A Perfect Hatred
Book One: End Times
Cowboys and Red Flags
President Geoffrey Monroe Randolph thanked his cabinet members and stood up. Everyone else began to collect their papers—rather their aides moved to take up that chore. Randolph drew the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms aside. Not a cabinet-level position, ATF normally wasn’t represented at cabinet meetings, but today was… A special exception.
A few feet from the ATF director’s back, a line formed—other cabinet secretaries hoping for a moment of the President’s time. The Attorney General rose, smoothed her skirt, and exchanged a look with the FBI director. He nodded and caught the official photographer’s eye. The FBI director jerked a thumb toward the door, and the photog backed out, still taking pictures.
The Attorney General edged closer to the President and raised her voice to a timbre that always got the jury’s attention when she was a prosecutor. “Mr. President, if I might have a word?”
Randolph clapped the ATF Director on the back and sent him on his way. He looked at Attorney General Sheryl Vejar and smiled. “For you, Sherrie, any time,” he said.
“Thank you, sir,” Vejar said, the FBI director at her side. “Could the three of us have the room?”
Randolph’s smile stayed in place, but his eyes didn’t echo it. He addressed the people lingering in the room. “Folks, I need a minute with the Attorney General and the FBI.”
People filtered out, the President’s chief of staff and the Vice President lingering.
“The three of us,” Vejar murmured.
Randolph looked at the Vice President. “Nothing significant. I’ll catch you up later.”
When the door closed on the three of them, Vejar said, “We’ll need the eavesdropping countermeasures.”
Randolph’s smile dropped away. “Why, Madame Attorney General, did you make me lie to my vice president?”
“I think you’ll understand after we speak to you.”
“All right. Go ahead, Allan.”
FBI Director Allan Steedley engaged the anti-eavesdropping equipment and rejoined the President and Vejar at the conference table.
“After the ATF’s briefing this morning,” Vejar began, “I think you’ll agree we need better intelligence from the standoff in Killeen, Texas, intelligence not tainted by the usual ATF/FBI rivalry.”
Steedley glared at that. “There’s no rivalry as far as I’m concerned.”
“Really?” Randolph said. “I thought I was going to have to have this room cleaned after you two directors got through pissing over each other in the corners.”
“Engaging the Hostage Rescue Team was the right call, Mr. President.”
“I’m not questioning that, Allan. Please continue, Sherrie.”
“I’d like to get some assets on the ground there who’ll report only to you through DoJ. A more neutral point of view.”
“Now, that’s an interesting proposition, and a damned good idea. Do you agree, Allan?”
“Somewhat reluctantly, Mr. President, but I do agree the situation in Texas has become elevated to an unacceptable level of one-upmanship. On Isaac Caleb’s part, by the way.”
“Maybe a little from our side,” Randolph said. He looked at Vejar. “Where will you get these assets from? The Secret Service? U.S. Marshals?”
“No, sir. I think the best way to obtain good intelligence is to use people who specialize in gathering intelligence, not law enforcement officers.”
Randolph’s eyes widened. “The CIA can’t work inside the U.S., and don’t even suggest we let them do it anyway. That’s all I need if that became public.”
“No, sir, not the CIA. I agree we can’t break the law. I believe you were briefed on the United Nations Intelligence Directorate.”
Randolph frowned as he thought. “Refresh my memory.”
“The Directorate, as it’s colloquially called, was formed at the same time as the U.N., after World War II. Secretary-General Trygvy Lie saw the need for a neutral intelligence service, one used at his order or which a sovereign government could use when its internal intelligence organization may be biased.”
“Yes, I recall that, now. Have they worked in the U.S. before?”
“I personally know of one instance, but…” She looked at Steedley. “There are other instances.”
Randolph looked at Steedley. “Well?”
“There have been some, uh, events, notably in the sixties and seventies.”
“Neither of you knows for certain?”
“It’s the most covert of organizations, Mr. President,” Vejar said. “For example, the average American knows the CIA exists, knows it’s our external intelligence-gathering and counter-intelligence organization. The U.N., however, does not acknowledge the existence of The Directorate.”
“Well, how did you know about it?”
“When I was a prosecutor in Florida, I cracked down on cocaine dealers in my district and got a lot of successful prosecutions. Whole pipelines got cut off. That upset a couple of the cartels, and they joined together to put a bounty on me. The organization that alerted me to it was The Directorate.”
“And they knew about it how?”
“I asked, but I wasn’t need-to-know. However, the intel was correct. Two of their operatives thwarted an attempt to kidnap me. I was to be taken to Colombia and returned to my family in a series of packages.”
“Jesus Christ! How was that not in the media?”
“Because The Directorate doesn’t exist.”