THURSDAY, 22 AUGUST
The director of the CIA, Bill Hanks, turned his baleful gaze on the man seated across from him. Hanks didn't like the nattily dressed man, but the elderly director had long ago learned to respect and use talent wherever he found it and in whatever form it appeared. Peter Strom embodied some of what Hanks felt was wrong with the "new CIA," yet the young man also was a shining example of many of the qualities needed in the modern world of intelligence. Strom could compile and summarize information better than anyone Hanks had ever worked with. Hanks also knew that Strom's meteoric rise to deputy director at the relatively young age of thirty-four had been largely due to his ability to ingratiate himself with the people in power. Strom had been a particular favorite of the previous director, and Hanks had inherited the man. He detested Strom's two-faced behavior—sucking up to his superiors and lording over his subordinates. Yet, not liking someone's personality was not a good enough reason, in Hanks's book, to demote the man. Being honest with himself, the director also had to admit that his deputy did excellent work, and that was one of the reasons Strom was present in his office this morning.
The director waved a hand, indicating that he was ready for the briefing to start, then swiveled his chair to gaze out his window. He knew it irritated Strom not to be looked at while he briefed. "Give me the background on why Santia was here, so I'm up to date. The Old Man is screaming bloody murder across the river, and he's probably going to hit me up for something about the whole Springfield thing when I see him later this morning."
Strom snapped open a folder and started speaking in a rich, cultured voice that Hanks was sure he practiced. "Judge Santia was one of the twenty-four Supreme Court justices in Colombia. Using diplomatic pressure, the State Department finally got Santia and two other judges to sign extradition papers on several members of the Colombian drug cartel, most specifically members of the Ramirez family from the Cartagena branch, one of the most powerful drug families in Colombia. The Justice Department presently has three members of the Ramirez family here in the United States awaiting arraignment for drug trafficking.
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