The Lone Gladio distills the complexity of the “Deep State” down to its most basic properties- A Review by Mark Mondalek

In its own “web of ambiguity,” The Lone Gladio journeys beyond labels and pegged ideas to frequently ask more of its readers than meets the eye , Sibel Edmonds’ follow-up novel to her 2012 memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, has a unique literary identity so far as being something of a supplementary text to the autobiographical work that preceded it––not as a mere addendum, however, but an entirely alternate entity in and of itself. As a work of fiction, The Lone Gladio deeply magnifies the groundwork that was previously established through Edmonds’s own Kafkaesque real life experience of being recruited into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington Field Office as a language specialist just days after 9/11. Fluent in Turkish, Farsi, and Azerbaijani, translators of her skill set were in high demand, with raw intelligence pouring in at rates that were impossible for the bureau’s understaffed Language unit to keep on top of. “Our country could use my help,” she would later recount. “How could I say no?” Ironically, it was this same sense of patriotic duty that ultimately led to her being fired in March 2002 after conscientiously voicing her concerns over “serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications.” In her forthcoming role as FBI whistleblower, the scarcely invoked “State Secrets Privilege” was asserted in her court proceedings, with bizarre gag orders issued that even included the retroactive re-classification of her case over two years after the fact. Ray Bradbury once characterized his classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 as being a literary novel disguised as a fugitive chase story. Edmonds’s own fictional approach deploys a similar story-telling technique, one grounded in the fast-paced, life-or-death aesthetics of her foremost subject matter: It goes by several names, this beast; some call it the Deep State. Once upon a time it was known as the war industry, which formed an indelible partnership with the energy industry, aided and abetted by the global financial industry. This trio determines every nation’s destiny: who wins, who falls from power (whether by dethronement, assassination or “election”), who gets to rule, and who gets to take out the rulers. These are the ones who set the stages and pick who goes to war with whom, where the guaranteed outcome is always the same: everyone else loses, the colony wins. Simple. The Lone Gladio’s ability to distill the complexity of the “Deep State” down to its most basic properties is arguably the novel’s greatest achievement. Through a vast array of pieced together narratives, with characters spread out within a wide labyrinth of hidden networks and locations––from Turkey to Vietnam; Washington to Azerbaijan––a comprehensive vision of this veiled reality is meticulously constructed. The book’s title is also much more than just an obscure allusion to Operation Gladio, the codename for NATO’s secret “stay-behind” army units originally utilized in Western Europe as protection against Soviet invasion after World War II. Set in a post-9/11-like era two years removed from a September 2001 terrorist attack inside the United States that killed thousands and “changed the world and all its previous games and rules,” The Lone Gladio pulls readers into a new world still reeling from the contrail left behind by the former pro-active Cold War operation currently in its second phase of revision: Operation Gladio B. The novel’s facilitator of the Gladio B construction––and perhaps its most apt literary creation––is “OG Man” Greg McPhearson, also known as OG 68. A creature of habit, he is introduced as though he is almost less man than he is machine: mapping out every waking moment, fastidiously planning every action and future action, i.e., false flag attacks, blackmail, kidnappings and assassinations. “He: a being programmed to accomplish murderous objectives but who acts as if he were guided along a spiritual plane.” Most importantly, Greg is a behind-the-scenes operator for the company, which he describes as a “special operations unit made up of several units: the Pentagon, on the top; NATO, CIA, and MI-6. There are less than two hundred operatives in the company. All divided into their own small units. Separate pockets. Rigidly compartmentalized.” In recognition of the vital functionality of these divided, compartmentalized units, the 20-year company man rendered himself as essentially a man with no agency or company following the 2001 attack, an attack that violated the sanctity of the home front and was executed without his prior knowledge or involvement. Casting himself to the fringes of his secret society––all of society––he is “only one lone Gladio against the rest.” His inceptive leanings toward whistleblowing intertwined in his own survival are further punctuated by the death of his lover Mai, a character reminiscent to Graham Greene’s delicate Phuong in The Quiet American; keeper of one’s fragmented humanity encapsulated within a soft and simple beauty. Sharing main character honors is senior FBI analyst and language specialist Elsie Simon who partners up with a Special Agent from the bureau named Ryan Marcello. Both are following curious leads––devastating, if true––about the enigmatic figure Yousef Mahmoud, one of the masterminds of the 2001 attack. Peeling back the facts and fictions surrounding the al-Hazar terrorist network, Edmonds tactfully illustrates the inner struggles of the two with the easy calm of a truth-teller’s touch. Coupled with their occasional conflicting philosophies, their fight against conspiracy is captured within their individual awakenings. “The further in I go,” imparts Elsie amidst a heated exchange, “the higher the level and bigger the culprit target network gets.” Like Guy Montag gradually accepting the possibility of a world in which firefighters once put out fires instead of starting them, characters react and engage with their own personal struggles to unearth any semblance of truth and reality that they can. Although it is of course important to note that Elsie is far more an amalgamation than any sort of replica, fans will undoubtedly liken her to being the character that most closely resembles Edmonds herself; Elsie being employed doing relatively the same job during a comparably stark period in time. Personality-wise there is even less of a discrepancy. Edmonds, who has been described as “the most gagged person in American history” by the American Civil Liberties Union, instills in her young heroine the same brave, selfless attributes that have guided her throughout her own journey as FBI whistleblower, founder-director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, and founder and editor of Boiling Frogs Post. As a young James Baldwin noted a year prior to the publication of his semi-autobiographical first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain: “One writes out of one thing only––one’s own experience.” Perhaps The Lone Gladio’s most symbolic autobiographical gesture is the beneath the surface burden that Elsie carries concerning the mysterious whereabouts of her kidnapped father, a doctor and political activist quite clearly gifted to Elsie in homage to Edmonds’s late father, a doctor and surgeon who advocated for human rights and civil liberties in his native Iran, and who, as a result of which, was subsequently subjected to arrest, interrogation and torture during the reign of Shah Reza Pahlavi. The experience left an indelible imprint on his young daughter, just three years of age at the time. As she writes in Classified Woman: “For doing right by others he was tortured. In spite of it all, and against ardent protestations of his family, he continued to fight for his country’s freedoms; to help where he could, to ease suffering. His were deeply held beliefs. His journey became mine, at a very early age. We were bonded.” This motif is repeated throughout the novel between characters of various backgrounds, from spies and Special Agents to paid assassins and corporate oligarchs. Within their sense of loss and their longing to even the score; somehow make things right, their personal justifications are explained in a humanistic arena, sometimes with great profundity. Juxtaposed with all that was lost on that fateful September day, we see how Gladio B continues on its set course unabated, taking so many lives and liberties with it along the way. Yet a human spirit remains. In his 1949 essay Everybody’s Protest Novel, Baldwin deconstructs the shallow, sentimental facets of what he calls the American “protest” novel. He argues that such work is essentially far closer to that of propaganda than art; work that ultimately expresses only one idea or revelation without daring to tread toward any deeper truths of the human condition. Citing Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a prime example, he proclaims its author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, “not so much a novelist as an impassioned pamphleteer,” ultimately concluding that “the failure of the protest novel lies in its rejection of life, the human being, the denial of his beauty, dread, power, in its insistence that it is his categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended.” In its own “web of ambiguity,” The Lone Gladio journeys beyond labels and pegged ideas to frequently ask more of its readers than meets the eye. The space between the traditional roles of protagonist and antagonist are so compact at times that a true distinction between good and evil is left nearly indecipherable. Take this homily of Greg’s during his sadistic torture session of a likewise abhorrent Special Agent for example: “The other day I was thinking. What would happen if agencies like the CIA shut their doors for whatever reason? Consider this, Josh. Men and women just like you, thousands of you, with your inborn apathy, psychopathy, sociopathy, fuck-allpathy, paired with your expert agency training, out in the world running amok. Can you imagine, Josh? Think about the spike in murders, serial killings, serial rapes, pedophile rings, theft, hacking, cons and scams&;one reason to let agencies like that stay operational. Somebody up there must know this. He or she must be watching out for the population at large.” Indeed, the population at large is unequivocally the novel’s greatest concern, further evidenced by the enhanced production rush that Edmonds and her self-publishing staff underwent in order to meet a symbolic September 11 release date. While her use of fiction is largely a character-driven apparatus, the world that she creates is sadly all too closely based upon reality. # # # # *Visit these links to purchase The Lone Gladio in , and formats. Or you can purchase a signed copy from the author at
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Mark Mondalek
The Lone Gladio, Sibel Edmonds’ follow-up novel to her 2012 memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, has a unique literary identity so far as being something of a supplementary text to the autobiographical work that preceded it––not as a mere addendum, however, but an entirely alternate entity in and of itself." data-share-imageurl="" style="position:fixed;top:0px;right:0px;">

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