A new twist in the month's most controversial news story was raised a few hours ago, when a soldier, facing a Court Martial in the Abu Ghraib case, revealed that, as many had suspected, the soldiers were taking orders from outside of their chain of command. However, it turned out it was not the CIA or DIA that were pulling the strings, but that the entire prison operation was part of a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts.

The National Endowment for the Arts, which has faced controvery for deciding to sponsor the S&M photography of Robert Maplethorp and the infamous piss christ, has taken its sponsorship of the edgiest performance art to a place far from prying eyes: the prisons of Iraq. The head of the agency, while admitting that they had indeed comissioned the large avante-garde work, were quick to defend the artisitic value of their creation. An artist, who wished to remain anonymous, gave this explanation:

"So often, in our society, the word terrorist is used as a mask, masking the fact that their is a real person behind the image of a ravening madman. In my creation "Ba'athist defaced with pink panties", I turn this image on its head, using the face of a suspected terrorist ensconed with a feminine undergarment to show that the ironic image of femininity does as much to conceal the real nature of these people".
Another artist, asked to explain their modernistic dance piece "hogtied and barking like dogs", explained that
"by forcing these prisoners to bark like dogs, we accentuate how close we all are to barbarism and brutality, and by so doing, accentuate even further our ability to embrace culture and art"

The response from the Republican party in Washington, DC, was striking, if not unexpected. House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert was quoted as saying: "The United States spends too much money on two things: foreign aid and perverted arts. It's about time the government stops taking people's hard earned tax dollars for these projects that mock our common decency, and put it back in the pockets of good, hardworking families".

Many Democrats were quick to defend the program, with Represenative Barney Frank saying: "How can we expect the Iraqis to build a freethinking, pluralistic society when the First Amendment rights of American artists to force Islamist radicals into masturbation at gunpoint isn't protected?"

As is often the case, Republican Senator John McCain crossed party ranks to support the democrats, adding "When I was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, I was deprived of many rights, such as taking showers and eating full meals. But none of these hurt as much as the deprivation I had when I couldn't take part in my right as an American to take part in obscene, disgusting performance art."

The full impact of the scandal has yet to show, with the White House stil unavailable for comment. There are rumors that the FCC will be investigating pictures of exposed body parts shown in the art stills coming out of the prison.

In any case, many people around the world are wondering what this could do to the worlds of both art, and international relations.

This is a joke, in case there was any confusion on that matter

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