Tuesday, February 3, 2015

National Security: Saying Everything By Saying Nothing

A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here. - Quentin Tarantino

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

The job candidate squirmed nervously in his seat as he waited for his interviewer to return.  The room was empty of furnishings with the exception of a brushed aluminum desk, the chair he was sitting in and one for his interviewer, a fake plant in the corner, a large mirror and a large framed print on one wall.

He reflected back on the job ad he had responded to on LinkedIn.  It seemed innocuous enough.  Fishing out his phone, he found the ad and reread it.

“Hmmmph”, he thought to himself, “It didn’t say that you’d be working for a bunch of weirdoes”.

He looked up at the print on the wall.  In large letters at the top, the print was captioned with title The 9 Ways of Being an Accessory to Another’s Sin.  His eyes rescanned the list underneath the title:

I. By counsel
II. By command
III. By consent
IV. By provocation
V. By praise or flattery
VI. By concealment
VII. By partaking
VIII. By silence
IX. By defense of the ill done

He was still studying the list when his interviewer returned.  Noticing the candidate’s interest in the print, he smiled and said “We call that our corporate compliance and confidentiality policy.”

He sat across the table from the candidate, adjusted some papers on his desk and then stared at the candidate intently.  “So are you interested in the job?”, he asked tersely.

The candidate squirmed again.  Clearing his throat tentatively, he looked at his interviewer nervously and spoke.  “So what you are asking me to do is to produce a web-based simulator that will allow any user on the web to explore different world-ending scenarios to see how they would be affected where they live.  The scenarios would include nuclear war, cyber attack on infrastructure, terror attack, financial collapse and even crazy stuff like alien invasion.”

He paused for a moment as he listened to himself saying this and then he continued.

“Is that right?”, he asked.

“That is correct”, said the interviewer.

“Why would you want to do that?”, asked the candidate.

“That’s not important for now”, replied the interviewer.

The candidate shivered a little.  “I don’t think I am interested in this opportunity”, he said quietly.

“I don’t think you understand”, said the interviewer, “Once you applied for the job, you were already accepted as part of the team.”

“How can that be?”, protested the candidate.

“I believe your answer can be found in point 2”, said the interviewer as he pointed at the print on the wall.

The candidate shivered again as he read point 2 – By Command.

Silence filled the room for several moments.

The interviewer quietly stood up and offered his hand which the candidate shook tentatively.  “Let me find someone who can begin your orienteering process”, said the interviewer, “I will be right back.”  With that, he left the room.

The candidate broke out in a sweat and wondered what he had done.

The interviewer walked into the room next door containing several men who had been observing the entire interview.

“Do you think he is up to the task?”, asked one of the observers.

“He is perfect”, replied the interviewer, “His background in predictive analytics and scenario modeling is known throughout his industry.”

“What makes you think he will comply with our needs?”, asked another observer.

The interviewer pointed at the print that could be seen on the wall of the room next store through the one-way glass.  He smiled and said, “Pretty soon, he will qualify for almost every item on the list and by then, he will do whatever we tell him.”

He paused for a moment and then continued.  “Besides”, he said, “Do you know of any other way to warn people of what’s coming in the world and providing a means of educating them on preparing for world events without actually telling them anything.  If we actually told them what was coming, we’d all go to jail and the people-at-large would not be ready.  This way, they figure out what they need to do and take their own action.  It’s perfect.”

There was silence in the room.

“Good”, said the interviewer, “We are all in agreement.  Let’s begin his orientation process immediately.”

He turned and left the room quietly, closing the door behind him.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


When I was a younger man, my former father-in-law, a Colonel in the USAF and now deceased, occasionally dipped into the scotch too much and told me interesting stories that he likely wouldn’t have told me if he were sober.  The exchange was always interesting.  He would offer a subject and then invite me to ask questions.  While he would never say anything outright, he would always say “yes” when I had hit upon a truth.  Our exchanges produced many a night of insight and horror for me.

The reality is that he never said anything although technically he said many things in answering yes or no to my questions.

There are many such people who walk around with great secrets, aching to tell their stories while rationalizing how to maintain the oaths that they have sworn.  They seek to serve their nation proudly while at the same time, they need to make sure that they warn people so that they might prepare for some problematic event in the future.

Politicians find reality to be problematic and doesn’t get them re-elected and with that, they prefer to hide reality from the people.  Terrifying people for no reason doesn’t serve much purpose either, potentially creating problems now while ignoring reality can leave the problems for someone else to deal with.  With these thoughts in mind and since there are many who would like to see people better prepared, I found the subject to be an interesting impetus for this musing.

The list of The 9 Ways of Being an Accessory to Another’s Sin is an actual list, contained within the 1962 edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal.  I thought it would serve as an interesting “motivation” to either recruit someone or keep them in line once recruited.

And finally, the job offer described in the post is real.  I know someone who has been offered such a job.

There are, after all, many ways to serve the people.

Some are obvious.

Some are not so.

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

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