September 21, 2012 www.nomorefakenews.com
Frank Palmer, the newly elected president of the United States, stood in an empty room he never knew existed.
It was located six levels below ground in the Ark Silo of Strong Farms, in the center of Kansas.
The room was fifty feet square. The walls, floor, and ceiling were white, and the illumination from overhead banks of fluorescents eliminated the possibility of shadows.
Mark Pastor, the director of NSA, stood at the president’s side. He motioned to Palmer, who sat down at a small metal table, opened a laptop, and typed in a password. A blue screen appeared inside a border of black.
At the bottom of the screen sat a yellow forked-lightning icon. The president clicked on it. The screen turned white. The word GRANGE appeared.
“That’s your search engine,” Pastor said.
In the window below the title, the president typed in “Google.”
The president typed “Drudge.” Nothing happened.
He typed “NBC.” Nothing happened.
“What’s going on?” the president said.
The president typed “CBS.” Nothing happened.
“Type ‘America,’” Pastor said.
The president did.
A page appeared:
“Welcome to Internet 2.0. Information is exchanged. You have a password. We identify you. You are permitted to continue. Press any key.”
The president pressed Enter.
A window covering two-thirds of the current page faded in. A new message read:
“Owing to the EMP attack on America, all electronic devices have been disabled. The federal government has instituted a new Internet.”
“Hit ‘Enter,’” Pastor said.
The president did. Another message appeared:
“Anyone may apply to participate in Internet 2.0. See xADHS2gov for details. You will be issued an ID package, a list of requirements, and a statement of conditions of use. Free speech is protected, subject to I2 formats. Hate speech is not permitted. Fabricated attacks on public institutions are described in a warnings section. Read carefully.”
“There are license fees and taxes,” Pastor said.
“An EMP attack?” the president said.
“We expect it.”
Pastor shrugged. “It ranks high on our list of priorities.”
“This is a whole new Internet?”
“Yes,” Pastor said. “It’s built from the ground up. It has two basic sectors, which are kept separate. There is commercial use, and there is exchange of information. The latter sector is closely monitored.”
“Is Internet 2.0 functioning right now?”
Pastor shook his head. “Only a handful of people are on it. They’re essentially testing it.”
“To see if it works?”
Pastor grinned. “Hell no. It works. They’re seeing how quickly and precisely they can identify and scrub anti-social and disruptive data.”
“These few people who are on it,” the president said. “What are they doing?”
“Checking automatic equipment at Los Alamos. The equipment carries out continuous searches to locate and sideline illegitimate data, and refer sources to DHS.”
“Well,” the president said, “but what are the standards for a ruling of illegitimacy?”
“Good question,” Pastor said. “We err on the side of caution. We’ve developed algorithms to make those calls.”
“And when a user or source has been identified?”
“The monitoring systems link to packages and dossiers on an offender. An instant profile is turned out, referencing everything from bumper stickers and recorded phone calls to medical records and work and sexual history.”
“How many prepared packages do you have now?” the president asked.
“Close to three hundred million. Within a year, we’ll have a package on every person living in the US.”
“For posting illegitimate data, what are the penalties?” the president asked.
“It’s a sliding scale. For example, you’ve got misdemeanor, which is a fine, and you’ve got terrorism, which is indefinite detention.”
“Any right of appeal?”
“It would clog the court system. All hearings are DHS tribunals. They’re tasked with confirming that a post broke a law. Once that’s established, sentence is passed. It’s very clear-cut and very fast. Most tribunals are conducted online. They don’t need human judges. An automatic matching system issues verdicts and sentences.”
“Wikileaks. What would that be?”
“Treason. Death sentence.”
The president stood up and walked around the room. He could feel perspiration on his face.
“This EMP attack,” he said. “Who’s going to launch it?”
“That’s something you don’t need to know,” Pastor said.
The president frowned. “I don’t care about plausible deniability in this case.”
“Then I guess you’ve figured it out,” Pastor said. “We have two choices, sir, and only two. We can wait until one of our enemies strikes, in which case we’ll be scrambling to cope. Or we can launch it ourselves and get it over with. We’ll know everything beforehand, and we’ll know exactly what to do. It’s a no-brainer.”
The president nodded slowly.
“Of course,” Pastor said, “we have our patsy all set up to go. Massive evidence to confirm his guilt.”
“And who would that be?” the president said.
“This is going to be a non-nuclear EMP, so the list was wide open. We narrowed it down to Libyan and Syrian al Qaeda. In the end, we went with Libya.”
The president sat down at the computer. “I want to try something,” he said. “How do I enter data?”
The NSA director walked over, bent down, leaned in front of the president, and typed “Flux Test.” A blank page appeared. “Go ahead, sir,” he said, backing away.
President Palmer typed, “A planned EMP attack will be launched”—
The page turned bright red and the words quickly faded.
In heavy black font, a message took their place:
YOUR POST HAS BEEN DELETED, PENDING AN INQUIRY. Your ID package has been suspended. A number will be assigned to your case, and you will be notified of a hearing date.
After a brief pause, a second message appeared:
Your hearing code is SAM1W23. Stand by.
The NSA director said, “Sir, type in, ‘Uber9wh001.’”
The president did.
A new message immediately appeared on the screen:
TEST TERMINATED. EXCEPTIONAL STATUS NOTED.
The screen went black.
The president turned in his chair. “Impressive,” he said.
“Yes,” Pastor said. “We’re cooking this one right.”
The door to the room opened, and six Secret Service agents entered with their weapons drawn.
The lead agent said, “Mr. President, we’ve lost contact with the outside. All numbers are down.”
The president looked at Pastor, who held his arms out, palms up.
“It’s true, Mr. President,” he said. “It’s happening now. This is a good place for you to be. The facilities are first-class. Your family has already arrived in Virginia. They’re safe. Ninety days from now, we’ll go topside and see what we have.”
The president scowled. “You think I would have leaked it?” he said.
“Of course not,” Pastor said. “We just like to play it tight and dry.”
Without missing a beat, the president said, “What does my ID package look like?”
“WH001 is a blank,” Pastor said. “It’s an empty set. You’re good to go.”
The president nodded.
“I have no past,” he said.
“Only present and future, sir.”
“Well,” he said, “I suspect you’re bullshitting me, but I’ll take it on faith for now.
Pastor smiled. “Suspicion is part of the human condition, Mr. President. It’ll always be with us.”
The author of an explosive collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.