Washington DC, June 15 2003 At a surprise press-conference at the White House today, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the Justice Department was issuing a warrant for the arrest of one Thomas Jefferson. As one out of four high school seniors in America (and one out of two of the most recent American Presidents) is aware, Mr. Jefferson was the third President of the United States. He is also considered the author of the Declaration of Independence, and it is this last fact that has apparently landed him in hot water with the government.
Ashcroft, addressing the media first, said “After consulting with my colleagues at the Office of Homeland Security, and reviewing the new code of laws known as the ‘Patriot Act’, Mr. [Secretary of Homeland Security Tom] Ridge, Mr. Rumsfeld and I have decided that several of Mr. Jefferson’s views are in direct conflict with the sovereignty of the United States.” Producing a copy of the Declaration of Independence, Ashcroft held it aloft and explained, “the treasonous views Mr. Jefferson expresses in this document cannot be ignored at a time when all Americans fear for the safety of their nation.”
As the bewildered members of the media stood and listened, most too stunned to take notes or speak, Ashcroft read an excerpt from the culpable document. “Mr. Jefferson makes little effort to hide his contempt for government when he writes, ‘whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness’.”
Rumsfeld then took the microphone to explain that Jefferson was believed to be in hiding, as he has not been seen publicly for more than one hundred years. “We believe this former statesmen may be operating in collusion with elements of Al Quaida, and may be hiding out in Syria or Iran.” Rumsfeld paused before adding that he was confident the “combined forces of America and our allies in the war on terror…” would bring Mr. Jefferson to justice, along with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Husein. “And I would caution any nation against harboring any of these enemies of democracy.”
The Secretary of Defense also told reporters that one of Jefferson’s homes had been cordoned off by federal agents and was being searched for evidence of his whereabouts. “This Monticello,” Rumsfeld sneered, pronouncing the foreign word as if it hurt his mouth to say it, “is not a small place. We are talking about a man who lived in absolute opulence, even having slaves at one point, while many in nearby Charlottesville labor and live in squalor.” Pausing and then scoffing derisively, he continued, “and it’s only 125 miles away from our nation’s capitol, I might add.”
After a question by one reporter, Rumsfeld admitted that there was a chance Jefferson was dead. “It’s possible that he was in one of the bunkers we struck early in the military action in Iraq,” Rumsfeld declared, stunning the media once again. “However,” he cautioned, “we cannot assume. It’s also possible that he’s hiding in a bunker somewhere with Osama, Saddam, and the weapons of mass destruction.” The Secretary went on to add that “Under the Patriot Act, his family members are being questioned, and if it is found that they’re withholding information about his whereabouts, they will be punished.”
Before any other questions could be formulated, the Attorney General retook the microphone and produced a sheet of paper from his breast pocket. “I think it’s important,” he said somberly, flattening the paper out before him, “that we keep in mind what’s at stake here”. With that, as he’s done at numerous press-conferences and bill hearings in the past 18 months, Ashcroft began to read off names of people killed in the September 11th attacks.