Don't Stop the ACLU

Friday, May 12, 2006

QWEST - A one-act , one-scene drama, with apologies to Billy Shakes

Dramatis Personae
NSA
intelligence agency

BELLSOUTH
telecommunications company

AT&T
telecommunications company

VERIZON
telecommunications company

QWEST
telecommunications company

LAERTES
NSA's dead buddy's angry son

HORATIO
himself


Act I - Scene 1

Washington. A bunker 500 feet below a D Street Burger King.

NSA at the far end of a long table. Enter AT&T, BELLSOUTH, VERIZON, and QWEST

NSA
Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining me. Have a Danish. We'll cut right to the chase. We're going to need your records of every call ever placed by any person who has ever touched a telephone in the United States. Ever.

QWEST
What for?

NSA
Freedom, War on Terror, al-Qaeda, national security, yadda yadda yadda. Did I mention freedom?

BELLSOUTH
Sounds good! Here ya go!

VERIZON
Glad to help! Anything else you need? Credit card numbers? Incriminating photographs?

AT&T
Wait a minute. What about our customers' privacy?

[Beat]

NSA
Ha-ha-ha! You're too much, AT&T!

AT&T
I almost had you! You almost fell for it!

NSA
You old dog. I thought we were gonna have to break you up again! Ha-ha-ha!

AT&T
Ha-ha-ha! Of course you can have our records!

QWEST
So anyway, do you have a warrant?

NSA
A wha?

QWEST
A warrant. A judicial writ authorizing an officer to make a search, seizure, or arrest or to execute a judgment.

NSA
Ha-ha-ha! Don't you start now, you kidder.

QWEST
No, seriously. Do you have a warrant?

NSA
Of course not! Why would we need a warrant? What are you getting at?

QWEST
I just think that if you want us to violate our customers' trust and privacy you should do it legally and get a warrant.

AT&T
Settle down, Qwest. It's not like --

QWEST
Shut up, fatty.

NSA
Look, Qwest. We only want the numbers. We're not even going to look at them. We're just going to run 'em through the old IBM and see if any terrorists come up. It's a very small, limited program that involves only every American who has ever used a phone. What's the big deal? You don't support the terrorists, do you?

QWEST
Huh? Did you just --

Enter Laertes

LAERTES
Did someone say "terrorist?" My father was killed by a terrorist! Did you kill my father?

QWEST
What? No! All I said was --

NSA
I'd hate to see you lose lucrative government contracts. That would be an awful shame. Besides, the president said there's nothing to worry about. Are you calling the president a liar?

QWEST
No! Of course I'm not!

Enter Capt. Rational

CAPT. RATIONAL
I am.

NSA
Who let you in here?

CAPT. RATIONAL
Sorry.

Exit Capt. Rational

LAERTES
I demand retribution!

QWEST
Who the hell are you?

LAERTES
I represent angry conservatives who would sacrifice any civil liberty that the president asks us to so long as his request is preceded by the words "freedom," "terror," and "security."

NSA
Are you guys gonna fight or what?

Laertes charges Qwest. They fight. Qwest and Laertes are mortally wounded

LAERTES
Sorry, man. I didn't think it would come to this.

QWEST
I forgive you. Still, this is some serious bullshit.

Laertes dies. Enter Horatio

HORATIO
What the fuck just happened here?

QWEST
Well, that guy called me a terrorist, and then that other guy tried to kill me, but he died in the process, and now I'm about to die too. This is the price of freedom... or something like that.

HORATIO
This shit is really fucked up. I'd rather die than live here anymore. Got any poison?

QWEST
No, don't do that. Spread the word; make things better! You know: Be the voice of reason!

Qwest dies.

NSA
That's a real pity, isn't it?

HORATIO
I thought you were supposed to die, too.

NSA
You'd think so, but there's no stopping the NSA. Besides, this is a really bad parody and we don't need to follow the rules. You guys didn't even do the skull bit.

HORATIO
You're a real asshole, you know that? You'll get yours.

NSA
I doubt it.

Exeunt
posted by Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV at 9:36 PM

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