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Follow-Up Post

I’d like to start this out by referring to an article written as part of the Liberalism Resurgent by Steve Kangas, back in the 1990s, to kind of get us in the right frame of mind.

It’s worth thinking about the fact that LaHaye and Parshall have introduced a former CIA agent into their story. The CIA itself conjures up generally rather shadowy and generally unpleasant mental images of an organization which, in addition to doing spying all over the globe, has exceeded that mandate by a considerable margin and is implicated in direct interference in the political affairs of other nations worldwide.

Given that of necessity, CIA agents are going to be bound by nondisclosure agreements of various kinds when they leave their jobs (I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case; it could potentially cause serious problems if active CIA agents were compromised as a result of a book written by another agent), it also stands to reason that even ex-CIA agents are thus bound in some way to “The Company”, even if just by the need to get clearances if an agent wants to write a book or article that might touch on what he or she has done. A related mindset is the “blue line” – that mindset of police officers amply demonstrated by people like Frank Serpico, who have found that publicly going against the grain of the established culture in a police force can be a recipe for a lot of trouble.

So, given that people in intelligence tend to form a tightly-knit, insular community with certain mores and ethics collectively adhered to by individuals within that culture, it’s worth considering the potential ramifications Parshall has opened up to us, the readers, in introducing such a person into his book.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins has pointed out linkages between economic policy analysts and the people who are interested in molding the political scene in the country in question in order that the forecasts by the ecomomic policy analyst bear fruit. For example, he wrote, as I recall, a report in which he justfied large hydroelectricity megaprojects in countries that neither had the money for them nor had the demand for them, and so the only real use for such a thing was in attempting construction, then funnelling the money all around. The political angle to this, linking back to agencies like the CIA, is that were a country’s officials, elected or not, to start raising concerns about the usefulness or need for such projects, and the corrosive effect of the attendant corruption such projects tended to engender, said officials would be warned they could be replaced fairly easily.

And now Parshall effectively brings this full-circle back to the United States. Joshua Jordan has provided the political and media infrastructure, in the process of grinding his own ax against the US government, for a member of a shadowy right-wing non-state intelligence group to piggyback onto and, in effect, try the old mafia trick of “Nice Presidency you got here, Corland. Shame if anything were to happen to it.”

The implications of this are really quite staggering – Parshall has, in effect, endorsed not just the usual right-wing smorgasbord of the inherent supremacy of Christianity as the religion of choice in the USA, the inherent desirability of rigid gender roles which reinforce the man-first, woman-second mentality, and the primacy of the military; he’s also endorsed the validity and rightness of unlawfully altering the duly constituted government of the United States.

I can draw no other conclusion from the fact that “Pack McHenry” (Patrick Henry), an ex-CIA agent, has enough resources to assemble a crack team of people who can spy on others and direct those people to keep tabs on anyone who might be useful to him in his plan to, in essentials, create a pro-Christian, right-wing government by hook or by crook. Look at Ken Leary, who’s already in contact with John Gallagher. Gallagher, in turn, is about to be contacted by the Roundtable. There’s two active agents potentially capable of using their jobs not for the benefit of their nominal bosses, but for someone else. Or his spies who have followed Allen Fulsin and the corporate VP, Cheavers. And now, along comes Josh Jordan, with a ready-made turn-key media empire ready to begin placing headlines in front of peoples’ eyes that will slant to any message McHenry wants, because ultimately he and Josh have the same political leanings and goals.

There’s a reason why the CIA charter has always banned domestic surveillance and intelligence gathering: the political masters of the CIA have no desire to have a ready-made apparatus anyone can use to subvert or covertly overthrow the lawfully constituted government, considering how effective it has been in doing exactly this sort of thing to other nations. For a related example, look at East Germany’s Stasi and its effect on West Germany: a critical vote in the Bundestag in the 1970s was covertly affected by Stasi bribes. What would start happening if US Congresspeople or Senators or the executive could be swayed by someone in command of the covert surveillance apparatus of the United States?

It could be argued that the FBI serves this domestic function, but it operates under different rules and has more of a law-enforcement culture than the CIA does, so while there are legitimate dangers, such as the existence of COINTELPRO, the target of the FBI has always been in subverting and infiltrating relatively minor organizations that do not, as a rule, possess the kind of resources that governments do.

But now Pack McHenry, with potential contacts inside the CIA, is in a position to end-run that prohibition, and in doing so, effectively call on at least some parts of the US government to act illegally against another part of the US government. Joshua Jordan would, in any world but the world of Edge of Apocalypse, be in such massive deep shit at this point.

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9 thoughts on “Follow-Up Post

  1. If this were realistic, each conspiracy would be trying to get all the benefit it could from the other, while aiming to get the other to take all the heat.

    As it is, I have no such hopes, and I’m sure even the CIA will turn out to be True Believers, even though in the real world True Believers are exactly the guys the CIA can most easily take advantage of.

    • Also, if this had any resemblance to the real world, I would think that Josh would be much more suspicious of the Patriot and his motives. Sure, Patrick Henry says he’s patriotic and far-right-wing (but I repeat myself), and on Josh’s side, but how does Josh know he’s not being set up for the kill? It really flies in the face of the impression I think we’re supposed to have of Joshy, which is that he’s worldy and a bit cynical. But no, off he goes, blithely spilling his guts to Pat about all his most secret plans. In the real world, there would be consequences for placing this kind of trust in a powerful and mysterious stranger.

      • That’s pretty much exactly what I’d be wondering in Josh’s place. Wouldn’t the timing of his clandestine contacts be a little bit suspicious? Almost like this operative’s been waiting for the right moment to get his little message across so Josh would be maximally receptive to the idea of cross-coordinating with him, instead of being able to politely decline and just move ahead with his media offensive.

      • Indeed. At this point, if Joshua Jordan were anyone other than a stuck-up, egotist, misogynist, abusive control freak on the fast track to Christianist baptism, stuck in a political technothriller the likes of which would make Tom Clancy put it firmly in the ‘SF&F’ aisle; he would be the ultimate patsy, and Paddy McHenry’s — who actually works for either foreign nationals — would be setting Joshua up to take an immense fall.

        “I told you already, I spoke with a former CIA agent named Packard McHenry!”
        “Mr. Jordan, I don’t think you realize how incredibly far up shit creek you are right now–”
        “Go to the Company and ask for him, I’m sure they know where he is!”
        “In this room, I am the Company, you sanctimonious zoomie, and I am telling you, Packard McHenry does. Not. Exist! He’s a non-person! We have no record of his employment.”
        “… Oh, hells.”
        “You’ve been played, Jordan, and played hard.” The CIA interrogator folded his hands in front of his face, light reflecting off his glasses. “But we may have a way to get you — and your family — out of this in one piece. Mostly.”

        And at that point Joshua Jordan becomes to *everyone else* what he already is to LeHaye and Parshall: A pawn.

        • This reminds me of the episode in Covert Affairs when that British dude “recruits” Annie, only she finds out he’s actually operating freelance and does not have official sanction from MI5 or MI6 to run his little operation on American soil. Cue massive crap about to come raining down on all concerned.

      • Nice one Vmink. May I propose another alternative:

        “Hi, Mike. It’s Patrick. We’re good to go.”
        “You’re sure? Jordan took the bait?”
        “Hook, line and sinker. Our intel was right. I wish all our marks were this self centered. The cocky twerp really can’t imagine any real American would oppose him. Give the guy a firm handshake, talk tough and suck up a bit, and he figures you’re a good guy giving him the respect he so richly deserves.”
        “I’ll pass your compliments to our profilers. Now, on to buisness. I’ve finished cutting all leads between us and the shell company we used to run those assasinations, espionage, bribery, theft, you know the works. Can you get Jordan to take control of it?”
        “No problem. I’ll tell him he can use the company to acquire those broadcasting rights he wants so bad, then sell it to him for a dollar. He’ll think it’s just because I think he’s such a swell guy, but lets see him try to deny his friendly terms with the biggest illegal spy center in history when we publish that financial transaction. Our man at world telecom can stall the negotiations with Jordan for a week right?”
        “Shouldn’t be a problem. The last few employees on our payroll will run a few more deals, and of course receive the 250 million from our offshore account in exchange for sending a few gigabytes of heavily encrypted data while Jordan in officially at the helm. Then the FBI ‘discovers’ the organization, our men plea-bargain in exchange for all the dirt on their long-term employer Jordan who finally took direct control now that the net around him was closing in and he couldn’t trust his lieutenants anymore. And that’ll be the end of the myth of the savior of New York.”
        “Yeah, lets see any of those has-been senators try to stand up for him now. The trail would’ve been tricky before, and a public relations nightmare. But one week from now, Josh Jordan will hang for his many shadowy deals over the last decade, culmilating in trying to steal the missile defense system he build with U.S. money, then sell the design to the Russians.”
        “Quick change of plans Patrick, that money is comming from our Saudi agent now. Make sure the dummy data is send there too.”
        “Why the change?”
        “There’s a buisnessman hold up there, got some contracts we want and some dirt on us to keep us away. The Company already got the report that he was the buyer of the data drafted up, we just need to post-date it. Then we’ll get permission to send some commando’s in and shut him down permanently. Might as well kill two birds with one stone.”
        “Good thinking. This Josh prima donna isn’t really worth all this effort by himself, might as well get something more for our work. Talk to you later.”
        “Copy that.”

        • Hee! Excellent flashfic. ^_^

          Even hangs the RTS-RGS sale on Ceasar Demas and Josh Jordan and makes it look like Josh was, while being the dude who saved New York, also the dude who was making a big stink about people stealing his stuff at the same time as he was apparently quietly selling it out the back door on his own. 😛

  2. I can’t help but feel that the evocation of Patrick Henry is supposed to suggest that this is like the original colonies overthrowing British rule, with Corland and his retinue standing in for George III and the Tories. Just one problem, though. Whereas the idea here is to REPLACE the Demas-influenced government with a more Godly one, the Revolution was more about DISPLACING British rule. The colonies had no interest in remaking England or Canada (well, the latter until the War of 1812, at least); they just had decided that it was no longer good for their economy and politics to be subservient to England’s. Remember that even after the war, England and America still traded. What was different was that England’s needs no longer out-prioritized America’s. (Contrast with the hyper-conservative conceit that America’s needs DO out-prioritize every non-divine foreign need out there.) Also remember that other subjects of Great Britain, such as Adam Smith, had already championed England jettisoning the colonies for the better economic and political health of both. The 1783 victory was basically Parliament finally acknowledging that allowing independence really was a better idea than forcing mercantilism.

    I guess the idea of independence being a victory for the holy has a lot to do with the conceit of America being a place of refuge for TRUE Christianity, there being no official sect, and thus no separation of the members of the True Church. But this was more about the Founders knowing from the experiences of Germany, England, Italy, France, etc. that state churches were a near-certain catalyst for unending strife. Meanwhile, the experience of places like Rhode Island established that you also didn’t NEED a state church. The Founders certainly knew which example was the better one. Nothing divinely inspired about, just common sense. Besides, both Washington and Jefferson explicitly stated that the aegis extended to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and deists/agnostics/atheists.

    • Yeah. The book seems to do a lot of calling back to the American Revolution, painting Jordan and his colleagues as the brave new revolutionaries of the twenty-first century, when they’re really a group of people determined to launch media attacks on the government for a purpose very far removed from the altruistic (not that the government in this novel is any lovely bed of roses, mind).

      It’d be one thing if the government was genuinely hiding or covering a dangerous act or conspiracy, but they’re not. Even Tulrude’s 10 million Euro “gift” is pretty garden variety as bending the election financing laws goes, and Senator Straworth getting Supreme Court Justice is also fairly small political horse trading potatoes compared to anything Jordan should get worked up about.

      Now, if Jordan knew that the US government had been manipulated by Caesar Demas to let Atta Zimler roam freely, that’d be another thing. Even the premise of that falls apart though, since Europeans, unlike Canadians, need some extra clearances to get into the USA. Even from Canada.

      In the end, though, tracing Zimler is a police matter, and Gallagher’s already on it, so narrative-wise I’m sure Zimler will at least be tracked down to some hideout in the end.

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