Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chapter Forty-Eight Arranging a Return

Dave Carter is best known for being able to go from casual camaraderie to serious business faster than anyone else at NSA, and he doesn’t bother with preambles. “As senior watch men, both of you are fully aware of our group’s Iranian message reports. I’m beginning to see something of a trend developing. I want to review my thoughts with you two before I pass my report upstairs.”

“What do you think you’re seeing?” asks Ritter, fishing out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket. Carter’s clearly negative reaction inspires Ritter to drop them back in.

“I’m getting the sense of an increasing intensity in making deadlines by the military,” Dave informs them. “It’s almost like they’ve got some kind of major deadline they’re shooting for. I’m seeing traffic that suggests the two Kilos they’re buying from Russia are undergoing sea trials, with two Iranian crews already in Russia. In the past the Russians always delivered their Kilos, and sea trials were conducted in Iranian waters.”

“I don’t know if that really means anything in and of itself,” Proctor says, pushing his chair back from the table.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe it doesn’t,” Dave concedes. “It’s a gut thing. Have either of you gotten any sense of a red flag? I need your views besides my own.”

Ritter gets up and paces the floor, thinking. Then it hits him. “There’s been a pick-up in messages between the Council and the navy, about missile firings that aren’t going as satisfactorily as they’d like. I can’t put a finger on what kind of missiles they are talking about, but there does seem to be a lot of internal pressure going into the problem, whatever it is.”

“Internal pressure. What do you mean by internal pressure, Jack?” asks Proctor as he puts his feet up on the conference room table.

“Its hard to put into words. It’s – it’s as if some project of theirs isn’t measuring up to somebody’s expectations.” Ritter tries to put the pieces of a hunch together. “But whatever this is, I get the sense that the navy’s trying to pass the buck. Have either of you seen anything that might suggest they’re having missile malfunctions?”

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