The George Bush (the elder) Intelligence Center
The next day (April 13th)
Hank Berringer, recently minted Assistant Deputy Director of the CIA, looked at the round, slightly glistening man sitting in front of his desk. Berringer made as if to lift up a dark green, one-inch three-ring binder that was sitting on his desk and then seemed to think better of it. Instead he tapped it.
“Just how sure are you about the accuracy of this report?” he asked the round man, whose name was Tad Rushmore. Mr. Rushmore was Senior Research Historian for the CIA, and had held that post for over twenty years.
“I did have my doubts, at first,” said Rushmore. “Just another apocryphal Hoover story to go with all the rest. But as you can see there is a nearly perfect statistical match in all of the important evaluative criteria. Add that to the current trails I found leading to Australia and Massachusetts and the conclusion is inescapable.”
“And this all started when J. Edgar Hoover tried to rig the 1948 presidential election?”
“That was the genesis of the situation,” said Rushmore.
“But he failed.”
“In his objective, yes. But the fact that he was able to manipulate the system as far as he did is, well...”
“Not exactly the sort of news the American people are interested in hearing,” Hank filled in the blank. “Or the administration.”
“The fallout could be considerable.”
“That‘s one way of putting it,” said Berringer. His finger was poised to tap the binder again, but instead eased it away a couple of inches.
What it said in the binder was that in the late 1940's FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had commissioned a group of agencies-strictly without congressional knowledge or approval-which were answerable only to him. The agencies had been established around the country in twenty-six key voting regions and their sole purpose had been to influence, by any means possible, the outcome of the 1948 Presidential election. Hoover had apparently tired of Harry Truman's intrusive and restrictive style of leadership and was intent on ousting him in favor of a more pliable occupant in the White House. The Alphabet Agencies, so called because Hoover had simply assigned each of them a letter as identification, had been covertly funded with money from pork barrel projects that never existed, inserted into bills introduced on the House and Senate floors by members of Congress beholden to Hoover for earlier favors, mostly of the Mum's the Word variety. Only one of the honorable members of Congress had thought it proper to ask just what Mr. Hoover intended to do with his under the table money. His curiosity had been considerably dampened by the next day arrival of a packet of photographs, anonymously delivered to his office, which featured himself and a person who was not anyone's wife caught in moments of tender ecstasy. A promise of express home delivery of a second set was included in the envelope.
The Alphabet Agencies were generously funded, but in a triumph of the democratic system they did not succeed. And all would have been well if the only place one could find this potentially damning bit of American history was in the report on Hank Berringer's desk.
“I wouldn't have even brought it to your attention,” said Rushmore, “if this curious combination of factors wasn‘t in play.”
“You did the right thing,” Berringer said. To himself he thought, “But I wish to hell you had plopped this cowpie on somebody else's desk.” According to Rushmore's research the Alphabet Agencies, or at least one of them, had survived to present day. So chances were somebody knew something that could deeply compromise the position of The United States as World Leader and Sterling Example. Well, further compromise it, anyway.
It was Hank Berringer's job to make sure that didn't happen.
Actually, it was his job to find someone else to do it. In this case Hank knew it would have to be someone completely unconnected with any United States intelligence agency. Which just added another layer or two of unpredictability. Wasn't that just great.