Originally published in Arthur No. 15 (March 2005)
A Conversation With the Secret Service
Was I being investigated as a threat to the president—or as a potential hire for a sinister job?
By Ian Svenonius
I have a suspicion that the current president might be assassinated. How do I know? I was interviewed for it.
About a year and a half ago, I took a call from people who identified themselves as the Secret Service. They expressed an urgent desire to see me, which in their highly considered psycho-babble, was made to sound like a choiceless inevitability.
On the demand for an explanation, the agent, a woman, told me that they had intercepted an email which seemed to implicate me in a plot to harm the POTUS: that is, the President Of The United States.
I immediately surmised that her concern was related to a mass mailing I’d written in beat-prose to attract attendees to a night of record playing at a local club, called “Spilt Milk.” Thinking that my audience would enjoy the same amusements as myself, I had perhaps contained some reference to a dispatched leader of the free world.
The Secret Service’s responsibility was to check out every instance of a threat, no matter how far-fetched.
“We need you to come down to the office. It’s extremely important,” the woman insisted.
To get the initial sale, through, they used a female agent, knowing via a psychological assessment based on telephone and computer surveillance, that this would seem less threatening to me. Like a talented telemarketer, she was gentle but firmly coercive. In fact, the two professions are related, as the FBI and CIA’s inquisition techniques are lifted straight from Nelson Rockefeller’s bible for salesmen, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and feature the exact same mind control tricks. Of course, telemarketers don’t have the weight of state security at their disposal.
“I can’t come down, I’m really busy,” I told her, though my inbred instinct was to obey.
“We’ll come to your house, then,” she insisted, another offer I evaded.
After much back and forth, I agreed to meet “them,” the Secret Service agents, at a French bistro not far from my house. It seemed less likely that they’d kill or abduct me in a public setting.
Before I left my home, I alerted a few people as to the nature of my rendezvous and they agreed to witness the interrogation from afar, unannounced.
When I arrived, the officers were sitting in the outside cafe section under a sun umbrella which said “CHIMAY.” One was the woman I had spoken with on the telephone and she was accompanied by a man in a lowslung baseball cap with some rugged facial growth.
They looked drab and angry, respectively.
As the woman agent clasped the evidence and sat businesslike, her partner assumed the “bad cop” persona, searching me like a berserker and then scowling fiercely through the duration of the meeting. The implication was clear; if he were let off his chain, he would make quick work of me for god and country.
The purpose of this choreographed psycho-ballet is of course to draw the detainee into the maternal arms of the good cop so as to escape the paternal bad cop figure’s wrath. This psy-op cliche was immediately transparent, but it still worked; psychological reflex is at least as dependable as the blood-and-guts kind.
Meanwhile, my own spy witnesses had taken their anonymous positions, taking snapshots innocuously in case I were later dangled from a helicopter by these freak thugs.
When the waiter came by, I ordered a latte.
The mama character drew the offending email from a folder dramatically, like it was a bad report card. She read it aloud, slowly and haltingly as if translating from hieroglyphs. Continue reading