Today's Reading

Donny's copy had no Exhibit A-17. It did have a red sheet where the index of exhibits was supposed to go, pre-printed with a notice.


Defense Counsel: Portions of the document you are trying to access are currently undergoing a security review per the Regulations for Trial by Special Emergency Tribunal, October 31 Revised Edition, Rule 19.4. At the completion of the security review any portions of the document deemed releasable to cleared counsel will be made available. Please consult the CSO in your case if you have any questions. Thank you for your cooperation.

"The defense has a right to see all of those as well," objected Donny. "But instead we get this." He tore the red page loose and waved it like a flag. "What the hell is Rule 19.4?"

"If you would read the updates regularly sent by this court you would know," said Broyles. "We are trying out a new process to better maintain security while facilitating more expeditious proceedings. I am confident Mr. Walton will be able to get most of these submittals processed within a few days."

CSO Walton looked up at the judge and nodded. Walton was one of those personally powerless but authority-oriented guys who look middle-aged before their time, someone the aptitude tests said would make a great censor. In addition to his redaction machine, the CSO had a button at his desk that allowed him to generate white noise to override any portion of the proceedings that strayed into the garden of secrets. When he did that, a small red light went on at the edge of his desk, so everyone knew.

Donny looked over at his client. She looked terrified and confused. And more than a little pissed.

"This is outrageous, Judge," said Donny. "I'm supposed to be cleared for this."

"I'm advised it's a sources and methods issue," said Broyles. "And we've had some leakage. Not saying it's you."

"That's correct, Your Honor," said Bridget. "And the copy provided to defense counsel is not entirely redacted."

Donny scanned what was there. Code names of confidential informants, dates, some fragments of investigatory narrative, a few screen shots that were only partly obscured.

"There is no way to mount an effective defense off of this," said Donny. "

If you would read the rule," said Broyles, "you would know that you are entitled to have the prosecution provide you a summary of all evidence that has been redacted. So you can work with Ms. Kelly to find a time when she can meet you in the SCIF for that purpose."

"Also correct, Your Honor," said Bridget, looking over at Donny and nodding. "We can do that at this morning's break."

The SCIF was the "Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility," a fancy name for a dingy little conference room downstairs that had been cleared for reviews of classified information. Technically, the courtroom they were in was a SCIF, but Donny saw no upside in arguing the point further. He sat down and looked back at his client. He gave her a reassuring look, but he could tell she wasn't buying it.

Probably because he wasn't selling it all that well.

"Thank you," said Broyles. "Please continue with your summary, Ms.

The truth was Donny had already seen the training camp video. Everyone had. Outtakes from it had been blasted all over the media as proof of the government's claims that the isolated outbursts of political violence and eco-terrorism in recent years had coalesced into a revolutionary underground. Seeing its rainbow ensemble of young greens with guns made you realize the Second Amendment only applies to certain people. It also made Donny wonder if it was as real as the government said.

Donny looked again at Xelina. She seemed so young. She also looked tough, and angry, but more like a clever prankster than the revolutionary provocateur of Bridget's script. It dawned on him then that she might even be innocent.

"Your Honor," continued Bridget. "Many of the videos of these acts of terror and provocations to sedition were posted on public networks using an anonymous account, in violation of the Communications Freedom Act. See Exhibit 4."

Donny looked at the list of aliases on the first page of the charge sheet. They were all user names, which read like graffiti tags. X-Rok, Viridiana, gaia_llorona. The CFA mandated user transparency, in response to evidence that public opinion had been manipulated in recent elections by foreign infiltrators using fake accounts. Enforcement had been lax, but that was clearly changing.

"We have provided excerpted transcripts of the defendant's correspondence with her comrades in arms using these accounts," said Bridget. "All of whom also use aliases, and the defendant has refused to cooperate with our investigators in providing us their true names."

You could see the resolve in Xelina's face as Bridget mentioned her friends.

"Based on this information, defendant was detained by the Task Force," said Bridget. "Additional evidence of her involvement in these activities was uncovered in their search of her residence, along with unlicensed weapons, suspected explosives, scheduled narcotics, and fence-breaching materials."

"Fence-breaching materials," said Broyles, slowly, like a teacher reading an intercepted note.

This excerpt ends on page 17 of the paperback edition.

Monday, January 27th, we begin the book: Half Way Home by Hugh Howey.

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