Section 12 was experiencing what I had come to call data overload. Data was in from everywhere. Dissecting it and sending to the right person was a monumental task.
Progress was being made in the search for the new suicide vests. Two more had been found in Rochester. So far none of the mobile IEDs had been found, nor any trace of Balthazar Khamini or Raed Jabbour.
The news was filled with video from the seven centers being razed and loaded into dumpsters as fast as they could be. The equipment was moved in under the cover of darkness and at first light the destruction started.
My federal attorney had a courier hand-delivered letter to each area’s planning and zoning department that it was happening by order of the Federal Court at the request of the terrorism task force with a list of the statutes that applied.
Still, people were not happy. In Baltimore people were demonstrating but it was too late. The contractor had deployed plenty of equipment and put the entire building on the ground before the morning rush hour.
Fencing companies were going to surround the vacant lots with chain link fence as soon as the contractors were finished.
I had just refreshed my mug in time to answer my phone, “This is Mayor Blum of Baltimore, what in the hell do you think you are doing tearing down the learning center and seizing the property?” he asked.
“Missing vests, unexploded ordnance, missing IEDs, rumors from some that some explosives were hidden in the walls settled the case. Our experience with Saif is that he leaves booby traps. I am not risking the lives and bodies of any more personnel,” I replied.
“There was not enough notice; there should have been hearings for public comment. You cannot do this stuff in Baltimore and get away with it! We are going to sue you and the federal government,” the Mayor yelled into the phone.
“You might want to save that money to increase your personal protection detail. There is an alert list coming out in the next few days of high value targets captured from various intercepts. Certain mayors of big cities are on that list and Baltimore is one of them.”
“If you aren’t wearing military grade body armor, I would suggest you get it, today. If you aren’t using an armored SUV I would suggest you get one and quadruple the size of your security detail,” I said just before I hung the phone up, not waiting for a response.
I handled three more calls from the cities with centers getting razed before lunch. I decided on salad for lunch from White House cafeteria. There was no need to hustle a bunch of agents outside to go get lunch anywhere.
At 1400 there was a knock on the door. “I told you so. The press is hammering the spokesman; he sent a note for me to give to you,” Troy said as he handed me the note.
It was short in all caps, “HELP get BJ she started this mess,” Troy was laughing as I read it.
I walked to the podium, “Harry had nothing to do with the news conference I gave this morning so back off. What’s the damn problem?”
Someone in the back weakly yelled, “There are no donuts or coffee.”
“When I have a news conference for you guys there will be coffee and donuts. I establish my own rules for my news conferences and perks,” I replied.
“Why didn’t we get a news conference?” someone else called out, “That’s not fair.”
“You were not standing out in the cold waiting for me. There was too much risk for me to address them out there. I promised the group a statement and I try to keep my promises,” I replied.
“All of this should signal that I march to the beat of different drummer. I do things my way – to hell with what others think,” I said.
“Enough complaining; I have a few minutes for questions and a tight schedule.”
“BJ has there been any more information about the bounty they put on you?”
“I’m still breathing, so no one has collected it yet,” I replied to laughs.
“No changes that I know of,” I added.
“How are all the bodyguards going to work out with your holiday shopping?”
“I admit it may be tough shopping at Victoria’s Secrets with 20 armed bodyguards, as thorough as they are. I can just imagine them checking out the panties for pins and poisons and checking out the dressing rooms,” I said to a room full of laughs.
“It might be a good thing that I do not wear panties. I don’t think Victoria’s could stand such a commotion,” I replied.
“So you are still planning on shopping even with the threats?” Marley asked.
“Marley, you have known me for a long time, have you ever seen me back away from a threat?” I responded.
“No Ma-am. You usually meet them head on and then call the ambulances to carry them away,” Marley replied.
“This is no different; you cannot cower in the corner afraid. I will meet the challenge and move on,” I replied.
“I have a beautiful set of replica single shot dueling pistols. If I had my way we would meet their top man on Main Street at noon, count off twenty paces and see who is still standing to end this foolishness,” I said.
“Instead we are dealing with cowards who force women and children to blow themselves up so they can have something to brag about when they pass around the hashish pipe in their ‘manly’ sessions,” I said.
My mind wandered a moment after the last question. The girls and I were spending a four days after Christmas at one of the Florida rental houses by the nude beach. It was a get-away and relax, also to work on our tans making them natural, covering the tanning booth look.
We were coming back in time to attend a New Years ball at the German Embassy. The invitations had come directly from the German ambassador himself.
The girls and I had been planning to go ever since we had returned from the last food delivery to the refugee camp. Vicky, Robin and Rachael had talked up the Ambassador’s ball and the dancing so much that all my mates had been taking lessons every chance they could.
Vicky, Ching Lee, Lorrie, Marcy and Jenny found out they were going to have to make all the embassy visits required by contract due to my 6 month White House job. They worked with Andy to find someone to accompany them to the fancy parties and be a bodyguard at the same time.
Now with the death threats that could be extended to all of us, it would now be multiple bodyguards for most things.
To find single men in Andy’s group who were fluent in various languages ball room dance was a challenge. We decided on single because we did not want to cause marital problems at home for them. The girls would be gone weeks at a time and have to attend numerous parties and embassy shindigs.
All women have a jealous bone in them that will come out sooner or later. Just ask any married man. The ‘in the line of duty’ would only work so long before there were issues.
In the end Lorrie, Marcy and Jenny ended up with married men. Jenny was still not sure she wanted to do the embassy visits. I had a feeling that Jason and Lisa would end up doing her visits.
This New Year’s ball was going to be a test run of the dancing lessons and dry run on the extra diplomatic training the girls and their partners were given by the State Department. We were not going to miss this ball for anything.
The following week there was another ball at the German Embassy for Ambassador Schmitt and the group coming from Uganda. The girls and I had already taken Rachel for a new fancy dress. She was growing by leaps and bounds in all directions; she was a beautiful young lady. If Aric was smitten by her intelligence before, the beauty should catch his eye now.
Shopping for her dress was the cover story allowed the girls and I to shop, adding to our own wardrobe. The very expensive dress was going to be a Christmas gift from us to keep her parents at bay.
We were not changing our schedule because of the threats. I had made that clear in the meeting last night.
Harry had tired of standing and someone behind the divider had brought him a chair to sit on.
I answered questions for another hour to the group. Then the reporters wanted short one on one interviews. Before each one started, there was a still picture session. I guess every reporter had a scrap book of all the VIPs they had had interviews with over their career. In my book I would never be a VIP, but if it made them happy so be it.
When I was finished we were all like old friends and promised to come speak to them again, when I had things that were newsworthy that I could talk about.
Harry and I walked the hall to the Oval Office, “When they get feisty again, I know who to call,” Harry replied as he made his turn.
In Section 12 the press room interviews were playing on ZNN while I was packing up to leave. Ed and Bill were to be 30 minutes early today, another change to keep everyone looking off guard.
Greg Archer came in while I was finishing packing up, “We like the gun, that thing is just plain wicked on full auto. I have no doubt that it will do as you say. We checked about ordering some, but there is a six months backlog.”
“How many do you want?” I asked.
“We would like to have at least 10 for right now to put on the detail and more to train with. Do you have a source?” he replied.
“I will check to see how many we have; I know I can bring you some. How many belt clips do you want? I assume you have plenty of 9mm ammo,” I replied.
“Whatever you think,” Greg replied.
“Five hundred to a bag, five thousand to a case; I will bring a case,” I replied.
Ed and Bill with the four Suburban’s were on time. The media was staked out at the gate. I gave them a wave as I rode by.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.