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The Founding of the Witness Protection Program

gangster-539993__180Many stories have been written or put on the big screen that involve the Federal Witness Protection Program. It is a semi-secretive program designed to protect those who come forth to provide evidence against criminals the government is interested. They tend to be high-profile and powerful enough to strike fear in most potential witnesses. Many witnesses feel that if they do come forth only the witness protection program can save their lives.

Let’s start off by saying that the official name for the program is not the Federal Witness Protection Program. That is the name that society has placed on it and is recognized everywhere including the U.S. government. And it is not run by the FBI like so many people think. I did not realize that it is the U.S. Marshals Service that runs the Witness Security Program. You learn something new every day.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service site the purpose of the program is to provide “for the security, health and safety of government witnesses, and their immediate dependents, whose lives are in danger as a result of their testimony against drug traffickers, terrorists, organized crime members and other major criminals.” This program was set up in 1970 under the Organized Crime Control Act which was created as a direct result of a mafia informant who came forth but was fearful of his life. The government wanted the mob family so badly, they agreed to protect him. Thus was born the Witness Security Program.

The site announces that they have protected over 8,500 people and their immediate family members. According to them, no one has ever been harmed under their protection when the rules have been followed. I can only assume that some idiot called up an old friend and let the cat out of the bag. You’re on your own then.

Now, in my story, The Cost of Second Chances, I have a unique version of the program. This is one that is not under the official umbrella and is more done as a side covert project. Why? Because the one in charge has a gut feeling something is not right and the normal process has been compromised. He brings in a black op man who is ready to hang up his hat and asks him to take a woman under his custody possibly for life as his wife. Yes, I know that would never happen, but then again this is a fictional story and the circumstances were set up where it had to happen. Throughout the story, Alex uses his contacts in the agent world to keep tabs on others and to get help when he needs to.

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