Smoke Signals From the Frontier

Hello, America: Iraqi citizens fire back and ring in the dawn of a shiny new era

How should you proceed when your country has lurched from dictatorship to full-blown democracy practically overnight? I have, to that end, scooped up the following queries (in some cases, the questions below have been excerpted, but never censored) and tossed them in my mouth, ingesting them, like a pill. And I allowed each of the following questions to take my body hostage, to rappel down the length of my spinal column, to waft through the mucific corridors of my vital organs—until I was finally able to pen an answer that qualified as "the truth." If the veridical nature of my responses serves as a plangent rebuke to the broadband propaganda currently choking up our communal air, so be it. But the principal impulse behind this project, of course, was to incite a dialogue between the Iraqi and American people. A kind of reverse interrogation, if you will. Only, in this case, the gun pointed at my head was my own. Therefore, it goes without saying that if heroic puissance were my conatus, I wouldn't be alive to type this. The gun was loaded. The failure of nerve, regrettably, all mine. Please do not let my cowardice be an example to you.

I would, in closing, like to express my gratitude to Rahbiya Swadi of the Institute for American Iraqi Relations, for her superb—and alas, gratis—translation services.


Q. As a recent graduate of Abu Ghraib, I am concerned. Truth be told, the interrogation techniques I was subjected to there were extremely effective. Getting everything off my chest like that felt enormously therapeutic. It was, like, a spiritual colonic or something. Anyway, after a dizzying four months spent crouched in a 3 x 4 cage my captors laughingly called Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned, I shuffled out the front gates of Abu Ghraib a free man. With a totally clean conscience and soul. But upon returning home late one night last month (after fruitlessly foraging for food in the dumpsters outside the Green Zone), I found that my wife was gone. My neighbors say they saw an American soldier leaving our house, my wife under his arm, kicking and screaming. And now, with the recent management overhaul at Abu Ghraib, I worry my wife won't experience the same spiritual benefits that I did there. And yet, because of a mountain of red tape, not to mention erratic or downright nonexistent visiting hours, all my attempts to check up on my wife's "progress" at Abu Ghraib have been forcefully denied. Any words of consolation, or encouragement, to reaffirm my belief in the American Detainment System? —SHAKEN, BUT STILL STIRRED

A. Dear Stirred, Your concern for your wife's emotional and spiritual well-being is certainly valid, but not to worry. Your wife is in "good hands" with our benevolent state, and if/when she returns home I think you'll find her imbued with the same aura of cleanliness that you so clearly cherish in yourself. Despite the recent media debacle, as well as the faux cries of indignation exploding throughout Congress, the Occupation Forces remain as dedicated as ever to the robust acquisition of actionable intelligence. In fact, the Pentagon has recently declared that, in accordance with the previously maligned Geneva Conventions, the primary interrogation technique currently being used on Iraqi detainees is non-lethal cannibalism (NLC). Still ambivalent? How's this for a track record: Dick Cheney is reputed to have perfected this same interrogation technique some years back on his own teenage daughter, when he first suspected her of being gay.


Q. The Coalition has recently begun dropping leaflets that contain excerpts from our new constitution. At the bottom of each leaflet, in small print, is the disclaimer that this is an Uncorrected Galley Proof. So far, what I've read on these leaflets hasn't exactly been mind-blowing (and I'm not referring to the erroneous verb conjugations, the inaccurate shifts in tense, the piacular degradation of our mother tongue, etc.). But then again, these leaflets are merely fragments. It's always different when you sit down and read the whole banana from beginning to end. My question: Will our constitution possess the same redoubtable, buoyant quality that has made your American constitution such an enduring document for the ages? —SONGS OF FREEDOM, SONGS OF DESPAIR

A. Dear Songs, Your constitution will have the canonical heft of a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry chapbook. Because the Iraqi constitution, like all constitutions, is nothing more than vanity publishing to the nth degree. But there is one particular passage from your new constitution that warrants serious study: the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment begins by proclaiming, "We hereby declare it is against the law for Iraqi citizens to copulate in any fashion other than the 43 positions/procedures outlined below, all of which are named after presidents of the United States." The Eighth Amendment amounts to a kind of Kama Sutra for the new millennium. Lest you find this disconcerting, please know that here in America we've long been fucking in these "presidential positions," and have found them to be, on the whole, rousingly obliquitous. On a personal note, my favorite position is the oft neglected Dwight D. Eisenhower (pronounced I-zen-hammer). Just last week my neighbors, Luke and Judy, appeared on my doorstep, asking if I'd like to come over and "kick it" at their house for a while. To which I replied, "True dat." So the three of us repaired to Luke and Judy's moonlit backyard, where the machinery was already set up. I slipped into the rubber Cock Sling Suit, and then crawled hesitantly up onto the flanged, metal buttress. Luke's wife, Judy, with a ceremonial flourish, stuck the barbecue lighter to the fuse. I crouched into the bore, and felt a deep heat on my backside, then heard a hissing noise. Judy yelled, "Man in the hole." I cannot bear to relay to you in detail what happened next. I can only quote verbatim for you from my Joy of Patriotism manual what ensued that fateful night:

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