Executive Decision

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I've been writing short fiction for much of my life, but I tend not to publish or post it. This is rare occasion. I wrote this story sometime around 2014 or 2015. It's very rough. I would appreciate any feedback.

In the last two years bombings and a mass shootings by domestic terrorists had killed or injured over a hundred people. Some business leaders and academics had joined the public in calling for detention and deportation of Muslim Americans. Violence against them became common around the country. Many people blamed recently elected President Anthony Williamson charging that his administration had not done enough to prevent the terror attacks. Responding to critics Williamson told reporters, " We are reviewing our security measures and surveillance operations but I urge people to remain calm. We don't want to create a police state out of fear and hysteria. " He knew his comments were not reassuring but he could not appear indifferent to public concerns.

The President, Vice President, Attorney General, FBI Director, National Security Advisor, and White House Chief of State met to discuss the situation a week later.

FBI Director Bruce Talbot argued with Attorney General Phillip Greenbaum. Talbot a Republican left over from the previous administration was highly regarded by the public and supported by Congressional Republicans so Anthony retained him. Greenbaum a former Justice Department lawyer turned academic was well liked by liberals.

" We need to get inside the Arab Muslim community to gather information on extremists, " said Talbot.

" Fine. You got a suspect ? What's your evidence, " said Greenbaum.

" I have to put them under closer surveillance, " said Talbot.

" You want to fish around. I suppose that means racial profiling, " said Greenbaum.

" Why don't you let me do my job ! " said Talbot.

" Do it within the law ! " said Greenbaum.

" Phillip any information that helps to find these cells saves lives. Think about from our standpoint, " said McAllister.

Terry McAllister was National Security Advisor. He had a reputation as a neoconservative and Anthony was heavily criticized from the left for choosing him. However McAllister was smart and resourceful. He had worked for two foreign policy think tanks and the State Department.

" Oh Terry I didn't know about you and Bruce. How long have you been a couple ? " said Greenbaum.

" That's not necessary Phillip, " said McAllister before the Vice President intervened.

" Look this isn't helping. We are all on the same team so lets cool it ! "

John Tilden had been the Senator from Virginia when Anthony convinced him to run as his Vice President.

" John I understand Phillip's concerns but he's not meeting us halfway on this point, " said McAllister.

" Well Terry we all know that laws can be broken and liberties get compromised when we're trying get this intel, " said Tilden.

Then Anthony spoke up for the first time after listening and watching everyone else. He wondered about Talbot and McAllister.

" Terry, Bruce, have you two been in contact with each other ? "

" What's going on I want to know ? "

" Mr. President I sometimes call Terry to see if NSA has anything useful for us , " said Talbot.

" Terry what are you sharing with Bruce ? " asked Anthony.

" Nothing we just have similar concerns about surveillance , " said McAllister.

" They probably bemoan how the law and the Constitution keep them from getting

  terrorists ! " said Greenbaum.

" That's enough Phillip ! " said Anthony.

" Sir I assure you its all legitimate , " said Talbot.

Anthony did not believe either of them. Tommy Flannigan his Chief of Staff whispered something in his ear.

" Look we need to talk about security measures that are lawful and respect civil liberties, " said Anthony.

" Bruce you got for us any ideas ? " asked Tilden.

" We believe three men in New Jersey are planning a bombing. We might be ready to move on them, " said Talbot.

" I want a report , " said Anthony.

Talbot looked at the President and nodded his head. He pushed a large white envelope with the FBI seal on it towards the President.

" Mr. President I will get something to you by Thursday, " said Greenbaum.

" Ok gentlemen lets wrap this up , " said Anthony.

They all stood up together and one by one left the room. It was another useless meeting.

" You have to do something Anthony. You are at fifty one percent in the polls with two percent undecided, " said Flannigan.

Anthony knew the other two percent might be swayed by Republicans portraying him as weak and indecisive. He would be another Democrat, another liberal, who couldn't protect the American people. Tilden was about to leave but he paused for a moment.

" Anthony you can't please either side on this. Do your best to keep it balanced, " said Tilden as he left.

As Tommy was walking out he advised the President to get some ideas together and make a speech.

Anthony walked out of the conference room and down the hall towards the Oval Office. There were staff people in the hallway and two Secret Service agents accompanied the President. He went past the secretary in the outer office and told her to hold his calls. Once inside he sat down behind his desk and opened the envelope from Talbot. He took out the single piece of paper and read it.

CONFIDENTIAL FOR THE PRESIDENT ONLY

FROM : Bruce Talbot
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

TO : The President of the United States Anthony Williamson

RE : Surveillance In Arab Muslim communities.

The problem we face now and in the immediate future will come from radicalized elements here at home. The goal of our efforts is to identify these extremists early and track them. Once they begin planning terrorist acts it must be to apprehend or neutralize them. This requires more intensive and far reaching surveillance measures than have been utilized thus far. The following recommendations are submitted for your consideration:

1. Monitor finances, travel, and activities by major Arab and Muslim organizations.

2. Intense monitoring of mail, phone calls, online activity, and profiles of exchange students from Muslim countries. This should be applied to American Muslim students as well.

3. Profile and monitor finances, travel, and communication by Imams with special attention to travel in Muslim countries and foreign contacts.

4. Videotape, monitor internet, tap phones, and bug every Mosque in America.

" My God this is crazy. Has it come to this ? "

Anthony's mind drifted back two years. He was speaking to the Muslim American Citizens Conference.

" I have the honor of introducing our speaker today. He is the Governor of New Jersey and a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Ladies and gentlemen please join me welcoming the Honorable Anthony Williamson. "

Anthony rose from his seat and walked towards the podium stopping to shake hands with Hamid Kamal the man who introduced him.

" Thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today. It is truly an honor. We could talk about continued progress at debt reduction, keeping our economy strong, and improving the Affordable Care Act. I'm certain that you have the same concerns and aspirations as other Americans. The problem is that far too many people in our country see Muslims not as Americans but as - other. Someone apart. A threat to our security and wellbeing. They wrongly claim Islam is a terrorist religion that it is not legitimate. Muslim is used by many as a slur or aspersion. This kind of ignorance and bigotry does not make us safe. No my friends it divides us. It pulls us apart and weakens us. And so people of goodwill who love their country and their fellow man must say no to fear , ignorance, and reaction ! "

Anthony could still hear their cheers and applause.

Look at where we are now he thought. Maybe he was fooling himself. This was a matter of survival. No one could deny the terrorists were Muslim it was a fact. Maybe Anthony and those like him were being politically correct and more people would die because of it. The Right always said Democrats were weak. They are unable and unwilling to protect the American people.

All this came to mind as Anthony sat there. For a moment he was giving that speech again. There was something about that last part.

" One nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. That means everyone including Muslims ! In this great and terrible struggle against extremists we cannot lose sight of those values. If we turn on the loyal, law abiding, Muslim majority in order to stop a small minority then the terrorists will win ! I am not about to surrender my country and I do not believe you are either ! Thank you God bless you and God bless the United States of America ! "

Something had to be done but Talbot's way wrong.

Anthony turned the paper face down and decided to reject all the recommendations.


Submitted: June 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Kenneth Bryant. All rights reserved.

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