EUGENE — Saturday 15:00
After arriving in Eugene, Greg Ballentine and Marshall Pressman went to the DEA's local office and spent five hours interrogating all personnel who had participated in the previous night's debacle. They also talked with the agents who had been watching Duncan, except for those currently surveilling him. Finally, they interviewed Maynard Lippa.
Dinnertime had come and gone; that didn't bother Greg, but Pressman complained, and Brian Killough, whom Greg had ordered to sit in on the interviews, brightened each time Pressman suggested dinner. When they finished with Maynard, Greg told Brian to go straight to the airport and return to Washington to give the Director a personal briefing on the interviews. Pressman insisted on eating.
“We'll get something on the way,” Greg said.
“Where are we going?” Pressman asked.
“To see Duncan Harris.”
“If we don't let Duncan know we're taking this seriously, he'll keep setting up more embarrassments.”
“But what could he possibly do tonight?”
“Think up the next embarrassment.”
LEABURG — Saturday 21:30
Greg and Marshall Pressman pulled into Duncan's drive unannounced. Pressman was nervous. That and the greasy, fast-food chicken he had consumed had irritated his ulcer.
“I still think we should go through his attorney.” Pressman complained.
“That'd delay things. I want this resolved tonight.”
“That's impossible. Even if I could get an agreement written, he'd be a fool to sign it without counsel, and from what you've told me, he's no fool.”
“I have the Director's approval to negotiate, and Dunk's word will be good enough for me. Let's get it done.” Greg left the car.
Pressman knew Greg had been given authority to conclude an agreement and to pay up to five million. He had opposed the last, arguing that such an amount should be subject to review, but Greg had been adamant; the agency was vulnerable and Duncan had to be stopped. The Director had agreed.
“I still think we should have called?” Pressman continued, catching up with Greg.
“Why?We knew he was home. Why give him time to prepare?”
“Are you armed?”
“No, and he won't be either. Relax. You might like him,” Greg lied, knowing Duncan had little time for officious bureaucrats.
Duncan stopped reading and making notes when he saw car lights in the periphery of his vision. Not expecting anyone, he had dressed in his usual jeans, tee shirt, and bare feet. Thoughtful for a moment, he put the book in his lap on the end table beside him, between his favorite chair and the couch facing the hillside. There were six other books on the table, two piles of three each. He turned the piles and the book he had laid down so that their spines were toward the couch and went to the door, reaching it as Greg knocked. There was no doorbell.
“Hello, Greg.” Duncan showed no surprise as he opened the door. “You made good time. I didn't think you'd get here until tomorrow.” He glanced briefly at Greg and then caught and held Pressman's eyes until Marsh turned away. Duncan continued to stare, unmoving, at Pressman's head.
“So innovative an invitation was worthy of a quick response ... Duncan, this is Marshall Pressman, our senior legal counsel. Marsh, Duncan Harris.” Greg matched Duncan's lack of emotion. At the introduction, Pressman again turned his eyes to Duncan's and found him still staring. Pressman swallowed. Duncan broke contact, turned, and beckoned them to follow, speaking as he walked. No one shook hands.
“Marshall, your people have seized my father's home.” Duncan led the way to the living room. “Perhaps you would be so good as to tell me when the seizure order will be rescinded?”
Pressman hesitated; the transition from introduction to blunt business was too fast. “We see no reason not to seize it,” he said finally. “The half kilo of cocaine found there gives us the legal right.”
Duncan indicated the couch that put Greg and Pressman facing the hillside. He sat on an opposing couch, looking toward the river.
“Your agents planted the cocaine. They had to have gotten it in one of three ways. They could've had it with them, but I believe that unlikely. They could've gotten it from drugs already seized; from what I've been reading you've had a lot of trouble with that happening. Or they could've gotten it in town. I consider that the most likely. Eugene is a small place, Marshall. I'll know by the end of next week who gave them the half kilo.”
“It's not that easy, Mr. Harris,” Pressman said. “You have to prove your case in a court of law. And I might add that the so-called evidence you've gathered thus far was obtained illegally; it's inadmissible.”
“Marsh —may I call you that?—I'm not planning on going to court. I can't win there. The system is stacked against me. Instead, your agency will be tried in the court of public opinion. You've seen a small sample already, and, quite frankly, you're not handling it well.”
“Who's helping you, Dunk?” Greg interrupted. “Do I know them?”
Duncan ignored the question. He continued staring at Pressman without speaking. Pressman fidgeted and looked toward Greg.
“What do you want, Dunk?We're not unreasonable,” Greg said.
“What do I want?”Duncan stressed the last word. “I want my wife back. I want to lay beside her and put my hand on her belly and feel our son moving, and I want my son. I want to see my father in his home playing with his grandson.”
“Dunk. . . we're not monsters, if we could bring them back, we would. We can't, but we will do anything we can.”
Duncan paused before speaking. “How about giving me the career I would have had if you people hadn't blacklisted me. I should have been flying fancy airplanes with good looking flight attendants for the last twenty years instead of old, dirty freighters.”
“Damn it, be realistic. Nobody can bring back the past.”
“Realistic?Okay, how about a public acknowledgement that the CIA trafficked in heroin in Southeast Asia in the sixties and seventies. How about admitting who supplied our troops in Vietnam with Double U-O Globe heroin? [REF1501] In other words, how about a little truth?”
“You're talking to the wrong person for that.” Greg stretched, leaning back and putting his arms behind his head. “If you still have a bone to pick with the CIA, go talk to them, or go public with it if you want. God knows enough people have already.” He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, cradling his chin in clasped hands and returning Duncan's stare. “I now only speak for the DEA.”
“Then how about a public announcement that the DEA, in the interest of public safety, will no longer make no-knock entries. Change your policy, announce yourselves so that if a mistake has been made, people's lives are not placed in jeopardy.”
Pressman spoke, “The law entitles us to enter without. . .”
“I know what the law entitles you to do,” Duncan interrupted. “I don't want a history lesson. I want you to change. I want you to stop shooting innocent people. I want you to stop killing pregnant women. [REF1502]
“Dunk, you know as well as I that if we announced ourselves, a lot of evidence would get flushed down the drain. We'd be sacrificing convictions.” Greg said and leaned back.
“Jesus, Greg, what's worse, allowing an occasional user to avoid imprisonment or the killing of innocent people?” Duncan exploded. “Until the DEA came along, our tradition in this country was to bend over backwards to ensure guilt before punishing. The concept was to protect the innocent. You've turned that around. You kill innocents to maximize your chances of getting the guilty.” Duncan stood, paused for a moment, and then threw up his hands as he continued. “My god, man, you'll always have another crack at the druggies, but the innocent people you kill will never have another chance at life ... you think you're the good guys, but you're not; you're worse than the bad guys.”
He crossed to a window on the river side of the room and stood looking out, his hands in his pockets, head bowed. He had made the movement quickly, passing Pressman's end of the couch, making the bureaucrat flinch.
Recovering, Pressman attempted to regain his importance. “Mr. Harris, we are involved in a war on drugs. Sometimes, in war, innocent people are hurt. It's regrettable, but unavoidable.” Greg cut him off with a gesture and a shake of his head. He could see muscles tensing across Duncan's shoulders. Pressman had gone too far. Greg had to defuse the situation.
“Dunk, my job is to protect the DEA's interests; you know that. We want to avoid a public airing of possible problems.” Greg watched Duncan closely, wondering if he should have brought a weapon. “I'm telling you we'll give you anything we can, but don't ask for the impossible.” Greg paused but Duncan didn't respond. “ You want the house back? You've got it. Regardless of what else we do or don't do, we return the house.”
Duncan remained looking at the river, saying nothing, but his shoulders relaxed.
“Marsh will take care of it Monday morning. Guaranteed,” Greg continued.
“I'm glad to hear that; you've saved yourself some embarrassment.” Without further explanation, Duncan went to the hallway and returned looking at the phone book and dialing a cordless phone. “Hello, my name is Duncan Harris. I need to speak to Kevin Brestle before he goes on the air. It involves the story he's reporting on tonight ... yes, Duncan Harris, I'll hold.”
“Dunk, what is this?” Greg said. Marsh's mouth had dropped open. His eyes showed alarm. Duncan held up his hand for silence.
“Kevin, Duncan Harris here. I want to update you on the part of your story concerning my dad's house. Marshall Pressman, the DEA's senior legal counsel, is sitting in my living room. Monday morning he'll be withdrawing the government's civil action seizing my father's property. I thought you should know. I'll put him on for verification.” Duncan extended the phone. Marsh backed off, raising both hands, refusing to take the instrument. “Standby a moment, Kevin,” Duncan said, appearing to cover the mouthpiece but leaving enough of a gap to allow Brestle to hear.
“You will take this phone and confirm your offer or you will leave and these discussions will be terminated. Brestle will go ahead with his story as is. It will include the fact that in his will my father left his home to his housekeeper of twenty years, not to me. The housekeeper is a poor Hispanic woman who has worked all her life and had her income terminated when DEA agents killed her employer. The agency will be held up to public ridicule for depriving this innocent woman, a member of a disadvantaged minority, of what was justly due her. Your choice.” Duncan thrust the phone toward Pressman. In desperation the bureaucrat looked to Greg.
“Do it!” Greg ordered.
Pressman took the phone, confirmed the seizure order would be withdrawn, and handed it back to Duncan, who listened for a few moments, said goodbye, and hung up.
Pressman spoke immediately. “I would like to confer privately with Mr. Ballentine.” He stood. “In the car, if you don't mind, Greg.”
“I'm sorry I upset you, Marsh,” Duncan said, all menace gone from his voice. “You probably think I'm a loose cannon. Well, okay, but I have nothing to lose. Greg, here, understands that. He knows that money, which is all you have to offer, doesn't mean jack-shit to me. But you don't understand that, do you, Marsh? You think releasing the house is a significant concession, but all that does is save me the trouble of transferring my house—this house—to dad's housekeeper.”
Pressman glowered at Duncan. “I'll wait for you in the car,” he said to Greg and left.
Duncan sat down and engaged Greg's eyes. Both men began to smile slowly. Greg spoke when he heard the door close.
“Dunk, that was quite a performance.”
“I thought so.”
“He won't come back. You've spooked him ... badly.”
“Why don't you send him to town, then we can have a real talk. I can run you in later, or you can have one of your boys up on the hill take you in.” Duncan gestured toward the blackness of the windows and the forested hillside beyond.
“Can't do that, Dunk. I'd like to, but I'm already on thin ice.” Greg stood. “If I don't stop you from making a public issue of this, my career with the DEA is over.” He sighed. “I said that twenty some years ago, didn't I? Only the name of the agency has changed.”
Duncan looked at him with sad understanding and spoke as they moved toward the door, Duncan leading. “Tomorrow afternoon there's to be a gathering here in memory of my wife and my father. I would rather have it at dad's home. Since you'll be releasing the house on Monday, can I assume you have no objection?”Duncan opened the door.
Greg turned after passing through the door. He was directly under the entryway light, his face half shadow and half light. “I'll have the police line removed in the morning ... Dunk, I'm sorry. I truly am.”
Duncan faced him. “If you're sorry, stop this from ever happening again. Change the DEA's policy. They've got to stop killing innocent people. If they don't change, I'm going to keep doing what I can to expose them. I owe that to Ellie ... and to my dad. I won't let their deaths be meaningless.”
“Jesus, Dunk, you're a goddammed glutton for punishment, but you're only one man. You're fighting another lost cause. Give it up. I can promise a multi-million dollar settlement. We'll deposit it in any account you want, Switzerland, whatever, and the IRS will never know. Please, take the money.”
“With whom would I spend it?”
As Greg had predicted, Marshall Pressman refused to reenter Duncan's home. Greg didn't force the issue, and the drive back to Eugene started in silence.
It hadn't been all that bad an exchange, Greg thought. The agency would get good press by releasing Tom Harris's home. They would say they found the house had been willed to the Hispanic housekeeper and had decided, in the interests of justice, to allow her to inherit it. That would play well, especially since the agency had been criticized for ignoring Hispanics in their recruiting.
For the moment, Duncan had been controlled, but he had to be stopped, and money wasn't going to do it. Greg hadn't expected to be able to buy him off. But the offer had to be made to satisfy those who didn't know Duncan, and it was good that Duncan had spoken of his contempt for a monetary settlement while Pressman was still in the house.
Fifteen minutes into the drive, Pressman started talking. “He was bluffing when he said he would have given his home to the housekeeper. Nobody would do that.”
“Dunk would. He wasn't bluffing.”
“Jesus,” Pressman said and resumed his sullen silence.
“Marsh, I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd speak to the TV reporter we shot. Butter him up. See if you can talk him out of the stuff he said he found in his apartment.” Greg couldn't order Pressman to do it; he was Greg's equal in rank.
“He's not going to reveal his source.”
“He's already said he doesn't know who the source was. Besides, we're not asking for that. All I want is a close look at the videotape and the diskette. If we can show that any of those came off Duncan's equipment, we'll have some leverage. I think there was a printed message, too.”
“Giving us the means to track the information is tantamount to naming the source.”
“No, there's enough difference there for him to hide behind. Tell him we'll guarantee he'll be the first in the media to know of any busts we make here for the next year, and all he has to do is let us have that stuff for a few days. It can be done without publicity, and this is apart from any deal he can cut compensating him for his injury. He can sue the hell out us for that if he wants.”
Pressman stared straight ahead for a few seconds before answering. “I don't normally do field work, but perhaps this once.” He paused again and then changed the subject. “Did you see the titles of the books Harris was reading?”Pressman had been on the end of the couch by the table and had noticed the books while Duncan was standing at the window.
“No, my eyes aren't that good anymore.” Greg had been on the opposite end. “But I imagine they were the one's he checked out of the University library. We have a list of them,” Greg reminded Pressman.“ They all had to do with drugs, CIA drug trafficking, or the DEA.”
“That was them.”
“Dunk believes in finding out all he can about his opponents, and he's got a memory for detail you wouldn't believe. Before this is over, he'll know more about drugs and drug abuse than ninety-nine percent of our people. He ... gets going on a thing and won't turn it loose.”
“How are you going to stop him?”
“I'm not sure, but his still being pissed at the CIA gives me an idea. I'll have to clear it with the Director, and he'll have to talk to the spooks. In the meantime, we'll take our offer to Duncan's attorney Monday morning.” Greg knew Duncan's refusal of money was final, but procedure had to be followed, and it would buy them time.
“What the hell was that Double U-O business he talked about?”
“Double U-O Globe heroin. They manufactured it in a lab owned by the commander of the CIA's secret army in Laos. [REF1503] It was the best our GIs could buy, pure number four heroin, had a distinctive trademark, two lions facing each other over a globe of the world.” [REF1504]
“So what's the connection?Why was Harris so upset about it?”
“One day Air America, the CIA's airline, assigned him to fly a C-47 from Laos into Viet Nam. [REF1505] They didn't tell him the load was a shipment of heroin from the lab in Long Tieng. After takeoff he got suspicious and went to the back and checked the cargo. He spotted the trademark, the two lions, and turned the aircraft back to Long Tieng. When he landed, he grabbed one of the Double U-O Globe packages, marched into the CIA case officer and busted it open on his desk.”
After the two DEA men had left, Duncan called Judy Batteman and told her of the change in location for the memorial gathering. Next he phoned the twenty-four hour number of the funeral home where his wife's and father's ashes were being held and told them he would pick up the urns in the morning. Finally, he posted an e-mail message to Larry Tanner before returning to his chair in the living room, where he alternated between reading, making notes, and thinking until three a.m.
EUGENE — Saturday 22:45
Larry Tanner arrived back in Eugene on the last flight of the day, having routed himself through San Francisco for a few hours to check on other business. Richard Lee met him and both went to Richard's hotel, where Larry plugged his laptop computer into the phone line and checked his e-mail. He found the encrypted file Duncan had posted, picked it up, and deciphered it.
“The DEA is talking to Dunk. They've handed back his father's house. We've succeeded in getting their attention,” Larry said, reading the plaintext.
“Does that mean we can go home?”
“Maybe, but not until Monday. I want to go to the memorial tomorrow afternoon. Tom Harris was a good friend. When I came back from Southeast Asia, I stayed at his home for a few weeks. He helped me get my head back on straight. Even offered to loan me money.”
“Is it safe to be seen with Duncan?”
“Won't be a problem. Several ex-Company types will be there, people Dunk and Tom helped over the years. I'll be just one of those people. If the DEA is watching, they won't think anything of it, and Dunk said to come ahead.
Greg arrived back in his hotel room at eleven p.m. He thought about calling the Director, but decided against waking him—it was two a.m. in Washington—but he didn't hesitate in calling a close friend who was still with the CIA. Greg outlined the problem and the request the CIA would receive from the DEA Director in the morning. He told his friend what was needed in addition to what the Director would request. Finally, he asked if he could get the specialized help headed his way, explaining that time was critical and that Duncan was possibly being helped by former CIA associates. Greg knew the thought of ex-CIA types being involved in something that might embarrass the intelligence agency would bring an immediate response. His friend agreed, saying people would be on the way within the hour.
[REF1501] As the demand for no. 4 heroin among GIs in South Vietnam grew, five small labs along the Mekong were consolidated into a single operation, General Ouane Rattikone's refinery at Ban Houei Tap, just north of Ban Houei Sai. This was the largest, most efficient heroin laboratory in the tri-border area and its trademark, the Double U-O Globe brand, became infamous. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin ..., p. 376.
[REF1502] In Arundel, Maryland, Crystal B. Nelson, who was in her final weeks of pregnancy, was shot by a police officer during a drug raid at a suspected crack house. The police claimed an officer's gun accidentally discharged during the raid, shooting the woman twice in the back. The woman and her unborn baby were pronounced dead at the scene. Washington Post, Oct. 21, 1989, sec. B, p. 1, col 2.[REF1503] General Vang Pao, a Hmong, commanded the CIA's secret army in Laos from 1960 to 1975. When Hmong opium production dropped after 1968 (the communists were driving them out of the mountains), Vang Pao was able to continue his role in Laos's narcotics trade by opening a heroin laboratory in Long Tieng, the site of CIA headquarters for clandestine operations in Laos. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin ..., p. 320-321 & photo captions. [REF1504] The Double U-O Globe Brand trademark is pictured in the center section photos of McCoy's The Politics of Heroin ... [REF1505] See McCoy, The Politics of Heroin ..., p. 318 for an account of Air America flying opium into Long Tieng and Vientiane and an account of Vang Pao flying heroin in a DC-3 from Laos into Vietnam.