The plot: A new American president, elected with the help of Russian hacking, is embattled even before he takes office. He sets up his own highly secret security operation—similar to what Richard Nixon did in 1971, but on a much more ambitious, darker scale.I invite you to read about it in an excerpt from my new novel “Deep Strike”.
The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located just west of the White House on 17th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and New York Avenue.
One of the officials working there in a subdivision of “the Office of the President,” was George Ramos. He offered a crisp “good morning” as he showed his pass to the female marine guard at the Pennsylvania Street entrance. She smiled warmly in return, and why not: Ramos was 42 years old, a strikingly handsome man with glossy black hair and arched eye brows and an athletic build.
There was also the way he strode down the entrance hallway as if he owned the place. Indeed, George’s career was definitely on the rise again.He scurried up the marble staircase to the second floor, walked along the marble corridor to a large door with a bronze plaque on which was engraved “Executive Liaison Office.” The door opened to a suite of offices. His was the largest, with a commanding view of Pennsylvania Avenue.
On the wall were various pictures—one of himself in Special Forces battle dress with a group of Afghan soldiers at a fire-base near Kandahar. Behind his mahogany desk, hung an AK-47 mounted on a plaque. His team discovered it in a cave in the Tora Bora Mountains where the embers of the abandoned cooking fire were still warm. The weapon had actually belonged to Osama bin Laden—they’d found his prints on it.
The largest photo was of Ramos standing beside a beaming President Stokes in the Oval Office, just after he’d appointed George to one of the top posts in the Executive Liaison Office (ELO). Actually, few people knew the ELO even existed. It was set up two days after Stokes became president. Those who worked for the outfit--or were high enough in the president’s entourage to be informed about it--referred to it as the “S Team”—the “S” standing for Stokes, of course. It was, in effect, the president’s private intelligence force—his own CIA/Special Forces/Delta team. Its existence was rumored, but never officially acknowledged—and certainly never challenged by the Republicans in congress, still too cowed to take on the president on such a sensitive issue.
Its budget—hidden in a line item of the Department of Transportation--quickly expanded, as did its staff. There were also independent contractors—paid under a different black ops budget, who worked out of their own offices in Washington and Virginia.
They worked under the direct control of the president, the line of command passing through Cliff Dayton, his advisor on strategy who also secretly headed the ELO. Dayton summoned George to personally interview him for the post.
George at the time was making $150 a day as a “private contractor” –essentially a night watchman--for a small Virginia security company. He was told to show up at Dayton’s transition office on K Street the next day. He’d no inkling what the job was about. Dayton received him in his office, wearing a jogging outfit and sneakers. All George knew about him was that he was Stokes’ most influential advisor. Scrolling the file on the screen of his PC, Clayton wasted no time. “Ramos--your training, fighting experience, bravery, etc., all excellent. But then in Afghanistan, you were apparently implicated in what was called “mistreatment of detainees” at Bagram Air Base.” He turned to look squarely at George. “What was that all about?”
“Sir, we needed to get intelligence in a hurry. We caught these three guys and needed to make them talk.”
“So,” said Clayton reading from the file on the screen, “you hung them by their wrists from the ceiling for several hours and then water boarded them—among other things.”
“Yes, sir.” I can forget about this job, thought George.
“Two months later you were involved in an action near Kandahar that resulted in a very high number of civilian casualties. Your version?”
There was a trickle of perspiration now running down George’s back. He wondered if he should just get up and leave. “Sir, I was advising a battalion of Afghan soldiers tracking down one of the main Taliban leaders near Kandahar. We got a tip that he was holed up in a house on the outskirts of this village. A major meeting was planned for that night. The intelligence looked solid.”
“So we surrounded the place, then broke down the doors, threw in concussion grenades, and charged in.”
“And,” said Clayton reading from the record before him, “Turned out not to be a Taliban meeting-- but a wedding reception.”
“Ten civilians killed, including four children. Six others seriously injured. An entire family wiped out.”
“Sir, it was the intelligence. The man who fed us the information had it in for the family we hit.”
“Something you found out afterwards.”
“Yes sir.” Fuck this noise! George thought. I don’t have to stay for this….
“You were finally given the choice to face court martial or resign.” George’s face was burning now. He’d had it.
“That’s right—I resigned.” Suddenly he stood up, glaring at Clayton. “Look, I don’t know what this is all about. But I don’t have to go through all this shit again. I resigned. I’m out. We are fighting bad, evil people who think nothing of using women and children as cover. But back here, civilians who could care less about America—who have never seen battle or a buddy blown apart—those creeps are second-guessing people who are putting their lives on the line each day for our country. That’s bullshit—but that’s what it’s come to. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m out of here.”
“Hold on, soldier,” said Clayton, smiling for the first time. “Sit down.” George hesitated, took a deep breath; then sat down heavily. …
“Look, Ramos,” said Clayton back in his seat. “We know you’re good. We’ve seen your efficiency reports. You’re one of the best. We also think you were unfairly treated. We’re looking for someone like you—someone with the experience you’ve had, the ability to give and take orders—someone who will be loyal to the president above all. You will have to organize and oversee difficult missions---missions that may involve skirting normal rules and regulations. But they may have to be carried out for our country’s security.” He gazed again directly at George. “Do you think you could handle that?”
The same day that president Stokes moved into the White House, George Ramos moved into his digs at the newly minted Executive Liaison Office.
“Deep Strike” is available on Amazon, in Kindle or paperback versions.