"Exciting . raises a timely issue. The action moves swiftly to its Hollywood ending." – Publishers Weekly
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Author Stephen Coonts
GLENN: From Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown Manhattan, third most listened to show in all of America. Hello, you sick twisted freak. Welcome to the program. My name is Glenn Beck. I am just thrilled to have the author of a new book called Assassin. His name is Stephen Coonts. He is — how many New York Times best seller books have you had?
COONTS: 15 so far.
GLENN: Yeah, 15.
COONTS: We’ve got hopes, our fingers crossed to do number 16.
GLENN: Well, we can hope but not for change in that particular case that this one does as well and I think it is. It is the Assassin, the reason I want to have you on, Stephen, is if I may, have you seen Batman?
COONTS: No, not yet.
GLENN: In many ways it’s the same kind of idea of a vigilante.
GLENN: Of saying, enough. Nobody’s doing it. Nobody’s fixing anything. Your book revolves around a guy who is wealthy, who is powerful, who lost his son in Iraq, right?
GLENN: Lost his son in Iraq and says what?
COONTS: Well, says we’re going to help the government declare war on these guys, we’re going to fund a vigilante group to go take out the head of the guys that fund and give the orders.
COONTS: The Al-Qaeda orders.
GLENN: Because the rest of the government — because they see — and this is such a, I think a universal feeling in most of America that our solutions are right there but we have tied our hands in so many different ways on almost every level, we can’t get to any of the solutions.
COONTS: Well, we certainly love to create legalistic solutions, bureaucratic solutions that give us a long list of thou shalt nots.
COONTS: And it sort of ties your hands when you’re fighting people who don’t have those lists. And further they use those rules against you.
COONTS: So your main character brings in the President and says, "Mr. President…" you know, they meet across the street at a hotel across from the White House and says, Mr. President, I just want a name, just give me a name of somebody that can put together an army and the President as he should be says, oh, that’s outrageous, I don’t know about that. And then before you know it, he gets a name.
COONTS: And the name is Jake Grafton who’s a CIA bigwig, and Jake takes this offer as a chance to perhaps get to Abu Qasim, who is the head general and the Al-Qaeda. And so he sees it really as a way to get to a terrorist, a known terrorist that they’ve wanted for a long time and been unable to locate. And so in effect the billionaire and his friends become cats paws for Jay Grafton and the hero.
GLENN: And so they are real movers and shakers, they are not lunatics, they are not — you know, they’re very accomplished people, very well tied into everything. And they get together for a meeting, and I just want to quote this one part of the book because I just think this speaks to where people are now. So our choice is to actively take a stand and lead the fight or to hide in the crowd and share its fate. Civilization has treated us well. We built institutions that provide employment for tens of thousands of people, allowing them to support and educate their families. We enable other people to — and other businesses to do the same. We have earned enormous fortunes. The real question is are we going to allow these fanatics, these xenophobes, these religious zealots, these madmen to destroy civilization and drag us back into the seventh century or are we going to fight back, are we going to take a stand.
I think that is the conversation that should be happening on almost every front more in America.
COONTS: Indeed it should.
GLENN: I think people feel this way. My question to you is do you think any of this is happening?
COONTS: Oh, I think it could be. I think that the information’s certainly there and I would certainly hope that the government is doing everything it can to data mine these vast computerized records at all these businesses, these large businesses have. Whether — of course, they won’t tell you whether they are or not. And occasionally you find that people are jumping up and down in congress about invasion of privacy and you expect that’s really what it’s all about.
GLENN: The — I was talking to Marcus Luttrell’s mother. Marcus Luttrell is from the Lone Survivor, Seal Team 10.
GLENN: And I was talking to his mother. We were having dinner in Texas a couple of weeks ago and she said she got a call from Ross Perot when Marcus was, you know, being held by Al-Qaeda.
GLENN: Marcus — she got a call from Ross Perot’s people and they said, Ross wants to go get him. And the government immediately said, no, no, no, no, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. My question really, though, to you was do you think that there are people like Ross Perot, do you think that there are people and should there be, where you can — you have the resources, you have the ability to say, you know what, I’m going to take them on myself.
COONTS: Well, Ross Perot is a real person and, of course, he did it. You know, he went after his people being held during the Iranian embassy problem back in the Jimmy Carter administration, and he got them out. And he hired, he hired former military people that he thought had the skills to do it and they went and did it.
GLENN: Where do you stand on — because you’re a lawyer, aren’t you? Don’t you have your law degree?
COONTS: Yeah, I’m — one of my former careers, I was a — yeah, I’ve reformed.
GLENN: So where do you stand on — because this is the argument in Batman.
GLENN: Sometimes you need somebody to say you guys are so hopelessly bogged down in your own rules that you can’t get anything done. And so Batman takes over. Same in your book. Is there — should we be doing that?
COONTS: Well, I think it’s a great theme in literature. It’s as old as the hills. The hero who cuts through the fog and the rules and goes and does it. But, you know, one of the reasons we use rules in modern America is to prevent anything from happening. You know, we use rules to prevent the oil company from drilling offshore or the power company from building a plant right down the street. And so while we want all these things to happen, we don’t want it to happen here. So we just create so many rules that we stop all progress. And that doesn’t help us when we’re in a war with people who are desperately trying to destroy us. And, you know, the classic cases I think that the — of how the thing goes wrong is the Supreme Court’s latest decision that P.O.W.’s have rights to lawyers and access to the courts. And at some point you think what would World War II have been like if the Japanese and German P.O.W.’s all got their lawyer.
GLENN: Can you imagine? Yeah, it’s like we’re putting ourself out of business.
GLENN: It’s almost as if we’re intentionally self-destructing. I know we’re not, but it sure feels like that.
COONTS: Well, I think, you know, what we got is the attention of a country that’s really divided against itself. We can’t really decide what we ought to be doing. And so if we get a little majority to go forward, then we get a little majority to impede the vehicle and so — and so consequently paralysis is what often results.
GLENN: Why do you think that is? I think — and I’ve said this to every author that walks into my studio that writes these kinds of books. You guys are doing what Hollywood did in the 1940s. You can watch anything, you don’t — with the exception of even 24. And even 24 was politically correct.
GLENN: You don’t have the bad guys and call them by name. You don’t say that they’re Muslim extremists. You don’t say that. You can’t say that. Nobody’s saying that. Yet I can still go back and we can still make the Russians bad guys. We’re still making movies on how the Nazis were bad guys.
GLENN: So nobody’s teaching that lesson now. Nobody is reinforcing the lesson all the time of these guys want to kill us. You are really the only source of entertainment and enlightenment that is doing that.
COONTS: Well, you know, I think that the — that they really have — they’re enemies in civilization, and I’m willing to say that in public. And if I’m politically incorrect, sobeit. I think that these guys really have nothing, nothing to contribute to the civilization that the feeds, clothes and house most of the people on this planet and they want to take the world back into the seventh century, they want religious purity so they can all get into paradise when they die, which doesn’t help the people that are alive today. And that’s the absolute antithesis of cephalization as we know it. And so I’m perfectly willing to call them enemies of civilization in the same way that the communists and the Nazis were and I think that today’s reader sees that.
GLENN: Oh, yeah. I think the average American does. I mean, you look at the — you look at the successful books on the New York Times Best Seller fiction. They generally run into this territory. Would you agree or disagree?
COONTS: I agree.
COONTS: Because it’s the most fertile territory open for a novelist. This is what’s happening now.
GLENN: It’s what we were doing — it’s what Clancy was doing against the Soviet Union.
GLENN: I mean, now we can’t even say — we’re at war and we can’t even say we actually have an enemy in most places. By the way, we’re talking to Stephen Coonts. The name of the book is the Assassin. Comes out today, right?
COONTS: Today. It’s in bookstores everywhere.
GLENN: I have read a lot of fiction books this summer and there’s two general themes that I see. One of them — well, beyond Islamic extremism another one is how powerful Russia is becoming and how the KGB is back full fledge. The other thing is every single one is talking about how beaten up our CIA is now and how they’ve kind of lost their direction and they don’t really, they don’t have a lot of confidence right now.
COONTS: And, you know, that is so true. The CIA has really made so many bad calls through the years and then they just got whipsawed by the nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. They used to call those NBC weapons, but weapons of mass destruction interact. You know, the CIA told the President, told all the decision makers in Washington, you know, that Saturn really had, you know. But he didn’t. He was playing a game.
COONTS: That he was trying to convince Iran that he had them and so we invade the country, the deception, probably the greatest deception that’s occurred since World War II when we — when the British fooled Hitler over where D-day was going to happen. So we invade and Saddam loses his life. Now the question in Iran is, does paralyze the CIA is do they really have a nuclear weapons program. And so the CIA two years ago decided there was no proof. Now they want absolute convincing evidence. There’s never that in the intelligence business.
GLENN: So then how do we accomplish that? How do you — what has to change? Because an intelligence organization can’t be as — everything I read and, you know, the fiction books, and the reason why I say the fiction books, I can go read the newspapers, I can go talk to people myself, et cetera, et cetera. But the fiction, you guys, when you’re writing fiction — tell me if I’m wrong. When you guys are writing fiction, it’s got to have a real sense of truth in it or it falls apart.
COONTS: Well, you pick one of the great problems of American foreign policy is that the CIA, so many people in congress think the CIA couldn’t spot a bomb on the capitol steps and so they don’t believe anything the CIA tells them. And everything that comes out of that Langley facility is suspect. And the problem is that the people there, by insisting on proof, whatever that convincing proof, have made themselves irrelevant and so it’s like we don’t even have a —
GLENN: Right. So how do we get out of — as now Russia is being run by the KGB or the former KGB players, as they are being run by these people who know exactly what’s going on, what do we do? Is there anybody out there fighting for these?
COONTS: Well, I think we certainly need a revolution in who’s leading the CIA in this country. We need a housecleaning and we need new people put in. But we also need to take a realistic look and understand what intelligence agencies are all about and the convincing evidence is never going to come out. And part of what we hope to get is best guesses, and the best guesses are sometimes going to be wrong.
GLENN: Yeah. So don’t you think it’s unfair, too? Because I mean, I see the CIA, they’ve dropped the ball several times. But on the Saddam Hussein thing, he outplayed us.
COONTS: He did.
GLENN: He died because of it.
GLENN: But he outplayed us. Everybody was fooled by that. Why is the CIA — well, you know, we — I guess we have to just stop tearing ourselves apart.
GLENN: When it’s reasonable that some things are wrong. All right. The name of the book is The Assassin by Stephen Coonts. You are going to love this. If you still have some summer reading to do this month, get this book. You will absolutely love it. The assassin by Stephen Coonts. Thank you, sir.