From The Archives -- The Kringlebase Incident

[ Posted Thursday, December 18th, 2014 – 18:03 UTC ]

[Program Note: No fresh column today, sorry, but I am up to my eyeballs in getting my year-end awards columns (the first of which runs tomorrow) ready. Consider today's comments section an "open thread" where you can suggest any notable names for the various "McLaughlin Awards" I hand out every year. Here is Part 1 and Part 2 of last year's awards, so you can see the category list (which is extensive). Let me know your suggestions in the comments! Also, further programming news: next week we'll have a column Monday and Tuesday, but will then take a break until Friday, when the second installment of this year's awards will run. In any case, please enjoy the following, which was last year's Christmas column.]


Originally published December 23, 2013

Ho, Ho, Holy Cow -- Santa Gets Fighter Escort On U.S. Military Site (Reuters)

A U.S. military website showing Santa Claus delivering his presents while guarded by warplanes has some children's advocates worried.

In a twist to its tradition of tracking an animated version of Santa Claus' sleigh and reindeer as he flies around the globe on December 24, the military is adding the animated fighter plane escort to give a realistic feel to the popular feature, said a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

"We wanted to let folks know that, hey, this is a NORAD video, and we're the military and this is our mission," said the spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis.

[Note: The above article is real. What follows, however, is not.]

We hereby interrupt our live coverage of Pope Francis leading Midnight Mass this Christmas Eve, because we've got some breaking news from the Pentagon. We apologize for pre-empting our traditional Christmas Eve programming, and promise we will continue our coverage after the newsbreak, on a slight time delay so our viewers won't miss a single minute of the Pope.

We take you now to our Pentagon correspondent, who is awaiting the start of this extraordinary and unprecedented Christmas Eve press conference...

...Thanks, guys. We're here at the Pentagon because of some breaking news involving none other than Santa Claus. Yes, you heard me right -- Santa Claus is the subject of this press conference. What's that? OK, we're going to take you live to the podium for the briefing, where an Air Force public relations officer seems ready to speak...

...Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and my apologies from keeping you all from your families tonight. But we were beginning to see irresponsible press reports of an incident which just took place, and so we wanted to set the record straight before any of these rumors took hold.

At approximately midnight, local time, two United States fighter jets were accompanying the sleigh of Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Father Christmas, a.k.a. Santa Claus -- see your handouts for further identification) as a part of the NORAD "Santa Tracker" program.

These fighter jets invited Santa down to a secure military installation for some holiday milk and cookies. That was the only reason we would do such a thing, of course, and press reports to the contrary are just inaccurate. We did not force Santa's sleigh down, and that missile we shot across his bow was no more than our way of saying "why not come on down for a tasty cookie break?" in a friendly and amusing fashion.

Santa did comply... um, perhaps I should rephrase that... Santa accepted our invitation and proceeded to land his sleigh while, for purely humanitarian reasons, we kept the eight tiny reindeer in our sights with a dandy heat-lock signature. Those reindeer really work hard on Christmas Eve, am I right?

Now, I want to say in response to media reports that Santa was forced to land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the United States military can neither confirm nor deny the sensitive but fully-secure location where this took place. We prefer to only state that Santa was given a short break in a pleasant island setting, and leave it at that.

As to what happened next, I will turn over this briefing to my colleague from the Transportation Security Administration....

...Thank you, and again, I would like to also offer my apologies as to this late-night... or, rather, very-early-morning holiday briefing. We'll clear all of this up as soon as we can, and then we can all go home for a long winter's nap.

When Santa landed, we offered to perform a security sweep on both him and the contents of his sleigh. Reports that Santa was forcibly strip-searched could not be farther from the truth, as indeed not every piece of Santa's traditional red-and-white clothing was removed. After all, we all have to take our shoes and belts off at the airport, right? So why wouldn't we want to exercise the same caution over this flight, which will impact every bit of airspace in the United States? It's only logical, and we'd like to clear up misperceptions and state that at no time was a body-cavity search performed on Mr. Claus. We did, however, think it prudent to use back-scatter radiation devices on both Santa's sleigh and his oversized luggage, in order to assure the American public that there were no bombs or weapons on board. We did have to confiscate quite a number of very realistic looking toy guns, but the media reports of T.S.A. agents stealing all of Santa's presents are just wildly inaccurate. We only had to confiscate a small percentage of the whole, in actual fact, and only to assure Santa's continued flying safety.

And with that said, I would like to hand this briefing over to the Central Intelligence Agency. Jack?...

...Thanks. First, as to the question of why the C.I.A. was involved in meeting Santa, we would like to remind everyone that the North Pole is not actually within the United States, and therefore Santa has always been considered a foreign national, which falls within the purview of our agency. Also, I'd like to clear up the false report that Santa was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and state unequivocally that I.C.E. was not even involved in this incident. We did duly check the authenticity of Santa's visa, but his immigration status never came up in our conversation.

Also, we at the C.I.A. would like to take exception to the term "interrogation" being used in some media reports. This was a friendly chat over milk and cookies, in a secure (but undisclosed) location on a United States military base, that's all. Nothing sinister about that, right? Santa did seem to have a problem drinking his milk, and so we assisted him in doing so. But we strenuously deny that Santa was, so to speak, "milk-boarded." It was nowhere near that intrusive. We merely fed Santa the milk he was unable to drink on his own with a feeding tube. People in the custody... um, strike that... people under the care of the United States must be kept well-fed and healthy, and we were just following this precept, that's all.

Unfortunately, after this incident, one of Santa's hands became free from its restraint... um, I mean, Santa freely and voluntarily made a motion which set his finger aside his nose, and in a blinding twinkle then disappeared. His sleigh was gone from the landing strip, and he appeared to then move so fast on his errands that even our best fighter jets were unable to keep pace or further intercept him.

Now, as to the question of why we -- and I stress this phrase -- invited Santa down for milk and cookies and a little chat -- I'm going to turn the podium over to my counterpart in the National Security Agency....

...OK, folks, we're almost done here, so we'll be able to all get home soon. Although I feel I must pass on a personal message to the reporter from Associated Press, as we have become aware that his wife just called the fire department about a minor blaze involving Christmas decorations, so I would urge him to hurry home. You're welcome.

Sorry for that interruption. The National Security Agency was present at the discussion with Mr. Claus because we have so far utterly failed in our efforts to intercept and decode the "naughty and nice" database used at the North Pole. We felt this would be well within the national security interests of the United States government, not because we are actively targeting children, you understand, but because in future such a database would be an invaluable asset to search when cases of terrorism arise.

Mr. Claus refused to give up the security codes for what he termed his "Kringlebase," instead trying to get us to believe that his secrets were protected by, quote, magic, unquote, and could never be broken by mortal man. He merely laughed when we magnanimously offered to change our name to the "Noël Santa Agency," which we considered a bit disrespectful on his part. I'll have everyone understand that this conversation took place before the milk and cookie force-feeding incident, when we were still pleasantly chatting. Mr. Claus tried to convince us that his database of naughty and nice children was his own private property, and, furthermore, could never be used for further naughtiness in any way. We don't believe this is true, and we said so -- once in our hands, the Kringlebase would be protected by federal law, and we'd only peek into it when we really, really thought it'd be interesting to do so.

While we did not, in fact, secure the database, we think we have a better-than-average chance of doing so in the coming year. We are currently building a massive data processing center in Utah for this very purpose, in fact, and with enough supercomputers working on the problem, we fully expect we will break Santa's encryption techniques any day now. We would also like to thank Congress for the eleventy-zillion dollars they have given us to achieve this goal.

We would, as a final note, like to assure the American public that we are redoubling our efforts to crack the Kringlebase code not to spy on our fellow citizens at all. We are not interested in the vast majority of the data, since we won't have any need to ever query the "nice" section of the list. So it therefore follows that any child can know for the rest of his or her entire life, that we will not care about them as long as they stay on Santa's "nice" list. For the "naughty" ones, well, we are a nation of laws and you've just got to expect some consequences for bad behavior. We'll be on the lookout for just those consequences as soon as we secure and decrypt the Kringlebase.

There will be no question and answer session, as this will be our only briefing on the subject. Until next year, of course. Although early signs are that Santa will likely be unwilling to allow a fighter escort to accompany him next time around. As he seems to have technology which allows him to fly faster than our fastest aircraft, there may not be much NORAD can do about this.

Thank you all for coming....

...And you heard this important breaking news right here on this station. We conclude our newsbreak and take you back to Midnight Mass with the Pontiff, which we resume right at the point we broke away. Thanks for watching, and have a happy Christmas, everyone!


-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


14 Comments on “From The Archives -- The Kringlebase Incident”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Good Trickle,

    Let me repeat I am equal opportunity I hate ALL politicians equally.

    Let me give you a (year belated) apology...

    I missed this a year ago and would have said, "A person after my own heart!!"

    So, consider the apology rendered, a year later.. :D


  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    I have been reading over the predictions from last year...

    Not so much CW's commentary predictions as I don't want to steal his thunder..

    But the predictions by rank and file Weigantians are pretty interesting... :D


  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Interesting to note.. At the end of the 2013 Fundraiser, I was at 310 comments..

    Right now, I am at 260 with almost 2 weeks to go!!

    W00t!!! :D


  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    I just sent another donation..

    Dig deep, people...

    The sanity you save may be your own... :D


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's a suggestion for an award..


    Would naturally have to go to SONY..

    As I said before, I understand the decision they made. Once real violent threats were made, SONY was in an impossible position..

    But they could have handled it a LOT better..

    Instead of just burying the movie SONY should have announced that they are releasing the movie into the wild on the Internet at no cost..

    SONY lost the $$$$ anyways.. Why not disrupt the precedent setting goal of the bad guys???

    I was in a 2-year long epic legal battle with DirecTV.. I knew I could never win against a company with the vast resources of General Electric..

    Sometimes, the best outcome you can achieve is not to win, but to make sure your enemy loses.. DirecTV spent about 2 million dollars in legal fees and got back about $40K... :D

    That's what SONY should do..

    They cannot win.. But they can damn well make sure that North Korea and Little Man Kim Un loses...


  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Apropos of absolutely nothing..

    Did anyone catch the 3-Part mini-series ASCENSION??

    Pretty good....


  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "Once real violent threats were made, SONY was in an impossible position.."

    North Korea is, accidentally or purposefully, taking it's cue from ISIS. The independent, glory seeking franchisee. If you make enough noise through mass media, some local US wacko with zero actual connection to North Korea might just decide to enter a theater with an automatic weapon and a dozen clips of ammo. That, IMHO is the most credible threat, and seems not all that likely, but very hard to quantify with any greater precision.

    My guess is Sony's own corporate lawyers told them not to even think about releasing the movie into the wild. The downside risk of a negligence suit is simply too great at this time.

    N. Korea and Cuba have something in common. When you leave virtually no footprint in the world economy, and can only go on because of subsidies from a bigger power, you are very hard to punish. N. Korea can't even keep the lights on at night.

    It's not like there isn't parody of N Korea released in the Internet wilderness. Fox has got some delightful musical stuff out from The Falcon and the D'ohman (pronounced Falcon and the annoyed grunt man):

    Sony took the family out to dinner and left the key in the front door. They got burgled. Embarrassing. File an insurance claim, and, ahem, Let it Go. (Sorry, just one clip per post, but you can hum). Spend more on cyber security, less on lawyers?

    The CIA will probably think of something nice...and quiet. This little game with N. Korea has been going on for decades.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    My guess is Sony's own corporate lawyers told them not to even think about releasing the movie into the wild. The downside risk of a negligence suit is simply too great at this time.

    I see no possibility of a negligence suit..

    Sony gets "hacked" and the movie is released into the wild..

    Unless you are saying that Sony should be sued just for MAKING the movie..

    While there IS a precedent from the Left for such a claim, it's a sad commentary on the Bill Of Rights we discussed a bit ago...


  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Apropos of absolutely nothing..

    Did anyone catch the 3-Part mini-series ASCENSION??

    Pretty good....

    if anyone wants to chat about it, be cognizant of spoilers...


  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'de like to hit 300 by Sunday..

    Help me out, people.. :D


  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    M (8)

    I think nuisance laws might worry Sony. Individuals harmed by misuse of property can sue for damages. Knowingly releasing the tape to the internet might be argued as misuse of property harmful to the public.

    Nuisance laws are being applied to the internet ("common la meets internet"). Lawyers are creative people, SONY has deep pockets. As someone who has engaged an epic legal battle and lost $40K in the process I would think you are sensitive to the downside of legal risk.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    As someone who has engaged an epic legal battle and lost $40K in the process I would think you are sensitive to the downside of legal risk.

    Oh I agree.. That's why I'm on record as saying I completely understand where SONY is coming from...

    They are damned no matter what they do..

    On the other hand, the altruistic Don-Quixote moves usually does bring in a small return..

    The North Korean's actions were very well thought it..

    Make a pariah of Sony execs so that their own people hate them.. Cut them off at the knees and give them absolutely NO SUPPORT BASE whatsoever..

    Then hit them with the physical threats that, under any other circumstances would have brought Americans together..

    Psychologically speaking, it was a brilliant operation...

    As an intelligence geek, I can't help but applaud the effectiveness of the op...


  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:
  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's not like there isn't parody of N Korea released in the Internet wilderness. Fox has got some delightful musical stuff out from The Falcon and the D'ohman (pronounced Falcon and the annoyed grunt man):

    Now THAT was funny!! :D

    It's amazing to think that THE SIMPSONS has been on as long as my daughter has been alive.. 20-some years....



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