The Witness Protection Program

The Federal Witness Security Program, commonly known as the Witness Protection Program has its roots in some sensitive trials that took place in the 1960s.  They were investigated by the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (OCRS) of the U.S. Department of Justice, l­ed by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.  The key individual who could be said to actually create the program was Gerald Shur, initially calling it the Witness Security Program, or Witsec, which later became the title of a book written by Shur.

In Jeremy Chester’s engaging novel Smoke, the Witness Protection Program figures prominently, suggesting that terrible consequences could arise from leaks in the program.  The author’s premise is stated on page one, as a man already in the Witness Protection Program receives an anonymous letter saying simply, ‘I know who you are’
Since this individual, code named Smoke by the Department of Justice, was instrumental not only in testifying against some senior narcotics traffickers, but actually carried out unauthorized extra-judicial killings of others, the letter is received with shock, fury, and finally, a careful plan to track down the author of the letter, while staying away from those contacts within the government responsible for his protection.
This novel takes some liberties with the procedures employed by the Justice Department in the Witness Protection Program, based upon the rather extraordinary behavior of the protagonist, Smoke.  In the novel, he is handled by a senior official within the Federal Bureau of Investigation rather than the United States Marshall’s Service, which is normally the case.

Want to learn more about the Witness Protection Program? Get your copy of Smoke today!