Thank you for your call, Alice. I got here as quickly as I could. Have you told anyone else? Thank God. You have no idea what a relief that is—not just for me, but for America. It is of the utmost importance that we keep this strictly between us.

I know that you must be very confused, even scared. I can't blame you. These things are always difficult. I wish I could explain everything to you—the greater context and the strategy at play here—but that would be in strict violation of National Security Agency protocol. I trust that it will suffice for me to inform you that you have been impregnated for national-security reasons.

Were I at liberty to do so, I would rejoice at this news. We would call your parents and begin to plan our wedding. Unfortunately, in this era of heightened anti-American sentiment and continued terrorist threats on the homeland, that is simply impossible.

I have been instructed by my superiors to inform you that word of this news absolutely must not spread. Only four people in the country, five including you, know about your impregnation—which, I might add, was authorized by the president. In order to be able to play a role in this mission, even I had to get my security-clearance status upgraded by going through rigorous procedures. Direct executive order. Top secret.

The director of the NSA has been calling daily to check up on my progress. When I told him today that the plan was now in Phase II, he was pleased—but also quite clear in emphasizing the vital nature of complete secrecy.

Your impregnation has set off a series of events that may forever change the balance of power among international terrorist networks, rogue nations, and those who love freedom. To that end, I may have to leave soon, most likely without so much as a goodbye. There is much important work to be done. Now that a spark has been ignited, a wheel set in motion, I may very soon be placed in charge of the international coordination and oversight of this mission as it progresses.

There's no turning back, honey. Believe me, I'm dying to tell you everything, but that would put the entire mission in jeopardy. In spite of how much I want everyone to know about the miracle inside you, I cannot betray America.

If your parents ask about your growing belly, you are instructed to tell them that you are gaining weight after quitting smoking, which you should do for the sake of the child anyway. Once that explanation becomes untenable, you are to tell them that you have no idea who the child's father is. If I am called away to defend our country's safety in some other locale, you are to find some responsible, upstanding, patriotic American man to help with parenting duties.

Alice, I would love nothing more than to stay here in Muncie and help you raise the child, but this isn't my decision to make. I've got a critical assignment that might take me far away from here and might last until this kid graduates from high school. Unfortunately, the time frame for the objective remains unclear.

In 2000, or even early 2001, these measures would not have been necessary. But in a post-Sept. 11 world, patriotism means not just respect, but obedience. It means not just service, but sacrifice. I am sorry for the hardships you will have to endure over the next 18 years, but please remember that you will be raising our child in the name of freedom and democracy. Your contribution could not be more important. If only we could discuss it publicly, you would be a national hero on par with Jessica Lynch. But we can't.

Again, let me stress that under no circumstances can we divulge any information regarding this initiative to anyone. With Iran peddling atomic secrets, North Korea threatening nuclear brinkmanship, and al-Qaeda rebuilding its worldwide strength, the U.S. cannot tolerate any intelligence breakdowns regarding your recent knocking-up. If news of your pregnancy were leaked to the Ba'athist Party in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, or your best friend Sandra, I fear you would be in grave danger.

Of course I love you. But I also love my country. And right now, my country needs me. Well, actually, I do have about an hour.