My Name is Michael Weston and I am, I mean I was an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.
I was fired today.
To be more precise, I was fired 14 minutes ago. Getting fired from the CIA is not like getting fired from any other organization. When you get fired or laid off from a corporate job, you walk in the door and your flag to head to the human resources office. You’re notified of your new status unemployment and you’re escorted to your desk where you can clean out your desk pack your belongings and go.
You’re fired by the CIA, the experience is very different. You have to be debriefed and assessed psychologically to determine how you will handle your firing. You do not get to go to your desk and clean out your personal belongings, you never get to set foot in the secured area again.
Your badge and identification are immediately taken from him, and all the passwords to all the systems and doors and buildings and break rooms and safes are recoded before you ever have any hint that you’re being fired.
For the last nine months I’ve been working as an intelligence analyst for the CIA. I’m not sure typical clean-cut geeky intelligence analyst. Before working as an intelligence analyst, had worked as a covert operative for six years under the NSA with in one capacity or another. Sometimes during those years I even worked against the CIA, so deep undercover but only a few people knew of my mission was and sometimes I question whether or not I was truly on the right side of things.
I was reassigned to desk duty as an intelligence analyst for two reasons. First, I was very analytical and a demonstrated proficiency for analysis work even greater than my abilities in a covert work which were significant. I’d chosen covert work for the action and the excitement. I excelled at covert work because I had a knack for sniffing out intelligence using my analytical mind. This gave me the aptitude and the training to perform analysis work for the CIA.
The second reason why I was assigned to intelligence work was complete fluke. I had taken a week’s leave for vacation towards the end of the summer in 2005. I was doing a little trout fishing on a chilly rocky river in Arkansas, when hurricane Katrina hit. I received a phone call my cell phone when that happened.
Tobias Jeffries, Toby, it saved my life several times over the years. I had never had the opportunity to return the favor and to say that I owed him one or even several was a severe understatement. In more than one situation I had promised Toby that if anything ever happened I would help take care of his family. He had a six-year-old daughter that lived with his mother. His wife passed away, suffering from a failed liver. Should been hit by a drunk driver and contracted hepatitis C during a blood transfusion.
She’d received one transplant, which did not take and soon afterwards she died. Jezzie, short for Jezebel, had gone to live with her grandmother while Toby was away. They lived in New Orleans when the hurricane hit, and like many people they weren’t prepared.
Toby was able to get a single phone call to me while I was trout fishing and he was an some undisclosed location where I could hear Farsi being spoken in the background while he spoke to me over the phone. He told me to make sure that they were safe from the hurricane and hung up the phone.
I threw my gear my pickup truck and hit the road heading south. As I was driving I started to hear the reports about the levees breaking in New Orleans. This was going to be bad and I knew it. I’ve been in countries when natural disaster strike, I’ve been in countries when law and order fail completely, and I knew what to expect in New Orleans.
Like many reporters I was able to drive right into New Orleans despite the fact that thousands of people could not get out. I recognized immediately how the system was failing the city of New Orleans. I’d seen bureaucracies fail all around the world and I knew how worked.
I had to abandon my truck as I started to approach the flood zones. As I had been fishing, I had a small John boat loaded in the truck with me. I backed up my truck to the flood zone and unload with John boat. I was already armed with a handgun, which I now wore on an open side holster.
I removed a shotgun, pump action Remington, and a high-powered rifle with a scope. The rifle was modified to fire automatically and it was illegal in New Orleans, but I wasn’t going to leave it in the truck for someone to steal and use on the public later. I loaded some gear into the John boat, and cranked up the engine and prepared to head out.
I made it to Jezzie’s and her grandmother’s apartment two hours later. At this point people were still starting to realize just how bad things were getting in the city. I knew they were going to get worse and fast. The apartment building was three stories in the water level was up just past the first story already. Their apartment was on the second floor, and found a place to tie the boat up and they’ve been locked it with a kryptonite bicycle lock to some electrical conduit piping on the side of the building. I went inside and I began to search the building.
The building was mostly vacated with the exception of a few families that hadn’t left in time to escape the water. They I’d be very suspiciously as I was armed with three weapons and I was a stranger. I explained that I was an old Army buddy of Toby’s an I had come to check on his mother and his daughter.
That didn’t get me anywhere, but when I mentioned that I had a John boat I got a lot of attention. A man in his middle 40s who identified himself as the building manager and maintenance man said that Jezzie and her grandmother had left for the convention center where authorities had indicated they would be safe. He also asked if I would take an elderly woman to the hospital. She was diabetic and seem to be on the verge of some sort of shock.
After 40 minutes we were able to get the woman into the John boat and I proceeded to head towards the nearest hospital which is on the way to the convention center. All things considered I was pretty lucky in the way things worked out so far that what was about to change. After traveling for about 15 minutes by water, I rounded a corner as I approach the hospital in a firefight broke out. Ahead I could see rescue workers attempting to take people into the hospital, while gunfire erupted from a building not far away. They were shooting at the rescue workers.
The rescue workers were not armed and I could see that at least one of the workers had been shot. They were into boats, and one of the boats been forced to speed away from the gunfire. The other boat was apparently disabled by the gunfire and the rescue workers and the people they were trying to save or almost literally sitting ducks.
With the diabetic lady in my boat I couldn’t risk her life and so I quickly found a building that had awning. I deposited the lady on the awning, leapt into the boat and spent around behind the building to come upon the attackers building from behind. The streaming the boat too fast for conditions heedless of the potential of striking something in the water that I couldn’t see.
I came upon the building from behind and could still hear the gunfire, pop . Pop . Pop. It was an automatic fire but was very regular and it wasn’t stopping. The pause in between the shots, led me to believe that some he was taking their time to aim and select their shots.
I navigated up three flights of stairs trying to follow the noise of gunfire. I didn’t see anyone else in the building and suspected anyone that might have been in the building probably fled when the gunfire erupted. I arrived on the fifth floor and found myself in a hallway with three doors. Two of those doors faced the street and the hospital. The third door appeared to face a side alley. I approach the first door, tried the door knob and it opened.
In a fluid movement, I entered the room sweeping the room with my rifle. It was a single room with one door. The door was open and I approached it rapidly. I went to the door sweeping with my rifle again and saw no one. Exited this first apartment and headed for the second door. The shots continued to fire, Pop. Pop . Pop.
I braced myself and try the door knob. This one was locked. I packed up and braced myself, and that I kicked the door just above and to the left of the doorknob. The door was old and I was lucky in the door crashed in on the first kick. Again I fluidly moved into the room sweeping the room with my rifle.
There is no one in this room and there were two doors this time. The first and closest door was open and I rushed into it sweeping the new room with my rifle. The room had windows that opened onto the street. There was no one inside. I backtrack to the second door, standing to one side, I tried the doorknob. Locked again.
I took a deep quiet breath, stepped in front of the door and kicked it open. It was an interior door and gave way very easily. The leapt into the room sweeping the room with my rifle, and found myself face to face with an elderly woman, huddled in a corner stroking a cat. She wasn’t crying but she’s shaking violently.
She whispered, “5C.”
I understood what she said but didn’t comprehend what she was getting at entirely. I backtrack to the main hallway again and looked at the third door facing the alley. It had a number five on the door and the outline of the letter C. on the door. The letter had apparently fallen off the door years ago leaving an area on the door that was slightly cleaner than the Grimy remainder of the door.
I tried the doorknob and it turned. I entered the room rapidly and found myself in a long and large L-shaped room. The main part of the room to face the alley with Windows and open up on a view of a brick wall on the other side of the alley. The L-shaped of the room turned to the left.
Pop . Pop . Pop.
The firing hadn’t stopped or wavered the entire time. It was however a great deal louder now.
Advanced towards the turn in the room. I heard a pause and thought that possibly the shooter had heard me into the room. I heard a clip drop to the floor in the second clip slam home.
Around the corner and stood looking at a teenage boy holding an M-16 with a 30 round magazine, and a second 30 round magazine taped upside down to that magazine. There was a similar set of two magazines lying empty on the floor.
The boy looked like he was 14 years old and he was shooting the weapon over and over and over again. I was about halfway between the corner and the boy when a man behind me yelled, “Freeze, Police!”
I sidestep to the right, raised my rifle to an upright position and started to turn. The teenage boy, spun frantically firing the entire time. The police officer had been covering me with his weapon and the teenage boy shot once in the chest and once in the face. I lowered my weapon turned back to the right and fired just as the teenage boy was continuing his circle in line of fire. A round whizzed by my shoulder, as I unloaded two rounds into the boy.
I went to the police officer first, but it was too late. The bulletproof vest would’ve saved his life if it hadn’t been for the round that hit him in the face. I went to the boy next, but knew from experience that he was dead. Out of training I kicked the weapon away from the boy’s hands.
“Sir, please step through the metal detector.”
I snapped back to the president as the security guard direct meaning through the metal detector. This was a metal detector that led to the exit of the CIA headquarters as opposed to the metal detectors at screen people going into the headquarters.
I was back in the present again and cognizant that I had just been fired, 16 minutes ago now. I walked through the metal detector, as I had done hundreds of times. This time I was angry. I acknowledge the emotion as it surfaced.
I had been fired by the CIA. I have learned something that I was not supposed to learn. I had used several techniques to put two and three together in a way that enabled the leap to the answer, the right answer. The right answer was five. The right answer led to the Pentagon. The right answer led to trouble. The right answer led to something so large and so corrupt and so troubling that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to let it go.
I had been debriefed, but I had not been brainwashed, yet.
This is the opening contribution to the story of Michael Weston a fired CIA worker and the character of a future television show: USA Network’s Burn Notice