Not pinpricking Syria

After President Obama announced to the Nation and the World “Let me make something clear: the United States military doesn’t do pinpricks” – see the White House text – I went over to the NSA and spoke with Colonel George Dapper of the Secret Pinprick Division.

Me: “The President says that you don’t exist. Or he may mean that if you would exist then you don’t do anything. But I saw you the other day visiting the President on Martha’s Vineyard. What is happening here ?”

Col GD: “Of course the President has to say that. We are a Secret Division, hence he cannot speak about us, or has to deny that we exist or do anything. You have never heard about ‘plausible deniability’ ?”

Me: “I recall a confusing discussion about that.”

Col GD: “But let us discuss our activities in the abstract. Like Galileo was allowed to discuss that the Earth moves around the Sun but only hypothetically.”

Me: “I love a hypothetical discussion that helps me avoid ending up on burning stack of pins. So what does your Division do, hypothetically speaking, that is ?”

Col GD: “We are the most important and most underrated Division in the NSA, Pentagon and CIA. Those other agencies cannot do anything before we have charted the terrain and made first contact. It is only after we are finished and when it appears that the target needs more prodding, that they are allowed to step in and bomb the target.”

 Me: “Ah, you must be the most cost-saving division ! You prevent that we have to spend millions of dollars on bombs on targets that are no good anyway.”

Col GD: “In a way that is true. Where-ever you don’t see a bomb, there we have been successful in preventing its being dropped. In practice it is more complicated. Pinpricking appears to be a very expensive activity. Our operatives are highly trained and thus earn top dollar. The Defence budget could save a lot of money if we just bombed everyone and forgot about the preliminary pinpricking phase.”

“Let me explain about the training. You must hold your pin steady and not let go. It is all too tempting to stick it into the target and leave it there, but this would give the wrong message that you don’t care about the pin and its pricking. The very purpose of the pinprick is to prove that you do care ! Hence you hold on to it, till the target notices that you are there, holding on to your pin. The delicate movement then is to extract the pin, hover for a moment, and then prick again ! And again, if necessary. The objective is to make the target aware that it is a target, so that it knows that it has been chosen by the most powerful nation in the world to be pinpricked.”

“You hold on to your pin also because you don’t want to lose it. Our operatives are trained to keep track of their pins. Those are colour coded so that it’s easy to see when one would be missing. If one is lost, it may be the proverbial needle in the haystack to recover it. We cannot have the pins just laying around. Before you know some other country or even a terrorist group gets hold of a pin, and then this awful weapon is turned against the USA itself. Our operatives are trained to guard their pins with their life. Most of the US Navy operations around the world have actually the purpose to protect our operatives and their pins, so that those do not fall into enemy hands.”

“It is also a dynamic situation. The target moves. People tend to think of a pin cushion that just lays there and that is easy to pinprick. In reality, targets are aware of what might be coming to them and tend to move about. There will also be third party enemies or even allies who have their own objectives and try to pinprick the target too. There is no way to predict what a target may do when various of the world’s secret pinpricking agencies are on its trail. This causes most of our counter-intelligence.”

“In training, our operatives also learn to hold the pin in the right direction, so that they don’t prick themselves inadvertently. This might seem obvious, but other Divisions at NSA, Pentagon and CIA have often forgotten about this, and have started operations that have severely hurt mostly the USA itself.”

Me: “I see that I have severely misunderestimated the importance of the US pinpricking activity. I am glad of having you around, hypothetically speaking, that is. It would be horrible if the World and all our enemies out there, if not our allies, would discover what we have been doing to them all these years.”

“Still, I am a bit worried about the President’s choice of words. He actually blowed the whistle on this, and he will be in serious trouble if the US military actually has to do a pinprick. Would it not have been wiser to leave this comment out of his speech entirely ?”

Col GD: “The White House has come around and agrees that this shouldn’t have happened. We just got notice that the speech writer has voluntarily signed up for our training and target practice. As a target, that is.”


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