If you want that thriller to be as realistic as possible, then whatever you imagine, imagine it’s even worse

If you’ve read my 2009 novel Inside Out, you know that at the heart of the story were the “Caspers,” imprisoned war-on-terror suspects the government decided were too problematic to be dealt with even within president Obama’s new-fangled three-tier system of justice, and who were therefore emulsified, instead.

Today, we have Jason Leopold’s latest report in Al Jazeera, which includes the following:

According to the Senate report, Al Jazeera’s sources said, a majority of the more than 100 detainees held in CIA custody were detained in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Morocco, where they were subject to torture methods not sanctioned by the Justice Department. Those methods are recalled by the report in vivid narratives lifted from daily logs of the detention and interrogation of about 34 high-value prisoners. The report allegedly notes that about 85 detainees deemed low-value passed through the black sites and were later dumped at Guantánamo or handed off to foreign intelligence services. More than 10 of those handed over to foreign intelligence agencies “to face terrorism charges” are now “unaccounted for” and presumed dead, the U.S. officials said.

It reminds me of the Orwellian-named “International Terrorist Threat Matrix” hit list I imagined in my 2004 novel Winner Take All. That turned out to be not terribly fictional, as well, anticipating as it did the “Disposition Matrix,” “Terror Tuesdays,” and the due-process-free assassination of US citizens.

So what was posited as fiction in 2004 and 2009 is proven as fact just a few years later. What might have been dismissed as conspiracy a little while ago is now no more than the news of the day.

All of which perhaps suggests that thriller writers are slightly ahead of the establishment media—and that the government is slightly ahead even of thriller writers. Not a happy thought—especially when you consider the oligarchical coup at the heart of my novel The Detachment.

Look at what we know the government is doing, imagine what it’s probably doing, and you’ll have the workings for a good thriller. And if you want that thriller to be as realistic as possible, then whatever you imagine, imagine it’s even worse. The government will rarely disappoint you.

DoD photo of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy