You never really know what makes someone deep inside the intelligence community suddenly want to spill his guts to a reporter. The same loathed reporter he ordered the IRS to harass with 10 years of tax audits because the reporter was getting a little too close to the truth, or the reporter he had roughed up in an alley by two dirty thugs to give the stupid bastard the strong message he’d better fuck off and fuck off now! You have to wonder what makes a cold-blooded spook, who wouldn’t hesitate to terminate you, if some faceless puppeteer high on the government’s food chain said so, become a whistleblower.
Sometimes it’s because he can trust no one else. And what he once perceived as a dangerous attribute– the reporter’s knack for ferreting out the truth and living like a pauper by doing honest work without going in the tank for a few dollars, some drugs or a piece of ass — now seems like it might work in the spook’s favor. And believe it or not, even the most hardboiled, cynical and bloodthirsty of these mechanics sometimes has a moment of truth, a burst of conscience, usually brought about by the discovery that their best friends in the company are conspiring to betray them politically — or maybe even burying them for real.
It was a little bit of both for an operative I will simply identify as Bob Reynolds — not his real name – into a whistleblower, or snitch and trader, depending upon which side of the world you sit.
I first met Reynolds when I was working for a minor-league trade paper covering the most non-glamorous beat at the Pentagon: procurement. Although my stuff was always buried in last third of the weekly book, it often uncovered some interesting projects, which always led to some interesting questions and predictable dead ends.
My first run in with Reynolds was in December of 2002 when during a news conference I was asking John Miser, the head of new weapon systems, why a $10 million-dollar, no-bid contact had been awarded to a small, unknown company in Montana that had just incorporated two weeks before it won the contact.
“What kind of work are they doing for the Pentagon?” I asked.
Before Miser could open his mouth, the imposing, 6-foot-5-inch-tall Reynolds, who was posing as Miser’s communication’s officer, jumped out of his seat and yelled.
“I’m sorry, sir, that information is classified.”
Before I could recover from the unexpected interruption, Miser had already pointed to another reporter, while Reynolds winked at me as if to say, “hey sucker, why don’t you just sit down and forget about it.”
And I did, until a few months later when I saw another no-bid contract go to “Livestock Inc.” for the amount of $5.7 million.
Again, I called Miser a dozen times and finally got a call back from Reynolds, who I felt was very rough around the edges to be a communications officer.
“Look, tell your editor you wasting your time on this, Devon,” Reynolds said in a faux friendly voice as cold as ice. “I tell you what; I might have another story that might pan out for you. Why not meet me for lunch tomorrow at the Pentagon City Mall, say about 1300 — that’s 1 p.m. Devon, you weren’t in the service, were you?”
As usual for his breed of operator, Reynolds had blocked me from what I wanted, enticed me with a Red Herring and then threw me off balance by telling me something about myself he shouldn’t have known.
“How did you know I didn’t serve?” I asked, trying not to show my surprise. “I don’t. It’s just a guess. Am I right?”
I didn’t answer Reynold’s question, but he had piqued my interest enough for me to agree to the lunchtime meeting.
— If you want to read Part Two, like this first installment. If I get enough likes I will post Part Two. If not, it dies on the vine.