He took another swallow of warm beer, still trying to calm down. Then the phone rang in the kitchen. He ran to answer in hopes of not waking his roomie, special agent Cal Whitaker, only to be greeted by the voice of Mitch Tyndall. Tyndall worked for the OGA, or Other Government Agency, which even the lowliest buck private could tell you was Gitmo-speak for the CIA.
"Hope I didn't wake you," Tyndall said.
"No way I'd be sleeping after that."
"That's what I figured. I was hoping to mend fences."
"The ones you just tore down?" Falk's anger returned in a hurry.
"Guilty as charged."
Tyndall sounded sheepish, new ground for him, although for the most part he wasn't a bad guy. A tall Midwesterner with a long fuse, he generally aimed to please as long as no sharing was required. Falk tended to get more out of him than others if only because they were part of the same five-member "tiger team," the organizational equivalent of a platoon in Gitmo's intelligence operation. There were some twenty-five tiger teams in all, little study groups of interrogators and analysts that divvied their turf by language and home country of the detainees. Falk's team was one of several that specialized in Saudis and Yemenis.
"Look, I spaced out," Tyndall continued. "Just blundered in there like a bull in a china shop. I wasn't thinking."
Occupational hazard with you Agency guys, Falk thought but didn't say. Unthinking arrogance came naturally, he supposed, when you were at the top of the food chain, rarely answerable to anyone, the Pentagon included. Teammates or not, there were plenty of places Tyndall could go that Falk couldn't. The CIA sometimes used a different set of interrogation rooms, and recently the Agency had even built its own jail, Camp Echo. It was Gitmo's prison within a prison, and its handful of high-priority inmates were identified by number instead of by name.
"Yeah, well, there seems to be a lot of mindlessness going around," Falk said.
"Agreed. So consider this a peace offering. Or an apology, at any rate. We might as well kiss and make up, considering where things are headed."
"The rumors, you mean? Spies in our midst? Arab linguists on a secret jihad?"
"It's not just rumor, not by a long shot."
Coming from Tyndall, that was significant, so Falk tried to goad him into saying more.
"Oh, I wouldn't believe everything you hear, Mitch."
Tyndall seemed on the verge of rising to the bait, then checked himself with a sigh.
"Whatever. In any case. No hard feelings?"
"None you couldn't fix with a favor or two. And maybe a few beers at the Tiki Bar. It's Adnan's feelings you should be worried about. I'll be lucky to get two words out of him after that little explosion. It's all about trust, Mitch. Trust is everything with these guys." He should have quit there, but his memory flashed on a slide they always showed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, a screen full of big letters saying, "Interrogation is overcoming resistance through compassion." So he pushed onward, a sentence too far: "Maybe if you guys would stop stripping 'em naked with the room at forty degrees you'd figure that out."
"I wouldn't believe everything you hear," Tyndall snapped.
"Whatever. Just stay away from Adnan. He's damaged goods as it is."
"No argument there. Tomorrow, then."
"Bright and early. And remember, you owe me."
Falk stared at the phone after hanging up, wondering if anyone bothered to tune in at this hour. Whitaker was no longer snoring down the hall.
Excerpted from The Prisoner of Guantanamo by Dan Fesperman Copyright © 2006 by Dan Fesperman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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