“Blackout” Novel Excerpt by Bijan C. Bayne


The men had nicknamed him “The Gray Ghost”. He began the meeting without prelude or pretense. “Our mission is two-fold. Acquisition of potentially damaging information, and termination of its source. Each of your folders contains background information pertinent to your role. To execute this assignment, you may enlist, pending our approval and clearance, any individuals you deem fit or an asset. Approval of said individuals as contacts will be based upon our analysis of their profiles, which you will submit as contact reports.”


Crawford nodded once more. She had been in Dallas for an American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages convention on November 22, 1963. Kennedy’s people had invited her to hear him speak at the Trade Mart- a speech he never made. They also invited Dick Nixon. JFK’s 1960 opponent, like Crawford, lived in New York. He was a partner in Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander, & Mitchell, where Nixon’s friend Donald Kendall, president of Pepsi, was a client. Like Crawford, Nixon stayed at the Baker Hotel in Dallas.


After the CIA helped overthrow President Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954, who had won 65 percent of his nation’s vote, Ike wanted to fire Dulles. But their relationship changed when Eisenhower began to see how the country’s economy and intelligence systems were connected. At Burning Tree Country Club in Bethesda, the president played golf with the leaders of Coca-Cola, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, and Young & Rubicom, a big Madison Avenue concern. The more he was around these men, the more he appreciated that the U.S. business interests abroad were dependent on stable foreign governments, international trade, valuable information these executives brought from their travels, and public confidence about their industries. To preserve these enterprises, he needed Dulles.


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