How do you plug a leak? With a strategy of misinformation. Divine Fury. Chapter 32
February 21, 2013
HARRY BLOUNT LOOKED at the four others around the table in the Bunker. There was Hillary Adler who had a fundraising Rolodex of Democrats that was worth ten times its weight in diamonds. The other three were nicknamed the three ‘Sals.’ There was Sally Bradford, director of volunteers, Salvatore Watkins, media manager, and Lenny Salvuchi, the campaign’s finance director.
“First of all, what we discuss here goes no further than the five of us,” said Blount. “Not even Andrew will know about this. And, no mention of this goes into your computer, or any other phone or electronic device except as we discuss here. Nothing goes out as email or gets placed on anyone’s voicemail. I don’t even want any of you discussing it with each other when you leave this room.”
“Understood?” he asked. Four heads around the table nodded their assent.
“We have a leak,” said Blount. “I’m sure of it. Too many of our events have been deliberately sabotaged. Some of them were publicized. But others were not. And the Jefferson River deal cinches it in my mind. Someone keyed off the mistake I made in the email that got passed around but didn’t get the correction. That’s the only reason that flooding was four hours late. It was designed to be yet another PR disaster for us.”
“Okay, Harry,” said Adler. “Say you’ve convinced us. What do you plan to do?”
“Our plan is misinformation,” said Blount. “Look, I trust everyone in this room. But I don’t trust the people you talk to, your assistants, your families or even the security of your phones and computers. We all know email and phones can be hacked. The reason I asked you to leave all your computers and phones outside is that it’s even possible for a hacker to turn them on and remotely listen through them to any conversations within range. It’s happened before.”
“So, here’s our story, our fabrication if you will,” he continued. “A key campaign worker – we’ll call him ‘Adam’ – has quit in a huff. Adam has information damaging to the campaign. He is threatening to make it public and we are negotiating furiously to settle this, to buy his silence, in essence. This story goes out through the normal channels. I’ll send out an email this evening only to you four. Tomorrow morning, Hillary distributes the information to the people she would normally let know about it. At noon tomorrow, Salvatore does the same. At 6 pm., it’s Sally’s turn. The following morning, Lenny goes.
“The email has a name and telephone number for Adam. Adam is actually a very close personal friend of mine who has no contact with the campaign and whom I trust completely to tell no one what we’re doing. What we’re counting on is that when the leak occurs, they’ll rush to contact Adam while he’s still in play and hasn’t done anything – like sign a non-disclosure agreement – that would force him to keep quiet. If I’m right, the timing of the approach should narrow the leaking to a handful of people – whether they’re doing it deliberately or not.”
“God, Harry,” said Lenny Salvuchi. “Sounds like a goddamn spy novel. But what if there is a bug in here? Say, inside that phone sitting on the table there?”
“I had this room checked for that an hour ago,” said Blount. “People who know about this stuff – the experts – say this room is clean. I just hope they’re right.”
A half-hour after the meeting in the Bunker ended, Blount typed out the bogus email on his Thinkpad and sent it to the four others who had been in the room. An hour later, he’d just pulled into the driveway of the home he shared with Andrew Harper when his phone started beeping.
“It’s me,” said Adam Durant who had been Blount’s college roommate nearly two decades earlier. “Someone just called.”
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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