Rapp was impressed. “How the hell did you get these?”
“Senators weren’t the only people who were killed in the attack on the Monocle. Nine staffers also died. We’re a close-knit group.”
“One of her people gave it to you?”
Lonsdale nodded. “You’ll have time to read it while we get things started. The first two sheets are her remarks. The third is something I prepared for you. It’s something that Ralph used to point out to me on a regular basis. Call it a glaring example of hypocrisy. You might find it useful in taking some of the wind out of Ogden’s sails.”
Rapp scanned the first and second pages. His name jumped out at him a few times. He had to hand it to the senator from San Francisco. She wasn’t going to back down a bit. Even in the wake of the attacks. He scanned the third page with a bit of surprise. “This is all accurate?”
Lonsdale patted him on the arm. “I’m sure you will put it to good use. Now if you?
?ll excuse me, I need to get things started.”
THE seventeen members sat behind the big horseshoe-shaped wooden bench. Since it was a closed meeting only a skeleton crew of staffers were seated behind them. Rapp thought they appeared a little more solemn than normal. Even Ogden looked somewhat mournful. She looked over the top of her reading glasses and made eye contact with Rapp. There was neither joy nor malice in her expression. Just a cold, calculated appraisal. The two had never been fond of each other, and Rapp was in no way delusional enough to think it was solely her fault. He had never given any of them the respect they were used to being accorded. He had managed to stay off the Judiciary Committee’s radar for nearly a decade and a half, but then he was involved in a series of high-profile incidents that garnered far too much interest. For the past two years it seemed that the committee had placed a bull’s-eye on his back. He had become the white-hot example of everything that was wrong with the War on Terror, at least as far as Senator Ogden was concerned.
Lonsdale gaveled the hearing to order and spent the next few minutes going over the itinerary. Before allowing the first senator to begin with questions, she asked Director Kennedy if she had any statements that she would like to make.
Normally Kennedy would have passed, but this time she took Lonsdale up on the offer. “I would like to offer my condolences to the committee. I know that some of the people we lost last week were far more than just colleagues. They were dear friends and I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you, Director,” Lonsdale replied, “and on behalf of the committee I would also like to offer our condolences to the CIA and the families who lost loved ones in the attack on the National Counter-terrorism Center.”
“Thank you, Madam Chairman.”
Lonsdale nodded to the ranking member sitting on her right and the questioning began. It started out with more of the same, although the offers of condolences were greatly abbreviated due to the fact that there were no cameras in the room and the transcripts would be sealed for many years to come. Everything was abbreviated, in fact. The senators staked out their turf, but kept things moving. Two members from the minority party and one from the majority voiced their full support of the CIA and didn’t even bother bringing up the issue that was at the core of the hearing—had Mitch Rapp and Mike Nash tortured an American citizen?
When it was Senator Ogden’s turn, the mood changed drastically. This was where the fireworks were going to start. “Director Kennedy, in your opening remarks you stated that you will not stop until those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice. What exactly do you mean by justice?”
Kennedy leaned forward and was about to answer the question but never got the chance, because Ogden cut her off and said, “In the past your version of justice has been to let men like Mr. Rapp and Mr. Nash here track these people down and play the role of judge, jury, and executioner.”
Rapp leaned forward and said, “Madam Senator, you make it sound as if there is something wrong with that.”
As Ogden stared down at Rapp the strain became palpable. Rapp returned Ogden’s harsh glare as if he was daring her to engage him, which was exactly what he wanted. At the best of times Rapp had found it difficult to follow the decorum and procedure of any committee and especially this one, which was famous for being filled with the Senate’s largest egos and biggest blowhards. Considering that he had far more important things to be doing with his time, he really didn’t care if he upset Ogden and her little cabal. The senator from California was the quintessential ivory tower politician. She moved in the elite circles of her party, listening to the trial lawyers, academics, and the nuttiest of the crazy special-interest groups. Rapp had never pretended to understand the intricacies of politics, but he felt pretty confident that on this issue Ogden was out of step with the majority of Californians.
“Mr. Rapp,” Ogden said in an icy tone, “it is no secret that I have never cared for you, or your methods. I am not alone in my belief that you are out of control, and have been for some time. That your unseemly techniques have been the single greatest recruiting tool for our enemy. That you play to our weaker instincts of vengeance and vigilante justice, and that while this may feel good in the short term, in the long term it is destructive beyond calculation. Your use of extreme measures—and by the way, I hate the way you use that euphemism to describe what you do.” She stopped and looked from one end of the dais to the other. “We all know what he does. It’s called torture. When you intentionally dislocate someone’s arm and then wrench that arm behind that person’s back in a way that is specifically designed to cause more pain, it can be described as nothing less than torture.
“While my colleagues may be willing to temporarily forget their oath of office and lose their moral compass, I cannot. You are a black mark, a stain against everything we stand for. You undermine our position on the world stage, and you stand in stark contrast to our national values. Your jackboot tactics and immoral techniques have sullied our reputation beyond repair. The torture that you so wantonly practice is ethically reprehensible and blatantly illegal. It violates our laws. It flies in the face of the international courts and the Geneva Conventions, which we are legally bound to obey and uphold. Your actions have endangered the lives of our service members and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiment around the globe. You have single-handedly eroded our moral authority, and for what? Questionable results, at best. Everyone on this committee who is brave enough to admit it knows that torture doesn’t work. Yet here we all sit, most of you hoping we can just wish away this black mark . . . this stain, ignore the fact that we have in our possession an affidavit submitted by a well-known attorney and signed by a respected doctor that an American citizen was tortured by Mr. Rapp and Mr. Nash in the aftermath of last week’s attacks.”
Rapp waited patiently and respectfully while she built her indictment of him. He ticked off her points one by one and plotted his counterattack. Never in his life would he again have this chance in front of this committee. He stole a quick look from one side of the massive bench all the way around the horn. Seventeen faces, at least half of them scowling at their fellow senator. A few more looked as if they simply wanted to get up and leave, and then there were Ogden’s two lone supporters, the senior senators from Vermont and Illinois, KoolAid drinkers if there ever were. Out-of-touch party loyalists who had built their careers on trashing the CIA every chance they got.
Ogden shook her head as if she were eyeing a disgusting child rapist and said, “I cannot sit here silently like my colleagues. I must express my absolute outrage at you and Mr. Nash and your brutal, unethical tactics. I think you are both monsters. I think you should be run out of federal service. I think you should be investigated, indicted, put on trial, convicted, and sent to the worst prison we can find in the federal system . . . and I hope it is for a very . . . very long time.” She leaned back and glanced to her left and then her right and said, “And I feel that I must express my extreme disappointment in my fellow committee members that they are so willing to turn a blind eye to you and your illegal methods. This is, after all, the Judiciary Committee, where the rule of law is paramount. It is embarrassing that I am the lone voice for justice this morning.”
The room remained silent for a few long beats. Rapp was at the far left of the big witness table. Kennedy was in the middle and Nash on her right. The two lawyers were right behind them. Rapp glanced over at Kennedy and gave her a little nod that said he would be handling this one. He looked to the center of the big bench at Lonsdale and said, “Madam Chairman, if I may, I’d like to respond.”
“By all means.”
Rapp pushed his chair back and stood. He buttoned his charcoal-gray suit coat and stepped around the table.
“Why is the witness standing?” Ogden asked tersely, as she looked sideways at Lonsdale.
Rapp knew this would piss her off. “I stand out of respect, ma’am.”
“It’s ‘Senator,’ “ Ogden snapped. “I’ve worked very hard to get where I am and I would appreciate it if you would use my appropriate title and sit back down.”