Glenn interviews Daniel Silva


Moscow Rules

GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, the third most listened to show in all of America. Hello, you sick twisted freak. Welcome to the program. Glad you're here. We have Daniel Silva in studio. He is one of my favorite authors. What was the first -- I just read your first -- the first book I read was the last one. What was the name of it?

SILVA: It was called The Secret Servant, now out in paperback.

GLENN: Just -- is it out this summer?

SILVA: It's on the best seller list right now.

GLENN: It is fantastic. And it gave me things to think about. You know, I like a book that can take me into the events of the world that are happening today and it has enough meaning -- I mean, I read an awful lot and I'm up on current politics and, you know, global politics and so I know what's BS and what's not, generally speaking. You and a couple of other authors are so good at merging that together that you're not really sure which is which, and I love a book -- most people don't -- that you can sit with the Internet and go, wait a minute; is that true. I've gotten into more stuff because of your writing, because you're, the last book, right on the money with Islamic extremism, just right on the money. And now you've done it again. I'm reading this one and I'm starting to read this and it's Moscow Rules and it's everything I've been saying about Moscow. This is real trouble what's coming our way in Moscow.

SILVA: You know, as I point out in the book, Russian history is a series of lurches. Russian history never goes in a straight line and what we have seen in the last few years is that Russia has lurched from the ideology of Lenin to the ideology of Mussolini in about a decade. It is now a, I think it's fair to call it a fascist country. Have classic state capitalism, authoritarian security services, no avenue for political dissent, no free press whatsoever. The press and the threat to journalists is something that plays heavily on the novel.

GLENN: Russia, everybody loves Russia.

SILVA: I hope the bloom is -- you know, I took great faith the other day in the economist of all places because one of my pet peeves is what the in the heck is Russia doing in the G8? I mean, please. They are targeting European cities with their missiles again, they're buzzing Britain with their bombers but they are in the clump of nations and I think they should be out of the clump of nations.

GLENN: I think Ronald Reagan said we can't let them do, they just steamrolled and done.

SILVA: And the economist when they made their coverage of the summit a couple of weeks ago, they called it the G7 plus Russia. And I said hallelujah, finally someone is starting to ask the question that, aren't these guys the K -- as John McCain loves to say, I look in the eyes of Putin, I see a K, a G and a B. This is a KGB regime. Are they supposed to be at the table with the great democracies of the West?

GLENN: You know and I know that nobody in the media is really saying that. We're headed towards -- you and I were talking before we went on the air that there is something new afoot in the world and it is fascism. They're not calling it fascism but that's what it is.

SILVA: Russia is classic fascism.

GLENN: Right. China is --

SILVA: Authoritarian capitalist.

GLENN: Here it comes. And now in the United States we're moving in the same direction.

SILVA: Not fascism.

GLENN: Oh, I disagree with you. I disagree with you for a couple of reasons. First of all, you're seeing that the state is wanting to gobble up industry, right? We've got a guy in Barack Obama, he's the Messiah. He's a rock star. We're not talking about his policies. We're talking about, look at him. Exactly the same way people feel about Putin in Russia. Am I mistaken?

SILVA: Yes, I mean in terms of our political system being healthy, vibrant and a press that lets you be on the radio.

GLENN: How close do you think that is?

SILVA: What?

GLENN: Do you think that there's a possibility, a probability that with an extreme left, not a liberal, not a Democrat, an extreme left White House and congress, do you think voices like mine are going to last very long? The Fairness Doctrine --

SILVA: The Fairness Doctrine, do you think the Fairness Doctrine will roll?

GLENN: With a leftist, absolutely.

SILVA: I'm going to keep my fingers crossed. You know, sometimes when Presidents put that hand on the Bible and they take the oath of office, the weight of history settles on them and we have tremendous responsibility in the world, a tremendous role to play in the world. I am hopeful that Barack Obama is going to -- and we're making a bigger --

GLENN: Are you hoping for change?

SILVA: No, I'm hoping that he's going to make certain that we finish the job in Iraq. I don't think that it's in his interest or in the interest of the Democratic party to have some kind of disaster in Iraq.

GLENN: Right.

SILVA: Because it will be blamed on the Democrats and Barack Obama. So I have great faith in this country. I have great faith in the American people, and while I've been, like you, very angry at our political leaders for a very long time in the way we have conducted ourselves in Washington where I live, I'm hopeful that we're going to get it right.

GLENN: Daniel Silva. His new book is Moscow Rules. Comes out today?

SILVA: Midnight tonight.

GLENN: Midnight tonight. It's absolutely fantastic. Moscow rules. In it he talks about -- I mean, I read the -- what was it, like the second chapter. I don't want to give anything away. But in the second chapter I'm reading stuff that I've read in the paper and it is frightening, frightening stuff about how just Moscow could just make people just disappear.

SILVA: It is -- haven't spent time there last summer researching the book, it is frighteningly lawless still, that there are definitely two legal systems there, one for the wealthy and the connected and one for everyone else.

GLENN: That's the way it's always been.

SILVA: And the wealthy and well connected in Moscow literally get away with murder. And not just any kind of murder. Some of the ways that these reporters and their opponents have been killed are just sadistic, brutal acts of crime that go completely uninvestigated.

GLENN: Give some examples of the crime on journalists. Or anybody who is speaking out.

SILVA: After the fall of the Soviet Union, if you start the clock, then 47 journalists, reporters, cameramen, photographers have been killed in Russia since the fall of communism. That makes it the third most deadly country on Earth to practice journalism. That's not a record to be proud of. Can you imagine that this is a G7 or a G8 country, that this is the way they treat their reporters. I believe that nine or 14 have been killed since Putin came to power. Talking about the case of Politkovskaya, the crusading journalist shot to death in her apartment building.

GLENN: Is that the elevator one that was referenced in the book? Because --

SILVA: Sort of, kind of there was an attempt on a reporter's life in my novel that is in clear homage to Ana Politkovskaya. But the story is largely inspired by a case that very few people in the West know about was the murder of a man named Ivan Safronov who a couple of years ago was about to uncover or make a report in his newspaper, a very authoritarian, authoritative newspaper about a pending missile deal between Russia and someone in the Middle East. He was about to publish his story that night. He was thrown from the fifth floor of his apartment house, died in the courtyard and the Russian authorities immediately ruled it a suicide. He lived on the third floor. So he --

GLENN: Went up.

SILVA: Went up extra floors to kill himself. They found he had purchased some oranges on the way home, he had called his wife saying, I'm coming, I'm picking up some oranges. The oranges were scattered all up the stairwell. Obviously he had been dragged against his will and thrown out this window. No investigation, nothing.

GLENN: What do you think, what do you think the future holds for Russia and us with Russia? Well, first tell me a little bit about -- tell me the story line in the book.

SILVA: The story line is the eighth novel that I've written starring my continuing character. He's a counterterrorism officer with an interesting cover job. He is one of the world's finest art restorers.

GLENN: I can't decide if I want him as vice president and Jack Bauer as the President or the other way around.

SILVA: Well, he's not an American citizen.

GLENN: No, I'll make an exception.

SILVA: So national security advisor, how about that?

GLENN: Yeah, I'll take it.

SILVA: He is living in Italy working on a painting and he is summoned by his masters in Tel Aviv and is told that a very important Russian journalist wants to meet with him specifically to tell him something, that he has word of a threat rising in the east. Gabriel arranges a meeting at the Vatican and before he can speak to the Russian journalist, he is poisoned and dies inside St. Peter's basilica. And the chase is on and it is a fast-paced, entertaining, beach book that deals with some very serious issues. It features a Russian arms dealer named Ivan Kharkov, it is a cat-and-mouse game involving Ivan, his wife. It even has a forgery that takes place in it. There's arms dealing and art dealing. It's a lot of --

GLENN: And it's tied to the Middle East. There's something going on, a sale going on in the Middle East.

SILVA: Without giving too much away, there's a potential sale, flow of some very dangerous weapons from Russia to enemies of this country and it is inspired almost 100% by fact.

GLENN: Right.

SILVA: In fact, a Russian arms dealer much like the character that appears in my novel is now sitting in a jail cell in Thailand, Victor Butte because we were able to finally sting him and put him out of business. But he was selling some of the very same weapons that my bad guy sold in the book. He was going to sell to the FARC rebels.

GLENN: Do you remember when Clancy, they thought he was a CIA agent and -- do you remember that? And Russia said that they were -- that Clancy was a CIA agent and they were just putting this out so the Russians could read it to gauge and to say, this is the way America will react. Do you think anybody in the world reads your stuff like that?

SILVA: I don't know. I know that I have lots of fans at Langley and I have lots of friends who work in the national (inaudible) service and I know that the books are read in Tel Aviv at headquarters but I hope --

GLENN: Hang on just a second. How does a CIA guy approach you? How does somebody in the CIA go, "Hey, by the way, just want to let you know I'm a covert op"?

SILVA: In many different ways.

GLENN: You can't say. You'd have to kill me.

SILVA: I know lots of people and they like to talk more than people understand that they like to talk. And people who, a lot of guys who work at the CIA, CIA's not a happy place to work right now. It never really was, and people were very frustrated. You can see the leaks coming out and people writing articles.

GLENN: What are they frustrated about?

SILVA: Well, they were -- they screwed things up, they had their power stripped away, there is a great deal of dispirit among the troops over the NIE in Iraq, that they got it wrong, much to their embarrassment. I think there's a lingering, you know, sadness that they couldn't stop 9/11.

GLENN: What is it they are afraid of, do you think? Who are the people that come to you and say, we have got to wake up.

SILVA: I think that a lot of the guys that I've been speaking to on the war on terror, for example, just, they want us to fight it in a smarter way and not create more enemies than what was put out.

GLENN: It's like Barack Obama said last week that he wanted to -- and he said this before -- fly warplanes over Pakistan.

SILVA: Yeah.

GLENN: Don't fly warplanes over Pakistan. If we're not already in Pakistan and already in Iran, we should be. Just go in and, you know, the whole rubber mask thing for Mission Impossible. I don't know who he is.

SILVA: He -- you know, some of his inexperience showed at times and that was one of them where he, you know, wanted to go in and attack targets inside that the -- but nominal ally without telling that ally and he's made a couple of missteps like that. But he will get the facts of life soon and I hope that he will stop making mistakes like that.

GLENN: We were talking before we went on the air about 9/11 and you said, worst day of your life.

SILVA: Worst day.

GLENN: You hated it.

SILVA: Hated it.

GLENN: But.

SILVA: I loved September 12th. I loved the way -- it's awful but, boy, did I love that day when we all came together. All the bickering stopped. All the partisan, cheap partisan warfare stopped. And I know it was probably naive to hope it might last more than a year or two. And I live in Washington, I know lots of people on both sides of the divide and I'm like you. I just get so angry at our inability to work together to solve any of this serious problems that are facing this country.

GLENN: It's not coming from -- it's not coming from mainstream. It's not coming from people. Everybody, I don't care what side of the aisle you're on.

SILVA: Right.

GLENN: Everybody's saying that. What's it going to take for them to finally wake up and go, oh, wait a minute, we're actually -- they're going to come --

SILVA: How many more warning bells do we need?

GLENN: I know. I mean, besides -- before we get to the pitchforks and torches, I mean, what's it going to take?

SILVA: I'm going to be standing shoulder to shoulder with you in that pitchfork and torch. I don't know. You have a financial system that is, I believe, in worse shape than we have been led to believe.

GLENN: Oh, far worse.

SILVA: I am looking for mattresses to put the money in at this point. And we are unable, unwilling, unable to put together a coherent national energy policy. That, you know, it just comes down to name-calling. And, you know, I want to do -- I am for wind. I am for solar. Let's do it all. Let's just do it all.

GLENN: That's right.

SILVA: And I grew up in California, a West Coast guy like you, and I love our coastline but I'm afraid we've got to go out there and get some more. Got to go get some more.

GLENN: Daniel Silva, the new book is Moscow Rules. It hits bookstores tomorrow. Couldn't recommend it highly enough. This is one of my absolute favorite writers. Honestly a guy who is serving his country. These writers, there's a handful of them, are doing what Hollywood used to do in the second world war. It is a true service to our country. Daniel Silva, thank you so much, sir.

SILVA: Thank you so much.

GLENN: You bet. The name of the book again is Moscow Rules. Pick it up.

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