A Disassociated Press Report, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2006
By Eric Mader
U.S. President George W. Bush today announced that his administration had ordered missile strikes on the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory off the northwest coast of Africa. The announcement was made at a special White House press conference.
"On my orders, the missile strikes were carried out this morning," Bush said. "We have struck a decisive blow against the threat of bird flu."
According to Pentagon sources, three sites on the tropical islands were hit in the strikes, and tens of thousands of tropical birds were felled.
"We will not shirk our responsibility to defend American birds from the spread of this deadly disease," Bush said. "Pre-emptive action was necessary to prevent canaries from the island from carrying the disease to European and American pet shops."
Asked by journalists why the Canary Islands were chosen for the strikes, the president insisted that his administration had reliable intelligence that the H5N1 virus and "other deadly bird agents" were present on the island, and that in any case he was not about to "seek a permission slip to defend our nation's fowl."
"Look at the name of the place," Bush said in explanation of the choice. "I mean, it's a no-brainer. In a war on bird flu, where else would you start?"
In an interview later in the day, White House spokesman Scott McClellan explained the difficulty the president had making the decision.
"The president had a pet canary when he was a boy," McClellan said. "It died only a few weeks after he got it, and he's always had a sore spot in his heart for the birds. This decision was especially difficult for the president to make."
According to sources at the State Department, Turkey's ambassador to the U.S. has requested an emergency meeting with the president to convince him that the name of his country has nothing to do with the bird.
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