Intelligence 101

(Published in 2003)

It is true that I have come to somewhat of a conclusion based solely on my experience. Since my experience is limited and narrow, it is safe to assume that so is my perception and this would affect my conclusion. What I share with you here is the whole Truth. You won’t get it anywhere else. It is only my conclusions that, perhaps, are reaching. But they are conclusions I’ve drawn based off the Truth of my experiences.

I do believe that Good Guys exist out there somewhere. They came into my office while I was working for Rodi Power Systems in Abbeville, Louisiana. They came in May of 2001, after I had refused to participate in a scam of insider trading. I had a pretty good idea that the Rodi Gang was up to more than just the trading ring but I didn’t know what it was. The two gentlemen who walked into my office early that day each took a seat and spoke to me with a serious tone. They told me that Rodi wasn’t building any engines. None at all. Anywhere. This conversation was not an invitation to a game of twenty questions. They were TELLING me it was so. Hearing their statement, I clearly remember lowering my eyes while I shook my head and slowly massaged the center of my fore head. A habit I have when I’m trying to grasp a concept that is out of reach. They let their news soak in for awhile, then they told me that they were looking for information. I raised my eyes back to theirs and nodded my head then told them I might know where some information was. Then the Good Guys left. I never saw them again.

Now, I had assumed that these “Good Guys” were Federal Bureau Investigators because I had met a couple of Rodi investors who claimed they were CIA boys. Merrill Matlovich, who managed the Rodi web-site also claimed to be ex-CIA. So in my mind the only other organization of law and order who worked for the common good would be the FBI. Of course, there is also Batman and Robin, but the two men in my office that morning were not wearing capes. Still, they were definitely the “Good Guys” and I aimed to align myself with them by playing a dangerous game of digital cat and mouse.

The Rodi intranet had two sides to work from. I worked from the engineering database. The other half of the Rodi network supported the administration side where Rodi’s President Paul Horn and the CEO Byron Spain were connected. One of the computers linked to the administration network was suspiciously located in an empty office across from mine. On that isolated computer were some secret files I called the Piedough files because of the first encounter I had with that particular hard drive. Let me explain:

Rodi’s Chief Engineer, when they were headquartered in Puyallup, Washington, was a man named Jon Garza. He saw I had a flair for language and as was customary Rodi work ethic, Jon would delegate his tougher correspondent assignments to me. Since the assignment in question was his responsibility, I was left alone in the office, typing away on Garza'a computer while I diligently did the job of my boss. One thing led to another and I soon found myself surfing around on Jon’s hard drive. Technically, I was snooping but I saw it as educating myself on some Rodi history while I tried to make my boss, Jon Garza, look good.

Then I found a folder on Jon's hard drive and realized what had happened. Jon Garza prided himself on his talent of cooking and the folder I found was for Pie Dough. But Jon had a dyslexic side to his genius and had obviously misspelled the name of the folder when he named it Peidugh. So I corrected the spelling of the folder, renaming it from Peidugh to Piedough. Even though I never understood anyone’s enjoyment in cooking, I curiously opened the folder to see what the secret to making piedough was all about. I was surprised to find at least forty different files. That’s a lot of pie. I indiscriminately opened one of the files and saw this was no recipe. Instead, it looked like a diary entry. At this point I admit to myself that I’m snooping, but my conscience does not deter me. Instead, I delve with anxious sneakiness. The entry was formatted something like a letter, giving a date, a time and a place where one man met another and exchanged “M56 for the jurisdiction of Landry.” It was written in a formal legal language which did not hold my attention. I was, after all, expecting to see the juicy details that would explain the secrets of piedough chemistry. I heard footsteps and quickly closed the file, then the folder, and then jumped back to my important assignment.

When I got back from lunch that afternoon, I was met by the concerned faces of Jon Garza along with the Rodi technician Leland Fox, and an indignant Norm Crosswhite who, as always, remained on the edges of the background. Jon and Leland became intense in their questioning. They noticed I renamed a particular folder on Jon’s hard drive. What did you read? Why did you read it?... was the gist of their interrogation. I told them I didn’t see or read anything, I just corrected the spelling of the folder. Everyone knows I'm not interested in baking pies. I was convincing enough that they walked away satisfied with my answer. I, on the other hand, wanted a closer look at that folder and the entries within. However, I never got the opportunity to do so in Puyallup because Leland swapped out Jon’s hard drive that very afternoon.

The two men identified in the Piedough files were Louisiana State Representative Billy Tauzin and Peidugh Broussard who, per the entry, had met at the gazebo bench at Lake Peigneur and exchanged “M56 for the jurisdiction of Landry”. These men had a close relationship with each other as well as the Rodi President, Paul Horn. I had found these files a second time on the isolated computer in Louisiana after I had learned that it was Sue Spain, the Sercretary of Rodi Power systems, who would spell PeeDoo's name using the spelling of PEIDUGH.

When the Good Guys said they were looking for information, I decided it was the information on that hard drive that they should have. What I chose to do next was transfer the Piedough files on to the desktop of the Rodi server, knowing that anyone anywhere with a phone line and a computer could get a copy.

But this was no easy task. I had to change the permissions on the computer to talk to the server. I had to change the permissions on the server to “see” the computer. I had to change the permission on the files so they could be copied from the hard drive. When the server asked if I wanted to open the firewall to allow the transfer, I said OK, and the files were copied onto the server desktop. But the digital magic didn’t stop there. Soon after the Piedough was transferred additional data began spewing from the Rodi database. Nervously I sat back and watched while all the Rodi secrets spilled onto the internet highway for thirty-six straight hours.

It is important to understand that I was deep into the cloak-and-dagger part of Louisiana. A Sheriff’s Deputy shadowed my every move. Phone lines were tapped. Rooms in the house, the plant, even my RV was bugged. Spy cams were also strategically placed. There was no question about the existence of these devices, the only questions were of their exact locations.

One of the most difficult issues in overcoming this invasion of privacy with their listening in was using the toilet. This otherwise simple biological act took considerable concentration. It is fair to conclude that the toxicity resulting from the induced constipation may have affected the paranoia levels exponentially, because paranoia was rampant by the time I transferred the Piedough files onto the server desktop. At the same time, I had taken considerable risk in placing those files in the open and I refused to let the effort go fruitless. Being alert, I looked for any sign that the Piedough was safe in the federal fridge but saw nothing. No Good Guys to be seen anywhere. Not a wink, not a nod, no white flags on fence posts the way it happens in a Tom Clancy novel. I wanted to call and give a heads up and this is the best I could come up with:

Even though the humidity and heat made for unbearable cycling conditions, I took my bike out for an afternoon spin. I ventured far down a country road that had the surface of a cheese grater. This was because no gravel exists on the river delta so it is custom to mix crushed oyster shells with the tar. I had to dodge dozens of turtles that were sunning themselves on the road. Twice I had to dismount and wait while long snakes crossed from one side of the road to the other. Huge, long, fat black ones. When these snakes were found in the cane fields they were called cane snakes, if in the trees they were called tree snakes, in the barn they were called barn snakes. They are all the same breed, so I guess I saw road snakes.

Paranoia had me wondering about being tailed by VPSO because it wouldn't have been the first time. And since there are no hills and few trees, I just kept spinning my bike until I found an opportunity to dismount at a dry coulee [ditch].  I went through all the motions of taking a pee while I ducked down into the ditch. Then I pulled my cell phone from my jersey pocket and called the only person who I knew I could trust, someone who could download the files and forward them to the proper authority while keeping my secret sacred, I called Steve in Arizona and got his answering machine. I didn’t leave a message.

Early the next morning, Leland calls me at the office being unreasonable in his own state of paranoia. He said he was at home in Puyallup, Washington, and apparently he found the Piedough on the server. Though he tried to hide it, his anxiousness came through in a voice that was an octave higher than usual.  He wanted me to shut down the server. Not unplug it, but shut it down. I told him I didn’t know how. He tried to walk me through it by reciting menu picks. I insisted the picks weren’t there. Leland quits trying and signs me up for stupid. Since he appeared in Abbeville less than four hours later, he was obviously not in Puyallup when he called.

After interrogating all of us who had access to the computer, Leland decides it was just a mistake. Yeah, it was a mistake when the firewall was reduced to ashes. Leland is a smart guy. I am suspicious that he would draw such a simplistic conclusion. But I stay calm and quiet with the never-care attitude of my air-head reputation, even after Deputy Roland showed up in the late afternoon with his usual authorative attitude of an undercover investigator. He sat alongside my lead mechanic, Kevin Fox, who was just sitting there, watching the engine block just in case it started to walk away or something. I was pretending to solve the dilemma of the day, designing a head cover. I was taking down measurements for hole locations when Kevin asks me straight up, “Who did you call in Arizona?”

My blood runs cold and my lungs freeze up so that when I talk, I hardly recognize my own voice. I try to come off confused by the question and act out a demeanor of innocence. “I have a friend out there I thought might have a line on some work with that laser project,” I toss out the baited hook.

Kevin bites. “What did they say?”

I go into an overly lengthy rendition of a nonexistent conversation explaining in detail that Steve said he would ask around and then let me know. Kevin spits out the hook and says, “That’s a lot to say in one minute.”

Now my blood freezes solid and I look through squinted eyes to Roland who is looking at me with a squinty gaze of his own. I respond by telling them that Steve hadn’t been home the night before and that I had called to follow up on that conversation. After that, it became a standoff of nerves among the three of us. Roland didn’t believe me. Kevin was only sure that I wasn’t happy about being spied on.  Amazingly, I walk away rather calmly, thanking my God that Steve did not answer his phone.

I never could tell if anyone of honorable authority got a copy of the piedough files. It was two weeks after I had transferred the Piedough, and for reasons my husband, Bob, will never be able to defend himself from, he abruptly decides to leave Louisiana for home in Washington State. It takes him one hour and fifty three minutes to go from sitting in his boxers reading a paper next to the pool... to making the decision to leave, buy a ticket out, pack, and get dropped off at the Lafayette airport. I wwas left to fend for myself, and I had a lot of fending to do.

That last week in Abbeville had me feeling as though I was inside a pressure cooker. The Sheriff’s office was all over me. I wanted Paul to reimburse my expenses so I could go home, but he insisted on playing a game of the carrot on a stick saying Eddie wasn't up to speed, yet. I knew he was stalling. Deputy Roland kept pestering me with invites to go on the boat, or to the Sheriff’s camp, or out to PeeDoo's office--all locations of mysterious and violent history. A confrontation with Paul Horn gets me an official VPSO escort out of the plant with threats of severe consequence should I decide to return.

I develop nerves of steel. No, I will not take the payoff. No, I will not go home empty-handed. No, I will not allow the ostrich to play in the sandbox any longer.  This nerd chose to play her own smoke and mirrors game and as the arrogant watched my right hand waving good-bye, my left hand broke into the plant and stole the Piedough computer. I turn felon, running from the Mob and on the hunt for the Good Guys. Just like that, I go from the frying pan into the fire.

My flight home was anything but ordinary. The Lafayette Airport is fairly small and it usually tends to only the flights of commuter sized aircraft or the economy size puddle jumper. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, I needed to be lucky to get any flight out at all, so I used the Rodi Corporate credit card to upgrade my six-hundred dollar ticket to a twenty-three-hundred dollar first class seat. That first class status got me a seat in the tail of a fifteen passenger, dual propped, (and I’m not kidding), rain leaking jumper of Louisiana puddles. And it was raining hard that Saturday afternoon. In Seattle we are all used to rain but what Louisiana calls a rain shower is close to the standards of a Seattle 100-year flood deluge. Just water like that off a duck’s back as far as our sixteen year old pilot was concerned. Well, he looked to me to be about sixteen. The flight was filled to capacity with its fifteen passengers, one stewardess, and two pilots. A couple across the isle from me had just gotten married and were on their way to Paris, if they could get to Dallas on time for their connecting flight. The father of a two year old sat up front, with his two-year old sitting across the isle from him. An elderly couple sat in the middle of the plane where they buckled their seat belts promptly upon seating themselves and then held onto the armrests with white knuckled anticipation. My anticipation, you can probably guess, was one of glee. I personally witnessed the Piedough computer, packaged as it was in my accordion case, being loaded onto the aircraft. So I was home free as soon as I was in the air. Or at least that was the story book ending I had in mind for my Louisiana chapter in life. But this is no fairy tale.

Upon leaving the tarmac and reaching cruising altitude, our leaking and rusty puddle jumper became a bucking bronco. Seriously. Maybe the teenage pilot had been caught off guard. Maybe he thought that lightening got friendlier the closer you got to it. For whatever his logic, the lightening bolts were searing past my window at an alarming distance. Even the numbing hum of the propeller couldn’t compete with the roar of the storm. Half of the barf bags on the plane were full within the first twenty minutes. The new bride across from me had filled hers and was working on a second one. The groom sat in frozen horror while he held her first bag of recycled wedding cake. The terrified two year old was ripping our ear drums with his deafening shrieks. His father leaves his seat in order to reach the possessed child. Immediately the bucking bronc tosses the man into the ceiling where he suffers a gash on his brow. Blood is flying. The child is dilerious in his terror. The stewardess helplessly remains seated while the bleeding man is lectured from the elderly passenger who says, “This is why you’re not supposed to get out of your seat”. 

For me at the back of the plane it was like riding the crack of a whip. Personally I was having a great time. What could happen? I mean really. What could possibly be worse than what I was escaping from. Maybe Hollywood hadn’t made a movie called 'VPSO Gone Mad', but I did see the Godfather and so I was pretty aware of what consequences I was avoiding by riding the whip cracking bronc. In fact, I probably came across to anyone paying attention, as being a bit loony. For every time the whip cracked, there were fourteen screams and or gurgling moans to my lone squeal of delight. I was on my way home, baby! And I’m bringing the bacon!

Then the good sense of our teenage pilot wrecked my fun. He announces in a completely cool and calm voice that our flight will be returning to Louisiana to wait out the storm. I can not believe my ears. What the HELL are you talking about? You took off in a lightening storm, what do you mean you can’t land in one?! Sure enough, within thirty minutes we were on the ground, back in Louisiana. I took my barf bag with me when I left the plane.

Three hours later all fifteen passengers were back in the plane but the stewardess was nowhere to be found. For thirty minutes we all sat buckled in our seats trying to be as comfortable as possible while we listened to the wales and sobs of the newly wed bride who was not going to have opportunity to spend her wedding night in Paris. When our maiden of flight hospitality shows up, she is three, no wait, make that at least five sheets to the wind. Looking out my window I can only shake my head and dare not wonder what else could go wrong. Hmmmmm. Have you ever been a hostage in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after three hours worth of storm delay? I’ll spare you. Words could never paint the picture anyway. Just take this advise: if there is any way at all that you can avoid the experience, DO SO. Fourteen hours after I first took off into the wild blue yonder headed for home, I finally make it to Seattle.

Bob had an attitude when I got home. He wasn’t upset that I had stolen the computer, in fact, he was barely amused. I become exhausted as I decompress from the experience of it all. I know better than to plug in the computer right away and risk activating the tracking device. Before I confess my actions to the Feds, I want to be sure I have the evidence to back me up, and I couldn’t be sure that Leland hadn’t planted a decoy by swapping out the hard drive. I am not a hardware expert by any means, but I do have friends to trust. Most critical to the situation during those 24 hours was to get the computer hidden until I can contact the trustworthy ones and set up a means to dissect the data. I didn’t recognize the heat of the fire and gave custody of the computer to Bob, man of the hour, keeper of the flame. He’ll hide it real good was his promise. When I am ready to work the computer, Bob has trouble materializing it right away. When he does, it is missing the marks I physically placed on the hard drive. You see, Bob was a double agent and in the end he wasn’t very good at it. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out until it was too late.

In the following months after returning home, I begin receiving death threats from the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s department. Three of the eight Rodi employees I had worked with were dead, so, I took the threats quite seriously. Even though I believed that something bigger than an insider trading ring was behind the Rodi front, I didn’t know what it was. Then I began getting clues as CNN starts showing pictures of the Rodi partners in crime. I recognize Nancy Temple, Bernie Ebers and, of course, Kenny Lay. Hmmmmm. Maybe the “Good Guys” got the Piedough after all. But I really didn’t know what it was that I knew. I was scared and had no place to turn. Bob wasn’t to be trusted.  And WHERE are the Good Guys?

After the atrocities of 9-11, my local newspaper printed the pictures of some Pakistani gentlemen that I hiked with. Along with the pictures was the head line: HAVE YOU SEEN THESE MEN? So I wrote to the FBI per the instruction of the article. I include detailed information on the Pakistani’s and added a paragraph that went like this:

“There are individuals who would be nervous if they knew I was talking to you, so please, if anyone connected to extortion in Louisiana comes sniffing around, tell them I’m not talking about them.”

The letter concluded with my name and phone number along with the instruction:

                        “If you leave a message, DO NOT say you are FBI.”

This was because of Bob. Of course, I was hoping that the FBI would contact me and give me opportunity to initiate dialogue on the subject of Louisiana. But they never called. I began wondering if those Good Guys in Louisiana who were “looking for information” might not be the FBI. So WHO are the Good Guys? And WHERE are they?

By the winter of 2002, I had had enough of the death threats. I realize without reservation that Bob is working against me and without knowing who to trust, I make a choice. Some would say the choice I made was stupid. Others would say it was brave. The reality is I decided to defend myself the only way I knew how. I leave Bob and show up in Olympia, Washington, with only the clothes on my back. And I write a book that names names.

Now, I wrote this book with clear intent. It was an act of self-defense, I wanted the World to know that whatever Rodi had really been up to, I had no part in it. By naming names, I had hoped that the threats would stop. If they instead chose to act on them by murdering me the way they did Cliff Baxter, then my book could be used as a blueprint for finding the guilty ones. I wanted the “Good Guys” to come out of the bat cave and look very closely at Rodi Power Systems and the web of organized crime hiding behind the front. But I also wanted to be careful not to disrupt any important investigations which I was hoping might be underway. So I didn’t tell the whole story or name all of the names in the book that I published in 2003. I thought I was being careful, but now it would seem that I was only being naive.

After publishing my book and distributing 500 copies around the country I start making phone calls. I call my senators, members of congress, attorney generals office and the media, just for starters. But I do not get an invitation for discussion, instead my phone gets tapped. After contacting Leslie Caldwell’s office, the lead prosecutor of the Enron scam, I receive a hostile phone call from an Investigator of the Bureau. The message behind his words were pretty clear, SHUT UP and SIT DOWN.

Two weeks after that loud conversation with the investigator, Ms. Caldwell resigns from the Enron case and it is handed to a private law firm. Conversations with investigators working from Congressman Waxman’s office confirm that they are aware of the Rodi connections to Enron. More conversations expose the impotence of the Intelligence community. In reference to Paul Horn an investigator says to me, “Well, we could never get anything on John Gotti either, except tax evasion.” Hmmmmm. They compared Rodi President Paul A. Horn to one of the biggest MOB bosses ever to stand behind bars. Everyone already knows about the hornets nest in Vermilion.

So as I sit in Olympia, I ponder still at the question: WHO are the “good-guys” and WHERE are they? And this is the conclusion I have come to:

Imagine a network of intelligence officers, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security; it doesn’t matter which organization. They send out the spies, the investigators and the caped crusaders then learn of all sorts of devious intentions. They report to their bosses who report to the President of the United States. Then a new President assumes office. The President needs to trust the leaders of our intelligence networks and perhaps he doesn’t trust the ones that the previous administration had placed to run the intelligence community. So he appoints new bosses to command secret information. Perhaps the underlings who know more than the new bosses don’t trust their appointed leaders. The underlings then create an intelligence cell within the spy community. And Then another new President comes along with another new intelligence Chief that breeds more cells of secrecy. Compound this trend with more and more Presidential Administrations and we end up with a cluster-muck of intelligence officers who form secret handshakes. Spies are spying on spies. Intelligence is reduced to an Us against Them mentality.

So, WHO ARE THE GOOD GUYS? Nobody really knows. The only good guy I know is me.

Editors note: this chapter, Intelligence 101, is the original from 2003.  When you are ready to graduate to the present, read The Story chapter: Intelligence 102 by clicking here.

If you just want to read the next the chapter 'Erath, Erath Louisiana' click the continue button below.