Lady Liberty: What originally served as the inspiration for the plot of Enemies Foreign and Domestic?
Matthew Bracken: I kept reading various Free Republic Second Amendment and Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) threads. I began to wonder what would happen if a "super Colombine" happened? Just by the laws of probability, it will; it has to in a nation of 300 million. What if this "super Columbine" happened under a 'rat (Democrat) President and a 'rat Congress?
Well, I think there would be very serious consequences, and our lawmakers could be stampeded into passing some very foolish laws, which would not be accepted by millions of gun owners. This would set up a very dire situation indeed, as outlined in Enemies Foreign and Domestic. It would be a formula for starting a civil war. The next step was to remove this "super Colombine" from the realm of chance, and wonder who might actually benefit from engineering such an event. That was the genesis of Wally Malvone.
Someone in a "counter terrorist" law enforcement position might stand to benefit greatly from a rapid acceleration in acts of domestic terrorism. The ATF plays the distant second fiddle to the FBI. The fibbies get the glamour (and budgets) associated with going after Al Qaeda and foreign terrorism, while the ATF is left with the "militias" and other assorted redneck domestic losers. This is not much of a consolation prize. So Malvone designs a Super Colombine which will be blamed on "right wing militia gun nuts." He knows that the result will benefit him in his position at ATF, and it will eventually make him the President's own "go to guy." Malvone is "the man with the plan." He should be: he engineered the "super Colombine" in the first place, while also creating its antidote, the ATF's "Special Training Unit (STU)."
LL: Okay, so you had an idea. What made you actually put pen to paper and write the book?
MB: I worried about something like a"super Columbine" being engineered. I wanted to innoculate as many Americans against the panic virus as I could by showing them exactly how and why such an event could be stage-managed. After Enemies Foreign and Domestic, any such event will be examined in greater detail, and will be less likely to be accepted at face value.
LL: Just how realistic do you think your story is?
MB: I think it's extremely realistic in its characters and events. Of course as a novelist, I need to cause the main characters to have their fates coincide. But otherwise, there can be no novel.
LL: There are a number of really bad and dishonest federal agents in your book. How likely is it that there are agents and/or supervisors this corrupt who are already out there, working toward their own agenda?
MB: There is no doubt at all that there are hundreds or thousands of federal law enforcement agents who have this "ends justify the means" mentality already today. Just do a search on wrong address SWAT raids, asset forfeiture SWAT raids, and so on. The difference in Enemies Foreign and Domestic is that Malvone thinks up a way to stock a new unit with only such "bad apples," where their negative attributes will be reinforced and rewarded.
Malvone's "harmless training unit" offers ATF supervisors a place to dump their problem children and disciplinary cases. In other words, he distills a unit of only the most brutal jack-booted thugs, who agree (for one example) that it makes perfect sense to "help a case" by planting illegal weapons and so on. And 95% of Malvone's STU team members sincerely believe they are going up against genuine domestic terrorists. They won't hesitate to operate outside the bounds of the Constitution, not in my novel, and not in real life. Only three psychotic villains in the novel, (Malvone, Hammet and Bullard) know that they are perpetrating out and out heinous crimes. The others are just gung-ho SWAT cowboys with itchy trigger fingers, who truly believe they are saving America from "domestic terrorists."
LL: There are also some ordinary citizens who take matters into their own hands in ways that are very much unsanctioned. Do you think it's probable that Brad and Ranya - or people very much like them - exist in the real world?
MB: I don't know if there are many Brads, Ranyas, Phil Carsons, etc. in the real world. I hope so. If there are not, then the triumph of tyranny is guaranteed in another generation. You'll notice the generational attitude theme is strong in Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Most of the freedom fighting heroes are over 50 years old.
LL: We see in your book what happens to push some good and decent people over the edge. How far will things have to go, do you suppose, before real people will take comparable action in the real world?
MB: There are different trigger events for different people. Vin Suprynowicz wrote an entire book about this called The Ballad of Carl Drega. In many cases, these folks are already on too much of a hair trigger.
LL: Some of the surveillance you describe is pretty frightening. Do you believe such techniques will ever really be developed and used against American citizens? How close to reality is the technology in your book?
MB: All of the surveillance methods in the book already exist. They are being used in the war against (Islamic) terror; eventually they will be used against us all as computers become faster, public video cameras become more and more prolific, and so on. The TIA "brilliant data mining" programs for behavior predicting already exist. Madison Avenue uses them every day to learn where to precisely target their promotions. It's a trivial matter to adapt them to find future "enemies of the state."
All of the cell phone tricks described either exist currently, or are technically feasible. Phones do not need to be "turned on" to be used to track you. This is all true. We will find out ten years from now just what tricks the NSA was playing with our cell phones today. For example, they will certainly not admit today that they can use your cell phone for a microphone without your knowledge! (Did we admit we were reading German and Japanese codes during WW2? Same principle.) But there is no technical bar to such use. If such methods will help the FBI and NSA and CIA to find and stop Al Qaeda terrorists, you can bet they will use them, and keep it completely secret. Then in time the same tools will be used to find other categories of "enemies of the state.
LL: What, if anything, can be done to prevent the world you descibe from becoming reality?
MB: What can be done? Educate more of the brain-dead sheeple into becoming free citizens, who are aware of the subtle and creeping threats to what is left of their legacy of American freedom. Enemies Foreign and Domestic is my contribution to this effort.
Enemies Foreign and Domestic is available for purchase online.
Having Our Cake