Book 2 Chapter 131

I finished out the morning going over the State of the Union speech with Adam Pierce – revising, reading and changing again. He left before lunch to make corrections and load it on the teleprompter.

The calm was broken by a series of emergency messages from Andy and a request for MTAC.
Moments later General Ingram and the Chief of Naval Operations were standing at my door.

”We have an incident taking place in the Indian Ocean,” the General said just as the MTAC screen went live.

”The Somalia pirates were trying to hijack another cargo ship this morning only to run into twelve of our coastal patrol ships as they were exiting the Red Sea into the Arabian Sea – Indian Ocean area,” Andy said.

They were the new ships destined for the Strait.

”The cargo ship ‘Tariq Sultan’ is a Pakistani flagged freighter which was unusual. Normally the hijackers go after tankers because the ship itself was so much more expensive because of international regulations requiring double hulls and the millions of dollars of oil on board. The owners are more likely to pay a big ransom,” Andy said. ”Something does not make sense there.”

”Another thing that set off flags was it was a Pakistan flagged ship which means it is a member of the Muslim community. Usually they go after European, South American or East Asia flagged ships,” Andy said.

”The cargo ship captain was calling for help on non-international channels but with low output, meaning the call only went a few miles when it should have went hundreds,” Andy added.

”When the JBG fast ships were within sight, the outboard stairs that went down the side of the ship to the deck was filled with men. There were eight pirate boats along the freighter and the ship’s crane was being used. The pirate ships were of the larger ocean clam boats, eighty to one hundred feet long,” he said.

”The two Blackhawks with the weapons pods full of rockets and missiles and two AT802s assigned to Mirbat also responded to calls for backup from our escort ships.”

”The two pirate ships departed the freighter headed for shore at full speed. The two 802s did a low fly over them. The pirate ships each had a large crated missile that came from the freighter on the deck,” Andy said.

”Edgar Arnold – the JBG commander at Mirbat – was monitoring the radios and ordered the pirates ships destroyed,” Andy said.

Edgar was well aware of the political climate in the area. First he was former Special Forces and had spent years in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Then he went to work for Black Bear as a soldier of fortune in East Africa, primarily Ethiopia and Somalia. Andy and I were initially reluctant to put him in a command position.

Our interview with him changed our minds. He was like us – determined to fight terrorism and would put up with no bull from his men. He knew how the world worked in this area.

He called it our interview, “If you are running your company based on a PC culture I want no part of it. Leaders lead and the rest follow orders, regardless of their personal opinion.”

”The 802s were fired upon by small arms from the deck of the two fleeing pirate boats. The boats were no match for the Hellfire missiles sent their way. They were soon disabled, burning and exploded when the missiles went off. ”

”One of the Blackhawks flew alongside the freighter- the hatches to the hold were opened. The pilot was able see the hold contained more missiles and other military hardware and reported the observation to Edgar,” Andy said.

”The pirate ships that were next to the tanker tried to make a run for it. None of them made it. They were no match for the JBG fast ships,” Andy said.

”The freighter decided it was time to run. Edgar wanted the ship investigated by the US Navy,” Andy said.

The Navy had the authority by UN decree and was charged to stop weapons from reaching the civil war torn east Africa.

”Edgar sent orders to the fast boats and Blackhawks to stop the freighter from moving,” Andy said.

”Edgar contacted the US command ship for the area. The USS Boxer was one hundred and fifty miles away. He explained what had just transpired and requested an inspection,” Andy said.

”The commanders on the ‘Boxer’ wanted the freighter stopped as well. The freighter refused to stop saying it had perishables on board. Edgar ordered the ship’s bridge raked with one of the mini-guns from a great distance,” Andy said.

The plan being from the distance the bullets wouldn’t penetrate the steel but the noise would be enough to convince the crew the end was here – or damn close – if they didn’t obey the command to stop. One of the Blackhawks could hover and carry out the plan.

”It took three fifteen second bursts from the mini-gun bullets bouncing off the steel bridge but it worked,” Andy said.

”Edgar ordered one Blackhawk and one 802 to return to base to refuel and then return so the group could maintain continuous air surveillance until the Navy arrived. The twelve JBG fast ships were to stay as well. Six of them were sent to look for survivors of the pirate boats,” Andy said.

”The Boxer is sending four helicopters of Seals to take control of the freighter until the Boxer arrives itself,” the Chief of Naval Operations added.

”Thanks Andy, inform me when the Navy arrives,” I said.

With the Boxer still an hour away, I closed the screen.

I replied to text messages from Vicky, Jenny and Marcy before turning my full attention to General Ingram.
”OK gentlemen, what have you got for me?” I asked.

”The CV67 is being dredged free today at Philadelphia and will be towed to Newport News Ship Building. It can be ready in the time frame you want,” the Chief of Naval Operations said.

”What you are really saying is Newport News Ship Building is willing to do anything to stop the pressure on the Fordson class and prevent the cancellation of the last two ships. That and the engineers have no idea how to correct the problems in a hurry,” I said.

”That pretty much sums it up,” he said.

”What about planes and crews if all the carriers come together at the same time?” I asked.

”We are running the numbers on the reserve units and we will may pull some F18s out of storage if necessary,” the Chief of Naval Operations said.

We talked a while about the escorts ships needed and other things. Then I sent the Admiral to get the latest update on the Boxer’s position and arrival time to the freighter.

General Ingram and I discussed the consequences of today’s action. It was sure to hit the media any time. We decided the Navy should be the one to do a press release about the cooperation of the Boxer and the JBG ships in the hijacking of the freighter.

An hour later everything changed. Rear Admiral David West was on MTAC with the Joint Chiefs and me. West was the Navel Commander for the Indian Ocean; his command headquarters was on the USS Boxer.

”The freighter Tariq Sultan was flying under a false flag and crew. It was an Iranian owned freighter delivering Iranian made antiaircraft and cruise missiles to the rebels in Somalia. Along with the missiles were small drones, RPGs, two thousand new Russian made assault rifles and one hundred thousand rounds of ammo,” the Admiral said.

”The hijacking call on the low output frequency was the contact call and a cover. The JBG fast ships were in just the right place and right time to intercept the call,” he said.

”The first two boats that were destroyed carried many of the Iranian techs who were to teach the rebels how to use the missiles and drones,” he said.

”What happens to the crew and weapons on the ship?” I asked.

”The crew members are in custody; they were all Iranian. Samples of the rockets and missiles will be brought to selected sites for evaluation and testing,” he said.

”The rifles and ammo will be dumped overboard,” he said.

”Put five hundred of the rifles and ten thousand rounds on the JBG ships. They may come in handy for special ops,” I said.

I sent Andy a text for a heads up about the rifles and ammo. ‘‘Keep them in one of the armory’s in the Strait and locked up.”

”What is going to happen with the ship?” I asked. I had no clue of how something like that was handled.

”It will be towed to an anchorage near the Indian coast until the powers decide what to do with it. Iran may get it back at some point. There will be an international process,” the General said.

At 1400 the news broke about the seizing of the freighter and arms delivery. The Navy released pictures of the freighter, the weapons captured and a lengthy news story.

Statements to the US Navy by the JBG ships’ crews about their part in the apprehension and pictures of our Coastal patrol ships were included; all twelve of them and several close up pictures of their weapons. There were even pictures of the Blackhawk and AT 802s. The Navy started taking pictures as their helicopters arrived on the scene with many making the news.

The national news picked up the story for the only one reason; it was connected to JBG and me.

Iran’s Ambassador to the UN issued a statement calling the JBG ships pirates and called for a resolution condemning JBG and the US. Of course they demanded the ship released and crew freed.

Iran was still going by its plan to expand its influence by the weapons shipment to the rebels. With the JBG base at Mirbat they were going to need a new plan. I was sure this was not the first time they had used this freight or this scenario.

I wondered if it was done every time the Boxer was at the far end of its patrol. That patrol was a loop that started off the coast of Mogadishu sailing north/northeast to a point off Sur Oman then south/south west to Mogadishu.

The UN mandate was multinational. The US supplied the command ship with Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Greece and Turkey were to rotate ships to add the second ship in the area. Their ships were to be on station for three months.

The second ship that was to be in the area with the USS Boxer for its tour was a frigate ‘Adrias’ from Greece. It was sitting in an Egyptian shipyard on the Red Sea with an engine failure. A boiler had exploded injuring thirty seamen and disabling the ship.

The General and Chief of Naval Operations were still in my office, watching the reaction from Capitol Hill. As usual Senators and Congressmen were lined up for the free time on TV.

”Until the Greek ship makes an appearance, do you want a squadron of the JBG coastal ships to report to Admiral West and the Boxer? That is if you think the Iranians may be taking advantage of the gap,” I asked.

”I’ll discuss it with the chiefs and let you know,” he said.

Troy and I talked about tomorrow morning’s meeting with Jack Carol, Dirk Blake from the Agriculture Department and Ruth Packard. They were told to bring all the reports from the nutrition programs and grants for their agency.

Adam was back for one more run through of the speech. This time I would use only the teleprompter. When I finished it was supper time. I made a few more notes on the paper version for Adam to make changes tomorrow morning.
Then there would be one more run through tomorrow afternoon before the 2000 national broadcast.

I did a VCATS with the girls and another one with Andy. With the girls I set it up for the family to be here at 1600 for supper and to help me relax before the State of the Union speech. Mom and Dad were also coming.

Now that Mrs. Thomas was back in Kansas there were plenty of rooms in the White House for all my family to stay overnight. Bedrooms had been set up for all of us and there was even a room with two beds for the boys and two rooms with cribs for Sara and Takeo. And still there were four other guest rooms.

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Book 2 Chapter 130

At 0400 my mates and I were at the end of Sawyers Road waiting on the rest of the hunters. The only other car here belonged to Curtis Warren; he was sitting in his car by himself.

It was a perfect time to have a quiet talk. I tapped on the window then slid into the passenger seat.

We talked about the cold and hunting for a minute.

”Speaking of hunting – I’m doing some for the White House. Years ago you turned down a chance to sit on the Supreme Court. What are your feelings about it today? Would you be interested to take a pay cut, lose a little freedom and independence for a seat on the court if it were offered now?”

”Does the fire to serve the nation in that capacity still burn? I’m looking for one great person to be the one I appoint, ” I said.

”It would be an honor but you are right. I enjoy the freedom of being independent. Thanks for the consideration but no, I will pass,” he said.

Then I named off the three I had sent to the investigators. We talked about each one – the pros and cons of each. It was going to be a tough choice – maybe the checks would eliminate someone.

I had a feeling it was going to be an agonizing decision. That fancy research group I had was going to get the whole list to research on Monday.

Monday I was going to be busy working on the State of the Union speech that I had to give on Tuesday night – if the government was open for business.

The rest of the hunting party arrived. Today was going to be a little different; my mates and I were going to one blind and the guests divided in the other two blinds.

By 1100 everyone had their limit and the Gators were bringing everyone to their cars. All the media was allowed to take pictures of the geese and my mates. Anyone that objected would just have to get over it. Again we went to the inn to have lunch before we parted ways.

At home I reviewed the day’s security reviews; they came every day. If there were something critical an agent would have hand delivered it to me no matter where I was. There was a coding system to determine the importance.

I spent the afternoon with the boys on the floor with blocks. They wanted me to help with their homework, numbers, words and coloring. When they crashed for a nap I spent the time holding Sara and Takeo.

Monday and Tuesday I was going to be alone at the White House. Marcy and Jenny were flying to Thimble Shoals for the bank meeting Tuesday morning. Tuesday night my family was going to be sitting as guests in the joint session of Congress as I spoke to the nation.

At 2100 Saturday night Congress had finally agreed on a budget that I could agree to sign. Eighteen of the thirty sub-agencies I wanted cut were closed; the remainder were reduced by half and were to be closed next year. Eighteen thousand federal workers were changing jobs. Hiring was put on hold until all found jobs in other departments.

With that reduction and the change in immigration programs, five hundred billion was cut from the budget. It was still a trillion in red ink. The good things was the Defense Department held its own with the Navy and the Air Force getting fifteen billion more to fix or improve maintenance and to improve availability.

There was a lot of critics that were upset in Congress. There were new transportation taxes; gas and diesel tax increased by five cents. There was a new tax on electric cars to make up for the gas tax they didn’t pay. There was a one dollar increase in the airline ticket tax. All those funds were now dedicated and could not be used as general revenue.

The good thing was transportation funds could only be used to fix highways and bridges. It could not be used for environmental improvements associated with highway improvements. That money had to come from the EPA funds. The transportation fund could no longer be raided for general funds. No project could be stalled for the lack EPA funds.

There were improvements in VA funding and veteran benefits; something long needed.

House and Senate leaders were on the way with the budget to get it signed tonight and in time for a photo op to hit the evening news cycle.

I called Hanna, Melinda and Elmo to see if they wanted to be the reporters covering the event.

The signing and statements lasted a half an hour, politics as usual.

A courier left several packages from Adam Pierce at the gate. It was the first draft of the State of the Union speech. I would have to find time to read over it tonight or tomorrow. It included a thumb drive and a teleprompter in a much bigger box.

Early Sunday morning we went to the gym and worked out hard for an hour. Mom and Lisa wanted us to go to church as a family. Mom felt that I now needed all the peace and protection I could get – even from heaven – if it was possible.

We all dressed modestly. I wore the light body armor that I always wore and a pant suit. A couple of my mates wore long skirts. Our two little men were in suits and ties. I wondered where Jenny found suits that small, but they sure looked sharp!

We walked outside to get in the Suburban. There was no Suburban. The Beast was backed up to the garage. The Secret Service had struck in the middle of the night.

The ‘Beast’ was the presidential limo, all one point five million dollars of it. The glass was top secret – it was supposed to stop the bullet from an elephant gun at point blank range. The tires were bulletproof and able to run with no air in them, so much for a smooth ride I thought.

There was steel in the doors, under the floor and in the roof. There were steps that came out with the push of a button on all four corners for agents to stand on when the car was going slow in parades along with hidden handles for them to hold onto. There were hidden gun lockers on each corner. The engine was a Duramax diesel with a Banks high-performance kit not available to the public. In the back was a liquor cabinet and a mini refrigerator with ice.

There were three phones in it; red, black and white. I wondered where calls on them went to. I was going to ask that question before I made any calls or answered them. I wondered why I had not been briefed on the thing before now.

With all that, there was just enough room for the six of us, two little boys and two in carriers.

The small church would be full with us and a few agents. The rest of my family arrived as we did and took our seats.

I refused to allow the official photographer permission to take pictures inside the church. They were going to have to be happy showing us walking in.

It was noon when we exited the church; there was more media this time. I ignored the questions and we went home for lunch. The afternoon and evening went fast, between family and reading through the speech family and little boys and girls.

Before I knew it I was in Marine One flying back to the White House. It was an early 0600. The daily briefs were already on the desk.

Trouble was brewing on several fronts. Today there were riots in San Francisco. It was the fourth time in the last two years. It wasn’t connected to terrorism so the task force was not involved.

California was extremely liberal and was a sanctuary state for decades. First on illegal drugs, they were one of the first to legalize marijuana and refused to prosecute hard drug possession and open public use. They welcomed illegals from anywhere with open arms for decades. There were more foreign speaking individuals there than there were English speaking.

They had the highest taxes in the nation. There was now a five dollar a gallon state tax on gas, six dollars on diesel and five on jet fuel. Property taxes were so high there was almost no middle class left. All that was left were millionaires, celebrities and upper middle class who could afford the gated communities.

Illegals and homeless made up most of the population in the cities. Many people moved out of state to Nevada, Arizona and Oregon and commuted for the high pay, unable to own houses there.

The homeless problem started around 2010 in San Francisco and by 2022 had spread to every major city – Los Angles, Sacramento and others – where they would get the most handouts. The police were forbidden to run them off or arrest them.

The homeless problem was not the first for San Francisco. America’s porn revolution started there in the late sixties. Mitchell Brothers studios produced the first 8mm porn films, then VHS.

Linda Lovelace, Georgina Spelvin, Annette Haven, Marylyn Chambers and all the rest started making porn for them and doing live sex shows in their San Francisco clubs. ‘Deep Throat’, ‘Behind the Green Door’ and ‘The Devil and Ms. Jones’ were only the first of the sexual revolution and movie block busters for the porn industry as it became mainstream.

The cities bent over backwards for the homeless; public urination and defecation was normal and no longer an offense. The city countered by building open public urinals and toilets that changed nothing. Piles of used needles littered the streets, making them unsafe for children to walk down.

Beggars were accosting everyone. Even the police stopped walking beats after many were doused with urine and feces. They only responded when called. It had become unsafe to even drive on some streets or stop for stoplights.

Streets and sidewalks business entrances were blocked by tents or cardboard boxes used as shelter. The cities started poop patrols to scoop up the sidewalks, pickup up the plastic bags of feces and pressure washed them with disinfectant, washing it down open water drains that went directly into the ocean.

Beaches all up and down the coast were closed year round because of e-coli contamination from piles of human waste left in the sand and tides moving the drain runoff along the coast.
The riots had started Saturday over a seemingly minor incident, as they did every time. A homeless person had tried to force his way into a car. The woman driver sped off dragging the man to his death and that started it all.
San Francisco did as they normally did – let them riot and loot until the problem died from exhaustion and then gave away free packets of marijuana so they would go somewhere and sleep.

The city then asked for millions in disaster money to clean up and offer the rioters more freebies to play nice for a while.

San Francisco’s mayor was the first to call asking for disaster funds. An hour later the Governor called, first DHS and then the White House.

Troy put up the stall that I was in a national security meeting and could not be interrupted to allow me time to research the news about the riots and evaluate what was happening and what I wanted to do.

Fifty city blocks in the retail section had been looted, the exact same area as the last three riots. According to the late night news reel, one hundred people had been detained but no arrests, not even for looting.

I wondered why and the answer was easy – on the page sixty two continuation of the story in the LA Times. California passed a law a decade ago to eliminate the backlog in the courts and reduce persons in jail.

The law made any theft of less than seven hundred and fifty dollars non punishable. The police would not even show up and if they did, they would not arrest. California had turned into a petty theft and shoplifting paradise. The stores no longer stocked the shelves. They kept all the merchandise in locked back rooms until a customer asked for something.

Internet sales were booming for home delivery, anything to keep out of the city. The city countered by adding delivery fees to packages delivered in city zip codes. The story was they were trying to reduce congestion and auto pollution.

Shoplifting had ballooned out the roof. Druggies were shoplifting, walking out the door and selling it to Mexicans in vans destined for Central America. That answered how all the illegals trying to get across the border had the latest fashions and cell phones. They bought it from smugglers at pennies on the dollar.

I quickly decided there was to be no disaster declaration and no money – once maybe but fourth time – no way. The money wasn’t doing anything but buying more drugs and misery.

What I did do was call the Attorney General, Eric Roberson of the DHS, the FBI and the EPA for a meeting. I wanted some answers.

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Book 2 Chapter 129

The family was waiting at Morton along with two little boys and I was glad to see all of them. I hugged every one of my mates and kissed them. I knelt down so I could hug them. I picked them both up for a double hug.

”Can you take us backed to the fort for more treasure hunting?” RJ asked.

“Yes tomorrow afternoon after I go goose hunting with friends and I will take you on Sunday too if you want, unless we find something more fun to do,” I said.

We went home even though there were reporters trying to ask questions. At home – after settling down and unpacking – my mates and I went through the tunnel to the meeting room in the basement.

I took the General and the Admiral carrying the football and the codes along with three Secret Service agents – Greg Archer, Damien Carter, Graham Tull – with me.

They were the first Secret Service agents I had befriended. They were a lot like me and we got along very well. I told the rest of the agents they could meet us in the gym in an hour.

”This is the break room, the bathroom is the next room down the hall.”
Then I directed them into the command center.

”This is the JBG master command center. The duty men today are Amos Black and Tom Folsom. For you that don’t know, all one hundred and eighty US embassies are provided security by JBG. One can monitor the security from here on the screens on the front wall.”

”All fifty two colleges that JBG has security contracts are on the left wall along with the other installations JBG supplies security to. If you see something on one of the embassy screens Amos can move it to the big screen and isolate what you want to see.”

”The ones on the right are our training centers and the Hormuz Straight installations and the two prisons in the security zone.’
”Sergeant Schulz had the best quote of all for anything down here. ‘I see nothing. I know nothing.”

”Pick a seat and watch the video. When I am finished I will come and get you. I will be across the hall if you need me,” I said.

I was going to be President for a year; I had to be able to trust the people that were always close to me.

My mates filled me in on all the things I had missed this week. Marcy and Jenny were flying to Thimble Shoals for the directors meeting on Tuesday.

They were taking twenty five bars. They were bringing back one thousand coins on this trip; our first shipment.

The bank had minted ten thousand so far. All of them were sold to investors and brokerage houses except the ones for us.

Andy was coming over in fifteen minutes with the latest on Mexico and the Strait of Hormuz.

I listened while the girls talked about everything. The rental houses in Florida were filled and many booked out for weeks. The ski lodge in Colorado was suffering from too much snow but the place was booming. The one in the Alps that we’re connected with was prospering as well.

Deep Water Cay was filled full with the temperatures still freezing on the east coast. Lorrie had even rented the cottage she had reserved for us because there were so many demands for them.

Since the Oklahoma incident the colleges had been quiet. We were all glad of that with Mexico still going strong and growing. Now with the Strait heating up we didn’t need to add a third problem into the mix.

Andy joined our meeting, ”In an hour we will VCATS with Commander Purcell. They are still cleaning out the British ammo dump. He found some interesting things that may be helpful and wants your input. Other than that, they will be finished on Monday. ”

”The personnel are onsite at Mirbat, other than the crew for the ships. The Blackhawk helicopters arrived several days ago. I have them paired up with the two Blackhawks and two 802 Air Tractors. The dry docks will be finished and operational in a few days.”

“There are extra people at Mirbat for security because of the British personnel there doing the disposal. There are two hundred men there.”

”At Dubai there are two 802s , two Blackhawks and twelve ships. The docks, dry docks, fueling sites and barracks are fully complete and staffed with one hundred and eighty men.”

”At Masqat Oman there are two Blackhawks, two 802s, twelve ships, dry docks, barracks and one hundred and eighty men.”

”At Ad Damman, the Saudi Arabia docks, there are the barracks, two 802s, two Blackhawks, twelve ships and one hundred and eighty men,” Andy said.

”I was going to assign the twelve ships to Mirbat but now I am thinking they should go to Dubai and Masqat because of the actions of the Iranians,” Andy said.

”When will the six from the US arrive in Israel?” I asked.

”They arrived today,” Andy said.

”By chance does the Israeli manufacturer have any more finished that can be sent with the group?” I asked.

”I can find out Monday,” Andy replied.

”I would divide the twelve as you think and have the last six be based at Mirbat,” I said.

”On Tuesday Mexico is going to sign the contracts for patrols in the Gulf. The cartel is hijacking or robbing the support vessels for the off shore platforms. There have been thirty hijackings in the last month. The contract calls for six boats with possible expansion to twelve.”

”I want to take the next six from the Texas manufacture for that contract, if you think it will not upset the apple cart,” Andy said.

”With those that are on the way we will have forty four ships there, plus the twelve more next month. I don’t think six will make any difference,” Vicky said.

”I agree. Have you found dockage for them?” I asked.

”Yes. Tampico, Veracruz and Campeche,” Andy said.

”Campeche puts you closer to the drug kingpin you were looking for,” I said.

”Yes, extra men will be going there,” Andy said.

”All sounds good to me,” I said.

A chime went off on Andy’s watch.

”Aaron is in a position to do an MTAC if you can join in,” Andy said.

‘‘OK, let’s move over to the command center,” I said.

I moved the agents and the ball carriers off to the side. Andy, my mates and I took the seats in the center in the camera view.

”Amos, page Dubai,” Andy said.

A moment later Aaron was on screen.

”I must be special with all the bosses looking at me or was it something I did wrong?” Aaron said.

”You’re good. I will let you tell the bosses what your guys want to do,” Andy said.

”The teams have been doing some brainstorming and researching on their own. They noticed that a couple of the Iranian boats had diving gear and limpet mines on them. They suspect and I agree, the intentions was to have divers place the mines on the bottoms of tankers in the anchorage.” Aaron said.

”As you know a lot of the men there are former Navy Seals or Army special forces. All have been trained to be frogmen. They asked if you would buy the equipment so they could inspect the undersides of the tankers every day for magnetic mines,” Aaron said.

”Send Andy the list and where it needs to come from. We will get it and fly it over. Make sure it is a complete list of everything you need,” Vicky said.

”The next thing is we found two hundred of these at the former British post at Mirbat,” Aaron said.

We were looking at a series of pictures. The item looked like a small drum I had seen somewhere. Then I remembered where I had seen something close. They were sixteen gallon drums usually carrying grease or heavy lubricating oils, but these had a different top on them. In a close-up picture of the top was the giveaway.

There were two control handles with a numbered semicircle and a t- handle. They were small depth charges used for training or – early in the cold war – they were used to notify a suspected sub it had been detected and was a warning for it to move out of the area away from capital ships.

At the beginning of the cold war they were still trying to prevent an accidental all out nuclear war. Later on as the cat and mouse games grew more sophisticated, the idea of notification for calm and prevention went out the window.

The two handles in the semi-circle set the depth and the t-handle was pulled to allow the timers and pressure fuses to work. These carried fifty pounds of TNT, about one quarter of what a WW2 depth charge carried – and a lot of weight to make them sink at a steady rate.

As they sunk, the change in water pressure made them explode at the depth set by the two handles.

They looked to be in great condition and should have been. The bunker they were in was built under desert sand – hot and very dry. There was no moisture to cause them to deteriorate.

We talked at length about any value they would have in the operation there. Aaron brought in a couple of former Seals into the discussion with the commander of the Ad Mammam base.

”They can be used against suspected divers in the water. At settings of fifty feet or more the shock wave will incapacitate or disorientate a diver over a hundred feet away.”

‘‘If you believe the Iranian fast boats have dropped off divers or a sub has dispatched divers, we can lay down a spread around the tanker and any divers will surface. With the water so clear here the helicopters and 802s can spot a shallow submarine discharging diving teams,” Ike Gardner said.

Captain Ike Gardner was Aaron’s base commander at the Ad Dammam base in Saudi Arabia. Ike had been a decorated Navy Seal.

Captain Gabriel Booth was commander of the base at Masqat Oman and Captain Edgar Arnold was the base commander at Mirbat Oman. They were the leaders of the Middle East contract and they all joined on the MTAC conversation. Another hour on MTAC finished all that was needed.

A test rack was going to be built on one fast ship and the charges tested. If they passed the test more racks would be added to a few ships. The British would be told to leave them, we would handle disposal – one, two or more at a time.

By the time we finished it was nearly supper time. One more call from the lobby delayed it.

Duke Justice and Clarence Hallworthy were at the receptionist asking if they could see one of us for a minute. I had them taken to the meeting room next to my office. We had been in the basement long enough.

”Good to see you. How is the county doing these days?” I asked.

”Over all – reasonably good, but there are some shortages. Actually we came to see if you could help with the winter fuel oil program for the needy again. The cold weather has lasted longer than usual and hit the program hard.”

”We have depleted all the state and federal funds we can get. You have helped for the last couple years – would JBG be able to help out again this year? We have gotten small contributions from a couple other companies but are way short of our needs,” Duke asked.

I looked at my mates, they all nodded.

”Just have the truck see the guys at the fuel farm. You have a choice this year, kerosene or low sulfur number two fuel oil. Get what you need – same as last year – just keep it anonymous,” I said.

”Kerosene covers it all. We are thinking ten thousand gallons will be needed at the most,” Clarence said.

”That’s fine,” Lorrie said.

With that the work was done for the day. The only debate was what to do for supper. The Secret Service was pushing for us to hire round-the-clock cooks and kitchen staff.

The agents worked 24/7 and needed hot food and coffee. Without a twenty four hour kitchen we were placing them under a handicap. It was a security risk for agents to leave and find food.

The Secret Service would pay and make whatever changes to the house so a twenty four hour kitchen wouldn’t be a distraction to the household.

I didn’t want it, the girls didn’t want it, but I knew if I was going to be able to spend as much time home as I wanted – it was going to happen.

Tonight’s supper was pizza, JJ’s favorite. We ordered a variety, enough to have leftovers for the night crew.

I had to chuckle. If this were at the White House and a pizza truck rolled up, the media would be broadcasting that impending doom was about to happen.

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Book 2 Chapter 128

Another double posting today just a little diversion from the news. 127 and 128.

Thursday morning I carried the morning updates with me to the briefing room for the national security briefing. I was getting better at speed reading and did while the other members assembled.

They always went through some big routine of having aides open cases and placing everything at their fingertips for them. I just kept reading until everyone was finally seated.

I was at the end of the table and had them start to the left and work all the way around. It was a big day on intelligence; everyone had a lot to say – it was going to be a long meeting.

At 0930 I was back in the Oval Office. I took a few minutes to write my response to the resignation of Justice Copeland. I would send it to Harry as soon as the court made its announcement.

Admiral John Patterson came in with the update that I had asked for; he was ten minutes early.

‘‘Newport News Ship Building is working as you ordered. The Washington and the Truman will be done on the time frame you want. The work is also on going to the Bush and the Eisenhower, possibly in the time frame you want,” he said.

”The engineers are looking at the Stennis issue – no decision yet,” he added.

”The CV67 conventionally fueled Kennedy is at Philadelphia navy yard awaiting final disposition. Find out how long to put her back in service with an all hands effort. Fuel rods won’t be a problem – enough tankers might be?” I asked.

”You are planning to smack someone pretty damn hard,” he said.

”Daily reports are not getting any better. Keep me updated and get me some answers,” I said as I stood up.

Troy, Connie and I went to the meeting room for the special staff meeting I had called. Many of the people were already in there waiting.

”Connie, can you find the Supreme Court’s daily briefing on the TV?” I asked.

At 1000 the briefing started; it was the first item of the briefing.

”I have the resignation in my desk, I assume there is an official procedure that has to be followed. President Thomas nominated three during his seven years.”

”I expect there was already a plan for the next nomination. Is there a list of prospects that have been prescreened that I can review?” I asked.

”Yes there is. Several have been added that have not been screened yet. I will get you the list,” Troy replied.

I handed Troy the press statement I had written. Troy nodded and sent it to the press room for Harry to read at the press briefing.

The rest of the meeting was discussing the list of prospective judges.

I ate lunch with Marcy and talked of things at home. I was wanting to see the little ones; their innocence and time with them had become a form of stress relief for me.

I listened while she filled me in on things that happened at home today. She had been on VCATS with Andy, Jenny and Vicky. The Iranian fast boats were out playing again today. They were trying to get our boats to follow them into Iranian waters.

Aaron Purcell was prepared for such tricks and the boats didn’t fall for it. The Iranians finally gave up and went back to their base.

We were leaving Washington at noon tomorrow for the island. We were flying into Morton in Marine One as we did the last time. The Secret Service finally decided it was a good option to dealing with the traffic.

The hunt was still on for Saturday; no one had backed out, even after all the press.

The press was busy today following all the Congressional complaining about the vetoing of the budget. Congress was hard at work trimming dollars here and there. They were even debating closing some of the agencies I had marked.

Then the press was in a tizzy about the retirement of Justice Copeland. The liberals especially – they were already trying to get the Senators to block any nomination that I made, saying I was undeserving of the power to appoint a Supreme Court judge as I was not elected by the people.

Vice President Harrison sent me a note that the Senate was anxiously awaiting my nomination for the court to debate and hold a vote before the spring break.

At least that was encouraging and a positive note that my judgment would be seriously considered.

Troy finally found the list of prospective judges. There were nine male and six female. The top three on the list were female and that suited me to keep a balance on the court.

I sent the top three to the FBI and DHS for a new complete background investigation with a rush note attached. They had already been subjected to a preliminary investigation; this would finish it and update any missing items.

I had several calls from the Senate and the House about the budget and what changes it would take for me to sign it. Discussions that went nowhere.

Again Troy and Connie helped me. When the government shuts down because of a budget impasse the President can earmark essential agencies that can keep operating.

We started going through the list, first departments to stay operating was the Social Security agency, several intelligence agencies, the DOD, Veterans Affairs, DHS, Air Traffic Controllers and the FBI. I pondered about the National Park Service and finally added it to the list.

The National Park Service was now actively helping the Border Patrol fight the cartel in the parks that were along the Mexican border. The JBG Security zone had stopped more influx but the cartel had taken over the National Parks and were growing marijuana and processing drugs within the National Forest.

The liberal and progressives would be furious that none of their favorite programs were included and I would probably regret it in the end. But it is what it is.

To my surprise Marcy took the letter from the Iranians and said she would do a VCATS meeting with the girls and Andy, then we could write a letter today.

Marcy was back in an hour and handed me the letter she, the girls and Andy had put together.

”Dear Mr. Kars Marwan, President of Iran.”

”Based on the events of the attack on our escort ships, the statements of the crews and the video evidence that backs up their after action interviews, we have concluded that your country and your boats are responsible for the hostilities.”

”Any attempts to board our ships in international waters by armed individuals will be considered an act of piracy or hostage taking and will be dealt with accordingly.”

”The prisoners will continue to be held and will be joined by the injured as they are released from the hospital. Negotiations at a later date will determine their fate.”

”JBG will make no payments for the lost boats nor the lost personnel. You, however, will be required to pay for damages to our equipment before the prisoners will be released.”

”Continued harassment of our ships in international waters will result in us presenting a more aggressive position and escalation of tensions.”

‘‘President & CFO of JBG
Marcy De Stone Jones”
I read the letter and placed it back in the JBG envelope Marcy had it in. Then I called Ambassador Fazel Al Farsi to pick it up and deliver to his friends.
I received a text from Andy, ”Robert has found cartel leader number three in Morelia in the state of Michoacán De Ocampo. Rahim Lopez controls the cartel business in three Mexican states; his compound is heavily fortified.”
I sent back, ”That’s between you and Vicky, but keep me informed.”
Vice President Harrison knocked then came into the Oval Office. He had been to the Senate deliberations about the budget. They were nearly finished negotiating with the House committees.
”They have agreed to cut eighteen of the thirty sub agencies you wanted. They did agree to reduce the remaining by fifty percent this year and close them next year. They have asked if it was acceptable to allow the people to be eliminated by attrition verses being fired,” he said.
”The government hires thousands daily; offer them positions they are qualified for in other agencies twice. If they don’t take them then fire them is how I would work it. I thought that was normal procedure anyhow,” I said.
”Not when an agency is defunded. They are fired and have to reapply for open positions,” he said.
”You have the Navy and Newport News Ship Building worried. The Navy tried to get commitments from the armed services committees to lock down the funding to finish the five Fordson class ships. They did allocate an extra fifteen billion to the DOD earmarked to the Navy to get the carrier program back on track,” he said.
”The committees told them no, pending the outcome of the Fordson sea trails as you detailed,” he said.
”You can expect Newport News Ship Building to start applying all the political pressure they can.”
”I knew they would do that, so that is no surprise. You can be sure every senator and representative with an Ingalls owned plant or factory in their state will get some aggressive calls,” I said.
”The call center is recording more in favor of your Navy decision,” Troy said.
The call center was a system that had ten questions. They were yes or no or are for or against this policy or proposal. It was designed to measure public opinion on things with the White House. A previous President had the system installed. It was often rumored he took positions and modified policy based on poll numbers it generated along with other media polls.
I had no faith in it – special interest groups with paid operators or persons with auto dialers could load the position they wanted. There was no way to verify the polls, just as there no way to verify media polls.
I may not be a rocket scientist but I knew of many ways to skew the results.
”That’s nice to know for what it is worth. Who generates the questions and how often are they changed?” I asked.
”The media relations group and they are changed every three days if you create enough newsworthy items. The question on the budget veto is not in your favor,” Troy said.
‘‘Too many people with their hand out, afraid nothing is to be put in it,” I said.
Twenty minutes later Marcy and I along with the football were headed to the island in Marine One. Several helicopters left with the advance Secret Service team. They were going to inspect the Suburbans for bugs and bombs, even though they had been under lock and key with agents watching.
We were followed by a second team of agents and the media team. The government would run out of money at midnight Saturday night and I was not even going to be in Washington. The Senate and House were still negotiating. Let the fun begin.
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Book 2 Chapters 127

Another double posting today just a little diversion from the news. 127 and 128.

Wednesday I started the routine I was working into; a VCATS to home, the daily security briefing and updates with the security teams and the joint chiefs.

After that Troy and my aides went through the rest of the budget. In it we identified twenty seven sub-agencies that I felt could be eliminated and save several billion. They were agencies that I felt had outlived their usefulness.

There were a group of agencies I wanted changed in the DHS, HHS and Agriculture departments. Those agencies administered the programs that dealt with illegal immigration along with the courts.

In this morning’s search into today’s budget numbers, those agencies had asked for billions extra for continued illegal immigrant funding – up twenty percent from last year.

I had that massive research department of mine tackle the problem. I wanted to know why it was so high and had not declined in a decade. I knew the number of new immigrants was down now over the last three months. The security zone numbers were practically zero. So why a twenty percent increase?

If they were here illegally they needed to be sent home. If they were here legally through some program, why were they still getting money when they should have jobs and be self sufficient as good as the economy has been?

If they weren’t and had been here any length of time, then they had no interest in being part of America, only freeloaders. The intent of immigration was to allow the individual to become part of a productive and contribute to the American dream.

There needed to be limits on the time for many of the aid programs. Free money was as addictive as any drug. Like all drugs it bred contempt, laziness and the attitude that one deserved more and more.

My idea was two years financial aid, reduced by fifty percent for the third year and then ended. If you had not been able to join Americas dream by then you needed to be sent back to your home country.

The only people that deserved long term financial aid were Social Security recipients- they had paid all their working lives with the promise it would be there for them. Veterans because they earned it – many with some kind of disability including mental conditions that lasted a lifetime.

Disability through SSA was for those truly disabled. The list of deserving ailments was growing, mostly because of trial lawyers, special interest groups and union attorneys that thought they deserved a handout and convinced Congress they did.

I decided that people from those agencies needed a place on the hot seat to explain things to me in person. The DHS was easy; they were under Eric and I saw him daily.

Jack Carol was the Secretary of Agriculture; the nutrition programs were under his agency. Ruth Packard was running part of the nutrition programs. Dirk Blake was in charge of the rest, according to Troy.

I remembered the names after Troy said them. President Thomas was always angered after meetings with them. It seemed there was no real accountability from them and always a reluctance to discuss policy changes and they were experts at double-talk. Reports from them were always delayed.

But they were favorites of several members of the Senate and the House.

I asked Connie to get transcripts of all the recent conversations between President Thomas and the group. Then I had a thought – I wanted transcripts of the calls and emails of the three and anyone in Congress they called.

I called Bob Smith and told him what phone and email transcripts I wanted and why.

When we were finished I vetoed the budget and sent my list of objections back to the House and Senate.
I sent a note to Harry with the reasons highlighted to announce that the proposed budget had been vetoed and sent back to Congress. Let the fun begin.

Connie and Kitty Winn were beginning to figure out how I wanted things done and what I wanted to do with them. My desk and the table I had asked to be placed in the Oval Office were stacked neatly with the documents for my scheduled meetings so I could be prepared for them.

Every time one of them came in, they had fresh hot coffee for me.

One of the unscheduled meetings was with Adam Pierce. He had an outline done for the State of the Union speech (SOTU) and wanted to quickly go over it; if it suited me, he would fill in the dialog with the normal gibberish.

The other meeting that popped up was with the Ambassador Fazel Al Farsi of Pakistan. He had called earlier in the day asking for an emergency meeting. I knew what he wanted; he was waiting in the lobby.

”Madam President, it has been a while since we talked. First I must express my sorrow for the attack on your convoy while you were visiting. My country has arrested and will try all the members of the group that attacked you.”

”I do hope that you and all the members of your team have recovered from your injuries,” he said.

”The attack has placed a dark cloud on your abilities to provide security for visiting diplomats. Hopefully it will not take long for the cloud to go away. Swift and proper maximum punishment of the culprits will certainly help,” I said.

”I was informed that the request to meet was urgent,” I said to move the conversation long.

”Yes. My Prime Minister was asked by friends if I would deliver a letter to you. I am reluctant to do so given the difficulties there have been with them and your country. But I must do as the Prime Minister directs,” he said as he handed me the letter.

”I will not be able to send a reply today as I must wait for all the appropriate individuals to read it and have expressed an opinion. That will take a day or two,” I said.

”I will call you when the reply is ready,” I added.

We talked for another 10 minutes – mostly international politics and the issues in the Middle East – before he left.

Policy dictated that the President opened no packages or letters until they were checked for chemicals, powders or any other substance. The FBI carried it to the US Postal Service center for decontamination. It would back in an hour.

While I was waiting, one more unscheduled event happened. Troy came in to tell me Supreme Court Judge Agnes Copeland was in the lobby asking to see me. I walked to the lobby to walk her back to the Oval Office.

Associate Judge Agnes Copeland was nominated by former President George Bush in 1993; she was eighty one. Her votes could not be counted on as conservative or liberal. She did tend to vote conservative on federal issues but more liberal on issues regarding states and individual rights.

We had a pleasant conversation about the courts, the presidency and my experiences with it so far.

”I am handing you my resignation, effective for the first of the month from the Supreme Court. I want to spend more time with my children and grandchildren. I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” she said as she handed me the letter. It was written on her official court stationary.

”I reluctantly accept the resignation, I understand completely your desire to spend more time with your family. I trust your health remains good so you get to enjoy them for a long time,” I said.

”Would you like to go to the media center to make the announcement yourself?” I asked.

”No, I will have a court spokesperson make the announcement tomorrow in the daily news briefing,” she said.
”I will not make an announcement until that happens. The nation thanks you and owes you a debt of gratitude for your honorable service, dedication to court and constitutional law,” I said.

”After you retire, I wonder if you would have some time to school me on questions I have about challenges between the Congressional and Executive branches and the powers and limitations I have?” I asked.

”I would be happy to. But first I want to go to my see my twin grandsons in Hawaii; it’s their birthday February seventh. I want to be there for the party. I dread the flight – it’s so long that it will be tough on my husband and me. It’s a good thing my other son and daughter are going to help,” she replied.

”Tell me what day you want to leave and how many are going and I will see that you fly better than first class,” I said as I handed her a JBG business card with my personal cell phone number on it.

We talked a bit longer before she left. Life just became more complicated for me. My administration was just saddled with picking a new Supreme Court justice and getting the nomination through the Senate. I wondered if the Senate would even consider any nomination in an election year, but I was going to try.

I put the letter in my desk and locked it to make sure there would be no leaks until after she made the announcement. We would not start looking for a candidate until then.

The Supreme Court made its daily news briefing at 1000. I called Troy into my office.

”Schedule a special staff meeting at 1000 and send a notice to VP Harrison that his attendance is required. I want to discuss the updates from the Navy on the work at Newport News Ship Building and other issues,” I said – it was a cover not to raise suspicion about Justice Copeland’s visit.

I called the Chief of Naval Operations Patterson and told him I wanted a daily progress report on the ships at Newport News Ship Building at 0945 tomorrow.

The FBI agent brought the letter from Iran back from the decontamination center. It had been opened so they could check and then clean the inside and between any sheets. The FBI agent was sent with it for chain of custody and security.

I ran the letter through the translator program, then I had Ziva translate the letter and read it to me.

”The people of the country of Iran demand that you return the hostages you have taken. We also demand that you release the injured being held in Dubai. Their mistreatment, torture and any medical malpractice against them will not go unanswered.”

”The people of Iran demand that you compensate the families of the nine honorable sailors that your men killed to the price of ten million US dollars each and that you compensate the families of the injured being held ten thousand US dollars each for each week that you hold them.”

”The people of Iran demand that you pay full price for our fast boats. The cost of those fast boats is twenty four million US dollars.”

”In closing we demand you release our men and pay the compensation as stated immediately or we will be forced to take corrective measures against you and your men for failing to do so.”

Kars Marwan President of Iran

There was nothing in the letter directed at the United States; it was all directed at JBG. Had I known that I would not have accepted it but had him deliver it to Vicky and Andy. This weekend at home they could write the response that would be sent.

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Book 2 Chapter 126

Due to the seriousness of the news lately I decided to do a second posting in twenty four hours just for the fun of it.

”Senator Downs will not be rejoining us so let’s get this meeting started. I know all of you have questions.”

”First a couple of quick statements. In order to eliminate leaks to the media – both print and electronic – there are a variety of changes to security procedures in the Executive office building. In all of the White House all conversations, all discussions, all notes and all hand out materials will be considered classified top secret.”

”That is also why you were required to sign new security forms. I can promise you any leaks will be aggressively investigated and responsible parties will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” I said.

”I know all of you are upset about your phones being collected. I ordered that to end interruptions by texts and calls and to prevent recordings of the conversations spoken in here.”

”I will tell you that the daily White House press briefings may be discontinued soon. That decision is on hold pending legal advisement. However, if the press briefings are continued the number of press with passes will be greatly reduced,” I said.

”Some of you I know by name and some I do not, but know I am working to correct that shortcoming. Today, if you would, please state your name before you speak to help me,” I said.

”Who wants to go first, or do you prefer that I go down one side of the table and then the other?”
”Senator Bob Ajax, North Carolina. The press release has got Navy installations and shipyards on edge. Would you expand on your reasoning?” he asked.

”Yes. Since the attack on my convoy in Pakistan, and the double transition from Vice President to President there have been several changes to intelligence collection, including adding some new techniques and new locations that are proving beneficial.”

”Through them we have learned of Iran’s terrorist plans for the next year. Those plans include coordinated attacks on US installations in the Middle East as well on our allies in the region by Iran or Iran’s IRG trained surrogates. They also include a more aggressive posture in the Somalia, Yemen and Sudan civil wars and even building a base in Ethiopia.” I said.

”That said I was extremely disappointed to find that there were no carrier task forces available for at least four to six months – and then only one for sure – to respond the these possibilities. The rest of them were months or years away,” I said.

”General Ingram and I decided, based on the intercepted information, that more were needed. Much more and sooner than the months and years predicted. Too much dock time was being assigned to the Fordson and Kennedy.”

“Repairs to other carriers were being put off and the budgets used in an attempt to cure the unending problems to the Fordson class. We will have more carriers at sea sooner by halting work on the Fordson, Kennedy and Enterprise,” I said.

”Next.” I said.

”Senator Jack Daniels, Tennessee. You did not expand on the cancellation on the fourth carrier,” he said.

”The fourth and fifth in the Fordson class are on hold pending cancellation. In my opinion carriers are nearly obsolete now and certainly will be long before their life cycle ends. ”

”Unfortunately the Navy – and I should include the Air Force – are still using tactics developed in WW2 as a models. The carrier to carrier battles at two or three hundred miles by plane is a thing of the past.”

”The only reason China is building so many carriers is to project power to intimidate its small island neighbors. In a war their intent is draw our carriers close enough so they can use swarms of land based long range missiles and overwhelm their defenses.”

”That is why China went on an island building campaign. It was to extend and implement an effective swarm policy and make the South China Sea a no-man’s land for US surface ships in the event of a conflict.”

”By fortifying the South China Sea atolls , islands and coral reef into military bases, mainland China has essentially protected the mainland from any threat from foreign navies, eliminating one leg of the triad. The only threat would be submarines with cruise missiles, essentially no threat at all unless you go nuclear.”

”China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have all grasped the swarm concept whether it be on the battlefield with small drones or at sea with missiles. What does it cost them to build a missile? Five hundred thousand? For a billion dollars – the cost of operating a carrier for a year – that is two thousand missiles. Do that math for a couple years.”

”Simultaneously launch one hundred every ten seconds for thirty seconds, how many missiles will get through? More than enough to take it out of the war or sink it.”

General Ingram interrupted, ”That’s a simplified assessment of some of the possibilities that the war college experts are predicting. Swarms present a new challenge in task force defense. As of yet there is no answer.”

”The one possibility is small yield nuclear anti-missile shells that would disrupt the navigation and electronics of a swarm based attack. The problem is – without violating treaties – there is no way to field test the theory and if you did, then the problem with the radioactive fallout is there,” the General said.

”We have gotten a little afar, so returning to the question: the Fordson, Kennedy and the Enterprise have a life of fifty years, possibly seventy years with refits and rebuilds. That takes us into the next century. Do you really think we are going to be launching planes off carrier decks in seventy more years?” I asked.

”The next Enterprise could well be the Starship Enterprise. Technology has moved so much in the last fifty years. The next fifty will make it look like we are still using the horse and buggy today.”

”The moon landings fifty years ago were calculated with slide rules. Today, most engineering students would have to go to a museum to see one. ”

”Artificial intelligence was once a pipe dream. It is now in use and the scholars and ethicists are debating how to use it and protect us from it. Just imagine what’s going to be developed in the next seventy years. You can bet we are not going to be launching fighter planes from carrier decks.”

”Back to today’s reality, these fifteen billion dollar carriers with their billion plus dollar aircraft and billion dollar a year operating cost are consuming too much of the Navy’s budget. To be spending such a limited time on the open seas and so much time at the dock for the amount of funds they consume is unfathomable,” I said.


“Senator Randolph Scott, Ohio. I’m reading between the lines but I think to respond to the threats you are anticipating a Naval and Air Force response versus troops on the ground,” he said.

”The generals and admirals will control any battle but they need tools to do that and those tools cannot be out of service at the dock. Bomb the hell out of them, make anything or place of military value a wasteland and ignore the collateral damage before I even consider troops,” I said.

”Opening Pandora’s box will prove very costly and deadly to them,” I added.

The conversation went on for another hour before they ran out of questions and were satisfied. In the end a new conversation on defense spending was started and asking if we were getting our money’s worth.

I did know one thing; I was going to have some expert Pentagon computer war games players do some war games for me. I had several scenarios I wanted played out to see the results.

Then I met with the VP of Newport News Ship Building. He was not a happy camper and quickly blamed the problems on the Navy. I soon let him know that the fault was spread between them. I told him that once the Nimitz class ships were all back at sea, they could resume work on the Fordson and successful tests of all systems would determine the fate of the last two in the line.

After this morning’s meeting with the Senators, the last two were as good as canceled. But the good politician in me said to dangle the carrot – after all it was an election year.

It was 1300 when the kitchen brought my lunch to me in the Oval Office; today’s lunch was a BLT. Marcy had already eaten and been in contact with the office and the girls. There had been no sign of any Iranian fast boats today.

The listening posts were operating sixteen hours starting today. Tiam was still trying to get more groups to go active on the African continent through normal channels.

Connie came in with President Thomas’ travel schedule. We had discussed it lightly several days ago. President Thomas had agreed to participate in a continuous string of fund raisers until the convention to support the party. The party chairman – Carl Isham – had asked if I would do them.

I talked with Marcy and the girls last weekend about them, wanting the girls to have some input. All of them had had fun at the Atlanta fund raiser and as I expected were more than ready to do more. The next one was next Wednesday at Las Vegas. Then on Saturday night there was one in New York.

This time would be different – we would all fly in Air Force One, it would be a family experience. The second thing would be I had President Thomas’ speech writers working for me now.

The only thing they had to go on was all the news conferences I had given over the years and the fund raisers I had done as VP.

Adam Pierce was the lead writer and I liked him right off the bat. He had one of those sly senses of humor like Ronald Reagan. It sneaked up on you and before you knew it, you were laughing.

Frank Love knocked and then walked in, ”I came to ask about the listening post.”

”The listening post started monitoring sixteen hours today and will go twenty four on Friday. Andy says there are places for you to have one person twenty four seven at the two sites on the Strait, including berthing. There are places for as many as you want at Mirbat,” Marcy said.

”Marcy says there will be extra charges for logistics,” Marcy added with a straight face before breaking into a smile.

Troy and I started looking over – of all things – the budget by looking at the Excel spreadsheet that came with it. The budget for one year was eight trillion five hundred million dollars with one trillion five hundred million in red ink. To me this wasn’t going to fly.

It was an election year; Congress was spending money on any foolhardy idea to make things look good for their district.

The budget was supposed to be passed by October first. In days it would be the first of February – five months spending had already been completed. To make any cuts truly make any real difference, they would have to be drastic in the seven months left.

The spreadsheet had the real numbers without all the special perks to the member’s districts broken down.

It was a three column spreadsheet; one column was last year’s actual spending numbers, then this year’s agency request and the third was the numbers the House and Senate committees had agreed upon.

If I wanted to see the pork (as it was called) for any agency and how any congress person received special funding for his district or special interest, I had to find that section in the budget stacked on the table.

I found I had to read through dozens or hundreds of pages of double spaced appropriations mumbo jumbo. Actually it was nearly garbage level reading.

I finally decided on a plan after Marcy gave Troy and me some pointers on what to look for. We compared last years spent numbers with this year’s budget congressional numbers on the spreadsheet. If there was more than a five percent increase for that item it got a red X.

An aide went through the stack to find out why the difference. Some things were given as much as twenty five percent increases. The reason for it in most cases was simply pork.

We finished one hundred of three hundred Excel pages today. Tomorrow we would complete the rest and then I was going to veto the budget. I would send them a list of my objections to the funding.

I wanted to go through it to be able to say I had read it, politics being what it is. The continuing resolution expired on Friday at midnight.

I hope Congress has a supply of candles and midnight oil.

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Book 2 Chapter 125

Iran was in the evening news cycle along with the Navy.

Iran was making bold claims about the unprovoked attack on their coastal defense fast boats by JBG military units. Their fast boats were assisting a sail boat in distress when they attacked in an aggressively merciless military style operation.

So they had just boosted JBG security forces to the level of a military force. I thought that was interesting.

Their propaganda arm said they had lost only two boats and four men to the illegal act. They were demanding release of an unknown number of their prisoners. I chuckled at that – I had video of all six either sinking or blown to bits and pictures of sixteen prisoners.

A ZNN military analyst who was deciphering my intentions said, ”It is clear that the Fordson class may be in trouble far beyond all public disclosures. It’s also clear that the new President is not going to put up with any smoke screens from the military industrial complex or the Navy.”

”Loss of the fourth and fifth Fordson class ship would cut thirty billion or more out of Newport News Ship Building revenues. It’s more than a wake-up call; it’s a slap in the face with an ice cold towel for poor performance and poor performing products.”

At 0700 I was in the Oval Office looking at reports from the night. Marcy went back to the living quarters to do things for JBG.

This morning there was a tree chart outlining all things related to the President, his duties and functions along with notes from Connie and Troy.

There were one thousand two hundred people that worked for me as part of the Executive branch or the White House.

I had hundreds of research people whose job was to find the answers to any subject that I needed to research or question for developing policies and generating favorable public opinion.

There was another group that worked on developing the President’s version of the national budget. There were ideas from the President and his advisors of tax increases or cuts to develop how they affected the national budget and national debt or affected the agencies.

Congress had their own called Congressional Budget Office that took Congress’s proposals and did the same thing. Usually Congressional proposals always came up roses and sunshine until passed into law. Then the numbers somehow came up in the red by billions.

These groups and dozens of others helped develop or modify the President’s policies, both financial and physical.

I now had the means to work on my State of the Union Address. I wondered how I was going to find the time to do the research. Now all I had to do was send them the questions.

Troy, Connie and I wrote up a list of topics that previous Presidents covered in the address, then we added mine. When we were finished Troy sent the list to Carson LaJames. Carson was head over several different research groups for the President. He was one more of the hundreds of people I needed to meet and gain their confidence.

At 0800 I was in a national security meeting with all the right people. The NSA and CIA had fresh satellite images of all of Iran in high definition.

The analyst had been over them with a big magnifying glass. Each photo had last week’s photo attached, with any changes in the field circled.

I listened as they gave their professional opinions. Next up was North Korea followed by Syria then Iraq. Then there were the African problems; the northern half of Africa was always at war with itself or someone. It had been that way for decades; nothing was going to change it short of turning the area into a glass parking lot.

At 0900 I was meeting with General Ingram, the secretary of the Air Force and four star General Alfred Baines. I listened to his presentation about his forces with the numbers of each kind of plane and their duty.

The numbers were impressive, just by their looks; one hundred and fifty five heavy bombers, one thousand six hundred fighter / light bombers, five hundred air tankers, over six hundred cargo planes and three hundred infantry ground support aircraft – the A10. There was no better sound to infantry than that of the twin jet engine A10 and the Gatling it carried.

”I’m going to war in twenty four hours, how many of the bombers and fighters can I depend on joining the battle the first day?” I asked.

The look of surprise was replaced with one of fear. He had no doubt been in conversations about the Navy and was afraid the same fate was headed his way.

”Less than fifty percent – more like 40 percent. We have similar issues to the Navy – maintenance delays, technician shortage and horrible parts supplies that make keeping a reasonable inventory impossible.”

”Manufactures are more interested in selling new planes than sufficient amounts of parts. Some parts have ten month back orders. To locate some parts for older models we have had to raid planes that were given to museums,” he said.

”Let’s change the conversation to what I call hardware, bombs, missiles and rockets. It is pretty much the job of the Air Force to deliver those on targets. How many days supply do you have on hand?” I asked.

”On small weapons – 100, 250, 500, 1000, and 2000 pound versions – we have a sixty day supply based on historical usage from previous conflicts. On heavy units MOAB, less than twenty five bombs in inventory and of the seismic thirty thousand pounders, just ten are in inventory. There is a thirty day delay in getting replacements,” he said.

An aide knocked on the door then came in and handed me a note.

“The senators from the Armed services committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are in the meeting room. They are not happy,” the note said.

”Generals, Mr. Secretary that is all I need to know for now but I will have more questions for you soon. I am not happy about the large bomb inventory and we will have a discussion very soon on that,” I said as I stood to leave.

I went to my desk to get the folder with files that Robert had sent over the last few days with the time table and plans that had been decoded and a fresh mug of coffee. There was a new message from Robert with attachments.

I opened them quickly and glanced over the information. One communiqué was trying to establish connections to more groups in the US and Canada.

Just when you think you had thinned the herd, more showed up. My immediate thought was there were sleeper cells they were trying to contact.

The other communiqué were to groups in Yemen and Somalia calling for joining of forces and an expanded effort in pirating. Another called for an increase in assaults against American interests in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

”Connie, call Ben, Frank and General Ingram and have them come to my meeting,” I said.

I knew one of the reasons they were unhappy. In order to stem the flow of leaks from the White House, I had all security clearances to the White House approved by President Thomas revoked. Only a few people would have clearance to the White House. All others would have their cell, beepers and laptops collected and they would be searched, plus they had to go through a scanner.

I also ordered – on the advice of Robert – to have a separate server that all transcripts of all meetings and all internal communications be stored in and not connected to government computer system.

The minute it went active, Congress could no longer view my meeting schedule or transcripts of the meetings, depending on security classification. It had been active for a week now.

Troy and I were led by Ziva, Abra and a couple more of my JBG guards followed by Connie into the meeting. I was expecting chaos and was not disappointed. I wondered why my security had decided to sit in.

It started even before I was seated. I knew that there are congressmen that have no respect for the President and as I expected, even less for a female President. It was something that I knew from problems that past President’s had dealt with, starting with Eisenhower.

It began with the press badgering the President as the press tried to sway the listening public to their way of thinking of force the President to accept theirs as policy.

Then as powerful special interest groups and their owners grew more powerful and allied with the media truth went out the window and the media was turned into a propaganda tool.

Washington Senator Wilber Downs was known as one of the liberal hot heads in the Senate. Senate leaders always tried to put him in committees where he could do the least harm. Seniority has a way of getting in the way of sanity; that was how he ended up on the Armed Services Committee – that and Washington had a major Navy base there.

The reserve fleet was stored there and there was storage for decommissioned ships and nuclear submarines. Washington had the only approved destruction site for nuclear submarines. What they did with old reactors was top secret.

Not only was Senator Wilber Downs an idiot, he was an asshole idiot without manners or respect. One thing he did was to protect his state’s Navy yard.

Before I was seated he told me in colorful four letter words what an idiot I was, how stupid I was and what he thought of me and my decision concerning Newport News Ship Building. Then he unloaded on being searched and having his phone confiscated. He kept on even after other senators suggested that he be quiet so we could begin.

With a knock on the door Ben, Frank and General Ingram came in. The General handed me several sealed notes. They were for minor things; one of them was that the Newport News Ship Building executive Vice President was in the lobby wanting to see me, it wasn’t unexpected.

It did give cover to oust Senator Wilber Downs. I snapped my fingers and gave Ziva a note, ”Tell Senator Downs he has a phone call. Escort him out – ALL the way out of the White House and on to the front steps – and remove his clearance.”

Speaking to Ben, Frank and the General, ”Have you seen the translation of today’s broadcast from Iran to their proxies?” I asked.

Three heads shook ”no” so I handed them the papers as they moved chairs to sit with me.

Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.

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