I was up at 0400 and in the side office reading updates while eating breakfast. At 0445 I was just settling into the Oval Office when Anton, President Orbatch and a couple aides came in.
They were Connie, Troy, Emit Dadds – a State Department Russia expert – and a CIA Russian expert. The two experts were to listen and evaluate but to offer no comments to the discussions that were to begin in the office at 0500, so there were a few minutes of open conversation.
“How are things in the homeland today?” I asked.
”Not getting any better but the announcement of this meeting has raised expectations and has taken some of the fire out of it for now,” Anton said.
”What about all the Chinese troops and equipment massing at Altay border, are you going to have war games with them again?” I asked.
I knew they weren’t – there were no Russian troops in the area to amount to anything more than beefed up border guards. It was also where the natural gas pipelines from the territories crossed into China and fed the Chinese industry. It was a huge pipeline, over six feet in diameter.
There had been no war games with China for couple of years. Not since the loss of the carriers.
”No, there are no war games planned with anybody. There should not be any troops there by agreement. Our satellites have failed for that area – yours must be working,” President Orbatch said.
”They are sending a lot of messages back and forth between the China troop garrisons and Beleshi,” I said.
”Beleshi is where multiple pipelines come together. There the gases are metered and combined into the big pipe to China,” President Orbatch said.
”Is this the gas supply that China is delinquent on making payments for?” I asked.
”Your information is good, yes very delinquent! They are slow and getting slower, only making partial payments. They blame the shortage of money on manufacturing returning to the US under Trump and then Thomas as a result of the pandemic of the early 20s,” Anton said.
”Well, they are really going to be pissed because there is a bill on my desk that requires all medicines sold in the US to be one hundred percent made in the US and it requires ninety five percent of all medical equipment and supplies to be manufactured in the US.”
”It’s been happening in stages; the final stage is in one year. China had a lock on medicines and medical equipment after Obama put a tax on medical equipment, but the manufacturing is all coming back now. Twisting some arms and political pressure was required in some cases. Other manufacturing took the pressure and started to return as well.”
”Another bill requires customs to inspect all containers that are not certified from approved manufactures as they come off the ships. If contraband or bootleg materials are found, the ship can be impounded indefinitely or seized. All of that is really going to hurt, as least a bit,” I said.
My staff came in and the real discussion started.
I received a text from Jenny, ”Marcy, Vicky and I are airborne, will arrive in Thimble Shoals in ninety minutes.”
”Being direct and to the point as I am known for, what is it you are seeking?” I asked to get things started.
”We need help of all kinds. We need grain to feed the masses and livestock until the fall grains are harvested. Loans to pay people with. We need help to get our petroleum industry back up. We need to stop a war,” he said.
”The treasury was pillaged over time, then the military disaster followed by years of drought has been just too much. This year’s planting is looking to be the best for years but the winter wheat is twenty percent of what it should be.”
”Food and funding for to pay workers is what it is going to take to stop the unrest,” President Orbatch said.
”We can help with the grains; we have a surplus in storage. Shipping can happen immediately,” I said.
The US had for decades kept emergency grain reserves in case there were excessive flooding, droughts, or insect attacks. It was kept in several central storage sites; Norfolk, Wilmington North Carolina, Chicago, Houston and Mississippi.
Grain can only be stored so long; the seed hardens, loses its oil content in the case of soybeans and becomes more susceptible to mites, weevils, mold and other insects. The grain experts decided on four years maximum storage given the changing humidity levels in the US. Every year twenty five percent was sold and replaced with the recent crop.
The current government reserve level of all food grains was one hundred million bushels each of corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, oats and rye. As with all things with government, it was sold off by bid process.
Cargill – the world’s largest grain buyer in the world, Tyson, Purdue and Mountain Farms were the usual bidders.
There were others simply bidding to make a buck; the Soros family, Warren Buffet Inc and Bain Capital – a firm started by Mitchell Romney – also owned interest in grain companies nationwide.
All of them had it figured to make megabucks at the taxpayer’s expense. The normal bids were usually ten to fifteen percent of market price. The bids were fixed, depending on location and by who owned the granary. An inside job just like the sale of parts and equipment to the government.
The grain never moved – just the numbers on a computer screen and owners name – until the next grain order and then it would be shipped as new grain.
When the government put out bids to buy things, the bids were double or triple the cost covered under the need for meeting MIL spec testing. Back room deals were sometimes made between divisions of the same company to run up bid prices. The result was trillion dollar defense budgets with built in cost overruns and delivery delays. It happened with every major purchase the government did.
I had a staff member sent a note to the Secretary of Agriculture to publish a cancellation notice for all surplus grain sales for the next six months, effective today.
I was sure that a few Senators’ phones would be ringing within hours, demanding answers.
“What do you want to help us?” President Orbatch asked.
The negotiations lasted until the lunch that was served in one of the private rooms.
”You may want to eat light. We are going to my eastern shore house for a cookout tonight,” I said.
The afternoon session was grueling as I explained the possible ways we could come to an agreement. I had dozens of options that combinations of might be enough. I needed to get enough to convince a majority in each house to approve the proposal. We made progress, slow progress.
At 1500 I received a text from Jenny, ”We are on our way back, will land in thirty minutes, looking forward to the cookout. We found what you wanted and we got it all handled in a way we think will work by your instructions.”
We knocked off at 1600. An hour later after freshening up, the Beast carried President Orbatch, Alyona, Anton, Svetlana and me to 1001 Summers Lane for the cookout.
Vice President and his wife followed in a backup Beast along with selected news crews.
I had drafted the family and the cooks at the airport restaurant to prepare a traditional Memorial Day feast a few days early for our guests.
The vehicles had been moved over to the parking lot and a tent had extended the garage to allow for the additional tables and chairs.
All the food was fifteen minutes from being ready; it would take that long to go through the introductions. Andy, his wife and children as well as Paul Drake – his second in command – had been invited. It was good to see Shelia, Sandy and William again.
The feast left everyone over fed and lazy; it also soothed over the tensions of today’s negotiating sessions. Tomorrow would be just as testy, but progress was being made.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
I was up at 0400 and in the side office reading updates while eating breakfast. At 0445 I was just settling into the Oval Office when Anton, President Orbatch and a couple aides came in.
Back at the White House we had a good evening with late night snack of cake and ice cream from the kitchen. It hit the spot and was a welcome change, even if it was fattening.
We were in bed by 2400; the boys had gone to bed at 2300. After a little touch and feel intimacy, sleep came easy and breakfast too soon.
I speed read the updates after breakfast; there were no changes other than little fires everywhere that either needed fuel or water poured on them.
I read the Russia and China updates with interest – none of it was good for either. I wondered if there was a way to make China lose interest in trying to take Russian territory – I would have to think hard about that one.
On my desk was an envelope from the CIA stamped ‘Top Secret’ and sealed. I opened it and read the names then copied the papers. I had a special mission for Jenny to do on Monday with the names.
After a fun morning with my family and a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and baked beans, they flew home in two 406s. In an hour Vice-President Harrison and I were taking a motorcade to Andrews to meet Russian President Orbatch and his party.
The motorcade had only been stopped a few minutes when an officer approached the Beast to deliver the message that President Orbatch’s plane was fifteen minutes out.
I finished the time by reading the last of the information on Orbatch that could be found through our systems.
Nicholas Orbatch was forty eight and had been to the Russian version of West Point Military Academy, then served four years in the Siberian missile post. He had transferred out of the Russian Army to the political spectrum. He was well liked and hitched onto the coattails of up and coming politicians.
One of those was a military aide to Putin, Fahim Petrov. Intelligence provided that Petrov was married to the daughter of Putin’s mistress. Petrov was not liked outside the leadership circles; he was arrogant because of his connection to Putin. But in Russian politics, voicing your dislike could get you assignment in Siberia or something worse.
Orbatch maneuvered his way through the political triangle by making friends and not enemies.
When Putin passed, a blood bath ensued among the political rivals for the Russian presidency. The gulags filled quickly with those that displeased the KBG.
Petrov was in the first group of bodies found. The Mayor of Moscow and many of lower level officials were in the next group of bodies found.
Orbatch emerged unscathed but his power base was shaky. He tried to unite and hold the federation together but the drought and locusts were wreaking havoc on the people.
Nicholas Orbatch had been married to Alyona Sokolova for twenty five years; she was five years younger than Nicholas. By all standards Alyona was a beautiful lady, they had two children – both boys.
I closed the folder, placed in the briefcase and closed the lock.
The Russian plane had come to a stop on the tarmac and the stairs were coming down. I waited until the stairs were completely down and the advance teams had met with the Russian team. Those teams either rejected or accepted the security proposals before the VIPs departed the plane.
The security proposals were accepted and I exited the Beast to greet President Orbatch at the bottom of the stairs when he came down.
Anton Pavlenko was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting on President Orbatch to come down so I walked that way.
The Washington media group was out in full force. They were in the normal roped off area. I had the distance increased for two reasons; I wanted to make it harder for them to yell questions and also to listen in on any conversations. Actually I just wanted to make their life a little more difficult. But still, they had boom microphones.
”Anton my old friend, it’s great to see you again. Welcome to the United States,” I said as he reached out to shake my hand.
I shook it, ”We can do better than that,” I said as I gave him a hug.
When Russians meet someone the first time the greeting is usually with a firm handshake. When meeting old friends, the handshake is usually followed by a hug.
”Ah, I feel you are still carrying your hardware as you call it,” he said.
”Your friends still are trying to kill me, I like to be able to fight back,” I said.
”We have tried to get them to try a different approach to their problems but you know how some people are,” he said.
”Yes unfortunately. We have much to talk about privately,” I said.
”Hopefully some of the talk will be over hamburgers and that beer you like so much. We made so much progress in that relaxed meeting,” he said.
”I’m sure I can arrange that. Would tomorrow evening for supper suit? Tonight is the state dinner for President Orbatch,” I said.
Tonight I was holding a state dinner for the group and selected guest top level members from my staff with several selected Senators and state department people.
President Orbatch descended the stairs. At the bottom Anton made the introductions and I gave Orbatch the firmest hand shake I had ever given anybody and he responded in kind.
Other introductions followed, Vice President Harrison and State Department Secretary Dean. Alyona Orbatch descended the stairs unescorted. I saw her out the corner of my eye while talking with Nicholas.
When she was at the bottom of the stairs, ”I believe your lovely wife has arrived,” I said then I turned and introduced myself.
”Hello, I’m Roberta Jones – my friends call me BJ,” I said.
”Madam President, this is my wife Alyona,” Nicholas said.
We had a general conversation before I invited President Orbatch, Alyona, Anton and his wife Svetlana to join me in the Beast for the trip to Blair House where they were going to stay and rest to freshen up before tonight’s state dinner.
President Orbatch’s aides and advisors were packing suitcases into Suburbans while we had been talking. Secret Service agents were going to do the driving to get them to Blair House. Russian embassy personnel would do the driving anytime they wanted travel around DC.
We had a lively but guarded conversation on the drive to Blair House.
”I know your days start a lot earlier than ours because of the time zone changes. What time do you want to start tomorrow?” I asked.
”Early by your time – I will try to make the adjustment – it would mean I would get to sleep in a couple extra hours. Let’s say 0500 your time,” he said.
”Sounds good,” I said. “We will have the state dinner in a couple hours and turn in early,” I added. We stopped in front of Blair House. The butler and aides began taking their things in.
”I will let you get settled in and see you in the White House in a couple of is hours,” I said.
At the Oval Office I read the findings from the CIA to several questions I had. By tomorrow afternoon I expected to have a lot more answers after Jenny, Marcy and Vicky completed the task I asked them to do.
A text from Andy said they were closing in on another group of Boko-Haram not far from the village of Gusau and moving in that direction.
”Do what you need to do,” I said.
The hour went fast; I spent the time reading more reports. I went to the living quarters, showered and chose one of the best evening gowns I had and a modest heel to match the gown. Then I went to the makeup lady and the hairdresser; between them they had me looking like a has-been movie star.
I gave the opening toast followed by a dozen others. The appetizers were gone and the plates removed. The waiters served the salad while the White House and Russian photographers were given a second chance to take pictures.
The meal was steak and lobster with all the fixings. The gym and I were going to have to spend more time together; there was no doubt about that.
The state dinner for Orbatch was full of pomp and fluff. It was hosted by the White House but the State Department handled all the particulars. The format and the guest list was driven by an unwritten set of rules. Great care was taken not to offend, invite the wrong people, opinionated or ones that over indulged in the free alcohol.
The dinner went surprisingly well. Everyone seemed happy as they left. With a few parting words I wished President Orbatch good night and would see him at 0500 in my office.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
I was as glad to see my mates as they were to see me. We went back into the White House to the residential section where we could talk without interruption. The presidential business day was over an hour ago. Many of my staff had already gone home.
After hugs and kisses – out of the sight of the media – we debated supper; did we want to eat in or go out to a restaurant? There were plenty of swanky places where we could be whisked away to and enter through a back door to a back dining room that had been approved by the Secret Service.
They were used for all the official visitors – heads of state, Ambassadors and other VIPs. We decided we would eat in so we would have more time together and not have to deal with travel and crowds. The kitchen sent up a list of items that could be put together on short notice.
After time with the kids and my mates, supper was announced. Then we made plans for tomorrow. When we finished planning my mates wanted to tell me about their week.
Lorrie and Marcy had indeed bought the property for the two new truck stops and the two to be expanded but had bought properties for the eight planned for next year.
The company they used to evaluate and choose locations had identified over one hundred prime locations for multipurpose full service truck stops in thirty five southern states. What Lorrie wanted was a continuous construction plan similar to the plans used by the giant retailers such as Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot.
The plan first identified locations – that was already done. The next step was to secure properties – in the case of retail stores most were leased sites, but in our case we wanted to own them. A team was in the process of buying those sites after a review of the legalities. That legal issue was with the local planning and zoning laws and if sewer and water was available.
After that the legal department under Jenny would take over securing permits and approvals. Once that hurdle was crossed, site engineering team put the final plans to paper as in construction blue prints. These plans in many cases would be used in securing final permits and local approval.
A site developer was next to get the site ready to build on; trees, rocks, rubble, old buildings – all had to be removed. Once all that was done, real construction could start.
Fuel tanks buried, lines run, pressure testing, environmental compliance approvals, pads poured, the building constructed, utilities installed – including wastewater drainage and in many cases ponds to allow oil and other unwanted sediments to settle out or be removed.
The final stages of the construction was blacktopping, curbing, painting for parking and directional arrows. When that was done and accepted, vendors would place the goods in the retail areas.
Many items were on a consignment setup such as the junk food items. Sodas, chips, candies and all the other things were vendor supplied and maintained normally.
Marcy was wanting to change that as the numbers of stops grew. Volume buying gained better discounts and more profit. Marcy envisioned a JBG warehouse buying, storing and then shipping out to the stops as needed. After all we had both FedEx and UPS centers at Morton Field. The ordering could be done by the bar code scans at the register as the items were sold.
I started to question fuel suppliers to that many truck stops.
”Our fuel supplier for Morton has fuel depots across the nation and contracts with fuel suppliers where they do not. They have guaranteed they can supply all the gas and fuel we can sell,” Lorrie said.
The girls wanted the process to be sped up with multiple sites being contracted and built at the same time. Bobs Construction agreed to supply inspectors to make sure the contractors built according to the plans, without shortcuts or inferior materials.
They had maps with locations, highways and traffic modules – as if I need convincing they had a good plan and needed to sell it to me.
I looked, listened and kept nodding my head in approval. They and their staff had put a lot of work into the project. I gave them my blessings to go with it, not that they needed it.
Lorrie had multiple fast food companies that had expressed interest in leasing locations inside each building. I was sure Marcy would insist that we use the franchises that we already had in the truck stop. All this told me that Lorrie’s truck stop was very profitable for Marcy to be that enthusiastic.
After that discussion we all went to the fitness center and then to the pool. It was a relaxing evening with my family.
After JJ, RJ, Takeo and Sara were in bed and asleep there was another affectionate gathering my super king master bed that lasted several hours and a short discussion. Vicky and Marcy informed the rest of us they were ready to have a child to round out our family. Jeanna was wanting a grandchild and it would be a surprise for Vicky’s parents.
They had already ordered new supplies and had the semen in the nitrogen tank in my closet at home checked to make sure it was still active and safe to use. I put the dates on my calendar that I needed to be home to participate. The long range plans we had made for our family were soon going to be complete.
Saturday morning I was up early as I needed to read the updates and was going to use the time until they came to read more information on Russian President Orbatch.
Breakfast was at 0700 and then we were going to Arlington National Cemetery to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and view the other monuments there.
The Secret Service took us to Arlington in a couple of Suburbans – as low key as they would possibly go.
It was a reasonably nice day, but not very warm yet so I wore a white pant suit and black jacket because of the vest the Secret Service wanted me to wear and the fact I was still carrying my hardware. I also wore a White House baseball cap with my hair in a ponytail pulled through the opening in the back.
The guard is changed every thirty minutes during the summer months – April 1st to September 30. We were a few minutes early so I instructed the boys they needed to be especially quiet while we watched.
The changing of the guard was a solemn affair. Honor, tradition, duty and a dozen other feelings came to mind as I watched and tears formed in the corners of my eyes.
There was a crowd standing with us as the guard finished changing. The new guard resumed walking the twenty one steps.
”Ma-am, Madam President would you like to see anything else before we carry you back to the White House?” a Secret Service agent asked.
There was a sudden intake of air from the other visitors behind us.
”Yes we would like to see President Kennedy’s grave. Then we have to get back,” I said.
The White House media group was asked to stay back to allow the moment to be private with my family. As we walked away I could hear the cameras clicking away.
We were walking to the JFK memorial; it wasn’t that far away. I held JJ and RJ hands as we walked. At the eternal flame we answered the questions of the two little prosecutors as best as we could.
I explained the risk of being President, you can’t please everyone all the time and some people when they are mad and angry will do crazy things. The Suburbans picked us up and delivered us back to the White House.
Standing at the grave and seeing the eternal flame brought a new realization about holding the office of the President, just how dangerous it could be.
We were back at the White House in time for me to meet Adam at 1100 to go over tonight’s speech for the fundraiser. The teleprompter was set up in the Oval Office. Going through the speech took an hour, that and the corrections it needed. With so few changes it gave me a few minutes to look over more notes and reports for my meeting with Orbatch.
We left at 1400 for Daytona; it was only an hour and thirty minute flight. I was still reading through the stacks of information on Orbatch.
It was ninety degrees when I walked down the steps of Air Force One to the tarmac. I wondered what people would have thought if I did the speech in shorts. I was hot with the vest on.
We were going to the Daytona Beach Convention Center. The Beast was brought down yesterday to carry us from the airport to the convention center. The process was the same as with other fundraisers; meet and greet, socialize with the big contributors, pictures, handshakes and conversation.
More and more the conversations were turning to potential policy questions, long term goals for the military of the future and goals for the economy of the future.
I had one answer for the military, ”We need to be prepared but not trapped into a single mindset of what any potential enemy will do. That kind of planning causes us to lose battles and eventually the war.”
For the economy, ”We have to make it grow; there have to be good dependable jobs for our children. The goal of any parent – if you ask them – is for their children to have a better, safer, more productive life than they had. We cannot lose our industrial, our technical edge and our desire to be the best to any foreign country.”
To the question if I would change my mind and run for the presidency,
”We will just have to see what happens at the convention, I think the party will come up with a good candidate at the end,” I said.
The convention center was filling up as I finished with the VIPs. A trip to the bathroom and a bottle of water from the White House stock and I was ready to go.
The announcer was going through all the opening and safety statements. The TV cameras were waiting to go live, the stage was already filled with the bright lights for color TV.
I stepped out on the stage to roaring patriotic music. At the last note I stepped to the podium and put everything I had into the speech Adam and I wrote. I covered every topic that those in the party running for the presidency would not. I hit the topics hard.
Then I changed pace to covering the current troubles in Europe and Asia and how we needed to remain vigilant in world affairs. ”We are just a few mistakes from the next world war and it is right around corner,” I said.
“Security at home still needs to be one of our top priorities,” I added.
I followed that up by boosting the power of our record economy.
”The doomsday people said the pandemic of 2020 was supposed to destroy our economy for twenty five years. They were wrong – you – the citizens of American – proved them wrong. Not only did the economy bounce back in half a decade, it was bigger and stronger than ever before.”
”We learned from that terrible experience. Thousands of businesses and manufacturing factories returned home from China and the rest of Asia.”
”Determined Americans built a stronger, more powerful home base economy. That economy continues today and that is why we must have eight more years of conservative control of the House, the Senate and the White House.”
”We must mark our place in history for our children, our grandchildren, and care for our elderly.”
”We are the leader of the free world – we must lead. We must be bold and make bold decisions to ensure peace and prosperity continue for all Americans and the free world.”
I closed out by pleading for the pumped up crowd to vote and get out the vote, for our prosperity and freedom depended on it. “If your friends and neighbors have no transportation to the polling places, carry them. The most important thing is that everyone vote,” I said.
”Good night and please drive safely,” were the last things I said as I closed the book on the speech.
I led the crowd on the ”Eight more years” chant, then walked behind the curtain to my family.
A line of tornadoes and bad thunderstorms were coming and the pilots wanted to get airborne before they arrived in the area. That led to a rushed departure and a quick trip to DC.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
”Kansas Rep Harvey Wallbanger and Arizona Rep Kirtland Jasper are the two reps coming from the House Intelligence Committee,” Senator Fordes said.
While we were waiting, Frank Love knocked and then came in with several folders. He knew the Senators, ”Madam President, here are the intel assessments that you wanted. I went back twelve months – the ones you wanted are marked with yellow tags. Individually the first six show a growing pattern. The next four months tie a lot of things together. The last two months paint the picture we have discussed in the briefings for the last two weeks.”
”If you want my opinion, drastic action is the only thing that is going to change the situation. I’m not sure it is possible in the current political climate but in the past a few men have tried – while there were some successes, most failed. When you get ready to read it let me know and I will bring four of the best experts we have to explain what they think it means,” Frank said.
”Have them here at 0700 tomorrow,” I said.
”Oh by the way, thank Robert for the help in fixing our communication problems from the Masqat listening post. I will have to take him out to lunch next time I am over there.”
”I see on the JBG website there is a big announcement coming in a few days,” Frank said.
”It’s for Lorrie’s group. They have been looking for a while at adding more truck stops. I’m not sure where but I think she and Marcy have found two sites on the interstate to build on and they have bought two small but active stops to upgrade into very large truck stops. That will make five truck stops in four different states.”
”They have decided they want to build a national chain of large truck stops. This will be the first group in that endeavor. If I heard right they want to do eight next year,” I said.
”I’m sure that Marcy and Lorrie have had more than ample research done, so it should be a good venture,” Frank said.
”Just out of curiosity, what’s the normal employee requirement for a truck stop?” Frank asked.
”For the one we have now is one hundred and fifty on day and evening shifts and sixty on night shift, plus there are another fifty part-timers to fill in for holidays, vacations and sick time.”
”Those numbers include the truck shops and dealership. I’m not sure if Marcy will have the truck dealership at one of those new sites or not, but there will be a tire shops at them. Judging by the amount of tire debris on the road, trucks go through a lot of tires,” I said.
”So building a new truck stop is a big deal – not only for JBG – but the local communities they serve then.”
”Most communities think so, some do not. We will just have to see,” I said.
The two reps showed up as Frank left so we could get started.
”I asked that Senators Forde and Whitby be here as they have interest in the topics,” Representative Wallbanger said.
”We are concerned that you have shortcut protocol and established procedures in this visit with the Emir of Nigeria, Prime Minister Alfred Morris and now the upcoming visit with Russian President Orbatch.”
”Traditional protocol establishes that the Senate and House intelligence committees have a complete list of all proposed discussion topics thirty days before there is any meeting with foreign leaders. Complete transcripts of any meetings or calls with international leaders that may have national security implications are also to be sent to the committees within thirty days,” he said.
”Your staff should have known,” he said.
”We therefore demand that a minimum of two House and two Senate intelligence committee members sit in on all discussions and meetings with foreign leaders,” he said.
”Leader to leader meetings are just that, I see no need to allow anyone from your committees to sit in on them. To put it bluntly; you have too damn many leaks coming out of your committees. The transcripts of those meetings are classified and entered into the official Presidential records and White House records as required by law. They will also be archived into the official records.”
”It is an insult that you seem to think that my staff doesn’t know what they are doing with the decades of combined experience they have in executive level government. The State Department also has a number of experts that advise me as needed.”
”I decide who gets transcripts of my meetings and when. The National Security Agency or the CIA are always involved in my discussions. I know you receive some of the same information and briefs that I get.”
”I will have the issues reviewed by the White House legal teams. Unless they advise me differently, there will be no Senate or House members in my meetings with other leaders or unless I feel there is a need to because of special circumstances,” I added.
Representatives Wallbanger and Jasper left in a huff. I stopped Senators Whitby and Fordes.
”You are getting current updates from the intelligence agencies – aren’t you?” I asked.
”The committee chairman gives us summaries of the reports once a month,” Senator Fordes said.
”Let me understand this – you get a summary once a month of summaries that are issued every week. I can only imagine just how much you are reading between the lines, or do you have a crystal ball you share?” I asked.
I knew I would need help from the Senate for any deals made to ease the new European crisis and I knew Whitby and Fordes had top level clearances.
”Have a seat gentleman; let’s see just how much you are not seeing,” I said
I separated the folders and passed out those starting eight weeks ago. We each read one and swapped. After reading all three I chose three more and finally the last two that were bad ones.
Senator Fordes spoke first, ”This is not good and no, we don’t get this conclusion from what we are given! I recognize some of the lines but there is not enough to come to the conclusion that is obvious by reading these full reports.”
”I think it is time to demand that the chairman give the unaltered summaries so we can come to our own conclusion and not his,” Senator Whitby said.
”Based on what we have read, things are serious and the CIA thinks so as well. Reading between the lines I guess that is what the unscheduled meeting is about then,” Senator Whitby said.
”You’re close but we will just have to see how serious it really is and where it goes. The real questions revolve around what is out there to work with,” I said.
”I may need to speak to you in the evenings after our day meeting sessions for ideas and thoughts. You know you two are welcome here any time you think there are things we need to discuss,” I said.
”Yes, we know and appreciate the openness you give us. Works the other way too – call us if we can help,” Senator Whitby said.
After they left more files were brought in and placed on my desk. Before I started reading I made the calls I was going to yesterday. First was to Germany’s Fritz Hermann. That call lasted two hours. Fritz wouldn’t stop talking; he recounted every conversation he ever had with President Orbatch. He answered every question I asked.
Then he went into the current problems going on in Russia with his opinions and dozens of possible scenarios. Luckily Connie brought me in fresh coffee a couple of times. I had two pages of notes before we ended the call.
The next call was to Israel Prime Minister Reuven Gantz. I had to wait for that call to go through. He was in a ministers meeting so I left word and a number for him to call me.
Troy was in my office, we were going through the intel reports and Russia assessments that just seemed to keep coming. This group was from the State Department.
The CIA and NSA created their reports from gathered intelligence from a variety of sources. Human intelligence which translated to spies, double agents, undercover agents that could be helpful trained tourist or diplomats doing double duty. JBG’s embassy security group fit into some of those categories from time to time.
Then there was satellite sources, the CIA, NSA, and the DOD all had their own that did different things and then after a little arm twisting the information was shared.
Then there was the electronic type – all the agencies and the DOD had hackers, listening posts, and antennas of all different sizes, even along the Arctic Circle.
Every JBG Security embassy security site acted as a listening post. It was necessary to know what the mood was so there was no surprises. Local radio stations were monitored, wireless communications and in some areas aviation and military frequencies. The JBG/Black Bear groups were always collecting intel and it was being sent to several agencies and to Robert’s group.
Just as I was needing a break Prime Minister Gantz called. Adriyel Dorin was in the room with him. It became a very long conversation and two more pages of notes. It also turned into lengthy conversation about the Middle East problems and how the demise of Russia would affect regional peace efforts there and the sad prospects for all of Europe.
The conversations ended with us exchanging invitations for state visits.
I had one more thought and sent a note to the CIA and NSA. I wanted all public statements and video by Russian President Orbatch.
I was hoping to have several hours to review all the reports but was going to have to settle for a lot less. But I had learned a lot from the long phone calls.
Two hours later I walked out to the two 406’s and waited until the rotors stopped turning. The media was out on the lawn watching cameras rolling.
Two little boys were running my way with Takeo and Sara following. I went down on my knees to greet them. I tensed but not soon enough. They knocked me over laughing and giggling as Takeo and Sara caught up to join in.
The Secret Service were not amused and came over quickly to see if I was hurt.
My mates joined in by laughing. All of them were carrying brief cases today I wondered what that was all about.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
It’s really hot out there drink plenty of fluids and take it easy.
Thursday started off like all my days did – digesting page after page of updates.
The CIA update on Russia was almost chilling again. Russia was moving one more step closer to civil war – a war that would certainly involve current and former Eastern Bloc countries and all of Europe. There were reports of armed fighting in today’s brief.
The DOD people were in Nigeria and had approved a location for the new Doppler radar installation. The Army Corps of Engineers was drawing up plans for the first infrastructure we were assisting with.
As expected China had pulled out in a huff. They had been bluffing during the lead up to renewing the agreement. First they argued that they had over-bid the original mineral contracts and were going to cut the price. Then they tried to say they had over-reported the tonnage that was shipped and wanted adjustments.
Emir Bello had documented that they had under-reported the amount by fifty percent. The last few days leading up to the end of the contract were tense with China resorting to threats.
As I expected they would, the Chinese had destroyed all the equipment they could not get on ships at the surface mining operations as they left. But I had been prepared; in my planning I had called Dan Ortiz – owner of Brazil Mining and Minerals.
I had met Dan when I was Ambassador to Uganda. BM&M had mineral contracts in Uganda and was always wanting updates about the Sudan civil war on how close it was to his operations. It was his company that we bought the abandon mines adjacent to the Polokwane gold mine from. It was his plane that carried me to kill the Prince and the group.
I explained to him what our agreement was and that we were looking for a management company to oversee the mining operation and also train the Nigerian people to operate it.
I learned that BM&M had been in the beginning stages of developing and working the mining and mineral deposits, when China made their pitch demanding control of the mining operations as leverage for loans for infrastructure projects.
Dan agreed to the terms of the agreement I had made with Emir Bello and even went a little further.
Scales would be put in at the shipping terminal and all materials exported would have certified weight tickets. Dan also suggested that we start a lab to determine the quality of the ore to bargain for better pricing on the international markets.
He also recommend that we do a geological survey and seismic testing because there were indications that there were much larger deposits of natural gas and oil in Nigeria than initially thought. The current producing wells were near the coast and bordering Cameroon.
It was an idea that I had not thought of but it made sense. Technology in finding oil had changed dramatically in the last few years. The existing wells were over forty years old and production was diminishing.
BM&M had two freighters of new Cat mining equipment docking in a couple of days. Dozens of two hundred ton trucks, massive pay loaders and dozers; the things that were needed to run a mining operation.
Other freighters were coming with the necessary equipment for road and bridge building from the good old USA. The first part of the infrastructure plan was several new roads to cross the country.
Once the road construction was underway other major pieces needed to come together, such as sewage plants and power plants with a reliable utility distribution system. The current system was anything but reliable. It wasn’t like I had not done something similar but now I had no control over any of it, other than shutting off any more money.
My next update was a combined update from DHS, Health and Human Services and HUD on the California issue. It was good news. HUD had spent weeks in California securing additional qualified contractors to construct low income housing.
Three hundred contractors were now or would soon start constructing three hundred two hundred unit complexes. There were additional properties coming forward every day that were offered to join the HUD program.
Additional money donated by a group of California tech companies had quadrupled the one billion investment and now people were taking notice and willing to work with the agency.
HHS had been working with the homeless to find them jobs or return them to previously held jobs. Six thousand had returned to jobs. When they secured a job they were moved to tents closer to the main gate. Public transportation was stopping at the main gate every fifteen minutes from early morning through late evening.
Moving them to the closer tents was a reward. Another perk was they were added to the list to get the first of the low cost apartments as soon as one was completed.
Another reason they were moved was to prevent a passage way for contraband entering the camps.
HHS had also placed over three thousand of those needing mental health treatment in proper hospitals. Another two thousand veterans were now under the care of the VA.
There were still a lot of problems, but we were getting there – one step at a time.
One more step was the number of soldiers were being drawn down each week. That was a step that made everyone happy.
My first meetings after lunch were with the first ten utility companies; they were the ten largest in the country. I told them to bring me evidence and they did – boxes full.
I had the dates when they submitted plans, requests and applications for fossil fueled, hydro and nuclear power plants for the last twenty years. They also brought all the responses back from the federal agencies; in almost all the nuclear cases there had been no response.
In the conventional fueled plant applications, individuals from the department immediately alerted environmental groups so the groups could fight the plants. The process was supposed to be confidential until it was past the fourth step departmental review before any public announcements.
Former Presidents, under pressure from environmental lobbyist, had appointed anti-everything wonks to administrative positions within the agency.
I now had something for my investigative branch and the hundreds of researchers under my control to work on. We had not even named the investigative branch yet. I had named the ten lead prosecutors and they had chosen staff. I could hardly wait for the first subpoenas to be issued to hear the challenges from Congress.
But first we would act nice and just call them to come to a meeting and bring any and all documents for each of the applications the utilities had submitted. That meeting was set up for Friday.
Troy and I were just about to go down to Section Twelve to see Bob for a few minutes when the red phone started ringing. It was not by protocol that the red phone rang first.
The black phone was supposed to ring first to allow the aides and interpreters get into position to overhear, translate and document every word and innuendo murmured.
The red phone ringing was a shortcut that could only be a disaster in the works. It was 2200 in Moscow.
“This is Jones, good evening,” I said in Russian.
”I believe it is afternoon in Washington – good afternoon. This is President Orbatch. Anton Pavlenko said you were fluent in our language – a pleasant surprise,” President Orbatch said.
”Anton is an old friend. How is he doing with all the changes?” I asked.
”Quite well and anxious to see you again,” he said.
”Not that I am rushing our conversation but Anton says you are all business first and then pleasure. The subject I wanted to discuss with you is a visit. I want to discuss the current problems in Russia and possibly Europe.”
”America has taken great interest in the combined areas since the first Great War. You have come to the aid of the region many times. Your help is needed again if we are to avoid another massive war again,” he said.
”I have been watching the reports with great dismay. I think such a meeting is called for very soon, but you have to understand the negotiations will be tough in the current political climate. Determination and a willingness to bargain with real things on the table can overcome the political naysayers,” I said.
”Yes, yes it can,” he said.
”Would you like to arrive here on Sunday for talks on Monday for however long it takes for us to reach agreement on critical items? I will leave as many days open on my schedule as necessary. I am sure no one wants to feel we are rushed into any agreement.”
”Yes that would be excellent. We should do a public announcement that we are meeting,” he said.
A few minutes later we had statements that closely matched. An arrival time for President Orbatch at Andrews was set. That ended the conversation between us.
Our staffs continued the conversation on the black phones, going through the procedures that had developed over decades.
I sent the announcement to Harry to read at the news briefing.
I gathered my senior staff for a closed door meeting; Frank Love of the CIA, Bob Smith of the task force and the DOD intelligence people. I gave them one simple order.
”I want to know everything about Russia and I mean everything. Old weapons that are in their arsenal, how many of each and their effectiveness. Their Navy, Army, Air Force ships, subs, planes and defensive systems; the real numbers, ” I said.
”I want to know just how bad of a shape their agriculture system and manufacturing is in. I want to know more than is in the summaries. I need all this in my hands as soon as I can get it or by Saturday morning,” I said.
“As if that is not enough. I want to know the state of our agriculture in the same time frame. I want to know about our projected needs until harvest and surpluses of all food stocks.”
After putting everyone to work they left my office before more came their way. I still wanted to know more about Russian President Orbatch; there were several leaders from countries that routinely met with the Soviet leader. One was the Prime Minister of Israel. Another was the Prime Minister of Germany.
Israel met several times a year with President Orbatch as he was trying to be a peace broker for Hamas, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Talks had been going on for forty decades.
Every time there was progress, one side or the other moved the goal post and the process took ten steps back. In my opinion they would still be talking and fighting until the end of time or until the region was a glass parking lot.
Everybody had tried to be a peace maker, the Egyptians, Americans, the British, the Germans, Greece, Turkey and the Russians.
The Russians were still in the region from their part in the Syrian civil war. Every time they were close to an exit, there was always a flare up. Wars are easy to get into and a bitch to get out of – damn few ended honorably.
It was midnight in Israel and Germany as well. I would have to make those calls tomorrow; the next few days I was going to be extremely busy. I wanted to spend the weekend at home and now that was not going to happen.
My mates and the kids were now coming over Friday afternoon and we had another fundraiser Saturday night at Daytona Beach Florida.
Friday morning started the usual way by reading the security reports. I was finishing up the normal reports when Troy came in.
”There are several Senators from the Intelligence Committee in the lobby waiting to see you.”
”As if I do not know what they want to talk about. Will you get me the intelligence reports for the last week that has the Russian information? I will walk them back,” I said.
”Senator Fordes, Senator Whitby, good morning, good to see you again. Come on back to my office and have a cup of coffee with me,” I said.
“Two reps from the House intelligence committee are on their way,” Senator Fordes said.
‘‘Ok, we will wait a few minutes for them,” I said.
While we were waiting, Connie started bringing in folders from intelligence briefings for the last two weeks with the info I had asked for marked by yellow tags.
I wondered how many red ink pads it took to stamp classified and top secret for so many places on each page and better yet, who had that much time?
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
The first round of closed door meetings ended at 1700. There was the first official state dinner at 1900. It was a large dinner group with a number of influential guests and dignitaries.
There was plenty of food and drinks in the social hour after dinner. The meal was a northeast specialty of crab cakes, lobster and steak; the traditional surf and turf.
My guests included my mates; they arrived just before happy hour and were spending the night. Jenny and Marcy had stepped off the G5 returning from Thimble Shoals to a seat in the helicopter.
As usual politics prevailed before the meal was served and after. Toasts and more toasts kept the flow of the conversations going. It was late when the festivities ended.
I started my day as usual, reading the intelligence updates then back to meeting with Prime Minister Morris. Today’s meetings were with much of our combined staff.
By 1100 we were finished. The trade people were happy on both sides. The State Department was happy with many of the agreements just being extended with little or no changes.
The generals were satisfied; there were some new arrangements for additional port calls with both our Navies. Australia had been a partner in many navel excursions since WW1. Australia – as did the British – lost many capital ships to the Japanese Navy in the South Pacific during WW2, fighting side by side with the US Navy.
This agreement would allow the joint training exercises to continue and to be expanded. It was all in an effort to show China a united front against its continued attempt to claim more islands in the South China Sea.
Another big luncheon was in play with all the dignitaries plus ambassadors from the region.
After lunch we went outside to the east lawn to sign the agreements and make the public announcements, since it was a beautiful spring day.
After the question and answer about the security agreements were over, the Prime Minister turned the podium over to Edmond Montgomery – the minister of the Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service – and Fredrick O’Hare. Fred was director of the Australia National Forest Aviation Service.
They stepped up to the podium with Edmond speaking first.
”Many of you know how disastrous this year’s wild fires were in Australia. Over forty six million acres were burned with thousands of homes destroyed or threatened. The month of October was the worst fire season ever. We need help and need it desperately. ”
”When you are in trouble you call your friends. We knew that the US had been fighting big fires as long as we had. We made some calls and were directed to the US Forest Service part of your Agriculture Department.”
”We were directed to the agency chief Margret Hanson who understood our problem and offered to release ten of the twenty jumbo jet 747 air water tankers that were under contract to the Forest Service. The next issue was if they could travel the twelve thousand miles to us. That led to a conference call with Executive Vice President Lorrie Jones of JBG Aviation.”
”Three days later the ten water tankers and an air freighter with maintenance equipment and aviation mechanics landed at Sydney International. The next day they were dropping fire retardant on our fires.”
”Now for some statistics; the water tankers flew every day for one hundred and twenty days making two drops a day. 72 million gallons of retardant were dropped, requiring two thousand four hundred take off and landings. JBG Air Freight delivered thousands of gallons of concentrated fire retardant each week from the United States stockpile to help us continue to fight the fire.”
”Working with ground units they saved over one thousand small towns and villages from these terrible wild fires. We appreciate the great help of JBG, its pilots, crews and management,” Edmond said.
”While Prime Minister Morris was in meetings, Edmond and I were given a tour of Morton Field – the headquarters for JBG Aviation on the eastern shore. It was an education on just how many big and how many total aircraft are in JBG’s business arsenal for its customers’ needs anywhere in the world. They came twelve thousand miles to help us.”
”I was amazed to learn JBG supplied aviation resources in one hundred and eighty countries for the US government diplomatic missions,” Fredrick said.
”We are here to make a presentation of a plaque from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to JBG and its employees for their determined help this fire season. It includes the names of all the JBG members who came to help us.”
”Lorrie, Jenny, Vicky, Ching Lee and Marcy – would you step forward and accept this plaque as a token of our appreciation?”
”The employees at JBG take pride in fulfilling our customers’ needs worldwide. It is a one hundred percent effort through all of our business divisions. I am proud to accept this plaque on behalf of our aviation division,” Lorrie said.
”For the forty pilots and crew we have a shoulder patch for your uniforms making you an honorary member of the Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service.”
”From the National forest Service Aviation Division we have Pilots Wings for each of you for a job well done. Lorrie, would you call out the names for me,” Fredrick said.
”Ladies and gentlemen, you are welcome to fly for our forest service anytime – just come on over,” he said.
As Lorrie called out the names, I was proud of all the JBG men and ladies even though I could not step forward and tell them so. The media would be screaming about the conflict of interest. Out of the thirty pilots and flight engineers, ten were women. I wondered if the media would acknowledge that.
My mates went home – there was a backlog of work awaiting approvals. I was alone again until the weekend. Wednesday evening I was doing another fund raiser.
This one was in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the home of many famous brand products. Beer producers, heavy industry, grain silos, tool manufacturers, engineering, and many more had plants in Wisconsin. Then there were the famous sports teams.
The morning reports were full of all the normal information. It seemed doom and gloom came in five and sixes instead if twos and threes. Iran was saber rattling as usual; they were using their fast boats again. They were again running towards ships transiting the strait, then retreating into Iran’s waters when challenged by the JBG fast ships. There had been four near collisions in the last day.
They would cut across the front of moving ships within fifty feet and come to less than fifty feet of the sides.
I ordered the security perimeter expanded around all Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Our ships were to fire on any ship that came within fifty yards. I wanted no part of anything like a USS Cole incident of the past.
Then the mullahs announced that after the first of the month all cargo ships needed to have an Iranian safety inspection to transit through the narrow Strait of Hormuz at Bander-E-Abbas to proceed into the Persian Gulf. The fee for the inspection to look for dangerous cargo and unsafe ships and a permit to continue on was one million US dollars.
The member states only option was to take the issue to the International Court of the Seas at Geneva – that could take years – and refuse to pay until then.
At 0900 the joint chiefs were in my office with more updates on things. The Navy admiral spoke first.
‘‘Newport News Ship Building has succeeded in refueling one of the reactors on the Stennis using the upgraded procedures. The other will be completed in three weeks unless there is a problem.”
”The rest of the repairs are moving fast with so many ship workers on the project. The hull cleaning and painting is done. It will be ready to go to sea by June first.”
”The Thomas is also progressing fast – radars are installed and checked out, the hull cleaned and repainted, the boilers have been inspected and repaired with new fire brick and piping. They have been test fired and pressure checked now that it is back in the water. The Patriot Five installation will be completed in two weeks.”
”Elevator repairs and landing systems, fresh water system repairs and sterilization of the plumbing are all done. General painting, cleaning and checking systems are some of the things remaining. Oil and aviation tanks and lines have been cleaned and tested.”
‘‘Newport News Ship Building are promising it will be done by June 15, possibly sooner.”
”One thing I should note is we have transferred one thousand sailors from other carriers that originally served on the ship; many will soon retire. They are part of the navy crew on board. They know how things were designed to work and all the little things that are needed,” he added.
”At first we thought the Thomas would not be able to handle the heaver F37 but tests indicate that it will if necessary. We have more than enough F18D and E models to fill its needs.”
”All that is good news, the Iranians are still going by their schedule,” I said.
”There are two transports loading tanks and trucks at the marine terminal in Wilmington North Carolina. When the loading is complete they will go to Ad Dammam and then the equipment will be trucked to Al Qaysumah. The number you planned on will be there by the end of June,” General Ingram said.
It was now May fifteenth; that would be forty five days.
I wondered if I could bait another Iranian general into being stupid.
”I want your best people to analyze generals Bashir and Mohamed. I want to know what every weakness is and what trips them off the deep end,” I told the intelligence groups.
I called Ben David for the first time in several months, Vicky and Andy had been doing all the business with him.
”Hello Ben old buddy old pal of mine, how are you doing? It’s been a while since we talked. How are things in the homeland?” I said.
I listened and we talked a few minutes before I asked him if the Mossad could supply me with the same information I had asked my intelligence people for on the generals. I knew they did but sometimes it is best to act like you do not know some things. The other thing, it allowed me to see if they were still being honest and straightforward with me.
My staff packed up my things and Marine One carried me and the staff to Andrews. Two hours later I was meeting and greeting with the donors and upper crust in the private room at the Milwaukee convention center.
An hour later I was standing in front of the podium giving the speech Adam and I had written. I hardly used the teleprompter at all. My memory of the speech and my read of the crowd was getting better all the time.
Maybe there was some truth to the belief that as you exercised the brain, the better it became at some things. I walked back from behind the curtain and spoke for another thirty minutes and then left them standing cheering and chanting.
Marine One touched down on the east lawn at 2345. At 0015 I was freshly showered and sliding under the covers.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof Read by Bob W.
I had missed having an opportunity to talk with Russia President Orbatch at the G20 meeting. He was hustled away quickly before any of the others left.
I read the report on Russia first; it was on top of the pile – it read like an obituary. After the loss of the carriers, things had gone downhill for Russia. The blow to the treasury was only the beginning.
The following year the locust devastated the wheat and corn crops. As a result there was little bread. Millions of cattle starved or were slaughtered early because the locusts had stripped the hay and grass. It was a situation that would take nearly a decade to overcome under the best of conditions.
Those conditions didn’t happen the following year; the seven year drought made an appearance and kept coming back. More cattle and hogs starved and slaughtered. The cheap beef and pork prices in Moscow would be short lived then no beef, pork, lamb or chicken.
The masses left the countryside for the Russian cities where there was at least rationed food. Many fell into the trap of the Russian mafia.
The government was unable to buy food and food stocks off the international markets. The treasury was empty, looted by decades of corruption. Industrialization was grinding to a halt.
There was a rush to find where the money was. The favored Russian oligarchs – many under the thumb of Putin – had grown fabulously wealthy as had he. When Putin died many of the oligarchs started disappearing, taking their wealth with them. Others started dying as mysteriously as he had.
They knew what a political power struggle in Russia could bring when the masses were hungry and looking for someone to blame. The rich were always easy to blame and targets for both the masses and the power brokers. It was time to get out of Dodge.
The gold, diamond and silver mines fell on hard times – more was being sold on the black market than through the markets for the treasury. Oil and coal was no different. It took money for payroll, parts and fuel, but the money was gone. Workers weren’t paid. First it was one week, the next time it was two weeks, and then it was over a month.
Gas, oil and coal rationing had started eighteen months ago.
History had a way of repeating itself in Russia. With every change of power, people died.
When Lenin died and Stalin took over, millions disappeared and continued to disappear. The Great War changed the victims – Germans, Japanese captured in Manchuria in the last days of the war and thousands of European prisoners of war – were forced into slave labor to rebuild the Motherland and then starved or murdered as the jobs were finished.
History repeated itself when Stalin died and Nikita Khrushchev won the power struggle; millions again disappeared in the middle of the night for years. There was no mercy for anyone believed to be the opposition.
Repeat again when Brezhnev replaced Khrushchev; not as bad but it still happened. Mikhail Gorbachev broke the mold, ending many of the older ways of the Soviet Union. The farms modernized with help from America as food production doubled. Rationing was eased and then eliminated.
The same was true with the petroleum industry. With engineering from Shell, Mobile and Exxon, Siberia oil fields were exploited. With the right equipment and methods the brutal Siberian winters were no more a problem. Russia became an oil and gas exporter to Europe.
Early on Putin followed Gorbachev’s lead; he had no choice as the Soviet Union had collapsed under Brezhnev. Ronald Reagan and then Clinton rescued the Soviet Union. There were loans, food and credit in exchange for dismantling old nuclear weapons. The Russian weapons grade uranium was still in the bunkers in the south west.
Putin brought much of the Soviet Union back though disaster still reigned, Chernobyl and its disaster would last a thousand years. Nuclear powered submarines with nuclear weapons on them were sinking from fires every few years.
Others were sinking at the docks with the reactors still in them and with nuclear fuel rods still in the reactors, the result of no crews or maintenance. There was no money to do the right things.
Then others were sunk because of faulty torpedoes. They used pure hydrogen peroxide as part of the fuel. Pure peroxide requires special tanks, lines, handling and storage. It was suspected that cracks were happening in those lines from stress and temperature changes, allowed leaking peroxide to drip onto the cast steel shell of the torpedoes – an explosive combination that caused the warhead to explode.
The Kursk was to be the last causality of peroxide torpedoes. After her sinking the change was made to front line subs. Others in the submarine service paid the price as time went by. Submarines in the reserve fleet did not get the updated torpedoes.
The thinking was the subs would not get used unless WW3 was in progress; then no one would care how or why the sub was sunk. They would be heroes for Mother Russia either way. The British had stopped using peroxide in 1955.
Russia was on the verge of total collapse again. Every state had stockpiles of nuclear weapons guarded by the army. But the troops were deserting or were resorting to selling military equipment on the black market. Nuclear triggers, switches, and wiring – even plutonium – was being intercepted by various countries as the materials made their way through Europe to Africa and South America.
The CIA and NSA promised unfolding disaster, although this year’s winter wheat crop had survived and showed marginal yields. The spring corn crop planting was on schedule. But it was only a start to a long term problem.
The next report was on China and the summary was chilling. China was showing signs of a military buildup on its Russian border. An invasion of Russian territory would unite Russians but had the potential to plunge all Asia into war.
The former Eastern Bloc countries of Europe were demanding relief from the ever growing price for Russian natural gas and taxes. Many were demanding more freedom from Russian restrictions and rationings and more independence. Saber rattling was growing, potential war that would engulf all of Europe was a real threat.
I finally got to the updates for California. The Justice Department was going to conduct operation Clean Sweep part two in California. Hundreds of arrests of union officials and lower level politicians was happening on Monday for corruption, bribes and influence pedaling.
I had family time with the girls then we went over to the gym for an hour. It was a trip that I needed. I worked out on the treadmill and with the weights.
Tomorrow the girls and I were going to spend more time in the gym. I wanted to work with the sticks again – I knew I was getting out of practice.
Tomorrow night was another fund raiser. Air Force One and my family along with staff were going to Kansas City Missouri; we would be home before 2200. I would spend the night home and Marine One would take me back to DC Monday morning.
Sunday morning went fast; by 1400 we were boarding Air Force One. It was a high energy rally. The warmer weather had people ready to party and the rally was a good place to do it. There were three country music bands with local politicos giving speeches in between the bands. Hats, fliers, buttons and balloons were handed out.
The Kansas City Royals were raffling off seat cushions and other team promotional items including game tickets.
My speech lasted an hour. Adam had done another fantastic ‘get them out of their seats and pumped up’ job. Eight more years of conservative control to strengthen our country. No one seemed concerned about my actions in California when I addressed the mega donors and answered their questions in the private meetings.
It had been a good weekend with family. The fishing trip, the rally and a progress report from Vicky and Ching Lee on security issues facing JBG were appreciated. A dozen more fast boats would be making the trip to the gulf this week. Another four months and Vicky would be pushing the numbers for the original contract.
Several other countries were wanting proposals – two of them on the Mediterranean. Well, it was not like we didn’t already have people in the area. What difference would another hundred or five hundred employees make? None.
Monday I went to DC alone – Jenny and Marcy were going to Thimble Shoals for the bank meetings. Tuesday Lorrie and some of her aviation group were coming for some PR.
I spent the morning first with my staff going through all the updates then with the intel group. After lunch Australia Prime Minister Morris was arriving for discussions on a variety of subjects. He was going to be here for three days meeting with the DOD officials, State Department officials, the Vice President and me.
Australian Prime Minister Alfred Morris arrived at 1300. The official opening ceremonies were in the Rose Garden. I had been to Australia in my short time as Vice President. We were negotiating to renew a decades old mutual defense treaty and a new trade treaty.
Much progress was made while I was there. It was at these meetings that Australia joined the anti-drug coalition and testing program with the JBG lab we had set up for the organization.
Another thing that was ongoing while I was there was the Australian brush and forest fires. It was a reoccurring event every three or four years; there was a massive one almost like the California wildfires.
This year the California ones were bad but nowhere as bad as the Australian version. Lorrie contracted to send ten JBG 747 water tanker converted firefighting planes to help while keeping ten on station in California.
Part of the Prime Minister’s group was the minister in charge of their National Forestry Service and National Parks for meetings with our National Park Service officials to discuss wildfire fighting.
The ten planes and crews with maintenance personnel were there while I was there but on the other side of the nation.
Vice President Harrison had completed the negotiations and the Prime Minister was here for the official signing, putting the agreement into effect.
”We are here today to welcome Prime Minister Morris of Australia to our great nation. Australia and the United States have been partners for over a hundred years in international security. They are a trusted and valued trading partner.”
“While there is the mass of the Pacific Ocean that separate us, it has not subdued our friendship and respect for one another and our positions in world events. I welcome you to our country Prime Minister Morris,” I said with the traditional handshake for the cameras.
I stepped away from the podium so the Prime Minister could give his speech before we disappeared behind closed doors to do the delicate work left.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
Friday morning was another early morning breakfast with the Emir Bello. The Secret Service brought him to White House at 0600. I was sitting at my desk in the Oval Office discussing the Saudi agreement with General Ingram.
An advance team from the Air Force would arrive in a few days from our airbase in Ad Dammam. At one look the map at the base at Ad Dammam made one question the necessity of adding another base in the area. But to have armor and infantry so close to Iran made a lot of sense. Plus to be able to land thousands of troops in C17s and C5s that close was an ace in the hole for operations – if and when it came to that.
I closed my folders, placed them in the pile on my desk and walked the Emir Bello back to the map room. On the wall was a map of Africa that had all the publicly known US bases in Africa marked. The secret were missing as were the ones that were conditional use or temporary.
The reasoning for this direction was to gain another Doppler radar site and listening post in the eastern central Africa to close a gap. If our sales pitch was successful, it would complete the circle to give the DOD total surveillance of the entire Atlantic Ocean from the Arctic to the Antarctica.
The Doppler radar system coupled with submerged ocean listening buoys would box in the Russians in the Atlantic – in the air, on the sea and underwater. If they moved, we would know it. It was the same thing they were trying to do to the US with Cuba, Venezuela and in the Arctic Ocean.
It was lunch when we finished – not only had I negotiated for the Doppler radar but the deep water port of Lagos was now approved as a port of call for the US Navy and for Naval support services when necessary. The International Airport was now open for Air Force transport planes – that was normally always a touchy subject with many countries.
Lunch was a state dinner, the last for Emir Bello with invited guests. After lunch there was a news conference and then the Emir was flying home. He had arrived on a commercial flight but was going to be carried back on a private flight.
I offered to have one of the Air Force executive jets but he was afraid that it would create political problems. One of the JBG business jets was arriving at Andrews to make the flight to Nigeria. It was one more conflict of interest in the eyes of some. The Emir and his group were happy and thankful.
The week was gone and there were so many thing I had put on the back burner, so many meetings I put off by being in Europe and then devoting so much time working on Nigeria contracts.
I was going home for the weekend. The rock fish – the Maryland State fish – also known as the striped bass were making their early run in the bay. Marine One had us on the island in thirty minutes.
The new family fishing boat that we had designed and had built at a Baltimore boat yard was picked up by Dad, Jason and Jake while we were in Europe.
It was bigger than most party boats that worked out of the commercial dock at the narrows. A party boat took dozens of fishermen and fishing parties for a daily fee. The commercial captains used a variety of tools to follow the schools of fish and the hot spots to keep customers happy and coming back.
Our boat was seventy feet long and sixteen feet wide. It had an enclosed half cabin with a full potty. It wouldn’t look very good for us to hang our butt off the side and take a leak – easy for men, not so much for us. There were three small beds to rest on and for the kids to nap on forward. There were two small refrigerators, a small stove, a beer cooler and a table for meals.
The top bow section of the cabin was flat with all kinds of railings so we could sunbath it on if we wanted. It had built in bait boxes in the back with rod pipes across the stern and down the port and starboard sides.
With twin seven hundred horsepower Cats to push it thirty knots, radar and an enclosed cockpit, it was an all-weather family boat.
We had the channel dredged behind the house and a dock built for it last year after we ordered it. We had steel sheeting driven along our property and around the pond that was at the end and our neighbor’s property to end the erosion requiring it to be dredged every few years.
There was no more waiting at the boat launch in line on good fishing days. Jason, Dad, Jake and we could just throw the lines, start the engines and go. No more excuses not to go fishing or out on the bay just for a relaxing pleasure cruise.
Dad, Jake and Jason had done the outfitting after it was docked behind the house with life jackets, floatable devices, two inflatable life boats, flares, beer, rods and supplies. Friday night they brought more beer and coolers, ice, and snacks. They also brought the boat licenses and all the required papers to keep us legal.
I told the senior agent at 2200 that we were going fishing tomorrow morning at 0500; I didn’t want them to have too much time to complain. I also told the chef I wanted breakfast sandwiches ready to go at 0500 and gave him a list for cold subs for lunch.
At 0515 the engines were running and warming up as we climbed aboard. We had us six girls and two boys with Dad, Jason, Jake, Mindy, six agents, Ziva and Abra plus the two White House photographers and the two with the suitcase. It took twenty minutes to run the creek to get into the waters of the bay.
In the bay, Jason headed south down the bay. The marine radio traffic from the commercial guys were saying the hot spot was off Cambridge and was producing a lot of fish today.
It was thirty miles – an hour’s run in this boat – as Jason pushed the engines to full throttle.
Just past St Michaels Jason pulled the throttles back and headed to the south west.
”There is a hole in about a mile that is usually good when the fish are moving north. The commercial guys save it for when nothing else works for their paying customers,” Jason said as he slowed more and turned on the fish finders and fine tuned the depth finder to its most sensitive settings.
The rest of us followed Dad’s lead and began cutting bait and rigging hooks on the boat rods. The engines went to idle and the transmission disengaged.
”We are going to drift over the spot – lines in the water,” Jason said.
A few minutes later the first fish was brought aboard. Maryland required that in order to keep them, they had to be between twenty eight and thirty eight inches or over forty four with a limit of two fish each. The first fish was pulled in by an agent and measured fifty inches – a whopper!
Jenny helped RJ and I worked with JJ – there was no way they could do it by themselves – but with extra hands on the rod to help, they could enjoy the thrill.
The first drift across the hole produced twenty fish that met the rules. Ten more had to be thrown back. The second drift produced fifteen with five thrown back.
RJ hooked a whopper and with Jenny’s help landed a forty six inch rock fish; much taller than and as heavy as he was. A few minutes JJ had his big fish; nearly as big but lacking only half an inch.
It took four drifts over the hole and moving to follow the school before we had the limit. Everyone had their two fish limit – family, agents, photographers and the ball carriers – including me with one forty six and one forty eight.
Make no mistake, reeling in big fish is work – real work – plus keeping the lines from getting tangled with other ones on the boat. With the rods and hooks secured it was time for the food we had brought and of course a beer.
We headed back to the narrows as a leisurely clip of ten knots. Eating, talking and having a good time – the subs we had from the kitchen were just right. Jason and Dad were both on the bridge piloting the course.
We were within sight of Kent Point – the most southern tip of Kent Island – when a when a Coast Guard MR-B medium response boat that was headed south at good speed made a turn and powered up to fall in behind us and turning on the lights and siren.
Jason was cussing under his breath, ”First fishing trip on the bay and the Coast Guard shows for an inspection.”
The Secret Service agents shuffled me into the cabin as we slowed to a stop and began drifting with the tide. They pulled the MR-B alongside and cast it a line since we were the bigger of the two boats.
They checked the boat paperwork, the licenses to make sure Jason had a captain license to be able pilot a boat with all the people aboard and the boat fishing licenses. Then they checked all the safety equipment and the condition of all the life preservers and their expiration dates, the fire extinguishers, and the flares. Yes, they still required a flare gun and a throwable flotation device.
They wanted to see the engine room to inspect for oil or fuel leaks that could foul the bay. They could write citations if they found any and depending on the severity, it could be a serious fine.
The access to the engine room was a hatch near the cabin. After inspecting the engine room the inspecting officer opened the door to the cabin, looked around and closed the door. I was sitting at the table facing the officer. He nodded and went about his task.
They gave Jason an inspection sticker to place in the window, tossed the line and left. It was supposed to prevent you from being stopped and inspected again unless there was obvious trouble. It was so small another boat was unlikely see it until after they had cast the line to you. Once that happened you were going to get inspected again no matter what.
We had a good laugh about it as they pulled away. They would get a good ass chewing on Monday. First, for not telling their superiors they had stopped and inspected the President’s boat with her on board. Then for not recognizing the President and saluting – the Coast Guard had the same rules as the Navy.
Their bosses would find out in a few hours as soon as the media filed the reports about today’s clandestine fishing trip. The Coast Guard inspection was sure to make the news cast.
The media would demand a copy of the inspection report from the brass to see if any favors or shortcuts had been extended.
We continued on to the commercial dock to get fuel while the fish were cleaned. We could do it ourselves but why bother for a few dollars. Besides, the waste would be used for bait or ground up in chum; another form of bait for shark fishing.
Back at the house it was resting time. The boys conked out on the couch as soon as they were on it. Salt air and fishing will do that to you.
While the girls were showering, the Secret Service agents gave me today’s agency top secret reports.
The first one on top today was on Russia; it was twenty pages long. China was a runner up with ten pages and then the rest.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
The Beast carried us to Blair House where they were getting ready to start. Vice President Harrison was just giving the opening toast. I stood in the door and waited until he was finished before I took my place and offered another toast.
”We lift our glasses to welcome our friend Emir Akram Bello to our great nation, to build a relationship that will last an eternity. A relationship built on trust, commerce between our two countries, enduring prosperity and good will and to work for mutual security.”
The evening was a relaxed social event. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening. I talked with the Emir over an hour. He wanted an early start because of the time change. I invited him to join me for an early breakfast.
The real work would start tomorrow. It was 2100 when the affair closed down for the night.
I went to my desk in the Oval Office; the girls and the boys had turned in as soon as we landed as the jet lag had proven just too much. My desk was neat and orderly with piles tagged with their importance. I took the most important pile and read for an hour, adding questions and thoughts in the margins. I crawled into bed with Jenny and Marcy. Lorrie had Sara in the bed with her tonight; she must have been fussy.
I was up at 0500 – the Emir was to be here at 0600 for the early breakfast.
The breakfast was a working breakfast. Over coffee I was filled in on the present day Nigeria’s problems and its problems with its neighbors. Then there was the growing problems with Boko-Haram. I had gained a lot of knowledge about the area.
I learned even more about the relationship with China and its foreign aid package to Nigeria. As usual with China, it was a leveraged package. China – with nearly slave rates for Chinese labor – but billed at western rates would do infrastructure improvements in exchange for raw materials.
As time went on the only infrastructure projects that were completed were those that benefited exporting the raw materials. The Logos marine terminal was updated to handle mining, mineral ore containing rare earth minerals and shipping container traffic.
A bridge on the main highway and highway repairs to the ore fields and oilfields were quickly completed. Other promised projects in the package were started but quickly stalled. Chinese workers disappeared, equipment was moved from the projects to the ore and oil fields and only returned after much pressure – or not at all.
The relationship soured with the Chinese officials, with excuses flowing like the oil and minerals to the docks. If that wasn’t bad enough, records stopped or came up short.
It is not rocket science to figure out how much oil and ore were loaded on tankers and freighters. Their capacity is public record with Lloyds of London and the International Shipping Agency. The ISA tracks ships on the ocean to be able to schedule port stops and ships that go missing in storm. Ships positions at sea are reported daily. It was easy work to get the numbers complied without Chinese help.
The contracts were expiring and Emir Bello was refusing to renew them even after pressure, promises and threats from China. It was the Chinese that had insisted on an initial short term contract and not an open ended one – for whatever reason no one knew – but it worked to Nigeria’s advantage.
At 0800 we met the rest of the Emir’s group in the lobby on our way to the Oval Office, but first I directed the group to the office that I had converted into the map room.
Today in it was an eight foot by ten foot table with a map of Nigeria with all the important places marked out. The projects that had been finished or started by the Chinese construction company were marked. The path of Boko-Haram was also mapped.
There was a box of map markers I had borrowed from the DOD; they were large thimbles with different colored flags on them. They could be placed on the map to indicate bridges and other projects Emir Bello wanted to talk about.
With a couple of breaks it was 1100 when we got down to the serious things. There were several small bridges and miles of roadway that were immediate concerns.
”The day after the Chinese leave, the Army Corps of Engineers will be there to do site preparation and geological surveys necessary for sound construction and dependable roadbeds,” I said.
”Equipment will start arriving immediately after and trainers to train your work force. We will provide the equipment, training, supervision and engineering,” I said.
”As we agreed earlier, your men will supply the labor and your country will supply the materials. You and we get more of everything for the money that is being invested,” I added.
”Also we will pay going market rates for any minerals or oil that are extracted – with correct accounting,” I said.
”Why do you need to bring new equipment and not use the Chinese supplied equipment?” the Emir asked.
”I fully expect it to be destroyed or sabotaged beyond repair,” I said.
”Yes, you are probably right,” he said.
By then it was time for another photo session and a fancy lunch. I ate light – a salad and soup – and entered into light conversation with the new group that was going to oversee my new foreign aid programs.
After lunch we started on the security end of our discussion. Vicky and Andy along with Frank Love had the first meetings With Emir Bello to discuss the future role the CIA and JBG would play in fighting Boko-Haram. This was done at the CIA head quarters at Langley Virginia. I could not be part of that meeting although I would get a report in a couple days.
When the Emir came back, General Ingram and I discussed whether there would be a US military presence in Nigeria. The General wanted one but I was unsure how the discussion would go.
At 1700 we ended the discussions for the day. At 1900 it was my turn to host the State dinner for the Emir, his group and selected VIPs. My invitees were the State Department, a few select Senators, Representatives, their wives and a few other guests.
At 2000 the night ended with the Emit going back to Blair House. My evening was not over; I needed to go back to my desk to handle several issues.
One was to put the agreement with King Eluad into the works. It needed to go to the DOD first, to the joint chiefs who needed to approve the war games. I had a big sell ahead of me – a lot of people would need convincing. Then on to the planners and schedulers for cargo ships to carry the trucks and tanks that needed to be sent.
Then plan for what to do with the air base; we had access to it again. A team needed to be flown in to evaluate it. The Air Force used the base during the Kuwait-Iraq war. It had been placed into a reserve status by the Saudi’s at the end of the war.
It was temporarily reopened as an emergency field for B52 bombers in the Afghan war. As trouble began to escalate between Saudi Arabia and the Somalia rebels, the Saudi’s had spruced up, repaired runways and rebuilt hangars for their own use, all before the price of oil plummeted – reducing their discretionary cash supplies .
The next thing in the agreement was that King Eluad had agreed to allow a US destroyer to make a port call on July the forth to the port of Manama. Manama was above the imaginary line of ‘No American military ships allowed in the Persian Gulf’ by Iran.
This was one of the demands that Iran required to be met to release the hostages taken during the Carter administration. Carter agreed to it and withdrew the ships only to see the demands increase and get laughed at.
No President since had sent ships that far up the gulf since with one exception, and that was during the Kuwait war. Iran agreed to allow an amphibious force to sail to the shores of Kuwait as a diversion. Several of the battleships refurbished under Reagan’s three hundred and fifty ship goal were part of the force.
It was the last hurrah for the old battleships as the Navy immediately took them out of service with plans to scrap them so they would never come back again. They did end up as museum ships.
To further make sure they would never come back, all the tooling to produce replacement barrels for them was sold for scrap in the mid-2010s and in 2017 the thousands of shells for the big guns were destroyed, deleting them from the reserve weapons depot. The Navy cut ten feet off the barrels of the museum ships – with the exception of the Missouri and the New Jersey.
They didn’t fit the Admiral’s vision of the modern Navy, even though the Marines wanted to keep them in reserve for amphibious operations. It was carrier’s planes or expensive missiles if we ever had to make amphibious landings.
The heavy guns were being eliminated off all new ships being built. Instead of being able to send nearly a thousand five inch shells to the target, the new destroyers could launch a hundred missiles.
The Zumwalt class was the last destroyer to have a heavy gun. It was designed to fire a sabot round that had an extended range at a heavy cost of a million dollars a round. It was so expensive the navy stopped all gunnery training and tried to develop conventional rounds for the 155 mm caliber. They finally gave up on finding a use for the ship. At seven billion a copy, it was a big lemon.
I had visions of several destroyers sailing into Manama with flags and pennants flowing in the wing to piss off the Iranians even more. Hopefully it would be enough to cause them to rush their plans and get them off stride.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
My family wanted to go out for supper to the inn, although I would have rather have had the time at home with them. But they had talked about this all week for this time together.
As usual we were well protected. The Beast number two was on hand – it was now a fixture in the parking garage. The Secret Service had commandeered four bays and had block walls and garage doors installed. A dozen Secret Service Suburbans were in the line.
The griping and complaining from the Secret Service had ended after our first visit to the inn, when they found out they were to eat steak, crab and lobster with us. It was just an East shore thing; I treated them as family.
Marcy had rented the largest room at the inn. My family and I were seated at one table near the wall while agents were at tables away from us and at the door. We were able to carry out reasonably private conversations.
At home I sent the agents to their respective places – out of our living quarters. Contractors had finished expanding the kitchen out the west wall of the house over objections of the county planning and zoning.
It took a visit from a senior DHS official and two federal marshals to convince them they had the authority to make changes to our house for security, without the delay of permits and inspections.
Not only did the agents have fresh hot coffee, there were chefs on duty twenty-four seven to fix meals for them and us when we wanted. That required a big walk-in freezer and walk-in refrigerator; no wonder planning had a fit.
Bob’s Construction did the emergency work. I made sure that Marcy paid for all the work and equipment. The last thing I needed was the liberal media bloodhounds on the trail of – in their eyes – questionable expenses. The pundits would make days of prime time rubbish every chance they could.
The hot tub, cold drinks and family was a fantastic stress reliever. We had no plans to be separated this weekend. All of them were going to with me to Saturday night’s fund raiser at Topeka Kansas.
On Monday Lorrie, Sara, Jenny, the boys and Marcy were coming over with me. I was not coming back for home until Monday morning. Then on Wednesday they were swapping with Ching Lee, Takeo and Vicky who were staying until Friday when all of them would join me again.
The night was fun, affectionate and loving. All my mates joined in – it was in the wee hours of the morning before we went to sleep.
Two little boys crawling on the bed were my alarm clock. They were hungry and then wanted to go to Fort Smith to find some more brass shell casings. Truthfully, I wanted to go there to make sure things were being kept up.
Hot coffee was waiting and breakfast was soon on our plates. I read the updates handed to me by agents between coffee and food.
Iran was still conducting their massive military exercises; all US installations and troops in the Middle East were up one alert level. The Generals and State Department thought that was all that was necessary. The CIA satellites were trying to watch everything in close-up living color to see what we could learn.
Frank Love and Art Cummins wanted a MTAC ASAP. I walked through the tunnel to the command center with a couple agents. I wondered how past Presidents handled these types of communications without a communications center and a wide screen? I would hate to think I would be left to do it with only a phone.
The Boko-Haram was on the move towards the villages in the direction we thought they would go. The CIA wanted authorization to hit the group with drone strikes.
The Predator and Reaper drones had been replaced with the Gladiator and Maximus – shortened to Max. They were more of everything.
The plan they decided on was to coordinate with the JBG team, hit the terrorists with the drones and then allow the JBG team to conduct cleanup operations with JBG aviation support. I called Andy and Vicky on a conference call before I approved the clandestine mission.
Many would die today on my orders, it was not the first time nor would it be the last. I pushed the thought from my mind and went to rejoin my family and start with our plans for the day.
With Ziva, Abra and a couple agents we spent two hours at Fort Smith. The boys were running around the live fire designated areas picking up casings; by now they should have had a bucket full.
While they did that I walked and checked out things. When they were finished we walked together to the jail and interrogation rooms behind it. By looking at the equipment I could see it had been used often since I was there last.
Vicky, Ching Lee and possibly Andy were continuing interrogations, if they were necessary. I wondered if they were using the chipper or the Doc Burns crematorium. I hoped it was the crematorium; there was a lot less chance of any usable DNA left. The cells where the Iranians had been kept were cleaned and unused.
Back at the house I did something I had not done in weeks; I helped the girls clean the house.
Air Force One was already waiting at Morton when the Beast drove through the gate. All my family was going; Mom, Dad, my mates and my two little men. Takeo and Sara were too little to attend the fundraiser but were staying on Air Force One with a sitter while we were there.
The fund raiser was another barn burner. Excited people filled the place. They were looking for a leader for the next eight years to continue the prosperity. I could see the hopes in their faces and hear it in the voices of the big donors.
We were back at Morton at 2400; it had been a long day, but overall a fun day.
A few more days and April would be in the history books. The G20 conference would finish it out.
Sunday was laid back. I read the intelligence reports before breakfast. Breakfast was nice – in my own dining room with my immediate family.
The White House camera people and the clerks who logged every word I said were out of luck unless they were called in to document something in particular. My entire house and JBG offices were off limits to them. That was until someone in Congress decided I wasn’t complying with the Records Preservation Act enough to suit them.
We worked at getting things ready for the trip to Amsterdam late Sunday afternoon. I had to make sure I had enough high end pant suit outfits to attend all the fancy affairs.
There were meetings and photo ops at every turn. Then there were the lavish meals that were photo ops again.
The State Department people had spent days arguing about the agenda for the various committees. My place on them had already been fixed; I was to replace President Thomas. Part of my reading materials had been his position on matters before the G20 members. I needed to make sure any decision I made was in line somewhat with previous agreements and not a radical departure, other than the funding cuts to the world agencies.
All that was nothing compared to the fiasco with the seating order for the photo ops, and heaven forbid – the seating order for the fancy meals. I didn’t know seating at the meal table could start international conflicts.
My staff and the State Department people were on Air Force One when it landed at Morton to pick Lorrie, Jenny, Marcy, the boys, Sara and me with my security detail. It only took a few minutes to load up the baggage and fill the fuel tanks for the long flight.
The 747 can take off with full tanks but cannot land with nearly full tanks. Should an emergency occur there are provisions to dump a lot of fuel quickly. Altitude is important when this happens so the fuel can evaporate before it hits the ground and cause damage.
It was a long flight to the Netherlands; thirty eight hundred miles in seven hours. We had left at four and landed at midnight Eastern, but with the time change it was 2000. It took another hour to get checked into the five star Waldorf Astoria for the evening.
The Secret Service had a complete floor for my group. My mates and I had adjoining rooms with a walk-through door between them. The two boys could each have a bed and there was a crib for Sara. The other room had two king beds that my mates and I could share.
The breakfast was at 0700 and the first meeting was at 0900. Getting to the meeting venue was a fiasco, demonstrators were everywhere. Thousands of police lined the routes to keep them from blocking the roads. There were burning tires on the sidewalks and destroyed barricades in piles.
Thousands of the demonstrators were hiding behind masks and parkas, afraid to be seen, so they could commit crimes without fear of being identified. They were left- wing and Anarchist groups.
The G20 was nineteen countries plus the EU. The EU was represented by the European commission and the European Central Bank. There were invitees who were permanent guests; the UN, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the African Union, the Association of South East Asian Nations, International Monetary Fund and International Labor and Financial Stability Board.
The President’s term lasted one year and he could invite one or two guests from his region.
`The meetings started off cordial enough with a welcoming speech by the G20 President and then statements by the charter members. The guests gave no opening speeches.
Many of the main topics on growth and free trade were already hammered out by flunkies from all the departments from each country.
The arguments came in voting funding for the UN. It hit a brick wall when I announced that the US was reducing funding for the UN and a list of groups, including the financial aid to multiple agencies associated with it. The arguments lasted until lunch.
Lunch was another photo op and musical chairs – everybody wanted to sit beside me for the pictures and bend my ear about the cuts. I held my own, countering every argument every time.
World problem discussions took up the afternoon. There was an extended break then another photo op with a lavish meal for supper, complete with an orchestra to sooth shattered nerves from the day’s discussions.
Back in the motel room I did a VCATS with home and then an MTAC with Washington. The CIA had a lengthy report from the Nigeria operation that took place today in cooperation with the JBG forces there.
The messengers that were captured confirmed our suspicions that Iran was funding the Boko-Haram in the area. Not only funding but sending trainers and technical people. Iran had just lost some more people – another bad day for them.
Tiam and the General confirmed through repeated radio requests and then through open channel attempts to contact their people.
The General was pissed again when the word came that JBG was responsible for the demise of his trainers and experts in Nigeria – again. Tiam posted a two page letter the next day from the General. It was fire and brimstone, urging the followers to take up arms against all JBG personnel with special purpose worldwide.
He raised the bounty on my mates – this time adding our children.
The third morning after breakfast – the final day – there was social time before adjournment and a final photo op. Saudi King El Damon Elaud made his way over to my table. He was the king who broke all the traditions when I signed the contracts for the fast ships for the OPEC group.
The waiters had just cleared away the dishes. I was working on the daily intelligence reports with a couple aides.
He waived off his accompanying detail as I stood to shake his hand. I waved mine away as well and then we sat at the table.
”I see that you have upset our mutual enemies – again,” he said with a broad smile. Evidently his intelligence was working – as I suspected it would be.
”Every chance I get, I rub more salt into the wound,” I said.
”To irritate the wound a little more and prepare for the eventual issue, I would like to pre-position several hundred tanks and trucks in your country.”
”We can announce that we are preparing to hold joint desert armor and infantry in the sand war games training – say in August,” I said.
I knew that ever since Kuwait and the beginning salvos in the Iraq war, Iran had been adamant that there be no infantry or armor from any nation other than token amounts based on pre-Kuwait agreements and no military ships in the upper Persian Gulf.
”That sounds like an old mixture my father’s men used in the dungeon – salt, sand, acid and a wire brush. I think it will have the same result. I like it a lot,” he said.
”I think we should write the agreement now so that there is no mistake in our intentions, before the pencil pushers distort our intent,” I said.
”I agree,” he said.
Thirty minutes later there were two copies – one in English and one in Arabic – both signed.
Four hundred M2A2A battle tanks and two hundred fourth generation MRAPs along with two hundred JLTV – Joint Light Tactical Vehicle – would arrive in June at a new temporary US military base at Al Qaysumah, just five miles from the Kuwait border and less than one hundred miles from Iran. They were going to be pissed!
Al Qaysumah was home to a Saudi armored division and a now little used Saudi airbase – they were going to train with the US armored division. The air base was built for American bombers during the Cold War.
The hour we were talking and writing was closely watched. Security kept anyone from getting too close and they were all trying. They were all curious what the hell was taking place – especially Russian President Orbatch. Putin had mysteriously died in his sleep two years ago.
Orbatch was struggling to keep Russia together after the death of Putin. The member states had had enough of being plundered with thousands disappearing in the dark of the night. Their oil and gas production had collapsed from no maintenance – the same was true with their mining industry. Equipment was abandoned all over Siberia.
Putin had tried to build new aircraft carriers – at least for show – to counter the influence and prestige of the Chinese. Four new nuclear carriers were ordered. To prove the productivity of the Russian ship yards they tried to copy the Newport News Ship Building model. Two new carriers went to sea trials together.
Four months into the trials one carrier disappeared in a massive nuclear explosion, its sister a mile away was all but obliterated in the blast but did stay afloat – on fire – for a month while drifting helplessly towards Norway,
After removing the sailors who were left alive, it took Russian destroyers a week to sink it with torpedoes.
With no answers as to the explosion, the work on the other two carriers was halted. They lost two one hundred thousand ton carriers that were estimated to cost twenty billion each. Twelve thousand sailors, and over two hundred of the latest planes plus six escorting frigates and destroyers destroyed or sunk was just too much.
Russian morale plummeted and head hunters were out in force. While they tried to investigate, there was nothing left of the carrier to find but molten metal and the bow and stern sections of the keel.
Our nuclear experts believed that Russian nuclear weapons had the same problems as some of our older weapons. The insulating material separating the components had deteriorated. The rocking of the bombs on the ship in rough water caused the materials to mix and in the process triggered the implosion that started fission.
The photo op ended and an hour later the wheels of Air Force One left the runway and we flew west. The wind was against us; it was going to take an hour longer to get home.
Instead of landing at Morton we needed to land at Andrews or I was not going to make the state dinner for the Emir of Nigeria in time.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.