Initial Discussion with Ed Fluegel

At 21:58 on Day 1 of the time period under consideration, Ed Fluegel was escorted by CIA agents from his apartment into the first of two white unmarked vans parked on the street below. Video and audio recording devices inside the vehicle were on in compliance with standard procedure. The following exchange between Ed Fluegel and the two CIA agents was recorded.

Agent Virgule: Mister Fluegel, we understand that it's a disruption to come out of your home at this hour, but there's a matter of great urgency and we require your help.

Ed Fluegel: Why do you need my help?

AV: This request will sound a bit unusual, probably, but we would like you to translate something for us. We'll play a tape.

EF: You need my help to translate something.

Agent Dot: Just listen to the tape. We'll play it again for you if you need us to.

[Click, as tape recorder was activated for playback.]

Recorded male voice: Balat uznisvâ la ibaâsvsvu maalku svâ qaqqari ûnaâsvsvâqu.

[Click, as tape stopped.]

EF: Ah, yes. That means 'From twenty leagues away I saw your beauty, like a forbidden thing.' It's from Gilgamesh, I'm pretty sure. But from some text that I haven't seen. Maybe a corrupted version, or perhaps it's two different lines stuck together. So ... can I go back inside now?

AD: Mister Fluegel, you are saying that you've never heard those particular words before?

EF: No, I don't think so.

AD: These particular words - you haven't heard them, you're just able to translate them like that.

EF: I have, well, something of a knack for Akkadian.

AD: Huh.

AV: Hmm. Impressive.

EF: So, ah, what's going on? I mean, ah, was that part of the missing eighteen minutes of the Watergate tapes? You guys studying for a final exam? ... Can I go?

AD: This is serious, Mister Fluegel. Under the terms of the federal computer studies scholarship [Mirror] you availed yourself of when you were in jail, and under the terms of your probation, you realize that you may be called upon to provide service to the government in times of national emergency or other pressing need. (see article [ Mirror ])

EF: Um, do I realize that? National emergency? I don't guess ...

AV: Now you will be duly compensated for the assistance you provide, and we are going to make sure that your affairs are taken care of during the time of service. But under the terms of those two agreements you are obligated to render service when called upon.

AD: At this point, consider yourself informed that you are being activated for temporary service, as a civilian. You will be assisting in an operation which may, now, be of a military nature. We are not briefing you on the operation now.

AV: But, Mr. Fluegel, we can indicate that the operation will be only a few weeks in duration, and I believe we have been authorized to indicate that the operation will take place in ...

AD: Ah, I don't believe we can specify at this point.

AV: ... um ... overseas. You're needed to assist in this operation commencing immediately. We'll be leaving now. Ed.

EF: What? Why do ... Why could you possibly need me there?

AD: We are not authorized to brief you on the operation at this time, but we can provide some orientation as to your role. During World War Two, in the Japanese theater, Allied forces employed Navajo Indians to encode and decode radio communications rapidly. Essentially, the Navajo served as a form of very strong and fast cryptography. Communicating by radio, units were able to transfer information, with the aid of the Navajo, as if they were simply talking. As quickly as they could speak through a human translator, which was very fast. And the code - the Navajo language itself - was never broken by the Japanese.

AV: The British used Latin during World War One in a similar capacity, with some effectiveness. But Navajo was just about ideal. There were no Navajo living outside the U.S. And there were only seventeen people who weren't Navajo who spoke the language. And all of them lived in the U.S., too. Knowledge of Navajo today is out in the open, although the number of speakers is declining. Information on the language is more available at this point, that's the critical thing. For this operation, for reasons we can't go into, we've settled on a different language: Akkadian. It's studied throughout the world, true, and several people can decipher it. But oral fluency is just about unheard of. There are people who can pronounce it, recognize it, yes. But actually speak it, no. Very few.

EF: How many? How many people speak Akkadian?

AV: Essentially, Mister Fluegel, it is you and about four others.

EF: Four? Only four others? Why... Why didn't you get one of them?

AD: We need at least two, of course, one on each end. And it's best to have a contingency translator in case of incapacitation.

EF: Incapacitation.

AD: So we got three of them, besides you. They are, at this point, in that van right behind us. You'll meet them soon enough.

The video indicates that at 22:07 the first recruitment agent signaled to the driver and the first van departed, followed by the second van.

EF: But - I have my brother to take care of!

AV: Mister Fluegel, everything is going to be taken care of for you in your absence. A professional will be looking after your brother, we're aware of his condition and a social worker is going to be with him the whole time. He will be taken to a medical college in California ...

EF: California? Wait just a fucking ...

AD: Mr. Fluegel!

AV: I should have made this clear earlier, but there is no need to be concerned. It's all handled, we'll be going over that soon in more detail. He's going to be under professional, top-notch care and near your father. It wasn't best for us to linger and for you to say good-bye but everything will be explained to him in the best possible way and everything will be fine in your absence. At this point, just try to relax.

AD: It will be easier for you and everybody if you just relax and do what we say, Mister Fluegel.

There is no speech audible for the next several minutes. Ed Fluegel appeared agitated to the recruitment agents. He looked around at the interior of the van for a while without speaking. After some travel he posed a question to the agents.

EF: Is this a CIA van?

AD: It's from the motor pool.

There is no speech audible for the next several minutes. At 22:16 the video indicates that the first van was just outside the destination, waiting for the garage door to fully rise.

EF: This is, um, a government office here?

AD: It's a facility. We have a facility here.

EF: No flag out front, I see.

AD: It is not a public facility.

EF: Odd place for it. Isn't this Alphabet City?

AV: It's not really important whether or not you note the location at this point, Mister Fluegel, because we're clearing out in another week, we'll be gone by the time you return. We have to keep moving around, of course. And besides, with rents going up all the time we have to keep moving to stay under budget.

At 22:18 the relevant video and audio record from the first van ends. Ed Fluegel and the two recruitment agents had departed the van and entered the facility by this time. Video from the van shows Ed Fluegel turning to look out onto the street as the garage door descended before him.