In free countries, after the government makes a decision and passes a law, people can still question and argue about the decision. Such a situation arose in the spring and summer of 1976 after President Gerald Ford signed House Joint Resolution #890 into law. Perhaps I should not have informed Boss in my third report of the problems because I'm certain this report caused the tragedy in Philadelphia. In any event, my third report to Boss was shorter than the first two, and read as follows: A possible problem has arisen with the four major pharmaceutical manufacturers -- Parke Davis and Company, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Merrell National Laboratories, and Wyeth Laboratories. In April and May they began limited production of swine flu vaccine for testing purposes. Although tests conducted on 5,000 individuals proved the vaccine to be safe and effective, they're afraid of the possible consequences of liability lawsuits due to the magnitude of the project and the number of people involved. We may need additional legislation passed.
In addition, a few major newspapers are waging a battle against the administration's swine flu policy. I believe these efforts are politically motivated as this is an election year. However, they could become a problem. In particular, the New York Times has published editorials casting doubt upon the swine flu immunization program, calling it an election year gimmick. The Times questioned every single conclusion reached by various committees and concluded that "The President's medical advisors seemed to have panicked and to have talked him into a decision based on the worst assumptions about the still poorly known virus and the best assumptions about the vaccine. The Times presently continues to lambaste the plan."
That was my third report to Boss. It appeared that we didn't have financial influence with the New York Times. Looking back, if I read that report, I would conclude a wake-up call was needed to reinforce the immunization program. Apparently, Boss reached the same conclusion.
Over July 21-24, a mysterious flu-like killer disease struck the American Legion Convention being held in Philadelphia, killing thirty-four Americans! Because of the ongoing swine flu scare, this outbreak set off the most intensive epidemiological investigation in modern history. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, determined that the disease was not communicable and that the general public was not at risk. Efforts to find a cause for the outbreak which became known as "Legionnaire's Disease" were fruitless. Viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents were ruled out by blood and tissue analyses. The Director of the Center for Disease Control concluded that the disease was a sporadic, one-time phenomenon, the cause of which might never be found.
All that was known in July of 1976 was that the disease was not swine flu related and that death was caused by overwhelming untreatable pneumonia! I immediately knew what had caused the deaths! The genie was out of the bottle. Damn! Now what was I going to do?
I had to risk a meeting with Boss to discover what was going on. It could be a security problem. Perhaps some Double was using gray matter to settle a personal grudge against the American Legion. But how did he or she obtain the gray matter? I had to take the risk. I returned to my hotel room and covered my transmitter with lead for fifty minutes. That would cause it to miss three transmissions and go into alarm -- the signal agreed upon between me and Boss. Now I would check my communication drop box for the meeting arrangements.
Sunny knew something was wrong, but I couldn't tell her about the problem. I dreaded doing it but I had to phone Henry. I told Sunny I needed to return to my hotel for a few minutes, and drove to a pay phone located sufficiently out of her neighborhood. Calling the twenty-four hour emergency number which he had given me, I could hear the clicks as the computer called Henry's location and connected the two lines. Where is he I wondered? It was 8 p.m. I'll probably interrupt him in the middle of supper. Finally, the deep, now familiar voice answered with a "Hello."
"We have a problem."
"I know," he said. "We have to talk. Call the other number at the usual time tomorrow," then he hung up.
I fully expected Henry would be even more upset than at our last meeting, and I was correct. Once again he was pacing as I was brought into the secure room.
"Have you lost control of your project?" he asked angrily. "This Philadelphia thing is an example of your power?"
"I'm sure it was the effect of what we call gray matter, but I don't believe all of it is in the country yet. A very small drop could have easily been smuggled in, diluted with water, and somehow put into their blood streams. I've seen Z99 do it with a needle on the backside of a ring. All it requires is a friendly pat on the back. The victim would probably not even feel the stick. The time before death would depend on the strength of the solution in the needle. I'm as upset as you are."
"I doubt that," he interrupted. "I'm tired of sitting in cabinet meetings discussing how we are going to effectively handle this new 'swine flu' problem when I know it's a farce and everyone there is being duped. I believe it's time to bring our side in, you can't control events anymore."
"If you do that, the entire world will know of the plot within days. Even I don't know all of our agents who have infiltrated your agencies but I do know we generally have no problem obtaining information. Give me a chance to find out what's going on before we change plans. We may still be able to intercept Z99 and the gray matter as we planned. What we know for sure is that an unknown amount is already in the country. We need to determine how much and where it is. Let me meet with my boss."
"And in the meantime we are held hostage to another possible outbreak of 'Legionaries Disease' anywhere in the country!"
"I don't believe so," I responded. "This episode was caused for a specific reason -- to put pressure on Congress to pass the liability protection legislation, thereby allowing the drug companies to begin production of the vaccine. If it works, there will be no need for any further outbreaks of flu or Legionarie's Disease. It would be dangerous for Z99's plan. Every episode contains a risk of discovery. Let me meet with him and try to pin down a delivery date for the gray matter." After a pause, I continued, "After all, we know the bulk of the gray matter wasn't in the bundles delivered by the Victor II, but a drop could easily have been hidden in either bundle."
We glared at each other for what seemed an eternity. Then he started again, "You need to understand that I could not simply do nothing when you inform me that there is a plot to exterminate the entire population of the United States of America! On February the seventh, I had a submarine drop listening devices thirteen miles off the coast of Atlantic City. We recovered them on February the eleventh and they detected a craft believed to be a Soviet nuclear submarine of the Victor II class come to a complete stop, and a small powerboat rendezvous with it on the surface. The small craft then returned to Atlantic City and the Victor II moved off underwater to the southeast. We know you went out and returned with the bundles, delivering them up for X-ray examination. We watched the pickup spots and have telescopic photos of the pickup men."
"That was stupid and unnecessary," I interrupted. "All you have is a couple of paid pickup men who know nothing about the project or even what they were delivering. You risked detection for that?"
We both paused for a minute as we were both getting a little upset. Finally, I broke the silence, "I'm sorry I used the word stupid," I said apologetically.
"Well, let's see what you think about my next transgression. About three weeks ago we put up another stationary communications satellite over the United States. With information we gained from studying J66's transmitter we added one small addition to the satellite. It can detect and transmit back to ground stations the whereabouts of all your 'Doubles' located in the U.S."
"That can be brilliant if you are the only person who knows what each signal represents. Otherwise, some CIA agent desiring a promotion could arrest all of us at once and we would be left out in the cold. No Z99 and no gray matter."
"Don't worry," he continued. "I made up a cover story about tracking VIP's. Also, access to the computer is restricted to one brilliant systems analyst and myself. What you might find more interesting is that next week another satellite will be placed over the USSR with the same small additional hardware. It will transmit data back around to the other satellite and then down to the ground. Unless they cut out their transmitters as you did, we'll be able to track all Doubles in the United States and most of Europe. And frankly, I don't believe they're as macho as you."
"It was tough, I assure you. Did you detect any activity around Philadelphia during the American Legion Convention?"
"Yes. The satellite detected three Doubles arrive the day before the convention and leave the second day of the convention. My guess is they did their dirty work in the Bellevue Stratford Hotel the first night of the convention. Four days later, the untreatable pneumonia arrived. After my talks with you and knowing there were three Doubles present, I knew what was happening. Now I have to decide whether to arrest and interrogate three known murderers or continue to trust you." After a sufficient pause, he asked, "Did you know anything about this, Cliff?"
"No sir, I swear that I did not. It upset me to learn that at least a small amount of the gray matter had arrived in the country. We need to keep it all together. When I read the news I immediately called you and signaled Z99 that I needed to meet with him."
"Ah, that explains why your transmitter skipped three transmissions."
"Correct. My story to Z99 is going to be that there may be a security problem because some Double may be using gray matter to settle personal grievances. After all, I'm supposed to be the chief of security on this project. I want to be assured it is in his possession until the time I meet the submarine to bring him and the gray matter ashore. If there is any other arrangement, I need to be informed about the details.
"If that flies, I'm okay. If not, I'll probably get a pat on the back. If something should happen to me, you're in fairly good shape now that you can monitor the Doubles. Try to figure out which transmitter is Z99 and keep him separate. He will bring in the remainder of the gray matter, probably within the next two months."
"It's unnatural for me to sit idly by while innocent Americans are being killed. First the soldier and now the Legionaries. We Americans consider human life to be very valuable."
"A Russian would be more willing to sacrifice a few for the good of the nation. My parents taught me that lesson. I'm truly sorry about the loss of life, but compare that with what we're trying to prevent. If you want an eye for an eye that will come with the executions of the Doubles who are responsible for this loss of life."
After some reflection he said, "Yes, you're right. But there is one thing that bothers me. The odds are slim but if something were to happen to both of us, this damn plot might very well succeed. Every step seems to be falling perfectly into place for your leader. I'll bet Congress passes the needed legislation soon. If I die tomorrow you might be able to stop it by yourself. Now that I can track all Doubles on the computer, I might be able to stop it if something should happen to you. If both of us die tomorrow for whatever reasons, I'm very afraid of what might befall my country.
"With your permission," he continued, "I want to write a statement about our working together and place it in a locked bank box which is only to be opened upon my death. Hopefully, it won't be needed. I assure you the document will be destroyed as soon as this matter is concluded. It will tell about the phone number you use to contact me and the location and purpose of my new tracking system."
"I have no problem with that, as long as it's totally secure until the event of your death or conclusion of the project. It's a good idea."
Then I brought up a more pleasant topic. "Assuming we successfully prevent this disaster, and prevent anyone from discovering the plot, have you given any thought as to how to terminate the vaccination program? Or are you going to let the unnecessary program continue?"
"Ah," he said. "At last I am ahead of you on one subject. Doing research on my own, I have discovered a little known side affect of vaccinations called the Guillain-Barré syndrome. It causes paralysis which is usually temporary. Being paralyzed can be more fearful than catching the flu. If I can produce a hysteria around the fear of being paralyzed the program will probably die. Those few who receive the injection will hopefully suffer no side affects."
"Well, anyway that part of our adventure I'll leave in your hands. Do you have scientists and doctors who will testify to this Guillain-Barré syndrome?" I asked.
"As you know -- money talks in the United States," as he laughed.
As usual, we parted on good terms.
Two days after sending my emergency security problem signal to Boss my drop box contained a round trip ticket to Mexico City, and of course an envelope containing the key and location of the next drop box.
The ticket was for tomorrow afternoon with a return flight the following morning and a hotel reservation.
I tried unsuccessfully to explain my mysterious one night business trip to Sunny. I finally told her I had to meet a person and this was the only opportunity as he wasn't an American citizen. After she asked, I lied and said he was Cuban. As we fell asleep, it occurred to me that she had always taken for granted that I was a citizen of the United States.
I arrived in Mexico City the next night at 7 p.m. local time and took a cab to the hotel, arriving and checking in by 8 p.m. At about 8:30 someone knocked on my door. I opened the door and welcomed Boss into my room.
"Are you aware of what happened in Philadelphia last week?" I asked.
"The whole damn world is aware of it," he replied proudly.
I updated him on the reaction in the US about the outbreak of what was being called Legionnaire's Disease and told him I feared it was gray matter due to the cause of death and the fact that it was undetectable. I was afraid one or more Doubles had gone on a personal vendetta against the American Legion and could compromise the larger project.
"No, no," he replied. "That was all according to my instructions. After hearing about the drug companies hesitancy to produce the vaccine and the news media opposition, I decided they needed a little nudging. All our swine flu virus had been used at Fort Dix and all equipment in the barn had been destroyed due to J66's treason. Also, I wanted this to be more dramatic and mysterious. A small amount of gray matter along with three injection rings was in one of the packages you delivered just in case such a need should arise. I always like to be prepared."
"I wish you would have informed me that night at the sub," I interrupted.
"At the time I didn't feel you needed to know. I can understand your concern. I should have told you. I know you can be trusted."
My concerns regarding K22's affections must have been correct. "It was a good idea. Congress will surely respond and pass legislation to protect the vaccine producers and production will surely begin soon." Might as well compliment him, I thought. "That brings up another subject. Assuming production begins in the next two or three weeks, would now be a good time to discuss when and where to bring in the remainder of the gray matter?"
To my relief he was forthright in his answer. "We can definitely set up everything but the exact date. I'll return to Havana and arrange to hitch a ride on another sub. I don't know their schedules at this time. The rendezvous procedure will be the same, over a three-day period. I should know by the end of the month. Check your drop box on August the first for the boat location and instructions. That should give me time to prepare everyone else. The cylinders containing the gray matter are already safely in Cuba. It'll be in August so your drop box will only contain the boat instructions and a number which will be the date. Be there the day before and after if necessary, just in case. Okay?"
"Fine," I said.
"In the meantime let me know as soon as Congress acts on any new liability protection bills."
"I will," I assured him.
With our business completed we ordered a pitcher of margaritas and celebrated our success thus far and toasted to a successful completion.
The next morning I returned to Washington D.C. with a slight hangover.
Upon my return I met with Henry to discuss the details of the meeting and assure him that the gray matter would be coming ashore during August. When I informed him about the small amount of gray matter and three injection rings concealed in one of the packages his eyes suddenly lit up. "That explains the mysterious circles which were on the X-ray pictures of the package labeled 'B.' We didn't know what to make of it. They were so close together we believed them to be a small section of chain. It didn't seem to be sufficient cause to stop the delivery."
Later he reviewed the X-ray photos with me.
Upon checking my drop box on August 1, 1976, it contained the instructions regarding delivery of the gray matter and Boss. It was once again an Atlantic City address and the target date was August the eighteenth.
I met with Henry and informed him of the pickup location and target date. My plan was to pick up the material and Boss, then after some assurance that all the gray matter was accounted for, assassinate Boss with my silencer equipped pistol before reaching shore. The CIA would provide a body bag and courier to remove the body to a small steel mill in Pennsylvania where it would be dumped into a batch of high quality steel called a 'heat' late one night for a price. They promised total elimination and assured me it would not even affect the quality of the heat of steel. The eighteen-inch diameter carbon electrodes produced temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. I believe the town's name was either Ligonier or La Trobe. This was currently the CIA's preferred method for total body disposal. Gangsters had eliminated the body of a very prominent former labor union leader by this same procedure a year ago in July of 1975.
Four heavily armed marksmen with night scopes and silencers would be stationed around the boat shed in case I could not get a clear shot on the return trip. This was a distinct possibility as I would be at the steering wheel up front controlling the boat. In all probability Boss would sit on one of the benches behind me. Although the marksmen should be able to differentiate between Boss and me because I would be controlling the boat, I would additionally wear a baseball cap. A water hose located at the shed would be used to clean up the boat and the two cylinders of gray matter would be turned over to the four agents.
This really bothered me because now the deadly poison would be in the hands of an enemy agency. What if they had someone comparable to Boss? Henry understood my concern and suggested I could accompany the gray matter until it was safely delivered to him. He would then place it into a secure and guarded vault.
Two high speed hydrofoil assault boats manned by Marines would be stationed a half mile on either side of the boat shed in case something went wrong and Boss attempted an escape. If all else failed, I understood four anti-submarine planes were loaded with live depth charges and prepared for immediate takeoff at a nearby airfield. And if you can believe it, none of these people now involved knew anything about the nature or scope of the operation. They were simply following orders!
I would cut out Boss's transmitter and bring it to Henry. This way the disposal site could not be traced by the tracking system in the Kremlin.
It would then be time to inform President Ford and get him on the hot line with Premier Leonid Brezhnev to decide how to handle the Doubles and destroy the gray matter.
With our plan set I went back to enjoying Sunny and reading the news.
The "Legionnaire's Disease" had its intended affect upon Congress. It gave Congress the impetus needed to pass laws protecting the swine flu vaccine manufacturers from liability lawsuits. The liability protection bill passed on August 10, 1976. This cleared the road of any obstacles and vaccine production began at full speed. The major concept of the bill was that the government would assume liability for personal injuries connected with the immunization program. The Senate had no choice but to pass the bill if they wanted an anti-swine flu program. Otherwise, the drug companies would not produce the vaccine. The bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 250-83.
President Gerald Ford signed the National Swine Flu Immunization Program of 1976 into Public Law 94-380 on August 12, 1976.
I informed Boss of these facts in my fourth memo which I placed into the drop box on August 13th. He would be very pleased.
All I could think was this dammed plot would have succeeded!
Proceed to Chapter Sixteen. Table of Contents. Questions or comments?