Authors: Gary Grossman
Tags: #Fiction, #Tablet
mixes terrorists, politics, drug gangs and technology in nonstop action! Gary Grossman creates a master villain with a horribly plausible plot to attack the United States; one that will take Scott Roarke and Katie Kessler right to the brink and then over the edge. So real it’s scary!”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Exit Plan, Cold Choices, Red Dragon Rising
“Moving at break-neck speed,
is nothing short of sensational.
Grossman is a master storyteller who sets you up and delivers. Expertly woven and highly researched.
is not just a great book, it’s a riveting experience.”
Award Winning, bestselling Author of
Malchus, Driven, Takedown, Talons
ramps up the excitement from
. This time, the terrorists’ target is not America’s political institutions, it’s America itself through the nation’s unprotected water supplies. Grossman found the way to make this an even greater thrill ride! I was absolutely riveted!
A truly bravura performance from a master of the political thriller!”
Dwight Jon Zimmerman,
New York Times
bestselling co-author of
Lincoln’s Last Days
(with Bill O’Reilly),
Uncommon Valor, First Command
“Grossman combines detailed knowledge with a frightening, realistic plot to create a non-stop, suspense filled roller coaster ride.
is a great read!”
The China Gambit
The Spanish Revenge
“Intricate, taut, and completely mesmerizing, Gary Grossman’s thriller
is a hit! Grossman expertly blends together globe-spanning locations, well-researched technology, finely crafted narrative, and intriguing characters to create a virtuoso tale. Highly recommended.”
New York Times
is more chilling than science fiction. Gary Grossman shows how the media itself can become a weapon of mass destruction. You’ll never listen to talk radio again without a shiver going down your spine.”
is the best political thriller I have read in a long, long time. Right up there with the very best of David Baldacci. Gary Grossman has created a masterpiece of suspense; powerfully written and filled with wildly imaginative twists. Get ready to lose yourself in a hell of a story.”
New York Times
“Break out the flashlight, and prepare to stay up all night: Gary Grossman has written a sprawling, captivating political thriller, filled with meticulously researched details and riveting characters. Once you start reading
you won’t be able to put it down.”
James Bond screenwriter, and
A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 1008
New York, NY 10016
Copyright © 2012 by Gary Grossman
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, or incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
For more information, email [email protected]
First Diversion Books edition October 2012.
To Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Frank McGee, Ernie Tetrault, George Reading, Tom Ellis, Arch McDonald, and all the great anchors, journalists and commentators who helped shape my political awareness through their national and local broadcasts.
To all those who sit in their chairs,
Remember the age-old quotation, attributed to many writers,
including Mark Twain,
“A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is pulling its boots on.”
In sixth century BC, during the siege of Krissa, Solon of Athens contaminated water with herbs. The Romans used arsenic, a popular and readily available poison. Toward the end of the Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman tainted Confederate drinking supplies during his march to the ocean. The general had developed and perfected his methods during the war on the Seminoles in Florida years earlier. Poisons continued to be dispensed during World War I, and in 1939, the Japanese reportedly poisoned water supplies in Mongolia.
In the 1970s, wells in Bangladesh were contaminated with arsenic. Decades later, Palestinians on the West Bank claimed that Jewish settlers poisoned their only source of drinkable water.
The FBI derailed a plan in the mid 1980s to introduce cyanide into the water supplies of major U.S. cities. Four Moroccans were arrested in 2002 just before lacing water in Rome with powdered potassium ferric cyanide.
In 1996, America’s Safe Drinking Water Act identified contaminants and poisons, which, in the hands of terrorists, would pose one of the greatest risks to the infrastructure of American life. Since then, law enforcement has investigated tampering at hundreds of U.S. water sheds, reservoirs, and water supply tanks.
But the worst is yet to come.
The White House
Morgan Taylor, President
Scott Roarke, Secret Service Agent
Katie Kessler, Deputy White House Counsel
John “Bernsie” Bernstein, Chief of Staff
GEN Jonas Jackson Johnson, National Security Advisor
Norman Grigoryan, Secretary, Dept Homeland Security
Eve Goldman, Attorney General
Bob Huret, Secretary of State
Louise Swingle, President Taylor’s secretary
Duke Patrick, Speaker of the House
Shaw Aderly, U.S. Senator, Missouri
Nathan Williamson, Chairman, Center for Strategic Studies
Christine Slocum, speechwriter
Jim Vernon, sales executive
Lily Michaelson, sales executive
Leopold Browning, Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court
Richard Cooper, former Lt., U.S. Army
Jack Evans, Director National Intelligence (DNI)
Vinnie D’Angelo, CIA agent
Raymond Watts, CIA officer
CPT Penny Walker, Army intelligence
Robert Mulligan, Director, FBI
Curtis Lawson, Assistant Director, FBI
Shannon Davis, agent
Duane “Touch” Parsons, facial recognition expert
Roy Bessolo, agent
Komar Erkin, agent
Nancy Drahushak, agent
Chuck Rantz, agent
Raymond Watts, agent
Greg Ketz, agent
SGT Amos Barnes
Charlie Messinger, a businessman
Paul Le Strand, a businessman
Paul Twardy, journalist
Oscar Hernandez, President
Elder Cabrera, Chief of Staff
Ibrahim Haddad, a businessman
Lawrence Beard, U.S. District Court Judge
Arkady Gomenko, an analyst
Yuri Ranchenkov, Deputy Director, FSB
Vinnie D’Angelo, CIA agent
Major Sergei Kleinkorn, supervisor
Aleksandr Dubroff, retired Russian Colonel
Centers for Disease Control
Dr. Glen Snowden
Dr. Bonnie Comley
Navy SEALs and U.S. Command
Vice Admiral Seymour Gunning
Commander B. D. Coons
Commander Robert Shayne
GEN Jim Drivas, Special Operations Command
CPT Susan Mitnick
George Bush Intercontinental Airport
He tried not to look nervous.
At first, the man didn’t hear the order. The thick, bulletproof glass of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer’s booth muffled the sound.
“Step forward,” the agent at the Houston terminal repeated.
The man wanted to be invisible. Mistake. His instructions were to blend in, act casually, and make small talk. He was five-eight, clean shaven. He kept his brown hair medium length; normal. Except for a small scar under his chin, there was nothing memorable about his look. Nothing distinctive.
He tensed. Not good. He should have smiled politely and done as he was told. However, the man was not used to being told what to do by a woman. He hesitated again and was slow to hand over his passport.
The agent didn’t know how much harder the president had just made her job. Generally, work came down to evaluate, stamp, and pass. Sometimes it took longer, but it was usually the same thing every hour of every day. Evaluate, stamp, and pass. In twelve years, she’d probably only flagged twenty people, principally because they were belligerent to her and not a real threat. It was different today. Houston was beta testing a new system that was sure to be on a fast track everywhere. But right now it was slow, and Agent Carlita Deluca was already feeling pissed off.
The man finally passed his papers under the glass in the booth. With the Argentine passport finally in hand, she studied the picture; then the man before her. The
part. She made quick assessments. Recent scabs on his face.
Cuts from shaving?
Sloppy knot on his tie.
Not a professional.
She rose up from her chair and examined his rolling suitcase.
Then Deluca looked at the passport more closely.
Armenian name, but citizen of Argentina
. She checked whether he had traveled in the Middle East. No stamps.
“State your business in the United States.”
The man cleared his throat. A bad signal, but he didn’t know it.
She listened to the accent. Carlita Deluca had become pretty good at detecting certain regionalisms. Not Armenian.
She needed more.
“University. I’m a professor.” He put his hand out impatiently, expecting his passport, which Deluca didn’t return.
The man shifted his weight from one foot to another. “Philosophy. Comparative religions.”
“Have you taught here before?”
“And where is your interview?”
Deluca nodded, scanned the passport through her computer and waited while the photo traveled as data bits across the Internet.
The accent? Definitely not German. Not European at all. More….
A video camera also captured the man’s image at the booth. The new image and picture on the passport were instantly cross-referenced against millions of other photos through FRT or FERET—Facial Recognition Technology. Some of the process was standard post 9/11; some as recent as the president’s last sentence.
Universidad Nacional De Cordoba,” he answered, almost too quickly.
“No, where is your job interview?”
“Oh, New York University.”
She couldn’t quite peg it yet. So, Deluca continued to study the man. It also gave the computer—which she understood very little about—time to talk to whatever it talked to. It was definitely sluggish, and the line behind the man was growing longer. She stamped the passport and wondered whether the computer was even working. It was.
A 2004 report to Congress concluded that America’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies missed, ignored, or failed to identify key conspirators responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The public agreed. People who should have been flagged as dangerous or, at the very least, undesirable, entered the United States undetected. Once here, they engaged in highly suspect activity that went unchecked.
It’s not that the system didn’t work. There was no effective system. That changed with the establishment of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6. In Beltway speak—HSPD-6. The White House directive, issued September 16, 2003, consolidated interagency information sharing. The avowed goal—to put the right intelligence into the hands of the right people; securely and in a timely manner.
At the center of HSPD-6 is TSC—the Terrorist Screening Center. The department has been charged with identifying, screening, and tracking known or suspected terrorists and their supporters. Feeding TSC is the FTTTF, the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, and TTIC, the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, all administered by the FBI.
In addition to establishing the TSC, HSPD-6 effectively rerouted watch lists and terrorist identification programs through another service called TIPOFF.
This is precisely where the photograph of the man at the airport was being examined electronically against hundreds of thousands of other pictures.
TIPOFF began in 1987 with little more than a shoe box full of three-by-five-inch index cards. Now it ran through a complex computer network; one of the most secretive in the world. Every nanosecond, search engines mine data from CIA deep cover reports, to Customs photo scans, right down to Google, Yahoo, and Bing images. Until recently, the subjects in the TIPOFF database were primarily non-U.S. persons. Out of necessity, that changed. Today, the program cross-references records of American citizens and even legal permanent residents who are “of interest.” It feeds that information to the U.S. Customs Service, now administered by the Department of Homeland Security.
The man’s “biometrics”—the physical characteristics including facial geometry—were being interpreted at the speed of light by the TIPOFF computers. The nation’s interlocked FRT programs rejected more than 99.999999 percent of the matches. That took less time than the next step. The program kicked the photograph back into the database for further analysis when it registered positive against some fourteen other pictures.
“Can you tell me where I can find Southwest Airlines?” the man asked as politely as possible. He was beginning to feel this was taking too much time.
“After baggage claim, go outside. There’s a tram.”
“Thank you.” The man shifted his weight again and forced a smile, hoping this would speed things up.
. Deluca decided. But the computer’s identity program still hadn’t given her any reason to hold the man. She reluctantly returned his passport.
“Proceed to your right and straight through the doors.”
The man smiled again and then let out a breath.
A sigh of relief?
Deluca could hold him, however travelers behind him were growing impatient after their long international flights.
“One more question.” The fifty-nine-year-old mother of four was clearly stalling. Agent Deluca wanted to give the computer another moment. That’s when a short pinging sound indicated an incoming message onscreen. She checked the monitor. One word appeared under the picture captured by the new Customs surveillance program.
When she looked up, a couple and their child were now standing at her window. The subject had taken his passport and left.
“Where the hell?”
Deluca rushed out of the booth, down the hallway, and through the doors where she had directed the man. She reached for her walkie talkie, but she’d left it at her post. On the other side of the doors she faced the concourse lined with luggage turntables.
She remembered. Aeromexico out of Mexico City.
Another customs agent read the urgency on her face as she passed him.
“What is it?”
“Got a detain. White male. Well, white-ish. Medium build, brown sports jacket. Short brown hair.”
Carlita Deluca had just described dozens of men within fifty yards. The second customs agent did what Deluca hadn’t done. He radioed upstairs. But it was already redundant. Homeland Security computers had signaled an alert. Simultaneously, the conveyer belt froze. The outer doors locked. No one was going to get through.
Five agents converged in the baggage area; all with printouts of the subject’s photograph. Deluca pushed past some arriving passengers to get to the arrivals board. She read it aloud until she came to Aeromexico 4325/Mexico City. Baggage Claim 7
“Yes!” Deluca turned and looked down the line.
From twenty feet she spotted the man who was walking near the conveyor belt. She signaled the agent closest to radio the location. Seconds later, agents appeared from everywhere. People automatically made room for the uniformed officers whose 40-calibre Glock 23s were out.
The Egyptian sensed the mood change in the concourse. Three of the largest men he’d ever seen were now running across the expanse on an intercept course. Behind them, he saw the cursed female agent who was pointing him out. She had a gun. So did the others. He couldn’t place the weapons. That wasn’t his expertise. He panicked.
Abdul Hassan started to run. There was no time for
All he could do now was escape.
Hassan ignored the shouts to “Stop!” He pivoted right and bounced off an elderly couple. The man nearly fell down. A pregnant woman next to him was not so lucky. She hit the ground hard. This brought screams from another family and the crowd began to scatter. People tripped over one another. The route to the doors clogged. He darted to the left and suddenly found himself running at full force toward the customs agent from the kiosk. He jammed his head into her gut, instantly bringing Deluca down. The Egyptian grabbed her gun.
“Drop it!” shouted another agent.
He answered the order with a wild shot. Twenty feet away, a father of two fell to his knees. His last thought before his head cracked on the cement floor was for the safety of his twin boys.
People screamed and dropped low. Only five remained upright. Hassan and four of Houston’s most experienced U.S. Customs and Border agents. Their guns rang out from nearly 360 degrees to the target, each finding its mark—a difficult-to-make head shot, two bullets to the lungs, front and back, and two more in the heart. Any of the agents could have taken credit for the kill.