“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirty-two

The next morning at 9 AM Jack and Kathy were greeted in the law firm’s small lobby by the same receptionist Jack met just before his father died. “Good to see you again,” she said. Jack introduced Kathy and Shirley said, “Follow me. Mr. Jensen is ready to see you.”

Lee met Jack and Kathy at the door to his office and said, “Good to see you both. Mrs. Brandon, I only know you from your employment contract and other legal documents. In person is much better.”

“Please call me Kathy. Jack often talked about Lee Jensen but never told me how elegant your office is with the late eighteenth-century English antiques, dark, polished wood floors, and oriental carpets.”

“Thank you. I’m guessing you’re a Carolina girl.”

“Sure am and proud of it.”

Lee said, “I’m from South Carolina but went to Duke for my law degree.”

“Good. At least you have one flaw. We UNC girls from Chapel Hill never went to Durham very much.”

Lee laughed and looked at a puzzled Jack. “You just heard a put down of my law school from a very articulate if somewhat closed-minded UNC graduate toward her neighboring university.”

Kathy said, “I forgive you for being a Dukee. But you are the most elegant man I have ever seen from there. Maybe I’ll have to re-examine my bias.”

“Would some fresh brewed dark French roast coffee help you to come around?”

“I’m sure it would, black and strong.”

“That makes it easy.”

In no more than a minute, Shirley showed up with a pot of coffee.

After the coffee was poured, Jack took over the conversation and spoke for thirty minutes. He focused on general principles and avoided the operational details. Kathy knew he wanted to go deeper but had to see if Lee was being receptive. If not, the discussion would end before Lee learned any details that could put them in trouble. When Jack finished his presentation, Lee said, “I’ve heard a lot and seen as much but what you just told me is the most astonishing story I’ve ever heard. It’s a wonder the both of you are still alive.”

Jack said, “Without us at least several dozens of people would be dead. Our way of saving lives doesn’t focus on the crime or inflicting punishment for the crime. We have never hurt innocent people. When a terrorist or kidnapper is killed, it is to save the lives of victims or in self defense. There are few to no second chances. Your world of law and order is the foundation of our nation, but at times it is not enough. Justice comes in shades. We are in war. Nearly the same as you were when you got that scar across your left cheek in Vietnam. The only difference to me is that our enemies have brought the war to our homeland and they don’t wear uniforms. One of the few American citizens killed by me was a traitor to the United States who nearly killed Kathy. If I had tried to arrest him or even paused for a few seconds Kathy would be dead. I was carrying a badge at the time and know how to make an arrest and preserve the sanctity of the evidence. In dealing with terrorists, foreign or American, hesitation leads to the innocent paying the price. The price for following the legal process and the letter of law in these cases is too high. Anita, who died saving my life in an Asian country, knew none of us would hesitate. She knew she was dying yet she attacked and killed the terrorist trying to kill me.”

Lee said, “Like most lawyers, I look at the world through the prism of ‘legal and illegal.’ We hope our view includes ‘right versus wrong.’ You look at the world through yet another lens. The lens where you see what you can do to change injustice. In less moral hands your view is one saying the ‘end justifies the means.’ You can do small things under that philosophy but the running, managing, judging of governments requires more constancy. They require a rule of law imposed on the governed. From what you have told me, all of your actions so far have been with the consent and encouragement of duly sworn federal, state, or local governments. In short, you have been used by the government’s officials to do things they couldn’t do.”

The room was quiet and then Jack said, “Throughout our history there have been times when the protection of the citizenry required help from elsewhere than the government. These self-appointed law enforcement agents filled in the gap until the government could catch up. Our political focus on the law and order system for foreign nationals attacking our citizens and property is today seriously flawed. The threat from radical Islam and other organizations has not been recognized. The ‘law and order’ adherents want to combat all dangers to our society, its wealth and freedom within the bounds set by ‘law and order’ requirements decades or longer ago. Trying foreign terrorists in our court system and giving them the same rights as American citizens is more than unprecedented, it is dangerous. Reading terrorist bombers their rights and refusing to interrogate them is leading the nation to weaken its ability to protect our citizens and their property. Sending the FBI abroad to investigate a terrorist attack on U.S. installations before the smoke has even cleared shows the commitment of some of our people to political correctness and wanting everyone to love them by holding up our dedication to the spirit of ‘law and order’ for the world to admire. The world doesn’t admire this approach. Instead, they see it as endemic weakness and lack of resolve to face real issues with real solutions. Whatever you think of our past actions, we know that our willingness to act has saved a great number of innocent lives. I know how those people would vote.”

Another silence followed. Kathy cleared her throat and said, “We seem to have reached an impasse here.” She began to gather up her notes and added, “I know we can count on you to honor our client privilege. We have no plans to begin any action.”

Lee raised up one hand. “I haven’t said I wouldn’t continue to provide the legal support you need. I just want to protect you from consequences of a government with a short self-serving memory. In short, you cannot trust them. You are the kind of people they want to get rid of. No government employee is going to support you. We need to develop an entirely different way of doing business. To protect both you and me.”

Jack said, “I read your body language wrong. I was hearing a polite ‘please get out of my life.’”

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I hate to believe I cannot help a client that has made my firm what it is. My relationship with your father verged, at times, on the problem you now have. He never wanted me to be at risk. Being at risk cannot be helped at times. It is what people like you and, I hope me, do when faced with moral and legal challenges. What I would like is to have a person from your organization be detailed to me as a full-time liaison. Is that possible?”

“The purpose being to insulate both parties from direct contact?” Kathy asked.

“Precisely.”

“Yes, we can do that. Kathy and I will talk it over and send someone to see you. We will avoid coming to your office for any further meetings. I intend to set up an office for this person to work out of in McLean. The office will not be on record as a Brandon business.”

Feeling they had come to an understanding, Jack stood up and shook Lee’s hand firmly. The two men’s eyes met, then Jack and Kathy left the office.

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Filed under Action thrillers, Barry Kelly, Books, Spy novels

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