Brad Thor On His Latest Scot Harvath Novel, Hidden Order
HH: As promised, this hour and next, I am joined in studio by the one and the only Brad Thor, author most recently of The Hidden Order, which his linked over at Hughhewitt.com. America’s favorite thriller writer of those things involving America, Brad Thor, welcome, it’s great to have you back in studio again.
BT: It’s terrific to be with you. Thanks for having me, Hugh.
HH: I don’t know if you saw the New York Times today. Did you see the headline in the New York Times today, because you had air trouble, right?
BT: I did have air trouble.
HH: Tell people about your journey today to the studio.
BT: I came from Denver, and was caught up in a mechanical, but it all got better, didn’t it?
Tattoo: Da plane! Da plane!
BT: That’s right, and here I am.
HH: The plane got here eventually. But so you may not have seen the New York Times. In second term, Obama is seen as using hidden hand approach. So that is the front page of the New York Times today, I’m sitting down to get The Hidden Order ready and booked up for me to sit down and talk two hours with you, and to all of our friends across the country, and it’s like the New York Times had ordered up a headline for you. He is a hidden hand presidency, isn’t he, Brad?
BT: He certainly is. This is, listen, I’ve said repeatedly that when you, when we look at hiring our chief executive, we should have been looking at the resume. Who’s most qualified for this job? And when you put a community organizer into the position of president of the United States, most important job in the world, it should be no surprise that we descend into petty, divisive, community organizing-style politics.
BT: This is not a uniting force that we have in D.C.
HH: You know, we will spend a lot of time talking, and I will manage, by the way, there will be no spoilers. I’m not going to give away a thing about The Hidden Order. People want to read it, but we will talk about subjects which are in the book in ways that will obliquely alert you to subject lines and story lines. So you won’t get a spoiler. I want to assure you of that. But we’ll talk about the Federal Reserve. Do you believe for a moment President Obama has a clue how that works?
HH: I don’t.
BT: No, I don’t. This is the guy, what was the, he was talking about P&L statements in his first term, remember?
BT: And he was completely, he had no idea what he was talking about. So no, I don’t think he knows how it works.
HH: Yeah, tomorrow, I spend three hours with Mark Leibovich, who’s the author of the new book, This Town. And I repeatedly turn to the sentiment I have, which is that a lot of people who are running things really have no idea what they’re doing in Washington, D.C. Part of it is incompetence, and part of it is malevolence. But mostly, it’s incompetence. What’s your malevolence and competence mix as you assess Team Obama?
BT: Well, let’s start from the very beginning. I think I may have issued this challenge on your show last year, and I want to issue it again. I want President Obama to show me one person from his formative years that had any semblance of authority or a figure he held in esteem who told him that this is a great and noble nation, that it has been the greatest force for good in the history of mankind. I mean, look at, I have a friend whose mother always said show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
BT: Obama grew up with Frank Marshall Davis, he’s friends with Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, and how about show me your appointees, and I’ll show you the future of your country. And we look at guys like Cass Sunstein, we look at Maoists Anita Dunn, we look at Van Jones, the communist.
HH: Oh, Van Jones was on last night, by the way, talking about Trayvon Martin, of course. What else? And so I hadn’t seen him in a while.
BT: You know what? That steams me, that whole Trayvon Martin thing. And this is one thing, there’s a great film that was done, I think it was by Warner Brothers in the 1940s, warning about socialism. And it was a cartoon, actually. You can find it on YouTube, and it’s called Ism. And its talks about when someone comes along and tries to divide people of a nation, particularly the United States, either by class warfare, by racial hatred, or religious intolerance, those people are there to rob you of your freedom. And that bugs me. This whole thing about Trayvon Martin, I want, I did this challenge, another challenge recently. I said I want to raise money in time for the next general election so I can take out billboards in black communities across the country to say there is a limit to what the Democrat Party can do for you, and you’ve been seeing it for generations.
BT: And I would like to quote black incarceration rates, out of wedlock births, the erosion of the black middle class, and the black unemployment rate, particularly for young, black youth.
HH: 14.7% overall. That’s just not black youth. Black youth is much higher.
HH: In the African-American community, the unemployment rate is above 14%, significant, double, almost, that which the United States has. Brad Thor, I am really being a terrible radio host, because there are new audiences since you were last here. I’m looking at my list. I’ve always got to remind myself that in Grand Rapids, for example, 1260AM, or our friends down in Upstate South Carolina, 94.5FM, or whether we’re talking about Columbus, Ohio, on 98.9FM, all my new people, I have my handwritten notes over here. Lots of people have never heard you on this show before, so I want to go back to the beginning. You are a friend of Guy Benson’s, and that’s a sad thing. So they know who Guy is, but even before you were a friend of Guy Benson’s, you were, tell them who Brad Thor is and where he came from.
BT: Well, I grew up in Chicago. My dad is a no longer active Marine. And my mom was a flight attendant for TWA in the glamour days in the 1960s. And the arts in my family were to make you better rounded. They weren’t a career path. But I had always wanted to write books. And when I was on my honeymoon with my wife, she asked me what on your deathbed would you regret never having done? And I said writing a thriller and getting it published. And she said well, when we get home, you’re going to start spending two hours a day, protected time, no phone, no fax, no email, and make that dream come true. And at that time, I had my own television show nationwide on public television, a travel show, because I thought traveling outside the country made me a better America. I realized how good we had it here, and I wanted to encourage young Americans to go travel. And that show was very successful, but my dream had always been to be the thriller novelist. And that’s what I do now.
HH: What year did the first thriller come out?
BT: It came out in January of 2002, The Lions of Lucerne.
HH: Now you know what’s so interesting, Brad, and it’s very odd. Daniel Silva, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor and C.J. Box and Alex Berenson…
HH: …are the five regulars. They’re the five guys who come on whenever they have a new book out now. And you got added last year, because I started getting hooked on Brad Thor books. And I try not to add any more people to it, but Silva began in 2001. He began with a two hour discipline in the morning. And there is a pattern, and Vince Flynn, the late Vince Flynn, your good friend.
BT: Yeah, yeah.
HH: …a friend of my show. I only met Vince in person once, but he was a good friend of Silva’s as well. You have like this writer’s club, this fight club for writers. It seems like there is a discipline that is all of your bodies of work, which is you guys got up, sat down, wrote, same time, every day.
BT: You have to.
HH: And that’s, tell the young writer at the beginning that wants to be, you know, we have a Twitter friend, Steve Conlon.
HH: You know him, I actually know Steve.
HH: He’s working hard on his first novel, and it’s really about every day at the same time. Tell them about it.
BT: Absolutely. I mean, it really is, you have to have an iron will, and it’s seat of pants to seat of chair. I mean, that’s what it is. I always joke that the internet is the best and the worst thing to happen to writers. I can be on there studying how a missile system on a Predator works, and then five hours later, I’m watching midget wrestling from Tijuana, and I don’t know how I got there. So you really do need to have that discipline. And that discipline comes from routine. I mean, anything, if you want to be a high end athlete, anything you want to do well, you have to commit to.
HH: Do you think that the television show, which was, I did ten years of PBS as well, you have to be at the same place at the same time every day with the camera shoot on. You’re a travel guy. It’s just a little bit different than news and public affairs. But television actually is the same kind of discipline as, as is any broadcast, as writing.
BT: It is. This is, for me, this is the way I was raised by my parents in the Midwest. It’s anything worth doing is worth doing right. And if it’s not worth you doing everything necessary to be the best you absolutely can at it, find something else.
HH: And are your mom and dad happy with your body of work, by the way?
BT: Dude, they’re thrilled. And that, to me, is such an added bonus.
HH: And where were you born?
BT: In Chicago. My dad was from the South Side, the Marines helped him see the world, GI bill before college, and again, my mom did TWA, and saw the world with them.
HH: Where’d you go to high school in Chicago?
BT: It’s very interesting. My parents got divorced when I was in 5th grade, and my mom, however the divorce thing worked out, got the only say on high school. But then my dad got it for college. So for high school…
HH: That’s pretty interesting.
BT: It’s funny how it worked out. So my mom, there was a great liberal arts high school in Chicago called Francis Parker. This is where…
HH: Oh, sure. David Mamet went there.
BT: David Mamet, Anne Heche, Billy Zane, the actor, there have been a lot of us that have gone into the arts from Parker. My dad didn’t want me going there. He wanted me to continue my Catholic school education, go to a Jesuit high school, St. Ignatius, college prep in Chicago, and I went to Francis Parker. Then college came up, and my dad, who is just a fantastic construction consultant, was doing all these things here in Orange County out in California. And everybody he met went to the University of Southern California. He said it was like the cosi nostra with these guys.
HH: I know. We hold this against you here at the Hugh Hewitt Show.
BT: Because I went to USC?
HH: Yeah, we do. And Liebovich tomorrow is the University of Michigan, and today, you’re USC. And it really is annoying to me that the two writers back to back are that. So you’re Francis Parker?
BT: Francis Parker, Chicago, Illinois.
HH: Now what year did Mamet get out of there? Do you know him?
BT: I don’t know David. I know Tony…
BT: …who’s the younger brother.
HH: David listens to this show almost every day, and we have a correspondence going on.
BT: The Secret Knowledge, great book.
HH: Great book.
BT: And I’ll tell you, I’m a writer, Hugh, and I have a great vocabulary. I needed my thesaurus when I read that book. I learned so many words.
HH: It is.
BT: That’s, and look, I’m getting some nods behind the glass here. That was a tough book.
HH: He’s a master of dialogue.
BT: And who came to conservatism, who had that change.
HH: Yeah, the secret knowledge is that there is no secret knowledge. Perhaps you’ll connect up on one of these trips.
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HH: I was abroad when Vince Flynn died, and Brad Thor was kind enough to make time in a very busy day to talk about his friend with our friend, Guy Benson. It’s kind of unreal, Brad, that Vince is dead and not with us, and we’re not going to be reading more Mitch Rapp novels. How did that impact you?
BT: It’s, you know, it’s still tough. Vince was a giant. I mean, Vince created this genre.
BT: I was, I came into the business a couple of years after Vince, and Hugh, I’ve got to tell you, the guy really took over and lit up a room when he walked in. And Rush Limbaugh had nailed it when he said that Vince was a man’s man. I mean, you met him. He’s a big guy, and he was solid, and always had a smile.
HH: Gave my law partner, Gary Wolensky, the hardest time over the Eagles. I mean, he’s a sports guy. He’s just that kind of a guy, yeah.
BT: He is, great guy. And not only did Vince give me my very first blurb on my first novel, Vince said are you having any trouble finding an agent? Why don’t you talk to my agent, maybe he’ll take you. I mean, that’s somebody who was just so secure in who he was, and what his career was, that he could say hey, you know, I’ll hook you up and I’ll help you any way I can. And such a special guy, great American, great writer, great father, great family man. And you know, you can really, the turnout, I mean, there were thousands of people.
BT: I was not there, but there were thousands of people, I’ve been told by Simon and Schuster, that showed up for his funeral.
HH: It just occurred to me, you’re Roman Catholic, Vince was quite the arch-Roman Catholic. I talked with him quite a lot about that via email. Michael Walsh, the Devlin series.
BT: Yeah, I know Michael, yup.
HH: A serious Roman Catholic. Daniel Silva is now Jewish, but was raised a practicing Roman Catholic. And I’m wondering if there isn’t something in being a Catholic school kid that leads to thriller writing? Maybe it’s about avoiding the ever-present knowledge of the nuns. Is that it?
BT: You know what? I’ll tell you what, I remember Sister McMahon, who was the headmistress at our school, who told me once, I’ll never forget this, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Now of course, I’m sure that was all about me being a smart aleck at some point in school, but you know, some of the most successful people I know have come out of the Catholic school system.
HH: Did you do Parochial K-8?
BT: Yeah, it was private Catholic, but yeah, K-8.
HH: And so just a little test here. Can you name any of your teachers from those years?
BT: Oh, I absolutely can, and so, and there’s a lot of hard Polish names. I mean, there was Mrs. Blazak that was there. Anthony Fiori, my kids now go to my school. There’s no longer a dean of students there. And he wore that big class ring, and if you weren’t paying attention.
BT: You’d get it in the back of the head. Mark Anderson, my favorite, favorite teacher. He’s still there, which is great.
HH: Okay. So what was the name of the private Catholic school?
BT: It’s called Hardy Preparatory School for Boys. It’s part of the Sacred Hearts system.
HH: Sacred Hearts system. So I just, I have to go and follow that up. Now to the novel, because I do want to let people know we’re going to do the novel. Cordero is Catholic, I believe, is she not, Lt. Cordero?
HH: Cordero, yeah. Yeah, she’s Catholic.
HH: Okay. This novel has a lot in Boston, and the technical problem here is you must have been almost done when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred.
BT: I was. I was.
HH: Okay, so it’s a…
BT: So I had to go back in and add something.
HH: I had been thinking about this as I went through this, thinking what a dilemma, because obviously, you’re sympathetic to those victims, you’re sympathetic to the city. You’ve been writing a novel that’s set in Boston about terrorism that has a bombing in it. And so what did you think, do and react?
BT: It’s the same thing that happened with my first book. My first book, we had to stop the presses, because it came out just after 9/11. It had already gone to the printer, and my first book, I was talking about, because I have a counterterrorism operative, and he was kind of going through the list of big terrorist attacks, but it was at the printer by the time 9/11 happened. So we had to stop the printer, we had to pull it back, and I had to, in this conversation he was having, add in, and of course, the 9/11 attacks.
BT: So I had written this book, set a lot of it in Boston. I love Boston. I think it’s a really cool town. But I love Boston because of the American history, and I wanted to do a contemporary thriller that weaves in a little bit of that history.
HH: Very well done, by the way. We’ll talk about that.
BT: Thank you.
HH: Very well done.
BT: So that was a case of yeah, I had a bombing, I had a certain type of bombing. It’s one of many, as you know, action set pieces in the book. But yes, we had to again stop the presses, pull it back, and get that in there.
HH: And so how long, I’m just, as a writer, I realize what your publisher had to go through, and it’s sort of a like a movie release with a disaster movie in which disaster has occurred. Was any thought given not to going?
BT: I raised that right away, because I wanted to be sensitive to the people of Boston.
HH: Sure, you would be. You’re a patriot. Yeah.
BT: Yeah, it’s just the right thing to do. And you know, I always say this to people. I’m a husband, and I’m a father, and I’m an American before I’m anything else. The other thing is I love my career. I’ve made my vacation my vocation. But that’s just so far down the line from being an American. So we talked about it, and we said okay, it happened April 15th, the book is going to come out just after 4th of July weekend, we kind of had a feeling we’d be okay. And I talked to a couple of FBI buddies of mine and everything, and I said what do you think? And they said well, if this thing is huge and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and we find out that there’s a state actor involved, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you might have some trouble. But they said we think you’ve probably got enough that the public will understand and will accept it.
HH: Well, I will tell you not only is it going to be understood, I think it’s going to be welcome in Boston. You did go in and add a couple of references, knowing reference to the Marathon bombing, and very adroitly placed. But I think they will welcome it, because it celebrates the city and all that there is about the city.
BT: It does.
HH: And so, but it must have been, it just must have been fast. Second, little detail, Lydia Ryan and Bill Wise, I read in the Acknowledgements, did you auction off their names?
BT: I did.
HH: Tell people, because Lydia is not the first name that one would associate with a CIA counterterrorism operative.
BT: No. Lydia Ryan is actually the daughter-in-law of Pat and Shirley Ryan, who are two wonderful people in Chicago. Aeon Insurance is Pat Ryan, and Pat Ryan’s son, Lydia’s husband, there was a fundraiser for our children’s school. And the school asked me could you do something special, we need a big thing to raise money for the school.
HH: That is so good.
BT: And I said let’s auction this off. And we did, and Pat Ryan bought it for his wife, Lydia, who’s just a beautiful woman. Her daughter is in my daughter’s class. And then Bill Wise, that was another charity effort, and Bill Wise is deceased, and his wife wanted to memorialize him, a wonderful lady.
HH: What a terrific idea.
HH: And they’re great characters.
BT: Yeah, I feel it’s incumbent on me to make them fantastic. They can’t just be the cab driver that dropped the main character off at the hotel. It’s got to be big.
HH: Now you can’t do that again, though, right? I mean, I know, everyone and their brother is going to now call you and say will you please let me auction off, and you can’t do that. I mean, you just can’t.
BT: You can’t do it all the time. Jodi Picoult, who is a great author…
BT: She doesn’t write thrillers.
HH: I don’t read her.
BT: She writes chick-lit.
BT: But Jody did this once, and the person that won it was like an ear, nose and throat doctor whose last name was Frankenstein. So she had to do a character, Dr. Frankenstein. So yeah, I got lucky.
HH: That would be a challenge.
HH: …because Bill Wise is wise, and Lydia actually becomes kind of, it’s such a retro name, right?
HH: I know one Lydia in my entire life.
HH: And you know one Lydia. But it’s such a retro name, and it’s such not a counterterrorism…so I just noted that that was very cool. All right, Brad Thor on marriage. This is, I’m doing funny things before I get to the meat of this.
BT: That’s fantastic.
HH: “You’re a real idiot,” the detective says to Scot Harvath, who is the recurring character. For everyone who’s a Brad Thor person, I’m assuming a lot of knowledge not yet in evidence, but we’ll get back to it. “You’re a real idiot. You either have yourself convinced that it’s easier to just drift from one casual thing to the next in a state of perpetual adolescence, or you’re looking for that perfect ten. That sort of thing doesn’t exist. If you’re hitting on five out of six cylinders, or even four out of six with someone who truly cares about you, you should run, don’t walk, all the way to the bank with it.” Now first of all, let me be the first to say that the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt is a ten, and I’m sure that Mrs. Thor is a ten.
BT: Amen. She is.
HH: So you have to…I just want to get that on the table.
BT: She’s an eleven, yes. An eleven.
HH: She’s all, there you go.
BT: Turn it up and rip off the knob.
HH: But I want, when we come back from break, I just love that little dialogue, because it’s not what someone expects in Hidden Order, which is Brad Thor’s new thriller. It’s in bookstores everywhere, America.
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HH: I’ve got to ask you, Brad, before I go back to Brad Thor’s theory on marriage, I hated the trial from beginning to end. It was a travesty of justice. He shouldn’t have been charged.
HH: It was clear he was going to be acquitted. And now, we have people who are just desperately hoping for a riot that hasn’t happened, and I think it’s going to go away at the end. But you’re competing right now on a book tour with this.
HH: It’s kind of a nightmare from an author’s standpoint to have one of these things happen.
BT: It is, and I was lucky to at least get out of the gate before this came out, because again, I’m an American before anything else, and I’ve got very strong opinions on it, and I agree with you. When this thing all happened, I ended up doing a link. I said I finally figured out why they decided to charge George Zimmerman, and I linked to that scene from Monty Python, well, he looks like a witch. Burn her.
HH: Burn her.
BT: Burn her. Burn her.
HH: But does she float?
BT: Does she float?
HH: Does she turn me into a newt?
BT: She’s got a wart on her nose.
HH: And so, but I mean, I’m a realist. You want Hidden Order to sell and sell and sell.
BT: Of course.
HH: By the way, how many books have you sold?
BT: Boy, you know what? I don’t know. They give you books in print. You know, I’ve got millions and millions of books out there.
HH: Yeah, it’s got to be tens of millions. Now what percentage are now downloaded versus hardcopy?
BT: I am leading Simon And Schuster on e-books. So I am Simon And Schuster’s most e-booked author.
HH: You think you’ve crossed over to the 50% level now in e-books?
BT: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely.
HH: What do you think about that?
BT: Well, it’s interesting. I love technology, but I’m still, when it comes to books, there’s something very special about holding a book in my hands. So I always buy a hardcover, but when I’m traveling, I get the e-version for my e-reader. So I end up buying the same book twice.
HH: Yeah. Well, when I’m going to interview someone, I have to have a hardcopy, because I have to be able to flip through and keep my notes.
HH: And I don’t know if you do this, but the key things I have to talk about as I go through the work thing, you have to go to the back of the book and write about them.
BT: You know what I do in mine? I’m always learning new words. And so I run a list of all the new words I learn when I read a book.
BT: It’s just kind of a quirky thing.
HH: One of the things you can give away at auction sometime is any of your annotated books. Richard Nixon, have you been to the Nixon Library, yet?
BT: No, I have not been to the Nixon Library, yet. I was going to go out for Troop-A-Thon, and unfortunately didn’t make it this year.
HH: Oh, and Huckabee was up there with Larry O’Connor. Are you sure you want to hang out with Larry O’Connor too much?
BT: I just did Larry’s radio show in D.C. for four hours.
HH: You know, that can ruin your reputation in a hurry. The man has got a terrible…but Larry was up for it. I wanted to go to the Troop-A-Thon as well. When you get to the Nixon Library, there is a recreation of the Lincoln Library. And in it are President Nixon’s actual books, heavily annotated. Are you, do you read with a pen?
BT: I do. Highlighters, I have multiple different colors of highlighters, and I have the little stickies that can on there, because I do, I really believe that the details, I read so much non-fiction before I write my fiction, and I think those details are the bedrock of a great thriller. Suspension of disbelief is that agreement we have, writer and reader, but you have to be smooth, you have to be perfect, you don’t want to jar that suspension of disbelief by making a dumb mistake.
HH: Okay, now I want to make a flash in a little bit of the next hour here when we talk about the Fed. The Fed’s in the book.
BT: It absolutely is.
HH: You can feed a lot of conspiracy people.
BT: And I did not…
HH: So what was the moral dilemma here?
BT: The moral dilemma, 9/11 happened, and my wife and I got stranded on the East Coast. And we decided, we were on our way to Greece, because I had lived in Greece one summer, and tended bar, and I wanted to take my wife back and meet my Greek friends. And we decided to spend it, we got stuck in Atlanta, the flights were cancelled overseas, so we ended up on Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia.
HH: That’s it, okay.
BT: And that’s where in 1910, a group of powerful bankers and a couple of corrupt senators snuck out of New York City, boarded a train in Hoboken, New Jersey, and went down on a private rail compartment to concoct the Federal Reserve. It was the third attempt to create a central bank in the United States. The first two had been killed, wildly unpopular with the American public, and this time, they said how can we con the American people into not thinking this is like what happened before? And they said well, let’s make it sound like it’s part of the government. We’ll call it the Federal Reserve. The thing’s about as federal as Federal Express, Hugh.
HH: Yeah, high compliment. I knew none of that.
BT: You see, and that’s what…
HH: I didn’t know any of that, and I researched it all before you came on, because I wanted to make sure that you just weren’t making stuff up, because good novelists will sometimes just write MacGuffins in there, right?
BT: Well, right, but man, it’s not a MacGuffin.
HH: But you did it.
BT: I put it in there, and that’s the kind of stuff I thought was fascinating. I didn’t need, you know, I don’t buy into this Bilderberg-Illuminati junk nonsense. That wasn’t it. I just thought the Federal Reserve is so, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors on purpose there, and I said you know, last year when I was on with you, and we were talking about my thriller, Black List, which was all about total surveillance and the NSA.
BT: And I said this is going to be the next big thing. Now, I believe the Federal Reserve is really the next big thing. This is their 100 year anniversary this year. Nobody’s talking about them.
HH: We’ll come back and we’ll continue talking about them. Brad Thor is in studio with me. His new book, Hidden Order, is linked over at Hughhewitt.com. You’re in for a treat, if you’re in an airport anywhere. Did you see it in the airport today?
BT: I’ve seen it, yeah.
HH: Isn’t it nice to see your books stacked to the height?
BT: Pretty cool.
HH: Hidden Order is available, overnight delivery, Amazon.com. It’s linked at Hughhewitt.com.
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HH: I went back and going through my notes last night, Brad, I want to pay you some props not only on the Federal Reserve, but before I forget it, because second hour, I’ll get behind. There’s an epic battle on Page 244 between two characters, one named Samuel, one named Wise. That’s all I’ll tell you. It’s very hard, I think, to write fistfights. Or I think it’s just very hard for people. It’s very easy to write gunfights. I think it’s very hard. The stage is great if you’re going to film it for a movie to have people throwing around and knocking each other…you wrote that very well. How hard was that set piece?
BT: It was, I’m a fanatic about detail. So I actually got together with a couple of cops that I know who are big MMA, mixed martial arts guys, and said if you were in this situation, if you had the training of both of these people, how would it play out? And then I watched these two guys kind of choreograph it. And I’m very visual. When I write, it’s like seeing a movie unfold. That’s the way I want the books to be for the readers. So I actually had the fight. I staged it.
HH: You did?
HH: I was wondering, because it’s so well done.
BT: Yeah, thank you.
HH: There are some things in there, some details which I’ll let the reader, bookcase details, things, just different things. I’m not going to give anything else away. But it is really very well done. So you staged it?
BT: I did.
HH: And did they think that you were out of your mind?
BT: They know I’m out of my mind. My friends know that this is just all part of the process, and they just being able to contribute to it, so I’m lucky.
HH: All right, now back to the Federal Reserve. John Campbell comes in and sits where you are every week. He’s the chairman of the subcommittee on International Monetary Policy, has quiet, private lunches with Ben Bernanke. He’s as patriotic and as conservative as you and I are. He does not think that they are sinister. He thinks Ben Bernanke is trying to do a hard job. And do you think Ben Bernanke has read Hidden Order, yet?
BT: I don’t know. I know Forbes Magazine did, which was surprising, because we didn’t send them a book. And Forbes did an article saying is Brad Thor right? Is the Federal Reserve the next scandal? As you know, the whole premise behind Hidden Order is that the Fed chairman dies in office, and the five candidates that are on a secret list that’s supposed to go to the President, all disappear the same night.
HH: Oh, you gave away more than I was, I’m prepared to give away, so that’s good. Okay.
BT: Yeah, yeah, Of course…
HH: That’s the start. It’s early in the book.
BT: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t want people to think I’m writing a book on the Fed.
BT: It’s, this is the, this is the…
HH: It’s a thriller.
BT: Yeah, it’s a thriller. So I think probably because there’s been a lot of talk, and the Fed is very concerned about its image and what kind of PR is out there, and again, I just went to the historical record and said you know, how did they start, what’s it about, because I realized, Hugh, I didn’t know that much about the Fed. And that’s on purpose. They don’t want us to know much about what they are. I mean, they’ve redefined the definition of inflation 20 times since 1978. The value, and this is our problem with government and things attached to government. We never measure is it working, is it not working? And the Fed, the dollar’s lost over 90% of its value.
HH: 96%, I believe you say in the book.
BT: 96%, yeah.
HH: Now here’s my bet. My bet is in the confirmation hearings for Ben Bernanke’s successor, because it’s obvious the President isn’t reappointing him, so we have a new Fed chairman by the start of ’14, that Hidden Order will come up. What do you think?
BT: I sent one to a couple of senators. Let’s see what happens. That would be fantastic.
HH: I just think that they’re going to sit there, and someone’s going to raise this book up, I can see the visual right now, just in time for the paperback edition. When’s the paperback coming out?
HH: You might want to advance it.
BT: And you may want to…
HH: No, you might want to, someone’s going to hold up Hidden Order, and they’re going to say now, Ms. Yellin…
HH: That’s who it’s going to be, probably.
HH: Have you read Hidden Order, and then they’re going to say are you really running a game there like this that is so non-transparent? How can they answer other than yeah, it’s non-transparent?
BT: They have to. They would have to, because the facts would contradict them if they said anything else but.
HH: Okay, you have to now set yourself up as Mr. Hazlet, and give the short course in what the Fed is.
BT: Well, the Fed essentially, the Fed was set up allegedly to help money panics, these runs on the bank, where the banks had loaned out more money than they actually had in the vault. And it’s interesting, because Paul Warburg, one of the co-creators of the plan for the Fed, had given a big speech at the Economic Club of New York in the early 1900s, and said if we don’t have a central bank, and we have another bad thing happen in the markets, it could be disaster. It’s almost like that Rahm Emanuel, don’t let a good crisis go to waste, because not long after he said that, there was a big crisis in the markets. Some people attribute it to J.P. Morgan trying to corner part of the market and force one of his competitors out. What troubles me is Warburg’s brother, it was either Warburg’s brother or his cousin, ran the Reichsbank in Germany that created rampant hyperinflation, and that Reichsbank, in the Weimar Republic, is what they used as a model for our Fed.
BT: They have known since the beginning that the Fed eventually would fail spectacularly. They knew that. And the Fed is set up so that it can, the United States wants more money. When Congress, when the government wants to spend more money, they go to the Fed, and they say give us the money, and we’ll give you Treasury bills. I mean, they do this swap. But then the Fed, a private organization, creates the money out of thin air. It digitizes the money into existence.
HH: You know, you’re the first person I saw use the term digital money. Is that yours?
BT: That’s what it is.
HH: Did you come up with the term digital money?
BT: No, I saw it in my research.
BT: I’m not the one…
HH: Because it’s a fine, fine, very descriptive term of what they’re doing.
BT: It is. They’re digitizing money into existence, and the U.S. borrows, so you explain to me how my government borrows money from a group of private people.
BT: That’s like me saying to Duane, hey Duane, I need a hundred bucks from Hugh, and then Duane draws the hundred dollar bill with some crayons.
HH: But now, as a Con Law professor, I kept thinking to myself, but they are a state actor. They’re part of the Fed. I mean, the President nominates, and of course, the President nominates for a lot of things – private corporations, privately-held OPEC and things like that. But I’ve always thought of the Fed as being quintessentially a government agency. And here’s a question I don’t know the answer to. Are their employees, employees of the federal government?
BT: That’s a good question. I can’t…
HH: I don’t know.
BT: And when the President nominates, in my research, I always saw that the President is given a list, says here’s your choices. The President just can’t scour the country for the best person. The Fed tells him, here, we’ll give you a choice. Here’s five names. Pick the one you want.
HH: Okay, and that’s the premise, by the way, of Hidden Order…
HH: …is when it comes up. And right now, we’ve seen a list of Timothy Geithner…
BT: Oh, come on…
HH: Lawrence Summers, Janet Yellin. It’s going to be Yellin, because there’s nobody else who can get through the Senate.
BT: Oh, good, but the mere fact that Geithner’s name is on there is a joke. The fact that Geithner, who was a tax cheat, even ran the Treasury, these people, here’s my problem. It’s my problem with President Obama and a lot of the people around him. It’s my problem with Tim Geithner. It’s my problem with the Federal Reserve. None of these people have made a payroll. These people are academics. They’re eggheads. It’s all theory. It’s not real, practical stuff.
HH: And we end up with the same person.
— – – – –
HH: In studio with me, Brad Thor, extraordinarily successful writer of thrillers and a Twitter man of my own soul. I mean, I love the fact that very few modern writers get Twitter. Brad Thor, you do. How many followers have you got now?
BT: I think it’s just under 40,000.
HH: Excellent. And you really engage.
BT: I do. It’s my space where I can be a citizen. I don’t have to be just the writer. I can be a citizen there.
HH: And it’s fun, and it’s games, and it’s extraordinarily fast. Are you worried about ever making a mistake on Twitter?
BT: Yes, every day.
BT: Every day, because you can’t pull that back once it’s out there in the public square.
HH: No, and that’s what Twitchy exists for, right?
BT: Right, yes.
HH: So when you sit down, do you think, you know, I’ve got a brand, I’m Brad Thor, and I really, I just can’t be misunderstood? Or are you just having fun?
BT: I’m having fun. I’ve got a point of view. I’m very concerned about the country, and I get to be political there, which my publisher hates.
HH: Why are you still in Illinois?
BT: Good question.
HH: The only state that is more broken than California is Illinois.
BT: Yeah, no, no, it’s terrible. We committed, we’re leaving, my wife got very sick just after Christmas.
HH: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
BT: She spent a good part of the beginning of the year in the hospital, or else we would already be residents of Tennessee or Texas.
HH: Oh, you haven’t decided, yet?
BT: No, because…
HH: Rick Perry will call before the end of the show now.
BT: Rick Perry has already called.
HH: But again, he’s going to remind you why you want to be down there.
BT: He invited us to dinner, so when my book tour is over, we’re going down to Austin to have dinner at the Governor’s mansion. He’s a fan of the books, too, now, I understand. So…
HH: Oh, he’s a great governor, obviously.
BT: And he’s a great salesman for the state of Texas.
HH: How smart.
HH: And so what is your decision matrix?
BT: First, no income taxes.
BT: That’s the big thing…
BT: …because the federal tax rate went up, and we also want the health of the state, but a place where we can raise our children where they’ve got some sophistication. We’ve got good medical. We need to be close to that for my wife. We just want to be with good Americans who say yes, sir, no, ma’am, please, thank you, nice wholesome place to raise our family.
HH: The trouble with both those states, they don’t have any football. I mean, clearly, it’s not Ohio, and it’s not Michigan, and it’s not Illinois. You’ve got Northwestern, that doesn’t really count. But…
BT: Well, they’ve got Houston. Houston’s got a football team.
HH: Yeah, but I mean college football.
BT: Yeah, college football.
HH: You see, UT is not really…so you are going to actually, by this time next year…
HH: …be a resident of a different state?
BT: Yeah, I’m not going to give Illinois another dime of my tax money.
HH: You know, Phil Mickelson got in big trouble for saying that, even though everybody is thinking that.
BT: But it’s true. That was true. Well, Phil Mickelson’s a PGA golfer, and he’s got a, by the way, Phil Mickelson has the same psoriatic arthritis that my wife does. It’s the same, my wife has the same underlying issue, which has caused some other poor health conditions for her. But yeah, I don’t, listen, Illinois is failing. And I said I would stay based on the election results, and my fellow citizens in that state not only returned the same morons to the statehouse, but added to it. And now, there’s a Democrat majority there, that the Republicans can’t impact at all. And I said that’s fine, I’m getting off the Titanic. The best time to leave the theater is before everybody else smells the smoke. I’m going to sell my house, I’m going to get out, and that’s it.
HH: And so Francis Parker, so long?
HH: So long to all these, you see, they don’t understand this, Brad.
BT: Capital is portable.
HH: They do not get it, that capital is mobile.
— – – –
HH: Brad, the last book, watching Snowden running around, this just must be, I mean, it must be weird. You’re like Joel Rosenberg in that you’re predicting now, not just making things up.
BT: Well, you know, I do believe, and I have to give credit to my buddy thriller writer, Brad Meltzer, who said a thriller writer’s job is to beat the headlines. And I knew last year with my book, Black List, that the total surveillance thing was going to be the next big thing we’d talk about, the NSA. It’s interesting about Snowden, you know, a lot of people said do you think he’s a hero, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, my problem with Snowden is I think if something, if there’s something terrible going on, and apparently the extent of the NSA surveillance is much, much worse than has been uncovered by Snowden, and now they’re threatening to expose that. That’s fine. If we’ve got something that needs exposure, there’s got to be a better way to do it than to go right to the press, because I don’t want Ed Snowden, I don’t want Bradley Manning, who gave everything to Wikileaks, deciding what, for my sovereign nation, should be top secret and shouldn’t. It’s not up to them.
HH: But aren’t you, as a guy who studies this, and you have friends in the business, as Vince had friends in the business, Silva has friends in the business, I know a couple of these guys, but not like you do. I’m very worried that someone like Snowden, it was a penetration operation. I don’t know what Glenn Greenwald’s involvement is. That will come out eventually.
HH: But it seems to me as though this was orchestrated in much the same way that the KGB would have orchestrated the penetration. And it was awfully damned easy.
BT: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, he claims that he went into it wanting to get this information. I’ve had some people look at his girlfriend in Hawaii and say you know, is there some deeper involvement there? Was that a honey trap sort of a thing?
BT: Yeah, which is interesting. Now if I put my thriller writer hat on, here’s what I would love to have this turn out to be. I would love to have this be the most awesome modern operation mincemeat. And everything the Russians and Chinese have sucked off his computers is absolutely bogus, is meant to force their hand.
HH: Oh, interesting.
BT: If I was going to put my plot twist on it, that would be it. But I actually don’t think we’re that brave and that courageous.
HH: We’re not that smart?
BT: We’re not that smart, no.
HH: Well, we somehow got along with the Israelis. We got the Iranians to accept our…
HH: …Stuxnet at some point. So we’ve got some smart guys running around here. You know, the United States Navy and the Department of Defense are pouring a lot of money into cyber security, a lot of money into cyber security. I don’t think people understand, yet, what Snowden has done.
BT: No, it’s bad. And when you consider that he allegedly gave Greenwald fifty slides, like fifty PowerPoint slides, and only four of them have been released, I mean, this is bad. So bad, apparently, he’s got things in what we call a button-down fashion, where if you imagine a suicide bomber who walks around with his thumb on the button, so if anybody tackles him and his thumb comes up, the suicide vest explodes. So he’s got information button down that apparently if anything happens to him, if he slips getting out of the bathtub and cracks his skull open, that information is going to be released.
HH: What kind of stuff do you think it is? Is it like designs on nuclear weapons? What could it be?
BT: It’s going to be stuff, I think, predominantly around the NSA. I’m hoping that it doesn’t reveal sources or anything like this. We’re already starting to see a lot of internet traffic flows through Germany. And part of what he’s revealed is, is that we tapped everything in that hub. I believe it’s in Frankfurt. So now that’s a big deal. You know, this is akin to, what was it, the New York Times that released that we had bin Laden’s satellite phone, and we were able to listen to that…
BT: …and we were able to also track money through particular ways. So if the bad guys find our techniques, it hamstrings us. It’s very bad.
HH: That’s what people don’t understand, and why I got so into it with some of the New York Times journalists. And who is the L.A. Times Washington bureau, Doyle McManus, I said you know, Doyle, you helped terrorists escape.
HH: And he said I suppose that’s reality.
BT: I said no, you did. You helped terrorists escape. Live with that. Deal with that, because that’s what Snowden has done. He is, I like to put it in these terms, you’ve condemned millions of Afghani girls to the triumph of the Taliban.
BT: Absolutely. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom from responsibility.
BT: And that’s important for people in the press to remember.
HH: Oh, so you wrote this book last year about NSA and deep, deep state surveillance. This year, you’re writing about the Fed and a couple of other aspects about rogue agents and organizations within organizations. Tell me you don’t think that there are organizations so black within the CIA that the head of the CIA doesn’t know that they exist.
BT: Yeah, I would actually say there’s probably several things going on at the CIA that the head of the CIA doesn’t know exist.
BT: I’m telling you, Panetta didn’t know everything that was going on there. The Central Intelligence Agency is its own thing. I remember when Porter Goss went in as DCI, and Porter Goss’ job was, his marching orders from the President was to clean out the deadwood, to make it a more efficient organization. I know some incredible men and women who work at the CIA, some of the greatest patriots you will ever meet. And their biggest frustration is the middle management there. Someone I know saw something posted in someone’s cubicle that said big operations, big problems, small operations, small problems, no ops, no problems. And he was disgusted by that. He said it is a gun-averse, risk-averse culture, and it has strayed so far from its predecessor, the OSS, that the best thing that could happen to the United States is if the CIA was dismantled, and a new agency was built in its place.
HH: But that would be the opposite problem than the one I’m worried about, which is agencies within agencies with no accountability.
BT: The rogue thing. The rogue thing.
HH: The rogue thing.
BT: Yeah. You know what? The black budgets exist all around everywhere, and you do have a problem where you don’t have oversight. And I agree with you. That can lead to many bad things if there isn’t the proper accountability and oversight. That being said, do I think that there are these things going on, not necessarily as I’ve laid them out in the book, because that’s part of the fun of fiction. But do I think that there’s programs going on connected with the Agency that the DCI doesn’t know about? Absolutely.
HH: Now you see, in 1985-86, I was working in the White House Counsel’s Office, and you know, the junior lawyers are over in the Old EOB, not the West Wing. And a couple of floors above me was a guy named North. And he was running around, and he was selling guns…
BT: I know Ollie.
HH: …to the Contras…
BT: I know Ollie, yeah.
HH: And he was doing all that without, and Poindexter knew a little bit, but not a lot, and a lot of people didn’t know a whole bunch, and the President certainly didn’t know about it.
BT: Yeah, there you go.
HH: So I know that stuff went on up until then, but I keep thinking that in this day and age, the day and age of Twitter about which we spoke earlier, you’re one Tweet away from being blown on anything. So…
BT: But these are people that we entrust to be professional secret keepers. These are not Edward Snowden, who’s coming in on a contract from Booz Allen Hamilton. So I think there are some incredible patriots that are doing things. Listen, we have, political correctness is going to be the death of this country. It is the biggest chink in our national security armor. Hugh, I have no doubt that there are men and women who care more about keeping Americans safe than they do about their own careers, and that they would put America before themselves. They do it every day in the field, and I have no doubt they’re doing it in Northern Virginia. But that’s a question for us to have as citizens. Are we comfortable with the fact that there are some things going unseen outside, you know, outside the law, outside the parameters that are set in D.C? It would be a provocative conversation to have.
HH: In terms of other comparisons to the Fed, going back to Hidden Order, do the other central banks alarm or organize in the same fashion that the Fed does?
BT: Absolutely. They all get together and meet, as a matter of fact. There is a…
HH: But you’re not a conspiracy theorist. You’re not a Bilderberger guy.
BT: No, no, no, no, no. There’s articles in the Wall Street Journal. There’s a building, I believe it’s in Basul, and they get together, and it’s, it was fascinating to read about you can’t bring your cell phones in and stuff. And they have these nice lunches, and they talk about international monetary policy. That’s what they do. I’m not a Bilderberg guy. It makes sense that you know, all the money that happened in the stimulus, I mean, a lot of money went out to support banks in Europe and things like this. So it makes sense that they would all talk to each other. I don’t have a problem with central bankers talking to each other.
HH: Most chilling line in the book. Do you know what it is? You wrote it.
BT: Did I write I’m here from the government, and I’m here to help you?
HH: No, I just want a seat on the arc.
BT: I just, oh, yeah. I just want a seat on the arc.
HH: That’s a great line. And it says, explain to people what you mean by, I don’t want you to give away any plot detail. I just want a seat on the arc. I wrote that down and said wow, that’s a line.
BT: I just want a seat on the arc. That is spoken by a character who is attached to the Federal Reserve who believes that the Fed knows what’s coming down the pike for the United States. And if the United States collapses, it’ll take the rest of the world down with it. And when asked why would you do these things, why would you agree to perform the actions you did in Hidden Order, he said because they’re going to save me. I just want a seat on the arc when it all collapses.
HH: Now it’s interesting, Brad Thor, that a couple of years ago, John Campbell, again, sits in your chair a couple of times a month when he’s on the West Coast, said he thought his most significant act as a congressman, he announced he’s retiring, is when he voted for TARP, because he thought it saved the United States from that collapse, that the money market funds had frozen. That was it. That was the big deal.
BT: Well, they had to freeze them, because they were being pulled out, because everybody was, people were ripping their money out, yeah.
HH: And so it was, so you think clearly, 30 seconds to the break, we can see that again soon?
BT: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it’s only a matter of time.
HH: You see, I’m not with you on that. We’ll have to come back and talk about that.
— – – –
HH: It’s my view, Brad, that a lot of the thriller writers are doing that which journalism no longer does, which is they involve the reader in the world as it is, and they teach them. One of the interesting aspects of Hidden Order is you anticipate the effort to use the Tea Parties to tar and cover. In other words, that it’s a false flag operation to tar some Tea Party types, and it happens every time there’s a bad thing in the United States, MSNBC goes to find the Tea Party connection.
BT: Oh, of course.
HH: That’s what they live for.
BT: Of course. And Brian Ross at ABC, he made that mistake, I think it was in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, he had done that.
HH: Yeah, but it’s only a matter of time, right, until they actually find someone who is a nut, and because you’ve been to Tea Party rallies like me. They have an occasional crazy person show up. But will it work when it happens?
BT: Well, the inspiration to do that in the book came from the fact that Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security put out a white paper about domestic terrorism. And they pointed to anyone who had a Ron Paul bumper sticker, a Gadsden flag in their truck, was a Tea Party member, and even returning military vets. I mean, this was insane to me, and what else do we see? We see the weaponizing of the federal government against the people in the IRS.
BT: So what we’ve seen, I liken the federal government, Hugh, to Jabba The Hut in Star Wars. It sits there, it’s fat, it continues to engorge itself, it exists only to perpetuate itself. And if you cross the federal government, it will slash out at you with one of its razor-sharp tentacles, be it the Department of Justice with the Zimmerman case, whether it’s the IRS with Tea Parties applying for 501c4 status. It will send Boba Fett to come take you down.
HH: And has Boba Fett ended up in the trash compactor, though, because after the IRS, the question is, what’s happened?
BT: Well, there’s a lot of people out of work. We only have 47% of the adults in America with a full-time job. I would say they are, this is Cloward Piven, I think we’re seeing, in the United States.
HH: And explain that to the audience, especially the Steelers fans.
BT: Okay, Cloward-Piven is a, Frances Fox Piven was the Piven in Cloward-Piven. Cloward-Piven came up with a concept. They are 1960s radicals who said the more people we can get on welfare, and the faster we can do it, the more people dependent upon entitlements like health care, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, the sooner we can overwhelm the system and collapse it, and then put a new system in place. Again, it’s this whole thing. Never let a good crisis go to waste. But the other thing they’re working on is how do we come up with good crises?
HH: Now the camps on the President are incompetent and ideologue. I am in the incompetent camp. I think it’s a lot of suit, a lot of hat, no cattle, gliding along on a smile and a charm…
BT: Which you always, he’s a Chicago guy.
BT: I mean, we watched him get absolutely no successes as an attorney, but end up at these fantastic firms. And he went to school here in California, right?
HH: Right, Occidental.
BT: Wasn’t he at Occidental?
HH: Occidental for two years, and then to Columbia.
BT: So you tell me if, here’s my big thing with President Obama. If he’s so brilliant, we’ve been told smartest man in the room, all this stuff. If he’s so smart, how do you go from Occidental to Columbia to Harvard, and not want to share your grades with anybody?
HH: Well see, I don’t think he is.
BT: I mean, if you’re that brilliant…I don’t think he is, either. But he is an ideologue, because I will tell you this. Bill Clinton after the midterms tacked. Bill Clinton was a politician, and Bill Clinton, I mean, we got welfare reform, and granted, we had control of the House and all this control of Congress, we were able to do that. But I think he is incompetent. I think what we’ve seen is the ultimate affirmative action push somebody all the way to the top.
HH: Peter principle.
BT: Peter principle. Exactly. I think he reads a heck of a teleprompter, but he’s the wizard of uhs when you rip the teleprompter away from him.
HH: But that’s why Cloward-Piven would require, you know, there’s a default setting into which he falls. But if I go back to Game Change and Mark Halperin and John Heileman, Bill Clinton said of President Obama, he’s an off-the-rack Chicago pol.
HH: That’s all he is. He’s not sinister, he’s not despicable me. He’s not Gru like Gru Whitman. Are you going to do the morning show, by the way, when you’re out here in L.A? Are you going to do my KRLA morning show?
BT: Well, I would love to.
HH: Well, if they’re listening, Gru Whitman, Brian Whitman, is the lefty on there. Ben Shapiro is one of the three…
BT: Okay, and I know Ben.
HH: And Alicia, they have to put up with Gru every day. But President Obama is not Gru Obama. He’s just kind of Elmer Fudd.
BT: Well, he is, and so I wouldn’t even categorize him as a normal Chicago politician, because the Chicago politicians I know, like Mayor Daley and people like that, were brilliant. They were absolutely brilliant. They knew what they were doing, they were highly organized. I think Barack Obama is one of these guys, listen, he was a blank screen upon which people projected their hopes and aspirations for themselves…
BT: …their families. Great, everybody felt great, historic election and all that kind of stuff, but we spent so much time looking…without Obama, we’d still have Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer. We need to focus not on what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it, because I really believe the end state of the progressive movement is socialism. I really believe that’s the drive.
HH: And you see, this is where we might disagree, because I look at shuffling, bumbling Harry Reid, and I think he’s a shuffling, bumbling prisoner of many small choices that put him into this sort of haphazard job. Barbara Boxer’s dumb as a box of rocks, and I know I’m not supposed to say things like that, but she just is. She’s pathetically dumb. Lots of people will never win the spelling bee in Washington, D.C. They’re not executing a master plan. They’re dummies that have been, they’re driving the cars over the cliffs.
BT: They are, but their ideology is dangerous, in my opinion, because I don’t see things coming from the left that want to increase my liberty.
HH: Oh, that’s true.
BT: I see every single idea that comes out is something that curtails my liberty. And I have to, that’s my paradigm that I look at everything through, Hugh. And when Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber, and Barack Obama is a bumbling, I think he’s incompetent, but when he said to Joe the Plumber, I think it’s better for everyone when we spread the wealth around, that is the foundational principle for socialism.
HH: True. But here’s where…Obamacare, some people think it was so badly crafted in order to destroy health care and drive us into single payer, other people think, Hugh Hewitt, it was so badly drafted because it was put together by people who think they’re really smart, and they’re actually dumber than a box of rocks.
BT: Agreed, agreed. I don’t think. I think it had been on the shelf for a while, it’s people at the Apollo Alliance and things like this. So I agree with you there. I don’t think that was a brilliant master plan, because it’s so fraught with trouble.
HH: It’s just such a buffoonery. So now, David Petraeus goes into the CIA…
BT: Oh, that is no coincidence that time.
HH: That’s what I wanted. What is your read of what happened there, because one of the great Americans of our time, and yes, he had a problem and a personal failing, but was he taken out?
BT: Personal failing, but absolutely. Come on, one of the first things you learn in the intelligence world is there is no such thing as coincidence. You know, hey, there’s a guy I haven’t seen for 20 years, or a girl I liked in high school, and she’s suddenly on the planet next to me on our ride over to Paris, and I’m alone without my wife, whatever. That thing smacks of blackmail to me. Petraeus had the affair, and what did Petraeus do? He came out and said I’m going to own it, and I’m going to resign. I’m going to do that. But I believe that Petraeus was given an ultimatum. You can either play ball, or we’re going to expose you. And he said no, I’ll expose it myself, because that is an honorable man. We all fall down. We all have failings. But I really believe Petraeus is an honorable man. Now his wife might not think so, but I believe that. And I am left with two big questions. Why was our ambassador, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi, of all places, on 9/11? And then, why, when he learned that the Cairo, the U.S. embassy in Cairo in Egypt, another Arab Spring country, was under attack, why didn’t he rush back to be with his people at our embassy in Tripoli? What was so important in Benghazi that Chris Stevens didn’t leave? Why was he there with a lightly guarded detail? People say oh, running guns and meeting with the Turkish ambassador. It’s what we have the CIA for. I will tell you this. As wonderful a man as Chris Stevens was said to have been, very bright, very well-spoken, he’s not a gun runner. That’s what we have the Agency for. So I don’t buy that.
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HH: And one of the things I like about it a lot is American history. Now I’m a history nut. I did not know two of the three incidents that make up the trilogy of incidents, and so I’m feeling stupid, and I teach Con Law. And I took an American political theory course from Judith Sklar, who knew all of the pamphleteers and all of the run up. How long did it take you to learn this stuff?
BT: It took a while. There were a lot of libraries I reached out to, and found books and collected these articles. But I’m fascinated, listen, I think I’ve probably got more Sam Adams in me than I do John Adams.
BT: And I think that’s apparent if you talk with me politics for more than just a couple of minutes. But I liked this idea of going up against a superior force, the British. And I always admired the Americans, and we’d heard about all these, you know, Lexington, Concord, all these different things that happened, but I was interested in kind of the insurgency stuff. You know, we’d heard about the Boston Tea Party, but I knew there was more. I knew these guys were doing fast, like hit ‘em hard and run away kind of ops, and I liked that, because you know, this is what we send our SEALs out, it’s particularly the Green Berets who are force multipliers. We teach insurgents in other countries how to do these operations, and I said what did our guys do here in the run up to 1776? How did we harass the British? And then how can I take those really, find those cool ones that I love it that you didn’t know about, Hugh.
HH: I didn’t know them, no.
BT: And how do I weave them into this book? How do I take that and put that in a contemporary thriller setting? And that, for me, with my love of country and our history, was a lot of fun.
HH: Well, the people who run the Freedom Walk are going to be very, very pleased with you, because there are, you know, the Freedom Walk becomes the two red bricks, and you go see old Ironsides, and you go to the Church, and you see Paul Revere, and then you’re done. But now, you’ve actually put some flesh on these bones, and to a couple of these different bones. But you went even deeper. I did not know colonial times nursery rhymes. I never knew about the pocket thing.
BT: Yeah, Lucy Lockett.
HH: And so when did you figure that stuff out?
BT: Okay, well…
HH: Or explain the rhyme if you can remember it.
BT: Yeah, so, I’d have to look it back up, but essentially what I wanted to do is, I wanted to put the bad guys have a hostage, and they have to move the hostage in public from one point to another. And they don’t want the hostage to call out for help. And what they gave her is this colonial nursery rhyme. And so she’s passing people in the streets of Boston, repeating this rhyme, repeating this rhyme. So the people she passes are picking up snatches of it, which is kind of neat, so that when they do report that yeah, they saw her, and they have to give their police report, they all feed in and figure out oh, it’s this colonial nursery rhyme, and we know it’s tied to this other stuff, which was just fun.
HH: Oh, it was beautifully done, and I’m sure that every American history lover of that period is going to go back and start to think this through. But I also think police departments are going to just say why in the world is Thor giving these people these ideas and this kind of crazy stuff? Now also, some technical stuff, very nice touch, no HUTS – Hostages, Unknowns, Tangos, Shooters. That’s from Page 285. HUTS stands for that. Is that real? Or did Brad Thor make that up?
BT: Yup. No, no, no, that came from a dear friend of mine on the Chicago SWAT team.
HH: Can you watch anything that happens in America from one of these scenes, and not put the professional eye on? Are you watching them all now for professional stuff?
BT: I am. I am. I’m always, it’s just like Velcro or like flypaper. It just all sticks. It all sticks.
HH: And so when you get emails, cards, letters and phone calls, and especially Tweets from the professional community, are they nitpicking with you? Or are they saying you got it?
BT: No, the most flattering piece of fan mail I get is from our men and women in military, law enforcement or the intelligence community saying you got it. This is our tactics, this is the way we do stuff, and how did you find out about this or that kind of a thing.
HH: All right, now have you ever been, is there a Kau Tapen Lodge on the banks of the Rio Grande in Tierra Del Fuego?
BT: There is, and it’s a fantastic, fantastic place to fish, I am told.
HH: You have not been there?
BT: I have not been there.
HH: Are you a fisherman yourself?
BT: I am. I love fishing – deep sea…
HH: You’re a fly fisherman?
BT: Fly fishing and deep sea fishing.
HH: Oh, man, I cannot stand this stuff at all. So how do you, just a little novelist trick for again, the would-be novelists who are listening, how do you pick a venue like that? How did it decide I’m going to use, because this is a scene in the book, and it’s down in Tierra Del Fuego. How did you pick it?
BT: Well, remember, Hugh, that before I became an author, I had a travel television show.
HH: Travel guy.
BT: My dad saw the world with the Marine Corps, my mom saw it with TWA as a stewardess, because that’s what they were called back then. I love travel, so I read travel magazines, I love watching Travel Channel, and so these little places, if I’m in a magazine and I see something I like, I just tear the sheet out, and it goes into a folder.
HH: And so that’s the writing folder.
HH: So as you’re sitting at your table, and by the way, are you still keeping the same discipline?
BT: I am.
HH: Two hours a day?
BT: Oh, it’s more than two hours. That’s when I had a full-time job. So now, it’s, I’ll work out in the morning, I’ll run or I’ll lift weights, and then it’s right to the desk. I don’t leave until 2,500 words have been written.
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HH: Brad Thor’s new book, Hidden Order, begins in Somalia, which is very interesting to me, because Alex Berenson’s most recent book ended in Somalia. And that’s a bad sign for me when thriller writers are both looking at the same places for bad things. That’s a bad sign. What do you think is happening there? And in fact, is that where al Qaeda is next going to nest? And I know they’re already nested, but metastasized from?
BT: They are, and you know, I was concerned about the al-Shabaab group, and how many of those young Muslim men left the Twin Cities in Minnesota and went there, and were suicide bombers and all that kind of stuff. So I think that’s still a very dangerous place. You know, I got to meet one of the Delta Force guys who was on the first Blackhawk to go down, and it was fascinating for me to chat with him, great guy. And yeah, I think that’s a part of the world we still need to be concerned about. And as I see us kind of receding, as I see the President wanting to shrink our military and all this kind of stuff, the reason that the world has experienced the prosperity it has, the peace it has, the standard of living has raised as it has, is because we’ve been able to project force around the world. And as we start to kind of curl up into that turtle shell, it’s going to be anarchy and chaos everywhere else. It’s just the way it works.
HH: One of the backstories in Hidden Order is the Arab Spring
HH: And from what did it spring, and why does it exist, and what is Saudi Arabia’s relationship with it, and I am curious as you watch the current iteration whether you think, are we involved at all in the counter-countercoup, because I think what happened is that there was a coup against Mubarak from the deep state, then there was a countercoup that Morsi beat the guys who beat him. Then the guys who beat Morsi are in power right now, and we’re going to have a counter-counter-countercoup. I think there is so many different deep states in Egypt, it’s impossible to say. But what do you think?
BT: Well, here’s, I was trying to sort through it, and then all of a sudden, Mohammed ElBaradei popped back up.
BT: And now he’s in the vice presidential slot. That’s a guy that if I’m looking for a conspiracy, that’s a guy I would pin to it. Now I’m not saying he’s smart enough to pull off something on his own, but he’s the kind of guy that I can see some powers out there want to be a puppet there. I’ve never liked the guy. I thought he was toothless at the atomic watchdog position with the U.N. I’m not a fan of his, and when he popped up, and suddenly we’ve gone through all this turmoil, and now he’s going to be one of the guys in power, it just bugs me. I’m not a fan of his. So Egypt? You know, first and foremost, I agree we want to promote democracy around the world. But what do we see when you turn, it’s a little bit of a crass line, but Ann Coulter had it, and she said you can’t give democracy to people that have more goats than they do flush toilets. Now Egypt is not Afghanistan. Egypt is further along the line. But you know, we have to look at balancing what are our interests, and was Mubarak serving our interests? And President Obama was so eager to get Mubarak out, and now look at the chaos.
HH: But you know, he sent Frank Wisner over there, who family friend knows him pretty well, and very competent guy. And then we cut, this was classic Obama incompetence. They send over A to say A, and then they say not A and B. And it was totally screwed up from the beginning. Do you think we have a policy in Egypt?
BT: No, no I don’t think we do.
HH: Okay, so we’re just riding the wave.
BT: No, I think we’re riding the wave.
HH: All right. I agree with that part. Now to wrap up on the Saudis, though, they’ve got a backstory in Hidden Order as well. What’s your assessment of whether or not they’re our friends or not?
BT: Well, the Saudis, outside the United States government, the Saudis are the largest purchasers of American military equipment. We obviously have interest in the development of the Saudi oil fields, and pumping the oil out, and all that kind of stuff over there. So we have a relationship with the Saudis, but Saudi Arabia is a religious apartheid. I mean, you can’t bring a Bible in, you know, you have to get off the road on the way to Mecca, you can’t go straight through there. Look at what happened with the Jewish passengers recently in New York with trying to check in on the airlines. Saudi Arabia is a very, very, very bad place. And it’s bad for homosexuals, it’s bad for Christians, it’s bad for Jews. So I’m not a huge fan of Saudi Arabia. But I do know that one of the things that’s propping up the dollar is the fact that oil is bought and sold in dollars around the world. It’s one of the things that helps with keeping it the world’s reserve currency.
HH: How long can they be indifferent to the fact that we’ve got more oil in the United States in Bakken and off our coast? I mean, we’re going to figure this out pretty soon, Brad Thor. We’ve got the oil. And they say now in Australia, they’ve got an enormous new find as well.
BT: Oh, they’ve got to be very nervous. But they don’t have to be nervous with the current administration, because they don’t want to give drilling permits, they don’t want to do the Keystone Pipeline. There’s all this, we’re so screwed up when it comes to our own energy policy here…
HH: I know. That’s the answer to our trillion dollar deficit is to go get the oil and do a severance tax, although my oil buddies hate that. There is a new president in Hidden Order. We’re sort of in post-Obama land. The new president looked a lot to me like Chris Christie. Was I wrong?
BT: Well, the book…
HH: Not physically, but in attitudinal approach.
BT: Well, I will tell you this. The book opens with a quote from Kennedy, that things don’t happen, things are made to happen, which I thought as a thriller writer, could be interpreted in a couple of different ways. The book actually closes with a quote from Reagan, and that was my inspiration for the president in this, is that quote from Reagan about…
HH: Yeah, but we don’t get to run him again, and there’s a great list.
BT: That’s true.
HH: I did the Hewitt odds last week, Jeb Bush 2-1, Christie and Rubio 3-1, John Thune 5-1, Ted Cruz 10-1, Rand Paul 50-1. A) what do you think of my odds? You’re a Chicago kid, so you know how to gamble. And B) what do you think of the people on that list?
BT: I think you’ve got a list that makes sense now. I think we’re going to see somebody else pop up. I really do. I think we may see somebody else pop up. But my thing is, is I think the Republican Party has a lot of problems that need to be fixed, and part of what I am trying to do is encourage people to be more active on the precinct level, because if you control the precincts, you control the party. You know, I think Mitt Romney was a wonderful man, a very, very good man.
HH: You were active in the campaign. You worked hard.
BT: I was active. But that was an agreement with some of my friends on the Romney side. I said if Rick Santorum does not get the nomination…
BT: …I will come over and help with the Romney campaign, which I did. I honored that agreement and was glad to help there, because I wanted the governor to win. But I have to tell you this, we need somebody, if you’re going to go up against the Chicago machine, we need somebody who’s willing to get in a knife fight. You can’t bring marquis of Queensbury to a knife fight, and I really think that the governor is such a good man, that he was incapable of tossing marquis of Queensbury and going after Obama. I think that would have gotten him a populist surge, and we may have been able to do something. But we also need to convince people in this country that freedom is more important than free stuff.
HH: Were you upset with Christie’s embrace of the President? I was not. I just thought it’s what a governor does in the middle of a disaster.
BT: No, what bugs me about Christie is I really like him. I liked, especially when he first came on the scene, I liked how bold he was, and he would go after people. I liked that prosecutorial side of him. But Christie’s not a 2nd Amendment guy. And that, for me, that is a, that’s a make or break. I won’t date you if you’re against my right to keep and bear arms, sorry, we’re not going to even be able to hold hands.
— – – –
HH: Concluding today’s program with Brad Thor. Radioblogger Duane could not be here to greet you in person today, so he sends his regards, and he deeply regretted that he had to be out of the studio today, Brad. So thank you for signing the book for him. Hey, I mentioned USC. They’ve never had trumpets since the War when they melted them down in the band. They got rid of the trumpets. Has that ever bothered you?
BT: You know, there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance that still exists at USC, and I’m very proud of it, our beautiful, white horse, Traveler, that goes out on the field.
BT: Tommy Trojan.
BT: Oh, now we’ve got to go that way.
HH: Now let me ask you about this. I have not mentioned the name Scot Harvath. Isn’t that interesting?
BT: It is interesting.
HH: I’ve done a two hour conversation with you.
HH: Your guy is Scot Harvath, and I didn’t mention him. I was wondering if anyone out there knows I just did a two hour conversation with Brad Thor and didn’t bring him up. What’s the future for the franchise? I saw the franchise going in a couple of different directions at the end of this book.
BT: Well, I do have…
HH: I mean, three different directions.
BT: Yeah, and that’s the fun of what I get to do. Now this is my 13th thriller. You don’t have to read the books from book number one.
BT: You can read them in any order.
HH: You can pick up this one. That’s actually easier than the other ones. Some people, you can’t do that.
BT: Yeah, no, so that’s always been the intent, and again, I think Hidden Order is about to explode on all our doorsteps tomorrow what’s in there, so that’s why I’m encouraging people to read it now. But Scot Harvath, my protagonist, Southern California guy, grew up on Coronado, his dad was a SEAL, he’s a SEAL who gets recruited to the White House to help bolster their counterterrorism expertise.
HH: He does his Secret Service stuff.
BT: Does his Secret Service stuff, but realizes he likes being on offense more than defense, has a president that wants to set him loose against our enemies, and then the administration changes. And the new president doesn’t have a need for him. And he goes private. And that’s where we are now with him. But as far as where the franchise is going, I’ve introduced a couple of new characters in this book, because I want to do things with Harvath, but I also want to do some of these other fun things, because I’m watching younger SEALs now, and younger Delta Force people, and some of the Rangers, and some of the SF guys, and I’m seeing what they’re doing, and how these guys are playing against, the other more seasoned people in their ranks, in the Special Operations community, and I want to be able to play all those angles as a thriller writer. I want to…
HH: It’s fascinating. Silva’s done the same thing by, and C.J. Box brought in a couple of people, and it’s very hard to bring them out of nowhere, but you’ve done it, and you’ve set it up very, very nicely. So my question is, you know, does the supreme capitalist, Brad Thor, have a ten year plan?
BT: Oh, I absolutely do have a ten year plan.
HH: You do?
BT: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah I have a ten year plan. This is, I mean, this is the fun of what I do, but I came from a business background. So I’m always saying I’m only as good as the next book that I’m working on. That’s the way I look at it. So that part for me is absolutely, I’ve got the stories planned, everything, a whole ten year plan.
HH: It’s so interesting, people say why do you work? And I say I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t work.
HH: I love what I do, you love what you do.
HH: And I can’t ever imagine shutting up or stopping, and I can’t imagine you not writing, and I think, actually, the great ones are all that way. And so it’s great to end our conversation by saluting Vince Flynn, who was the same way.
BT: Absolutely. Absolutely, he was.
HH: And wrote until the very end of his life, and probably there’s a posthumous book out there. But Brad Thor, thanks for coming in today, continued good luck on the success of Hidden Order and the rest of your books. We’ll see you same time, next year.
BT: Thanks, Hugh.
End of interview.