LIGHTS UP. A man sits in a darkening room at an oaken desk. Papers neatly stack atop it. The man rearranges them calmly but with stilted nervousness. He's wearing a business suit and checks his BlackBerry and desktop email in between paper shuffling. The cycle repeats itself, meaninglessly and with barely restrained mania. This is DAVID PETRAEUS.
Suddenly his desk phone rings. PETRAEUS is startled. He takes a deep breath. He's been waiting for this phone call. He answers.
A disembodied voice answers. It is the voice of ANTHONY ROMERO, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
ROMERO: David. We set up your VTC at the morning meeting. What happened?
PETRAEUS: Sir, General Clapper summoned me to Liberty Crossing. It was unexpected.
ROMERO: That's really not acceptable, David. I needed your update. Let's do this now. Is this a good time?
PETRAEUS: It is, sir. We've reached, as you're aware and which we have discussed, an inflection point.
It sounds like ROMERO is bouncing a tennis ball in the background.
ROMERO: Organizationally or...?
PETRAEUS: We begin substantively, and then we'll discuss organization. Consider the Anaconda slide my staff sent to you last week. You'll see that the inputs we requested and you ordered are now in place. We are now in a position to discuss the inflection points we see on the horizon.
PETRAEUS: First -- and this speaks to the point about organization -- for each proposed rendition, interrogation plan and... special capability, we have prepared paperwork for your approval. New York will specifically sign off on each EXORD before--
ROMERO: We've discussed this jargon, David.
PETRAEUS: Yes, sir. New York will sign off specifically on each of our orders. We will consider them to have the force of warrant requests. Your approval will be binding, a necessary condition for the continuation of a mission. Further, to ensure our harmonization, we are accelerating the co-location of personnel. This speaks to the point about organization specifically. Mr. German's office is ready for him. And I've sent Jennifer Youngblood to the downtown office to work with the communication department there. As well as several trusted associates from my military days.
ROMERO: David. This doesn't sound sufficient.
ROMERO: It's Clapper. What are we doing about Clapper?
PETRAEUS: (Pause) I was unaware a decision had been made on Clapper.
ROMERO: You're a military man, David, so I don't need to stress upon you the importance of a clear chain of command.
PETRAEUS: N0, sir.
ROMERO: We've given you every resource you've requested, David. Should I resend you the memorandum on how our attorneys enjoy the privileges of station chiefs? What I am telling you is that the Clapper problem has to be resolved. You have the resources. Do you understand me, David?
PETRAEUS: (Rubs his temples.) I know you would not want me to offer anything less than my candid judgment, sir, and I--
ROMERO: What I want is for you to follow my instruction. I give you complete operational authority to design and implement a solution. With that authority comes responsibility. It surprises and disappoints me that you need to hear this lecture.
ROMERO: We are both men of the world, David. We are hard men on the ramparts of civilization. We do what we must, and we must never hesitate in the face of justice. It is not the critic who matters, David, but the man in the arena. We will succeed, touch wood.
PETRAEUS: I understand, sir.
ROMERO: You do not get to sit in my chair if you hesitate. The responsibilities are too great. I know I can count on you. We will talk again when this matter has been satisfactorily concluded.
PETRAEUS: We will sir.
(Because of this.)