24 Declassified: Veto Power
This book is dedicated to my friend and teacher, Darren Levine.
After the 1993 World Trade Center attack, a Division of the Central Intelligence Agency established a domestic unit tasked with protecting America from the threat of terrorism. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Counter-Terrorist Unit established field offices in several American cities. From it inception, CTU faced hostility and skepticism from other Federal law enforcement agencies. Despite bureaucratic resistance, within a few years CTU had become a major force. After the war against terror began, a number of early CTU missions were declassified. The following is one of them…
PROLOGUE 48 HOURS AGO
It was a lonely road, with no cars moving and only one car parked on the gravel shoulder, hunkered there like an unhappy drunk. There was one light in the distance, a single white industrial lamp hanging over a faded wooden sign that read AVILLA ELECTROPLATING. It had been hung there as a substitute for two large floodlights bolted over the sign. The floodlights did not work. The four men in the car had made sure of that.
All of them were slumped down in their seats as though sleeping, and three of them might have dozed off if it weren’t for the fourth.
“He’s gonna put up a fight. You think he’s gonna put up a fight?” said this man. Boy, really. Old enough to skip a shave or two without anyone noticing. Young enough to get antsy waiting behind the wheel.
“If he does, he does,” said the one in the passenger seat. Edgars. He was the pro in the group, which meant he’d done one job before. “Just take it easy, Heinny.”
“Yeah, take it easy, Heinny,” grunted Peterson, one of the two in the back seat.
“I don’t like that,” Heinny said. “It’s not my name.”
“We’re just joking,” Edgars said. “It’s easier to say than Heinrich.”
“I don’t like it,” Heinny said. “My friends never called me that.”
Edgars shrugged. “Your friends liked to say things in German, that’s why.”
Edgars turned around in the passenger seat, still careful to stay low, and looked at the last member of their group. He was slumped in the seat next to Peterson, leaning away with his arms folded across his chest and his head rolled to one side, resting against the interior of the car.
“Looks like he’s asleep,” Edgars said. “Not that he looks so different when he’s awake. Poke him.”
“Why?” Peterson asked.
“Why not?” Edgars said. “You got anything better to do?”
Peterson didn’t. And he wanted to do what Edgars said because Edgars had done this kind of work before. So he poked the sleeping man on the shoulder. When that didn’t work he poked him on the chest.
The last of the quartet opened one eye. “Don’t do that again.”
“Are you asleep?” Peterson asked.
The man scowled. “Is it time?”
Edgars shook his head. “Ten minutes maybe.”
The now-awakened man rubbed his eyes and stretched — not a big, long-armed stretch that would have put his body in view through the window, but a weird, low, bulging stretch, as though all his muscles swelled up in their places and then contracted.
In the front seat, Heinrich watched him in the rear view mirror. He looked jealously at the man’s white-blond hair and blue eyes. Heinrich himself had always been scrawny—170 pounds stretched drum-tight across a six-foot, three-inch frame. Heinrich’s old friends would have praised the other man as a pureblood inheritor of the Aryan mission, a natural soldier for the cause. Of course, the “cause” was different now — at least for the moment. Brett Marks had convinced him of that. Marks had shown Heinrich how to grow out of his skinhead beginnings and into the higher cause of the Greater Nation. Heinrich had to admit that a part of him missed the skinhead life. Going out in Detroit on a Saturday night, picking fights with the wetbacks at the bus stop or Christ killers walking home from the sin-o-gogue, that had been fun (except for the time they picked on the Heeb who’d been in the Israeli army; that one had broken his jaw). But at twenty he’d begun to sense that skinhead mayhem wasn’t achieving its stated goal, and he began to search for something else. Something more.
He knew he’d found it the day he heard Brett Marks speak at the Christ Redeemer Church in Livonia. Marks was a true Aryan, but he never talked about race and he never even talked about religion. He didn’t wear Doc Martens or shave his head or call down fire and brimstone. He wore a suit and spoke like a politician, and when he talked he used ten dollar words to explain how the government had usurped the Constitution and stolen away the rights of the states and the individual. He said it didn’t matter if the current administration was dressed like the Rainbow Coalition or the Confederate flag, they were all attempting to steal the power of the people. Marks invited anyone who felt the way he did to join his political movement. Maybe it was the words, or maybe it was the message, or maybe it was just that twenty years seemed too old to be shaving his head and picking fights with ragheads, but Heinrich felt the message echo in his sunken chest. And so he found himself, a month later, joining the Greater Nation militia movement, and nearly one year to the day afterward he was sitting here on a dark rural street outside King City, California, waiting to strike his first blow against the tyranny of the Federal government.
He looked for something to say to the blond man. “You think it’s going to go as planned, Jack?”
The blond man didn’t talk much. He yawned a lot, which Heinrich thought meant Jack was bored, but Edgars said yawning was a sign of nervousness. Now Jack tipped his chin and said, “I hope so.”
“Car coming,” Edgars said.
They all looked at the rear or the side mirrors and saw car headlights blossom on the lonely road. Edgars checked his watch. “Four fifty-one. Timing’s right.”
The lights grew blinding in the mirrors, then the mirrors went dark as a Chevy half-ton with AVILLA ELECTROPLATING printed on the side cruised by them. On cue, the four men opened their car doors and got out. Their car remained dark — Jack had popped the tiny light bulb out of the overhead light so it would not go on when the doors opened. There was a dull thud as Heinrich closed his door too fast, but the sound didn’t carry. Jack, Heinny, and Edgars drew handguns from their belts. Peterson slid a shotgun from the backseat. All four men hurried forward through the darkness toward the single light, where the truck had stopped.
Because the floodlights were out, it seemed to the truck driver that the four men melted out of the darkness. The big, hard one who looked in charge, the one with the shotgun, the skinny one, and the blond one who hung back.
“Don’t give trouble, you won’t get trouble,” said the one in charge, holding a gun up to his nose. “You’re the foreman.”
It wasn’t a question, but the truck driver answered anyway, his voice filled with that hyper-alertness of someone who’s just been shaken from sleep. “Yeah. Yes.”
“Tell me your name.”
“Okay, Javier Garza, you’re going to take us inside and show us where you keep the sodium cyanide.”
“Oh shit,” Javier Garza said.
“Oh shit is right,” said the man. “Now take us inside.”
“You can’t take that stuff,” said the foreman. “It’s a controlled substance.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll control it,” said Edgars. “Convince him.”
This was directed to Heinny. The former skinhead clipped the foreman once across the jaw, just enough to