"The White House is making an announcement in five minutes. You might want to watch." As always, the spin began immediately. The somber-faced press secretary announced that the President had decided to "pursue a fresher course with our intelligence operations." He praised Director Maynard for his legendary leadership and seemed downright saddened by the prospect of having to find his successor. The first question, shot from the front row, was whether Maynard resigned or had been fired. "The President and Director Maynard reached a mutual understanding." "What does that mean?" "Just what I said." And so it went for thirty minutes. Sandberg's front-page story the following morning dropped two bombs. It began with the definite confirmation that Maynard had been fired after he refused to divulge sensitive information for what he deemed to be raw political purposes. There was no resignation, no "reaching of a mutual understanding." It was an old-fashioned sacking. The second blast announced to the world that the President's insistence on obtaining intelligence data was directly tied to a new FBI investigation into the selling of pardons. The cash-for-pardon scandal had been a distant rumbling until Sandberg opened the door. His scoop practically stopped traffic on the Arlington Memorial Bridge. While Sandberg was hanging around the press room, reveling in his coup, his cell phone rang. It was Rusty Lowell, who abruptly said, "Call me on a land line, and do it quickly." Sandberg went to a small office for privacy and dialed Lowell's number at Langley. "Lucat just got fired," Lowell said. "At eight o'clock this morning he met with the President in the Oval Office. He was asked to step in as the interim director. He said yes. They met for an hour. The President pushed on Backman. Lucat wouldn't budge. Got himself fired, just like Teddy." "Damn, he's been there a hundred years." "Thirty-eight to be exact. One of the best men here. A great administrator." "Who's next?" "That's a very good question. We're all afraid of the knock on the door."
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John Grisham - 2005