Vol. 2, Issue 22, June 1, 2004
Earthquake Memo Causes More Trouble at White House
A memo drafted by a Republican aide is continuing to cause problems for the Republican delegation, and has recently put the White House on the defensive as well.
"I want it perfectly clear that the President had nothing to do with this," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "This memo came as a complete surprise to us. Plus, the president had already vetoed the idea as being too expensive."
The memo was sent on March 12 by an aide in House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's office to the Pentagon. It inquired about whether the Army Corps of Engineers would be capable of triggering a massive earthquake in California capable of splitting the West coast from the mainland. It was leaked to the Washington Post by an anonymous tipster, Colonel Terence Alistair, who asked that his name not be used. Since then, Republicans have been alternately defending, disavowing, and reinterpreting the memo, depending on the time of day.
"Now look, I hate California as much as the rest of you," DeLay told reporters in March upon the inital publication of the memo in the Post. "But knocking off a big chunk of the continent isn't something you take lightly, even if it would permit the rest of the nation to conduct its business free from the lunatic left-wing ball and chain that state represents."
Despite recently electing a Republican governor, California has long been a Democratic stronghold, and it has more electoral votes than any other state. With polls showing the fall presidential elections likely to be perilously close, the loss of California's 55 electoral votes would be a significant boon for Republican incumbent George Bush.
"Obviously, if an earthquake caused California to slide off into the Pacific ocean on its own, that would be one thing," said McClellan. "But it would be highly questionable to seek to actually cause such an incident. Although it would not, technically, be illegal, just for the record."
The memo has recently been thrust back into the spotlight thanks to a document from the Army Corps of Engineers leaked to the Drudge Report website last week, which shows that an analysis was in fact completed and that the Corps had concluded the task was feasible, but would require detonating nuclear weapons in the San Andreas faultline.
"I find this deeply concerning," said California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I wouldn't mind ruling an offshore island nation, but it sounds like this plan is not being so careful about preserving the landmass integrity of the state. I think I'd better call George."
According to the Drudge Report, the Corps concluded that eighty to ninety high-yield nuclear weapons, positioned throughout the fault and detonated sequentially, could trigger an earthquake substantial enough to blast California free from the mainland.
"It will be necessary to take extreme precautions in placing these devices," said the Corps analysis; "because if not done correctly, we anticipate a significant risk to Nevada as well. Damaging Las Vegas could prove politically and financially costly."
Further complicating matters, the Homeland Security Department has denied that three suspicious devices found by local police in or near the San Andreas Fault in San Bernardino County last week are nuclear devices planted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Let me assure you that these devices are not in any way connected to the White House," said Tom Ridge, secretary of Homeland Security. "Our current theory is that they are in fact terrorist devices. However, in order to lure the terrorists back to the scene of the crime, we are for the moment leaving the devices in place." Ridge declined to speculate whether the devices would be capable of triggering an earthquake. In an unrelated coincidence, at the same press conference he announced a recall of all California Homeland Security personnel to Washington D.C. for a special round of secret vaccinations.
"On this one, I have to agree with the president that this is absurd," said presumed Democratic candidate John Kerry. "That memo was written in March, and I highly doubt that the Army could have conducted an analysis and planted the devices in less than three months."
"Never lose faith in our military," said the president.