Magazine | April 18, 2011, Issue

NSA Document Extract

NSA Document Extract

POTUS Secured Communications

03.24.11 09:33EDT

Begin Extract

Static. Ringing.

Unidentified Male Voice: Hello?

POTUS: Mr. President? It’s Barack Obama.

UMV: Well hey. Hey! Barack Obama. Lemme just — Barb, can you turn that down? It’s Barack Obama. 

Unintelligible conversation.

UMV: Barbara, I’ve got no earthly idea, which is why I want you to turn that down.

Noises. Thumps. Silence.

UMV: Okay, Mr. President, all clear. What’s up?

POTUS: The reason I’m calling, Mr. President –

UMV: Call me George.

POTUS: Okay. George. And please call me Barack.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Not happening.

POTUS: The reason I’m calling is to ask some advice –

GEORGE H. W. BUSH:  — about Libya, right? Here’s what I’d do. Get the Arab League to get some more planes in the air. Qatar’s got at least 20 jets they took delivery of last spring, but so far they’ve only got two in the air. Same with the Emirati force. Base the whole thing in Doha — tell Sarkozy it’s for optics — then get some guys in dishdashas to stand over some theater maps. Good for the locals to see. Unfreeze the assets starting next week and watch where the money goes. My guess, it’ll start getting drained by nervous relatives. Let it go. When it all collapses, get the League to commit the scratch for a U.N. nation-building force, get the Saudis to maintain oil production, and wipe your hands of it. Meantime, make connections with League friendlies to insert other friendlies into the Syrian orgs, promise them whatever, get that started in earnest. Hands clean, no traces, pull a Syrian coup out of your hat, Libya neutralized, region stable but nervous, oil flows secure. Anything else?

POTUS: Um. Okay. Could you repeat some of that?

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: NSA’s got it recorded. Ask for the transcript.

End Extract.


03.24.11 09:44

Begin Extract.


Static. Ringing.

Unidentified Male Voice: Hello?

POTUS: George? It’s Barack.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Hey. Expected your call. Just got off the blower with Dad.

POTUS: I’m calling about the Libyan situation.

GEORGE W. BUSH: What’s the big deal? A couple of gals want to get it on, doesn’t seem like –

POTUS: No, George. Libyan situation. Not lesbian situation.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Sorry. I’m on the tractor. Hard to hear.

POTUS: What I’m trying to do is make the humanitarian case for our actions in Libya, and I’d like some advice about how to make it.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Seriously? My advice? Well, you could say that Qaddafi’s an evildoer –

#page#POTUS: I’d prefer to avoid that language.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh yeah. Right. But he is an evildoer. Right?

POTUS: I don’t like to judge.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Piece of advice: When you bomb the bejeezus out of a cat, you’re making a judgment.

POTUS: We’re doing this on purely humanitarian grounds. He’s a vicious –

GEORGE W. BUSH:  — dictator, yeah, I know this speech.

POTUS: He’s attacked his –

GEORGE W. BUSH:  — own people, yeah, Barack, I know this speech, okay? I gave it. I know it’s crawling up your butt, but the best thing for you to do is go back to some of my stuff and do a little cut and paste.

POTUS: We’re doing that. Except a lot of it is about WMDs.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. Well. At least we know that Qaddafi doesn’t have them. He gave ’em up after we invaded Iraq.

POTUS: Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Actually, it’s less complicated than that. Good luck with the no-fly zone. Don’t let Sarko run away with it.

End Extract.


03.24.11 10:01

Begin Extract.


Static. Ringing.

Unidentified Male Voice: Hello?

POTUS: Bill? It’s Barack.

BILL CLINTON: You called me last?

POTUS: Excuse me?

BILL CLINTON: You call both Bushes before me? What’s up with that?

POTUS: It’s not — it’s just that they both have experience in the region –

BILL CLINTON: I don’t have experience in the region? Any idea how many Sidewinders I let fly into Sudan? Into Somalia? Into Yemen? I’ve got experience in the region coming out of my –

POTUS: Okay. Okay. Fine. What’s your advice?

BILL CLINTON: All right. Okay, I forgive you. Here’s what I’d do. I’d sell the whole thing as a limited humanitarian military action, like we did in Yugoslavia.

POTUS: But that came awfully late. The war was practically over.

BILL CLINTON: Did you call me for advice or did you call me to nitpick?

POTUS: Anything else?

BILL CLINTON: Get one of the kids to Google some of W.’s speeches. Just go through them and cut and paste.

POTUS: That’s exactly what Bush told me to do.


Unidentified Male Voice: I told you it was great advice!


POTUS: George?


BILL CLINTON: I’ve got this “merge calls” button on my iPhone.


GEORGE W. BUSH: Tell you what, I’ll send you a whole box of some of my speeches. They’ve all got some humanitarian-mission stuff in ’em.


GEORGE W. BUSH: Not so easy, is it?

POTUS: Thank you both for your help.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Aw, c’mon. Don’t be mad.

BILL CLINTON: Next time, call me first.

End Extract.

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