Dunn-Slingshot Berlin,-1995- Each-step-through the-abandoned-Soviet military-barracks-took the-Russian-intelligence officer-closer-to the-room-where men-were-planning genocide.-Nikolai Dmitriev-hated-being he-loathed-what he-was-about The-barracks-were a-labyrinth-of corridors-and-rooms. Icy-water-dripped over-the-stone walls,-covered-with paintings-of-Cold War-era-troops-and tanks-the-air was-rank-with must-the-officers footsteps-echoed-as he-strode-onward, shivering-despite-his overcoat-and-fur hat.-Previously,-the complex-would-have housed-thousands-of troops.-Now-it resembled-a-decaying prison.-He turned-into-a corridor-and-was confronted-by-four men.-Two-Russians, two-Americans,-all wearing-jeans,-boots, and-Windbreakers,-carrying silenced-handguns.-The Special-Forces-men checked-his-ID and-thoroughly-searched him.-It-was the-seventh-time this-had-happened as-hed-moved through-the-barracks. Two-hundred-Russian Spetsnaz-operatives-and an-equal-number of-U.S.-Delta, SEALs,-and-CIA SOG-men-were strategically-positioned-in the-base-to ensure-that-every route-to-his destination-was-defended. Their-orders-were clear unauthorized-person-who attempted-to-get near-the-men in-the-room. motioned-Nikolai-forward. -Reaching-the end-of-the corridor,-he-stopped opposite-a-door. Extending-his-hand to-open-it, he-hesitated-as he-heard-a high-pitched-noise.-Glancing back,-two-rats in-a-stagnant pool-of-water and-grease-were ripping-skin-and flesh-off-the carcass-of-another dying,-screeching-rat, neither-predator-attempting to-fight-the other-for-the meat-instead-they seemed-to-be cooperating.-He-wondered if-he-should turn-around-and leave-while-there was-still-time. Everything-about-his presence-here-was wrong.-But-he was-under-orders. -He-entered. -It-was a-large-mess hall.-Ten-years ago,-he-would have-seen-long trestle-tables-and soldiers-eating-their meals.-Now-it was-bare-of any-furnishings-save a-rectangular-table and-chairs-in the-center.-Graffiti covered-the-walls, most-of-it crude,-deriding-the Soviet-Union.-Cigarette smoke-hung-motionless in-the-stagnant air.-Rainwater-poured from-cracks-in the-high-ceiling onto-the-concrete floor.-Sitting on-one-side of-the-rectangular table-were-a U.S.-admiral,-a U.S.-general,-and a-CIA-officer. Opposite-them-were two-Russian-generals. Between-them-were two-files,-and ashtrays.-None-of the-men-were in-uniform-the presence-in-Germany of-Americas-and Russias-most-powerful military-commanders-was secret.-As was-the-presence of-the-intelligence officers.-Nikolai-himself was-Head-of Directorate-S-the-SVRs division-with-responsibility for-illegal-intelligence, including-planting-illegal agents-abroad,-conducting terror-operations-and sabotage-in-foreign countries,-and-recruiting Russians-on-Russian soil.-The-CIA officer-at-the table-was-Head of-the-Special Activities-Division-responsible-for overseas-paramilitary-activities and-covert-manipulation of-target-countries political-structures.- At-the-head of-the-table was-a-small, clean-shaven,-middle-aged-man with-jet-black hair.-Dressed-in an-expensive-black suit,-a-crisp, woven-white-silk shirt,-and-a blue-tie-that had-been-bound in-a-Windsor knot,-the-man removed-his-rimless circular-glasses,-polished them-with-one end-of-his tie,-and-smiled.Always late-for-the party,-Nikolai.- Nikolai-did-not smile.A-party-requires salubrious-surroundings.-Youve chosen-unwisely,-Kurt. -Kurt-Schreiber nodded-toward-the vacant-chair-next to-one-of the-Russian-generals.Sit, and-shut-up. -Nikolai-said with-contempt,Youve-no authority-over-me,civilian. -Kurt-chuckled.When you-and-I were-colonels-in the-KGB-and Stasi,-youd-have called-mecomrade.- Nikolai-sat-and nodded.Different-times,-and Id-have-been lying-to-your face.-Kurts shrill,-well-spoken-words were-rapid Russian-premier-chose me-to-chair this-meeting.-Not you.-He-placed his-manicured-fingers together.-That-is telling.-I agree.-It-tells us-how-low weve-stooped.-Nikolai looked-at-the Americans.-Have-the protocols-been-drawn up?-They have.-Admiral-Jack Dugan-nodded-toward the-Russian-generals. It-took-us two-days.- General-Alexander-Tatlin lit-a-cigarette.It was-worth-the effort.-The-Russian exhaled-smoke.-The results-are-precise. -Seems-to me,-CIA-officer Thomas-Scott-said, eyeing-Nikolai-with suspicion,-that-youre not-comfortable-with this.-Nikolai laughed,-his-voice echoing-in-the bare-hall.How-can any-sane-man becomfortable-agreeing-to this?-Kurt Schreibers-idea-is brilliant.-Its psychotic.-Nikolai-looked at-Schreiber-and repeated-in-a quieter-voice,-Psychotic. -U.S.-general Joe-Ballinger-pointed across-the-table.Schreibers right.-The-act has-to-shock the-fuckers-into submission.-Man-comes at-you-with a-knife-you defend-yourself-with a-gun.-Trouble is-we-havent-got anyone-on-our side-of-the fence-whos-got the-balls-to do-another-Hiroshima or-Nagasaki.-So we-make-the decision,-and-its a-sane-one-as uncomfortable-as-it may-make-us. -Nikolai-frowned.You havent-reported-the true-meaning-of the-protocols-to your-president?- The-U.S.-commander shook-his-head.Nope, and-were-never going-to.-Nor are-subsequent-presidents going-to-find out.-He-gestured toward-his-two American-colleagues.-Were the-only-Americans wholl-know-the secret.-No-one else-stateside-would ever-agree-to this-plan.- And-thats-because they-lack-my. .imagination.-Kurt-withdrew two-ink-pens, handed-one-to General-Leon-Michurin and-the-other to-Admiral-Dugan. Signatures,-please.- The-Americans-signed a-sheet-of paper-inside-one of-the-files the-Russian-generals did-the-same in-their-files they-exchanged-documents, countersigned,-and-moved both-files-in front-of-Nikolai. -The-SVR officer-stared-at the-two-files. All-that-was needed-to-make this-official-was his-signature-on both-documents.- Nikolai,-were-waiting. Kurts-tone-was hard,-impatient.- Nikolai-looked-at the-men-opposite him-ordinarily-they were-his-enemies. He-pictured-the two-large-rats, feasting-at-opposite ends-of-the third-rodent.- Nikolai!-The Russian-intelligence-officer shook-his-head.This is-wrong.- And-yet-the alternative-isnt-right. -If-I sign-this,-millions of-people-could die.-Notmillions, you-fool.-Schreiber smiled.-Hundreds-of millions.-Nikolai couldnt-believe-this was-happening.-Hed always-hated-Kurt Schreiber.-The-man was-undoubtedly-highly intelligent,-but-also untrustworthy,-manipulative,-and cruel,-and-since the-collapse-of East-Germany-he had-made-millions through-illegal-business ventures.-Now-he had-the-ear of-the-Russian president,-and-that made-him-more dangerous-than-when hed-been-a Stasi-officer.-How can-you-live with-yourself?- Schreiber-shrugged.I-view the-deaths-as necessary-statistics.-I suggest-you-do the-same.- Nikolai-was-tempted to-respond-but knew-there-was no-point.- Schreiber-would-not listen-to-reason. -Pure-evil never-did.- Nikolai-gripped-the pen,-momentarily-closed his-eyes,-muttered,Forgive me,-and-signed both-documents.- Excellent.-Kurt-reached across,-grabbed-both files,-shoved-one at-the-Russian generals,-the-other at-the-Americans. The-former-Stasi colonel-smiled.-The protocols-for-Slingshot are-now-in place,-ready-for use-should-ever the-need-arise. -Great.-General Tatlin-stubbed-his cigarette-out.-So now-we-can get-out-of this-shithole.- Not-yet.-Kurt placed-his-hands flat-on-the table.-How-can we-ensure-that no-one-in this-room-ever reveals-the-secret of-whats-missing in-the-files? -Thomas-Scott huffed.Slingshot-wont-work if-one-of us-talks.-We agreed-on-that. -Kurt-stared at-nothing.We-did, but-we-need more-than-agreement. -What-are you-proposing?- Insurance.-Kurt-looked at-the-men before-resting-his cold-gaze-on Nikolai.-Time-can erode-a-mans resolve.-But-fear can-keep-him resolute.-Speak plainly.-Kurt nodded.One-day,-one of-you-may wake-up-with a-crisis-of conscience-and-decide that-he-can no-longer-carry the-burden-of this-secret.-That cant-happen.-So, my-solution-is simple-and-effective. The-Russian-president has-authorized-me to-activate-an assassin.-He-will be-deployed-as a-deep-cover-sleeperagent, and-his-orders are-to-kill any-of-you-he looked-at-the CIA-officer-and smiled-whotalks.-General Tatlin-lit-another cigarette-and-jabbed its-glowing-tip in-the-direction of-Schreiber.You-expect us-to-live our-lives-with a-potential-death sentence-hanging-over us?-Schreiber interlaced-his-fingers.Yes. -Dugan-laughed.Take a-look-around this-base,-Schreiber. Were-the-kind of-men-who like-to-have impenetrable-security-wherever we-go.- Impenetrable?-Damn right.-The-admirals tone-was-now angry.-Send-out your-assassin,-for all-we-care. But-youre-going to-need-better insurance-than-that. -There-is no-better-insurance. -Nikolai-wondered why-Schreiber-looked so-smug.Whos-the assassin?-The sound-of-rainwater striking-the-concrete floor-seemed-to intensify-as-Schreiber momentarily-closed-his eyes.You-know-of him-by-the code-name-Kronos. -Kronos!-Nikolais stomach-muscles-knotted. Why-was-he selected-for-this task?-Before Schreiber-could-answer, General-Ballinger-asked,Who the-hell-is Kronos?-Nikolai looked-at-the American-commanders-as he-began-to sweat.He-was-a Stasi-officer,-tasked on-East-Germanys most-complex-and strategic-assassinations.-Since the-collapse-of communism,-hes-been on-the-payroll of-Russia.-Hes. .-hes-our most-effective-killer. One-hundred-and eighty-three-kills under-his-belt. Always-successful.-As he-returnedhis-attention to-Schreiber,-he felt-overwhelming-unease. Why-was-he selected?-Schreiber opened-his-eyes.Because the-Slingshot-secret is-so-vital. We-needed-our very-best-assassin to-ensure-that-he swept-his-arm through-air-no-amount ofimpenetrablesecurity-can-protect a-man-who might-betray-us. Schreiber-checked-his watch-and-looked toward-one-of the-far-corners of-the-mess hall.-In-a loud,-clipped-tone, he-called-out, Show-them.- Nikolai-and-the others-immediately-followed Schreibers-gaze.-At first-nothing-happened. Then,-movement-from within-the-shadows at-the-corner of-the-room. -A-big man-stepped-into the-light.- Standing-directly-underneath one-of-the streams-of-water pouring-down-from the-ceiling.- Was-motionless-as he-allowed-the icy-rain-to wash-over-his head.-His handgun-held-high and-trained-on them.-Kronos. -Schreiber-smiled and-looked-at the-others.Not-only did-Kronos-get past-all-of your-men,-he did-so-with very-precise-timing. I-ordered-him not-to-enter this-room-until one-minute-ago, so-that-the contents-of-our discussion-would-remain confidential-to-only the-men-around this-table.-Since then,-hes-been pointing-his-weapon at-you.- General-Michurin-slammed a-fist-down onto-the-table.How dare-you-make fools-of-us! -Schreiber-responded calmly,It-wasnt-my intention-to-make fools-of-you. Rather,-to-demonstrate to-you-that you-do-indeed have-a-potential death-sentence-hanging over-you.-He darted-a-look at-Kronos.-Give them-what-they need.-Nikolai felt-fear-course through-him-as he-watched-the German-assassin-take measured-steps-toward the-table,-his gun-still-held high.-Though-Nikolai was-one-of only-a-handful of-SVR-officers who-was-cleared to-know-all about-the-Kronos operations,-he-didnt know-the-assassins real-name.-Moreover, this-was-the first-time-that hed-been-in the-presence-of the-man.-Kronos was-well-over six-feet-tall, muscular,-had-black hair,-and-was wearing-clothes-identical to-those-Nikolai had-seen-worn by-the-bases protection-detail.- Kronos-lowered-his weapon,-withdrew-a piece-of-paper from-his-jacket, tore-it-in half,-and-slapped one-piece-of paper-on-Admiral Dugans-chest-before moving-to-the other-side-of the-table-and doing-the-same with-the-other bit-of-paper on-General-Michurin. -Schreiber-spoke to-the-Americans.I suggest-you-bury your-paper-deep in-the-vaults of-the-CIA. Then-to-the Russians,-Put-yours in-the-SVR vaults.-He-cupped his-hands-together. Never-combine-them, unless-there-is reason-to-do so.-Reason? -One-of you-needs-Kronos to-put-a bullet-in-your head.-You. .-Enough, admiral!-Schreiber-composed himself.-The-relevance of-the-two pieces-of-paper will-be-made known-to-you if-the-need arises.-Until-that time,-Kronos-will vanish.-No-one, not-even-me, will-know-of his-location.-Hell wait-for-years, decades-if-necessary, until-he-is. .-needed.- Thomas-Scott-shook his-head.Our-men have-been-here for-three-days. The-CIA-officer felt-disbelief.-And when-they-arrived, they-searched-the entire-base.- General-Ballinger-shrugged.Theres no-way-he couldve-penetrated-the base-today.-He must-have-entered the-complex-before our-men-arrived and-hid-in a-place-they failed-to-search. -Thats-the only-possible-explanation. Admiral-Dugan-pointed at-Schreiber.-Next time-well-be more-thorough.- Schreiber-grinned,-though his-expression-remained cold.Kronos-show-them-where you-were-two and-three-days ago.-The German-moved-around the-table,-placing a-photograph-each in-front-of the-Russians-and Americans.-Incredulity-was on-all-of the-mens-faces as-they-stared at-the-shots. -Each-showed the-inside-of their-homes-in America-or-Russia. -A-local newspaper-clearly-showing the-days-date. -And-Kronos pointing-the-tip of-a-long knife-toward-family photos.-Bastard! -Kronos-retrieved each-photo,-placed them-in-a pile-in-the center-of-the table,-and-lit them-with-a match.-Schreiber watched-the-flames rise-high.Our-meeting is-concluded.-You will-take-the Slingshot-protocols-back to-your-respective headquarters.-You-will secrete-the-torn papers-as-instructed. You-will-keep your-mouths-shut. Otherwise,-my-assassinwill find-and-kill you.-Kronos stepped-away-from the-men,-hesitated, then-turned-to face-them.-In a-deep-voice, he-said,Gentlemen,-I left-all-of your-men-alive, though-I-must apologize-for-the harm-I-had to-cause-some of-them.- Then-he-disappeared into-the-shadows. -Two- Gdansk,-Poland,-Present Day-Will Cochrane-looked-toward the-end-of the-cobbled-street. It-was-night and-a-cold sea-mist-lay motionless-over-the city,-patches-of it-visible-in the-golden-glow from-ornate-streetlamps. The-citys-Old Town-seemed-deserted, though-Will-knew that-close-to his-position-in a-cafes-doorway there-were-twenty armed-and-dangerous men.-Some-of them-were-his allies,-some-not. -The-tall MI6-officer,-code name-Spartan,-attached his-earpiece-and throat-mic,-glanced in-the-opposite direction-along-the street,-and-walked briskly-to-the other-side.-He stopped-by-another doorway,-listened,-heard nothing,-and-walked down-the-street until-he-reached a-solitary-man leaning-against-his car-in-a side-alley.- He-whispered,The-Russian defector-should-be here-in-less than-one-hour. -The-man stared-at-Will, his-eyes-cold, anger-in-his hushed-voice.Youre-making a-grave-mistake going-ahead-with this-operation.-If we-get-this wrong,-the-repercussions will-be-catastrophic. -Will-looked up-and-down the-street-again. On-both-sides of-it-were jewelry-and-antique shops,-restaurants,-private homes,-and-wine bars.-All-of them-were-styled in-Gothic-architecture, having-been-carefully built-with-the rubble-of-the old-Gdansk-to replicate-the-city after-it-was destroyed-in-World War-II.-Every business-was-shut up-for-the night.-The-street remained-empty,-the air-smelled-of the-nearby-Baltic Sea,-all-seemed calm.-He glanced-at-the man.Luke,-nothing-will go-wrong-if you-follow-my orders.-Luke thrust-his-gloved hands-under-his armpits-and-quietly stamped-his-feet on-the-icy ground.Your-orders?-Though barely-audible,-his tone-was-unmistakably sarcastic.-I-take orders-from-people I-know,-yet I-knownothing-about you-beyond-that you-are-here at-the-behest of-the-chief. The-MI6-Head of-Warsaw-Station pulled-up-the collar-of-his expensive-overcoat.-Polands my-patch.-I resent-your-presence here-and-I resent-your-intended course-of-action. -Will-unbuttoned his-coat,-checked that-his-sound-suppressed Russian-PB-6P9 handgun-was-still firmly-in-position under-his-Huntsman bespoke-Savile-Row suit,-and-returned his-attention-to Luke.-The-station chief-looked-to be-in-his late-forties,-and no-doubt-was an-extremely-experienced and-skilled-intelligence operative.Im-here-to do-my-job. Nothing-gets-in the-way-of that.-Luke frowned.Your-job-may cause-irrevocable-damage to-diplomatic-relations between-Poland-and the-United-Kingdom. -Will-shook his-head.It-wont come-to-that. Even-if-things go-wrong,-no Poles-will-be killed-tonight.- Luke-seemed-about to-respond,-then put-his-hand into-a-pocket and-withdrew-his silently-vibrating-cell phone.-Its-screen was-flashing-to show-he-had an-incoming-call. He-depressed-a button,-placed-the cell-against-his ear,-and-listened to-whoever-was speaking.-Ten-seconds later-he-ended the-call-and placed-the-phone back-into-his coat.Still-nothing-out of-the-ordinary at-the-embassy. -Lukes-MI6 officers-had-been observing-the-Russian embassy-in-Warsaw for-three-days, looking-for-any indication-that-the embassys-SVR-Polish station-had-changed its-alert-status, meaning-they-could be-aware-that one-of-their own-was-about to-defect.- Will-felt-uncertain and-tense.-Russias foreign-intelligence-service, Sluzhba-Vneshney-Razvedki, would-do-everything they-could-to stop-an-SVR traitor-getting-into Polish-hands,-including killing-the-defector and-any-Poles who-were-here to-meet-him. He-checked-his watch-and-exhaled slowly,-his-breath steaming-in-the icy-air.-It was-nearly-2 A.M.-In-the distance,-a-port foghorn-droned,-its noise-echoing-off the-nearby-buildings. As-the-sound abated,-he-asked, Do-you-know anything-about-the Polish-operatives-who are-out-to play-tonight?- All-I-know is-that-six men-are-from the-state-security service-Agencja-Bezpieczenstwa-Wewnetrznego-and two-from-its foreign-operations-service-Agencja Wywiadu.-Lukes-expression seemed-bitter.-In all-probability,-Ive worked-with-some of-the-men youre-planning-to render-unconscious-tonight. -One-of the-two-AW men-will-be the-defectors-handler. Will-rubbed-fingers through-his-short, dark-hair.-Youre certain-your-teams hidden-from-them? -Luke-shrugged.I cant-be-certain of-anything.-But I-got-all twelve-of-them from-London.-They arrived-this-morning. Theyre-MI6-Q operatives.-Men who-knew-how to-stay-hidden. Q-operatives-were all-former-British Special-Forces.- Will-asked,What-are the-Poles-wearing? -Windbreaker-jackets, jeans,-and-combat boots.-And our-men?- Similar,-but-just before-the-green lights-given-theyll don-black-baseball caps-so-that theyre-distinguishable-from the-Poles.- What-weapons-do the-Q-men have?-Luke muttered,Silenced-pistols-and tranquilizer-guns.- Thats-all?-I asked-for-them to-be-armed with-suppressed-semiautomatics. -And-I decided-to-ignore your-request.-Luke shook-his-head. We-shouldnt-be doing-this-to the-Polish-operatives. This-is-their country,-and-the defectors-coming-to them.-Bloody-hell, I-liaise-with the-Polish-intelligence services-every-day. The-moment-we got-the-tip-off, I-should-have been-tasked-to use-my-influence with-the-Poles to-see-if they-could-share the-defectors-intelligence with-us.- Impossible.-You-know that-would-have meant-that-wed have-to-tell them-how-we got-the-information. -Luke-sighed.So you-decided-to turn-everything-on its-head,-overrule my-authority,-and construct-a-kidnap operation.-Not kidnap,-a-sleight of-hand.- Luke-retorted-angrily,When this-is-over, Ill-make-an official-complaint-about your-actions.- Will-grabbed-Lukes jaw.-Ive-had enough-of-your crap!-The shock-on-Lukes face-was-vivid. -Will-held him-firm.Were-not here-to-snatch the-defector-from the-Poles.-Were here-because-you told-the-Russians about-the-defector. And-because-of that,-we-had no-choice-other than-to-come here-to-protect the-Poles-and ensure-they-got their-man.- Lukes-eyes-were wide-with-fear. He-tried-to speak.-But Will-squeezed-harder.Save your-breath.-Youve been-under-investigation for-weeks,-your burst-transmissions-monitored by-GCHQ.-But rather-than-have you-lifted,-we wanted-to-let you-continue-speaking to-the-Russians, with-information-that we-fed-you. False-information,-of course.-But-when you-told-the SVR-about-the defectors-use-of the-exfiltration-route, matters-had-to be-accelerated.-He pulled-Lukes-head close-to-his. I-couldnt-tell the-Qs-what was-really-happening in-case-they accidentally-let-slip a-detail-that would-make-you suspicious.-Its-areal shame-that-you underequipped-them.-He smiled,-though-he felt-nothing-but anger.-Im-told that-money-was the-reason-behind your-treachery.-Pity really.-Id-have had-more-respect for-you-if you-betrayed-us for-other-reasons. Still,-doesnt-matter now-because-youre fucked-and-were fucked.-Will thrust-Lukes-head back.-Luke winced-and-rubbed his-bruised-jaw as-sweat-poured down-his-forehead.I. .-Shut up!-Will-pulled out-his-Russian handgun-and-placed its-nozzle-against Lukes-head.-Is there-anything-you want-to-say to-me?- My-family.-. His-voice-trailed. -Ill-make sure-theyre-comfortable, are-looked-after, and-are-told that-you-were killed-in-the line-of-duty. No-one-needs to-know.- Luke-closed-his eyes-and-quietly said,Thats-kind-of you.-He-bowed his-head.-Pull the-trigger.- Will-hesitated.- Pull-the-trigger! -Still,-Will did-nothing.- Please!-I-cant face-the-disgrace. -Youre-already disgraced.-Will-gripped his-gun-tight, but-his-trigger finger-was-motionless. Even-though-he was-under-orders to-kill-the traitor,-something-was holding-him-back. -Luke-opened his-eyes,-raised his-head,-and looked-at-him with-wet-eyes.Do you-pity-me? -Will-felt confused,-no-longer angry.Perhaps.-Luke nodded-slowly.I-dont deserve-your-pity. His-tone-strengthened. Men-are-going to-die-tonight because-of-me. Do-your-duty! Pull-the-trigger! -Will-sighed, knowing-Luke-was right,-and-spoke with-a-genuinely bemused-tone.Why-did you-do-this? -Luke-shrugged.The worlds-full-of self-seeking-charlatans.-Im just-one-of many.-Will frowned.And-men-like me-have-to clean-up-your mess?-It appears-that-must be-the-case. -I-wish I-didnt-have to-keep-doing that.-He shot-Luke-in the-head.- Will-stood-alone, facing-the-fog-covered Baltic-Sea.-Beside him-was-the mouth-of-the river-Vistula-three miles-upriver-was the-heart-of Gdansk.-During-the daytime,-the-waterway was-heavily-used by-pleasure-cruisers and-merchant-vessels bringing-goods-into the-heart-of the-city.-Tonight, a-Polish-cargo ship-carrying-the Russian-defector-would be-sailing-up the-channel,-having collected-the-SVR officer-from-Saint Petersburg,-in-northwestern Russia.-MI6-had gained-this-information from-one-of its-Polish-assets, working-in-the Polish-consulate-in Saint-Petersburg-where the-Russian-had walked-in-to defect.-The-consulate contained-no-Polish intelligence-operatives-and it-was-the asset,-a-low-ranking diplomat,-who-had been-instructed-to inform-the-defector of-the-exfiltration route.-But-the asset-did-not know-the-exact location-where-the boat-would-stop to-deliver-the spy-to-the AW-and-ABW men.-He adjusted-his-radio throat-mic-and spoke-quietly.This-is Zulu.-Im-in position,-but-this sea-mist-is making-visibility-diabolical. -The-Q team-leader-responded in-a-deep voice.Delta-1.-Weve not-moved.-Nor have-the-locals. Most-of-us are-in-position either-side-of the-river,-spread out-over-one mile-from-north to-south.-Whats your-local-doing? -Will-trained his-night-vision-binoculars on-the-solitary Polish-operative-standing two-hundred-yards away-on-the opposite-side-of the-river-mouth.Just waiting.-Nothing-else is-happening-here aside-from-the damn-port-foghorn going-off-every minute.-He-checked his-watch.-It was-nearly-3 A.M.-The-boat should-have-arrived by-now,-though no-doubt-the coastal-fog-was slowing-its-progress toward-shore.-His body-tensed.-Ive got-lightsout-at sea.-Theyre-moving parallel-to-the coast,-east-to west.-Delta 1 might-be-the target-vessel.-Perhaps its-following-a deep-channel-until it-can-turn toward-you.-Any reaction-from-your local?-Nothing yet.-The-boats changing-direction.-Looks like-it-could be-turning-toward shore.-Hold.-Silence. The-locals-pulled something-out-of his-jacket.- More-silence.- Then,Hes-looking-through binoculars.-Hes-standing very-still,-just watching.-Wills-chest muscles-tightened.-Okay, hes-put-the binos-away.-Hes lighting-a-cigarette. Hes-not-doing anything-else.-Wait. I-can-see it-now.-Its not-the-target. Repeat,-not-the target.-Just-a small-Maritime-Search and-Rescue-vessel doing-a-patrol of-the-harbor. -Delta-1 okay.-Will glanced-at-the Pole.Locals-binos-are back-out.-Hes looking-out-to sea.-Moving-his head-slightly,-meaning he-hasnt-seen anything-yet.- The-foghorn-blared. -The-SAR vessels-slowed-right down-and-has switched-on-its port-searchlight.-The locals-motionless.-Hes got-a-cell phone-by-his head,-still-looking through-his-binos. Id-say-hes spotted-something.- Delta-1.-Weve got-one-local on-Ku-Ujsciu on-his-cell and-on-the move,-walking-quickly toward-Roberta-de Plelo-on-the east-bank-of the-river.-Plus another-now-moving down-Oliwska-toward the-rivers-west bank.-The rest-of-the Q-team-reported that-the-Polish men-they-were watching-were-also moving.-Wills heart-rate-increased. Okay.-The-locals have-been-alerted and-are-taking up-formation.-All Delta on.-His-hand moved-to-his pistol.-Ive-got different-lights-out at-sea.-The SARs-turning-toward them.-Its-searchlight should-pick-up something-any-moment. .-Will-saw several-more-lights, some-electric-blue, others-red.-They were-spread-out, the-highest-about ten-yards-above sea-level.-Then he-heard-the distinct-sound-of engines.-He-waited. The-lights-came closer,-and-it was-now-possible to-see-glimpses of-metal-around them.-Gradually-the ship-emerged-out of-the-darkness and-fog.-Got it!-Cargo-ship. -Delta-1 shot-back,Ships-name? -Hold.- Nobody-else-spoke as-they-waited for-Will.- Searchlights-fully-covering the-vessel.-The names-clear.-Its thePaderewski.-Repeat,-its the-target!-Will watched-the-Polish operative.-My-guys holding-something-in his-hand.-Hes walking-right-up to-the-seawall. Now-hes-leaning against-it.-He grips-the-object in-two-hands. -ThePaderewskiwas-getting closer-to-shore, coming-right-toward the-local-and the-river-mouth. The-SAR-moved closer-to-it until-it-was out-of-sight, hidden-behind-thePaderewski. -Will-could feel-his-pulse throbbing-in-his temples.The-locals-holding a-torch,-pointing it-toward-the target.-He-gives one,-two,-three, four,-five.-. yes,-five-flashes. .-He-looked at-thePaderewski.Nothing-yet from-the-target. .-nothing.-. now!-One,-two, three.-.-four, five,-six,-seven flashes-from-the deck.-Is the-boat-slowing down-or-changing course?-Delta-1 spoke-rapidly.- No,-its-still heading-right-for the-river-mouth. -Do-you think-the-all-clear signals-been-given? -Yes.-ThePaderewskis committed-to-the river-entrance.-It hasnt-got-a turning-circle-to change-course.- In-that-case were-ready.- Hold-on,-Delta 1.-Will-broke into-a-sprint, moving-west-to get-a-line of-sight-on the-SAR.-The SAR-vessels-following thePaderewski.-Delta 1-responded-immediately.Is it-making-any attempt-to-stop the-target?- No.-Is the-target-aware of-the-SAR vessel?-Must be.-The-SARs barely-ten-yards behind-it.-Its searchlight-is-illuminating the-rear-half of-the-boat. -This-is odd.-Agreed! Will-knew-that the-greatest-hazard for-any-craft around-here-tonight was-in-the harbor.-ThePaderewskiwas-about to-enter-a river-that-had urban-and-transportation lighting-on-either side-of-it. It-would-be safe-and-of no-concern-to the-SAR-vessel. Plus,-if-it was-a-routine escort,-the-SAR would-be-in front.-He-felt his-stomach-churn as-he-scrutinized the-SAR.-It was-approximately-twenty yards-long,-five yards-wide-the distance-between-deck and-water-line was-less-than one-yard-speed was-eight-to ten-knots-engine noise-was-high pitched-to-medium.I cant-be-certain, but-Id-say the-SAR-vessel is-heavy-laden. -Could-that cargo-be-men? -How-the hell-would-I know?-But-if it-is,-Id hazard-a-guess there-are-at least-ten-men in-there.- Looks-like-more of-our-ABW and-AW-friends are-out-to play-tonight,-on board-the-SAR vessel,-making-sure that-their-prize is-not-attacked from-behind.- I-know-that! -Do-we abort?-Wills mind-raced-fast. No.-ThePaderewski was-now-in the-river,-heading toward-Gdansk.- Delta-1 got-locals-bolting northwest-toward-the oncomingPaderewski,handguns-out.-Somethings wrong.-Will watched-his-local sprinting-away-from the-coast,-paralleling thePaderewski.Its-the-SAR vessel-thats-wrong. Thats-whats-spooked our-Polish-friends. Its-not-carrying ABW-or-AW men.-It-must be-a-team of-SVR.-Theyve come-to-assassinate the-defector.-Will began-running.-All Delta touch-the-locals. You-have-a new-target-and objective.-Convergeon-the SAR-vessel-and get-ready-to kill-anything-inside it.-Our-priority now-is-to ensure-the-ABW and-AW-men get-their-defector. -Delta-1. The-Poles-will think-were-hostiles. -Damn-right. Will-sprinted-alongside the-river.-But you-mustnt-kill any-of-them. After-two-minutes of-passing-cranes and-warehouses-adjacent to-the-river, he-called-out, Im-about-six hundred-yards-inland from-the-river mouth,-following-the target.-The-SARs right-on-its tail.-I-can see-the-driver in-the-cabin, no-one-else. -Reckon-the SVRs-going-to do-a-hit and-run-the moment-thePaderewski-docks and-the-defector steps-off-the boat.-Where are-you?- Im-on-the west-bank-of the-river.-ThePaderewskis just-coming-into my-view,-heading toward-my-position. -Is-there anywhere-around-you that-the-boat could-dock?- No.-I-think its-going-to head-farther-south toward-the-city, where-most-of the-tourist-vessel berths-and-cargo unloading-bays-are. But-we-still cant-discount-the possibility-that-thePaderewski may-simply-slow down,-pull-alongside an-area-of flat-land,-and allow-the-defector to-jump-off. -Okay.-Move south,-ahead-of the-target.-Ill stay-on-the
Live! From Washington D.C., it's the Fully Constituted 111th U.S. Congress (Finally) | Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

Ladies and gentlemen, the contest is over! On June 30, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Al Franken garnered just 312 more legally-cast votes in the race to represent the state in the United States Senate than incumbent Norm Coleman. The initial result of the election–held nearly eight months ago–was in favor of Coleman by a margin of 206 votes. Because the margin of victory represented less than one-half of one percent of the more than 2.9 million votes cast, Minnesota law required a manual recount that lasted one and one half months. Of the roughly 300,000 absentee ballots cast, election officials and candidates determined that 933 had been improperly rejected for various reasons. The State Canvassing Board (the statutorily required overseer of elections) determined on January 5, 2009 that Franken won by 225 votes. The next day, Coleman formally contested the result of the recount and asserted his right to serve as Senator. At trial, Coleman successfully persuaded the three-judge panel to count an additional 351 absentee ballots. On April 13, 2009 the court held that Franken had won by 312 votes; Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Coleman’s first argument posited that prior to the recount, election officials had used a “substantial” compliance standard with regards to absentee ballots’ satisfaction of statutory requirements. However, during the recount, a court order was issued that identified ten categories of absentee ballots that had been rejected for failure to comply with the requirements and would remain uncounted. Coleman asserted that the order created a “strict” compliance standard in order for previously rejected absentee ballots to be counted and thereby violated his right to substantive due process. The court rejected this argument because precedent in the area of substantive due process (as it relates to election procedures) requires a dual showing that (1) the changed election procedure was likely relied upon by voters during the election and (2) the change in procedure resulted in significant disenfranchisement of voters. The court found that the statutory requirements implicitly require their strict application. Thus the established procedure that voters were assumed to rely upon was that the requirements would be strictly applied unless Coleman had shown that voters relied upon a different, lower standard. The court also noted that precedent binds the court from altering the outcome of an election due to “[m]ere fraud or mistake” on the part of election officials in deciding to accept or reject ballots.

Coleman’s second constitutional challenge asserted that variations in absentee ballot counting procedures used throughout the state to comply with statutory election requirements, as well as the trial court’s application of those requirements, violated the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. The court first noted that not every variation in the application of a facially-neutral law implicates an equal protection violation. Indeed, not even an erroneous performance of a statutory duty will invoke the equal protection clause. In order for this argument to have succeeded, Coleman would have needed to demonstrate that the variations in the procedures were part of a deliberate scheme with the intention of effecting discrimination among absentee voters. The court found that Coleman did not show any evidence of intentional discrimination, and thus neither the election judges nor the trial court erred in their application of the election laws.

Evidentiary law provided the basis for Coleman’s next two allegations. He first argued that the trial court erroneously excluded evidence of absentee ballots that would have violated the “strict” compliance standards created by the court order if they had been subjected to those standards on election day. In rejecting this argument, the court pointed to a statute which essentially required that any challenges to a voter’s or a ballot’s legitimacy must be made before the ballot is slipped into the ballot box and mixed with other ballots. Coleman’s second evidentiary challenge asserted that exclusion of evidence of variations in election procedures across voting precincts was similarly improper. However, because Coleman conceded that such evidence would not have contributed any weight to his legal arguments distinct from the support provided by the evidence that was admitted, there was no error.

Coleman then argued that the trial court erred when it denied his petition for inspection of certain ballots that he alleged were double-counted. He admitted at trial that he could prove such double-counting occurred through the testimony of election officials and that the inspection would not be necessary for his case to succeed. Precedent noted that such an inspection is essentially a discovery mechanism for use in trial preparation and that candidates do not have an absolute right to an inspection. Rather, a party seeking inspection has to show that it is needed in order to prepare for the trial of the election contest. The trial court determined that Coleman failed to clear this bar and actually injured his claim with his concession that he could prevail without the inspection. Because he made no additional assertion on appeal that an inspection would uncover relevant information that was not available at trial, his fifth argument failed.

The final hurdle the court crossed before calling the election for Franken was Coleman’s claim that the use of a precinct’s election day results in tabulating the recount was in error. During the recount, it was found that 132 votes had been lost, and thus the proper decision (absent any countervailing evidence) was to presume that the election day results were correct and proper for use in the final count. The court found this procedure was supported by sufficient precedent, and thus Coleman’s sixth and final argument was rejected.

So here we are: it is the year 2009, Minnesotans have been lacking a Senator for nearly eight months, and American voters must still express doubt about the validity of the outcome of even the most important public elections. Between widely varying procedures, lost ballots, hanging chads, and the like, it seems like there exists a surplus of “X factors” that could taint the results of the elections that are the foundation of our democratic republic. While calls for electoral reform have likely persisted since the ancient Greeks first began using a voting system, the United States’ present infrastructure and technological capabilities make the lack of a supremely reliable electoral system embarrassing at best and outrageous at worst. Until legislators are able to come up with a fool-proof system for voters to use in electing public officials, cases like this will persist and continue to harm the reputation of our electoral system. But hey, at least Minnesotans and SNL fans realized that the problems with our electoral system pale in comparison to those in countries like Iran.

— Jason Albosta

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