THE PRISONER WAS LED THROUGH THE DOORWAY BY A PAIR of burly MPs,
who shoved him into a chair and immediately began shackling his
handcuffs to the table. The table was bolted to the floor, which
was bolted to the prison, and so on.
"Guys. . . no need for that," I politely insisted. And was coldly
"Look, it's ridiculous," I said, with a touch more indignation.
"How's he going to break out of here, much less walk two inches
from this prison without being instantly recognized?" I was blowing
hot air, actually to impress the prisoner more than the guards. I'm
a lawyer. I'm not above such things.
The MP sergeant stuffed the shackle key in his pocket and replied,
"Don't give the prisoner nothing. No pens, no pencils, no sharp
objects. Knock when you're done."
He stared at me longer than necessary—a gesture meant to
convey that he didn't think highly of me or what I came here to
do.Well, neither did I-regarding the latter.
I gave him a cold stare back. "All right, Sergeant." The MPs
scuttled from the room as I turned to examine the prisoner. It had
been over ten years, and the changes were barely detectable—a
tad more gray, perhaps, but he was still strikingly handsome in
that chisel-featured, dark-haired, deepeyed way some women find
attractive. His athlete's body had softened, but those wide
shoulders and slim waist were mostly intact. He'd always been a gym
His psyche was a burned-out wreck; shoulders slumped, chin resting
on his chest, arms hanging limply at his sides. Not
good—little wonder they had stolen his shoelaces and belt. I
bent forward and squeezed his shoulder. "Bill, look at me."
Nothing. More sharply, I said, "Damn it, Billy, it's Sean
Drummond. Pull yourself together and look at me."
Not so much as a twitch. The harsh tack wasn't punching through
that wall of depression—perhaps something warmer, more
conversational? I said, "Billy, listen. . . Mary called the day
after your arrest and asked me to get out here right away. She said
you want me to represent you."
The "here" was the military penitentiary tacked onto the backside
of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
"Mary"was his wife of the past thirteen years, and the man I was
speaking to was Brigadier General William T. Morrison, until
recently the U.S. military attach? in our Moscow embassy. The "day
after your arrest" had been two long and miserable days earlier,
the "arrest" being the one CNN had replayed over and over, of an
Army general being dragged out the side door of the Moscow embassy,
surrounded by FBI agents in bulletproof vests, his face a tangle of
frustration and fury. Since then there had been countless newspaper
articles detailing what a despicably awful bastard he was. If the
reports were true, I was seated across from the most monstrous
traitor since-well, I suppose since ever.
He mumbled, "How is she?" "She flew in from Moscow yesterday. She's
staying with her father."
This got a dull nod, and I added, "The kids are fine. Her father
has some pull with Sidwell Friends Academy, a private school that
caters to celebrity children. They're hoping to get them in."
Shouldn't it help to make him think of his wife and family? He was
locked down in a special isolation wing and denied any contact with
the outside world: no phone calls, no letters, no notes.The
authorities said the quarantine was to keep him from exposing more
information or receiving smuggled-in cues from his Russian
handlers. Perhaps. Unmentioned, of course, was that they hoped the
social starvation would drive him babbling into the arms of his
I crossed my legs and said, "Bill, let's consider this rationally.
These are damned serious offenses. I win more than I lose, but you
can find plenty of lawyers who are better. I'll name some if you'd
The response was a foot shuffle. What was he thinking? He should be
wondering why I wasn't blowing ten miles of smoke up his ass. Most
guys in my position would flap their arms, boast and brag, and beg
and plead to represent him. The man was a lawyer's wet dream. I
mean, how many general officers do you think get accused of
betraying their country? I actually checked before I flew out
here-Benedict Arnold was the last, and please recall that he fled
to England before he could be tried, so nobody got a piece of his
When Morrison didn't reply, I said, "Though, if you'd like to
consider me, I know you and your wife. This is personal. I'll put
my heart and soul into defending you."
I paused to let that filter in and got. . . nothing. "Look, is
there somebody else you want? Just say so. It won't hurt my
feelings. Hell, I'll even help arrange it." And indeed I would. I'd
throw my heart and soul into it. I wasn't there because
he'd asked for me, but because Mary begged me. And if you
want the whole squalid truth, that left me conflicted, because she
and I had once been, uh. . . how do I delicately put this?
Involved? What do you want to bet that a lawyer was the
first one to utter that particular word that particular way?
Were they in the same chess club? Or did they have a torrid love
affair that lasted three incredible years? Yes, incidentally, on
the last point. His lips made a faint flutter, and I said, "I'm
sorry. . . what was that again?" "I said, I want you." "You're
His head jerked up. "God damn it, call me Billy again and I'll
knock you flat on your ass.You're still a major and I'm still a
general, you stupid asshole."
Well. . . now there was a dose of the old William Morrison I knew,
and never could stand. I was his wife's old slumber buddy, and
trust me on this point: This is hardly a male-bonding thing. Nor
would we have been pals, anyway, as he was a general and I was a
major, and in the Army that's some hard frost, socially speaking.
Besides, William T. Morrison was a stuck-up, overambitious,
pretty-boy prick, and what in the hell was Mary thinking when she
She could've done so much better. Like me. I reached into my
briefcase and withdrew a few papers. "Okay, sign these forms. The
top one requests the JAG to name me as your attorney.The second
allows me to root through your records and investigate your
background." I held out a pen. "But first promise you're not going
to use this to stab yourself or some such shit."
He yanked it out of my hand, scratched his name on both forms, then
threw the pen at me. I mumbled, "Thanks." He mumbled, "Fuck you,
Drummond. I mean. . . fuck you." Was this getting off on the right
foot or what? I asked, "Have you admitted anything yet?" "No. . .
of course not. What kind of stupid asshole do you take me
The man is dressed in ugly orange coveralls and is chained to a
table in a high-security prison. Can this be a serious question? I
said, "Keep it that way. Don't say a thing without me present.
Don't hint, sidestep, deny, or evade. Guilty or innocent, your only
leverage is what's locked in your head and we need to preserve
"Drummond, this is my field, remember? Like I need some stupid
asshole telling me how it's done? I'll run circles around any
jerk-off they bring in here."
The grating arrogance I remembered so well was definitely creeping
back to the surface.Was this good or bad? Other considerations
aside, I suppose good. It surely helped that some semblance of his
internal spirit was flogging its way into his cerebral cortex. A
moment before he'd been a suicidal husk, and if something didn't
seep into that vacuum, his whole being might get sucked into
Anyway, I'd done my duty. I'd warned him, and it was time to
complete my spiel."The Army's facing a time clock of thirty days to
formalize your charges and get us into court to plead. A month or
so later, there'll be a trial. If you're found guilty, there'll be
a sentencing hearing shortly thereafter. Do I need to tell you the
ultimate penalty for treason?"
This is the kind of sly query we lawyers employ when our clients
are assholes. He frowned, shook his head, and I continued, "Here's
how we're going to do this. I'll get a co-counsel who speaks
Russian, and I'll set up a satellite office here. Then I'll start
my discovery process.You understand how that works?" "Of
"Well, espionage cases are. . . different. It's going to be a real
He nodded that he understood, though really he didn't understand
squat. He was going to discover that his fate hung on a bunch of
secret evidence the government's most tightfisted agencies would
fight tooth and nail not to release, even to his attorney; that,
unlike with nearly every other type of criminal case, his chances
of defending himself were crippled by security rules and stubborn
bureaucrats and the government's very strong desire to burn him at
I mentioned none of this to him—yet.He was already on suicide
watch, and I didn't want to send him hurtling off the ledge into
eternity. I stood up and said, "I better get going. I'll stay in
He looked up at me with tortured eyes. "Drummond, listen, I'm
completely—" "Innocent. . . right?" "Yes. Really, this whole
thing is—" I held up a hand to cut him off.
I wasn't his attorney of record and had no business getting into
any of this yet. Later he could tell me as many whoppers as he
could dream up, and I would patiently sort the exceptionally
unbelievable from the barely credible, until we settled on exactly
which pack of lies we'd use for his defense.
But in retrospect I should've walked out and never