The following is part eleven 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 – 12:15 PM
Sullivan was already what an interrogator would call “broken.” He was, from all outward appearances, cooperating, but Adam didn’t want to just assume that Sullivan’s internal state matched the external appearance. As long as he had time to do so, he would do all he could to make sure, 99.99% sure, that Sullivan would indeed continue to cooperate after he was released.
If Ed had reported that the cops were onto something by now, Adam and his crew would have begun the release plan already, which called for transporting Sullivan to the decoy safe house along with most of the used items as “evidence.” Then The Plan called for the canola oil to again be heated up over the camping stove. As the canola oil would be heated, the crew would depart, leaving Sullivan behind to wait for the oil to reach its smoke point. Then Sullivan would throw an object at the stove, knocking it and the oil over onto the carpet, if he was going to cooperate. If it went like it was supposed to, a grease fire would quickly spread, and Sullivan would be close enough to the door to make his “escape.” The authorities would find Sullivan in the front yard and the decoy safe house on fire. The investigators, they assumed, would find some burned remains of the misleading evidence, but not enough to connect any of the fibers or scuffs to any scenario other than the one Sullivan would recount.
And who would question the torture survivor, the courageous victim who escaped, the celebrity prosecutor, when he told them he was picked up outside his house, drugged, and taken to the house from which he escaped? Details, they might ask – what details? He was recovering from the effects of LSD and heroin, saw his chance to escape, and bolted out the house despite the wounds to his feet. What more would they want to know from the man? What the kidnappers looked like? Whatever they looked like, they looked nothing like Adam Warren, Jason Parker, or Ed Hawkins. That was for sure; Sullivan would say that he saw the faces of he men who took him. That way, if the boys or their pictures were ever shown to Sullivan, he’d say ‘that’s not them.’ How much exculpatory evidence would one ultimately need? Besides, Sullivan was a pro; after all, he probably knew a thing or two about how cases got prosecuted.
With their security situation still in the clear so far as he knew, Adam had some time to work with. And with that precious time, he would maximize the leverage that The Plan could provide and to make sure that Sullivan would indeed do as he was supposed to. Adam, Jason, and Ed had previously discussed the carrot-video-blackmail technique and had all agreed hat, had it been themselves in the video, they would do whatever it took to make sure it was not released. They were fairly confident in the blackmail technique’s effectiveness, but three guys plotting in a basement did not necessarily equal hard data.
Of course, there was no way they were ever going to get any hard data on the effectiveness of the technique, unless, Adam supposed, they could peek into the darkest, most secret files of the world’s intelligence agencies. Perhaps MK-ULTRA’s destroyed documents even contained some research into the topic, but hat would be nothing more than pure speculation. But it was psychological control the CIA was after with MK-ULTRA, and Adam could think of no better way to gain near-complete control of someone than through a combination of fear, torture, sexual abuse, and sexual blackmail, in that order, and in the fashion they had used on Sullivan. And, as Jason and Ed had pointed out, it was highly, highly unlikely that Adam Warren, Army veteran of the enlisted ranks and current forklift driver with no college degree, was the first person on planet Earth to conceive of such a technique.
Either the technique was bogus, or someone, somewhere, had thought of it before and tried it. And they didn’t think it was bogus.
With all of the money and brainpower available to governments, surely they, a couple of amateurs, weren’t the first ones in history to have done what they were in the process of doing. They could hope that their own government had never used the technique, and they could hope that “friendly” governments had not used it on too many innocent people. The crew hadn’t dwelled too much on thinking along these lines; no time for conspiratorial speculation. Better to think happy thoughts and keep their eyes on the prize, which would be an up-and-coming politician at their beck and call.
Once Adam told Sullivan the stuff going into his vein was LSD, Sullivan’s train of thought jumped to the associations already in his mind as to what the drug was and what it did. He had never tried the drug himself. He remembered first learning what it was in a “D.A.R.E.” lecture in the fifth grade. He’d learned it was a “hallucinogen” which made people see things and act strange. He remembered hearing about it again in numerous anti-drug propaganda sessions in high school, before getting his driver’s license, and finally at his freshman orientation in college. They all seemed to focus on the negative aspect of the drug, the nightmares and flashbacks that it caused in some people.
Sullivan remembered having absolutely no desire to try the drug himself as a teenager or young adult. His closest brush with it, he remembered, was when he saw someone do it once at a frat party. The kid who was on it was acting funny, for sure, but he didn’t seem to be having as bad of a time as the drug lectures would have led him to believe. He was just ambling around the kitchen, staring at the young girls and the frat boys gathered around the punchbowl. He was staring at them, especially at the girls, and especially at their legs. The girls and he frat boys seemed to know the guy was on acid, because they just laughed at him and continued talking with eachother. As Sullivan briefly recalled this specific memory, he tried not to think about the scare tactics of the drug lectures and videos he’d seen in his youth and remembered that it was the hippies that made LSD a street drug and a common term in the first place. He then remembered that LSD was also an influence in the culture and music of the 1960’s and 1970’s – Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison and all of that.
Right about the time that his mind pictured Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in the movie, “The Doors,” his stream of consciousness then stopped in its tracks and had a look over its shoulder. Behind it, in its trail, were the thoughts he had had just moments ago. There were the Beatles, there was the frat party with the guy on acid, there was the punch bowl with the group of freshmen girls, there was the anti-drug lecture he had in college, and, behind that there were the numerous anti-drug lectures he’d received in high school and all of the negative associations his mind had connected to the letters, ‘L-S-D.’
Wait a second, did my thoughts usually stop in their tracks and look backwards like this?
His heart rate began to increase, as did his breathing, as he realized he was both under the influence of LSD and thinking intently about the topic of LSD and the sub-topics that branched off of it. As his stream of consciousness continued looking over its shoulder, he noticed that this topic was growing more inclusive of other things, like his mind was “zooming out.” As he noticed the frat party and the drug lectures in the foreground of his trail of thought, he then became aware of what was lurking in the background, in the shadows. What was lurking in the shadows was quickly coming into the light. It was the all-too-fresh memory of abusing himself on camera.
No, no, the cameras, the cameras! They were recording all of that!
Then came the fresh memory of his torture, his pain, his absolute fear, as Jason poured the frying oil on his feet and almost poured it on his face.
No! No! No! The horror! Must block this! Must try to forget!
Then his mind went back to the carrot video. His face flushed red with embarrassment. He thought that if the video were ever released he would have to kill himself. He thought about how he would do it. My gun, a knife to the wrists, a rope? He then started to blame himself, to think about how stupid and weak he was to have allowed himself to be captured like this. Maybe I should just kill myself right here and now!
His mind alternated between thoughts of the torture, the sort-of-self-inflicted sexual abuse, the video, and his initial kidnapping outside of his house. He was trapped in a vortex of fear, shame, and terror. Under the influence of the LSD, his ego was no longer a part of the picture as the thoughts continued to gravitate toward that which he did not want to think about. Through it all, he could only identify himself as someone who needed to be erased. At best, his sense of identity was “in limbo.” His heart continued to race, and his breathing remained deep and rapid as he felt the urge to do something, anything, to try and change his situation.
He started to try and stand up, he would try to get out of his chair and find a weapon, maybe kill Adam and then kill himself. But as he did so, he noticed the pain in his feet slowing him down a little. Then Adam grabbed Sullivan by the shoulders and eased him back down into his chair.
“Just relax and stay with me here. We’re gonna work through this.” Adam said, lying a little and trying to sound like the “therapist-type,” so as to make Sullivan stay in his chair. Adam had no desire to tend to Sullivan’s mental health or well being, except, of course, if The Plan required it. And right now what The Plan called for was for Sullivan to stay in his chair. Adam put a blindfold over Sullivan’s eyes and instructed him to put his head down. Sullivan supported the weight of his head with his hands on his temples, resting his elbows on his knees.
Adam said to Sullivan, “Now think about why you’re here. Just think about why we’re having to do this. Think about why you’re here.” As Sullivan sat blindfolded with his head in his hands, Adam continued to repeat the sentence, “Think about why you’re here,” at regular intervals, about once every thirty seconds for the next five minutes or so. Hopefully, Adam thought, this would direct Sullivan’s thinking to the Highway Patrol beating incident.
“Think about why you’re here.”
Adam knew that Sullivan was not only a victim of torture, but also a victim of sexual abuse. In a sense, it could even be said that Sullivan was the victim of rape. And Adam knew that it was common for victims of rape to blame themselves, to not come forward because they assumed some responsibility for allowing the attack to take place and feared the embarrassment of cross-examination. Adam was now banking on that same dynamic taking place in Sullivan’s head. Hopefully, Adam thought, Sullivan would make the connection between his sin of omission in failing to prosecute Garges and the current unfortunate situation he now found himself in. With the blackmail videos, this “victim-guilt” wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it would help. Even with the blackmail threat hanging over him, it would still be better if Sullivan were the shameful, silent, and guilt-ridden victim and not the vengeful, it’s-not-my-fault, do-anything-to-get-justice, crusader. After all, there was still the possibility that Sullivan might try and catch them all at once and destroy the tapes, or the possibility that he might try to stalk them down individually and kill them in his off time. Surely a prosecutor could get away with that kind of thing if he really wanted to. And then there was also the remote possibility that Sullivan might just say ‘video-be-damned, I’m going after these guys with all I’ve got’ in a mutually-assured-destruction scenario, however far fetched that might be.
No, Adam had to be sure, as sure as he could be.
“Think about why you’re here.” He said again to Sullivan. Adam listened closely. Yes, there it was, there was that stuttered breathing coming from Sullivan’s nostrils that indicated the onset of sobbing. This might be guilt or it might be something else. Then Sullivan’s abdomen jumped a little as he forced out a breath. Yes, yes, he’s crying, this is good, Adam thought. Just let him have a good cry and get it out; whatever it is, that sweet nugget of guilt is in there somewhere.
“Think about why you’re here.”
Rachel Sullivan took another look at her cell phone; still no call back from her husband, Gene. She knew Gene didn’t like her calling him at work, but he should be at lunch right now and not in the office, she thought. She tried calling his number again, and it went to his voicemail, “You have reached the personal voicemail of Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney Eugene Sullivan; you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, again that email is e-sullivan-at-lafayette-C-O-dot-com, or leave a message at the tone..BEEP”
Rachel left a message, “Gene, it’s me; just wanted to know if you’d be working late today. Andy’s practice at the school should be over around 6. Can you pick him up around then? Or do I need to? Just give me a call whenever you get a chance, and please let me know. Or give Andy a call; he’s on lunch time until 1 and probably has his phone on. That’s all. Bye.”
As Eugene hacked out a good little acid-enhanced cry session, his guilt and shame at the thought of the carrot video became intertwined with his guilt and shame at the thought of the Highway Patrol beating video and the knowledge that he did nothing to ensure justice in that case. The phrase Adam kept repeating helped to ensure this. Adam had no way of knowing for sure that this approach was working, no way of literally peeking into Sullivan’s brain, but this was as close as he could get. And whether or not Sullivan was presently thinking about the videos, it did just so happened that Adam had both videos handy, right there in digital tape format. He also had a video camera with a decent sized flip-screen to play them on.
Once Sullivan recovered a little and started breathing somewhat normally after his most recent crying session, Adam removed the blindfold from Sullivan’s eyes. Sullivan lifted his head up. Tears were in his eyes and all over his cheeks. He sniffled, sucking the runny mucus from the inside of his nose into his throat. He swallowed.
Adam got up out of his chair, got the video camera and put in the copy of the Highway Patrol beating incident videos that he had made at the outset of The Plan. He switched the camera into playback mode, held the camera’s flip screen up to Sullivan’s face and pressed the play button. The video started with Officer Michael Garges asking the driver to get out of the vehicle. The driver got out and Officer Garges began patting him down. Sullivan began shaking his head.
“No, I don’t want to watch this. I don’t want to watch this. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it. I don’t need to see this again.” Sullivan said, turning his head away from the screen.
Adam moved the camera away and lifted his hand up, as if he were going to hit Eugene in the face. “You’re gonna watch this! This isn’t a god damn choice here! Watch it! Look at the screen, now!” he said, putting the screen back up to Eugene Sullivan’s face.
Sullivan continued watching the video. As Officer Garges maneuvered the driver out of view of the dashcam, the screen shot switched to the cell-phone video. Adam had edited the two videos together in as much of a real-time manner as possible. It wasn’t perfectly done, but Sullivan got the idea. Officer Garges, now out of view of the dashcam with the driver, called the driver a smartass. To which the driver replied, “better to be a smartass than a dumbass.” At that point, Officer Michael Garges could clearly bee seen lifting his hand up as if he were about to smack the guy, just as Adam had just done to Sullivan. When Garges’ hand went up, the driver reflexively ducked his head and raised his hand as if to block the blow. This was all Garges needed. Garges then delivered an elbow to the side of the driver’s head. The driver fell back, back into view of the dashcam video. The video Sullivan was watching then changed back to the dashcam video, and it showed the motorist stumbling backward from the blow and again raising his hands up to his face in defense. The video then switched to the cellphone footage which showed officer Garges drawing his Taser. Then the video switched back to the dashcam video, showing the driver still stumbling backwards and raising his hands to protect his face. At that point, the driver could clearly be seen tensing up his body and collapsing to the ground. Officer Garges then walked back into view of the dashcam video and told the driver to get up. When the driver did not comply, Garges told him to get up or else he would be Tased again. Officer Garges then delivered another Taser jolt, just to make sure the driver understood who was in charge. Garges grabbed the driver by the arm and dragged him back out of view of the dashcam. The video continued with the cell-phone footage, showing Garges punching the driver several more times in the face and stomach while he was on the ground.
Sullivan took it all in, knowing that something seriously wrong had taken place on the video. And he knew there was something seriously wrong with himself for not trying to prosecute Officer Garges. Adam told Sullivan what he already knew, saying to him, “This is why you’re here. This is why you’re here.” Adam paused to see Sullivan’s reaction and could detect a slight, ever so slight, head nod. Was that a slight nod of the head? Is he nodding his head?!? Yes, Yes, Sullivan is nodding his head a little. Learning has occurred, it seems. Adam nodded his head as well, continuing, “Yep, yep, that’s why you’re here. You see, me and my friends who took you from your house weren’t going to just sit back and let this kind of thing go on like this in our backyard. Your job as the Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney is……to……prosecute! And you didn’t prosecute the guy in this video for what he did. And when you don’t prosecute guys like this it gives other guys like this a license to go out and keep doing stuff like this. And, so, me and my friends finally decided that something needed to be done. And, come on now, let’s be realistic, the emails and the phone calls weren’t going to really ever accomplish anything were they?” Sullivan did not respond.
“Well, were they?!?” Adam yelled.
Sullivan put his head down again, and Adam again yelled the question, “Were….They?!?!”
“No. No they weren’t,” Sullivan conceded, experiencing a new rush of shame as he spoke.
“Well, that’s good that you’re finally, finally seeing the error of your ways. And, now let’s face facts here, you would not, never in a million years, be seeing the error in your ways had it not been for me and my boys taking you here and doing all those terrible things to you! Am I wrong?”
Adam raised his voice, asking again “Am I wrong?!”
“Well, I guess not,” Sullivan said.
Adam then asked, “Now do you think I liked kidnapping you? Do you think I liked seeing you get hot oil poured on your feet? Do you think I liked seeing you stick that carrot up your ass? You think I like having these nasty videos? Do you think I’m just some sick, twisted freak?!? Do you think I like doing all that shit?!?”
“No” Sullivan replied.
Adam said, “Fuckin’-A right, I don’t! You’re damn right I don’t! I sure as hell don’t like doin’ all that shit. I don’t like having to be the bad guy, here. I really don’t.” Adam continued, “But somebody had to do it. It had to be done. You made your mistake and you had to pay the piper. And you’re going to keep paying the piper.” Adam took the Highway Patrol tape out of the video camera and inserted one of the Sullivan-carrot videos. Sullivan knew exactly what Adam was doing. He would have begged Adam not to make him watch that video, but he was now fully feeling the effects of the LSD and his eyes were glued open. He was entranced, he had to watch, even though he knew it would not be good for him to see what he was about to see. He just sat there with a blank expression on his face as Adam pressed “play.”
The video had already been fast forwarded to the later part, the part of the film following the mini-dose heroin injection. Sullivan watched himself on film. He saw what he was doing, and it looked absolutely ridiculous, humiliating, and….gay. Oh, my God! Oh, no! Oh, no, no, no! Oh, hell no! His face again turned bright red. I will slit my throat before this video ever goes public! There is no way this can see the light of day! Sullivan then blurted out, “Who has seen this?!? Who has seen this?!?”
“Just me and a couple of my associates,” Adam said. “There are a few others who know of the blackmail tape’s existence, but they won’t know what’s on it. Our organization is cellular in nature; no one knows more than what they absolutely need to know. Don’t worry, we won’t be keeping the copies on shelves in our living rooms. We know the videos are our leverage; we don’t want them released either. All of the copies will be stored in vacuum sealed bags inside waterproof containers buried underground. Only a handful of us will know where they are buried. But we’ll have plenty of copies on a few different formats, disc, external hard drives, even analog tapes. And should you ever try to claim we just doctored up the videos, we have two copies that were filmed in analog, on good old VHS tape. Those originals will be buried underground as well. I suppose you could still try to claim those are fakes as well, that little old me and my friends are video geniuses, but there the denials start to seem pretty desperate.”
Sullivan looked down, away from the video, still playing in front of him.
“Now, Gene, think about the implications here,” Adam continued, “Think about your career. Think about your family. Think about your boys in school. No more school, no more football practice. Would your wife do the home schooling? Would you even be able to stay in Lexington? Would you really be able to keep going to work each day knowing that your co-workers, the judges, the bailiffs,…. the defense attorneys, the defendants…. had seen the video? And if you couldn’t bear it, if you couldn’t bear it, what then? Where would you go? What would you do? Sell your house and move? Can you really do that? I mean, seriously, Gene, what do you do if this tape gets out there? Are you really gonna let that happen?”
“No, no, no, no, no!” Sullivan said, shaking his head. “That can’t happen! That can’t happen! I’ll do whatever you guys want. I will devote the rest of my career, the rest of my life, to doing exactly what you tell me to do. Believe me, I would rather die than let that tape get out!”