Let me remind everyone that secrecy and the security branch are more important now than ever. The Circle’s interpretation is that we face a hostile threat, against which we cannot defend. The need to protect this information is obvious. Our actions in Saint Mary must be commensurate with these circumstances. No weak links will be tolerated.”
Following this warning, the chairman presented a brief lecture about revised disinformation tactics, the centralized command structure at North Range, weapons systems in development, and other changes necessitated by the new policy. General Taylor absorbed the information, becoming especially interested when the chairman mentioned the hybrid program.
“Currently under General Taylor, the hybrid program will be consolidated with the security and flight operations branches. When North Range is operational, these functions will move there permanently. General Taylor?”
“The transfer procedures will begin at the end of this month. Transmit your summaries and status reports directly to Colonel Stone. The Nellis staff is at your disposal.”
“To Colonel Stone?”
“Yes. Colonel Stone will be the officer in charge of the combined functions that I just mentioned. He will, of course, assume the rank of brigadier general on August first.”
As General Taylor processed these new circumstances, begrudgingly impressed with the chairman’s selection of an “outsider” to run the show, Colonel Stone rose from his chair and walked towardthe chairman. Stone paused, making eye contact with each individual, including Colonel Bennet, whose head swiveled eagerly toward him.
“The Circle need not be concerned about my commitment to protect the project,” Stone said. “My strong recommendation is that we not only reaffirm the security function, but attack the problem of residual evidence. Colonel Bennet mentioned the criminality of our many actions. This was necessary, absolutely necessary. But it has left, for lack of a better phrase, a ‘paper trail.’ Isolation of government records, documents, publications, and whatever else we may think of, is highly important. This flank must be protected.”
Colonel Stone’s scrutiny of the working group settled onto General Taylor.
“The government’s credibility is at stake,” Stone said. “The public’s faith in its governing institutions is the fundamental mission. We will not fail, not on my watch.”
“Thank you, Colonel,” the chairman said. “Any questions? Does everyone know where we stand?”
None of the working group responded, except for Professor Moresby. “I can accept these changes, but I must insist on further communications efforts. I am certain the Circle would agree.” Like Colonel Stone, he rose to his feet. The old man’s limbs shook, so General Taylor braced him under the left elbow. He felt like it was the most useful thing he had done in a long time.
Finally, resting his hands on the table and taking a deep breath, Moresby continued,“If contact can be made in a more consistent way, perhaps this conflict we are preparing for can be avoided. I have seen too much war in my day. This is not something you should seek out. You said it yourself, Dennis, the functions work best together, despite the renewed importance of the defense profile.”
“Do what you can, Professor,” the chairman said.“Meeting adjourned.”
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