Friday, April 25, 2008

Churches Share Help with Al Qaeda

Samantha Tillich, Staff Writer

The War on Terror is a new kind of war. In order to fight this new war, the CIA has been using novel, untested techniques. The latest strategy is to enlist mainline Christian churches for the battle.

The CIA has been recruiting special agents from churches and denominational offices across the country. These agents will then infiltrate Al Qaeda cells in order to teach the terrorist groups one of the staples of modern church life: paperwork. The concept is that the more Al Qaeda is mired in bureaucracy, the less it is able to engage in effective terrorism.

A high-level CIA employee who spoke only on condition of anonymity (though his name rhymes with “Pomas Tarker”) was involved in the first wave of recruiting church members. He said the idea developed from a report that suggested that Al Qaeda is already suffering from organizational malaise. “We hope that by introducing church bureaucrats into Al Qaeda, we can speed the process, and that will lead to a rapid, widespread collapse [of the terrorist organization],” he said.

The September report was released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The report includes memos from Al Qaeda supervisors who complain about questionable use of funds and sick leave, and failing to submit proper vouchers to Al Qaeda accountants.

The Los Angeles Times, in a story on April 16 (Sebastian Rotella, “Al Qaeda crosses the Ts in ‘terrorist’”), said, “[Captured documents] depict an organization obsessed with paperwork and penny-pinching and afflicted with a damaging propensity for feuds.”

The story also quoted a British official who said that the “blindingly obdurate nature” of the bureaucracy can be deduced from “the retirement packages they offered, the lists of members in Iraq, the insecure attitude about their membership, [and] the rifts among leaders and factions.”

This is precisely why using church members as undercover agents makes such good sense, insists the CIA employee whose name rhymes with Pomas Tarker.

“Churches already know how to do this stuff well,” he said. “Every mainline denomination in the land is up to its ears in paperwork, regulation and institutional doublespeak. They are worried about membership and paying the bills. As churches become more effective at maintaining their institutions, they are becoming less effective at fulfilling their primary mission.

“If we can infect Al Qaeda with that disease,” he continued, “then perhaps they’ll lose members as fast as our churches. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Dial "1" and the Number of the Beast

Bartholomew Dawkins, Staff Writer

Even in the best of situations, telephone area code splits carry the potential of public protest. Businesses must cover the expense of changing stationery. Reprogramming numbers in cell phones and databases is time consuming, and certain area codes--like some zip codes--carry a status that current customers do not want to lose.

The proposed area code split in Florida is not the best of situations, far from it. In March, BellSouth Telecommunications announced it would spawn a new code from the 904 area of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Residents of St. Augustine and nearby communities were immediately up in arms over their new area code, and their outrage was expressed more strongly than usual.

The reason? BellSouth proposed 666 as the new code.

“It’s the mark of the beast,” growled Pastor Tim Robbinsky of Holy Ghost Dove of Peace Apostolic Temple. “BellSouth wants to give the devil a foothold in our nation. If you give that forked-tongued, hoof-footed creature an inch, he’ll take a mile every time. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

“Is this a joke?” St. Augustine Chamber of Commerce President Leonora Poe wondered. “They can’t be serious about this. It would be mean death for our business community.”

BellSouth representatives would not comment on the record, but one employee promised that the 666 area code was not a joke and that the company “has a good reason for this.” It should also be noted that BellSouth’s hold music at the corporate office is a selection of muzac versions of AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Miley Cyrus songs.

Telecommunications expert and theologian Marcus Borg said that BellSouth might not have much of a choice. “There are only so many three-digit numbers available, and it is widely known that AT&T already has all the good ones.”

Most people in St. Augustine do not care why BellSouth chose 666. They are demanding a new number. “I don’t care if we get triple zero. Just give us anything but 666,” said Hillary McCain, president of the hastily formed “St. Augustinians Against Satan,” a collection of citizens who want BellSouth to reconsider.

Not everyone, however, is upset at the potential change. Carl Clements, owner of Satan’s Kittens, a strip club in Old Town, is thrilled. “How perfect is this? We’ll be getting a ton of free publicity out of our new 666 code.

“By the way, Tuesdays are Ladies’ Nights,” noted Clements.

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