On February 9, 1991, the Saturday Night Live cold open captured the press fervor before the Gulf War. As journalists search for scoops before another possible deadly conflict in Syria, it’s a sketch worth remembering.
Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: And so, to sum up, while this war is by no means over, it is certainly fair to say that we have inflicted heavy damage on the Iraqi war machine, and every day brings victory for the coalition that much closer. And now I’m going to hand the floor over to the Lieutenant Colonel Pierson, who will field your questions.
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Thank you Secretary Cheney. I’m happy to take any questions that you might have with the understanding that there are certain sensitive areas that I’m just not going to get into. Particularly, information that might be useful to the enemy. Yes?
Reporter #1: What date are we going to start the ground attack?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, as I mentioned a moment ago, there are certain sensitive areas which we are just not going to go into, and that is certainly one of them. Yes?
Reporter #2: Colonel knowing what you know, where would you say our forces are most vulnerable to attack, and how could the Iraqis best exploit those weaknesses?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, again, this falls into the area of information that might be useful to the enemy, and I just can’t divulge it right now.
Reporter #3: Sir! Which method of hiding SCUD missiles is working best for the Iraqis?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Now, this again is a good example of information that could help the enemy, and I just can’t answer that.
Reporter #4: I have a two-part question. Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait, and if so, where exactly would that be?
Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: Excuse me. If I could interrupt here, I just want to underscore what Colonel Pierson said at the start of Q&A. There are two general categories of questions that we are simply not going to be able to address. One, those that would give our enemy advance warning of our actions, and two, those that would identify any points of weakness or vulnerabilities to the Iraqi forces. So let’s reopen the floor to questions.
Reporter #5: I understand that there are passwords that our troops use on the front lines. Could you give us some examples of those, please?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No, that is something I really cannot comment on.
Reporter #6: Yeah! Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait? And if so, where?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: I believe that question has been asked and if you recall, I said I could not answer that.
Reporter #7: Sir, what would be the one piece of information that would be most dangerous for the Iraqis to know?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No can answer! I have time for two more questions. Yeah?
Reporter #8: Yes, Farud Hashami, Baghdad Times. Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Nope! Last question.
Reporter #9: Is there anything that you can tell us that would lower the morale of our fighting men?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No. Really, the only thing we’re at liberty to say at this time is, “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”