The company's CEO is former Democratic U.S. senator from South Carolina Gerald Hendley. To the public, Hendley Associates is a trader in stocks, bonds, and international currencies, though, it does little in the way of public business and is not known to have any clients nothing. In actually, the company is a privately funded intelligence service nicknamed "The Campus." It was set up to combat terrorism on an extremely covert level.
Technically, it's not part of the U.S. government but it does things that have to be done when the agencies of the government are unable to handle them. The job of The Campus is to act upon intelligence information. To take decisive action. They gather information on the nature and severity of the threat, and take whatever action is necessary, depending on the specific threat. When the CIA and FBI can't get the job done, for one reason or another, The Campus's job is to do the things that are necessary when the conventional methods are unable to accomplish the mission.
Located in the fictional suburban Maryland town of West Odenton on a direct line of sight from the NSA headquarters and the CIA headquarters, The Campus is regularly provided with the encryption equipment that enables it to intercept and decipher communications between the two agencies. Its personnel then take active data, perform their own analysis, and when action needs to be taken, they eliminate the threat.
Specifically, that means they assassinate a terrorist who has, directly or indirectly, caused the death of American citizens, or is directly involved in plans to do so in the future. The Campus neutralizes enemy forces by the elimination of their important personnel. This is outside the legal system, but it doesn't involve political assassinations. They only target people who are directly involved in criminal acts. They're after those who kill innocent people in such a way that conventional procedures cannot handle them. Besides, political assassinations have too many political ramifications. The usual method of assassination is poisoning by succinylcholine.
As a commodities trader, and as a currency arbitrageur, Hendley Associates does some of its business anonymously through foreign banks, all of which like having large cash accounts, and none of which are overly fastidious about where the money comes from, so long as it is not overtly dirty. It is just another way of keeping outside the system.
The Campus also uses the communications intercept to aid in making a profit. When the NSA does something such as pays attention to what the big central banks are doing, the Hendley Associates complex is ideally located to take advantage of the signals intelligence they gather and cross-deck to the CIA. This gives Hendley's currency-trading troops the best sort of insider information, which enables the company to make a ton of long-term money without anybody really noticing. It does that by not attracting investors.
That activity funds the counterterrorist work of The Campus. It means The Campus is not on the federal budget at all. Not even the black part. Black means a program or project that is not acknowledged by the government. People pretend it doesn't exist. The Campus takes that one step further: It really doesn't exist. There is not a single written document in the possession of any government employee that has a single word about it. No foreign intelligence agency has any way of finding them, as nobody can trace any money to them. The Campus also works outside the federal budget process so they don't have to worry about politicians snooping around and leaking stuff because they think The Campus does bad things.
Since The Campus has deniable authorization with no ties to the U.S. government at all, its personnel have good cover legends, but no diplomatic protection of any kind. Their covers are international businessmen, bankers and other investment professions for Hendley Associates. They get a paycheck that's going to be direct-deposited into whatever bank account they set up.
Hendley Associates operates out of a mid-rise office building of government-undistinguished architecture. It is nine stories high with a capacious front lawn. The building itself is unusual only in one thing: except for a few old tobacco barns that barely exceed twenty-five feet in height, it is the only building higher than two stories that sits on a direct line of sight from the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland, and the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency at Langley, Virginia. In fact, it is the only building taller than a private residence on the sight line from the NSA to the CIA. Some other entrepreneurs had wished to build on that sight line, but zoning approval had never been granted, for many reasons, all of them false. Three other office buildings were planned for the area, and all were denied construction permits.
Behind the building is a small antenna farm. A half-dozen six-meter parabolic dishes sit inside a twelve-foot-high, razor-wire-crowned cyclone fence enclosure and point at various commercial communications satellites. The entire complex comprises fifteen and a third acres in Maryland's Howard County.
Recent evolution in the world of international terrorism had caused the CIA and NSA to work even more closely than they had in the past, and since they are an inconvenient hour's drive apart-they do most of their communication via secure microwave links, from the top of NSA's headquarters building to the top of CIA's. That this sight line transits the roof of Hendley Associates has gone unnoticed. And it ought not to matter anyway, since the microwave link is encrypted. It has to be, since microwaves leak off their line of transmission due to all manner of technical reasons.
The bandwidth on the microwave channel is immense, due to compression algorithms that are little different from those used on personal computer networks. These links are always up and running, most of the time swapping nonsense and random characters in order to befuddle anyone who might try to crack the encryption-but since this system is TAPDANCE encrypted, it is totally secure. Or so the technicians at the NSA claim. The system depends on CD-ROMs stamped with totally random transpositions, and unless a person can find a key to atmospheric RF noise, that is the end of that. But every week, one of the guard detail from Hendley Associates, accompanied by two of his colleagues-all of them randomly chosen from the guard force-drive to Fort Meade and pick up the week's encryption disks. These are inserted in the jukebox attached to the cipher machine, and when each is ejected after use, it is hand-carried to a microwave oven to be destroyed, under the eyes of three guards, all of them trained by years of service not to ask questions.
This somewhat laborious procedure give The Campus access to all of the activity of the two agencies, since they are government agencies and they write everything down, from the "take" from deep-cover agents to the cost of the mystery meat served in the cafeteria.
Most of the information is of no interest to Hendley's personnel, but nearly all of it is stored on high-density media and cross-referenced on a Sun Microsystems mainframe computer that has enough power to administer the entire United States, if need be. This enables Hendley's staff to look in on the information the intelligence services are generating, along with the top-level analysis being done by experts in a multitude of areas and then cross-decked to others for comment and further analysis.