The next morning Kathy and Kelly met for breakfast at six. Kathy said, “Today we are breaking the law. Bring your weapon and your permit. Also, a change of clothing. We may have to do some surveillance.”
The first stop was nearby, a small detached bungalow in Falls Church. Kathy pulled to the curb just before seven. Pouring fresh coffee into their cups, Kathy said, “The house across the street about a half a block from here, painted that hideous shade of hospital green, is our target. There should be only one person living in there. I’m a little suspicious of the occupant for reasons I cannot tell you now. This guy is either a loyal civil servant or something else. If he is something else, he will be dangerous and, in entering his house after he leaves, we have to be careful, very careful. The man should be coming out soon and going to work. We’ll sit here for an hour after he leaves. If someone else comes out, I want you to follow them. Take the car if you need it. When the guy leaves, I’ll call the house to see if anyone answers. If not, I’m going in. Stand by, I may call you to come in once I have a chance to look around. We have a search to do.”
“Kathy, what can you tell me about this man?”
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t want to influence your judgment and, if this man is innocent, I don’t want to tell anyone who he is. Careers have been destroyed for less.”
“You’re looking for a mole, aren’t you?”
“What do you know about moles? You’re new to this business.”
“I know from books and news reports that they exist and are very difficult to find.”
“I’m searching for someone who has been leaking information to the high level terrorist we’ve been chasing. Yes, it is usually almost an impossible search. Many times when bad things happen, people suspect a mole is the cause. Sloppy tradecraft, a breakdown in security, careless talk and bad luck can also cause bad things to happen. Our search is much different. We have a tight timeframe when the leaks occurred, and we know the small group of people who had access to the information. Those factors make this a search that is doable in a time measured in days. We have to be careful the mole doesn’t learn of our investigation. The stakes are very high, high enough for me to do a physical search of a few places without a warrant.”
Kelly said, “Thanks. Hey! Look, a car is backing out of the garage.”
“Yep. Right on time. Let’s see what happens next. Another car is parked near the front of the house.”
Kelly said, “A woman is coming down the porch stairs. She looks like she’s dressed to go to work.”
“When the car moves away from the curb, I’m getting out. Get ready to slide over and take the wheel. Follow her, carefully. I want to know where she goes, no more. Just note the time and the building. Do not follow her into any parking area or garage. Stay in the car on the street and keep your eyes open. Tell me immediately, if she heads back to the house. Call every ten minutes. Make sure you always have cell phone service. Okay?”
“Got it, Boss.”
Kathy called the land line phone in the house. When no one answered, she walked around to the back of the house and found the back door was screened by some eight-foot yews. She quickly picked the lock, after checking for any traps like a small piece of paper placed to fall if the door was opened. Nothing. She eased the door open and stepped inside the kitchen. Checking for simple traps, she toured the house. Definitely, a woman was sharing the house and the bed. Female necessities in the bathroom and more than half the master bedroom closet held female clothing. Using her iPhone she photographed the medicine cabinet and closet before moving to the office. An iMac notebook and an IPAD were on a long table. Kathy knew the man could not take his notebook or IPAD to work and guessed the woman also worked in a secure environment. Both machines were pass-worded, and it took her several minutes to play administrator and get into the files. Inserting high gigabyte flash drives into the USB ports, she downloaded the files in each computer.
Her iPhone vibrated. Kelly was calling in. She told Kathy the woman drove into CIA Headquarters in Langley. Kathy said, “Okay. Come back here and pick me up. I’m done.”
Kathy was walking down the street when Kelly pulled over and picked her up. Kathy climbed in and said, “Nothing there. Two more stops. I’ll tell you where to go.”
Fifteen minutes later they were in the midst of a development outside Vienna, VA. Kelly asked, “Where do all these people work? I thought Pittsburgh was a crowded city.”
“This is where your tax dollars go. These people nearly all work for the US Government, either as employees or as contract workers. Now pull over here. At least half of these houses have someone in them. I don’t want anyone to see me going into a house and have some good but nosy citizen call the police. Talk about embarrassing! My badge without a warrant would make the problem worse. Also, I think this man is hiding something. It’s okay for him to hide his love life but not his travel or his foreign contacts. He, like our last suspect, lives ‘alone.’ I’ll call to see if anyone answers. If not, I’m going in. You stay here and warn me about anyone approaching the house. Give me a heads up, even if you aren’t sure. I don’t mind warnings that turn out to be non-events.”
No one answered Kathy’s house-checking call. It was beginning to rain and the wind was picking up. No one was on the street when Kathy approached the house. From the front of the house, she could see an ancient door knob lock. She mused, why bother. She rang the doorbell while inserting her pick. She could do this lock left-handed with her eyes shut.
The doorbell didn’t summon anyone and Kathy slipped inside. She paused to let her senses adjust to the house. The living room certainly didn’t look as if this was a bachelor pad. More than decent furniture with a few good antiques and Oriental rugs. Moving into the kitchen, she noted it was full of stainless steel appliances and lined with granite counters. The counters were clean. She thought this guy must be well-trained. Even Jack, with all his discipline, was not this good a housekeeper. Going up the stairs, she took in the expensively framed oil and water color paintings. No masters but not bad. This guy didn’t do this on his government salary. Family money or some other outside source was at play here.
You could always tell if a woman was in a house. Lotions, perfumes and a ton of cosmetics give off a distinctive scent. No question a woman lived in or was often in this house. The master bedroom confirmed her suspicions with the cosmetics and other necessary female maintenance implements. Several dresses, suits and blouses hung in an orderly manner. So the order in this place may come from the presence of this woman. Now, woman, who are you?
A search of the house and basement turned up nothing. Kathy downloaded files she thought relevant onto her flash drive and backdated the transaction. She thought, everyone has secrets but this house does not have what I’m looking for. She went out the front door and walked the short distance to where Kelly was waiting.
“Did you find anything?”
“No. Boring house, nothing to indicate he might be a mole. Onward to our last stop for today. This time it was a small dingy house in an old section of Arlington. The house needed painting and the landscaping shrubs had given up. Kelly said, “With the rain and overcast sky, this place would fit into the small towns I knew growing up. It certainly doesn’t look like anyone with clean or dirty money lives here.”
“I believe the kind of person we are looking for is not motivated by money. There isn’t enough money to reward him for the incredible risks he’s taking and the strain of daily living a complex false background, where one slip can be the end. Stand by here. The same protocol. I should be out in an hour and we can get some lunch.”
No one answered Kathy’s check call, and she was soon going up the slight out of kilter stairs with at least two shades of gray showing through the layers of peeling paint. Jack’s house in Pittsburgh looks very upscale compared to this one. The lock, though, is good. I’ll have to focus on this one. Two minutes later, Kathy stepped into the small living room furnished with early Salvation Army overstuffed furniture. Rag rugs covered the floor. Moving swiftly through the ground floor, she saw nothing of note. Like the outside, the inside was grubby and devoid of any touch by loving hands. This is a real bachelor pad. Upstairs, there was no sign of another person, man or woman, living with her third suspect. She took some photos, checked a number of possible hiding places and went down into the dimly lit cellar. Kathy knew from a previous case people believe the cellar is a good place to hide things. She had found a cache of information on another search, alias documents and cash hidden in the cellar wall. Using her small high intensity flashlight, she searched by dividing the cellar into quadrants.
The old house creaked with the gusting wind. Kathy reached back and touched her SOCOM .45 automatic. She often found it reassuring to touch the weapon. Hunting for leads to a mole in a cellar of an empty, creaking old house was beyond spooky. Come on, girl, focus. Search this place and get out.
No doors in the cellar walls. One dusty workbench that hadn’t had any use for a long time. An oil furnace sat in one corner. When it suddenly started up, Kathy jumped and smiled at her nervous reaction. Focusing the light on the overhead to search between the joists, she noticed the hot air ducts radiating out from the furnace. The ducts were vintage. Many had taped joints. Noticing one of the ducts turned ninety degrees up to a ground floor register, she thought, it’s the only clean thing down here. As she turned to leave, she wondered why the ten-inch elbow duct was clean and went back to examine it. With her height she was able to reach up and put her hands on the elbow joint. It seemed tight but she couldn’t see any metal screws in the joint. Pulling down on the elbow, it separated from the floor register joint.
Kathy searched around for something to stand on. She picked up an old galvanized two-gallon bucket, placed it upside down under the exposed duct and stepped up, bumping her head. Muttering to herself about all she needed was to keep bumping an already aching head, she carefully moved her head between the joists and saw a long box-like object. Examining it with her light, she noticed very little dust on the container. Reaching in with an extended arm, she felt what seemed to be a light-weight metal box. Pulling the box toward her, she soon had the box in her hands. It wasn’t heavy, and she was able to step off the bucket and set the box on the cement cellar floor. The box had no locks or traps she could see. Opening the well-oiled hinged lid, she saw a .38 special revolver and a box of shells, and two large brown envelopes. The envelopes were unsealed. The first one contained a large pack of big bills, at least twenty thousand dollars. The second had two sets of identity documents complete with passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards and other miscellaneous cards to support the false identities.
Kathy thought, well, well. We’ve now found our mole. This is the man who Frank personally vouched for when he was hired, the son of a Princeton classmate. I wonder how he is going to take this. Now I have to put everything back, except for one set of identities with Mr. Richfield’s picture but a different alias. Kathy used her iPhone to photograph all the documents and the hiding place before leaving by the back door.
Back in the car with Kelly, Kathy called Frank and told him she had his mole but didn’t want to say anything more over the phone. Knowing Frank wanted to know the details immediately, she said, “I’ll drop Kelly back at Jack’s house. I’ll be in your office in 30 minutes. Can you arrange for some uninterrupted time?”
“All the time we need. This is my top priority.”
Kathy was a few minutes late, and Frank was waiting for her when she got off the elevator. Frank handed her a cup of coffee and led her to a small interview room. Once inside, before sitting at the table, he said, “Tell me.”
Kathy motioned for him to sit down first and said, “You’re not going to like this. Your mole is Sam Richfield.”
“What!! Are you sure? That can’t be right! I’ve known Sam and his father for thirty years!”
Kathy reached into her zipped jacket pocket and slid one of Richfield’s alias passports across the table. Frank examined the document, turned white with anger, slammed his fist on the table and said, “I just don’t understand how Sam could do this. The family is wealthy. He can’t have become a traitor for money. Sorry for doubting you. I should’ve known better. Do you have anything else?”
Kathy leaned across the table and showed Frank the photos on her iPhone and told him about her search. Frank shook his head and said, “This is an open and shut case. The evidence wouldn’t hold up in court due to the illegality of the search, and I don’t want to tip off the Professor we know about his source. We’ll have to handle this on our own. Sam’s father and the Professor were close in graduate school at Princeton. I wonder if the father is involved?”
Kathy replied, “He must be! How else could his son have gotten involved with al Qaeda?”
“I can’t argue. It looks bad for the Richfield family. We can’t arrest them or even get a subpoena to search their residences. Any defense attorney will get the case thrown out on grounds of the illegal search. My plan is to use our mole to set a trap for the Professor. Whether or not the plan works, al Qaeda will suspect Sam and his father. They are not forgiving and will deal with them.”
“What’s our next move?”
“Ask Jack to arrange for another meeting in the Ritz. The three of us can decide on an approach for taking care of our mole and putting an end to the Professor and his campaign.”