The following is part ten of a completely fictional story illustrating one possible way in which private citizens might address problems stemming from the abuse of prosecutorial discretion using means that are 100% “outside the system.” While not advocating such tactics described, I did try to come up with tactics that make maximum use of leverage, that is, those tactics requiring the least amount of personnel, time, and resources to achieve the most significant result. This story is not about heroes and villains, good guys or bad guys. The characters are NOT intended to be role models, only to be as believable as possible while still doing things that, to my knowledge, have never been done before. Warning: This is not what you expect. It describes dirty, underhanded tactics which
some most will find shocking and revolting.
Tuesday, October 30 – 11:05 AM
Sullivan was now untied, his diaper removed. The camping stove was turned off and the chairs moved out of the area where the cameras were focused and where Sullivan was. Adam and Jason went around to the cameras to make sure they were ready, and then Adam turned on all of the lights in the basement. Adam and Jason each donned ski masks as a precaution, even though they would be doing their best to stay out of view of the cameras, which were pointed low to the ground, where Sullivan was laying on his back. “Lights,” Adam said. Jason then turned on the light atop the larger S-VHS analog video camera. “Camera,” Adam said, nodding his head to Jason. Jason went around to each camera and hit ‘record.’ Sullivan didn’t bother to watch as the red lights on the cameras came on, one by one, but he could see them with his peripheral vision as he stared at a single spot on the ceiling. Jason re-checked each camera to make sure they were all recording and then gave Adam a “thumbs up.” Adam then clapped his hands loudly, getting Sullivan’s attention. Once Sullivan looked over at Adam, Adam pointed his finger at him and mouthed the word, “action!”
Ed Hawkins was re-entering the town of Lexington, looking for any sign that anyone had noticed Sullivan missing. He hadn’t seen any increased police presence or roadblocks, and he had not heard any scanner traffic out of the ordinary. But Ed couldn’t be 100% for sure.
In the age of cell phones, a busy and important man like Sullivan being completely unreachable on a Tuesday morning, even for only a few hours, would likely raise some eyebrows and prompt some questions. Ed knew that one phone call between Sullivan’s office and his wife would blow things up in a major way. If Mrs. Sullivan were anything like Mrs. Hawkins was back when Ed was still working, Ed thought, she’d be calling at least once by the afternoon at the latest. But maybe Sullivan had laid down the law with his wife; maybe a prosecutor could do that sort of thing. There was no way of knowing for sure. They could have asked Sullivan, but he hadn’t yet been fully blackmailed and wasn’t yet their puppet.
And that’s what Sullivan would be: their sexually abused and traumatized version of a real life “Manchurian Candidate,” a poor-man’s Manchurian Candidate at that. Well, Ed thought, you gotta start somewhere; the Manchurian Presidential candidate was only a character in a story. And, then again, so was Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. What would happen, most likely, would be that Sullivan would be getting a real boost to his career, and he’d be a virtual shoe-in for State Senate when the elections came up.
You gotta start somewhere. And besides, a State Senate Candidate, with enough charisma and backing, could even possibly become President of the United States in a few short years.
At about 2 minutes into the filming, Adam went around and cut off all of the camers, and then yelled “Cut, cut, cut!”
Sullivan had been performing as directed, but Adam didn’t like the facial expressions Sullivan was giving. They looked like Sullivan was in pain, which he was. And he looked like he wasn’t enjoying himself, which he wasn’t. Adam thought that, in the unlikely event he had to release the video, it would be a source of pity; people would feel sorry for Sullivan after seeing the footage that had been shot so far. And that wasn’t the type of movie Adam was going for. No, if he had to release the video, Adam wanted it to be a source of ridicule, not pity. Adam knew that ridicule was difficult to deal with and that it made for an effective tactic. Adam had read online snippets of Saul Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals,” and Adam was most definitely a radical, not of the type Alinsky had in mind, but a radical no less. Adam needed Sullivan to smile, to look like he was enjoying himself, so that the video, if it ever had to be released, would be a source of pure ridicule and not a source of pity or sympathy. He had an idea.
Adam tore off a piece of duct tape and fashioned it into an improvised rope. He tied it around Sullivan’s left arm above the bicep. “Pump your fist,” Adam instructed Sullivan. “I’m going to give you something to make this easier,” he said to Sullivan. Adam then reached into the lunchbox and pulled out a needle marked “H2” for “heroin 2nd dose.” He gave Sullivan about a third of a dose right into his now-enlarged vein in his left arm. It was enough, Adam figured, to give Sullivan a little euphoria, but not enough to give him a full-blown rush. The heroin did the trick as Sullivan continued performing and Adam and Jason turned the cameras back on. It made for a somewhat clumsier performance, but the facial expressions were priceless. Yes, if the video were ever released, it would most definitely be a source of ridicule for Sullivan, and, therefore, it was just about the most effective piece of blackmail material one could ever hope to produce. Seeing Sullivan smiling as if he genuinely enjoyed it, Adam knew that Sullivan would fear the ridicule that would surely come if the tape ever had to be released. Adam was banking on this fear; he was betting the mission on it.
Ed was satisfied that the authorities were not yet suspecting that Sullivan was anywhere other than sick at home, and, apparently, Mrs. Sullivan had not called around too much either. After driving around the Lexington area, he now headed back West in his SUV, toward the safehouse in Carrolton where Adam, Jason, and Eugene were.
Adam now had all the footage he needed, and he and Jason turned the cameras off. Adam said “Cut, cut, cut. Good work Gene, good work.” Adam and Jason lifted Sullivan up, helped him walk on his burned feet up the stairs and into bathroom. They dropped him in the bathtub and turned on the shower, tossing him a bar of soap. They closed the shower curtain and set his clothes on the toilet. Adam said, “Now, clean up and get dressed, Gene. This is almost over. This is almost over.” Adam and Jason closed the bathroom door and went back downstairs to pack up some of the gear and evidence. They left two video cameras and one blue tarp out, though. Adam would pack these up only when it was literally time for him to go out the door.
11: 45 AM
Ed arrived back at the safehouse and went in the front door. The bags with gear, minus a few things, were staged by the front door. Ed and Jason began loading them into the Cherokee, including the garbage bag containing Sullivan’s shoes and socks, the camping stove, the pot and pan, and a bottle of slightly used canola oil. Adam gave Jason the keys to his car. The Plan was now at the point where they would begin trying to split up as much as possible, as the likelihood of things hitting the fan increased with each passing hour. Jason and Ed both got into the Cherokee and started driving toward the decoy safehouse in Richmond, nervous as hell, but somewhat confident that the cops were not yet setting up roadblocks looking for any signs of a missing Prosecuting Attorney.
Once Jason and Ed had left, Adam opened the bathroom door and tossed in a towel, yelling to Sullivan, “Come on, get dressed and get out here!” Adam closed he door and, now in silence and alone in the house except for his victimized captive, Adam began to reflect on the day’s events. And he began to question his role, his coldness, and his new-found meanness. I’m a pretty insensitive bastard, huh? I just yelled at a victim of torture and sexual abuse, someone I just tortured. And I yelled for him to ‘hurry up.’
Adam told himself that he was only where he wanted to be. He finally got to play the role of the gloves-off interrogator, able to gain complete control of his prisoner. No insurgent would be smiling at him from across a table this time, no sir, he thought, as he began to recall some of his work and experiences from Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’d successfully discharged a lot of the anger he’d felt at that insurgent who smiled at him, knowing that an American Army interrogator was not allowed to lay a hand on him and that he’d most likely be released soon.
And, besides, Sullivan was a bad man, deserving what he got. But Adam couldn’t help but feel guilty for putting Sullivan in danger – Jason could very well have poured that hot oil in Gene’s face. Sure, Jason had promised Adam that he was going along with Adam’s plan, that he would only try to scare Sullivan with the saucepan over his face. But, Adam concluded, he wouldn’t have put it past Jason to have done it anyway. He wouldn’t put it past Jason to sign up for this mission just so he could get the chance to burn the face of the Prosecuting Attorney. Jason was the kind of vindictive, sadistic type who might do something like that. In fact, Adam had had similar thoughts himself upon first seeing the infamous video of Officer Garges assaulting the motorist on I-70.
Anyway, that part’s over. I may feel a little guilty, but worse things have happened. Adam’s brain then, almost reflexively, made the decision to cope with this guilt by replacing it with another source of guilt, stirring up something Adam had, so far, been pretty good at suppressing.
Not as much guilt as I felt that night in 2004 when I deleted that Word document, Adam thought.
Are you sure you want to move file ‘DIIR-0025’ to the Recycle Bin? Yes. Adam took a deep breath and then exhaled out his mouth. Draft Intelligence Information Report number Twenty-Five was something Adam had been trying very hard not to think about for the past five or so years.
Are you sure you want to permanently delete ‘DIIR-0025’? Yes.
Adam couldn’t stop his eyes from tearing up a little. He opened his mouth wide and took another deep breath. As he exhaled, his face tensed up and he hissed the air out through his mouth as a tear began to roll down his cheek. He mouthed and whispered the words, “Two…..two…” He took another large breath and hissed it out, bending over and putting his hands on his knees. Don’t lose it Adam, not here, not now! Keep it together! Think happy thoughts. But Adam couldn’t think happy thoughts. He couldn’t stop the memories from rushing in, just as one couldn’t count to ten without thinking of an elephant, if that was what the game was. And this elephant in Adam’s mind wasn’t leaving anytime soon. ‘Two, fucking two!” Two lives, two human lives, Adam, you worthless piece of of shit! You lazy, goddamn pathetic piece of trash!
Adam struggled with himself, his mind and his body, as his muscles tensed up and he collapsed onto the floor in the hallway. Stop, Stop right now! Get yourself together, Soldier! Adam managed to grab hold of a doorknob and pull himself up. He took a few deep breaths. He would re-focus, suppressing the memories just a little longer. He knew he could keep them in check, but their intrusions had recently become more severe and more frequent in the past weeks as the current mission had progressed. The alcohol had helped to dull the guilt, and the occasional marijuana had given him the temporary illusion that he was successfully coping with something that would be a permanent, unwelcome guest in his mind. It was a bad thing, something that had a way of spawning all sorts of depressing and masochistic thoughts, something that would trap Adam in a mental cage every time he went near it. Right now, having a pretty severe attack of something that might be diagnosed as a form of “survivor guilt,” Adam would have reached for the bottle, but there was no bottle in reach here at the safehouse, not even a can of beer. But there was a lunchbox containing hypodermic needles filled with heroin.
Don’t even go there, Adam! Just stay focused on the mission a little longer. You’re going to complete this mission. Then you’re going to throw away any leftover drugs. You don’t even deserve the pleasure of using them. Then you’re going to empty out most of your bank account and donate all that cash to charity. You’re gonna go back to your job at the warehouse driving a forklift for $11 a fucking hour. You’re gonna live your shitty little life alone, and that’ll be good enough for you. It’s what you deserve. No wife, no family, not even a girlfriend. You don’t deserve any of that stuff. Adam, you worthless piece of shit, you will live and die alone, and that’s the way it’s gonna be.
Adam knew that he was already a guilty man, deserving of a life devoid of pleasure; he knew he was a guilty man before even embarking on The Plan and kidnapping and torturing Sullivan. He had sentenced himself to a life of guilt, shame, and emptiness, and he knew that he had no right to any of the pleasures life had to offer. Adam was guilty of having committed the Cardinal Sin of military intelligence collection back in Samarrah in 2004. And now he was living an intelligence collector’s worst nightmare, a private and lonely Hell known only to a few unfortunate souls. It wasn’t so much that Adam was just suffering from irrational ‘survivor’s guilt,’ it was that Adam realized that he was, in fact, a guilty survivor.
April 26th, 2004 6:30 PM
Adam and a local-hire Iraqi interpreter were at a building near the front gate of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Red Sox just outside Samarrah, Iraq. They were meeting with a very low level informant named Ibrahim Khalil, a taxi driver who worked primarily inside the town of Samarrah. Khalil had met with Adam a few times before. Some of the info he had provided was accurate, and some of what he had provided was, Adam concluded, bogus. Adam was considering discontinuing the meetings with Khalil, but Khalil was here giving some specific info, naming some suspected Sunni insurgents in the area. At the conclusion of the interview, Adam asked Khalil, through the interpreter, “Do you know if these guys are planning any attacks in the near future?”
Khalil responded, “I’m sure they are, but I don’t know the details.”
Adam then followed up, “Well, what about roadside bombs? Have these guys put out any roadside bombs that haven’t gone off yet?”
“I believe they have. There is talk of some big bombs on the main roads in Samarrah?”
Adam then asked, “Where exactly are these big bombs? which main roads?” Samarrah had several “main roads” and that there were often roadsode bombs along them wasn’t exactly breaking news.
“I don’t know exactly, but these guys have some big ones out there; everyone in the town knows this. When you see the people go inside and clear out of an area, then you know one is about to go off.” Khalil said. This was also not breaking news, Adam thought. He was about to get a ride that night with the Army National Guard unit he was temporarily attached to and go back to his “home base,” Fort Samarrah, on the other side of the town. He didn’t have secure internet access at the FOB, so he typed the intelligence report for the meeting on his laptop at the FOB and planned on waiting until he got back to his home base of Fort Samarrah to email the report out to his superiors.
The convoy he’d be going on would go through the town. But, Adam figured, there wasn’t an actionable enough threat, was there? He wasn’t afraid of roadside bombs on this trip; Khalil’s information wasn’t really anything new, was it? Adam had enough balls to get on the truck without having a second thought. No big deal, I’ll just send the report when I get back home. Besides, Adam was tired. He’d missed a night of sleep the night before, and his thinking wasn’t at 100%. He had to fight the urge to nod off as he rode in the back of the 5 ton truck at the rear of the convoy.
April 26th, 2004 8:30 PM
The blast lit up the street like it was mid afternoon. Adam could see the flash of light from inside the back of the truck through the gaps in the canvas as it flapped from the pressure wave. It was the loudest sound Adam had ever heard. He felt the concussion in his chest and lungs. He squinted from the light. His whole body shook. He saw the looks on faces of the other men on the benches in the back of the truck. They looked how he felt.
Then all hell broke loose. The sound of machine gun fire filled the air. Sgt Johnson began yelling. A few bullets whizzed through the canvas covering the back of the truck. It was panic, but an orderly panic. At least these boys knew what to do, because Adam sure as hell didn’t.
April 26th, 2004 11:30 PM
As Adam’s convoy started to make it’s way back to Fort Samarrah after the attack, Adam began to calm down and finally put two and two together. Two men were now dead, and several others had been wounded, a couple of them seriously. He could publish the report when he got back, but then there would be the questions: Why didn’t you get on the radio and put out a SPOT report? Why didn’t you warn us?!? Two men might still be alive if only you’d done your damn job! No, Adam would delete the report and stop meeting with Khalil altogether. He wasn’t a reliable source, anyway, Adam told himself.
But Adam couldn’t lie to himself forever. In the back of his mind, Adam was sure that if he had only warned the convoy commander, he would have directed the convoy around the city. The convoy commander, Captain Bowen, and his Army National Guard troops were new to the area. Previous units had avoided the city toward the end of their tours, but, Adam suspected, Bowen had been eager to see some action and kick some ass, as Adam had been. However, Adam couldn’t deny the fact that if he had only warned Bowen, or if he’d only gotten on the radio and warned somebody, the attack could have been avoided. Bowen might have been green, but he wasn’t stupid; he would have re-routed the convoy if Adam Warren, the unit’s top intelligence operator on scene, had recommended doing so. Adam could not escape this fact.
Captain Bowen had been medevaced with a traumatic head injury following the blast. Adam had heard through the grapevine that Bowen had finally gone back to his family with the brain of a three year old, that he was relearning toilet training, numbers 1 through ten, and the alphabet. And the two that were killed – one was 30 years old with a wife and two young children. The other man killed was barely 19.
Tuesday, October 30 – 12:15 PM
Suddenly, Adam thought, the Prosecuting Attorney’s problems weren’t so bad after all. So what? So fucking what if that scumbag pissed in his goddamned diaper!? Who really gives a shit in the grand scheme of things?! So what if that asshole made a dirty movie with a carrot?!Who really gives a flying rat’s ass? So he had a bad day? So…fucking..what?!? Who gives a fuck!?!
“Who gives a fuck?!” Adam yelled to himself in the hallway. Even though the shower was running and the bathroom door was closed, Sullivan still managed to hear Adam say this.
By now, Sullivan was crawling on the bathroom floor, wrapping up in the towel and closing the shower curtain with the shower still running. Adam opened the door, came in, and turned the water off. “Come on, let’s go! Get dressed! Hurry up!” Adam yelled at Sullivan, throwing the ball of clothes onto him. Sullivan managed to get his legs through his pants legs, but then started complaining about the pain in his feet. Adam helped him up, and Sullivan yelled as he mistakenly put weight on he toes that were the most badly burned. Sullivan was in pain and he was still scared, especially after hearing Adam scream at himself in the hallway. Sullivan was shaking, and his voice trembled as he said, “P-please don’t hurt me anymore. Please don’t hurt me anymore.”
Adam said to Sullivan, “Don’t worry, I don’t think we’ll have to do anymore of that.”
Sullivan then said to Adam, “And, please, please don’t release that tape.” Sullivan was relieved to hear Adam say that he would not be hurting him anymore, and his primary concern now was the videotape. Sullivan also thought that his lowest moment was behind him, but Adam would have to be thorough in his blackmailing and control technique. Adam was disciplined and always thorough, almost to a fault even. Sullivan’s lowest moment was yet to come.
Adam helped Sullivan walk down the basement stairs, back to the pro-wrestling style folding chairs, back to the blue tarp, and back to the scene of the most painful, horrifying, and humiliating experience of his life. “No, no, please no!” Sullivan pleaded as Adam sat him back down in the folding chair. “Please, no more!” he begged.
“Just sit down and relax,” Adam said. Sullivan felt like some kind of inverted version of a medical patient with Adam as some twisted version of a doctor or nurse, one who was obviously not adhering to the Hippocratic Oath. Adam took the improvised duct tape “rope” and again tied it above Sullivan’s left bicep. Sullivan figured Adam was most likely going to give him another shot of the happy stuff, the morphine or heroin or whatever it was. Adam opened the lunchbox and found the needle marked “L” for “LSD.” Sullivan didn’t notice the “L” marking on the needle as Adam stuck it into his enlarged vein and pushed the plunger down halfway, but he noticed the look on Adam’s face and began to suspect that it was not the happy stuff that Adam was giving him this time.
Sullivan, his voice still trembling, asked Adam, “What is this stuff?”
Adam looked Sullivan dead in the eye and simply uttered three letters, “L-S-D.”