During the years after my return from Vietnam in 1975, my employer, the National Security Agency (NSA), sent me abroad on a number of assignments but also posted me to other agencies. One of those postings was to the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to work on the national intelligence budget before it was submitted to Congress for financing. While in that job, I refused to fund a program submitted by the then-president because it violated U.S. law and treaties we had signed with other nations. The president was furious. He stripped me of my clearances and assigned me to an empty warehouse in Anacostia, the D.C. slums, with no job to do. He couldn’t fire me without cause because he knew I could sue him—he was hoping I’d resign. I didn’t. When the end of his term came and he was replaced by a new president, I was reassigned back to NSA, my clearances were restored, and I resumed my career as if nothing had gone wrong. I got the clear impression that the government was deeply embarrassed by the former president’s treatment of me.

So I wrote a novel about my experience. I set it during the Trump administration, because Trump had in fact persecuted intelligence budgeteers who refused to approve his illegal programs.

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