A Few Bad Men

kennedypr_484Satire with a nod toward the film of a similar name
By Jack Coleman
T
he setting: A military courtroom, present day. A court martial is in progress. Two Marines, Capt. Ted Stevens and Corporal Don Young are on trial, accused of carrying out an illegal "code red" order at the request of superior officer Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup Kennedy to sabotage a proposed offshore wind farm to be built within view of the Kennedy military compound.
Stevens' and Young's alleged compliance with Kennedy's order resulted in widespread skepticism about the integrity of senior officers in the military. Kennedy takes the witness stand and is sworn in for questioning by defense attorney Daniel Kaffee.
Kaffee -- Colonel, after learning of the Cape Wind proposal, you ordered the Coast Guard to conduct an exhaustive investigation to determine if the project posed a threat to the environment, the regional economy and passengers crossing the Sound in boats and planes, isn't that correct, sir?
Kennedy -- Yes, that's correct,
Kaffee -- Why did you do that, sir?
Kennedy -- I thought Nantucket Sound might be in danger.
Kaffee -- Grave danger?
Kennedy -- Is there another kind?
Kaffee -- And your order was conveyed to the Coast Guard by Corporal William Delahunt, is that correct as well, sir?
Kennedy -- Yes, since he once served in the Coast Guard, as he frequently reminds me.
Kaffee -- Any chance Corporal Delahunt forgot the order?
Kennedy -- No.
Kaffee -- Any chance Corporal Delahunt ignored the order?
Kennedy -- No.
Kaffee -- Any chance Corporal Delahunt threw up his hands and said, 'the old man's wrong.'
Kennedy (testily) -- No.
Kaffee -- When the Coast Guard received your order, any chance they forgot or ignored it?
Kennedy -- You ever serve in a forward infantry unit, son?
Kaffee -- No, sir.
Kennedy -- Ever play a raucous game of touch football at the compound?
Kaffee -- No, sir.
Kennedy -- Ever sail across Nantucket Sound on a blustery Figawi weekend with your crew three sheets to the wind, them putting their lives in your hands, you putting your life in theirs?
Kaffee -- No, sir.
Kennedy -- We follow rules, son, even if we have to make them up as we go along. We follow rules or Kennedys fall overboard. It's that simple. Are we clear?
Kaffee -- Yes, sir.
Kennedy (emphatically) -- Are we clear?
Kaffee (quietly) -- Crystal. Col. Kennedy, one last question -- if there was no possibility that Corporal Delahunt forgot or ignored your order to the Coast Guard, and your orders are always followed, why would a governor's veto over the project be necessary, one that would trump the Coast Guard investigation?
Kennedy (shifting uncomfortably) -- The, ah, Coast Guard is a, ah, substandard agency ...
Kaffee -- That's not what you said. You said you ordered the Coast Guard investigation and I asked why and you said Nantucket Sound was in danger and I said 'grave danger?' and you said, 'is there another kind?' I could order the court reporter to read back the transcript ...
Kennedy (with rising anger) -- I don't have to have it read back to me, I know what I said!
Kaffee -- Then why the two orders? One for the Coast Guard investigation, the other for a governor's veto by a man with no maritime expertise.
Kennedy -- Sometimes men take matters into their own hands.
Kaffee -- No sir, you just said your orders are always followed or Kennedys fall overboard. Delahunt ordered the code red because you told him to, and when it went bad, you cut these two men loose! (pointing toward Stevens and Young).
Kennedy -- You want answers?
Kaffee -- I think I'm entitled to them.
Kennedy -- You want answers?!
Kaffee - I want the truth!
Kennedy - You can't handle the, ah, 'truth'! (holding up fingers in universally annoying gesture of air quotation marks). Son, we live in a world that runs on oil, and those wells have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it -- you?!  I have a greater responsibility, and more favors to repay after four decades in the military, than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Cape Wind and you curse its opponents. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that killing Cape Wind, while tragic, would probably save birds and fish. And my existence, while grotesque and inconsequential to you, saves lives, mainly of those smart enough not to board any vessel with me at the helm.
   We use words like cloture, filibuster and point of order, Mr. Chairman, point of order. We use them as the backbone of a life dedicated to protecting inherited privilege. You use them as the punchline for jokes, albeit very funny ones.
   I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who enjoys the protection of a welfare state I helped create, then questions the methods I use to keep that state dysfunctional. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way.  Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a gas pump and help maintain our addiction to foreign energy. Either way, I don't give a damn what you feel you are entitled to!
Kaffee (quietly) -- Did you order the code red?
Kennedy -- I did the job you sent me to do.
Kaffee -- Did you order the code red?!
Kennedy -- You're damn right I did!
(with a tip of the hat to Walter Brooks for the outstanding Photoshop montage)

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