The God's Eye View

By: Barry Eisler

PROLOGUE . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

June 3, 2013

General Theodore Anders was dreaming of marlin fishing when the secure phone rang on the bed stand next to him. He sat up immediately, concerned but not unduly so. He’d been awakened plenty of times over the course of his career, and by much worse than a telephone.

He blinked and reflexively scanned the room by the dim light of the bedside digital alarm clock. His wife, Debbie, continued snoring softly beside him. She’d learned to tune out NSA’s intrusions almost immediately after he’d been appointed director. If it were an internal problem, he wouldn’t be able to tell her. If the problem were external, she’d see it on the news soon enough. Either way, she didn’t want to know, or at least not before she had to. She was a good woman.

He cleared his throat and picked up the handset before the unit could ring a second time. In the army, he’d learned to impress his superiors with an image of constant readiness. The habit had stayed with him long since his superiors had become his subordinates.

“Go ahead,” he said quietly. It was his standard greeting—a crisp, efficient command. He also liked responding to a knock with a single word: Come. The implication being that the extra syllable of the standard Come in was wasteful and unnecessary. Debbie hated it and had trained him not to do it at home. She told him it was how someone talked to a dog—come, sit, stay. Which, he had to admit, was probably part of the appeal.

He was expecting an immediate, succinct briefing on whatever situation had necessitated the call. So he was surprised to hear his executive officer instead say, “This is General Remar. Your access protocol, please.”

Anders was momentarily so surprised he said, “Mike, it’s me.”

“I’m sorry, Ted. I need your access protocol before proceeding.”

The access protocol was an additional layer of security for use of the secure phone, a way of determining the bona fides of the person on the other end of the line. In all the years they had worked together, Remar had never asked for it when calling Anders at home. Either something exceptionally bad was afoot, or his XO was taking extra care to cover his ass by following strict procedure. Which, Anders knew, amounted to the same thing. He felt a shot of warmth in his gut as adrenaline spread through his system.

He thought for a moment. What was the last protocol he’d been issued? “Romeo Bravo Foxtrot. Seven, three, niner.”

“Victor Delta Golf. Eight, one, four.”

“All right, what is it?”

“Data breach. Potentially huge.”

The warmth in his gut got hotter. “Define huge.”

“We don’t even know yet. Tens of thousands of documents. Maybe more. This guy had access to everything. PRISM. XKeyscore. Policy Directive 20. Boundless Informant. Upstream. Everything.”

The heat in his stomach was suddenly a frozen knot. This was bad. Unbelievably bad.

“Who?”

“We’re 80 percent sure it’s a contractor named Snowden. Edward Snowden. Former CIA infrastructure analyst, DIA counterintel trainer, full administrator privileges.”

Full administrator privileges. For a moment, Anders actually couldn’t breathe.

“Wait,” he said. He got out of bed, picked up the base unit, and padded silently across the soft carpet into the bathroom, the long phone cable snaking along behind him. He left the light off because the darkness was suddenly comforting, a hiding place, a cocoon. He cradled the handset between his cheek and shoulder, closed and locked the door, turned on the sink faucet to mask sound, and stepped inside the glassed-in shower stall. Only then did he close his eyes and say, “Tell me he didn’t have access to God’s Eye.”

“He didn’t have permissions.”

“I know he didn’t have permissions. That’s not what I asked.” He realized his tone was sharper than he’d intended.

“There’s no evidence of a breach there. But Snowden . . . this guy is extremely capable. We’re interviewing his colleagues. The word genius is coming up a lot.”

“We need to know if God’s Eye is secure. I don’t care what else has been compromised. That is the absolute top priority.”

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