What if the President of the United States and all legal successors to the Presidency were killed at the same time?
It all started with a hushed-up incident in the Gulf War. Lieutenant Clarence Davenport was assigned the task of destroying the munitions depot near Kamisiyah in Iraq. He carried out his mission with results that, step by fearful step, led to a mass assassination at the Inauguration Ceremony.
With the President, Vice President, congressional leaders, and most of the Cabinet dead, the Presidency falls on the shoulders of a man who doesn’t want it—the charming, intellectual Secretary of Education, Ben Silver, a man in love who can’t wait to get out of government. Given the state of the union, Silver is compelled to take the job he didn’t want. He is immediately accused of being involved in the assassination conspiracy.
Those accusations fester, fueled by the suspicions of FBI Director P.J. Winters and the political aspirations of Senator Jeb Davies. Davies institutes a plan to destabilize conditions in the country even further in order to force Silver to resign so he, Davies, can succeed to the Presidency. Amidst civil unrest, the war for the most powerful office in the world is on.
The subsequent murder and attempted murder of President Silver’s political enemies heighten the suspicions against the reluctant President. Those investigators who believe in Silver’s innocence keep uncovering puzzling facts relating to the assassination, but seem unable to solve the mystery of “who did it and why did they do it.” The question is increasingly put to the President, “If not you, then who?” The unsolved crime of the new millennium threatens to destroy the nation if the answers are not found quickly.
This novel will remind readers of the political thrillers by Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, and Frederick Forsyth, and echoes with the consequences of the desert war in the Persian Gulf and how Washington really works.
HISTORY NEWS NETWORK
Following the publication of After Kamisiyah, the Constitutional crisis imagined in the novel piqued the interest of other writers. What would happen if the President and all Constitutional and statutory successors were killed at the same time?
It seems that there would be no lawful successor to the US Presidency. This possibility was the subject of scholarly articles by the author of "After Kamisiyah" and others.Writing in History News Network. An excerpt from the article I wrote for the History News Network appears below:
A Novelist Wonders If His Plot Could Come True ... Assassination at the Inauguration?
Mr. Baseman is a novelist.
"John Dean in these pages and Messrs. Ornstein and Fortier before him have pointed out the enormous risk to our Republic from an Inauguration Day mass assassination. They indicate that if an assassin managed to kill the president, the vice-president,the House Speaker, president pro-tempore of the Senate and all existing cabinet members at the Inauguration, there would then be no legal successor to the presidency. Their conclusion came as no surprise to the fictional villain of my 2002 novel, After Kamisiyah. ...
"It took Mr. Dean and Messrs. Fortier and Ornstein considerably fewer pages to point out the risks associated with the Inauguration Day Ceremony than in my novels, so why bother reading a novel? After all, there is so much to learn and so little time.
Of course, there’s something to be said for the pure entertainment value of fictional works. The cliché about all work and no play tells that story, but fiction has a different impact. For example, there’s a place for a news report describing the disaster at Mogadishu, a place for opinion pieces on the same subject from differing points of view and the movie, Blackhawk Down that embellished and told the story from the point of view of some of the troops affected by that disaster. Part of the difficulty comes from the obliteration of the lines between fact, opinion and fiction. Fiction writers add a touch of reality to the premise of their story to inform the reader and make the story more relevant. However, the novelist who forsakes the primary task of entertaining the reader to inform does neither. He or she just writes a boring novel.
My January, 2002, novel, After Kamisiyah, deals with the aftermath of an Inauguration Day mass assassination in which the only legal successor to the presidency is a relatively obscure cabinet officer, the secretary of education, who avoids death by unexpectedly failing to attend the Inauguration. He is then suspected of somehow being complicit in the assassination. The novel makes the disaster and the resulting problems real for the reader. The reader lives through the situation and it will be understood in a different way than the scholarly pieces.
While I’m at it, I would like to point out that the novelist has license to embellish to add dramatic content and to incorporate fact into the story. I did that in writing After Kamisiyah, by using the factual destruction of the ammunition depot at Kamisiyah as a plot device. Dan Brown did it inThe Da Vinci Code. Nobody expects everything the novelist says to be totally true. The question as to what is and isn’t true adds to the intrigue. Of late, I’m sorry to say, the entertainment and the agenda factor has begun to negatively impact the reporter’s role. We have had a disgrace in the New York Times newsroom and in CBS’s reportage of the Bush National Guard service by anchorman Dan Rather. The lines between opinion, fact and fiction seem to be blurring. Was the book by the Swift Boat veterans on John Kerry fact or fiction? Truth in advertising doesn’t seem to apply to elections. If they were selling stock instead of a candidate, someone would go to jail.
All that research and speculation in fiction and non-fiction writings brings a problem to our collective attention, and perhaps to different segments of our population, but that’s probably what’s necessary to force Congress to consider the problem and act to correct it, but fact should remain fact, and only the novelist should be able to blur the distinction."
Mr. Dean, in his article, imagined the detonation of a suitcase nuclear bomb close to the scene of the inauguration to accomplish the result. It seems that those bombs do exist and the use of a number of those bombs by terrorists is explored in my 2007 novel, "Turncoats".