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Volume 16, Issue 5: Liturgia

Cheese of Mass Destruction

Peter J. Leithart

While liberals in the Democratic Party and the media were ridiculing the Bush Administration claims concerning Iraqi WMDs, a story buried, ironically enough, in the back pages of the August 15 issue of Le Monde passed with little notice. Yet, it could hold the key to solving the mystery of Saddam's disappearing stockpile.

According to the story, nearly six months ago Polish soldiers discovered in one of Saddam's many palaces a vast basement area entirely packed with large crates labeled "fromage." In one small corner of the basement, there was a strange device, but, after testing the device, the Poles ignored it and carted away the cheese to distribute to hungry Iraqis. Apparently embarrassed, American military officials tried to keep the story out of the public eye.
Le Monde had a field day. "Fromage de destruction en masse?" ran the mocking headline. The writer claimed that while Americans pretended to cower in fear of Saddam's WMDs, the Iraqi dictator was stockpiling nothing more dangerous than Brie. Indeed, he went on, the quality of the cheese, not to mention its French provenance, was a sign of Saddam's civilized taste. Who, he concluded, is a greater threat to civilization—a charmingly pompous, slightly bullying ruler in the Middle East who relishes his Auvergne or Camembert, or an American President who puts American cheese on his hamburgers and probably enjoys Velveeta? From Paris, the question answers itself.
American intelligence, however, has come to very different conclusions about the Polish discovery. Of course, liberal rags like Le Monde and the New York Times have ignored this side of the story altogether, leaving the diligent researcher to search the nooks and crannies of journalism, the mysterious "hidden links" of the Drudge Report for further information. From such reliable sources as The Really Real Soldier of Fortune and Uncensored CIA Documents Illustrated, I have gathered the following facts.
Shortly after the Polish discovery, American scientists began an analysis of the device that was stored with the cheese. They found an odd machine consisting of a tub attached to a long tube that led into a rubbery sack, from which radiated a complicated network of intertwining tubes of various diameters. At the end of each of the tubes was a beaker-like container. When the analysts cranked up the two-cycle engine that drives it, the tubes and sack started undulating. They found that when cheese was placed in the tub, it would be forced through the tube to the sack, and then be distributed into the exit tubes. At the end of the process, liquids of varying viscosity, solids, and some gases filled the beakers.
The shock came when they began to test the end products of the process. Different kinds of cheese produced different products, but in each case the process produced some form of biological or chemical agent that could be used in creating WMDs. Putting Brie through the device yielded anthrax powder; Roquefort produced a noxious gas that closely resembled mustard gas; astonishingly, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre supplied a high grade of uranium suitable for nuclear weapons and Camembert yielded plutonium. As I write, experiments are continuing, but it is now widely believed in the American intelligence community that Saddam was capable of producing virtually all the components necessary for world domination from French cheeses.
For the last few months federal agencies have been keeping a close eye on cheese sales, especially in large quantities, and they are scrambling to hire several thousand additional analysts with dairy experience. Leading lawmakers are considering adding a cheese provision to the Homeland Security Act, and international intelligence has been closely monitoring cheese purchases abroad. The Bush Administration has quietly imposed a complete ban on cheese sales to Iran, North Korea, and Syria, though they kept the decision under wraps until after the Presidential election, as Wisconsin was considered a battleground state.
The President's greatest fear is that, somewhere in the bleak borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of Osama bin Laden's aides, now posing as a humble goat-herder, is stopping to take a closer look at the slice of goat cheese he eats for lunch, and thinking to himself, "I wonder if. . . ." In the intelligence community, that is what is known as a nightmare scenario.

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