Chapter 541

I listened while Robert explained all EIT had been doing with the information from the two Princes and the two arms dealer’s computers.

The list of customers on the arms dealer’s computers was eye opening. I was sure that both Bens would be very interested in some of those countries and groups and what they had acquired.

I was more interested in the locations of the sales and deliveries. And then, what was sold and delivered there.

Small arms rifles and pistols were everywhere. Hundreds of millions made, sold, lost, captured all over the world. With every war, every skirmish, there was always a flood of rifles and ammo to both sides.

The Taliban was using rifles against the Russians that were left over from the WW1 and WW2 and later; American, British, Spanish, German and Russian bolt action, semiautomatic and machine guns. There were warehouses all over Europe and the world that were filled with crates of weapons and pallets of ammunition in case a new world war appeared overnight.

The Chinese and the Russians were the worst for selling old weapons to any group; the AK47 was a third world favorite. It was easy to disassemble and clean, and worked well in all environments. Nearly every rifle we had burned in the La Jarita raid had been an AK47.

As long as it was kept dry, ammunition could last a century or more. There was ammunition from the Spanish American war still showing up on the net. The weak spot was the primer. Some chemical mixtures used to make the primer to make the round to go bang deteriorated with time and would not fire.

The UN even tried to force ammo manufactures to come up with primer materials that had a life a shelf of no more than two years as a way to end so many conflicts and put an end to so many stockpiles. It was a foolhardy thought with billions of rounds already in warehouses.

Black powder used in Civil War and cannon balls were still as deadly as the day they were made, even if it had been wet and dried. Hikers were still finding stacked up cannon balls that has been left along the trails and battlefields during the Civil War and they were still deadly.

Just a few years ago a Virginia Civil War enthusiast blew himself and his house apart trying to remove the fuse and black powder in some he had found on the Appalachian Trail.

It was an arms cycle; every time armies were issued newer, more modern weapons, the older weapons went into the warehouses. A few were transferred to civilians while most sat in the warehouses until the next potential ally needed weapons for self defense; that is where the arms dealers came in.

They were the middle men. Governments let them handle the transactions, “You are to sell them to this group but not that group or country.” It allowed the politicians to deny direct involvement.

It was weapons from those arms dealers that had killed my men in Morocco and tried to kill them in Kampala and Windhoek.

It was one more reason I had a bad taste for politics, especially international politics – the worst of the bunch.

I looked over the sales closely for heavy weapons that could be used against the embassies; RPGs, mortars, shoulder fired rockets and Stingers. Those were all bad news and I wanted to know if they had been sold to any anti-American groups in those areas.

As Robert continued, things got worse. EIT had maintained surveillance of all the people who were in the contact list of the Princes, the arms dealers, Balthazar, and Saif’s computers. As with all things on the internet, when one link opened it led to dozens more. Over time they had been able to break the passwords.

The Prince’s email contained several leaders of Hezbollah; proxies of Iran.

Iran now knew I was responsible for the aggressive interrogation of Balthazar and that information was making the rounds. They were plotting revenge. They were planning to bring it up at the UN that the US and the task force was using torture and afterwards organizing a protest in Washington. They had operatives emailing sympathetic members of Congress as though they were US citizens.

I sent the list of operatives to my task force email. If these operatives were in direct contact with the Hezbollah terrorists, was there a possibility they were committing treason? It was certainly grounds for them to be deeply investigated.

I was even more surprised to see email chains from Hezbollah leaders to ACLU lawyers planning a defense strategy for several of the terrorists we had arrested.

In one case they were speculating what their clients could be arrested for – before the planned activities – and were actively planning alibis and cover stories for them. I had lots of questions to ask my new Federal Prosecutor tomorrow.

But first I ran all the emails by Jenny for another opinion. I ended up with lots of ideas to work with tomorrow.

We finished out the day in the gym then spent time in the basement playroom very carefully with Lorrie. She and Ching Lee both were just a month from delivering.

More cribs and baby clothes had been bought; Lorrie was having a girl so it had to be new clothes. Ching Lee was having a boy and we had plenty of hand-me-downs from little Robert and Jacob so only a few were bought.

Mindy was also having a girl; at least there would be two girls to play together and hold their own against their brothers when play got too rough. We had long ago decided it would be private schooling for the kids.

Even with all the new information that should have kept me awake, I slept well. Lorrie and I held each other close. Several times I felt the baby move against me. It was as close to that feeling as I would ever get.

I arrived at Section 12 at the normal start time on Tuesday and in time to start the coffee today. While I waited, I sorted all the emails Robert had pulled for me.

Alyssa Cotton was going to get her first challenge on her first day with the task force. I wanted to know if the lawyers working with the terrorists had committed treason and conspiracy. Was a grand jury needed to decide?

There were pros and cons to a grand jury. The part that interested me was that once convened the media would be reporting every day on the jury, especially if there were certain beneficial leaks. They would never leave it alone trying to land the next scoop. Just maybe put a little fear in some of those that think they are above the law and hide behind ‘I have a law degree’.

All the members looked at the emails and made my argument and then I left the debate to them. I went to the hill for another Spanish inquisition; this time on the scope of the powers of the new task force.

Two hours later I testified behind closed doors to the Senate intelligence committee on terrorism. It was the second update this month and my last before I left the post. The chairman wanted to schedule another in two weeks.

“Sorry Senators, six days to go,” I replied. “You will have to schedule it with the new chairperson.”

“You have not been asked to stay on?” Senator Knotts asked, very surprised.

“There have been no discussions. The term was for six months. I made that pretty clear in the beginning,” I replied.
After that, the closed session ended.

“Ambassador, there are ads in the noon media that feature you and your family. They imply that you have made a significant investment in a vacation resort. Is that true?” Senator Knotts asked.

“Yes, I made the statement at last week’s news conference; I was going to take some time off with my family. What better way to relax the body, rest the mind and refresh the spirit than sand, salt water, eighty degree days and sun mixed in with the occasional exceptionally chilled brew and the companionship of family. All of that will ease the fears and stress I and we have been under,” I replied.

“The threats against me and my family are still active. By buying the island we can better control the security. We had little choice,” I replied.

“That should certainly do that,” he replied.

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Chapter 540

Chapter 540
The President was sitting in one of the fancy chairs in the Oval Office. The President introduced me to Saudi Ambassador Rashid Dandachi who was in another, there was one left in the circle for me. There was no one else in the room.

For the next two hour we talked about a mutual fight against terror. I thought it was a little on the ridiculous side since the Saudi’s had funded so much terror worldwide and in the US.

Most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi. The shoe bomber was Saudi. All four attempts on my life were either by Saudi involvement or paid for by a Saudi.

But I played nice; there was no need to cause a stir on my way out. At the President’s request I had pulled selected emails of the Prince’s back and forth between Balthazar and Saif.

I was careful to choose only the ones in our possession that could easily be explained as coming from Saif’s and Balthazar’s captured computers and emails connected to them.

We discussed the email in detail and the connections to Iran and the Iranian proxies in the area.

The parting at the end of the meeting was cordial and ended with, “I suspect that there is much more that you cannot tell me,” Ambassador Dandachi replied.

“I am equally sure that I can say the same thing,” I replied.

He just smiled and nodded.

Since I was already on the ground floor I stopped by the cafeteria for a salad to carry to Section 12 and my desk to eat.

There was a crowd around the TV in the lobby off the Oval Office. I stood a few feet behind them; they did not know I was there.

“Back it up and play it again, Jim. Stop it at the picture,” I heard Troy say.

It was the first run of the ads that Ching Lee had put together last night. Her clerks were to put the finishing touches on it this morning and have it aired.

“That’s BJ and her family, no doubt about it,” one of the others said.

It was the picture that was taken of us on the beach minus clothing walking away from the camera. It was taken by Tammy Tittles. She walked part of the beach with us asking questions.

“Great picture, nice cheeks too, so soft. I like to feel them quite often,” I said with a laugh. All breathing stopped.

“Back it up to the beginning. The spot was not finished when I left this morning. Let me see the whole clip,” I said as there was a rush of air; they all started to breathe again.

No one objected.

The spot was one minute long; none of the pictures were on screen more than a few seconds.

” Not bad for the first run; Ching Lee is there all week with some great looking people making clips and pictures for different ads to run in the different markets,” I said.

“So that was the pleasure trip you took over the weekend. You bought an island and went to road test it,” Troy said.

“Something like that. It will be a great getaway. I told you that I was going to spend time somewhere where it was warm and could be access controlled,” I replied as I turned and walked to the elevator.

Bobbie followed me into my office, “Dan says he can get the day off; in fact he is taking Thursday afternoon off to do few things so we can go. What do we need to bring?” Bobbie asked.

“Why don’t you take Thursday afternoon off as well to help? It’s 80 there, couple pieces of summer clothing and a swim suit or not; everything else will be taken care of,” I replied.

After lunch I was again summoned to the Oval Office and asked to bring Ben and Kathy Shellman with me. Upon arriving Troy asked Kathy to take a seat in the lobby next to the Oval Office for a minute.

Troy led Ben and me into the Oval Office. Attorney General Dunne and Marty Coeburn were also there.

“BJ I am going to nominate Kathy to a federal Judgeship to fill a vacancy in the first circuit federal court. I wanted you to hear it from us. If you want to you can file a recommendation and an endorsement of the nomination,“ the President said.

“Of course that means the AG will have to send a new person to that position in the task force,” Marty added.

“Kathy was the best at the prosecutor position and will be missed. I am not familiar with the process but more than willing to recommend and endorse her nomination for the position if it will help,” I replied.

Kathy was brought in and there was a discussion and round of congratulations that followed.

That was two that out of the task force who had been promoted. I was sure there would be more.

Alyssa Cotton was assigned to replace Kathy. I had met Alyssa several times and she had been at a couple terrorist updates I had given. She was always direct and to the point with her questions and observations.

As Ben and I were leaving I met General Ingram in the hall.

“Have you got a minute to step into my office BJ?” he asked.

“The transfer of items you requested has been approved. The shipment process will start in a few days; they should start arriving in a week or so. There will also be some pallets of spare parts this time; the depot needs to make room in the warehouse,“ he said.

We talked a few more minutes about a variety of subjects – mostly terror and military related – before we each went to our respective offices.

I was leaving early – in fact Andy’s men were already waiting. We had a lot of things to talk about tonight and would have every night this week.

Andy and Bob wanted my final approval on the changes to Camp Smith; the project was nearly finished. Vicky had been handling everything with them but they all wanted my final opinion.

Originally it had been surrounded with a chain link fence but since then there had been several expansions. Camp Smith was now almost eight acres instead of the original three. The jail and interrogation building had been added as well as the first aid and medical building. There was also a barracks with showers, toilets and bunks.

There were now three separate buildings with classrooms to handle all the training modules that had to be done.

More movable buildings had been built; neighborhoods with narrow streets had been added to simulate third world countries where my men had embassy duty. All the street names were in foreign languages.

There was even a replica embassy grounds with direct connection to the command center. This was to assist with detailed training for those that were going to man embassy buildings and communications centers.

Then there were the block buildings where the hostage rescue and simulated live fire exercises were carried out with explosive charges. Multiple federal agencies, state police and SWAT teams came to use the camp for a variety of reasons.

One was privacy, knowing they could train without their local media recording everything. Another was the gun club that was only minutes away where they could shoot everything in their arsenal without repercussion.

Another was the Crash Motel and restaurant on Morton Field. Marcy could give a package deal on rates and Vicky’s clerks could handle all the logistics. Another selling point was the MAAR rental car fleet at Morton when their work was done. For a few dollars in car rental, they could hit the Washington and Baltimore night life within an hour.

The real problem with Camp Smith now was nosy people, including county employees just checking things out. We were having problems with people walking or four wheeling a mile far too close to the airport to take a look. Another problem was the fear of a stray round going somewhere it should not.

The solution was an old fashion solid stockade wall twelve feet high to hide everyone inside and everything that went on there. It even had guard towers in the corners and midway. It had walkways around the inside like an old fashioned fort to hold soldiers to fire over. It was a cosmetic addition; its real purpose was to strengthen the upper part of the wall and provide bracing for high wind.

The generator was bigger; the electrically operated gate was bigger and also covered with heavy lumber.

It had been a work in progress for several months. Bob’s Construction worked on it as they had time and men available. It was finally near completion. I had been to the camp many times since the work was started but always with it dark or with no time to investigate the progress.

Today I met Bob, Andy, Ed, Bill and the girls at the camp. I walked the fence with them, looking, listening and climbing the stairs looking out the guardhouses. Bob had taken Vicky’s orders to heart when she told him to build it strong. In my opinion it was over built; but it should last forever. It was being paid for from some of the cash from the first Prince I killed in Morocco. All of it had been laundered by now.

Over coffee in the jail, “There are three things I want changed. I want two pillories outside the jail and a gallows complete with noose but no trap door. I want the sign out front changed to an arched sign over the gate with Fort Smith instead of Camp Smith. It looks like an historic fort; let’s complete the look. Other than that you have done great,” I said.

The meetings continued in the office. Before I could sit in my chair Robert said “You need to stop by my office before you leave for the day.”

I listened to an excited Lorrie describe her solution to getting from the Freeport to East Water Cay and then Marcy’s ideas on how to make money with it.

I was left with little choice after all that but to say, “OK make it happen.”

I explained that Bobbie and Dan would be going with us and why. Then I informed Lorrie that she needed to get the crane back to Morton, that I had some helicopters coming.

We put off the rest of the discussions until tomorrow night and closed the meeting. We needed to see what Robert wanted. Something told me it was not good.

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Chapter 539

Shortly after sunup the girls and I along with two little boys were walking on the beach. Then we spent two hours working on tans and helping the boys build sand castles.

At 0930 we met the rest of the family in the clubhouse for breakfast. At 1030 we were going to meet with all the deep water employees and then back to the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

Our meeting with the employees was an eye opener for us and them. There were a lot of questions and instructions given.

Lorrie was going to send two clerks and assistants on Monday to change and set up the computer systems and time keeping along with training on how things were to be done for the Florida rentals. East Water Cay would now have that information on their web site and the Florida rental site would be expanded with the East Water Cay offerings.

Once all that was done Lorrie was going to promote someone to oversee and remove herself from the day to day operations of the rental division.

Ching Lee was sending two more to change over and update the website with all new pictures and videos. Hopefully some of the ladies wouldn’t mind being the models in the pictures.

Then a thought hit me, why not send several ladies to be models – we had several who took advantage of free gym and tanning room as employees; four were an 11 on a scale 1 to 10.

Mary Ann Johnson worked as a clerk in security and was single. Andrea Bush was one of flight attendants for Lorrie and her husband. Both were both fitness nuts; both of them would look good in the pictures. Kathy Hoss – one of the CIA pilots – at 48 could put most women to shame; her husband had just died in a snowmobile racing accident in Montana three months ago.

The other was Wendy Adams, the nudist who ran the tanning booths. I would bet there would be some great pictures with her. I called all of them to see if they would be interested in a week tropical vacation and modeling for a PR campaign.

Ching Lee decided she wanted to come back to be the photographer.

Marcy was sending two people, one was Hammond Price to set up the financials, banking and booking and payroll systems. The other – Lexi Morgan – was going to audit the last three years on the books with a fine tooth comb.

Lexi was a former IRS agent in their criminal division who had been shuffled around because of politics and finally had enough. She worked in our tax department with Robert Alderman. If there was a problem with the books, she could find it.

There were going to be surprised employees on Monday. The girls sent an email to their clerks and assistants they wanted to take with.

“We need five volunteers to go on a week long warm climate business training trip. Boyfriends or husbands can go along, passports and photo ID required and swimsuits are optional wear. They would leave Monday morning and be back Friday evening. Destination will currently not be disclosed,” the email said.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday went too quick, but we had a fun time mostly spent on the beach. We had a driftwood fire on the beach as the sun went down.

My security guys all but disappeared every now and then I caught a glimpse of them watching. They even went snorkeling and fishing with us.

It was 2100 when we landed at Morton to begin the routine again. At home with the boys in bed we planned tomorrow’s announcement. We hated whisper campaigns! Those things killed productivity tying up phones and email systems with texts and emails. All JBG employees would know by 0900. The office would be told by an announcement, everyone else by an email.

There were still several months to the bone fishing season. Tomorrow Hanna’s station would be the first to carry the ads and our radio station then stations in Washington and New York.

We were going to cut the price and include airfare from Morton, BWI or Miami International. We were sure that with so many similar offerings around the Bahamas, they had overpriced trying to cut their losses.

We were going to use some of the terrorists’ cash to finance the changes that were going to take place on the island. We figured we could safely launder some of the money that way. It was time to start using some of it.

We had already blocked out weekends and weeks we were going to spend in the surf and sand for ourselves. It was time to enjoy some of the fruits of our labors, the risk we had taken and things we had all worked so hard for.

Marcy wanted to diversify income; this would certainly help, please our tax department and give us the getaway we deserved.

At 0700 another G5 carried Ching Lee and the group back to the Grand Bahamas airport.

At 0800 Lorrie had all the Morton employees in the terminal building and Marcy all the office employees together on the gym floor and made the same announcement that we had written the night before.

“Over the weekend JBG made a significant expansion to the Florida Vacation Rentals division with the purchase of East Water Cay.”

“East water Cay is a ninety acre resort island with miles of white sand beaches, including sparkling lagoons with some of the best bone fishing and snorkeling adventures in the Bahamas. There are private cottages, club houses and several ocean front town houses along with a marina and boat docks.”

“East Water Cay is located off the eastern end of the Grand Bahamas Island. There is still going to be a substantial investment to bring the resort to JBG standards and expectations and to full potential.”

“We wanted you to hear this directly from us and not a third party. Thank you for your attention.”
There were pictures from the Cay website and some we had taken scrolling on the big plasma screens. There were some pictures of us snorkeling or walking the beach naked – all side or rear view – with so much private beach, suits were definitely optional.

My security and I left for the White House shortly thereafter. I had a dozen of the new East Water Cay handouts with me. Ching Lee had in just a few minutes last night created a new one adding the ‘JBG Vacations and Resort properties’ logo to the front of it. Then she added the color pictures we had taken over the weekend to the ones that were already on the existing handout; I knew there would be questions so I was prepared. I figured by noon people would know.

In Section 12 Ben filled me in on Friday events; most of the day had been dealing with fallout from Patel. Every single conviction that had used any evidence from the FBI IT lab was going to be reviewed and most likely thrown out.

The argument the FBI was trying to make was that only the investigations that Patel participated in or led needed to be reviewed. Defense attorneys were not seeing it that way. They wanted every case that had submitted evidence to the FBI IT lab thrown out.

In the four years that Patel had been in charge there were over five thousand cases that the lab had processed evidence for, including all fifty states. Poor Mike had been kicked into the lion’s den with no sword or armor.
I was a little better off but not much; my next three days were to be on the Hill defending the task force recommendations for nationwide security guidelines. Then there were more days next week. Seven days to go; I was taking both Fridays off. We were going back to East Water Cay for another relaxing weekend this Friday.

It was nearly 1100 when Lorrie called on a conference call with Marcy. I listened for 30 minutes while they gave me an update on things happening on East Water Cay already today. Then Lorrie offered several more ideas on improving things to get from the airport to East Water Cay other than a fifty minute drive on crappy secondary roads and then a 15 minute boat trip.

I finished the call with Marcy and Lorrie while looking through the glass on my door. I was watching my secretary Bobbie Canterberry deal with a continuous stream of people – sometimes two and three at a time – all wanting something.

Bobbie had not missed a day or taken a day off in the six months I had been here. Then I remembered the talk that we had after I had her type up the resignation.

Bobbie – six months into her first pregnancy – had miscarried and lost the child just a month before I started my term. Bobbie had taken it very hard and talking about it was still difficult. Bobbie was trying to drown her pain in work by staying busy. I wondered if she had allowed herself to grieve at all.

As the days and weeks had moved along I could tell Bobbie was getting worn down and as frustrated as I was at times. I knew I needed a break and thinking about it now, I knew she did.

I sent her a text, “What have you and hubby got planned for the weekend?”

“Nothing much, snow still piled up in the garden and on the roses, too cold to do much of anything yet,” she replied.
“Do you think Dan can get Friday off?” I asked.

“Why do you ask?” she replied.

“The girls and I are leaving early Friday for a three day weekend where it is warm. We have extra room and I would like you and Dan to join us,” I said.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

Before I could respond my phone was ringing, it was the President, “Can you come to the Oval Office? There is a VIP that would like to see you,” he said.

As I walked out I placed one of the East Water Cay handouts I had brought in front of Bobbie, “We are going there,” I mouthed and pointed.

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Chapter 538

Friday morning Jake, Mindy, Jason, Lisa, Lorrie, Jenny, Ching Lee, Marcy, Vicky and I and two restless little boys along with six of my security flew in two G5s to Freeport Airport on the Grand Bahamas Island. We had decided that all the company executives would not fly on the same plane until we were sure our terrorist problem was over.

I had called and talked to Ambassador Murray Carr from the Bahamas embassy yesterday when I had a few minutes of free time. The talk ended up lasting an hour. He knew who I was as soon as he heard my name; I never had to say more than my name to anyone official in Washington anymore.

I explained that I was going to his home country, that I needed my bodyguards and that I as well as my family would be carrying personal weapons. After all of the attempts on my life and the fact that there was still a bounty on my life, I made it a requirement.

I also explained that the reason for the trip was to look at a secluded piece of property for a family getaway. It needed to be secluded enough that it would be nearly impossible for easy media access or anyone else that I did not want there.

I asked if there was a way to fast track my group’s way through customs and if there was a way to do so or eliminate the customs stop all together. Or, was there was a frequent visitors arrangement because we intended to make a lot of visits in the future if the deal went through?

“Yes there are provisions and I am sure the home office will work out something with the weapons issue. We do not get many officials that are interested in property who have needs as you do. When you get to Freeport customs and immigration, ask for Jeffery Harts. He is the manager there. I will call him and explain things,” Ambassador Carr replied.

“May I ask where the property is you are interested in?” he asked.

“East Water Cay,” I replied.

“Oh I know of the place – they have some great bone fishing and snorkeling there. I have it in my mind that the lots are small there,” he said.

“I’m not interested in the lots – not enough security or privacy – I’m looking at all ninety acres. The current owner had gotten fed up with the hassle or couldn’t make enough off his commercial venture plans to make a go of it. I’m not really interested in it for the commercial possibilities, just for family, friends and as a perk for the employee package,” I said.

East Water Cay was on the market – all ninety acres of it minus a couple of lots sold when the owners were trying to find a way to generate money. Other lots had been laid out and infrastructure installed. 11 had been sold but only three houses built.

The island had miles of white sandy beaches , clear blue water, lagoons and coral reefs for snorkeling, several boat docks, a pool, cottages plus several big dining halls and dozens of boats for shallow water that were designed exclusively for the best snorkeling adventures and fishing. There was a deep water dock that could handle yachts up to 65 feet long.

Lorrie could add this place to the vacation rentals package to offset some of the maintenance cost. The people that could afford to spend time there were an elite group that we could do all kinds of checks on and would not balk at the price for this kind of getaway. The current week’s price for the deluxe package was $8000 a week and that did not include meals, all the extras or travel.

We could block out the weeks that the girls and I wanted. Weekends would be different; I could just reserve one of the residences to remain empty for our use.

There was a 40 by 4300 foot gravel runway that would need widening, get paved and a few hundred feet added to it to land our jets there. It was a thousand air miles from Morton and 130 miles from Florida. If we had to we could land at Miami and helicopter to the Cay. There was even an arrangement for customs to meet large groups at a small building near the runway for an expensive fee.

In the customs building I walked up to an officer, and as I displayed my federal badge asked for Jeffery Harts.

“I’m Jeffery Harts, Ambassador Carr and I talked again this morning. Welcome to the Bahamas. I understand you are interested in East Water Cay. That is a nice piece of property. Have you contacted the Cay of your arrival?” he asked.

“Yes, they are picking my group up in 20 minutes,” I replied.

“Good; let’s go to my office. I have some forms to fill out about your weapons and to stamp your passports. Ambassador Carr suggested that I put you in contact with an attorney who specialized in international transactions. He can eliminate much of the red tape you would have to go through.”

“I took the liberty of making a preliminary call to see if he would be available to meet you today and if you like, he can meet you later today over at the Cay. He spends a lot of time in Washington and is quite impressed with your work,” Jeffery added.

“That would great if you would do that,” Jenny said before I could answer.

We had finished the conversation when a couple of gentlemen walked up,” Ambassador Jones, I am David Holmes and this is Franklin Hammonds, we are the transportation specialists from the East Water Cay Lodge. We are to carry you to meet Tammy Tittles; she is the manager,” they said.

It was a fifty minute ride then a ten minute boat ride to the Cay across clear blue waters. The girls were already shedding the heaver clothes we were wearing; the sun and heat felt good. It was eighty degrees; it had been 40, overcast and windy when we left Morton.

After pleasantries and introductions Tammy was all business; we met her in the club house office. First were the books for the last three years with all the fishing party bookings and other paying visitors. I noticed that the bookings fell each year and I was sure that Marcy did as well. As they put prices up, vacationers went down. Booking bone fishing parties was not the reason I was here anyhow.

There were boat rentals, cottage rentals and other fees that went into the books. There were package deals that included snorkeling and fishing classes, as well as guided trips for both.

Then there was the information on the sale of several lots and a couple that had houses built on them. If we could buy them back we would.

The next step was to get everyone in my party into accommodations for the weekend. The girls and I chose one townhouse with three bedrooms; it was perfect for us right on the beach. Mom, Dad, Jake and Mindy took a three bedroom cottage and my security team took another.

Then we began the grand tour, we walked the beach in shorts looking at beach front cottages, the marina, boat docks, the lots that had been sold and the houses that had been built. Then it was on to the pool and recreation area. Golfers would be disappointed. There was only a tee area to hit the balls out to a marker in the lagoon; no course. Part of snorkel training was to retrieve the balls and get a discount on the training.

The next part of the tour was on ATVs. We checked out the gravel runway that was not good for jets or helicopters. Gravel is murder on jet engines and rotor blades; it would have to paved. In my opinion, that would be a monumental task. Jake had a different opinion and an option on that. But then, who wanted jet noise anyhow at a place like this?

We toured the maintenance areas next. Even though there was a power cable to the big island, there was a generator house with several big caterpillar stand-by generators. There was a sewage treatment plant and a desalination plant. There were ATVs and maintenance equipment, including a crane and a small grader that I was sure was to maintain the narrow levees and dozens of boats and other equipment that went with the deal.

Back at the clubhouse we went over the employee list, their responsibilities, salaries and benefits. I was shocked at how low the base pay was; tips were to make up a large part of their pay. Tammy estimated that tips added fifteen thousand dollars to their income. Even with the tips it was still half of the base pay all JBG employees started at.

The tip thing would have to be changed. It made no sense for the staff to expect tips from my family, body guards and other JBG special guest when we owned the place and paid a base salary.

I would be ashamed to offer them the base salary they were getting with expectations that tips would make up the difference to have a good wage in an area with seasonal highs and lows. I wanted the best service without the amount of a tip affecting it.

We had finished the tour and were back at the club house when Tug Parsons arrived. He was the attorney for the international purchases that Jeffery had recommended.

Tug agreed to handle the transactions for us if we made the deal. In a conference call to the owners – who were in Miami – the deal was made. The bank holding their mortgage was the National Bank of Bahamas. They would be here before the bank closed.

They wanted the sale closed as soon as possible, as other investments were on hold and in a critical state. Even with them coming today to start the process, it would still take a month to close for us to have true ownership and a deed.

To me they wanted to stop the financial drain, as by Marcy’s estimate the island would have turned a profit without the mortgage cost; with it they were losing $150,000 a month and had been for the last three years. The mortgage was twenty million. They had put two million of their own money into the project and were making money the first few years.

By 1600 we were done with the letters of intent, transfer of ownership rights, bill of sale and a stack of other paperwork and contract defining that they were to pay property taxes for the year to date, to be withheld from the settlement.

At the National Bank of the Bahamas we paid off the mortgage and received a copy of the deed with the lien. Tug would do the legwork to get a clear deed. They were given a two and a half million payment today, the other two and a half went into an escrow account that Tug and Marcy would administrate. They were not to get final payment until all clear deeds and titles to the equipment were in Tug’s hands.

We were done just in time to spend a couple hours on the beach and then a meal in the club house with the other fishing party guests who were here.

The whisper campaign among the employees had started. Tomorrow after the breakfast we would call them all together and sort things out for them.
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Chapter 537

Tuesday morning at Section 12 was more of the same old same old, only at a slower pace. Literally thousands of files had been opened in the six months the task force had been in operation; now there was time to go through each one again, update each one and then close them. That process would take months on some of them, years on others as the court cases dragged out.

Ben made it a daily task to scour all intelligence reports from all agencies looking for anything the task force should investigate more thoroughly. With the Prince out of the equation things were slowing down. It was a trend that would only last a short while in my opinion.

I was willing to bet as soon as Iran came to grips and analyzed the things that had gone south with Balthazar, the two agents in South Africa and now the three off the Alvan, they would double down on their attempts to get into our defenses.

Ben was reporting a decline in net traffic from Iran that I was sure was from a temporary stand-down order from the IRG until they figured out how and how much of their intelligence gathering ability had been compromised.

It was near noon when Robert called me with some good news about Balthazar’s computer. Patel had indeed started to clean the computer, but to help his paymasters in Tehran he had made a backup of the hard drive.

In their haste to please me and to get rid of me when I arrested Patel, the IT people threw everything including the backup copy into the box. Robert would have names of more Iranian agents working in the US and possibly other countries as well in a few days.

The information was encrypted in the latest version that the Prince had used. Robert had broken the code within days when they started using it.

After lunch I went with General Ingram to the Pentagon for the classified policy forum and planning session. I was asked to give an assessment from the viewpoint of the task force and I did; a lengthy one including the trends as I had seen them grow. It lasted all afternoon and was an eye opener. Many of the things I was worried about were openly brought up by other attendees and discussed in depth. It was a good session.

In a private meeting with General Ingram I had a few questions for him. With the additional embassies I needed more helicopters. I asked if there was a way I could buy direct from the Arizona storage site instead of through third parties. Even though we still had connections through the CIA to buy from the government site, none had been listed in a long while.

“It would take a few days before I can find out,” he replied.

The trip home was uneventful again; Robert had left several files on my desk for me to take with me tomorrow. The EIT group was working reduced hours now; everyone had worked just so many hours in the last few months that Vicky and I both thought several short days would give everyone a needed break, that and four-day weeks for a month. The only people there were the two duty personnel. Two more would come in at midnight and relieve them.

Time spent in the gym with the girls was wonderful and then we had another light supper. After supper I explained what I had found on island retreats, what I was looking for and why. To my surprise, all the girls were very interested for all the right reasons.

I had the phone numbers and the contact information for the sales group. I would make the calls tomorrow myself.

Wednesday and part of Thursday was spent on the hill testifying to various committees, national intelligence, national security, education appropriation subcommittees and several more. I was on the move from the Senate to the House four times on Wednesday and twice on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon Robert sent the file of names off Balthazar’s computer; there were not hundreds as the Prince had said. There were a total of fifty; ten in Canada, thirty in the US and ten in Mexico.

AG Dunne had a direct link to the Canadian Royal Canadian Mounted Police Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale. I called AG Dunne then sent him the Canadian list and asked if they would hold off making the arrests until we could coordinate with Mexico to do a North American sweep of the spies.

More bad news came for Patel. This time it came from Mike and he was restoring faith in the FBI IT lab. Patel had been pressured by the Prince just days before he died to download a ton of classified materials; they were on his personal laptop. They were to be sent to the Prince on Monday; I had killed him on Saturday and the Prince’s death was blasted on the media on Sunday, so the transfer was not made.

Patel was so greedy he was trying to make contact on the deep dark web with the Iranians; apparently he learned some of the Prince’s secrets from Balthazar’s computer. According to Mike, Patel had been on the dark web just minutes before I had arrested him.

Working with Mexico was going to be a challenge, their federal police and many of the upper level officials had been the first ones executed on the steps of the federal building in the cartel uprising.

Mexican Ambassador Francisco Garcia was called and asked to come in for a conference by the President.
“You will be here at 1400 when Garcia arrives to explain all of this?” Troy asked.

“Just to keep you informed, I am going to be off again tomorrow, Ben will be in charge,” I informed Troy.

Troy looked at me with big eyes, “Oh no; do I need to prepare the President for anything on Monday?” he asked.

“No; a pleasure trip to the Bahamas, but it may turn into a news maker later on,” I replied. I didn’t think there was any way JBG could buy property there and not make the news. But then again Jenny might be able to run a trust through Midwest Bank to disguise the purchase.

“Pleasure? You? I won’t believe that. For someone that works 24/7 I don’t think you know what that word means,” he replied.

“You seem to have forgotten that in two weeks and three days I am done with all this,” I said.

“You’re right I had, you have become such a fixture in events around here. You have made every department take a step up. The task force comes up as a topic at every meeting. Everyone wants to know what you are doing every day,” Troy replied.

“You don’t think you are going to make a clean break from here do you? The generals asked today if there was some kind of appointment the President could do to keep you and your EIT team involved, at least as an advisor or consultants. That was after they couldn’t figure out a way to appoint or draft you themselves,” Troy said.

“The President, the AG, the Congressional leaders and the Cabinet have a meeting scheduled Monday at 1000 to finalize the makeup of the new Department. We will want you there too,“ Troy added.

“I will be there, I have been getting Ben up to speed and more involved in the decision making process. I assume he will replace me, at least temporally,” I said.

“You’re right on with that, he has my support,” Troy said.

AG Dunne and I were in the Oval Office when Ambassador Garcia was brought in. The conversation lasted two hours, but there were agreements. The Mexican President and military were still rounding up cartel suspects. One thing that had not made the news was that there were also multiple prison uprisings during the cartel attempt to overthrow the government.

Prison wardens had ordered the guards to shoot everyone involved; they did. Over a thousand rioting cartel members were killed in 20 prisons. There was going to be many nasty days ahead in Mexico for a long time.

There were conference calls between the Mounties, Washington and Mexico. Monday was ‘D’ day for the simultaneous arrest of the Iranian spies. That would give three days for them to be watched and located.

I spent an hour on the phone with the realtor for the Bahamas property. I made arrangements for us to spend three days there over the weekend to look the place over. There were multiple cottages we could stay in plus two master homes that would be available for us to use.

The trip home was slow; lots of traffic.

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Chapter 536

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My final stop was to see Robert.

“Anything new going on?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 535

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes Melinda,” I replied.

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

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

“Scott,”

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

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

“Shree, you’re up,” I said.

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

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

“Malinda,”

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

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

“Becky,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the politics the real discussion began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is not that easy,” Eric said.

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

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

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

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