By Tony Russell

"Senator, the vote's coming up tomorrow on whether to confirm Michael Hayden as the new head of the CIA. How do you stand on his nomination?"

"Do you have to ask, Tom? Just look at the guy's history! He's the classic 'good soldier.' He'll do whatever his superiors ask him to do, regardless of whether it's legal or illegal, regardless of whether it's right or wrong. Why in the world would you want somebody like that in charge of the CIA?"

"What specifically do you object to in General Hayden's history, Senator?"

"Look, he's headed up the National Security Agency's effort to secretly collect phone call records on almost a hundred million Americans. They've eavesdropped on phone conversations and e-mail exchanges between millions of Americans, none of it with so much as a warrant. NSA listens to whomever it wants, whenever it wants. There are absolutely no limits! That's the very definition of tyranny!"

"Do you think the administration is abusing their access to this information?"

"How would you know? It's all secret. 'Just trust us,' they say. But democracy doesn't rest on blind trust; it rests on the rule of law."

"In that case, Senator, what about General Hayden's claim that all of this surveillance is legal?"

"Bullpoop. This administration throws a blanket claim of legality over every abuse they commit. All of that warrantless surveillance is blatantly illegal and unconstitutional. If the government can get away with that kind of thing, we're a police state and don't even know it. We sure don't need somebody heading up the CIA with that kind of background."

"How do you feel about the administration's contention that they need that ability to combat terrorism?"

"Having enemies doesn't terrify me; we'll always have enemies who want to attack us. The only terror I feel is at the loss of our liberties!"

"You seem to feel strongly about this, Senator."

"Of course I feel strongly about it! What patriot wouldn't?"

[Senator X's secretary sticks her head into the conference room.] "Excuse me, Senator, pardon the interruption, but you have a call on line one. It's from the White House, and they say it's important."

"Thanks, Mrs. Burton. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll excuse me for a minute, I'll take this call in my office and be right back." [Goes into office and picks up phone.] "Hello?"

"Good morning, Senator. I know you're a busy man, so I won't hold you long. We heard that you were disposed to vote against General Hayden's nomination. Is that correct?"

"You know damned well it's correct."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Senator, we hope you'll reconsider. We know that Janelle would like for you to vote for General Hayden."

"Janelle? What are you talking about?"

"Janelle at the 1-900 sex talk line, Senator. You called her eight times in 2003, back when you and your wife were having that trouble, and you spoke to her for—let's see—a total of three hundred and twenty seven minutes. She certainly has a vivid imagination, doesn't she? Surely you remember Janelle?"

[Senator X sputters.]

"Of course your son supports General Hayden's nomination as well."

"My son? Kevin?"

"Right. I notice that you made calls to several medical facilities on August 12, 13, 16, and 18 to secure treatment for his AIDS condition. I do hope he's responding well. I see that in his last call to your home he indicated he's feeling more hopeful than he has for months."

[Indignantly] "Why you….."

"And Senator, Mr. Brownstein with the pharmaceutical lobby would like for you to vote for General Hayden as well."


"Yes, Mr. Brownstein; I'm sure I have the name correct. He's the gentleman who called on—ah, I have it right here, September 14—to book you as a speaker at the pharmaceutical convention, with a speaker's fee of $10,000. Nice pay for a five minute speech, Senator! But I'm sure what you had to say was worth every penny of it. I suspect it went toward Kevin's treatment, didn't it? Oh, but wait a minute—you seem to have neglected to enter it on your income tax return for last year."

[A long silence.] "Okay. Hayden's got my vote."

"That's just great, Senator. We knew that when you had all the facts about General Hayden in your possession, you'd see that he's the perfect man for the job. By the way, before I get off here, I wanted to ask if you would support us on our next round of tax breaks for the oil industry."

"I…. I…. I'll take a look at it."

"Thanks so much. Well, I have half a dozen other senators to call, so I'll let you go. But don't worry. We'll keep in touch."


© Tony Russell, 2006

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