Teaser 330: Once Again I Had Fabricated a Lie
In the conference room of the Administration building the discussion concerned the speaking engagement and the general consensus from the police, the FBI and the university was it should be canceled and rescheduled. I stared at Tanya fiercely. “I can't speak for you, my beloved, but I can't do this without your participation. If you're satisfied your safety and security is not at risk, I'm not walking away from this. I'm not going to let these jerks scare me off.”
Tanya produced one of the most amusing smiles I had ever seen on her face. “I honestly do not understand why so many consider you such a threat, my beloved. You have such a gentle and sincere disposition, until you are confronted with some outrage. Then, you become outraged and will stand up, look these people straight in the eye, and dare them. You did it in Mali. You did it in Gaza. You're doing it now.” She paused to stare at the lead from the FBI. “I talked with Franz. His concern is the same as mine. If your country, and our two countries have cooperated at the highest levels for decades now, cannot secure a theater where my husband and I can have a very frank, open and honest conversation with the entire world so we all know about the most dangerous among us who will threaten any one of us, then there is no such place. Should you continue to insist we cancel, both Franz and I will state our reaction exactly as I have so stated. I have every intention of standing up with my husband and these jerks are not scaring me off either.”
When Tanya turned to look to me, smiling, I quipped, “I knew I married you for other than some superficial reason.” It helped to ease some of the tension.
We also learned much of the concern, from officials on the federal side, was our planned sharing of diplomatic communiques, including showing the actual communique itself, though with appropriate, and necessarily negotiated, redaction. Additionally, they were extremely concerned about the communiques from other nations to Germany, since no one on the American side knew all of the details. Last, of course, no official from the United States wanted it to appear they condoned what might be considered unfriendly accusations directed at China. Since Tanya and I refused to share our “script” fully with officials from the United States, most were not happy, to put it mildly.
At one point I proclaimed, “I am an American citizen in good standing, entitled to the full rights and privileges every American citizen receives, or should receive. I'm not going to argue whether we all do or not, though I'm certain we would all agree no one is perfect, and this includes the American government and every one of its agents and officials. As an American citizen, as imperfect as all of us, I may have done or said some things which could be construed as contrary to the interests of the U.S. and expressed as such by many at the highest levels and in some cases never expressed at all, as in hidden, for national security purposes. I know I have been the subject of very secretive discussions concerning national security, ladies and gentlemen. We have the evidence. Why I should ever be the subject of high level national security discussions is unfathomable, since I have never once uttered or even implied a desire to harm this country or its people. Since some agents and officials of this country are undeserving of protection and secrecy is also beyond question, and as a conscientious American citizen, it is my duty to expose these agents and officials who are undeserving, as I consider it a responsibility as a full citizen. Should anyone of official capacity attempt to dissuade me or imply I may be in violation of national security, my reaction will always be the same. I will contact every media outlet imaginable and advise them exactly what was said to me and who said it, and let those agents and officials answer for it, since I will always consider it my duty to perform as an American citizen. Do I make myself clear?”
“Some of what you're considering exposing, Al-Barrak, comes very, very close to an indictable offense,” the lead from the FBI advised me. “There are many laws protecting national security. You can't ignore them, nor can we. We have a duty, too.”
“And I respect it. I do. I understand completely you may be called at any time to put your very life on the line, and to perform your duty properly you have to be open-minded, avoid overreacting, but act in a manner when necessary which is swift and appropriate for the protection of all. This is not something over my head. Am I reaching you?” He nodded reluctantly. “Family and friends of my guide, which was a requirement from Chinese officials from the start, have been detained, incessantly grilled, and are under constant surveillance for nothing more than their innocent relationship to Chodak. They know nothing and are hounded incessantly by authorities who knew beforehand concerning the threats on my life and left it to Chodak and me to deal with alone. Oh! Wait! Let me correct the last statement, which I spoke in error. They insisted Chodak call and report every day to them, but they would provide no security or any steps to ensure my safety, and were reluctant when Chodak insisted he would only report on where and what we had already done, never where or what we intended to do, yet we still had to register an intention to reach Barang and eventually Dabaxiang, thus making our intended destinations known to others, with my life still under the very same threat when I arrived in Tibet!” I stared fiercely at the FBI lead. “You wanna play games with me? Play these games where I put my life on the line while you kick back and spout your national security dogma? You're not even worthy of kissing my rump! Continue to play this game and push me, and I will expose you to the light of seven billion others. Let's see you perform your FBI squirm then!”
I could tell by the expression on his face he was extremely pissed, but Tanya instantly interjected, “Al! Let's keep this on a level of reasonable respect, please!” She was unappreciative of my outburst but she also had a valid point and I instantly calmed. Tanya turned to the FBI lead and offered, “If I may?” She waited for his agreement, which came a few reluctant moments later. “The guide who served my husband faithfully and who put his own life in jeopardy, Chodak, is applying with India for political asylum, as we all consider his return to Tibet will result in irreparable harm to his freedom and well-being. We all know the Chinese are not above torture during interrogation and we are certain he will be interrogated incessantly. His family and friends are completely innocent, yet they have been constantly seized, detained and questioned for hours and they have nothing to provide the authorities in Tibet, and those authorities have known this for weeks. Still they continue to harass them in the hopes they will provide some useful information, all of which they will coerce as lies for they know nothing. If you continue to allow them to do this, my government will have no other recourse than to protest vehemently. Civilized people must act civilized or there is no civilization. Do we agree?”
The FBI lead was somewhat contrite when he asked, “What do you intend to say then?”
While Tanya was considering a response I turned to gaze intensely at her and asked, “May I, my beloved?”
Tanya displayed a thin smile and advised, “Be respectful, Al-Barrak!”
I turned to the FBI lead. “We want to accomplish a long list of objectives. Everyone is curious why I advised so many to dump their paper and real estate investments, which has proven over the last few weeks to be incredibly sage advice. I think even you would agree if you had followed my advice you'd be in a much better personal financial position than you are now. Correct?” He said nothing but his head bowed. We all knew his response. “I have ways of living my life which have proven over and over again to be wise and thoughtful and have driven me to perform some of the most impressive achievements any single human being could perform. I won't list them because everyone already knows them! I lobbied with the Chinese for years to grant me entry to Tibet and I went there with no intention of stirring up any trouble whatsoever, since I have already demonstrated mine is the voice of cooperation and conciliation, for we are all in this together, whether you like it or not. I have never forgotten the official statement from the Chinese government leading directly to my leaving the street in Gaza with my sole and only objective completed, to convince both combatants to put aside their weapons of self-destruction and go home. I have never forgotten it, but I went to Tibet to see, feel, experience Tibet like no other, even though my life was specifically threatened should I do so. I was with my guide, Chodak, as I was required to do so, while my Chinese hosts, very conveniently, chose to do nothing to protect my safety, other than meet me at the airport.
“In the short space of two days, Chodak received, through several sources from whom he has earned their trust from decades of experience, their suspicion that several of those specifically identified as threatening to kidnap or murder me while in Tibet, had already arrived in China and/or Tibet. My very life was now seriously in jeopardy while Chinese authorities expected to receive information about me daily! And provide me nothing! No security, no safety, no protection! And Chodak's life was in jeopardy as much as mine!
“I told Chodak we would not proceed under these conditions. In my mind to do so would concede to total insanity. I had every intention of traveling to Ngari Prefecture, but to do so my guide, required by Chinese authorities, would have to announce his intention to travel to Ngari Prefecture, thus allowing those who are tracking me advance notice as to my intended destination.” I paused for a moment and seared my gaze at the FBI lead.
The lead started to spout some answer but I cut him off. “You asked me what we would discuss and this is part of it, but I'm not done...Chodak and I conspired to separate, he would leave for Ngari Prefecture, securing the papers and permissions to do so, and I would supposedly be with him as required. Instead, I shaved my head and face and surreptitiously visited many of the renowned sites and treasures of Tibet, which was my only intention from the beginning! After many days of this I donned my robe and turban and walked into the bank in Lhasa to secure additional funds so I could meet with Chodak in Barang, also surreptitiously, so we could make a very fast and clean departure though Dabaxiang. How I made it to Barang without detection is none of your business, nor the business of Chinese authorities. Since neither one of you gave a single care about me and my life while I was in Tibet, it shall remain none of your business! I wanted to experience the legendary sights and sounds of a country, a nation, which has stirred the imagination of millions. I set foot in Tibet, however, with my very life at risk, I was refused to bring any security contingent, and my very hosts were demanding I be without protection except for one man whom they allowed but we would be required to announce our inevitable destinations, required for my guide, before we could actually leave for these places. I'm not stupid and I may be crazy but not that kind of crazy and I arrived and left Tibet alive, no thanks to Chinese authorities or any others!”
I grabbed the bottle of water before me and quenched my parched throat. “The Chinese have severely clamped down on freedom everywhere in Tibet. I want my guide's family and friends to garner safe passage to leave Tibet and live with us, my family. We have the room and they will begin to, for once, enjoy freedom and safety. They are not and never will be safe and secure while they remain in Tibet. For the expectations of the Chinese concerning Tibet, these few people are insignificant and have no ability to expand the ideals and desires of the Chinese as a whole. Let them go. I have a home for all of them. We will make room and welcome them. Is this not the ideal of all civilized people?”
Once again I had fabricated a lie. It was convincing, though, since the police, the FBI and the university all eventually reversed their positions before our discussion concluded. Ranjit long ago had placed Chodak under his watchful protection so no one knew exactly where he was in India, as we had already announced. Before anyone could reach Chodak for his public comment about our mutual events while I was in Tibet, and surreptitiously in China's Sichuan province, I had already spoken often with Chodak and he followed my lead concerning this fabrication. All those around me, including Tanya, did not know the truth, because I had not explained to anyone our full events during this trip. I accomplished one objective. Chinese authorities in Tibet no longer considered Nyima's questioning worth pursuing so they instantly dropped her from consideration. She had, to that point, explained a man purporting to be Al-Barrak did appear at the bank, she had every reason to believe the man was Al-Barrak, though she did find it suspicious his face was shaved, since the man who previously appeared before her as Al-Barrak had a beard. I changed the story because I knew I could depend on Chodak but I had wisely considered the Chinese authorities would easily be able to discover the money transfer, which they already had discovered but had not yet divulged that information. It was a game of cat and mouse, but in this international game of espionage, the roles of cat and mouse are not always static. They can be reversed at any time.
- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-Two “Fata Tempor” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021
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