whisper agent

by dm gillis

Vancouver 1949

There is a fundamental blue to cigarette smoke, floating fresh in the air above a bar past midnight, seeing yourself through it in the mirrored spaces between the bottles lining the wall across from you. It’s almost triumphant, like the fog after a gunfight. Survival, another lucky event in a world short on lucky events. How long could that last?

She lit another one and finished her Glenlivet. The bartender poured a fresh one into a clean glass. She checked her wristwatch. There were hours to go before she could truly claim victory, a clean escape from the night time quiet that deepens the hiss of whispers. The thousands of them without origin. That said nothing, but dripped intelligence. They might be ancient, having been bounced off the moon. They might be the ghost vengeance of gunfight also-rans. The ones who hadn’t made it. The quiet ones who’d come for her, now with unseeing eyes and dead wilted hands. She’d stepped over them, leaving this beef or that, a hundred times. They’d have plenty to whisper about, if they could.

“What day is it?” she asked the bartender.

“It’s Friday, Miss Parr. Has been for twelve minutes.”

“I had to stay awake once for five full days and nights,” she said. “No food, no water. They kept asking me questions and made me do these puzzles. They wanted to see if I’d hold up.”

“Did you?”

“Right up to the end. I surprised the hell out of them.”

“What they do that for?”

“They were sadists.”

“You were in the war, weren’t you Miss Parr. I mean, that’s what they say.”

“I don’t remember.”

* * * * *

The Standing Committee on Wartime Intelligence Gathering
~Eyes Only~

In the matter of the Legality and Permissibility of Project Whisper Agent at Special Training School 103.

Hearing held at: XXXXX

Before:

Kenneth Smallday, MP                              Presiding Member
Peter Cheshire                                          Member

Appearances

Vera Atkins                                               Special Operation Executive
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX
Talbot Moscovy                                         SOE Counsel
XXXXX                                                    RCMP
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX                                                    XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX

Index of Proceedings 

Description                                                                                         Page No.

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XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX

Exhibits

Description                                                                                          Page No.

XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……  X
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XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XX
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XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XX
XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX
XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX
XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX
XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX
XXXXX…………………………………………………………………….……..XXX
XXXXX……………………………………………………………….…….…….XXX 

Undertakings

Description                                                                                              Page No.

                               No Undertakings were Filed in this Proceeding

Excerpt of Proceeding Transcript  

  1. Monday, February 16, 1948
  2. Upon commencing at 9:35 a.m.
  3. ¶ Mr. Smallday:  The Committee sits today on the matter of the legality
  4. and permissibility of Project Whisper Agent at Special Training
  5. School 103, also known as Camp X.
  6. ¶ The Committee has received complaints from anonymous sources,
  7. known to be reliable. These complaints relate to, but are not limited
  8. to, the psychological manipulation of recruits as an adjunct to
  9. training as Allied spies for dispersal in the European and Asian
  10. theatres of war.
  11. ¶ Project Whisper Agent is headed by Vera Atkins for the Special
  12. Operation Executive. Mrs. Atkins is with us today. Welcome, Mrs.
  13. Atkins.
  14. ¶ Vera Atkins: Thank you, Mr. Smallday.
  15. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Mrs. Atkins, there is some question as to the legality of
  16. Project Whisper Agent. And though they are not insignificant, this
  17. Committee will reserve those questions for a later time. For now, can
  18. you explain the reason for the existence of Project Whisper Agent,
  19. and its intent?
  20. ¶ Talbot Moscovy: Mrs. Atkins will not answer the question, Mr.
  21. Smallday.
  22. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Excuse me?
  23. ¶ Talbot Moscovy: If I may, sir. Appendix C of the Rules of The
  24.  Standing Committee on Wartime Intelligence Gathering clearly
  25. states Mrs. Atkins’ right to refuse to answer the questions of the
  26. Committee, and I have counselled her to exercise that right.
  27. Answering any of the Committee’s questions may endanger the national
  28. security of several Allied countries, and may place the lives of the
  29. individuals involved in Project Whisper Agent in danger.
  30. ¶ Mr. Smallday: But she has come all the way from XXXXXX to refuse
  31. to answer our questions?
  32. ¶ Talbot Moscovy: She was subpoenaed. Her presence here is
  33.  mandatory. Answering the Committee’s questions is not.
  34. ¶ Vera Atkins: Please, Talbot. I’d rather answer the question.
  35. ¶ {Moscovy and Atkins speak quietly together.}
  36. ¶ Talbot Moscovy: Mrs. Atkins has consented to selectively answer
  37. the Committee’s questions against my counsel. I may, however,
  38. have a court order them struck from the record at a later date.
  39. ¶ Mr. Smallday: The Committee thanks Mrs. Atkins. Mrs. Atkins will
  40.  you answer the question previously asked: can you explain to
  41. us the reason for the existence of Project Whisper Agent, and its
  42. intent?
  43. ¶ Vera AtkinsProject Whisper Agent was developed as a tool to
  44. track agents after they have been decommissioned.
  45. ¶ Mr. Smallday: To what end, Mrs. Atkins?
  46. ¶ Vera Atkins: The primary reason for the planned implementation
  47. of Whisper Agent was surveillance.
  48. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Of whom, Mrs. Atkins.
  49. ¶ Vera Atkins: Decommissioned agents.
  50. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Spies. You mean spies. Trained on Canadian soil for
  51. use behind enemy lines. That’s what you mean, isn’t it, Mrs. Atkins?
  52. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes.
  53. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Why?
  54. ¶ Vera Atkins: These agents represent an enormous investment of
  55. time and capital. We were interested in tracking our investments.
  56. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Were there any other reasons, Mrs. Atkins?
  57.  {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting
  58. approximately two minutes.}
  59. ¶ Vera Atkins: The job of an agent is to gather intelligence in the
  60. field, Mr. Smallday. Much of that intelligence is top secret and very
  61. valuable. They also perform ancillary duties that should remain
  62. permanently classified. Once discharged, the best we can do is
  63.  swear an agent to secrecy. But that is not always enough.
  64. Whisper Agent was devised as a means of tracking agents, their
  65. movements and associations, once they’d been discharged.
  66. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Wasn’t their good and loyal service in the field a
  67. strong enough indication of their loyalty?
  68. ¶ Vera Atkins: It is rarely a question of loyalty, Mr. SmallDay.
  69. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Then what is it? Why the need for the surveillance?
  70.  {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting
  71. approximately three minutes.}
  72. ¶ Talbot Moscovy: I would like to request a recess at this time….
  73. ¶ Vera Atkins: {interrupting Moscovy} No, Talbot. No recess.
  74. ¶ Mr. Smallday, you have never worked with secret agents – spies,
  75.  as you put it. But I have made a career of it. Each agent chosen for
  76. training at CampX fit a certain profile. They had very specific innate
  77.  qualities, aside from their acquired skills. Some agents were chosen
  78. for skills in language, some for their proven ability as thieves. Others
  79. were tested for and demonstrated an aptitude for what we refer to as silent
  80. killing.
  81. ¶ Mr. Smallday: {Interrupting} Silent killing? Please explain silent
  82. killing.
  83. {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting
  84. approximately one minute.}
  85. ¶ Vera Atkins: It is an unambiguous term, Mr. Smallday. But I’ll clarify. A
  86. silent killer, in the context of our discussion, is an assassin.
  87. ¶ Mr. Smallday: As in the assassination of political leaders?
  88. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes, that. But smaller players, mostly. Enemy spies,
  89.  rogue and double agents, informants, witnesses. That sort of thing.
  90. ¶ Mr. Smallday: But surely Canada didn’t participate in that sort of
  91. thing in the war.
  92. ¶ Vera Atkins: Canadian agents did participate in that sort of thing.
  93. They excelled at it.
  94. {Quiet exchange between Smallday and Peter Cheshire, lasting
  95. approximately one minute.}
  96. ¶ Mr. Smallday: That is very disturbing.
  97. ¶ Vera Atkins: It was war, Mr Smallday.
  98. ¶ Mr. Smallday: But what does the existence of Canadian trained
  99. assassins have to with Project Whisper Agent?
  100. ¶ Vera Atkins: Every project has it preliminary and experimental phases,
  101. and it was this cohort, predisposed to silent killing and assigned to do so,
  102. that were the first subjects of the new, untried surveillance methods.
  103. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Why them?
  104. ¶ Vera Atkins: Because they were the most psychologically brittle at the
  105. start, and the most damaged by the end of their wartime experience.
  106. They returned fragile and vulnerable. They were assessed and found to
  107. be the most likely to display aberrant behaviour after discharge.
  108. ¶ Mr. Smallday: What do you mean by aberrant behaviour?
  109. ¶ Vera Atkins: We know more and more each day. But at this point, the
  110. cohort can be best described as unpredictable.
  111. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Is unpredictable how they can be best described, or is that
  112. all you’re willing to say to this Committee?
  113. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes, Mr. Smallday.
  114. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Well, which is it?
  115. ¶ Vera Atkins: {Silence)
  116. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Very well. Let’s move on to how the surveillance took place.
  117.  It is the understanding of this Committee that one of the core elements that
  118. sets Project Whisper Agent apart from other similar operations that have
  119. preceded it is the use of what are referred to as implants.
  120. ¶ Mrs. Atkins, what is an implant?
  121. ¶ Vera Atkins: Something that is implanted.
  122. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Into whom, in this case?
  123. ¶ Vera Atkins: In this case, a subject monitored by Project Whisper Agent.
  124. ¶ Mr. Smallday: And such subjects exist?
  125. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes.
  126. ¶ Mr. Smallday: How many?
  127. ¶ Vera Atkins: Six at this time.
  128. ¶ Mr. Smallday: {Consulting notes} I understood there were ten. What happened to the other four.
  129. ¶ Vera Atkins: They’re dead.
  130. ¶ Mr. Smallday: How?
  131. ¶ Vera Atkins: Three by suicide. Fourth, mysterious circumstances.
  132.  ¶ Mr. Smallday: {Consulting notes} That seems like a rather high number. And this one who died under mysterious circumstances, my notes say he opened fire with a handgun on police at a lunch counter.
  133. {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting approximately one minute.}
  134. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes. Unfortunate.
  135. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Will you describe the implant for the Committee, Mrs. Atkins? What it’s made of? What it’s designed to do?
  136. {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting approximately one minute.}
  137. ¶ Vera Atkins: It’s a small monopolar magnetic unit injected into the bony area of the middle ear.
  138. ¶ Mr. Smallday: How does it work?
  139. ¶ Vera Atkins: The vector potential of the monopole allows for discrete radio frequencies to be received and interpreted to our advantage by the recipient.
  140. ¶ Mr. Smallday: In other words, you can control the subject from a distance. You can manipulate them to follow your commands.
  141. ¶ Vera Atkins: In some cases. The technology is new.
  142. ¶ Mr. Smallday: New? It’s my understanding that a monopolar magnet is purely theoretical.
  143. {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting approximately one minute.}
  144. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes, theoretical.
  145. ¶ Mr. Smallday: But you’re using them to control people.
  146. ¶ Vera Atkins: {Silence}
  147. ¶ Mr. Smallday: I’ll take your silence to mean that it’s time to move on.
  148. One of your subjects, a woman codenamed Soho, she resides in Vancouver.
  149. {Quiet exchange between Atkins and Moscovy, lasting approximately one minute.}
  150. ¶ Vera Atkins: That’s classified.
  151. ¶ Mr. Smallday: According to our information, she’s one of those who isn’t
  152. responding well to your technology.
  153. ¶ Vera Atkins: That’s classified.
  154. ¶ Mr. Smallday: Well Goddammit, woman. The life of a person who served her country is in danger because of you and your failed experiment. Isn’t there anything you have to say?
  155. ¶ Vera Atkins: The experiment hasn’t failed. We continue to compile data, and….
  156. ¶ Mr. Smallday: But people are dying.
  157. ¶ Vera Atkins: Yes, that’s part of the data.
  158. ¶ Mr. Smallday: I think we’ll take that recess now.

 

 

 

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