“Senator, why must I automatically defer to you, while you have absolutely no problem calling into question my morals, ethics, and motives?”
“I call them into question, Mr. Rapp, because the people of California have seen fit to elect me four times to the United States Senate, and I would be breaking my oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States if I turned a blind eye to your barbaric behavior. Now sit back down.”
“No, thank you. But before I address your points I’d like to ask a fairly simple question. Can you at least acknowledge that Mr. Nash and I have made certain sacrifices? That we have served our country with distinction?”
“Mr. Rapp,” Ogden said, her voice dripping with contempt, “there are millions of federal employees, and I would put you both in the lowest percentile of that group.”
Rapp felt his anger stir a bit. “Senator, I have been shot on three
separate occasions in the service of this country. I received this nice little scar at the ripe old age of twenty-five.” Rapp showed her the left side of his face and craned his neck to show her fellow committee members the white mark that ran nearly four inches along his jawbone. “It was delivered by the man who was behind the terrorist attack on Pan Am flight one-oh-three. One hundred seventy-nine Americans were on that flight. Thirty-five of my classmates from Syracuse University perished, including a young woman whom I had dated since high school and planned on marrying. I have been captured and held prisoner by Hamas for nearly a month. I have been detained and beaten in both Syria and Yemen, and this was all before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, so please don’t sit up there and tell me that myself and Mr. Nash have created this problem. These sadistic bastards existed long before we joined the fight, and unfortunately they will be around long after we’ve retired.”
“Mr. Rapp, this is all fine, but I am not in the mood to—”
“Mood!” Rapp yelled with such intensity that a number of the senators eased back in their seats as if to get out of the way of the coming storm. “You call into question my morals and my service, and cast doubt on whether I have sacrificed for this country, and then when I defend myself, you tell me you are not in the mood to hear it?”
“I will not be spoken to in this manner,” Ogden said, trying to regain control.
“Now you want to argue about tone. My insolence offends you,” Rapp said in a mocking voice.
“Barbara,” Ogden said loudly, “this is unacceptable.”
“You’re damn right it is!” Rapp shouted. “Our two worlds collided last week and seven of your fellow senators found out the hard way that you can’t appease these bigoted, sexist freaks, and now you want to sit here and condemn my actions as immoral.”
“Mr. Rapp,” Ogden said with force, “I hardly think it’s a stretch to condemn torture as an immoral act.”
“What about partial-birth abortion?” Rapp asked her.
Ogden frowned as if Rapp had lost his mind. “What are you talking about?”
“You were the one who brought up morals this morning. Not me. You condemned me for dislocating the arm of a terrorist.”
“A suspect,” she shot back, “who happens to be a U.S. citizen and is innocent until proven guilty.”
“Innocent,” Rapp replied. “Let me tell you a little something about this piece of human debris you’re so strenuously defending. He was born in Saudi Arabia and applied for U.S. citizenship for the sole purpose of helping carry out the attacks that killed 185 of our countrymen last week. You explained to the committee only moments ago that I dislocated this person’s arm after the initial three explosions and then failed to mention that while I was in the midst of ‘allegedly’—” Rapp held up his hands and made quotation marks with his fingers to emphasize in a contemptuous way the word “—while I was allegedly trying to separate the terrorist’s arm from his shoulder socket, his fucking friends showed up and gunned down in cold blood eighteen federal employees. And if it wasn’t for the brave actions of Mr. Nash here, we would have lost another hundred and probably the entire building. So while you have so kindly placed us in the lowest percentile of federal employees, you do so at the risk of exposing yourself as a very dangerous person who cares more about her political power base than the security of this country.”
“I do not have to sit here and take this.” Ogden snapped her briefing book shut.
“Tell me, Senator Ogden,” Rapp said as he thought of the note he’d received from Lonsdale, “what do you think is more morally reprehensible . . . dislocating the arm of a terrorist who has intentionally lied on his immigration application so he can become an American citizen and help kill innocent people, or sticking a steel spike into the brain of an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus and then sucking his brains out.”
“Nice try, Mr. Rapp . . . you are talking about settled law, and in front of this committee that is a big mistake. You are way out of your depth on this issue.”
“Undoubtedly, ma’am, but I don’t want you to get me wrong here. I am not condemning your position. I’ve killed far too many people to begin waving the pro-life banner. I’m merely trying to point out the hypocrisy that you have so perfectly displayed during your twenty-one years in the United States Senate.” Rapp recalled the numbers Lonsdale had provided. “You have a one hundred percent voting record when it comes to a woman’s reproductive rights. On thirty-eight separate occasions you have voted to protect or expand partial-birth abortions as well as provide federal funding for clinics that perform the procedure.”
“The people in this room are well aware of my voting record, and I can assure you that I am not the only senator on this committee who has a hundred percent voting record when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.”
“I wouldn’t know. I don’t follow it that closely, and again I’m not in the business of judging why all of you vote the way you do. I’m the one who has been accused by you, Senator, of being a morally bankrupt barbarian, so I’m just trying to figure out where all your outrage comes from.”
“You honestly don’t understand why I find torture so utterly offensive?”
“You’re an intelligent, civilized woman. I would never expect you to openly condone torture. But I’m confused about your outrage. A little over a year ago a Saudi named Abad bin Baaz emigrates to the United States, takes up residence in Washington, D.C., and begins receiving shipments of explosives and providing intelligence for the very same terrorist cell that last week used those explosives to blow up buildings and kill innocent civilians. I catch him red-handed, and in an effort to try to apprehend the terrorists who are still at large, I allegedly dislocated his shoulder and slapped him around and got him to spill the beans on his little band of thugs, and you find my behavior reprehensible.”
“I think any normal person would,” Ogden answered.
“How about sticking a spike through the top of a baby’s head, piercing the skull, and then sucking the baby’s brains out all because the mother gets a note from two doctors who claim she has depression, or some other mental issue that precludes her from giving birth to a full-term baby?”
“Mr. Rapp, the two issues are completely different, as I said—”
“I know what you said, Senator,” Rapp shouted, “and I’m sick of your manufactured outrage.”