– North Korea and Hydrogen Bombs –
North Korea has been in the news recently claiming to have tested a hydrogen bomb. That’s a complex fusion reaction triggered by an atomic device, a fission reaction. If the claim is true, that’s a quantum leap in nuclear technology that adds a credible threat to its neighbors and the United States.
To our knowledge, North Korea has not mastered Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology, lacking the reentry expertise. But, last year the rogue regime did launch a satellite that orbited near our stratosphere…
What would happen if they succeeded in exploding a nuclear device 150 miles above our stratosphere ?
That scary scenario is what Biff Roberts, the CIA’s Director of Counterterrorism, is facing in my most recent novel, The Carrington Prophecy, published in November, 2015.
CHAPTER 1 – THE CARRINGTON PROPHECY
After brief conversation, considerable reflection, and two bottles of vintage champagne, Biff Roberts and the other members of the CIA’s counterterrorism team finally slept for the remainder of the flight from San Francisco back to Andrews Air Force Base. It had been a long, harrowing week that thankfully had ended in averting a national disaster. They had successfully aborted an Iranian terror plot, one potentially of 9/11 dimensions that could have killed thousands.
Upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Biff noticed the CIA’s DCI Admiral Delaney, his attaché, and an entourage of Langley officials and security guards were waiting to greet them on the tarmac. As the CIA G-4 taxied to its designated parking spot, many in the crowd waved excitedly. Biff also noticed the DCI had a large dossier under his arm.
That’s usually not a good sign, Biff thought. Something’s brewing — something big.
Biff and his team descended from the plane into the smiling crowd. They received a combination of applause, thumbs up, and salutes as acknowledgement of their lead role in thwarting the terrorist plot in San Francisco.
“Fine job, Biff,” the admiral said. “Welcome back.” They shook hands and exchanged pats on the back.
Admiral Delaney was sincere in his admiration of his top field operative, recently promoted to Director of the Counterterrorism division. Even after all the long hours and stress of his work in San Francisco, Biff seemed as sharp as ever. His energy and appearance were the envy of many younger men. His six-foot-four athletic frame was still packed with muscle well into middle age, and his thick, wavy blond hair belied his age.
“Extraordinary how you pulled it off, Biff. Impressive tactics,” Delaney said as they walked toward a line of waiting cars. “You never cease to amaze me. That Switchblade drone/flash bang caper will become a classic in our CIA annals.”
“Thank you, sir. I had some good help.”
“Word is Javari will talk at GITMO,” Delaney said. “They’re confident they’ll break him. Another good move, whisking him offshore as an enemy combatant. We’re sure to get some blowback, but what the hell. I’m certain we’ll get valuable intelligence from him that will outweigh any misguided liberal bellyaching about enhanced interrogation.” The admiral shook his head. “They can’t fathom the distinction between harsh interrogation and torture. They should take a sabbatical in the Middle East and observe the prisons there. Their methods are torture. And when they’re finished with you, they cut your head off.”
“Jihadists and terrorists don’t fall under Geneva conventions,” Biff said. “The treatment at GITMO is harsh, but humane. I’ve personally observed the methodology.”
“Enough of this interrogation method talk,” Delaney said. “I’ll manage the blowback… Back to your San Francisco exploit. Job well done, my good man, glad I made you a director. You’re making me look good. After that Snowden NSA fiasco, we needed to score some points. Our NSA colleagues over in Fort Meade caught a lot of flak over that security lapse.”
“They sure did,” Biff said. “I appreciate your comments, sir.”
Biff and the admiral reached the line of cars, pausing in front of a limo.
“I want you to spend a week at Rose Hill with Patricia. You deserve a good rest.” The admiral gestured toward the vehicle beside them. “Our limo will drop you off.”
“Thank you again, sir. Glad to be home.”
“I bet. Listen, when you get a chance, please review this information carefully and let me know your thoughts. It’s very important to get your input before I advise the Chiefs of Staff next month with our intelligence estimate about how we should manage this grave situation.”
The DCI handed the dossier to Biff like a hot potato, as if he couldn’t wait to get it out of his hands. This was more than a homecoming reception. As Biff had anticipated, something big was brewing, and Biff sensed he’d soon be in the middle of it.
Biff noted the thick folder was marked CARRINGTON EVENT – Classified: Top Secret – B.C. ROBERTS V’s copy (# 2 of 5)
“Know anything about this subject?” The DCI asked as Biff looked at the cover title.
“The Carrington Event?” Biff said. He paused, probing his memory. The subject did ring a bell, setting off his remarkable recall, a trait that had distinguished him at Yale and contributed to his successful CIA career.
Biff nodded. “A cosmic event involving the sun’s electromagnetic pulses, a flare or burst of gamma rays. A major solar storm occurred in the mid-1800s. The Carrington Prophecy says that the event may recur every 150 to 180 years or so, as a natural catastrophic event.”
“Your recall is remarkable, Biff. Actually it was September 1, 1859. A solar super storm hit the earth with the flare power of a billion atomic bombs exploding. Night became day. Telegraph systems went down worldwide and electrical outages occurred nearly everywhere, resulting in general chaos. That geomagnetic interruption was like a dirt road compared to today’s information superhighway. Our almost total dependency on electronics in modern life makes us frighteningly vulnerable to another solar storm of that magnitude.
“Think about the ramifications of a foreign attack generating a massive electromagnetic pulse,” the admiral added, “a form of sabotage that would elicit a similar catastrophe.”
“It’s a scary scenario, Admiral, very threatening. Not sure I want to go there.”
“I like your choice of words, Biff. But I’m concerned we will have to go there. Consider a nuclear device detonated in the stratosphere over the U.S. That scenario would make the Carrington Prophecy come true, maybe much sooner than a natural occurrence. It would paralyze all of our power grids, bringing all electronic communication and basic functions to a halt. It would pitch our IT-based society into perpetual night, vulnerable to attack.”
The admiral’s expression was grim. “That’s our next existential threat, Biff. It’s essential for us to avert such a doomsday scenario.”
“You’re thinking of an ICBM attack?” Biff asked. “Iran? China? North Korea?”
“Who’s got the craziest leader, the loose cannon?”
Biff didn’t have to think long about that one. “Kim Jong-un.’’
“Precisely. Come up with a plan. You’re our Counterterrorism Director.”
© Excerpt from The Carrington Prophecy by R. Lawson.