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Rapp was somewhat alarmed to hear he was on their radar screen, but he wasn’t about to let on. “I would imagine some of those powerful lobbying groups are clients of yours.”

“They are.”

“And you make a lot of money from them.”

“I do.”

“So why do I get the feeling you’re not here on their behalf this morning?”

Dickerson smiled, “You are a quick study, Mr. Rapp. I am not here on their behalf.”

“Conflict of interest?”

“Don’t confuse lobbying with the legal system. It’s the first thing I tell my new associates, who are almost always fresh out of law school and full of ideals. I’m a pragmatic man, Mr. Rapp. I’ve been a lot of places . . . seen a lot of things, and if I’m lucky I’ve got another ten years before I meet my maker. I take money from these groups because I’m a capitalist, and I earn every penny of it trying to moderate their crazy demands. I know who they are, and I don’t particularly sympathize with their view of the world, but they are a force to be reckoned with.”

“So whose meter are you on right now?”

“Let’s just say I’m here because I feel it’s my patriotic duty . . . that and because the president asked me to take his place.”

“And why would the president do that?”

“Because I advised him to cancel this meeting.”

Rapp asked the obvious question, “Why?”

“He was briefed by the FBI late last night about the ongoing manhunt, and let’s just say it didn’t go well.”

“How so?”

“They don’t have a single lead and the suspects

that you took into custody the day of the attacks have all lawyered up and are refusing to talk.”

“And this surprised the president?”

“Not entirely, but he is a man who expects results. He thought some progress would be made, but these three men have simply vanished. The FBI doesn’t have a single solid lead.”

“Well . . . when you fight with both hands tied behind your back it’s hard to win.”

“The president is starting to see things your way, but I’m getting ahead of myself. There was another development at the meeting. One of the deputy attorneys general also pointed out this sticky issue between you and Mr. bin Baaz. He went so far as to say he felt Senator Lonsdale had filed a false affidavit and that you in fact had abused the prisoner.”

Rapp groaned, “I bet the president loved hearing that.”

“It did not please him in the least.” Dickerson turned even more serious. “He told the briefers that the only two people who seemed to have gotten anything done in the past week were you and Mr. Nash, and that in his honest and very important opinion, if men like you didn’t have to spend so much time answering the Justice Department’s inquiries, you might have been able to prevent the attack that occurred last week. He then went on to suggest that it might be a good idea if we stopped persecuting our own people and focused a little more on the terrorists who attacked us.”

Kennedy said to Rapp, “The president called me after the meeting. He said he wanted to talk to you and Mike first thing. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made and ask you for a favor.”

Rapp turned to Dickerson. “And you talked him out of coming?”



“Please don’t take this the wrong way, Mr. Rapp, but I think it would be best if the president kept his distance from you.”


RAPP really wasn’t the insecure type, so rather than taking offense at Dickerson’s comment, he began to laugh. He didn’t need to ask for clarification. Any fool could see why a gamer like Dickerson would advise the president to steer clear of a man of Rapp’s ilk. His curiosity, however, was piqued by the revelation that the president had suddenly taken an interest in his unique skill set. It was funny how that worked in Washington. Guys like Rapp were often viewed as the problem until the politicians themselves were threatened.