The near-miraculous rescue of seven shipwreck survivors has the United States government scrambling to effect political damage control.
The seven people, plucked from an uncharted isle southeast of the Hawaiian Islands after a United States Naval destroyer spotted smoke from their signal fire, had long been presumed dead after their chartered tour boat failed to return from a three-hour cruise.
The captain of the Schwartz, Lt. Commander Bob Denver, told reporters that his ship was "on routine maneuvers" in the poorly-mapped region when "the OOD got on the comm and said he saw smoke on the horizon".
Denver ordered the destroyer to investigate, assuming another ship might be in trouble. What the Schwartz found after steaming towards the source of the smoke was a small island, not on any of the ship's maps and charts, with a bonfire burning on the beach. As the destroyer approached the crew could see people waving their arms over their heads.
Denver immediately assumed the people were stranded. A launch boat was dispatched to the beach to pick up the castaways and return them to the Schwartz.
Upon the return of the launch boat, Denver was, in his own words, "absolutely floored" to learn the people his ship had rescued were actually the crew and passengers of the U.S.S. Minnow, a small Honolulu-based charter boat that had disappeared years before while on a 3-hour tour.
The captain, upon meeting with the rescued castaways, had another surprise coming.
"I recognized one of them instantly," said Denver. "As soon as I saw him I asked myself 'What are the chances he'd have a double who had been stranded on an uncharted island?'"
The captain approached the man, who the other castaways referred to as "the millionaire", and asked him point-blank who he was.
Much to the subsequent embarrassment of the Bush administration and United States armed forces in Iraq, the man admitted he was none other than Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who supposedly had been captured last December.
Now, the United States is being bombarded with questions from world leaders as to what exactly happened on December 13, 2003, and who the man they paraded in front of television cameras as "Saddam" really is.
When contacted by this publication, U.S. officials were tight-lipped. An unnamed source told us, "All I can say is that a press conference on the Minnow situation will be held soon."