Early in 2020, two more of my books will be published, both my Adelaide Books of New York. One is a novel, Secretocracy; the other a collection of short stories called Coming to Terms.
As with all my fiction, Secretocracy is based on events in my life. It tells the story of an intelligence budgeteer, Gene Westmoreland, who refuses to fund an illegal program being pushed by the administration. He is stripped of his clearances and banished to a warehouse in a dangerous part of D.C. The administration does not want risk firing him because he might sue. It hopes to make him so miserable that he will resign. He is given no work to do and left to vegetate. But Gene is stubborn. After the 2018 election, he finds help from a senator and is restored to his job. The Congress kills the illegal program.
I set the story during the Trump administration because events like that told in the novel have become commonplace. But I lived through the story told in the book during the Reagan administration. My agency, the National Security Agency (NSA), assigned me for a tour with the Intelligence Budget Office, an independent staff directly subordinate to the Director of Central Intelligence. It’s job is to review and approve budgets proposed by the seventeen intelligence agencies before they are submitted to Congress. I refused to approve intelligence support for a highly classified program the administration was launching on the grounds that it was illegal and violated our treaty agreements with other nations. The administration was furious. It took away my security clearance and assigned me to the warehouse I described in Secretocracy. I was isolated there until a new administration took office and reinstated me.
I don’t know if the Reagan administration’s highly classified program was ever launched. When I returned to NSA, I no longer needed the security clearances for that program and therefore had no way of knowing what became of it. For all I know, it may have been successfully executed and may still be operating today.
In Secretocracy, I based the characters of an amalgam of characteristics I’ve observed in administration officials working for President Trump. But the humiliations Gene is subjected to are based on what happened to me.