WASHINGTON, DC—In a response to recent acts of extreme violence against Americans in Iraq and mounting criticism of U.S. military policy at home, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the government's new strategy of fighting terror with terror Monday.
"Look, in order to catch a rat, you gotta think like one," Rumsfeld said in a grainy and degraded videotape message filmed at an unknown location and released to CNN Monday. "We've been pussy-footing around the war on terrorism for years. All that time, the answer was right in front of us: In order to wipe out terror around the globe, once and for all, we've gotta beat them at their own game."
"We tried playing fair," Rumsfeld continued. "But how can you play by the rules when your opponent doesn't even know the rules? You don't bring a knife to a gunfight. That's just the way it is, folks. It's a dog-eat-dog world."
On the seven-minute tape, Rumsfeld is joined by counter-terrorist leaders Vice-President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft, each seated on folding chairs in front of an American flag. Ashcroft described some tactics the government currently uses—pre-dawn assaults on civilian targets and subjecting potential stateside traitors to psychological intimidation—as a "small step in the right direction."
"I can't really say what we have planned for the future," Rumsfeld said. "As terrorists, fear and uncertainty will be our best weapons. Let me just say that the gloves are off. It is inevitable that indiscriminate attacks will be carried out, and innocents will lose their lives, but the end will justify the means."
Rumsfeld refused to comment on the recent abuse of military prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, other than to characterize those abuses as "nothing compared to what we are capable of."
"It's vital to remember that these terrorists hate freedom," Rumsfeld said. "Well, guess what? From now on, we're going to hate it even more. Do you think terrorists care about due process and fair treatment of prisoners? Of course not. Why should we give them the upper hand? You fight fire with fire."
Cheney restated that the goal of the new policy is to put an end to terror around the world, once and for all.
"It's time to get this war over with," Cheney said. "The philosopher Eric Hoffer said, 'You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.' Well, we've been observing, but finally we've started taking notes. We'll have these terrorists running scared in no time."
Cheney urged Americans to "be on alert" in upcoming months.
"Seneca once said, 'To be feared is to fear: No one has been able to strike terror into others and at the same time enjoy peace of mind,'" Cheney said. "If we want these terrorists to fear the U.S., we as a people need to be filled with fear. Expect to see more heavily armed, uniformed officers, both at home and abroad."
Elliott Abrams, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director For Near East and North African Affairs, said that the Bush Administration acknowledged the ethical inconsistencies of its opposing-terrorism-through-terrorism stance, but doesn't really care.
"Look, any eighth-grader knows that the line between good and evil is blurry," Abrams said. "Our concern is the safety of the American people. An eye for an eye: Let's see if that plan works."
Abrams refused to provide clues about the time and method of attack, other than to allude to an "election-year surprise."
"Just wait and you'll see," Abrams said. "Martin Luther King said, 'Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.' Well, enemies of democracy and freedom around the world are going to find out just how right he was. They'll see just how dark it can get."
Experts from the Mukhabarat el-Aama Egyptian intelligence service have deemed the message authentic.
"There is no doubt who the men on the tape are," spokesman Sulieman Assad said. "Cheney can clearly be recognized from previous tapes, albeit a bit aged, and John Ashcroft is wearing his iconic stern, fanatical expression. I would recommend that the Arab world raise its security alert level to 'severe,' but apparently, it has already been that way for some time."