Come dusk here tonight, there will be a snatch, and terrorists holding an American executive hostage will face the wrath of G. Gordon Liddy's commandos.
On cue, a band of combat veterans handpicked from Israeli and British special forces (the limey Rambos who taught the Delta Force a trick or two) aim to slip into black sneakers, slam clips into submachine guns, assault a five-acre estate, soothe on-duty guard dogs, scale a two-story villa and, Uzis ablaze, rescue the victim and send a message to Moammar Gadhafi, Ayatollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, Idi Amin (wherever he is) or any terrorist thug who happens to tune in to the exercise via local TV: Woe be unto you who mess with a client of G. Gordon Liddy.
"Say your loved one is abducted. We have the means to get him back," says the one-time lawyer, FBI agent, district attorney, White House aide and counsel to the Nixon reelection finance committee.
That's Liddy, as in Watergate break-in mastermind, who served his time and now, a celebrity at 55, a hot book under his belt, thrives in the world of spooks, spies and private eyes.
As commander in chief of his own private security firm, he offers an A-Team for hire as one of many services designed to help clients sleep through the night.
Only he winces at Hollywood allusions. His boys are the real thing: lean, mean, multilingual and prepared to fight and bleed if the price is right.
Meet Liddy's Hurricane Force, scheduled to be trotted out here Tuesday as a live demo for students attending G. Gordon Liddy Academy. "It's the only school of its kind," says Liddy.
Indeed, the academy is a $2,700, three-week affair aimed at budding sleuths, corporate security types, students of criminal justice and would-be Mike Hammers. It offers a feast of lectures and exercises on VIP protection, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, polygraph tests, undercover work, stakeouts and live fire. It runs here at an airport Sheraton through Friday, and, a month later, is booked in New York, where the seminar will be streamlined for busy consumers with less time to spare. Felons and "security risks," a Liddy spokesman promises, are weeded out.
But that hasn't stopped plenty of criminals from applying. One prison inmate's mother was outraged when her boy was turned away. "But Liddy went to jail," she sniffed.
"Yeah," replies Olaf Rankis, a beefy former college professor who left law enforcement to teach, then left teaching to be vice president of G. Gordon Liddy & Associates, "but he's not going through the program. He wouldn't qualify either."
"We're trying to run a clean, credible operation," he says. "Some might call it 'Dirty Tricks 101' or 'Liddy's Spy School.' But what we offer is an education where students are exposed, for a limited amount of time, to the best in the business."
In fact, it is billed as a law enforcement hit parade. There is Richard Kobetz, expert hostage negotiator; another former top trainer of U.S. marshals who supervised the near tragic John Hinckley Jr. detail; an ex-Drug Enforcement Administration type; ex-FBI men; Agency vets, Vietnam vets, Israeli vets.
"Terrific," said Liddy Acad grad George Miller, 45, a Miami nutritionist and former intelligence officer looking to change careers. "I got to fire an Uzi, an Ingram Mach-10, a Mossberg shotgun, an AR15 . . . "
"Who's talking about shooting?" perked up a student who asked merely to be called Pepe. "I like that." With a re'sume' boasting work for Mexican government security, Pepe was digesting the culture shock of undercover work in a country governed by stricter restraints.
This week there were only eight students, including several Liddy employes, local private eyes and a West German college student on summer vacation who liked James Bond movies. "The money you can make with the CIA is not too bad, huh?" she asked, musing about a career.
Her name was Andrea, cunning as any would-be terrorist as she played bad girl in an airport security exercise. Her adversary was Steven Goldrat, 26, a former Israeli field intelligence officer and veteran of El Al airline security.
Why was she traveling alone, just coming off her honeymoon, he wanted to know. Why did she only spend three days in the United States? And, by the way, could he check her bag?
She wiggled and squirmed as he pulled out a bottle of engine oil purportedly packed with cocaine. She thought she was smuggling drugs, unaware that her dearly beloved had saddled her with a bomb that would blow her to smithereens -- a scenario straight from the news.
Acquiring information is an art, with eyes and ears the most effective tools, he advised. And Rankis even suggested graduates might consider donning the role of a reporter to obtain information.
"You're a sponge, a chameleon," he said, advising students how to suck up information from maids, janitors, at cocktail parties. "All you have to do is talk to people and listen."
And be on guard. Beware "the soft touch," that is, someone else running the same routine. Spy, counterspy. And know when to run, when to hide and when to come clean.
"Pepe, say you're a homosexual," Rankis went on, "and you're being blackmailed. If your employer finds out, you lose your job. How do you neutralize the other guy?"
"Find a girlfriend?"
"Say George over there is with the FBI and happens to be a promiscuous fellow," Rankis continued. "We have pictures of him in sordid poses. How can we use it and how can he neutralize it?"
Pepe suggests castrating George; another student muses about "invalidating" the blackmailer. "You mean, kill him? " asks the stunned professor.
"You acknowledge it," Rankis explains. "You say, 'I was wrong.' You neutralize the power of the information."
So much to learn, so little time. And if they wind up on the Liddy team and face the possibility of playing hard ball where the American government often fears to tread, that no man's land of treachery and intrigue: hostage rescue? Well, the Force is with them -- Hurricane Force, that is, billed as the only private antiterrorist team of its kind in the country.
"If your child is kidnaped and you want money paid, we can pay the money and bring him back," says Liddy. "If you want us to go get him, we'll go get him. Period."
Such a rescue might run $500,000 to $1 million, but if the price and the risk are right, the Hurricane Force is ready. Liddy likes to stress that he doesn't have to answer to State Department bureaucrats for overseas operations, and there is built-in "deniability" for the U.S. government, he says.
But wouldn't you ask the host government for permission in such a case? "If we were going into Iran, we wouldn't ask the Ayatollah for permission," he said.
"We'll go anywhere," he said.
Liddy has left the teaching up to his professors here, but he aims to show up for graduation to pass out diplomas.