The bourne supremacy, p.7
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.7

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 7


  'How horrible, '' whispered McAllister.

  'At that moment, Webb turned. He became someone he never was, never dreamed he could be. He became a guerrilla fighter known as Delta. '

  'Delta?' said Mr McAllister. 'A guerrilla. . . ? I'm afraid I don't understand. '

  'There's no way you could. ' Havilland looked over at Reilly, then back at the man from State. 'As Jack made clear a moment ago, we're now at ground zero. Webb fled to Saigon, consumed with rage, and, ironically, through the efforts of the CIA officer named Conklin, who years later tried to kill him, joined a clandestine operations outfit called Medusa. No names were ever used by the people in Medusa, just the Greek letters of the alphabet - Webb became Delta One. '

  'Medusa? I've never heard of it. '

  'Ground zero,' said Reilly. 'The Medusa file is still classified, but we've permitted limited declassification in this instance. The Medusa units were a collection of internationals who knew the Vietnam territories, north and south. Frankly most of them were criminals - smugglers of narcotics, gold, guns, jewels, all kinds of contraband. Also convicted murderers, fugitives who'd been sentenced to death in absentia. . . and a smattering of colonials whose businesses were confiscated - again by both sides. They banked on us -Big Uncle - to take care of all their problems if they infiltrated hostile areas, killing suspected Viet Cong collaborators and village chiefs thought to be leaning towards Charlie, as well as expediting prisoner-of-war escapes where they could. They were assassination teams - death squads, if you will - and that says it as well as it can be said, but of course we'll never say it. Mistakes were made, millions stolen, and the majority of those personnel wouldn't be allowed in any civilized army, Webb among them. '

  'With his background, his academic credentials, he willingly became part of such a group?7

  'He had an overpowering motive,' said Havilland. 'As far as he was concerned, that plane in Phnom Penh was North Vietnamese. '

  'Some said he was a madman,' continued Reilly. 'Others claimed he was an extraordinary tactician, the supreme guerrilla who understood the Oriental mind and led the most aggressive teams in Medusa, feared as much by Command Saigon as by the enemy. He was uncontrollable; the only rules he followed were his own. It was as if he had mounted his own personal hunt, tracking down the man who had flown that plane and destroyed his life. It became his war, his rage; the more violent it became the more satisfying it was for him - or perhaps closer to his own death wish. '

  'Death. . . ?' The undersecretary of state left the word hanging.

  'It was the prevalent theory at the time,' interrupted the ambassador.

  'The war ended,' said Reilly, 'as disastrously for Webb - or Delta - as it did for the rest of us. Perhaps worse; there was nothing left for him. No more purpose, nothing to strike out at, to kill. Until we approached him and gave him a reason to go on living. Or perhaps a reason to go on trying to die. '

  'By becoming Bourne and going after Carlos the Jackal,' completed McAllister.

  'Yes,' agreed the intelligence officer. A brief silence ensued.

  'We need him back,' said Havilland. The soft-spoken words fell like an axe on hard wood. 'Carlos has surfaced?

  The diplomat shook his head. 'Not Europe. We need him back in Asia, and we can't waste a minute. '

  'Someone else? Another. . . target?' McAllister swallowed involuntarily. 'Have you spoken to him?

  'We can't approach him. Not directly. '

  'Why not?

  'He wouldn't let us through the door. He doesn't trust anything or anyone out of Washington and it's difficult to fault him for that. For days, for weeks, he cried out for help and we didn't listen. Instead, we tried to kill him. '

  'Again I must object,' broke in Reilly. 'It wasn't us. It was an individual operating on erroneous information. And the Government currently spends in excess of four hundred thousand dollars a year in a protection programme for Webb. '

  'Which he scoffs at. He believes it's no more than a back-up trap for Carlos in the event the Jackal unearths him. He's convinced you don't give a damn about him, and I'm not sure he's far off the mark. He saw Carlos and the fact that the face has not yet come back into focus for him isn't something Carlos knows. The Jackal has every reason to go after Webb. And if he does, you'll have your second chance. '

  'The chances of Carlos finding him are so remote as to be practically nil. The Treadstone records are buried and in any case they don't contain current information as to where Webb is or what he does. '

  'Come, Mr Reilly,' said Havilland testily. 'Look at his background and qualifications. How difficult would it be? He's got academia written all over him. '

  'I'm not opposing you, Mr Ambassador,' replied a somewhat subdued Reilly. 'I just want everything clear. Let's be frank, Webb has to be handled very delicately. He's recovered a large portion of his memory but certainly not all of it. However, he's recalled enough about Medusa to be a considerable threat to the country's interests. '

  'In what way? asked McAllister. 'Perhaps it wasn't the best and it probably wasn't the worst, but basically it was a military strategy in time of war. '

  'A strategy that was unsanctioned, unlogged and unacknowledged. There's no official slate. '

  'How is that possible? It was funded, and when funds are expended-'

  'Don't read me the book,' interrupted the obese intelligence officer. 'We're not on tape, but I've got yours. '

  'Is that your answer?

  'No, this is: there's no statute of limitation on war crimes and murder, Mr Undersecretary, and murder and other violent crimes were committed against our own forces as well as allied personnel. In the main they were committed by killers and thieves in the process of stealing, looting, raping, and killing. Most of them were pathological criminals. Effective as Medusa was in many ways, it was a tragic mistake, born of anger and frustration in a no-win situation. What possible good would it do to open all the old wounds? Quite apart from the claims against us, we would become a pariah in the eyes of much of the civilized world. '

  'As I mentioned,' said McAllister softly, reluctantly, 'at State we don't believe in opening wounds. ' He turned to the Ambassador. 'I'm beginning to understand. You want me to reach this David Webb and persuade him to return to Asia. For another. project, another target - although I've never used the word in that context in my life before this evening. And I assume it's because there are distinct parallels in our early careers - we're Asia men. We presumably have insights where the Far East is concerned and you think he'll listen to me. '

  'Essentially, yes. '

  'Yet you say he won't touch us. That's where my understanding fades. How can I do it?

  'We'll do it together. As he once made the rules for himself, we'll make them now. It's imperative. '

  'Because of a man you want killed?'

  'Neutralized will suffice. It has to be done. '

  'And Webb can do it?

  'No. Jason Bourne can. We sent him out alone for three years under extraordinary stress - suddenly his memory was taken from him and he was hunted like an animal. Still he retained the ability to infiltrate and kill. I'm being blunt. '

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