Bill Todd -- Jones: A Novel of the Early Cold War
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 Chapter 18


Jones had first realized that the department wasn't taking out its rage over his appointment on him when he saw his schedule. His classes met on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half each, as opposed to an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It had the great advantage that he could take the Thursday night train, arrive at JOAD on Friday morning, and take the Monday night train back, arriving in plenty of time for his Tuesday classes. He expected that he'd spend at least half his weekends in Washington.

When Heike picked him up at the station, they drove, not to JOAD, but over a bridge across the Potomac. She wasn't sure exactly where they were going, but Jones had the map and called out directions. It was unfortunate that Heike was the non-geometrical sort of mathematician, the kind who thinks, not in shapes, but in equations. She couldn't read maps, and, since it was difficult to put together an algorythm whose output would specify left and right turns where appropriate, she bacame utterly lost outside her home territory. She also had a penchant for misunderstanding Jones' perfectly clear instructions. There were a number of sudden screeching turns, and a near collision with a trolley car.

Finally, on a back street near a railway yard, they arrived at the specified address. The building was entirely unprepossessing, and its red brick was as near black as red brick could be. The smoke in the air, with its quota of suspended cinders, was sufficient to make Heike look down nervously at her sky-blue wool dress. The building looked as if it were part of the railway, and, indeed, the lettering embossed on the stone facing in front proclaimed it to house the offices of the general freight agent of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railway. Heike swore, adding,

"It's obviously the wrong address. And I don't even know who to call to get the right one."

"Remember that JOAD hides under various false identities. I bet this is a former railway building that's been taken over."

Entering, they came immediately on a security detail whose size and seriousness went far beyond anything likely to be employed by a railway. They had, in fact, arrived at CASP, the Co-Ordinating Agency for Strategic Planning. That rather revealing name, however, was known only to the initiated. The cover name, "Compensation Accounting for Separated Personnel", was displayed on a large placard placed on an easel in the middle of the lobby. The acronym was, by no accident, the same. Even that acronym wasn't the one, ROTE, that had first been given to Admiral Benson. That had had something to do with Tactical Enhancement, but strategy took precedence over tactics. Moreover, organizations that co- ordinated things usually told the people being co-ordinated what to do.

The guards may have thought that they were guarding accountants who saw to pensions for retired military people, but, if so, one wondered why they thought it necessary to pat down Jones and search Heike's handbag. While wishing idly that it might some time be part of his duty to pat down Heike, it occurred to Jones that Stan Hawthorne and Roger Ennis would be good at thinking up false names for secret organizations.

The next step was a surprise, a direct confrontation with Lieutenant General Walter E. Smith USA, the officer commanding at CASP. Tall, straight, and fiftyish, his charm was that of a Dean Jensen who had less time, and who would be more likely to order than to persuade. It was flattering that he seemed disposed to spend time with them, and he even joked about Jones meeting Smith. He then said,

"I see that you're naval people from JOAD."

He amphasized the word 'naval' in a way that was only slightly derogotary while looking Heike piercingly in the eyes. He had seen something to his potential advantage, and he almost forced her to reply,

"I'm not exactly naval. I'm a civilian mathematician."

The general smiled and suggested,

"You joined JOAD because the work was interesting and the pay good?"


"The work at CASP is even more interesting, and the pay's even better."

He didn't wait for a reply as he turned to Jones.

"Dr. Jones, career naval officers don't often go off and get Ph. D.s in philosophy."

"No. I'm also on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati."

"So, like so many war-time officers, you've returned to civilian life, and you're well launched in a career."


Smith laughed and replied,

"And you leave off the 'sir'. That proves it. Why are you working at JOAD?"

"My field, symbolic logic, has applications to computer programming and defence problems. I also needed the money to put myself through graduate school. I don't need it now, but it's still welcome."

Smith steepled his hands on his desk, looked at both Heike and Jones, and asked,

"No grand speeches about patriotic motives?"

Heike replied,

"I'm a Jewish refugee. I want to stay in America, not hit the road to Mexico."

Jones added,

"I think now that it's a matter of survival, both personal and national. I'm happy to do what's necessary."

"I can assure you that our activities are, indeed, necesary."

There were nods all around, and Smith said,

"JOAD's fine, but they've been given only something like one fourth of the problem to work on. Here, you'll confront the whole thing. There are active and retired officers from all the services, and a good many smart civilians."

Jones asked,

"Do you have other computer people here?"

"You two are the first, and we need to get started."

Smith pointed to an organizational chart on the wall. CASP was right under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military body, and there was a single line, not a tree, connecting them. He said,

"The chiefs don't originate strategic plans. We do. We also have sent to us plans originating in the various services. In that case, we modify them as needed and co-ordinate them with existing planning. We submit the overall product to the chiefs. They can either send it back to us or recommend it to the highest civilian authority. Any questions?"

Jones replied,

"No, sir."

"All right, then. About the computer. I'm told that, with the air conditioning unit, it's too big to go into any space in JOAD."

Heike replied,

"JOAD is a former mansion, and even the entrance hall isn't big enough. There's a warehouse in Bethesda that's being rented."

"I've spoken with Dean Jensen of the university. There are security problems there. However, I've had some interior walls on the top floor here taken out, and also some of the brick outside wall. A railway crane will hoist the computer right in. We've set you up with office space practically next to the computer."

General Smith then stood and led them into the hall to the desk of a marine lieutenant. The general bid them goodbye, and the lieutenant led them up two flights to their new offices.

It was obvious that walls had just been taken down. Workmen with badges and hard hats were removing debris, and several plasterers on ladders were filling up holes. Much of one outside wall was missing, and they could look right out at the Washington skyline. Jones went near enough the edge to look down and see several railway tracks. The lieutenant waved at the scene with a little embarrassment and said,

"They're supposed to be finished tomorrow."

Jones asked,

"Did they begin yesterday?"

"Yes, sir. There were some problems with bricks falling and breaking the basement windows, but General Smith insisted. He didn't even seem to mind when a section of wall came crashing down right past his window."

"No, I imagine not."

As soon as the lieutenant left, Heike said quietly,

"I feel as if we've been kidnapped, along with the computer."

Jones nodded, but pointed to the walls.

Retreating from the dust and debris, they went down the rusty old iron staircase. On the landing, there was a pleasant- looking older man in civilian dress who invited them into his office for tea.

"Yesterday, it sounded as if chunks of masonry were going to come through my ceiling, but it seems to be safe today."

Their host turned out to be Rear Admiral Howard Harkins, a well-known naval aviator from the early days, and he addressed them,

"I understand that you two are going to make us more scientific."

Jones responded modestly, hoping that Harkins might enlighten them on their current circumstances. He was sure that Heike was equally anxious, and, with gentle prompting, the admiral responded,

"There are four major players: the newly independent air force, the army, naval aviation, and the submarine force. They hate each other with varying degrees of intensity as circumstances change. Armed truces occasionally occur between two or more players."

He spoke as if he were describing a children's game, and Heike asked, with a smile,

"Do you already hate us because we've come from JOAD?"

"I'm too near retirement to work up any hatred for you, Miss Herrnstein. I might even be moved to protect you if I could."

"Do we need protection?"

"Since there's no senior officer in CASP to speak up for submarines, JOAD may expect you to. But you're too new and too junior to be taken seriously. Unless you can make the computer play tricks."

Jones asked,

"What would happen if one of our computer simulations suggested a new and more important role for subs?"

"Do you know what happened when Gallileo saw spots on the sun with his telescope?"

It was obviously a rhetorical question, and, in any case, Jones didn't know.

"The head priest admitted that people might well see spots when looking through the telescope. But that was entirely because the devil in Gallileo's telescope caused the spots to appear. Nothing at all to do with the sun."

Heike laughed girlishly and replied,

"There's lots of nice air-conditioned space inside the housing of a computer. A devil would find it more comfortable than the inside of a telescope."

Jones added,

"I guess it would be better not to produce results that would start people looking for devils."

"Yes, indeed. Begin with small safe findings that most people already accept. That's how a person gets a reputation for soundness and probity. It'll probably be the same with computers."

Heike replied,

"I suppose a young woman has to work even harder to be considered sound."

"Perhaps a little. But you've come at a good time. The big fight is between the air force and naval aviation. JOAD can sit on the sidelines and watch."

"I guess we really are isolated at JOAD. I don't even know what the big fight is about."

"Billy Mitchell said that, when the range of aircraft increases sufficiently, aircraft carriers will be redundant. The air force believes that we've almost reached that point. The navy doesn't."

Heike asked,

"What do you think?"

"You're asking a carrier admiral. But I'll tell you anyway. The new B-36 has great range, but fighters don't begin to have the range to escort it. Carriers and naval aviation will be critical for the next twenty years."

It seemed to Jones that Admiral Harkins didn't mind being asked direct, and even naive, questions. He put in,

"Do you think naval aviation will win the argument?"

"That's a different question, of course. General Smith is the referee. Partly because he's in command here, and partly because, as an army officer, he can be relatively neutral and objective."

Jones was trying to imagine what Smith might think when Harkins continued,

"The navy has the ultimate weapon. General Smith knows it. Along with everyone else."

This time, it was Heike who responded,

"I'm afraid I don't."

"Congress. Every seabord state has naval bases, and the congressmen who represent those districts tend to be the senior ones who chair the committees. The air force hasn't even begun to assemble that kind of political power. The big carriers are here to stay, and bigger ones are on the way."

After that, the conversation became more general. Admiral Harkins was quite curious about Heike. She responded in kind. At one point, he remarked,

"I don't really belong here. I've had an active career as a pilot and wartime carrier commander, but I'm not a research person."

Jones replied,

"Heike is one of few pure research people at JOAD."

Harkins replied emphatically,

"When the services talk about doing reseach, they just mean grabbing hold of any convenient facts to further their own interests."

"I'm discovering that professors aren't above doing that."

"It's human nature! My research is done across the river, at lunch with certain key congressmen."

Returning to JOAD, they stopped at a Howard Johnson's on Wisconsin Avenue for a very late lunch. The dining room was almost empty, and they took a booth. On the place mat was the inevitable message,

"We will refuse service to any person whose presence would give offense to the majority of our customers."

Heike looked at it, and said,

"I've been through this in Germany. Would they throw us out if they knew that I was Jewish?"

"I don't think so. It's racial here."

"We should leave, but I am hungry."

"The next place down the road would probably be the same."

None of the three waitresses who stood talking with one another seemed inclined to wait on them. Heike said,

"Maybe they do recognize a Jew when they see one."

She then laughed derisively while pointing at the women and said to Jones,

"They won't be able to ignore us if we laugh at them."

"That's rather dangerous. They may do things to our food."

"That would be injury added to insult. Let's go."

Heike was just sliding out of the booth when a short fat woman, not one of the original three, bustled up. Heike relented, and the waitress took their orders for turkey dinners with fairly good grace, even apologizing for having hiccouughs. In the hope of establishing a common bond with the woman, Jones said, falsely, that he often had them. When she left, Heike asked,

"What on earth are we to make of the situation we're in at that place, whatever it's called?"

"I noticed one thing. Admiral Harkins simply assumed that we can produce any computer results we want."

"I did realize that. But he's a cagey old bird. The others might be more gullible."

"His other advice was also interesting. We'll be ignored if we don't give people ninety-five per cent of what they want to hear."

Heike nodded hard enough to toss her perfectly organized black hair and replied,

"That's easy to believe."

"Okay. We'll never convince JOAD to give up its offensive plans, but we can very easily get CASP to scuttle them. Since CASP is more important and influential, JOAD's plans will never be heard from again."

"Wow! If we do that, and JOAD finds out, we'll be hated to an incredible degree. Since I'm there more than you, I'll get most of it."

"We might be able to arrange it so that they don't find out, or don't blame us. They might, for example, blame General Smith. In the last resort, we could probably just move to CASP."

Heike gave her usual lop-sided grimace and said,

"Poor old JOAD."

"If we're their main hope at CASP, they're already in deep trouble."

As Heike tried to remove a salad dressing stain from her dress, Jones said,

"One thing is for sure. CASP has stolen the computer."

"Dean Jensen must be getting more money through CASP."

"Or else it's just Smith overpowering both Benson and Jensen."

Heike gave up on her dress and said,

"I hope the cleaners can deal with this. Anyhow, JOAD must be livid."

"I doubt that Dean Jensen will appear for another of those friendly little chats."

"What about us? Will we spend ninety per cent of our time at CASP, and the rest at JOAD, apologizing for what CASP has done to them?"

"I'm inclined to go back to JOAD before quitting time. You know how people talk about the ones who aren't there."

The turkey dinners came at that point. Jones began to eat as Heike scraped as much of the yellow-green gravy as possible off the meat. Jones said,

"The navy does teach you to eat practically anything."

"I eat almost anything, but I try to first enhance its edibility."

"I was once in a diner where a drunk went around enhancing people's food by dumping catsup on it from a bottle. He seemed to be sincere."

"I know he didn't do it to your food. Did he even approach you?

"Briefly. Of course, I was conscious of the legal position. You can be sued and arrested if you respond to catsup with dismembership."

"Yes, I suppose so. The catsupper assaults your food without assaulting you and thereby making self-defence necessary."

"Unless, in terror, he tries to hit you with the bottle."

"God, Jones, I don't have these sorts of conversations with anyone else."

Jones stuck a french fry into his mouth and said,

"We might, after sabotaging JOAD's offensive plans, be able to steer them into something safer. Do you remember that Went was concerned about defensive measures against enemy missile subs?"

"He wanted to get us out in a PT boat at night in a storm. But that puzzled me. Doesn't that sort of thing belong to the Anti-Submarine Warfare Command?"

"Sure. Went got carried away. However, we might convince them that subs are the best defence against enemy subs. Then it would lie within JOAD. We might suggest the development of special killer subs to defend New York and Washington."

Heike sat up suddenly straight and said,

"Is that feasible?"

"We can produce simulations to show that it is."

"By small degrees. Remember Admiral Harkins' advice."

As it turned out, JOAD hadn't yet got the word about the computer. Captain Stallman said to them,

"I'm not exactly sure what this new agency, CASP, does. But, whoever they are, I guess you can do the minimum to satisfy them. Ten per cent of your time, and the computer time, wouldn't be unreasonable."

"We've just been down in Virginia meeting with them, but they don't so far seem to have anything specific they want us to do. We can start up with JOAD projects the minute the computer's ready."

"I've just finished the security arrangements for the space in Bethesda. It'll be ready as early as next week."

Although JOAD had no required work hours, people tended to come in about nine and leave about five. They were now drifting toward the large entrance hallway in search of hats and coats. As Heike and Jones passed Admiral Benson's door, they heard loud, almost hysterical, cursing. Jones whispered to Heike,

"Let's get out of here fast."

Once they had made it to Heike's car, she said,

"You know, I paced off distances in the library. It's big enough for the computer, and it comes in sections. They could have got it in."

"I can't picture them doing it."

"JOAD is full of southern gentlemen. I suppose it would seem barbarous to them to rip up an elegant library and put a computer in it."

Jones acknowledged as much and replied,

"They thought they'd put it, and us, in a nice warehouse in Bethesda. They didn't realize that any separation at all from the computer opened them up to attack."

"I guess that's the difference between Admiral Benson and General Smith."

"Yes. It's the same in combat. The commander who dithers or delays almost always loses."

"They'll think we may know something they don't. Is it likely that they'll call me at home and want an explanation?"

"Very likely. I don't think they know which cut-rate hotel I stay in."

"Of course, I needn't answer the phone. They wouldn't send someone to my apartment to find me, would they?"

"Less likely. If they did, it would be awkward. You wouldn't be able to turn on the lights, and someone might be waiting in the corridor."

"Would they really go to those lengths?"

"Probably not. But they do know we've been to CASP, Heike."

"We certainly don't want to admit that we knew about the loss of the computer before they did."

"No. We were lucky to get to JOAD before the news. But, now, we don't want to deal with the JOAD people until they've calmed down."

Heike was now going around Chevy Chase Circle for the third time in indecision, and she concluded,

"On Monday, we can go in, say we're sorry when they tell us that the computer's going to CASP, and then say that we're ready and willing to program JOAD projects for it."

"They may not bite our heads off."

Heike was now heading down Connecticut Avenue, but she looked uneasy as she darted glances right and left. She finally said,

"I do feel sorry for Admiral Benson. This was to be the culmination of his life's work, and he's not a mean man. Smith probably is. Or at least Machiavellian."

"There's the saying that nice guys always lose. I wouldn't go so far as to describe Benson, or any of the others, as nice guys, but some of them are decent in their way."

"I do remember hearing that Went used to machine-gun men swimming in the water."

"You think that Smith wouldn't?"

"No. Of course he would. It's all shades of gray, isn't it?"

"Sure. Incidentally, where are we going?"

"I don't know."

Bill Todd -- Jones: A Novel of the Early Cold War
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