Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger
Clear and Present Danger  
Cover art for Clear and Present Danger
Author(s) Tom Clancy
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Ryan universe
Genre(s) Thriller novel
Publisher Putnam
Publication date August 1989 (1st edition)
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 656 p. (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-399-13440-9 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC Number 19845912
Preceded by The Cardinal of the Kremlin
Followed by The Sum of All Fears

Clear and Present Danger is a novel by Tom Clancy, written in 1989, and is a canonical part of the Jack Ryan universe. In the novel, Jack Ryan is thrown into the position of CIA Acting Deputy Director (Intelligence) and discovers that he is being kept in the dark by his colleagues who are conducting a covert war against a drug cartel based in Colombia. The title of the book is based on the legal phrase "clear and present danger".

Plot summary

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Panache intercepts a yacht in the Caribbean Sea, discovering two men cleaning up after killing a man and his family. Through a mock execution, the Coast Guardsmen force the executioners to confess to the murders. It is later learned that the murdered man was part of a drug cartel money laundering scheme.

Hearing of this atrocity, the President (who is unnamed in the novel) calls for a change of direction in the War on Drugs. He feels compelled to take drastic measures against drug trafficking because his challenger, J. Robert Fowler, has rallied the public behind the administration's failure to curb the drug trade.

The president initiates covert operations within Colombia and a step-up of operations against aircraft believed to be distributing narcotics. Three major players help the plan reach fruition:

The plan consists of four operations:

  • Operation CAPER is the interception of mobile phone communications between cartel management. It is also the communications arm for SHOWBOAT and the light-fighters' only means of contact with the outside world. CIA operative John Clark is dispatched with CAPER to coordinate the effort.
  • Operation EAGLE EYE uses F-15s to intercept drug flights. Several aircraft are destroyed and others are forced to land, where the pilots are interrogated for information regarding the cartel.
  • Operation SHOWBOAT involves four teams of soldiers infiltrating Colombia to stake-out airstrips used by drug-trafficking aircraft. They report departure times of aircraft, allowing the EAGLE EYE team to intercept them. Later the troops attack the airstrips and coca processing sites. The soldiers are seconded from American light infantry battalions, and are all Hispanic in order to blend in with the local population.
  • Operation RECIPROCITY involves using ground-attack aircraft and laser-guided bombs to attack cartel locations discovered by intercepts. The bombs have a casing that will be consumed in the blast to give the impression of a car-bomb.

Félix Cortez is a former member of Cuban Intelligence in the employ of the cartel. Cortez feigns romantic interest in the aide of FBI Director Emil Jacobs. She unknowingly reveals information regarding the date of Jacobs' official visit to the Attorney-General of Colombia. Cortez delivers this information to the cartel management, who order Jacobs's assassination as retaliation for seizing cartel money. Jacobs and several other Americans in his delegation are killed.

Jack Ryan becomes aware of events in Colombia, and suspects involvement of the CIA. As acting Deputy Director of the Intelligence Directorate, Ryan should be privy to most operations, but he realizes he is being left out of something. After his long-time friend Commander Jackson inquires about activity in the region, Ryan goes to Moore to demand an explanation. Moore avoids explaining the situation, but orders Ryan to withhold the information from the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committee.

The use of Octol as the explosive in RECIPROCITY tips Cortez off to military involvement and hence to the true nature of the bombing. Planning to create a war within the cartel that will leave him in a position to seize power, he suppresses this information. He also learns of the American troops in Colombia, and orders large groups of cartel mercenaries to hunt them down. Cortez blackmails Cutter into ending the operation, promising an intra-cartel war that will slow drug imports into the United States. Cutter's meeting with Cortez is shadowed by Ryan and Clark. Clark is outraged at the abandonment of the troops in Colombia, and with Ryan, the FBI and Air Force personnel plans a rescue operation.

Clark makes radio contact with two of the teams to warn them of the cartel operations and orders them to alternate pickup points to await extraction. The other two teams have encountered a large number of cartel mercenaries and taken casualties. Clark makes radio contact with some survivors, including Domingo Chavez.

Clark flies into Colombia to retrieve Chavez' band of survivors. Ryan uses an Air Force helicopter to pick up the surviving members of another team. Together they launch a raid on the cartel's command post, capturing Cortez. The group then attempts to extract the remaining ground team. During this extraction the helicopter comes under heavy fire from the cartel forces. A helicopter crewman, Sgt. Buck Zimmer, is mortally wounded, and Ryan promises to take care of his family - a promise which plays into the plots of the novels The Sum of All Fears and Executive Orders. Due to a hurricane and damage to the helicopter, they land on the deck of the Panache instead of returning to Panama.

Clark confronts Cutter with the evidence of his treason, and Cutter commits suicide to avoid shaming the Navy or those lost in the operation. Cortez is returned to Cuban hands, where he is a marked traitor. Ryan confronts the President, who insists what he did is right. Ryan responds that despite his classifying the drug cartel as a "clear and present danger," what the president did was illegal, and Ryan must brief Congress.

The two presiding members of the committee briefed by Ryan meet with the President, who agrees to unspecified conditions. Ryan, who has observed both presidential campaigns, realizes that the incumbent has deliberately sacrificed himself (by running a poor reelection campaign) to protect the knowledge of the covert operations and the honor of those involved. Fowler wins by a slim margin, and Ryan realizes that the incumbent has more honor and dignity than he originally thought.

See also

Clear and Present Danger (1994 film)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • clear and present danger — clear and pres·ent dan·ger n: a risk or threat to safety or other public interests that is serious and imminent; esp: one that justifies limitation of a right (as freedom of speech or press) by the legislative or executive branch of government a… …   Law dictionary

  • Clear and Present Danger — Danger immédiat  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Danger grave et imminent. Danger immédiat est un roman de Tom Clancy paru en 1989. Titre original : Clear and Present Danger Adapté en film (Danger immédiat), en 1994, avec Harrison Ford… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clear and present danger — This article is about the legal concept regarding the government s ability to regulate speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For the novel by Tom Clancy, see Clear and Present Danger. For the feature film, see Clear and… …   Wikipedia

  • clear and present danger — noun a standard for judging when freedom of speech can be abridged no one has a right to shout fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire because such an action would pose a clear and present danger to public safety • Hypernyms: ↑danger * *… …   Useful english dictionary

  • clear and present danger — noun 1. a serious and definite threat to the security of a country: to take action since terrorism is a clear and present danger. 2. (humorous) any serious threat or danger: a clear and present danger to the chances of our team winning.… …  

  • Clear and Present Danger — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Das Kartell Originaltitel: Clear and Present Danger Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1994 Länge: 136 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Clear and Present Danger (film) — Clear and Present Danger Theatrical release poster Directed by Phillip Noyce S …   Wikipedia

  • clear and present danger doctrine — Doctrine in constitutional law, first formulated in Schenck v. U. S., 249 U.S. 47, 39 S.Ct. 247, 63 L.Ed. 470, providing that governmental restrictions on First Amendment freedoms of speech and press will be upheld if necessary to prevent grave… …   Black's law dictionary

  • clear and present danger doctrine — Doctrine in constitutional law, first formulated in Schenck v. U. S., 249 U.S. 47, 39 S.Ct. 247, 63 L.Ed. 470, providing that governmental restrictions on First Amendment freedoms of speech and press will be upheld if necessary to prevent grave… …   Black's law dictionary

  • clear and present danger — the expression used by the US Supreme Court to indicate a situation in which complete freedom of speech is not a person’s legal right. No one has a right to say something that would cause a clear (= obvious) and present (= immediate) danger to… …   Universalium

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