Dec. 2. 2014 Washington D.C. Office of Senator Myles Stansil
“Surfing?” Stansil said.
“Surfing,” Epps said. “Here’s how it works; this guy Ryan Cogswell, who is our guy’s brother, was a surfer, who grew up a few doors down from this Tim Stanton in Melbourne Beach. They were surfing buddies.”
“Tim Stanton, why do I know that name?”
“Stanton started a little company, Highjump Products?”
“Oh shit, I know them. they make tents and stuff for camping, heavy weather gear, climbing boots and that kinda thing. That there is a good All American company.”
“Right well, Stanton, previous to Ryan’s death, was nothing more than a struggling high school principal at this place, uhm, Colonel Lamb’s in uh…”
“Florence, South Carolina. Good school to send your son if he’s a damned screw up, what’s wrong with that?”
“Well sir, there’s really no money trail we can find, that uh, we don’t know how he started a worldwide corporation right after Ryan Cogswell shot himself,” Epps said.
“And what the fuck has any of this to do with our boy?” Stansil demanded.
“Well sir, I am getting to that. See, Ryan, deceased, worked for Camerdyne, as do Gus Torrence and Jennifer Epstein, who we just attempted to vet one way or another. Epstein went to school with Ryan and Tim Stanton at Florida Tech, and they all had some of the same classes as undergraduates.”
“What about Torrence?”
“No, he went to UVA, then MIT, and then the Navy, but, see; then he went to work at Camerdyne, and he lived right down the street from Ryan, and he and Ryan were surfing buddies,” Epps said.
“Son? Surfers don’t form no anti-government cabals; they go surfing, smoke pot and whatnot. Now, I’ve got a guy comes from the county I need him to come from, right here in my hip pocket.”
“I know but…”
“Well why is this boy Ryan such a poison pill over there to the Camerdyne? What did he do to them beside shoot himself and maybe give his boyhood buddy some cash he found lying around?” Stansil asked.
“That I couldn’t tell you, sir. That file is buried way deep down the rabbit hole on need to know.”
“Ain’t you need to know? Ain’t you got any friends over there to the OIS? Are you that damned junior? Is there someone else I should be dealing with, here?”
“Lemme tell you sump’n. This shit here? This here is bush league. Now you get your act together son. We in the damned ball game, and we playin’ for keeps. I don’t care who you got to rat fuck, you do it, if you want a ride on my carpet. Like I say, I got this boy Cogswell eatin’ out of my hand, and we got him by the balls on this lady love business of his. We’s on the goal line and you’re talking about somebody someone else knew back in high school who smoked weed and played beach blanket bingo with so and so. I feel like I’m watching uh-uh goddamn Gidget rerun. Makes me sick just listening to you,” Stansil said.
“Sir, Tim Stanton disconnected his life from the grid within the same year Ryan, his buddy died. He disconnected his Savante Smart-Life System; divorced his wife; disconnected his auto Smartlife System, somehow established accounts in the Caymans, Belize, the Bahamas, Ireland and the UK. He possesses dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ireland, and he is working on dual citizenship in Belize.”
“So he got away with something, so what? You can’t put him anywhere near my boy, now can you? "
"He contributed to Senator Sean Cogswell's campaign: nearly two million dollars through various cut-outs," he said.
"Other than maybe some campaign contributions?”
“Look, Senator Stansil, we sent something rich down the pipe and we think it flushed out the other end in the form of Jennifer Epstein, Gus Torrence, who didn’t pass his polygraph; do you want to know what question Torrence failed?”
“Have you ever met, Senator Sean Cogswell,” Epps said.
“Sean Cogswell. Sean Cogswell. You say it like it means sump’n. The man’s weak, I tell you. He ain’t planning nothing. I seen him moping around in a daze. He got that battle fatigue. Mind is shot through like a sieve. You know where he is right now?”
“He’s at some prison looking in on a friend who went bad after he came home from Afghanistan,” Epps said.
“That’s what he told me too, some buddy of his come back from the war and got himself in a whole mess of trouble, boo hoo hoo, and off he goes. He’s as soft as butter, that boy. Ain’t nothing to worry about unless you show me something better than this,” Stansil said.
“You find out what they got on Ryan Cogswell, ‘cause that, my friend, is why they still got a file over there on Sean. That’s the reason the OIS will continue to investigate the brother of a dead man, ‘cause the brother was trouble, not our boy here. Most likely whatever it was he didn’t even share it, otherwise, Sean would have never come back from the war zone. You find it, Epps, and let’s see what it is. Probably a whole mess of nothing…like I need this kinda headache when we are right here goal to go,” Stansil said.
Deep Below Sandia Mountain, New Mexico
“Why are we meeting like this, Colonel Epps?” said the man called Grimes.
“I’m encountering some push back on the issue of Ryan Cogswell, and I need you to backstop me,” Epps said.
Grimes leaned back in his creaky chair and adjusted his jet black oxford, then wiped a bit of dust off his matte black sock.
“Colonel, are you happy with your TDY here at OIS?”
“And when is your twenty years up?” Grimes said, but then, he always changed the subject.
“August 2016,” Epps said.
“It simply amazes me,” Grimes smiled.
“The waste of fine young talent. The swirling drain drawing the weak of heart toward the realm of the political,” Grimes said, two steps ahead, always.
“What kind of appointment do you hope to gain from Stansil as a retired colonel with a smattering of experience in intelligence?” Grimes asked. “Director of Intelligence? A cabinet position?”
“Something like that,” Epps admitted.
“And yet you have nothing on him, nothing solid,” Grimes said.
“There’s Savante, there’s…” he said.
“No, there is no Savante-Camerdyne. There is no corruption there, or, weren’t the road signs plain enough for you to read? Once the neural network is widely accepted, there will be no discussion of it; it will not make the news; no ‘plucky reporter’ will play the hero. And that is fact,” Grimes finished.
Before Epps could speak, Grimes had more to say.
“My experience has been that there are many doorways to power, one of them is through this agency. It can lead to an infinitely larger sphere,” Grimes said.
“If you say so, sir.”
“Do you want to know what power is, Epps? Power is the ability to requisition a hurricane; that’s power.”
“Why, to discredit a president?”
“Maybe it’s just because you can, Epps. Just because you can do that, and no one will question you about the need for it. That is power, not toiling away in an office, pleading with congress, being hauled before that collection of cats, mice and chickens, to answer for your deeds. I am talking about real power,” Grimes said.
“You said Savante-Camerdyne,” Epps said trying to get back on task.
“And I never misspeak,” Grimes countered.
“You’re saying, Savante is a cut-out,” Epps said.
“And you’re moving just fast enough to catch up, but not fast enough to have already known this before you walked in my door, which I find …. disappointing,” Grimes said.
Epps said nothing. This man terrified him to the bone.
“So you wish to know more about the little boy lost, Ryan Cogswell; yet you haven’t found anything solid on his friend Tim Stanton,” Grimes said.
“The senator wants to know the connection between this group and Sean Cogswell, the new senator from the Space Coast; and since Sean is Ryan’s brother…,” Epps said.
“You have the paradigm entirely on its head, Epps. Senator Stansil, doesn’t run you; you run him, understand?”
“Fine but I need to know more on Ryan,” Epps said, “Or it all falls apart.”
“To have more on him, you will have to be vetted for it; which will require a newer, deeper set of clearances; which will require …”
“New polygraphs etc. etc…”
“Let’s not be childish for a moment. Let’s live in the adult world, into which you have long since graduated. By now all that your previous polygraphs have taught you were the tools you need to fool the machine. We’re so far beyond that now.”
“So, what then, sir?”
“It will require a task that I shouldn’t have to spell out for you,” Grimes said.
“I ..I…” Epps was saying and meanwhile Grimes was nodding with a smile. Grimes had a look on his face as if the thought of wet work was actually giving him an erection. Epps knew better than to speak openly about it, as, among other things, this would kill the buzz Grimes was obviously savoring at the moment.
“You know sometimes Colonel, a man in a very deep hole, must keep digging, to make sure that hole does not cave in on him. Do we understand each other?”
“I think so, sir.”
“No, you know so. When you come back, you can have everything you need. Open to you will be the corridors of real power, colonel. Then you can decide whether or not some shabby political appointment will be worth your while.”
"And the task?"
The man named Grimes merely opened a drawer in his desk and plopped a file down before him.
"It should be handled immediately," Grimes said.
OIS offices, Pentagon
Lt. Colonel Kurt Warner stood over the members of the division responsible for “baby-intel” watching them work. It was a room filled with junior officers and investigators in their twenties, hacking and cracking the internet in ways that were easy, and mindlessly tedious.
Warner had risen from the ranks of these cubicles below the Pentagon soon after he had been TDY’d to the agency. His claim to fame was Project RENAME, of which he was now lord and master.
It was also now called “Baby intell” wherein the methods of counterintelligence were set loose upon the internet, to demonstrate the ways of the craft without having to explicitly state what they were. Most of these people were code monkeys to some degree. Their tasks were trivial; but it was in the execution they would demonstrate their ability in the game.
For instance, a code word would leak out into the wider world on a conspiracy website, and so it would be picked up by Google.
In the event that website started to get a great deal of hits, or another website popped up copying the first, one simply “sloshed” the internet with competing material in the form of websites, tweets, or mentions in others, which would replace the offending web site in the rankings until it was well down the listings. Usually the folks operating these rogue sites were loners; they couldn’t keep up with the tide.
The new sites would take the same name, and turn it into a brand name for a computer game, or a graphics program. Those searching for the reference would dig and dig trying to find it, and then they would give up as well. Over, done.
Project RENAME even gave away the tricky names to other government agencies. For instance “Phoenix Program” or “Operation Phoenix” was a CIA assassination detail carried out in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The government decided that an easy way of erasing it historically was to give the same name to those geniuses over at the SETI project. They loved their “Phoenix”, named several of their babies after it; babies which hatched websites all.
RENAME also encouraged the use of a trade name “Phoenix” to be branded for human resources tracking software application, even gave the start-up some funds to get their business and their web presence up and running. Within a few years OPERATION PHOENIX was completely buried; gelded of potentiality for “blowback” to the government.
“ Phoenix? What Phoenix?”
Other tricks were needed for hard-hitting news stories. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, an alarming number of workers in the defense industry were involved in murders, suicides, or in some cases, both. The reasons were as deep and dark as the deaths themselves. Some were actual freak-outs. Others, suicides and murder-suicides of the workers, spouses and so forth, were the leavings of corporate and government “cleaners” tamping down dissent and blowback, and killing any potential informational threads.
Those news references made the web all the time. You couldn’t ignore a man killing his entire family and himself at noon on Wednesday after learning something horrendous at work. News covered instantaneous mayhem because it was easy. But they seldom dug for the reasons, seldom questioned the facts, and government certainly didn’t want any fringe freelancers getting any ideas of heroic exposes after the fact.
Warner’s group would ceaselessly hunt the net, find offending stories such as this, and barrage the news web pages with minor hacking assaults until the cracks were found at the urls, leading to the admin functions. Then, the baby coders of RENAME merely redirected the links to something else on the pages of a more innocuous nature, or they eliminated the stories altogether, leaving a big 404 error message. The media seldom checked their links to see how their old stories were doing. It’s too expensive and time consuming. There they sit; ignored within the first week after publication. RENAME goes in and deflates them like little shriveled balloons.
Kids love this sort of thing, thought Warner. The world is one big prank phone call; one big rush party where pretty people with good skin play silly tricks on the frumpy oldsters. Kids seldom gave a damn about the U.S. Constitution; since for the most part, high schools and colleges stopped teaching American history with any depth or passion any more.
Every service person swore to “uphold and defend the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic,” mouthing the oath with as much meaning as mumbled Shakespeare. And even if they understood the words, knew or cared about them, there was a curios transformation that occurred the moment you sat that same, civic-minded youngster in front of a computer screen. They became a predator with a loaded gun.
Warner knew all about it. This was him just a few short years ago. And the lords of misinformation adored what the combination of youth and technology brought them: newer, easier ways of fucking with people that were increasingly harder to trace.
Warner had been a star of brilliance in a division formerly called “Informational Failsafe” a dead end, no where, peopled with falling stars. Now he owned it. Now all that the higher-ups dreamed for were a hundred little Warner clones to indoctrinate every year. He became the gold standard. Once someone had gone through his program, you might even say they became “Warner Certified.”
The government was finding out that, different from micro-film files of old, and the ancient encyclopedias, history was very malleable, temporary and even erasable in some cases, courtesy of the internet.
The RENAME project, at the urging of the Air Force spun off an entire division tasked solely to counterintelligence of the UFO phenomenon on the internet. RENAME-Object grew faster than bacteria. Every year they wanted more and more of his division tasked to it, than any other arena.
Some of the initial web sites and blogs devoted to the phenomenon were serious threats to the Big Lie. Following the example of corporate acquisitions, Warner’s division began a campaign of hostile, content take-overs littering these sites with gibberish. In some cases the webmasters were made celebrities in their own minds; given a host of grateful fans who clicked into the tens of thousands a week, and didn’t even exist. These same fans submitted their slosh and crank. The hosts lost track of what the gig had been about and began bending to the wishes of the masses. They began taking money for paid ad-links “your site is great, just what we need! Keep it up!”
Soon, bible prophecies stood side by side with true accounts; wild stories of escaped mutants rutting with farm animals, adjacent to bonafide sightings with expert witnesses; pure garbage next to pure gold. And what had been a serious-minded site, with an unknown webmaster, became a joke, an ego pill for someone now playing to a non-existent crowd.
“Thank you thank you. Yes, I am the bomb!”
Warner would come by each cubicle and ask where a particular assignment stood. Technicians would rate the progression from newly discovered site, “zero percent full”; to stove-piped with “dip-shits and wizards”, AKA “ninety-percent.” And always the transformation was tame and gradual, so that the public would not become too alarmed, too fast; only angry, annoyed, and shuffling off to greener pastures.
Then the band-width problem surfaced in the form of YouTube et al in 2007; the “dip-shits and wizards” were sending in their videos; some of which were totally faked hokum. Of course, some of those submissions were not Photo-shopped etc., but were in fact real, alarming, and spooky. This generated interest from the national media, and Big Lie can’t have that.
This presented an interesting problem for Warner’s group: how to crank and slosh, when what the public paid attention to seemed real?
The problem was “solved” in the form of manufactured hyper-real video file footage and doctored stills. The agency contracted a studio in Venice Beach, California, to create short videos of impeccable quality; using models or CGI UFOs. But, like good programmers, a debunking back door was always built into the production, in the form of replicated palm trees, or very subtle differences in shadow.
It was real tradecraft for a while. The video company was paid well for their time and their people were sworn to secrecy. The submissions to YouTube were always made via highjacked systems and file servers. Kids knew all about doing this.
In one case the company had replicated the structure of a series of four parking-lot lights, atop a pole outside Disney studios. Without the light pole beneath them, the four lights appear to be components of some new form of lunar-lander, or perhaps the alien equivalent.
The film makers took this image’s basic ‘DNA’ and created a short film where the device seemingly flew over astonished tourists on a beach in the Dominican Republic, swept straight up into the sky and zipped off into a ball of light. It was hugely popular.
The hope was to entrap Larry King and other journalists who refused to quit paying attention to the UFO phenomenon, despite dire warnings that their Dan Rather experience awaited them unless they did. They didn’t bite but the YouTube video received more than on million hits before the hoax was outed, anonymously of course.
Another brilliant stroke was the time Warner’s little cadre digitized the image of Darth Maul on a flying scooter from Star Wars; shrank it, had the image imprinted on a grainy video, and sent it to a Mexican television station as evidence of more flying humanoids. Then of course, the experts came flooding out of the woodwork to burn down that straw man: “That’s from a damned Lucas movie called Star Wars, people, c’mon!”
But all this backfired when the serious ufologists began to smell a huge rat with an agenda and a big budget, somewhere in the house of government. They began investigating and publicizing their findings, which demonstrated the elaborate lengths someone would go to, to create hoaxes. Though his plans displayed genius and virtuosity in inception, he had been young-minded and incautious in execution. He was told to cool it.
And yet, thought Warner with a smile, the heyday of his career as a pirate movie producer gave nearly everyone on both sides of the Big Lie, a reason to laugh at how out-of-whack the situation had gotten regarding UFOs.
Right now his kid-coders were rounding up all references to the Mejia event in Coleman, Texas a month ago.
The event itself was pure freak show: flying lizard-dogs had torn apart nearly fifty head of cattle, gnawed a rancher up and down, leaving him to die. Away they had flown into the dusk, leaving a sobbing widow, and an unbelievable story.
Warner needed to be sure there were no threads leading to NORAD who had taken away one of the actual flying lizard dogs.
The hazmat team had been witnessed entering the Mejia property by the ambulance crew, and Juan’s wife Rosa remembered the agency that had first responded, by name.
NORAD officials had gone to the ranch because Cheyenne Mountain had observed the two craft encroaching on U.S. air space. Just them showing up in Coleman Texas that fast, said a lot about NORAD’s methods and capabilities. That they were then able to summon a hazmat team within a few minutes, also went to methods, capabilities, response time, all this on top of the Big Lie aspect.
Fortunately there had been no independent witnesses confirming the UFOs, but news media was beginning to sniff on all the stories coming from locals and the staff at Coleman Memorial. The buzz was approaching critical mass. Rosa Mejia had even filed a police report which was public record now. That, in itself, could be a news item.
But the news media, like the public, did have its share of “useful idiots” who could be depended on to further discredit the story. Mostly, these were senior folks interested in job security, editors and producers who could be counted on to mandate that sharing witness testimonials, be given in their customary “gee wiz, you don’t say” dead-pan, dripping with ironic disbelief. They might even be tempted to use that faded soundtrack from the X-Files on television broadcasts, which could do the job killing the entire story at a stroke.
But every so often, you’d run into a stubborn journalist, a grudge reporter who would dog that baby until some shred of proof surfaced.
The first place to kill it was at the blog or twit stage before that happened. Warner’s baby coders had unearthed a great tid-bit: seventeen years ago, Juan Mejia had done three days of detoxing after a DUI arrest in Coleman. Since then, he had been a regular attendee at local AA chapters. Blogs and Tweets in which Juan was mentioned would be peppered with anonymous postings obliquely referencing Mejia’s past with alcohol, just to get the ball rolling.
“I’ve known him for years and I want people to stop talking about his alcohol problem. He hasn’t touched tequila in a decade.” This was precisely the right touch.
More would come out to champion their friend, “alcoholic, maybe. But he’s been sober for years. He was a good man, leave him alone! Let the widow be!” and by then even the most enterprising reporter would run from the story rather than bring it back to an editor or producer.
“You mean the drunk rancher? You want to cover the drunk rancher who saw the flying reptiles? Are you familiar with our employee reduction program?”
Another avenue was the “delirium of sickness” angle. People reacted to hospital pain medicine in different ways, especially when mixed with other forms of over-the-counter medication. There were all sorts of accounts on the web one could point to with links.
“Same thing happened to me years ago; I didn’t even know I was allergic to it and then bam, I’m talking to the worlocks in the walls!”
After an hour of watching them work, Warner felt sure this situation, at least for now, was contained. There wasn’t the first mention, yet, of the cyber chip; nor the fact that the Savante knock-off had apparently grown nerve tissue which had drilled itself through the skull of the creature and was in direct electronic communication with its brain; nor that the chip had been made in China.
For now all they needed to do was finish up with their blog work, then begin smothering links for “Juan Mejia,” “Coleman Texas” and “Coleman Memorial” with other, unrelated clickable references, and the item would be buried.
“We’ve got a new stack from Amazon, kids,” Warner said after a while.
This elicited the expected groans from the cubicles.
They were each expected to take one UFO book newly-hatched from the distributor, read it, then post a review savaging the work of the ufologists. This was a weekly assignment that no one enjoyed since it was somewhat like homework.