I've started from a story told by a friend, who related me a couple of pictures that seem plucked from a surrealist movie. I've told them before, I'm going to resume them, and so you understand what "We are the State!" means.
A senior official organized his birthday. The President of Romania is invited and participates at the small party.
They were at the same table information services executives, senior judges, prosecutors, politicians, not many, 10-12 people. Expected, the President is headed to the table, and there he is told, on a sharp tone: Sir, at this table stands the State! We guarantee the second term! For some it may seem like a story, but to me it was a hot actual subject, being similar to what I had been living during the period in which I was a political consultant. I've seen instances of this type, and today I will tell you one of them that only has tangential relation to my quality of political consultant.
Some of the events will remain confidential because, maybe some don't know, I've worked successively with Adrian Năstase, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and Traian Basescu. I was hired by them, along with my American and Israeli partners for various election times and we've done our job as well possible, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.
As a man close to the President and the Prime Minister, I've seen and I've heard many, things that will remain confidential because of the trust that was given to me, but also the requirement not to reveal the mechanisms for decisions of the State.
For those who read carefully the series "We are the State.", this claim does not seem meaningless, as in my reports I have not described events which I participated directly, as a political consultant, but things that I've learned lately as a journalist, documenting meetings and happenings that were and will be the basis of the series "We are the State!". Without having connection with moments in which I was bound by a contract and by an obligation of confidentiality.
Tennis parties at a high level
I wrote about tennis parties during 2010-2014 at the Generals Lido and SRI Villa T14, at which participated George Maior-Liviu Dragnea-Florian Coldea-Victor Ponta-Gabriel Oprea, and sometimes Vasile Dâncu, we could say the political "core" of the operation "We are the State!” the place where important political decisions were made.
At these meetings, also participated sometimes Laura Codruta Kovesi as Attorney General, later Chief Prosecutor at DNA. I can say without hesitation that Laura Codruta Kovesi was an important figure in the power parallel which functioned up to the dismissal and the retirement of SRI General Florian Coldea.
Every chance I had, I mentioned that I did not take part in those "social" events, that I haven't played tennis with PSD leaders or heads of SRI, and the fact that I have two direct testimonies of participants attesting that those things happened on the slag.
With this disclosure I stirred strong passions, because there are many politicians who have digested quite hard the idea that while they were chased out with folders from ANI, DNA, or listened "on national security" by SRI, their political superiors were playing tennis and drinking wine whit those who hunted them.
Liviu Dragnea was highly uneasy by revealing the intimate bond that he had with Florian Coldea and Laura Codruta Kovesi, but Victor Ponta's and Elena Udrea’s statements emerged, confirming both episodes, bringing new details.
I opened a forbidden chapter when I wrote about the birthdays of Prime Deputy Director Florian Coldea and SRI Director George Maior from K2, about the presence at the same table of SRI Director, ICCJ President, Attorney General, the Romanian Prime Minister, head of the DNA, along with politicians, SRI Generals and other magistrates.
Night of 6-7 December 2009
Presidential election night 2009, second round. I'd been working alongside foreign advisers in the campaign team of Traian Basescu, but once the vote started our job was about done.
Prospects were encouraging, without being carried away, whereas the polls that we've had until the last moment were indicating a tough race, with Mircea Geoana as favorite, but also Traian Basescu coming hard from behind!
I talked to Traian Băsescu in the morning, after the first wave of questionnaires from the public, from the polling place, the situation was not very rosy, Antena 3 and Realitatea TV would violate election laws with carelessness and were pouring pro-Geoana news.
In that morning conversation, President Băsescu told me that our mission ended, he thanked me for the effort, told me that he does not intend to make any compromise and that we don't have anything else to do than wait for final results. He was not very optimistic, but I started to learn his style, because every time he works on the "worst case scenario", the worst possible scenario.
Polls, as we knew them, gave a small difference, two percent in favor of Geoana, without necessarily including the real impact of the last televised debate, in which Traian Basescu had made Mircea Geoană checkmate. I think you remember the famous question: "Not even last night you didn't like it at Vantu's?” which marked the election loss of the PSD leader.
But back to the main issue.
I found out that Basescu won before all!
On the evening of the last round of presidential elections, around 20 hundred hours, while I was with some friends watching the various newsgroups posts, I got a phone call: "Dan, I won! It's 50.4 to 49.6 in favor of Basescu! "
I block as I had other data from those who were doing polls for Antena 3 and Realitatea TV (back then in the same boat: the anti-Băsescu and pro-PSD) and that would give as winner Mircea Geoana with 51-52 percent.
I tell this to my interlocutor, he begins to laugh and tells me: "do not believe them put the TV on B1 (there occurred an exit poll done by CURS) and there you'll see the actual survey. We won, listen to what I tell you!"
The one who was on the phone knew what he says, as he had a major State function.
Slightly distrustful, but sardonic, I tell my friends (anti-Băsescu) to give up Antena 3 and move to B1 TV if they want to see the accurate results from CURS. Furthermore I spin the knife in the wound and say that Geoana lost with 50.6 to 49.4. They looked at me like a madman, there were 45 minutes until the announcement of the exit-poll, plus it's still voting.
The exit polls arrive, you know what comes next, Geoana's joy, Basescu's announcement, a night in which one has gone to sleep President of Romania and woke up the President of a political party, and President Traian Basescu had won a second mandate.
Many tears and disappointments on one side and joy on the other…
Only that, for me, the night wasn't over yet.
At Gabriel Oprea's place
I was euphoric, I call Gabriel Oprea (or I got a call from him, I do not know exactly), one of the notable supporters of President Traian Basescu, whom I was very close to at that point. I tell him the result, he knew it.
Gabriel Oprea says: “Come quickly, we need you!"
I ask where, he tells me that at his home.
I get in the car, someone else was driving, and I get there quickly. I think it was 22.00-22.30, the results were announced, and a furious campaign began at Antena 3 TV and Realitatea TV that continued to present Geoana as winner. With the notable exception of B1 TV.
I go inside, I come across Onțanu, Puiu Iordănescu and Gigi Nețoiu, if I recall well. I salute and I'm introduced in a pretty small room, about 20 square meters, full of people.
I fastened. There was the State!
One night along with Kovesi and Coldea
In that office were George Maior, head of the SRI, Florian Coldea, Prime Deputy SRI, Laura Codruța Kovesi, Romania's general prosecutor, Gabriel Oprea, former Internal Minister and another important person whom I didn't know. Many times I tried to recall his figure, I tend to believe that it was quaestor Petre Toba, at the time, Deputy of the Romanian police, but I might be wrong.
I didn’t know him, he barely talked, he stood in a corner…
Laura Codruta Kovesi Codruța, prosecutor-general of Romania, I saw the first time, Gen. Florian Coldea I think I have seen once or twice until then, I knew George Maior well from PSD and Gabriel Oprea was a friend, but I confess honestly that I was astounded.
I had the acute feeling that I entered the eye of Hurricane.
They were all extremely excited, SRI General Florian Coldea, tired and tense, entered and emerged from the room, received data about the votes from the territory, he transmitted it ahead, I believe that to President Basescu. When he was relaxed, Coldea slightly talked, he listened more.
Why they called me, you might ask, but I honestly didn't even dare to open the mouth, afraid not to be told to leave the room, to hang out with Onțanu and Iordănescu.
I had the feeling that I assisted the General's Night, after 20 years!
Kovesi and Coldea, extremely concerned about Basescu's victory
I listened to them talking about the elections, about what the PSD was doing, how they were preparing to contest the elections, what votes came from abroad, it was a real crisis cell.
At one point Laura Codruta Kovesi asks me: “What do we do with those from Realitatea TV? How do we settle them?”
A strange question coming from the prosecutor general of Romania, but anyway everything that was going on that evening was very odd, I repeat, it looked like a scene out of a surrealist film.
I respond with the boldness that characterizes me: "they will not settle unless you settle Vantu!" And then there was silence. I repeat the answer. "How to settle him?" Kovesi asks me. "You Know better, I am sure you have the means" I tell her. Kovesi smiles.
We switch to another topic. The votes from abroad. Here, Florian Coldea had many data and figures, but George Maior was receiving information as well.
Attention moves on PSD response, one of those present (I cannot reveal whom) received data directly from the PSD crisis cell, which counted the votes and established the strategy.
The discussion in the small office of Gabriel Oprea continues, the most agitated was, I repeat, Coldea deputy assistant SRI, otherwise Kovesi had a friendly talk with Oprea and Maior, you can see very clearly that they were friends, they were not at the first meeting of this kind.
Once in a while, Kovesi was asking what the voting situation was, what's heard from PSD, what the President says.
I think, as I sat there, Kovesi received at least two phone calls she replied: "Yes Mr. President, Sir". After that she left the room and continued the discussion. Obviously she was an important part of the group, I understood from the manner in which she asked questions referring to the actions which can be taken.
Once in a while, I was saying something, I received a glass of whiskey, and I was tearing on it.
At one point, after a couple of hours, I stood up and I left, I wanted to put an end to the moment, especially since what I've heard there got to me.
I was hearing lots of things I didn’t understand.
It took shape in 2017, with the Operation "We are the State!"
The ones who remained in that room were Laura Codruta Kovesi, George Maior, Florian Coldea, Gabriel Oprea…
People who have made possible the victory of Traian Basescu in 2009.
Two issues remained in suspension
I've left them discussing.
Two problems were to be resolved: validating the vote with the intake of the diaspora and the reaction of the PSD, who was going to challenge the vote.
The alliance PSD-PNL didn't show signs of letting things like this, it was confident that it won the election.
Victor Ponta's statement, spokesman of Mircea Geoana in the campaign from 2009, was eloquent: PSD won the vote, but "their system work well".
Victor Ponta emphasized that "the system of fraud and theft" of PD-L "worked better". "I knew that we were fighting with them. We had to win with 10 percent, but we didn't win 10, perhaps we won only three-four. And then their system was better, "said Mircea Geoana's spokesman.
There were two issues that were going to be resolved in a week.
This is how we got to the case of Catalin Voicu, the interdiction which was placed immediately after validating the elections, for him not to contact certain individuals.
Instead of a conclusion
To be clear, I have heard many scenarios related to the presidential election of 2009. Clearly, Traian Basescu won the election, how and why it was voted in the Diaspora remained merely a question of historians, but I can say with certainty that the contribution of George Maior, Florian Coldea, Laura Codruta Kovesi, Gabriel Oprea was essential. To what extent were entitled to engage in the electoral process, that's for you to judge.
In the Operation "We are the State!” an important stake was annihilation of Cătălin Voicu. A stake I considered legitimate at the time because it was trying to exploit the weakness of the State.
Few know that PSD Senator and his network from Justice were just a pinch away to turn the result of the election, as it was said at that time.
It's not a joke, Catalin Voicu could turn the result of the presidential election, he did tried, but about that in a future episode.
What is that I wanted to transmit through this story from the presidential election night, which I've lived at maximum intensity?
The fact that in 2009 I saw with my own eyes how the strongest State officials have engaged in a political activity at the highest level, made me understand in 2017 the fact that the moments described so far in the episodes of the operation "We are the State!" are real and alike.
Moreover, they describe a mechanism of power that not even the politicians aren't able to sense in its true size.