Tuesday October 10, 2006
Dear President Bush,
I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.
It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. For many years, we have watched your efforts to fulfil the requirements necessary to join our number. From the start, we were greatly impressed by your disdain for democratic principles - the way you wrested power from the democratically elected candidate in the 2000 election, and again in 2005 when you managed to swing what was clearly going to be a victory for your opponent.
Contempt for human life has always been a priority requirement for membership of the league, and I and my fellow adjudicators were well aware of your record as governor of Texas when you quadrupled the number of state executions. But your record since seizing power has surpassed even our expectations. The thousands of innocent people in Iraq, who have died so that you could fulfil your declared political objective of establishing "an American force presence in the Middle East", attest to your eligibility to join our ranks.
I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!
Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.
Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.
We approved of your attempts to establish the principles of arbitrary arrest under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but unfortunately it was still restricted to terror suspects. We appreciate that you were hampered by the US constitution, but the restrictions this imposed on your arbitrary powers kept you below the threshold requirements for qualification as a despot.
Now, however, all that has changed. At the end of last month you persuaded the Senate to pass a bill regarding the treatment of detainees. Illegally obtained evidence can now be used against suspects, even if it has been gathered abroad under torture. Anyone you care to accuse can be thrown into prison without the right to a trial or the right to represent themselves.
Officially the legislation is restricted to "enemy combatants", but you have skilfully adapted this definition to include anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the US". This presumably means that anyone who publicly criticises your conduct can be defined as supporting hostilities to the US. You are now free to arrest and imprison anyone you don't like. You've got it in the bag!
It is with great pleasure that we in the World League of Despots note that you have now appropriated to yourself all the powers of arbitrary arrest and torture that Saddam once enjoyed. You are now one of us. Congratulations!
· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python www.terry-jones.net