During the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a 50 foot tall Iraqi helium balloon disguised as an advertisement for M&M's candy, careened into spectators knocking down a light pole and injuring two women. A high Pentagon official, on condition of anonymity, said that the balloon was launched by Saddam Hussein just prior to the 2003 invasion of his country. It is the first attack on US soil by balloon since World War Two when Japan sent balloons across the Pacific carrying incendiary devices designed to start fires along the West Coast of the United States.
The Iraqi balloon is believed to have circled the globe twice prior to coming down in the streets of New York. New York Mayor Bloomberg’s immediate response was, “We will rebuild the light pole. We must show the terrorists they cannot defeat us with cowardly attacks using balloons. Terrorist balloons must not rain on our parade.”
“This could have been much worse. We dodged a bullet”, said President Bush from his Thanksgiving table at his Crawford Texas ranch. “This shows I was right to invade Iraq. Who knows how many more balloons they might have launched at us otherwise? The CIA has confirmed that they had even bigger weapons, one of which was shaped like Bullwinkle J Moose. Imagine the destruction that could have caused. Our intelligence sources now believe that Saddam was training al Qaeda on how to inflate balloons of mass destruction. These are evil doers.” Asked why terrorists would use an inert gas like helium rather than highly inflammable hydrogen for the attack, Bush answered that it clearly wasn’t “in-earth”, in was in the air. “Now excuse me, but I’m a wartime President and I’ve got to eat some more stuffing. It’s hard work fighting terrissts. Pass the cranberries please.”
Why no Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept the huge balloon is not yet known. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld angrily quipped, “This took place in New York City. I would suggest you ask the NYPD, it’s their jurisdiction.”
Condoleezza Rice stated that while the US had reports of terrorist plots involving Thanksgiving Day, “we had no idea that helium balloons could be used as weapons of mass destruction by careening them into pedestrians.” Critics point out that the FBI has known about the use of balloons in this manner since 1995 when then President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, was attacked by a circus clown with links to al Qaeda using 100 helium filled balloons. President Ramos was not injured in that incident.
Vice President Dick Cheney, enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving in his bunker, interrupted his dinner and emerged to tell the media, “This vindicates our intelligence on WMDs and our decision to invade Iraq. I hope this will put an end to the unwarranted and irresponsible criticism of this administration’s war on terror for once and for all.”
In Washington, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, “Right now there is an on-going investigation and we have a policy not to comment while an investigation is on- going. I would love to discuss this with you when this process is complete, but the investigation is still on-going and I can’t comment on an on-going investigation.”
Homeland Security Secretary Ridge said that while the balloon’s helium was not toxic, it did cause several people close by who inhaled the gas to speak in a strange high voice. He has raised the nation’s alert level to Brown, matching one of the panels on the balloon, between Yellow and Orange. “Just because the alert level is Brown does not mean we can be complacent. Go about your lives as usual, enjoy your holiday, but be vigilant. Watch the skies for more balloons. Keep watching the skies.”