Chapter 536

I left the meeting after the discussion had gone on for an hour. Some of the topics made me question some of my ideas about future security of my country. I became worried the more I thought about it. Too many people in high places just could not be bold enough to give the necessary orders.

I looked at Africa and wondered if we were on the same path. Africa was now a basket case. JBG had been involved in stopping or responding to terrorist activity in five African countries and I expected no end in sight as long as we had the State Department security contract.

If anything, the continent was in more dire straits than ever. ISIS now had aligned groups in most all the countries that made up Africa and they were growing. Even though ISIS was on the ropes in Iraq and Syria, many of their fighters had escaped to African affiliates and were wreaking havoc.

Iran – acting as a proxy for Russia – had built factories to make AK47 rifles and other small arms in Venezuela to get around UN regulations when the last dictator ran the country. They were also arming and training rebels for disruption tactics in other countries of Central America.

The dictator was dead and gone but left the country in shambles; even though they were once an oil exporter. Different guerilla groups were fighting for control of the oil revenue and payoffs from the government for protection monies. The oil production industries were in shambles; the operators and executives had fled for their lives; kidnapping was almost a daily ritual.

Food was almost nonexistent; pets were being eaten and farm animals needed to produce eggs, milk and continue livestock production were being butchered in the field by the masses. What was once an exporter of beef, milk, cheese and vegetables could not even feed its own people.

With no exports, they were in default on massive loans to World Banks made by the dictator and now unable to get loans to keep food and critical items, including medicines. The result was the government was turning a blind eye to cartel activities and terrorist activity controlled by Iran, and its proxies; they had no money to fight them.

There were rebel groups fighting along it borders on both sides; some to expand the communist influence, others to eliminate the influence.

JBG had been involved multiple times in recent months with terrorists connected with Iran, the Prince and the cartels. Now the cartel was trying to overthrow the government of Mexico.

I wondered just how much of the problem was being fueled by Middle East terrorists. The cartel would certainly be happy to have a direct line to the Afghanistan heroin supply and an unrestricted path to its market. I knew the Prince was planning something big with his intended purchase of the large drones and hundreds of missiles destined for Central America.

By overthrowing the government of Mexico, the cartel would have access to the hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars of hi-tech weapons in the government’s inventory to use or sell to the highest bidder.
They would also have list of US agents, operatives, and confidants operating in Mexico. They would have access to Justice Department cases and records for the past decades.

Were those drones intended to be part of the uprising we were seeing now? Had the Prince’s demise accelerated the timeline for cartel uprising, before they ran out of his money? Were they trying to impress another Middle East power broker for continued funding?

All the countries in the region were fighting a cartel, drug problem and severe political strife. An influx of money from Russia and Iran could quickly turn the tide. I firmly believed that was what the Prince’s goal was. International politics was a tricky business on the edge of disaster every day.

I had a lot more questions than I had answers. And then there was the request for another meeting with the State Department tomorrow morning about expanding JBG embassy security to all central and South American countries that we currently did not run.

To be honest, I did not want any more and I knew Marcy did not either. She was still trying to get a balance in the revenue stream. But I also knew we would not say no; a company that did not grow soon withered and died, especially in the security business.

I was jolted out of my thought by a knock on my door; it was General Ingram again. As usual he closed the door before he sat down.

“I’m getting ready to head back to the Pentagon; I wanted to stop by before I left. Everything has been all business this afternoon and I don’t think I heard any of the politicians tell you point blank that you and your team did a great job,”

“They may not understand the challenges but I do. To plan from scratch, assemble and equip a team of eighty, travel 1700 miles to carry out a successful mission on foreign soil and return home with all the men and equipment in less than thirty six hours is a feat that is to be respected,” General Ingram said.

“The sad part is you and the team will never get the true recognition that is deserved. What you did is the kind of thing movies are made of and the War College dreams of for study material,” General Ingram said.

“Sometimes you are better off not in the limelight; this is probably one of those times,” I replied.
“You may be right but it was still an impressive feat,” he replied.

The General and I talked for another hour about a variety of subjects including my thoughts on the Mexican – Iran connection. Then the talks went real serious about other Central American challenges that could be connected to the Task Force.

The real shocker was that he invited me to sit in on a classified assessment, policy and planning session on Central and South America at the Pentagon tomorrow.

Just as I was getting to leave for the day I received the official notification of the State Department expanded security request from Amy Lockerman and approved by Victor Edmonson with all the numbers. I forwarded it to Vicky, Jenny and Jason.

I was sitting in the meeting with the girls in ninety minutes listening to reports. Marcy and Lorrie had contracted a design engineer to draw up the truck stop that Lorrie wanted and truck dealership Marcy wanted. they would be located on the same property. Then there was the permitting process if the designs met the girl’s approval. I was hoping that the commissioners had made progress on the changes to the building codes and processes.

In fact, I would see both commissioners at the fund raiser Monday night and ask for a progress report.
With Lorrie’s help they had set up four fund raisers in the next two months. I was going to all four of them. Elmo and Hanna had been sent free tickets to the one Friday night. Duke and Clarence had partnered together for the fund raiser.

My final stop was to see Robert.

“Anything new going on?” I asked.

“It was pretty quiet today; a pleasant break. It gave us time to review old files we had on the Prince and Balthazar and their associates to make sure we haven’t missed anything. Once we are finished with them I will move them to the long term storage servers,” Robert replied.

“Jason stopped in and said we would have more background checks to work on in a couple weeks or less,” Robert added.
“Just more of the same; just do your usual excellent job. Do we need to assign someone to monitor that deep web site?“ I asked.

The girls and I spent two hours in the gym; I needed it, I had made too many stops at the donut table. The meal after the gym was going to be light; salad and soup.

After supper I wanted to plan a weekend trip to the Bahamas to look at property. The last vacation to Florida was the handwriting on the wall that our privacy would be a fleeting thing. My time at the White House and all the time on TV was the last nail. The media and the paparazzi were trying to follow me as well as the rest of us around. Lorrie had already had a run-in with several at Morton trying to get statements and always hanging around.

There were plenty of private secluded islands for lease or sale there that were the nearly the same flight time as the Florida rentals. Several had runways that were good. We could control all access when we were there and rent out some of the cottages when we weren’t to make the place deductible as an investment. I was pretty sure we could schedule the ops team members there two and three weeks at a time as security, calling it a vacation perk year around.

Then again, I could use it to influence the important people as a getaway perk. I was learning the way of Washington, like it or not.

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Chapter 535

I looked out past the curtain at the gathered media raiding the tables with coffee and donuts; Harry was standing beside me. It was five minutes to two.

“Harry, let’s go get us a donut before the vultures clean the carcass,” I said.

“You aren’t afraid they will try to grab a piece of flesh?” he replied laughing.

“As long as you are breathing and moving they will stay back. Troy – on the other hand – might be in trouble,” I replied with a laugh as I took my mug and walked towards the steps with Harry following.

The masses quickly moved to the table as Harry and I filled our mugs. At first the conversation was sociable but then questions started.

I winked at the questioner, “The Spanish inquisition isn’t scheduled to start for a few more minutes,” I said.

Harry began with the normal list of agencies reports and statements that he needed to give. It took him forty minutes; he had a big list today. I sat in the chair next to the wall and worked on texting with Marcy. She was working on the bill for my trek to Mexico. It would be ready for me to review when I got to the office tonight.

Harry was finally done and began taking questions. As I expected, the first question was directed at me.
“Well that did not take long,” Harry relied.

“Yes Melinda,” I replied.

“Ambassador, how serious is the revolt in Mexico and is it affecting our ability to fight cross border terrorism?”

“I am told the Mexican government has made big strides today in ending the revolt by the cartel. A substantial number of the cartel leadership has been killed or is under arrest. The death toll and damage to the city has been extensive. Border security was beefed up from the beginning and overtime was approved. There were arrests of cartel members today trying to cross into the US,” I replied.

“Scott,”

“In the La Jarita state over the weekend, there appears to have been a massive fire fight that the cartel lost. Do you have any information on that?”

“The task force is aware of it but it is out of our jurisdiction. It looks like a drug deal gone bad in a big way. Mexico has not asked us to help in any investigation that I know of,” I replied.

“Shree, you’re up,” I said.

“Ambassador, there was a report that you turned in your resignation to the President on Friday from a very reliable source. I know you are here but what can you tell us about that report?” Shree asked.

“You need to have a conference with Tracy. I’m sure the two of you can come to a conclusion about your very unreliable source,” I replied.

“Malinda,”

“Ambassador, there was a report about possible missing nuclear weapons components along with the report that they may be in the hands of terrorists,” she asked.

“You need to get in on that conference with Tracy and Shree. A complete inventory of all nuclear weapons in the field and storage and all critical components has been completed and all are accounted for and secure,” I replied.

“Becky,”

“Ambassador, you only have a couple more weeks left on the task force; what are your plans after that?” Becky asked.

“One very big blow out cookout and party with my family and friends who I have seen little of for the last six months. After that, a family vacation to some private secluded place where we can shed the vests and heavy clothes to work on our all over natural tans,” I replied.

“That’s all the time I have; Harry can take over now,” I said. Then I stepped down to the table and grabbed one more donut to take with me.

Back in Section 12 I started dealing with the issues of the afternoon. There were still a few arrests going on. Some of those arrested had decided to negotiate and were singing like a canary. The FBI and DHS agents were busy sorting things out.

On my desk was a folder from the FBI on Kris Reynolds; he had been the seller. Forty six years old, a twenty six year career DOD employee. He had transferred to the critical weapons disposal unit – affectionately known as CWDU – ten years ago.

His garage and storage unit were filled with classified parts and weapons that he had signed off as witnessed destroyed. He had developed a system to get the things he wanted.

He would accompany a shipment for disposal and once the items were on the conveyor, he would give them a closer inspection. He would pull selected items off the conveyor and fill out elaborate fake paperwork, finally saying the items needed to be returned to the DOD, only to end up in his garage.

The plutonium ball was acquired the same way. He treated the people at the sites very well, paying for meals, whiskey and other gifts which should have raised all kinds of flags.

Kris had been selling parts on the deep web for two years; that was over now. With his computers seized, a list of what he had sold, for how much and to whom was now in the hands of the FBI. The FBI electronics unit under its new boss was producing; this file had been completed in just six hours today.

The file had lists of the materials in his garage – it was a lot – and was in the hands of the FBI as well as his bank accounts, safety deposit box and anything else they could seize.

I wondered if they left enough money for his wife to buy food for his kids and to pay utilities. If his lawyer was smart and could get the paperwork to him, they should file for retirement, although until he was convicted and a termination hearing he could continue drawing his paycheck. They could not touch his retirement.

My thoughts were interrupted by Troy standing in my door. “Do you have a few minutes to come upstairs? We have a visitor that would like to see you.”

Mexican Ambassador to the US Francisco Garcia was sitting in the Oval Office with the President, the Secretary of State Dick James and Eric Roberson. There was a chair for me beside Garcia; the White House photographer had all his equipment set up and started taking picture as soon as I approached the pair. This part was to be a photo op and I was to be part of it.

After the politics the real discussion began.

“Ambassador Garcia, the President and I have been discussing the cartel activities in the last few days. Mexico would like all the cartel members that our border patrol have arrested returned to Mexico immediately. I explained the difficulties on doing that and they will work with our system but we will return them as fast as we can,” Mr. James said.

“What has been done to assist Mexico in their return?” I asked.

“That is the purpose of this meeting; it is to formulate a procedure and policy. I thought you may have ideas to speed things along,” the President replied.

“Right now the DHS is holding them at several remote locations pending recommendations. And before you ask, they have not been allowed to see lawyers yet,“ Eric said.

“How far from the border are they being held?” I asked.

“At one facility near the El Paso Texas crossing and the other at Laredo, less than 5 miles from the border crossings. Both are DHS owned,” Eric said.

I wondered why Eric said they were DHS owned, so I took the bait.

“Load them on a bus, drive them back across the border, and then turn them over to the Mexican border patrol – if they haven’t been processed. The only thing they will do in an American jail is form more gangs and continue to run cartel business and create more havoc,” I replied.

“It is not that easy,” Eric said.

“I’m sure you can find all kinds of loop holes in international law that will allow it to be done. Get the drug dogs to see if they have been handling drugs then check their clothes to see if there is any gun powder residue. If there are, then they are cartel and you can send them back,” I replied.

“If it were only that easy,” Mr. James said.

“Do you want me to send you some bus drivers?” I replied.

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Chapter 534

Marty’s FBI agents were the first there to pick up the seller of the bomb components. He was not a happy camper; breakfast was not up to his standards nor was the jail.

“It’s not too late to ask you some questions. You should think about that carefully,” I replied. After that he had nothing to say.

Six CIA officers showed up next to pick up the two Iranians. Neither had anything to say so I said it for them, “I can assure you that next time we meet the circumstances are not going to be as pleasant for you!”

With them gone I turned the heat down to fifty-five and locked the doors. The cleanup crew would be here in a couple of hours after they were notified.

I walked back into the terminal to greet Major Black.

“I’m Major Heather Black; I’m here to pick up the materials. WHERE ARE THEY?” she demanded rather loudly.
“You mean the materials – that with all your security protocols – were still stolen and could not be accounted for? The ones I had to go to a foreign country, into hostile territory to recover for you?” I asked.

“Yes those,” she replied a little toned down.

“We do things differently here, I need two IDs from each of you, one of them with a photo,” I said.

With their IDs in hand, “Take a seat; this will take a few minutes,” I said.

I read the names and then made a copy. Major Heather Black, Lt. Laura Mason, Captain Jesse Lee Bloom and Captain Herman Bullock, all Air Force.

I took the IDs and copied them, then pulled up the State Department system that had every ID the government had issued for the last 20 years and checked them. When I was satisfied, we went over to the armory.

Vicky input her ID and then I did mine and I pulled the massive door open. There on shop carts were all the components we brought back. Major Black started for the carts and stopped.

On the racks along the wall were the old and new gun drones with new full ammo belts in the box. The controllers were under each one and then there were the drones set up for devices. The assembled devices were stacked on wooden storage racks.

“I have heard about those but these are the first ones I have seen, I also hear in capable hands they are very effective,” the Major said.

“Extremely effective,” I replied.

Major Black went straight to the box with the plutonium ball, checked the serial number and then opened it and read the matching serial number out loud to Lt. Mason.

“That’s the correct numbers,” Lt. Mason replied.

The process was repeated with the implosion core.

My sheet said the same thing; Major Black was going to sign for everything she took.

The Major began aggressively looking at all the rest of the parts.

“More here than I expected, I think we have everything we need. Let’s get headed back,” she said.

She handcuffed the case holding the plutonium core to Captain Bloom’s left wrist and did the same thing to the case holding the implosion core to Captain Bullock’s left wrist.

The rest of the small components were moved to one cart while the bigger parts were all placed on another. We walked through the terminal to the doors for the tarmac where the government G3 was parked.

I waved off the TSA inspector running to stop them, “Classified items exempt from TSA,” I said. He nodded and turned away.

I turned to start my trek to Washington, only to run into Duke.

“What can be so important that you handcuff the cases to your body?” he asked.

“Those things are the parts for a 500 kiloton thermonuclear bomb, we don’t want them to lose them before they get to the storage depot,” I replied.

“I would hope not, but I think you are feeding me some BS,” he said.

“I thought you would say that,” I replied.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

“I’m here to book the big meeting room and talk to the restaurant about doing some kind of dinner for a fund raiser,” he replied.

“Get Lorrie to go with you; she can pull strings for the days you want,” I said. Lorrie already knew I was working with Duke and what the arrangement would be.

Bill, the team and I drove west to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave; I was ready for the fireworks to begin.

There were no media at the gate; they were all on the White House steps until they saw my convoy. There was a mad rush to the gate but too late – I was inside before they could get there.

I sent notice to the kitchen staff I wanted donuts and coffee sent to the press room for the 1400 news conference; there was no way I was going to escape today’s news update, but first was the big meeting.

I stopped first at the Oval Office; Troy met me at the door.

“I don’t know how you are going to handle your time today; everyone wants a piece of it. Harry is saying he will not start the daily news briefing without you there. They are already hitting on him,” Troy said.

“The joint chiefs want a closed door meeting, lots of interest there for some reason. You’ve made them look bad; first they lost the goods, and then to have to get you to recover them. It hurts their pride; be careful,” Troy said. “But first the President.”

“We don’t know how that rumor got started,” the President said as he handed me the envelope I had given him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait a day or two to see where the fallout ends?” I asked.

“No, we have already seen the media footage and the Air Force satellite film for what it was. Some issues but nothing drastic, as you said from time to time we will have to do some distasteful things. Apparently you have no problem with the distasteful things,“ the President replied.

My next stop was at Section Twelve; all my crew was there working on the new information from the Prince’s files. They were working with the evidence, helping Kathy Shellman put it in order for the team of federal prosecutors that were going to do the real work of getting convictions.

Things came to a halt while there was a mini reunion of sorts; my team was glad I was back.

I was distracted one more time before I could meet with the joint chiefs. The engineer for GSA wanted to meet about the office expansion. Congress had approved the new independent cabinet department that would report to the President.

Section 12 was going to be expanded; the department beside us was being relocated, the wall separating the two removed. The changes were going to allow whomever the new chairperson was to have a larger office, more investigators, a larger meeting room and a dedicated lunchroom.

Changes in the labor rules now required a separate lunchroom. Employees were no longer allowed to eat lunch at their desks.

Ben and I worked with the GSA design team to do the layout. I let Ben take the helm on the plans. I was down to three weeks and six days; I would be gone before the changes were completed. There was no need for it to be made to my preferences.

I finally met the joint chiefs – or I should say – they met me. I was just walking out the door with the GSA engineer to meet them upstairs.

Troy, the President, the five chiefs, Frank, Eric and Art Cummings, “Let’s go to your office; it’s large enough to go over the things we need to,” Troy said.

“We would like to go over the recovery of the components and the after-action report, if you will,” General Ingram said.

“I understand you have satellite video, let’s watch it first,” I replied.

After five minutes I could see why the President had said about for what it was. It was bad.

“Just stop; turn it off – it’s a terrible video. How much money did you pay for the cheap copy of this action movie?” I asked with a laugh.

“I think I have an original production, not a bootleg copy; but first some facts. We were outnumbered by thirty fighters; we were in hostile territory – their home area. With the number of fighters they had, we were out-gunned on the ground,“ I said.

“Our advantages were in the element of surprise, superior planning, weapons and aviation support in the form of drone gunships,” I said. I then played the DVD I had taken from the drone computer.

It was great video from a production standpoint, clear and good detail. It was easy see the gunship drones making their sweeps, the transfer of the components and drugs to our vehicles and then the fires to destroy all theirs.

The camera drone had been the last thing out of the air after a general sweep of the area.
“There you have it; the good, the bad, the ugly,” I said as I closed the video.
“What happened to the drugs?” Troy asked.

“The DEA has them, we are doing DNA testing to determine where they came from. Were they from local sources or from Iran? Inquiring minds want to know,” Eric responded before I could answer.

“Did you bring any of their weapons back?” Art asked.

“No, the weapons were placed in the trucks before they were burned to destroy both the weapons and the vehicles,” I replied.

“You took no prisoners, killed everyone there other than the three main players. Why?” General Ingram asked.

“We were not equipped to deal with prisoners; we certainly couldn’t call the Mexican authorities. We had no medical facilities to care for them, the humane thing to was to put them out of their misery. Besides, you did not want survivors on Mexican media saying it was an American raid now did you. The dead tell no tales,” I replied.

“You knew from the very beginning this was what had to happen; there was no choice. To stay as clean as possible, you contracted it out to JBG,” I replied.

I handed the President a list of names for the presidential pardons. It included everyone connected to the operation.

“It’s time for the daily news briefing,” I said as I closed the video system down.

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Chapter 533

Two hours later we drove up to the open cargo doors of the C5s and let the cargo masters tie down the trucks and equipment. It is a sign of a successful mission when you go home with everything and everyone you took to the fight; in our case, we were plus three.

As soon as we were in the air, I called the President, “I have the goods, mission complete.” A little conversation and I ended the call.

The next call was to General Ingram, “Great news, I want the details Monday. When can we pick up the materials?”

“Three hours at Morton,” I replied.

“We can’t get anyone qualified there in that time. I understand you have secure storage; just go ahead and store them. It will be Monday morning.”

You will get details before then, I bet; just as soon as the media finds out, I thought.

I called Ben, Frank and Eric on a conference call that lasted 20 minutes. I informed Eric to send the DHS to pick up the drugs. Then I napped until I heard the gear lock down. It was midnight; I feared the fun was just beginning.

It was late 0300 when I crawled into bed with Jenny. At 0600 I heard the boys being shushed and carried out of the room. An hour later they had snuck away and were crawling on the bed to see if I was awake. I had been watching out of the corner of my eye as they helped each other up on the bed.

Another year or two and this pair are going to be something to be dealt with; they were learning and reasoning things out way too fast for their age.

I sat up quickly and grabbed both of them for a tickle session and a kiss before sending them back to the kitchen for the breakfast that I could smell cooking.

After breakfast and cleanup, I turned on the news and was sorry that I had.

Mexico City was a disaster; some of the legislators that had been taken hostage had been executed on the steps. Shop owners were being killed, the stores looted. The only ones spared were the ones paying protection money to the cartel.

At 0600 there had been a change in orders from their President. It was a two part order; the first part was the troops were shooting on sight anyone with a weapon of any kind and they had been turned loose in the streets. The second part was a complete curfew at 1200; any violators would be shot. It was a last ditch attempt to restore order.

The next part of world news was devoted to the massacre at La Jarita. The Mexican media was there in the form of live TV from Ciudad Anahuac. There were bodies and burned vehicles – and of course – crying widows.

I felt bad for them but not that bad; their men had decided to take the cartel route. Rumor had it that the new cartel boss’s requirement was to kill someone in front of a leader to prove they were worthy of joining.

If that is true, justice was served with just a shortcut missing the trial. No cartel member had been convicted of anything in months; the witnesses never lived long enough to testify, no matter how the prosecutor tried to protect them.

When they settled into the national news I was shocked.

“Now to Congressional reporter Tracy Cox with breaking news. Tracy, what do you have?” the host asked.

“An anonymous Congressional source told me a little while ago that Terrorist Task Force chairperson Ambassador Roberta Jones handed her resignation to the President on Thursday. The ambassador was not at the White House on Friday,” Tracy said.

“That would be startling news considering how effective the task force has been; our White House reporter is trying to find a spokesperson for a comment,” the host replied.

“That same source said that there are nuclear weapons components and possibly a nuclear warhead missing from the strategic inventory,” Tracy said.

This information could have only come from one of the two Senators who were at the meeting Friday. I wondered when the rest would come out.

It was a classified meeting. I wondered if I could investigate the source of the leak; if any more came out, I knew I would.

I listened for an hour while they went from one Washington reporter to another with all kinds of speculation; the story grew as each time one of them commented.

My phone rang three times while the morning news show was on; all three times it was ZNN’s Washington Today. I was sure Arthur Kennedy wanted a statement. He wasn’t going to get one today.

With the TV off, I went to find mates and boys and found both. I spent several hours on the floor building Lincoln log cabins with the boys. They had enough logs to build a whole town and then some.

When the boys finally went down for a nap, Vicky and I relived yesterday’s action for the girls. We could have watched the firefight from the video that I had forgotten about. The camera drone had recorded everything.

I needed to go find that laptop, copy the video and then have Robert replace or scrub the hard drive. An hour later a copy of the action was in my portable office and a DVD in my safe.

The rest of the day was family and fun time. We stayed the limit in the hot tub except for Lorrie and Ching Lee; they were now limited because of being pregnant. In just a few more months we would have two more little ones in the house. After the boys were in bed it was girl time and we made the best of it.

I was up early; my first call of the morning was to Eric. I wanted to know when the DEA was picking up the drugs we had brought back. I was glad to hear they would be here at 0900. The cash, and there were bags of it, had already gone into one of our safes and was going to stay there; I viewed it as one of the perks for taking that kind of risk.

The next call was to General Ingram, “The team is already in the air to pick up the components; they should be there in an hour. Major Heather Black will be in command of the team, give her hell about having to retrieve her lost parts from all points south.”

“Will do,” I replied.

The next call was Frank to come get the Iranian buyer and his partner who were in the Camp Smith jail. I wanted them gone; agents would be here by 0900. The CIA was going to pick up those two.

“If they are uncooperative, can we bring them back to interrogate there?” he asked.

“I’m sure we can work something out,” I replied.

Marty Coeburn was next on the list, “Come pick up the seller,” I said. He agreed and the man would be gone by 0900.

I was relieved; getting all this mess cleared out by noon would be great.

The last call was to Troy and the President, the call lasted thirty minutes. As soon as the Major left I would go to 1600 Pennsylvania and we would put out the fires that the media was fanning – and fanning they were – it was growing like a Sana Anna wildfire.

Some news outlets were reporting that I had a big fight with the President, his chief of staff and the national security team. They were reporting I had been carried out of the room by agents. If it wasn’t so serious, we would have been laughing. We decided to let them stew for awhile; the White House was not going to make a statement until the daily news briefing at 1400.

After a big breakfast, the girls and I began our routines; Marcy to her office and crunching numbers while Ching Lee would be reviewing the issues that had appeared at the colleges over the weekend. Lorrie was going over all things with aviation and rental houses. The rental season would be winding down in a couple of months. Now was the time to schedule repairs and upgrades. Those things took time to get estimates and award contracts.

Jenny and Jason were still dealing with the lawsuit. Vicky was going with me and Lorrie to Morton to wait on all the people that were arriving.

My normal complement of security escorted us to Morton. It was a good thing we were early. Things were ahead of schedule already.

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Chapter 532

Sorry for posting late ER issues traveling issues and i lost track of the days. Jack

It was a long restless night; Lorrie was called twice from Morton to make special flights to get members of the OPS team.

I was called once from the Doppler tower at AF479 at 2 AM, “Ma-am, we were told to call you with any activity. A small twin engine plane just landed at the airfield at La Jarita – we were ordered to watch it for you,” the caller said.

“Thank you sir, appreciate the call very much,” I replied.

I went back to the command center and looked at La Jarita with the State Department’s infrared. I watched drug dealers transferring bricks of cocaine from the plane to a pickup and the payoff. They used the headlights from four vehicles to light up the runway when the plane took off.

I turned the screen off and went back to bed. In two hours it would time to get up again. Marcy was possessive and wanted to cuddle, almost squeezing the breath out of me.

I dreaded crawling out of bed but it was morning with plenty to do. I started by calling Greg Archer telling him not to come pick me up today. Then I called Ben to tell him the same thing; he was in charge.

By noon all the equipment was ready and loaded. The C5s were fueled. We were waiting on the last of the men who were going to make it. We were ten men short of a full team. Vicky and I were both going in the field; sand, rocks and hot sticky heat again, only this time in Central America.

We said our tearful goodbyes in Lorrie’s office and then settled in for the 1800 mile flight to Texas. We would arrive in time to be able to unload and be ready to move out at dusk.

Standard operating procedure is for everyone to try to sleep. Even though there were VIP bunks over the cockpit, Vicky and I napped in our seats like the rest of the men.

While the unloading process was going on Vicky, Andy and I rode to the mini control tower to talk with the controller on duty. What I really wanted was all the phone numbers I could get in case of an emergency; I left with several.

We were in our gear and in the vehicles driving away from AF479s southern security fence when my satellite phone rang.

“We need to send an expert with you to verify the components,” Frank said.

“You’re too late, the mission has already started; we are in the field crossing into Mexico,” I replied.

I had the same concerns about identifying the parts but there was a solution.
What I knew that Frank did not know was Robert had found detailed color photographs of every component of the W87 warhead, even down to the mil spec part numbers stamped on them on the dark web. I had them all loaded on my phone. I also had two radiation detectors one I had borrowed from the customs officers at Morton and the other from the UPS depot that was leasing one of the hangars.

Other than an occasional fox, jack rabbit and armadillo, the infrared cameras found nothing. I was surprised that the ATVs made the trip without needing refueling. We had ten gallons in two five gallon cans in the back of each one.

At daylight we were stopped a mile from the airfield. Four scout teams made the trek to the airfield on foot to do a recon. While we waited Vicky and I both were on the phone looking at text and emails. One of those was to call Robert.

“They have exchanged satellite phone numbers; the buyer wants confirmation the seller is at the site and waiting before the plane lands. I am monitoring both. They have set a time to meet at the airfield as you suspected they would; they agreed on noon,” Robert said.

“The Alvan’s departure time from Tampico has been changed; it’s leaving at midnight,” Robert said.

Noon would give us plenty of time to get into place and the vehicles covered.

At 1100 vehicles started showing up in groups of three or four; some of them carried four or more armed men. By 1130 there were over 100 armed men waiting for the meeting. We were out numbered.

A few minutes later my lookouts indicated that there were four pickups coming fast from the direction of Laredo.

Robert called to tell me there had been calls on the satellite phone. The plane was 20 minutes out and the parts very close.

The four pickups drove to the end of the strip close to where we were located. There was a warm greeting among thieves; too warm for comfort. The group walked to where the Prince’s plane had been burned, looking at the remains.

We waited listening to the growing sounds of an aircraft. It was soon in sight as it circled over the runway with its landing gear down. A few minutes later it was coming to a stop where the pickups were parked. It was a Cessna twin engine 414.

The big new camera drone was sent first away so it would not be seen and then it was sent high – 1500 feet – so it would appear to be no more than a speck and moved directly over the assembled group.

The expensive camera package worked perfectly. It took a half an hour before any real action started. There were three plus the pilot that exited the plane. Two of them were armed.

The canvases were pulled back on the pickups and boxes were opened and inspected. The things I saw looked like the pictures that Robert had loaded for me.

The buyers must have been happy, because they moved over to plane and began opening the wing lockers and unloading boxes from the cabin. Some were obviously drugs – probably heroin – and there were a lot of packages and cash.

The gun drone operators had been given explicit instructions “Do not hit the vehicles carrying the bomb components, the seller and the buyer; everything else was fair game.” The rest of the instructions were simple, “Kill them all.”
I nodded to Andy and picked up my sniper rifle. Andy was not going to let me or Vicky get close to the action but we could pick off a few hiding around the vehicles.

“Go, Go, Go!”

At the last “go” I pulled the trigger on my first target,

Moments later the drones made their first pass, guns blazing.

The fire fight lasted twenty minutes before the drones were called off. The only ones left alive were huddled around the pickup and the plane who decided it was time for a white flag. The plane was not going anywhere; the pilot was the first one I put down.

As soon as the dust settled we were all on the site, single gunshots one after another told me that the team was finishing off the wounded. None of my men – including me – wanted to be shot in the back by someone thought to be dead who wasn’t. We did not have any way to care for them; the humane thing was to end their misery quickly.

I looked in the back of the pickups; things there matched the pictures I had on my phone. I opened one of the two decent wooden boxes to see the plutonium ball nestled in Styrofoam. The detector said it was the real deal. I quickly closed and latched it.

In the other truck I opened another latched box to see the implosion section. The device when activated mixed the components to start the big bang.

Even though I had ordered the trucks not to be shot, stray and bouncing bullets had finished them; tires were flat and radiators leaking. Andy sent for our trucks to transfer the parts to.

I ordered Andy to load all the drugs as well. The DEA would be happy to run tests on them to see where it came from before they destroyed the junk, and of course there would be a press conference.

I turned my attention to the four men who were still standing with their hands tie – strapped as all the support equipment was loaded back up. My men searched the seller’s trucks for anything of intelligence value.
I took a picture of the seller, his license and passport and sent it to Ben.

Next I started with the first bodyguard; he had no identification on him. “What is your name?” I asked.
He answered me in Persian – being a smart-ass – thinking I could not understand, “Screw off you whoring bitch! I’m telling you nothing.”

“Wrong answer asshole,” I replied in Persian and pulled the trigger, putting a 40 caliber round between the eyes.
I turned my attention to the second body guard. I didn’t even get to ask the question.

“I will tell anything you want, everything; please don’t shoot me.”

The three were tie strapped more securely and tied in the back of one of the pickups. It was not going to be a smooth ride back for them.

All the weapons were picked up and placed in the automobiles, doused and set on fire; the same thing happened to the plane. Everything was burning as we drove towards AF479.

Vicky was sitting beside me in one of the Humvees. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“Yep, good to go,” she replied.

“How many?” I asked.

She held up five fingers and smiled.

“You know you are not supposed to enjoy doing this,” I said.

“I don’t, it is just something that had to be done and I’m going to do my part,” she replied.

My phone rang; I looked at the caller ID and let it ring. I leaned back and tried to nap.

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Chapter 531

I thought a long time before answering.

“You do realize you are setting up another potential Bay of Pigs fiasco?” I asked.

“There will be Presidential pardons for everyone involved, use of Airfield 479 and ground communications with the Doppler radar tower there and triple expense payment,” I added.

Airfield 479 was a secret airfield used by the CIA for its clandestine flights. It was ten miles north west of Laredo International located in an area of restricted airspace. It was built during WW2 for B29 training, and had long wide concrete runways that were still maintained even thou the base was closed in 1950. There were two large hangars and one small barracks left and a fuel farm; all the rest had been destroyed.

I knew about it because some of the CIA flights that JBG flew landed there to pick up the freight. I also knew U2 and SR71 spy planes had used it in the past.

“Why AF479 and the Doppler?” Ben asked.

“I believe because of the distance the buyer is flying to La Jarita to make the purchase; possibly to the same airport that the Prince’s plane was found. The Doppler will give advance warning to the ground operation if that is their plan. AF479 because it is twenty miles from La Jarita with plenty of smuggler roads along the border in that area,” I replied.

“There are lots of things that have to come together. With the information we have it is still a needle in a hay stack,” I said.

I took the paper out of the folder signed, dated and wrote the time on it. After folding it I placed it in an envelope and handed it to the President.

“That’s my resignation; if things go smoothly you can give it back on Monday. If not, you can use it to cover your collective asses,” I said as I stood to leave. “I have lots of things to do and set in motion. I will need the Secret Service to carry me home; my men are not going to have time.”

Ben and Frank both looked at me, smiled and nodded.

Back at Section 12 I sent a text to the girls, “VCATS ASAP.”

The second text was to Andy, “Leadership team to command center VCATS ASAP.

First was the girls and that took some convincing that we should get involved. They were convinced that it was worth the risks at the end.

Next were Andy, Bill and Ed. I let Robert explain everything before I said anything. Then I explained what I knew and the agreements I had made. What followed was one massive planning session. Lorrie sent orders to Robbie to get two of the C5s ready and both Blackhawks. They would be loaded in one C5; unloaded, made flight- ready at AF479 and ready to fly to the rescue if the plans collapsed in the field.

The auto repair shop was told to drop everything, get the 12 Humvees checked out; they were going. And then put batteries in the six Toyota trucks we had had taken from the cartel three months ago and check them out; they were going.

The ops team was to get the new and the old gun drones checked out and ready to go along with two that could drop bombs.

Dad was given the task to find all the camouflaged ATVs that he could at the local dealers and get them delivered today. If they were not camouflaged, spray paint would take care of that.

Vicky had someone looking for all the Mexican flags she could find. Mexico’s military had lots of Humvees; Bill’s idea was to put a Mexican flag on the radio mast making them look like one of theirs.

Everything that made them look like US military was gone anyhow, other than they were a Humvee. Part of the d-mil process we had to do was remove all numbers and unit information. They were now strictly desert camo painted.

The Toyota pickups still had Mexican tags on them and would fit the part.

Andy was still working on the numbers of how many men he would have, I had given everyone time off after South Africa.

I closed the VCATS; there was little more I could do for now. When I finished and opened the door there were a dozen Secret Service men and ladies there and my heavy vest was on the table. The low talk and whispering stopped; I guess some secrets cannot be kept in the basement offices after all; I wondered which one they were whispering about.

Frank, Eric, and Art had come to the office while I was on VCATS.

“Looks like you have completed politics 2.0 on the fast track without telling anyone. That move caught all of us by surprise but given the circumstances it was the right thing to do, something that none of us thought about,” Eric said.

“What time do you want us to pick you up in the morning? I’m in charge of the convoy detail for you,” Greg Archer asked.

“I’m not sure and won’t know for at least sixteen hours. After South Africa I sent all the OPS on vacations; if we cannot get enough back I will go on the mission as an OPS team member. You have to have boots on the ground to win. Vicky is going and so are several from the IT group to run communications,” I said. There were plenty of widened eyes.

The Secret Service had me back to the house in an hour; they drove fast but not as fast as my men did.
Greg drove me into the garage and was getting ready to walk out to one of the other vehicles to return to Washington when I stopped him.

“Please call all the men and ladies to come here. I have something I want to say,” I said as I was taking off the vest.

“I don’t know how the weekend will go; there are a hundred different ways this can go sideways. If it does I may not be back or back in good standing. I want to thank all of you for everything you have done to protect me and help me learn the ways of Washington. Thank You,” I said and then shook hands and gave each a hug; screw political correctness.

Five minutes later I was standing in the command center with Robert looking at the latest developments, not that there were many. On the other hand the big meeting room was filled with activity. Whiteboards were on stands everywhere with information being updated. Computer screens had more information.

Vicky was at one whiteboard, checking off items as they were completed. Six of the Hummers had been completed with all the maintenance items checked.

So far Dad had ten ATVs delivered with ten more on the way. That would be enough vehicles to carry everyone into the desert and more than enough room to carry the drones and equipment.

One C5 was finished and the two helicopters were being loaded in it. The pilots and loadmasters were assisting. Ahead, between and around the helicopters were a couple of Humvees and ATVs.

Things were ahead of schedule for such a short lapse of time. It needed to be; the plan was to be in Texas by dusk and navigate to the site using night vision equipment. The last mile to the airfield would be by teams on foot. The night vision equipment would help locate any sentries sent there by the cartel.

The biggest holdup was getting the team members to Morton.

Everyone not busy was made busy loading clips and belts for the drones.

I went back to the command center and looked at the State Department’s fancy Google program and studied every foot from AF 479 to airport to La Jarita. When I finished I then did a ten mile search around the La Jarita airport looking for anything that could be an issue.

Still not satisfied, I went back to the La Jarita airport and looked at it in big magnification and then in the infrared mode. Satisfied there was nothing there tonight I closed the screen and went looking for Robert.

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Chapter 530

My security team picked me up early today; we were still varying the times. I wondered when I would be able to stop this foolishness and had that discussion with Andy and the girls.

I reluctantly agree to continue until the end of my term at the task force, four weeks and four days to go.

It was good to be able to see all the day people in the office and have a normal conversation with them. I finally had time to talk with Cindy, Susie Q and Mark to see how they liked the Vice President positions now that they had been in them for a few weeks.

I got to sit in on the first full length business meeting in days instead of hearing just the highlights. I was glad to hear that the Pig Iron Point permitting process was ahead of schedule. The state and county environmental departments signed off immediately after determining the creosote would be removed. Jenny had to send confirming letters to both. The federal part had two more approvals to go through.

The rest of the news was good. We left early; Lisa had stayed with the boys all day. She had crock pots with beef, pork, mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls. Lisa, Jason, Jake and Mindy finished out the family meal. The boys were getting better at feeding themselves. We had a great family evening; hot tub and a feel, fondle and cuddle session.

It was Thursday, just two more days this week to make the trip. I needed real private time with the girls and boys. This job was beginning to wear on me.

Things started to go downhill by nine; General Ingram had been in twice and closed the door both times.
There were big meetings going on upstairs in several rooms, meetings that I did not even have clearance to attend, not that I wanted to.

He had been frustrated in his attempts to do anything in regards to meeting in La Jarita Mexico.

The best he could come up with was satellite surveillance of the area with increased border security and hope they could catch the traitor going across. None of which were much help in either of our opinions.

For one thing, I thought the components were already across the border stashed somewhere. Why run the risk of carrying all of it at one time? A box of switches or other small parts isn’t going to pique the interest of a border guard but all of it together may.

That would possibly mean there were partners in the cartel.

My thoughts were interrupted by my phone.

“The two are negotiating again. The one is still bouncing but originating from Virginia but the other is fixed at Havana. I’m sending the GPS numbers; use your fancy system to locate them,” Robert said.

The government’s fancy Google didn’t have any trouble finding the spot. It was a freighter at the commercial dock flying the Iranian flag in Havana. After checking the international shipping schedule the general cargo freighter Alvan was 168 meters long. It was scheduled to leave tonight and dock tomorrow at Tampico. Tampico was on Mexico’s east coast, a marine terminal plus a major support terminal for the offshore oil wells.

From La Jarita Mexico to Tampico was over 300 miles through some of the most contested cartel territory. If I was betting it would be a drug plane flying the buyer to La Jarita and then flying the purchase back to a grass strip near Tampico to be loaded on the Alvan.

As I was thinking, the computer kept running; the Alvin was scheduled to depart Tampico two days later for Caracas Venezuela. Iran had agreements with Venezuela and made suspicious flights with military personnel. That’s how the parts were going to make the trip to Iran.

I called Frank. I knew the agency should have assets there, or at least I thought they would. I called the General to make the trip to see me for the third conference of the morning.

“What have you found out?” I asked. I wanted to know what his spooks were doing.

When he responded with nothing new I filled him on what I knew.

“We have assets working there but they are few,” Frank replied.

I called and asked the General the same question and gave him the same information. It was a screw-up at several levels; security reviews had been ordered. A full scale investigation was held off as not to scare everyone away. The DOD in the critical weapons destruction group, the nuclear weapons tracking group and the NRC that was to track and have control of the weapons core were all going to be in the hot seat.

I was clear of all of those groups and decided to wash my hands of the whole mess. A lot of people received big salaries, great retirements, and prestige from those jobs; have at it boys.

I went back to reviewing the data for my appearance in front of the House for the college security budget request. After that I started looking at the arrest reports that resulted from the warrants. Only a few were still open.

I had an idea and a question; Ben working with Rodney could answer it.

“Has the ten that are still at large, been thoroughly investigated with their web traffic and net suppliers checked and their online history? Would either of them have had access to nuclear materials? The reason I say that is the seller is still online so he could be one of the ten,” I asked.

Both left the room to find out.

My Coast Guard officer who was monitoring shipping traffic called, “The Alvan is going to be two hours late departing Havana; they have boiler problems.” I wondered if that problem was caused by one of Frank’s assets.

At noon ZNN went crazy; the cartel had assaulted the Mexican Congressional building and had taken many hostages. All Army troops were directed to the capital and several other major cities but that was only part of the problem. The cartel had threatened the families of so many troops they were deserting their post or not reporting at all.

The President was trapped in the official residence, the Mexico City airport closed. A full blown war was on the brink of exploding on our border for the first time in one hundred and twenty years.

It was 1400 when Ben and Art Cummins walked into my office. “We need you to come with us,” Art said.
“Oh crap, now what? What have they found out?” I asked myself.
I followed with the folder in hand that contained the letter that Bobbie typed up for me and a freshly filled mug.
There was one chair left, only this time it was in the front center of the table and not on the end or back.

I listened while one bad report was followed by another. The nuclear audit found that a plutonium core was missing from storage. It was the same size and weight as used on the W87 warhead. Not only was the core missing but an implosion core section as well from another location; again for the W87 warhead. All these items together made a complete operable nuclear weapon.

“Is this a sale to a foreign government or potential terrorist strike at home? “I asked.

“What do you mean?” Troy asked.

“What if the Iranians are going to assemble it to be brought back to say San Antonio or Dallas,” I asked.

“Oh God no, only you would think like that,” Troy replied.

“I think Iran would rather a working bomb to copy and then test it in a surface test in its mountain range. The structure of the entire Middle East would be instantly changed by doing an air test. The message would be that it did not give a crap about world opinion or what its neighbors thought and we already know that.”

“Iran would instantly be the only power broker and dictating everything; the states caving in to Iran like dominos as Iran sent large numbers of troops to their borders. The price of oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel in a matter of days after the test. They only need one working bomb, just one,” I said.

“We agree that it is going back to Iran but that only the beginning of the problem. The disaster in Mexico has tied our hands. We were in negotiations to send US personnel to intercept and recover the parts.”

“All that is over now, the government there does not know who to trust, the US Ambassador there is under house arrest as we speak. Misinformation is getting to the El-Presidente from all directions. He has refused any assistance,” Art said.

“We can’t send any military personnel there, the international community would take it as an invasion. Even sending a few agents into the cartel stronghold would be political suicide,” Troy said.

“That said, all of us knew about the JBG team’s exceptional performance in Uganda and Windhoek. A little while ago I learned what a select few other people knew about South Africa,” the President said, “but that is a topic for another day.”

“Do you think your JBG OPS team can retrieve the components from Mexico?” the President asked.

“OH, NO!” I thought.

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