enemy. Done it right, by havin' a Secret Service boy rassle him up dressed in the sweaty old clothes of Guantanamo Bay prisoners every time I fed him. Which weren't any too often—we gotta keep him mad and hungry. Ain't my fault some Demmycrat sweat might smell just like the Taliban kind to Rufus."

Rufus is widely regarded as the meanest dog employed by the State Department since Bocephalus, a hard-on of a coon hound who was, by all accounts, crazier than possum fuck. Bocephalus made worldwide headlines in October 1979 when he attempted to tree the Ayatollah.