Alan N. Levy: You’re POTUS, and Iran has a Suitcase Bomb

So what would you do?

Here’s the scenario, similar to that movie starring Ben Affleck.

You’re the President of the United States.  A few months ago, you were given hard evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran has perfected nuclear weapons, and they’re building suitcase bombs.  Of course, you’ve taken no action to avert a crisis yet. It’s the American way of dealing with the potential.  But today, you’ve been informed by the CIA that several of these highly lethal suitcases are in the hands of al Qaeda operatives, and they’ve apparently smuggled these bombs into cities on the Eastern Seaboard.

Please subscribe for free to Audere Magazine to receive our latest stories in your inbox

* indicates required

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency also informs you that a known, high-level al Qaeda operative was spotted entering the U.S. through Canada near Niagara Falls, and he is being detained.

The CIA prefers to use “extraordinary measures” in their interrogation of the captured al Qaeda agent. They have all sorts of cute, abstract terms for distasteful deeds, as I’m sure you’ve heard. Terminating someone with “extreme prejudice” is much more gentile than indicating the poor guy is about to swim with the fishes. (Picture Luca Brasi carrying out the order in The Godfather.) The use of “extraordinary measures” by the CIA means torturing the captive agent to gain vital information. Horrific things can be gruesomely mentioned here … water boarding, breaking fingers … but I’ll not depict what you can vividly imagine without any assistance.

So you, Mr. (or Madam) President, have a choice.  And may God help us if your name is Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.  You have taken a solemn oath to serve and protect the citizens of this nation, and that does mean and should mean that you possess a “whatever it takes” mentality.  But you are not cut from that cloth. Your favorite saying is, “It takes an entire village to raise a child,” rather than simply two dedicated parents.  And you value the human rights of any one person as being sacrosanct, as the guiding light in your decision-making process. You elect to have this dangerous story play out, while we place the al Qaeda operative safely on a plane to Guantanamo, and you deny the requests of the CIA to forcibly extract information from the enemy agent.  He is given a cell and remains unharmed for eleven days, until you change your mind and allow the CIA to interrogate him with all means necessary, including “extraordinary measures.”

Here’s what changed your mind.

Nine days into the al Qaeda operative’s exile at Guantanamo, four nuclear weapons detonate in New York City.

1.8 million are dead or dying from injuries and radiation poisoning.  The financial district of New York City has ceased to exist, and as the plane with two CIA interrogation specialists is landing at Guantanamo, the captive al Qaeda operative commits suicide.  There are now no leads to follow.

As president, you have chosen to protect the human rights of an enemy of this nation, a very noble gesture. But you have failed those who trusted and elected you to the office you now hold.  Perhaps, in your zeal to be fair and the champion of justice for all, you have decided to name a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a five-star man who is reluctant to send men into battle for fear some of them might be injured.  That absurdity is consistent with your decision not to allow the CIA to use all means necessary to gain information which may have averted a nuclear catastrophe.

You and your supporters are a disgrace, and your decision-making-process is despicable. When you are elected as a leader, you must lead. “Come hell or high water” and “damn the torpedoes” must necessarily be integral parts of your character, for without those vital traits imbued within you, you are doomed to fail us.  And the blood of 1.8 million citizens of this nation is now indelibly staining your hands.

In your approach to issues and problems, your decision to protect the rights of one man, an admitted enemy of this nation, has resulted in a monumental disaster, and your inability to act in the name of our nation’s future will be represented by historians as cowardice.

From Wikipedia, “On August 6, 2001, the President’s Daily Briefing, entitled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US warned that bin Laden was planning to exploit his operatives’ access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike: FBI information… indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country, consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attack. Condoleezza Rice responded to the claims about the briefing in a statement before the 9/11 Commission, stating the brief was ‘not prompted by any specific threat information’ and ‘did not raise the possibility that terrorists might use airplanes as missiles.’”

Admittedly, the situation as described in Wikipedia prior to the 911 attacks is somewhat different than the fictional events I’ve created here, but really in only one way. I’ve given you someone to interrogate, while President Bush was not given that option. Perhaps a more imaginative CIA might have done a “snatch and grab” of a few al Qaeda operatives in August of 2011, and then the decisions facing George W. would have closely paralleled the stomach-turning one I’ve invented.

When faced with the estimate of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 casualties in a frontal assault on the Japanese mainland, President Harry Truman authorized the Enola Gay’s mission, instead. A second, similar mission brought about the surrender of Japan without the loss of a single American soldier’s life. Now that was the decision of a true patriot and leader of this nation.

If we are foolish enough to allow someone to occupy the Oval Office who cannot make the tough decisions, we are being short-sighted. It is my belief that George W. Bush failed us prior to the 911 attack. I also believe that our current president will not. Insipid, vain, self-serving statements and tweets aside, Donald Trump is a man capable of making Trumanesque decisions, and I applaud him for that ability. In 2020, as Iran is getting closer and closer to perfecting nuclear weapons, we need to ensure our future by electing a president who can make the very tough decisions. At this stage in our history, we can ill-afford someone who, when presented hard facts about an enemy nation, responds by saying, “Can we, like, just talk to them? Huh, fellas, what do you think?”  My novel, entitled, The Tenth Plague, to be released later this year by Chickadee Prince Books, envisions the right type of man in the Oval Office at a critical time in this nation’s history.

I honestly believe I don’t write fiction. This global conflict in which we are a player is similar to playing chess. I move a piece, then it’s your turn. I do something stupid, and you capture my queen. And in the chess game I’m depicting, we give Iran billions of dollars in withheld funds, and they give some of that fortune to the North Koreans in return for assistance in building nuclear weapons. Tehran knows that to directly attack the United States will cause massive retaliation, so instead, perhaps on the Fourth of July, those in Tehran have a celebratory picnic while al Qaeda smuggles suitcase nuclear weapons into New York City. In politics, “plausible deniability” is the key, and when our greatest city is largely reduced to smoke and ashes, the Iranians can and will adopt a mask of innocence.

So, what would you do? We’ve given you the scepter of power, and now you must steel yourself and wield it. I hope you vote with all these thoughts in mind, and if I’ve caused you to honor the people of this nation above all else in your decision-making-process, then this article was well worth the effort.

And may God bless the United States of America.


Alan Levy is the author of The Tenth Plague, which will be published by Chickadee Prince Books in 2019.

Image: Skeeze/Pixabay.