Domestic Tranquility (in memoriam of 9/11) | {story#7}

This is an original fiction piece written for StoryADay September. Read more & follow here.

I come from a long and distinguished line of men committed to defending this great nation from whatever attacks may befall it. This has been an honor and privilege for my family’s name for many years, even though it has brought it’s fair share of heartbreak to us.

For several generations now, my family has heralded from New York City and it’s surrounding areas. Nearly a hundred years ago now, my great-grandfather, Frank Crawford, fought in the Wars both in Korea and Vietnam: two of the greatest military victories our undefeated nation has ever seen. In both conflicts, my great-grandfather witnessed the violence and atrocities that were perpetrated against our forces with such cavalier brutality that it threatened to break our will. But, as is true of the American Spirit, we persevered to victory. And this was in spite of all of the proto-terrorist uprisings happening all over the nation on college campuses.

After racking up his fair share of medals and accolades, Frank settled in New York City a few blocks away from the first World Trade Center. He was there when the Twin Tower Tragedy occurred, the third-worst terrorist act our nation has ever seen. This is where Frank would rest, counted among the brave dead that lost their lives at the hands of the foreign terrorists. Of course, this served as an initial catalyst for domestic terrorist conspiracy theories saying our government perpetrated these acts themselves to bring about the brief wars in Iraq and Afghanistan all those years ago.

It was after this that the Patriot Act (the precursor to the Great Allegiance Patriot Act of 2020) was signed, but this, as was later seen, had its holes. When President Bush started monitoring the communications of terrorists, the terrorist elements in the media began an uproar, leaving Congress to pass legislative approval for the wiretapping, thusly protecting millions of American lives from the threat of attempted terrorist reforms.

At the time of the Twin Tower Tragedy, my grandfather, Paul (Frank’s son), was in the Air Force and racked up more medals for the Crawford name (I forget what they were). As distinguished as he was, he was one of the few pilots asked to take part in the first ever drone missions–first in Pakistan, and then on contract with the C.I.A. in Yemen. As I’ve only recently come to find out (and even more recently received clearance to say), he was the very pilot across whose desk fell the file of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Imam who was Al Qaeda’s primary recruiter and operations planner after the Twin Tower Tragedy.

My grandfather had the distinct honor of being the man that pulled the trigger on the compound which held al-Awlaki. This was of great import to the progression of Executive Freedom Privileges, as al-Awlaki would be the first American Terrorist eliminated before the Judiciary could prevent success from occurring. Because of the then-President Barack Obama’s brave and novel decision to re-locate “due process” from the Judiciary to the Executive, he allowed these necessary security decisions to be made in a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. He allowed us to keep Americans safe. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year old son from Denver would be the next domestic terrorist eliminated overseas, only a short time later. My grandfather was able to be in the room during that mission and help identify the body from the drone video of the remains.

Now, my grandfather was a great man, but being one of the few religious people at the time, he had certain intellectual lapses which prevented him from truly seeing the significance of what he had helped do. He simply could not bring himself to feel the pride he deserved to feel. He would later tell me stories about civilian casualties and wrong assessments about who was a militant and who was not. He claimed there was some New York Times piece that said the President employed a made-up system of determining the number of militants, thereby ultimately counting many civilians as militants. To me, it all equals out in the end, I would tell him. He would just settle back in his chair and continue looking out the window.

I’m also embarrassed to admit that he actually spoke ill of the cutting-edge National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. In a single bill, President Obama–or, the Great Protector, as he came to be known–enabled the government to do what needed to be done to ensure American’s safety for generations to come. He was the first to give the President the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens without needing to grant them judicial rights. Once more, the Judiciary, the most cumbersome, slow, frustrating, and unnecessary machine in government, would no longer be able to prevent the Executive from doing whatever needed to be done to do precisely what the President is elected to do–protect us.

Around this time, it seems, the terrorists began forming their loose domestic associations. They (as they blatantly called it!) “occupied” major urban centers, crippling business and political work for months until the Executive ordered these local mayors to remove them all from their gatherings within the same week. The Executive had tried to act as quickly as they could, but in the end, it was too late. The terrorists had already started forming their cells amongst these groups, disguised as “Patriotic” organizations. Take note: the most wicked of institutions and motivations always veil themselves in the language of “Patriotism”.

It was also in 2012 that Congress passed the bill ordering the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules for domestic drone coverage over urban areas. At the time, from what I can tell by looking through the newspapers then, not many people knew this passed, but when it was implemented in 2015, the media blew up. The terrorist media elements criticized the government for turning us into a de-facto “police state”. No matter what you said to them, they couldn’t see that this was precisely what needed to be done to prevent a police state from needing to be enforced!

Regardless, at the time, the FAA and the military promised that these drones were not to be armed; they were merely surveillance drones to be used for intelligence gathering only. They would be present during major events and give information to people on the ground who could respond quickly and accurately. These assurances seemed to satiate the people and the media (though the terrorists would always find a problem with some part of it.)

The domestic surveillance drones (DSDs) were then tested for a couple of years, first in rural areas, then a few in urban centers. DSDs were first used on a large scale for President Clinton’s inauguration in 2017. She would later let the nation know that, in fact, the FBI had tricked a domestic terrorist cell into trying to blow up the Washington Monument during the inauguration, only to be arrested by the very people they thought the were working with. She let the American people know that these unmanned aerial vehicles were instrumental in ensuring the safety of the mission.

My father was the closest we got to a break in the Crawford pattern of New York military men. He was in the Reserves while in college, but ended up being stationed in administrative duties in Washington, D.C. After he was done paying them back for the schooling, he became a Metro police officer. He had the honor of patrolling President Clinton’s first inaugural near the Washington Monument and was able to watch the FBI sting occur. Though the local police knew nothing of the plan, he said that watching it happen was one of the most exciting moments of his life. He told me that it was his proudest moment as an American because he got to see, with his own eyes, in tangible ways, America’s protection of our motherland.

The Iran War broke out two years later, and President Clinton showed herself adept at making the hard decisions. I had just turned voting age when the Los Angeles Tragedy occurred. Though Iran never claimed direct responsibility for the dirty suitcase nuclear device, all intelligence pointed that way. They had used a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle it across the border, hoping this would give them enough plausible deniability, but the source was clear. The President ordered a small, localized nuclear attack on Tehran that was able to both eliminate all of their leadership and contain the damage to a one mile radius in all directions emanating from the capitol building. With the Iatola and Ahmadinejad finally gone, peace could come to Iran.

Or that was the plan, rather. Things only got worse. Iran fell into a state of chaos, with looters filling the streets and killing civilians, and millions of refugees fled to Iraq for help, destabilizing that nation economically, politically, and ethncially. The United Nations censured us for the bombing. Russia began movements of its missiles back into Cold War-era positions, also bringing out many nuclear weapons that were supposed to have been de-commissioned years ago. China began a trade embargo agains the United States for its action against Iran, and this began crippling our economy that had only fully-recovered a couple of years prior from the recession of the early 2010s.

But the biggest blow happened back home. The terrorists used the Los Angeles Tragedy as another rallying point for conspiracy theories about the United States, and further used the Iran Defensive Bombing as reason to begin terrorist activities through newspaper editorials and blogs. As President Clinton saw the public beginning to grow exceedingly restless, she acted decisively, shutting down the appropriate websites and removing the terrorists from their writing posts, arresting many under the Espionage Act and detaining many others by the authority of the National Defense Authorization Act (which still included President Obama’s reforms–see how forward-thinking he was?).

As our foreign relations improved, and free and fair elections were beginning in Iran under their new government (which had been hand-picked by the international community to keep them from causing trouble again), our domestic relations worsened. The nation became more polarized, as the terrorists took to more viral and grassroots techniques to try and undermine the government’s attempts to keep us safe. They turned to podcasts, flash websites which were up and down within a 24-hour span, radio shows, and YouTube clips to preach against the “oppressive” and “authoritarian” American government. The domestic drone program became invaluable to our nation during this time, rooting out the terrorist rings and preventing them from spreading their fire across the nation. Clinton protected us so well, using these tools at her free disposal.

This terrorist hyperbole, though, was also co-opted by mainstream television and news personalities which the Clinton administration had an even harder time dealing with. Some were removed, some claimed to have been anonymously threatened, and a few, admittedly, did die during this time, though no evidence points to the government having anything to do with it. But either way, these commentators and writers only reinforced that divide that was separating us Americans. It was no wonder what happened next.

After a hard-fought victory over Governor Rubio in the 2020 election, President Clinton had won a second term. It was two months before the inauguration when terrorists bombed the car carrying Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Warren as she pulled up to the capitol steps on the first day of the lame duck session of Congress.

This event led to much reflection on the part of the American people about how far their rhetoric had gone. It was in the immediate aftermath of this that Clinton drafted and Congress approved the Great Allegiance Patriot Act of 2020, finally giving the Executive branch the fullest authority under the law to do whatever it takes to keep us safe.

All domestic and international communications would now be sent through the large Utah complex of the NSA for analysis. All products and services that citizens voluntarily opted-into were no longer subject to privacy laws. (The common-sensical justification went like this: If you voluntarily sign up for an email service, you shouldn’t expect absolute privacy. You absolutely still have an essential right to privacy, but as soon as you freely give up that privacy to anyone, including the servers of a particular company, it’s no longer protected. You are free to not sign up for email, Facebook, or a phone service, and thereby keep your privacy. If you choose to give that up, it’s not the government’s fault, as they did not compel you to do so). All information gathered about you would start being associated with your social security number, therefore creating a digital record of your every email, phone call, text message, time and place of every facial recognition from security cameras and domestic surveillance drones, every library book checked out and website visited.

It’s most significant change (at least for the rest of my story), is that it also allowed for the domestic drones to finally be armed so as to serve in the direct functions of homeland security, being an active agent of protection, rather than just a passive agent of surveillance.

After the expected terrorist challenges, the Supreme Court would later uphold this law under their prior “reasonable expectation of privacy” principle. It was found that in today’s day and age, Americans no longer “expected” a level of privacy that this law would transgress, and so no fundamental constitutional rights were being violated. To keep America safe, protecting one’s privacy was the responsibility of the individual American citizen–not the government–and so individuals had a greater responsibility to protect their own privacy by freely choosing not to sign-up for these services. Finally, after all these years, the government could do it’s primary function: protect us.

The inauguration a month later was the first event with the armed drones. They hadn’t been tested much in a more urban environment, and the government analysts believed that most of the lessons learned in Yemen and Pakistan could translate fairly consistently to domestic protection.

My father was on duty for this inauguration as well. From what I can gather from the documents I’ve been able to get a hold of, here’s what happened:

About 2,000 feet away from the inaugural proceedings, my father called in about a service door in the back of the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency Hotel that looked like it had been broken into. He was instructed to investigate. Twenty minutes later, he called in what he believed might be a sniper on the rooftop, attempting to assassinate the President. He was instructed to stay off of the rooftop as a drone was called in to gather intelligence. Ten minutes later, my father was told that there was indeed suspicious activity on the rooftop that represented an imminent threat to the President, and he was told to stand down as the armed drone engaged. Looking at the military transcripts, it looks like there was a discussion over whether to use the small urban bombs recently developed by the military, used for precision strikes in urban areas that minimize civilian casualties, or to attempt to kill the target with a single strafe of machine gun fire. The military told the Capitol police they would use the machine gun strafe to minimize casualties in the area. My father was told the same by the police, and was told to stay right there by the roof.

Two minutes later, a giant explosion engulfed the top floors of the hotel, killing my father and the suspected terrorist(s). The military eventually determined that the terrorist had a bomb that accidentally detonated early, killing my father, himself, and 218 others who were in the hotel for the Inaugural weekend. The terrorists, of course, said that the government had bombed its own people. It never ceases to amaze me how hell-bent they are on dividing us and speaking out against our great, protecting nation.

Anyway, immediately after this I joined the Marines. Not one to rest on my own accomplishments, I’ll make this brief. After a distinguished military career, including earning the Congressional Medal of Honor, I moved back to New York, earning degrees in Political Science and Public Administration, followed by a Ph.D. in History. I became mayor of Rochester shortly after that, and then was asked by Governor Arnold to run for Lieutenant Governor. I had the honor of winning that race and serving next to the Governor for four years. I then ran for New York Senator, winning in one of the few landslides that state has produced. I then served in Congress for 12 years and during my time was the only Senator to have spent time serving on both the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees.

I was then asked, under President Alexander to be his Homeland Security Director, and I jumped at the chance of serving my nation and its security. I have now served in this post for six years, under two Presidents, including the current administration of President Ruiz.

During this time, I have helped oversee the development and implementation of what would be the greatest advance in our homeland security arsenal: homing bullets. Our Domestic Armed Drones (DADs) are now able to lock onto the biometrical data of any individual and fire a single high-powered bullet that will now move and turn in order to hit it’s target. Our DADs have been able to take out terrorists on highways, traveling upwards of 80mph with a single shot.

Over these decades, terrorists have been shown to be in more places than we could imagine, culminating in the Minnesota massacre, when terrorists contaminated the water supply of the twin cities and killed nearly a million people. The violence has continued through these years, but we have successfully found ways to find the terrorists, monitor them, extract information from them, and minimize American deaths. We have successfully lowered the number of annual deaths due to domestic terrorism to under 7,000, and though these numbers are impressive, we will not rest until it is down to zero.

The armed terrorist gang uprisings continue today, and we continue to fight back the armed thugs. DADs have proven to be indispensable for our national interests, but local governments have been increasingly requesting access to these same resources as well. And so, I’ve been acting as a consultant to localities across the country, helping them use DADs in their own communities to eliminate suspected drug dealers, murderers, robbers, copyright pirates, and even local terrorists trying to cause power to change hands in the locality.

Today, as I walk into the situation room in the White House, I settle in for our well-known Terror Tuesday program where we go over files of suspected armed domestic terrorists and develop our current Kill List by which the DADs will take their elimination actions. As I walk into the room, Marshall Breed, Attorney General, pulls me off to the side. He hands me a folder discreetly. It’s a target folder. He looks around and whispers in my ear, “you can get rid of this if you want to. I haven’t made copies yet.”

I open the target profile folder to see a high-definition drone picture of my son, Frank, using a blanket to cover a pile of assault rifles in the back of a pick-up truck. I close the folder and look at Marshall.

“Who am I?”, I ask.

“You’re the Director of Homeland Security.”

“Does this folder represent a threat to the Security of our Homeland?”

“We believe so.”

“Marshall, when I asked you who I am, why didn’t you say that I was Julius or a Husband or a Democrat or a Father?”

“I’ve never known you as anything else, I suppose.”

“Exactly. Make copies of this for everyone and let’s begin the meeting.”


Creative Commons License
This work by Paul Burkhart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


4 thoughts on “Domestic Tranquility (in memoriam of 9/11) | {story#7}

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