Chapter 2

Chapter Two - January 2013

Bill Clarkson stood, his mind occupied as he stacked sheets of paper and slipped them into colored manila folders. He did not want to be late to this meeting, so he made sure he finished his preparations an hour before he was to get across the Potomac to the White house for his first briefing of the newly installed President. Retained as Director of National Intelligence from the previous administration, he nonetheless knew that being late would not do wonders for his career; the new President brought with him a reputation for punctuality and little forbearance for tardiness.  Clarkson had heard the rumor circulating about the Vice President arriving late for a cabinet meeting and receiving a dress-down from the President. He had managed to last 18 years at the NSA by maintaining a low profile, allowing him to do his job the way he wanted to do it - as the new director, a low profile was out of the question, but he’d be dammed if he would become gossip fodder by being late. Picking up the files off his desk, a thought furrowed his brow and he slowly placed the files back on his desk and fanned them out.

The 18 color-coded manila folders contained briefs on the major topics under the purview of the National Intelligence Agency. The NIA’s major agency components were the CIA, FBI and the NSA. Six of the folders were colored blue and gold and contained briefs from the NSA. Four of these detailed communications between Al-Qaeda cells in EMEA, APAC, and LATINAM. Each had a different color stripe running diagonally along the spine. One held detailed information on a subject not briefed fully to any sitting president since Harry Truman. This file was the only one that had a black stripe.

He sat back down and pulled this file to the top. He dialed the intercom extension of his secretary.


“Yes, Director Clarkson,”  Marjorie Simpson answered.

Bill smiled. He loved hearing her Louisiana twang.

“Please get Vice Admiral Valenzuela on the line for me - let his assistant know I must speak to him before my meeting with the President.” He wet his lips as he spoke. His mouth felt dry.

“Immediately, sir.” Marjorie could hear the stress in her boss’ voice. She made a mental note to bring him tea before he left.

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) functioned primarily as the United States government's crypto logic organization responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications – but it spent most of its time protecting U.S. government communications and information systems from similar agencies elsewhere.

In 2010, the NSA came under direct report to the DNI. It had previously been a component of the Department of Defense, along with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), but an amendment to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, placing these three intelligence agencies directly under the NDI.

Legendary for his quick mind and quick temper, vice admiral Alfonso Valenzuela had been hand picked by the president to serve as NSA director over the recommended candidate of the Secretary of Defense. Born of Cuban parents, the NSADIR was a large man with an imposing personality. Weighing two hundred eighty pounds plus and measuring six foot five, he appeared to be a very intimidating figure, except for his pronounced lisp and high-pitched voice that was totally incongruous with his physique. Clarkson laughed out loud the first time a slightly slimmer Al Valenzuela introduced himself at Princeton as an undergrad student.

It had nearly cost him his life.

Marjorie walked into his office with Clarkson’s favorite tea, White Peony, a rare type he managed to bring back regularly from his trips to China. She lay the tray down by his side. “Admiral Valenzuela is on line two, sir.”.

“Thank you, Marjorie. You always know when I need my tea,” He smiled at her as he picked up his handset.

“Al, thank you for taking my call.”

“Always, Bill. Are you ready for your meeting?”

Bill repressed a chuckle; he could not believe the voice of a twelve year old could come from someone so large, “I’m just not sure how to approach our little issue, or how I'm going to explain it.”

A short pause was followed by a dry sigh and a short reply.
“You have all the info there. Just give it to him straight and answer his questions. That’s all you can do.”

“I meant how do I explain why this has not been shared with any president in the last sixty-odd years? How do I tell why we are telling him and why now? And how do I tell him to forget Al-Qaeda, forget Palestine, the North Koreans, China, the New Soviet Union, and forget France? 'Cause buddy, they ain't nothing. Take this one folder and sleep with it. This is your presidency whether you want it or not. How do I tell him that, huh, Al? How?”

“You tell him simply that you’re going to tell him the truth,” The NSA director's voice was clearly fatigued, his lisp more pronounced than usual, the word “simply” sounding more like “thimply”, “And then you tell him the truth. That’s all you can do. Whatever you do, make him understand that nothing else he may deal with matters as much. We have eighteen months and we need to prepare right away. Get that through to him. Tell him he doesn't have time to doubt what you’re telling him or condemn the secrecy. When you show him the file, make sure he understands how we interpret the message.” Valenzuela had always been able to provide Bill good advice.

William Clarkson switched the phone from one ear to another and turned. He sat on the edge of his desk, placed one arm across his chest and hooked his hand on the crook of his elbow.
“Right. I'll tell the President Roswell was not a weather balloon, it was actually an alien spaceship with a message, and little green men are coming for another visit, and, by the way, we think they are mad as hell,” He paused and looked down at his feet. He lifted one foot and rubbed his shoe against the back of his other pant leg. “Does that cover it?”

Clarkson could feel the beginnings of a migraine.

“Pretty much.” Valenzuela was glad he wasn’t the one carrying the news to the President.

“Okay.” Clarkson wanted nothing more than to skip the meeting, drive straight to a bar and drink for eighteen months.

“And Bill?” Valenzuela’s voice took on a conspiratorial tone.


“They are not green.”