The following is a transcript of a conversation that was recorded by a Homeland Security agent on Independence Day. The New York Times found it in a file it obtained in a burglary of Dick Cheney’s waterfront home in Talbot, Maryland.

The conversation took place between Scarface (S) and his companion (SC), two riders on the Lexington Avenue IRT, on July 4th. Both individuals exited at 59th street and remain at large.

S was described in an all points bulletin issued by Homeland Security as a five foot nine inch male with a white shirt and a scar on his chin. SC, according to information provided in the same document, is a female.

S: “O.K. American soldiers raped and murdered Iraqis. These things happen in war. They’ll be punished.”

SC: “Like in Abu Gharib?”

S: “Another aberration.”

SC: “And Haditha?”

S: “Another.”

SC: “And Guantanamo?”

S: “Another. Look we occupy the high moral ground. What other country makes the effort we do to minimize collateral damage?”

SC: “So that’s why we fire bombed Tokyo and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”

S. “The atom bomb brought World War II to an end. It saved millions of lives.”

SC: “But the U.S. Strategic Bomb Survey, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral William Leahy, and General Douglas MacArthur all said we dropped the bombs on an already defeated nation. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed as a result.”

S: “Look Maybe we have gone overboard on occasion but to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, extremism in defense of democracy is no vice.'”

SC: “Is that why we defended brutal dictatorships in Chile, Guatemala and Iran after we overthrew democratically elected governments in those countries?”

S: “Aberrations.”

Despite the bulletin noted above S and SC have yet to be apprehended. Homeland Security, therefore, is asking people to be especially vigilant and report anyone who matches their description. S, it points out, is considered a patriotic American and wanted only for questioning as to the whereabouts of SC.

SC, however, is a suspected agent provocateur. Hence, as part of a program referred to as “rendition,” she is slated to be turned over to police in Afghanistan.

Rendition is the Bush administration’s effort to reward its friends by allowing them to share in the fun of interrogations. It is not an aberration.

PAUL CANTOR is a professor of economics who lives in Norwalk, Connecticut. He can be reached at: paulcantor@hotmail.com