From The Archives -- The Kringlebase Incident

[ Posted Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 – 16:12 UTC ]

[Program Note: To all our friends in Canada, the United Kingdom, and other places of the British persuasion: Happy Boxing Day! To our Catholic readers: Happy Saint Stephen's Day! To all others: Happy Day-After-Christmas!

To prolong everyone's post-holiday bliss, we are not going to write a political column today. Instead, please enjoy this repeat column from a few years back. We'll be busy later writing thank-you notes to everyone who gave us presents this year, most definitely including those who have donated to our annual pledge drive (check that thermometer -- we're getting very close to our yearly goal!).

Also, truth be told, we will be playing with our presents. Which is as it should be. Hope everyone's having a very merry holiday season this year and that you got everything you asked Santa for. Peace to all.]


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


One Comment on “From The Archives -- The Kringlebase Incident”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Also, truth be told, we will be playing with our presents. Which is as it should be. Hope everyone's having a very merry holiday season this year and that you got everything you asked Santa for.

    Merry and Happy Christmas to you and your family and friends.

    I got this nifty hydroponic device from "Santa" called an AeroGarden Bounty, whereby one can grow herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, etc. indoors without need of soil or sunlight. It was quickly the hit of the party because apparently these things are currently very popular and being used to assist in the growing of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Who knew?

    If only I lived in California... Happy New Year! :)

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