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Source of Deceit - Chapter 57


Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 3:00 p.m. EST

With the Federal Reserve behind her, Anna darted into Constitution Gardens near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The wind was blowing, but the sleet had ended. Through the trees to her left, the Washington Monument obelisk glowed in the afternoon sun. Suddenly, she spotted Tanner sitting on a bench facing the Reflecting Pool and rushed over.


As soon as he saw her coming, Tanner nodded hello. When she got close, he stood up and gestured toward the Lincoln Memorial. “Let’s walk,” he said. “This is where I often come to be alone. Makes me feel unplugged.”


Anna kept pace beside him.


“Nice walk from the bureau—a parade of history, don’t you think,” he continued. “The White House, OEOB, DAR, OAS, the Fed. The park here with its pond and American flags is restorative. In February, even better. Fewer people.”


“Mm-hmm.”


“This whole mess with you and BEAT, the deal you supposedly made, it’s a lot to take. But you didn’t think I’d let you go, did you, Jones?”


“I hoped not,” she said. “But you know. Sometimes things don’t work out.”


“Those blockheads in New York have to cover their asses, Anna. You know that. We have better things to do.”


“I am grateful you see it that way.”


Tanner smiled knowingly. “And by the way, I didn’t know there was history there—with Simonson and Garcia. Can’t say how it would have affected my decision-making, but anyway, I was ignorant of that. Just to be clear.”


“Thanks for telling me, but it doesn’t matter. Forget about it.”


“Bring me up to speed.”


“Glad to, sir. Here’s the amazing thing: Everyone was missing something—none of the key players in this whole scheme held all the pieces,” Anna explained. “And lucky for us, too, because that was their downfall. They had blind spots, an incapacity to see the big picture. They were so absorbed in their own plans that they failed to observe others observing them, which led to mistakes.”


“Lay it all out there for me.”


“Sasha thought his scheme was a secret, right?” she said, as they continued walking. “But the Chinese were watching his every move, of course. For its part, the CIA had no idea about Giovanni. They completely missed the fact that Giovanni had been co-opted by Chinese intelligence. The Chinese, in turn, missed that Sasha was onto Evy. Then, neither the Chinese nor Sasha saw that Evy had turned to Channarong for help. Meanwhile, Ko had no idea Keng was working with Sasha. And, if that wasn’t complicated enough, nobody predicted Channarong would crack. Nobody saw his suicide coming, so they didn’t anticipate the ripple effects that could have.”


“It was that very evening that Evy came looking for you, wasn’t it?”


“Yes. She was already in danger—but Channarong’s suicide is what triggered her to go to the movie theater that night. Now, with these letters, we know for sure,” she added, opening her bag and taking them out. “Here they are.”


Taking them, he at first handled them like they might break. Standing still, he read one, then the other. “Fuck. They sure do seem authentic.”


“Told you.”


“I’ll get them verified, just to be sure,” said Tanner, putting them in his coat pocket and resuming his stroll.


“And here’s the flash drive I told you about on the phone,” she said, passing it to him. “I already made copies.”


“There are videos of Evy?” he said, taking the drive.


“Yes, nine, labeled sequentially. There are also five documents—Confession, ID, Gold, Meetings and Payments. Also, tons of photos in two separate files—one called Poole, the other Gold.”


“In the videos, she’s having a conversation?”


“Yes. Giovanni took them clandestinely as part of the recruitment process.”


“Amazing,” Tanner said. He pursed his lips. “Give yourself a pat on the back, Jones.”


“I don’t know,” she said. “It was really Evy Poole. She’s the one who got this rolling—and she paid for it with her life.”


“Acknowledged,” he said. “But, without you, there would be no justice for her either. You were the one she picked to tell—and ultimately that’s why Sara turned up for you too. They saw you as a fair and honest broker. All that coverage of corruption in Moscow and Tbilisi has paid off in more ways than one. Great work, Jones.”


“Thank you,” Anna said. “Of course, there was also Raven’s work in Chiang Mai. You’ve heard those incredible recordings she got of Sasha and Ingrid. They corroborate the pieces from Salazar and De Jeanbourg. And there’s one more thing.”


“By all means.”


“Remember when I asked you if we could contact that NGO?”


“The digital forensics outfit?”


“Yes. Jeff in tech helped me out with that.”


“And now you’re going to tell me they found invisible yellow tracking dots embedded in your documents?”


“You heard about that?” she asked, laughing. “No, no, but this group helped Jeff comb through the metadata, tags, codes and such—and they found some things. First, the majority of Evy’s documents were ‘scrubbed’—that is, their metadata is missing. That means we don’t know when or where they originated. My guess is these documents were furnished by the Chinese—since they would know how to do that. Second, some of them weren’t scrubbed at all. That means it’s obvious that they come from particular offices or workstations at the World Bank, and there is no mystery. But third, some of the files were poorly scrubbed. Specifically, two of them.”


“Two? Only two?”


“Yes, only two. The video of Channarong dining with Torenmaas, and that spreadsheet,” she said. “And they bear the electronic markers of one device—which belonged to Sasha’s girlfriend Ingrid.”


“Why am I not surprised?” Tanner said. “She wasn’t as talented a hacker as she thought?”


“Precisely. You see, in the event that things turned sour for him, Sasha planned to put the blame on Ko and Channarong. These two files are part of the effort to frame them. Evy had real evidence, which the Chinese had given her, but she was also in possession of files like this video, which were decoys or fabrications, things Sasha planted. Sasha knew about the legitimate link that Channarong had to Torenmaas through their philanthropic work, and he was exploiting that. Evy hadn’t figured out what was what, but she was working with Channarong to decipher it all when she was killed.”


“Amazing,” Tanner repeated, shaking his head. “Bolokov thought he had it all nailed down, didn’t he?”


“Seems so. He thought his plans were foolproof.”


“Thankfully, they weren’t,” Tanner said. “And now, I have something for you, too.”



#espionage #thriller #spy #novel #fiction #DC #DMV #WashingtonDC


Copyright © by Wolf Bahren. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher with “permission requests” in the subject line at wolfbahren@gmail.com. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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