SENATOR Barbara Lonsdale walked down the broad hallway of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and stopped at a nondescript door. She tapped on it once with her dainty hand and then entered. Mitch Rapp was in the corner talking to Irene Kennedy and Mike Nash was in the other corner talking to a couple of Langley’s legal eagles. All five stopped and turned their attention to the outgoing chairman of the Judiciary Committee. In one week’s time Lonsdale’s entire bearing had changed. Rapp likened it to the conversion of a New York limousine liberal who gets mugged and then the next day tears up her ACLU card, buys a gun, and joins the neighborhood watch group.
Lonsdale looked at the two lawyers and said, “Gentlemen, would you please excuse us for a minute?”
The lawyers looked to Kennedy to see if it was okay. The CIA director gave her consent with a nod.
“Why don’t you go into the committee room,” Lonsdale advised. “We’ll be starting any minute.”
The two men picked up their briefcases and left through the door opposite the one through which Lonsdale had just entered.
Once they were gone and the door was closed Lonsdale slapped a plain white envelope against her hand and said, “Well . . . this is it.”
“Are you sure you want to go through with it?” Kennedy asked. Lonsdale had made a deal to resign her chairmanship of Judiciary in return for control of the Intelligence Committee.
Without hesitation Lonsdale said, “Yes.”
Rapp said, “It’s not too late.” He still wasn’t convinced she couldn’t do them more good staying right where she was.
“I’ll still be on the committee, so I can keep an eye on things.”
“But you won’t be in control,” Rapp said.
Lonsdale smiled. “I’ll still have my seniority. I’ll be one chair over from the gavel. I know this committee better than anyone. The staff is loyal to me. They all liked Ralph.” Her voice trailed off at the mention of her chief of staff, who had been killed in the explosion at the Monocle along with seven senators and a whole bunch of high-level staffers, lawyers, and lobbyists.
“The looneys on the far left are already beating you up,” Nash chimed in. “A couple of them have started raising money to challenge you in your next primary.”
“It’s America. They have every right to do it and I have every right to ignore them. Listening to the idiots is what got me into this mess.”
“I’m just saying this isn’t going to be easy for you,” Nash said. “We could have been a little more subtle about it. Having them think you were still their champion might not have been the worst move.”
Lonsdale dismissed his concerns with the wave of a hand. “Those people will never be happy. And besides, playing the game of double agent isn’t my style. I’m better out front drawing fire. It’s where I shine. If people want to criticize you three, they’re going to have to come through me first, or at least expect that I will come back at them fast and furious.”
This stuff was difficult to quantify for Rapp. On some level he knew it mattered, but at the end of the day it was all a bunch of words. He said so, and Lonsdale replied by saying, “Words mean a lot in this town, and don’t forget, I’m not the only senator who has undergone this conversion under fire. Others have gravitated to a similar position. I’m not alone. Besides,” she said in a more upbeat tone, “I can handle it. Missouri might be a blue state, but we’re big on defense. In light of recent developments I think my constituents will understand why I changed my position.”
“I think it’s a good move, Barb,” Kennedy said. “The press will not be able to ignore that one of the CIA’s most steadfast critics has now become a champion of the Agency. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Now,” she said as she checked her watch, “we’re due to start in two minutes. Here’s the lay of the land. I’ve spoken to twelve of the nineteen members.” She caught herself. Two of her fellow committee members had been killed in the attack on the Monocle. “Twelve of the seventeen members. Only three that I can think of are planning to make a real stink about this. Maybe five at the most.”
Rapp said, “Let me guess . . . Ogden?”
“She’s leading the charge,” Lonsdale said. Ogden was the senior senator from California. “As you know, this will be a closed meeting, but we all know how that works. This small block of dissenters will begin to selectively leak their side of the story as soon as the meeting is over, so be careful what you say in there. Don’t admit to anything that could lead to a referral to the Justice Department. I’ve already signed an affidavit that backs up your story.” With a shrug she added, “If Senator Ogden and her little cabal want to side with a terrorist . . . well that’s a fight I don’t think they will win in this climate, but we still have to be careful.”
Lonsdale covered a few more things and then said, “You should head in. I’ll follow shortly.” As the group began to move toward the door Lonsdale said, “Mitch, hang back for a second. I want to talk to you about something.”
Rapp stopped and waited as Lonsdale walked around the far side of the conference table. As she drew near she took the white envelope she’d been holding and handed it over to Rapp. He took it and asked, “What’s this?”
“Call it opposition research.”
Rapp opened the envelope and pulled out three sheets of paper. He scanned the lines. “What’s this?”
“Her prepared remarks.”