I had called upon my friend, Mr. Dick Cheney, one day last year and discovered him in deep conversation with a stout, swarthy fellow wearing a beautifully tailored dark suit and a ghutra.
Offering an apology for my intrusion, I prepared to withdraw when Cheney pulled me hastily into the room and shut the door. "You could not possibly have arrived at a more propitious time, my dear Abrams," he whispered excitedly.
"Allow me to wait in the next room," I pleaded.
"Nothing of the sort, Elliot," Cheney replied, then he turned to his guest. "Mr. Abrams is my Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, and has partnered with me in many of my intrigues. He will be supremely useful in ours, too."
The portly gent half rose from his chair and said, "Salaam alaykum, kaif halak," with a wily glance at me from his beady fat-rimmed eyes.
"Try the love seat," said Cheney as he collapsed into his armchair. "I know, my dear Abrams, that like me, you relish all that is bizarre, all that is outside convention and common sense."
"Indeed," I observed, reflecting back on my role in the Iran-Contra Scandal, when I was Ronald Reagan's Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs.
Cheney's eyes sparkled as he continued. "You will recall that I remarked the other day, with regards to our new strategic alignment in the Middle East, that for odd effect and extraordinary combination, nothing could possibly top U.S.backing of Sunni jihadists to oppose Iran, Syria, and their Shia allies."
"That is far more daring than any endeavors of orderly imagination in the Pentagon," I exclaimed.
As was his custom when in judicious moods, Cheney placed his fingertips together. "That is precisely the proposition which I take the liberty of making now," he said. "Prince Bandar Bin Sultan here has been good enough to commit to covertly funding the Sunni Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, and to promise me that the Saudis can control these jihadists - that we will not be giving rise to another al Qaeda."
The chubby member of the Saudi royal family puffed out his chest with pride. "My country's reputation, such as it is, will suffer ignominy if this is not so," he assured me.
"What in blazes will all this intend?" I questioned.
Cheney chuckled. "Trust me," he said...
From USA TODAY
May 21, 2007
TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) - Artillery and machine gun fire echoed around a crowded Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday as the Lebanese government ordered the army to finish off the Fatah Islam militants holed up inside the refugee camp in the country's north.
The fighting - which resumed for a third straight day after a brief nighttime lull - reflected the government's determination to pursue the Islamic militants who staged attacks on Lebanese troops on Sunday and Monday, killing 29 soldiers. Some 20 militants have also been killed, as well as an undetermined number of civilians...
The fighting has also raised fears that Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war could spread in a country with an uneasy balancing act among various sects and factions...