S. Tremaine Nelson
Counsel did not argue that Crow's actions took place under duress. Even in his deposition Crow conveyed the urgency he felt in communicating the encrypted message to his superior. We are confident he would have sacrificed his life to reveal the location of Senator Reid's speech. The success of Crow's mission—and his recent disappearance—only reinforces our belief that we must reexamine all domestic cases immediately. We have included Crow's affidavit so that the Commission can reference the evidence upon which we have based our findings:
ENCLOSURE: #39: Stephen R. Crow; DOB 06/23/72; SSN 031-453-665
Funny how the world can change in sixty minutes. I would have just called the Chief myself, but it did not work as we had planned. Nothing does. I have been to New York—I know what it looks like now. But for me this was mainly about Washington.
In the first place, it was easier getting work at the FAA than I would have imagined. Lazy fucks. They had a hiring fair at Georgetown where I had just finished my master's. Agencies have an ethnicity-quota, you see. Most people don't realize that. I was a full-blood, too. College degree with good grades. Not a drunk. They hired me on the spot. I had coded about thirty different Oracle databases—mind-numbing work, keeping appearances—before rumors of the anti-terrorism taskforce first got out.
In the summer of 2001, the Senate Intelligence Committee narrowed it down to a handful of candidates. Congress wanted someone at the FAA to publicly lead the anti-terror investigation. All about P.R. If you feel safe, you are safe. We had good men on the case—the Chief was on the case from inside the FAA. Our plan was to have the Chief lead the FAA's anti-terror investigation from the inside, thereby rendering it useless and allowing it to lend a blind eye to his own activities—and those of his men. All reported bomb threats would pass through the Chief, and we needed his "expertise" to determine the course of action for each of them.
Rumors trickled down from Capitol Hill. The Chief had not been picked. He had been considered but passed over—just barely. We had to delay the announcement. The Chief had to be named. Nothing would have worked without him in charge. There were too many of us on the inside. We needed more time. Senator Reid had decided to announce the head of the taskforce the following night. But where? And to whom? There had been rumors of him speaking at one of several Midwest campuses: Northwestern, Champaign-Urbana, Wisconsin-Madison, University of Chicago, Loyola. Big crowds. Lots of press. He would announce the new taskforce publicly—just like a Senator, whorish and prophetic. Lots of exposure. Security was tight, even then. We didn't know where the Senator was speaking, but we had to delay the speech. That was what mattered. The phone call came at about 5:01 p.m.
"He's flying to Wisconsin. There is a traitor in your building—the apprentice is waiting for you at the Gallery."
Without speaking, I quietly hung up the phone. We had heard rumors of someone on the inside, someone who would betray the Movement. But whom? The message had been clear. The Senator would speak at the University of Wisconsin in Madison—the following night. My task was simple, and yet without it all would be lost. The Chief had been passed over in the selection process. He needed the location of the Senator's speech. The apprentice was waiting for me to relay the message. We had a series of foils set up so that none of us—except the apprentice—would speak to the Chief directly. And yet he had to know. I would call the apprentice at the Gallery for further instructions. Then the apprentice would call the Chief. It had all been worked out in advance. We had to get our men in place up in Madison. I picked up the phone to call him, to finish my task and pass along the cryptic message. But the line was dead.
I froze. My heart raced. In a flash, my computer screen went blank—shut down from the inside.  There was silence. Nothing moved in the office—except the fall of paper grinding out of a printer some forty yards down the hall. Footsteps approached. I picked up the phone cord, unplugged it, plugged it back in. Pressed the receiver. Held it to my ear. Nothing. The line had been cut from within the building. Two men opened my door.
"Stephen, got a minute?" said code-name Christopher Rabbit, the one who was on my side.
The other man, fat and white, frowned. He glanced at my blank screen.
Christopher Rabbit nervously laughed. "Told you he'd be here. Kid never leaves."
The fat man scowled. "Don't take off quite yet, Crow. I got a message for you."
As soon as the fat man left, Christopher Rabbit's eyes flashed at me. He quietly shut the door and removed a shiny black knife from his jacket. It was pure obsidian—sharp as glass—completely undetectable. He grinned and cradled it in his hand.
"The location?" he asked.
I glanced at the knife. "Yes," I said.
"And the Chief?" he asked.
"He knows," I lied. "His men are in place. Our men. The apprentice is waiting."
Christopher Rabbit's eyes narrowed. He asked: "Does the apprentice know?"
I heard the fat man's footsteps.
"You have to tell me," he asked. "Does the apprentice know the location?"
"The apprentice—" I paused. The doorknob shook. The fat man knocked.
"There's no time," Christopher Rabbit hissed. "Here." He looked at the knife. "Take it. He's coming for me. He's one of the agents. Plan B. Get to the apprentice and tell him where—"
I took the knife and slipped it into my coat. The door burst open.
"Well," the fat man said, out of breath, or perhaps seemingly out of breath, as an Agent might have intended. "It seems I've misplaced the note. Sorry to bother you again, Mr. Crow. Christopher, why don't we discuss this in my office alone?" The Agent's eyes glanced at the computer screen again. I caught sight of an angular bulge at his hip, and suddenly everything was clear. The Agent removed Christopher Rabbit from the room without speaking and seconds later, I slipped out behind them undetected. It seemed Christopher Rabbit had not betrayed me, but what of the knife? [redacted] Yes, and what of the Agent? As of yet, I had failed in my mission, of that much I was certain. The Chief knew nothing, but my fear had made me lie. My only hope was that the apprentice would still be waiting for me.
I fled. Outside, a thick August breeze swirled past me. Its hot, dangerous touch pushed me down the steps as I darted across the street to the National Mall. Tourists clucked and chattered in all directions, taking pictures, shoving along the grass and gravel walkways. I slipped among them and slowed, looking officiously overdressed amidst the fanny-packs and tattered Reeboks and overpriced cameras. A balding father of three asked if I would take his family's picture, and I briefly considered slapping his face. The urge passed, and I moved away from him. In the clearing, with the Capitol to my right and the Monument to my left, I realized the Agent had been watching me all along.
His men—disguised as the National Park Police—casually strolled the periphery of the Mall. Through mirrored lenses, their hairless faces twitched in my direction. I was a criminal, a traitor, or so their vigilance would have implied. But with the crowds milling all around me there would be no violence, at least not yet. Something kept them cautious. I considered stealing a tourist's cell phone. I had the knife. I could have held someone up, but I didn't have his number. But it would not have worked anyway, I knew. There would not have been time. An arrest would mean the end, and yet the Park Police circled me like hesitant sharks at the edge of the crowd, as though the smell of my blood had not yet reached them. I realized that they were waiting to see how I would react to their advance. Their uncertainty was the only ace up my sleeve.
As the dome of the National Gallery rose through the trees, I remembered the apprentice's cryptic instructions: "Like a bloodless waltz, first, stop short to find A. Bell." [redacted] the time the words had meant nothing, but suddenly I wondered if the dead phone line had been a test all along. Of course it had been a test, and I had passed! I slipped through the crowd and climbed the stairs towards the Gallery. I had tried calling the apprentice and failed. The phone had been dead—killed from within. Proceed to Plan B. Meet in person at the Gallery, in the first of three identical sound-proof phone booths where the apprentice would be waiting to make the call himself. It made perfect sense: a test of loyalty. Christopher Rabbit's presence had clearly been a test as well, which I had passed. As I opened the door to the National Gallery of Art, I realized madly that all was not lost.
F.A.A. C.I.S.S.O. cannot confirm that local IP address 22.214.171.124 was shorted at this time.