Friday, July 15, 2005

German Home Secretary Filibusters In Visa Scandal Enquiry

To Berlin, to attend the enquiry into the German Visa Scandal. People want to know why hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants were allowed into Europe, and the enquiry promises to get the answers. Today's star witness is Otto Schily (rhymes with "silly-billy" rather than "shyly"), the Home Secretary. He produces a thick wodge of documents. Everyone's heart sinks as he starts to read them out in a flat monotone.

For five hours and eleven minutes this terrible bore filibusters away, scarcely modulating his voice. By the end of the second hour, most of the hacks are fast asleep, and those that are not are stuffed up to the gills with coke. By the fourth hour, the only people left awake are Schily and myself.

When it is over, all the hacks crowd round me to ask what Schily said. I haven't a clue, of course, but I make something up to keep them quiet. "It wasn't me, honest," all the newspapers quote Schily as saying the next day. "It was Joschka Fischer too. And a few very very lowly minions in my department, but you can't expect me to know what they were doing."

Everyone is satisfied. Democratic accountability is a wonderful thing, in its way, but I don't think I shall be coming back to Berlin for a while.

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