A Disassociated Press Report, Washington, D.C., May 19, 2005
By Terry Septimane
Speaking before a group of judges Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush added the Priory of Sion to a list of outlawed terrorist organizations. The president indicated the Priory would be put on the Department of Homeland Security's official list of terrorist organizations "before week's end," and that anyone supporting the Priory or its activities was "aiding and abetting terrorism."
Bush's remarks were made at a meeting of the American Association of Judges. The president's move against the secret society came as a result of his reading Dan Brown's popular thriller The Da Vinci Code.
"This book is a wake-up call to anyone who knows how to read," Bush said. "It's a wake-up call to all who love truth and liberty. The Priory of Sion is an organization intent on taking away our liberty."
Bush insisted that the murders that begin the novel were not, as author Dan Brown depicted them, committed by a hit man from the Catholic organization Opus Dei. Rather they were "an inside job" pulled off by the Priory itself.
"Dan Brown got it wrong," Bush said. "My advisors and I are in agreement on this, as is Condi Rice. Whether this author decided to frame the monk Silas by design or by some desire to deceive, we are not yet certain. I can assure you though that we are looking into every possibility, and we will not stop until we have brought the real murderers to justice."
Bush referred to one of the characters in Brown's novel, an albino devotee of the Catholic organization Opus Dei. The novel begins with Silas murdering the curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris.
"Silas is innocent," Bush said. "It is in the Priory itself that we must seek the killers."
Bush pointed out that the Priory had a long history of using violence to attain its ends.
"They want you to believe that Jesus was married to a prostitute," he said. "They want you to believe that the Bible is all part of a cover-up and that everything we hold sacred is a lie. And they will use whatever means necessary to get you to believe them."
The president also insisted that over the centuries Priory operatives had modified important works of Western art in furtherance of their goals.
"We have solid evidence that the Priory has tampered with paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo," he said. "There is even growing evidence that they may have altered some of the imagery in DVD copies of classic Disney movies, such as The Little Mermaid and other family classics. We cannot sit idly by and let this evil organization continue to deface our cultural heritage. We must act, and we will act."
The president specified that military action "could not be ruled out at this point," but that "we will strike in a manner and at a time of our choosing."
There were however no indications as to how military action might be effective against a secret society.
Asked about the president's remarks at a press conference later in the day, White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated the threat posed by the Priory of Sion and said it was in fact true that the president had read Dan Brown's novel.
"The rumors that the president listened to an Audio Book rather than read the novel himself are entirely false," McClellan said. "I saw him reading it on several occasions, and many others on the White House staff have seen him with the book during recent months."
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