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Six-String Spook 

CONFIDENTIAL MEMO FOR THE INDY FILES

FILE UNDER NATIONAL INSECURITY

Re: Latest Intelligence on George Shrub

Subject, one George Shrub, bills himself as the "world's only known singing CIA agent." While his ties to the intelligence agency are difficult to confirm or deny, he does, in fact, know how to carry a tune.

But where is he carrying it? To paraphrase Churchill, this Shrub is a riddle wrapped in a mystery and clothed in a bad suit.

Reliable sources suggest that the singing act is a ruse, that in reality, "Shrub" is Triangle resident Dave Lippman, an anti-war activist and correspondent for Free Speech Radio News who recently completed a master's in Communication Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. These sources say Lippman is a political satirist who uses the alias to critique U.S. foreign policy.

Is this a hell of a cover story or an implausible denial? This much we know: Shrub and Lippman have never been seen in each other's presence. Shrub, for his part, has been sighted periodically during the last 20 years, popping up at political rallies, coffee shops, and First and Third World hotspots. A singing spy who refuses to come in from the Cold War, he claims to serve in the CIA--the "Committee to Intervene Anywhere"--and strums gritty ditties about the people who secretly run the world.

If Shrub has a main message, it's that being a covert operator ain't easy. Toppling governments like chess pieces may be all in a day's work at the CIA, but it sure does give you a bad rap. "I write the songs, not the wrongs," he wails in one song.

Seeking further intelligence, we interrogated Shrub at an undisclosed location in a remote corner of Weaver Street Market in Carrboro.

The Independent: I love the mystery man shtick, but who are you, really?

George Shrub: Well, I know this will sound hackneyed, but if I told you, I'd have to kill you. Of course, that's strictly off the record. But on a need-to-know basis, I can reveal that I write the theme songs for far-flung coups, crises and other opportunities for expanding our freedom and piece of the world.

Speaking of coups--have we ever had one in the United States?

No, we stole the last election fair and square. But since Mr. Bush won by such a very small loss, he'll certainly try to unite the country, primarily through endless war. No, you'll never see a coup in this country. For one thing, there's no U.S. embassy here, so where would the coup-plotters hang out?

The White House has promised a series of new military interventions around the world. So what's on Shrub's new hit list?

We're looking at adjusting the governments of Sudan, Iran, Libya, Syria, Iraq and any other countries that end with -an, -a or -aq.

How about the homefront--any successes to report here?

One bright spot: We've made great strides in paying down the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, we may have to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

Maybe you can tell me: Was the Pentagon telling the truth when it promised to shut down its recently created Office of Strategic Influence (panned by critics as a "ministry of misinformation")?

I'm here to tell you that this office has really, really, actually been shut down. Of course, it's not true. But I am here to tell you that.

Attorney General Ashcroft is reportedly a devout singer of religious and patriotic anthems. Have you collaborated with him?

Yes, we have released several classified singles. However, they are not under our names, so you never really know whether you're listening to a CIA singer, a Justice Department singer, or just a random pop star who does our bidding by steering clear of political topics. However, you might search for our tunes by title--one is a love song called, "You're Either With Me or Against Me," and there's a nice patriotic tune called "Ballad of the Green Berets on Yellow Alert."

That's too hot for the hotline! (To paraphrase Joseph Heller.) But seriously, many citizens are worried that the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy is threatening Americans' access to public information. Are we losing our right to know?

Not to worry, we're on the case: As we speak, a new shadow government task force, hunkered in a bunker, is drafting a secret directive on the American people's right not to know. Once it is completed and signed by the president, all copies will be disposed of in a burn bag. The classified ashes will be scattered over the Potomac by a black helicopter on Independence Day, and the public will be permitted a full viewing of the event on the Fox News Network. After all, we've got nothing to hide.

UPCOMING SHRUB SIGHTING:

Confidential informants (and flyers pasted on lamp posts) indicate Shrub will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 10 at the Skylight Exchange, 405 West Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill. For more information about the show, call 933-5500; to view a complete dossier on Shrub, see his Web site: www.davelipp man.com.

Report filed by Jon Elliston

File photo by Alex Maness

  • The secrets of George Shrub, the "world's only singing CIA agent."

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