Chapter 548

Bob and my security were waiting when I stepped out into the garage; they were as anxious to get started as I was. There were three days left after today and then we could take a break from the everyday traffic hustle across the bridge.

The first thing I noticed was how tanned Bobbie was. She and Dan must have spent most of the time in the sun and water. I did know they were with a group that had gone to the casinos on the big island Friday evening but other than that, they had stayed to themselves and – of course – meals at the lodge. The best thing was Bobbie seemed very happy today.

All morning was spent with the team discussing what little new information we had on the new dark web sites. Ben’s NSA spooks were looking and so was Homeland along with the FBI. None were having any luck.

I knew Robert was not making any progress either or he would have called. I had left instructions with the EIT that they were not to share any information with other agencies; everything was to go to me. I was trying to wean the different agencies and the task force of my EIT doing all the work.

The federal agencies had been getting a copy of everything related to terrorism that Robert was working on. They were repeatedly telling me they were not making progress on their own. I found that hard to believe – with all the advantages, money and the top computer people in the world – that the federal government was always behind with information.

The stack of paper that Ben and I needed to clear up was small enough that it would be gone by Thursday. All the new cases were now landing on Ben’s desk after I reviewed them.

After lunch I met with the President in the Oval Office; not only was the President there but also Troy and several more of the President’s official Washington circle.

“We know that you are planning on leaving at the end of the week and I know that you have plenty of other things to do. But first I would like you to consider this proposal,” the President said.

“In the Bill to make the task force permanent and have the chairperson reporting to the President was a requirement that a three person advisory committee be formed. That committee is to make a routine appearance before Congress and to ensure that all departments are working effectively while combating terrorism,” the President said.

“That committee will have the power to direct any and all federal agencies into action in the event of a terror attack against the homeland,” the President added.

“As you know the current arrangement is the task force has to request cooperation between agencies. This advisory committee will eliminate delays and bring the full force of the federal government, including the DOD, into action if necessary,” the President said.

We and by we I mean the leadership of both the House and Senate, the National Intelligence Agency, HHS, the DOD, NSA and DHS would like you to be Chairperson of the new committee. It will give you more flexibility. You can simply review reports from your command center and come to Washington when necessary,” the President said. ‘Oh, your security level will be increased and you will be able to sit in on cabinet meetings and all classified DOD meetings and planning sessions.”

“The only hitch is we still want your intelligence group to assist the NSA and CIA when needed and be under contract. We also may want to make more use of your embassy security as intelligence operatives. We know they have been diligent at reporting suspicious things back to your command center,” Art Cummins said. Art was the director of the National Intelligence Agency.

“You have a couple days to think about the decision, we would like to make an announcement at the change of command party on Thursday,” Troy added.

I agreed to let them know by Wednesday afternoon. I followed them into the cabinet meeting and began to learn about how real politics worked in Washington, much to my dismay. When it was over I thought I would have to gargle with jet fuel to get that taste out of my mouth.

I had just walked into my Section Twelve offices when Lorrie called.
“BJ, the aviation shop has been unloading helicopters and pallets of parts all day from a steady stream of trucks. Robbie and other inquiring minds want to know what you are going to do or are planning to do with the ten fully equipped Cobras. None of the DOD restricted items have been removed from them,” Lorrie asked.

“Cobras??” I responded.

“I did not request any Cobras! I have a meeting with the General tomorrow. I think that is a question I had better ask face to face and not over the phone,” I added.

Not only are the restricted items supposed to be removed, the Cobras themselves were restricted. I wondered, what does the General have up his sleeve?

A text arrived a few minutes later from Robert, “See me when you get to the office. Breakthroughs are coming in little bits and pieces.”

It was time to go and I was glad Ching Lee had been on my mind all afternoon. I needed something to take my mind off of the cabinet meeting that had been disgusting. It had been years since I had seen a fiasco like that. If I had been running the meeting I would have mopped the floor with a couple of the prima donnas.

I went to the office first to see Ching Lee, telling Robert I would be back in a few minutes.

I could tell she was uncomfortable and Marcy was sitting next to her.

“I started having contractions a few hours ago; my water has not broken yet. I’m expecting it to happen any time,” she said.

“Why don’t you and Marcy go see the doctor? We want to make sure the baby is not under any unusual stress. Call her first and tell her you are on the way,“ I said.

“Now it is unanimous; you are not putting it off any longer,” Marcy replied as she was dialing the phone. I could see the look of relief on Marcy’s face that I was making the doctor trip happen.

“Lorrie, why don’t you go with them, Vicky and I will be along after a meeting with Robert,” I said. It was more of an order than a request.

One of the changes I had put in place because of the new bounties was that a security team was always in the office. I walked out Ching Lee’s door and snapped my fingers. Ray Collins – the security team leader for this shift – was in front of me in seconds.

“Ching Lee needs to go to the doctor. They are calling her now; please make the ride gentle as possible. Call the backup team to come here to replace you. I may need them before you get back.”

“Some of the things you suspected are right; the posts from Tehran are being encrypted multiple times. They are orders and instructions. The poster Tiam is also in Tehran; he is someone in the planning group. He has replied to and paged a poster by the name of Jaed,” Robert said.

“Jaed means someone who talks to God and Tiam means a servant, usually in reference to God,” I replied.

“Jaed is in the Harrisburg area by the ISP numbers. They are planning something. I just wish we had found this information several weeks ago so we could have been following along with the conversation,” Robert said.

“They delete a message as soon as it gets twenty four hours old; so far I have found no way to get into their system,” Robert said.

“Jaed is involved in a group of some kind and has a Facebook page and pieces of some of the posts are posted there. The unusual thing is he has no friends or anything else posted there. He is using it as a bulletin board. It is getting a lot of hits every day,” Robert added.

I spent an hour with Robert going over the post and replies. I changed directions, why Harrisburg, what was the connection?

My thoughts were interrupted by my phone. It was Lorrie, “We are on our way to AAGH. Ching Lee is going to have the baby tonight the doc says. She wants a monitor to check on the baby, it may be by C section.”

“I am on my way,” I replied as I went looking for my security.

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Chapter 547

Ching Lee was waiting in the helicopter when we stepped in the opened door. Two things hit me; first, Ching Lee was big, in the week at East Water Cay she had grown a lot and it looked like the baby had dropped. If I was betting, she was going to deliver first.

The next thing was the helicopter; it was better than I expected. Lorrie had said it was four years old with low hours. You would not have known it sitting on the leather seats. The interior was as immaculate as the exterior, but that was not the only surprise.

As we were coming in to land at the tarmac by the dirt strip, I was surprised by grass on the tarmac with a large white x painted on it as the spot for the helicopter to land on. Ching Lee answered my question.

“It’s commercial grade AstroTurf that they use on the golf courses here,” Ching Lee said.

“Just how in the heck did they anchor it down so the rotor wash does not lift it up?” I asked.

“The maintenance men dug in a wooden framework made out of big beams then filled it level with gravel. Under the X are solid beams. Then they poured some kind of super sticky tar over it to stick it all together. After that, they rolled the turf on it and finished it off by nailing it to the framework with big roofing nails,” Ching Lee said.

“There is a lot of stuff in the warehouse leftover from when they were building all of this and for repairing storm damage. The only thing they had to buy was the AstroTurf,” Ching Lee added.

“The maintenance group here is talented and they know people on the island to find what they need. All that equipment we bought with this place that looked bad actually works; the continuous exposure to the salt air just plays havoc on the appearance,“ she said.

I watched out the window as the gear touched the green; nothing fluttered or moved. I gave Ching lee a pat on the back and Marcy and Lorrie for the helicopter purchase. It was a nice one and would satisfy the needs of the operation here. I knew it was a much more enjoyable ride than going across Grand Isle in the van.

The first order of business after stowing our gear in the guest house we were using was to talk with the guests who had been here all week looking for happy customers. Actually, they all were happy!

There were some that were disappointed; they were the four models we had sent from the office. Mary Ann, Kathy, Andrea and Wendy called us off to the side; they wanted to stay until we went back on Sunday evening. They and their men even volunteered to sleep on cots if necessary.

Ching Lee was able to find two rooms; they were going to have to double bunk.

At 1200 we were on the beach with a picnic basket of food and a cooler of drinks. There was a steady warm ocean breeze that compared very well to the cold winds of home.

We spent time on the lounge and blankets, walking the beach and of course building sand castles with the boys and swimming. We had to watch the boys all the time.

Last time we were here they were afraid of the water and barely got their feet wet. Now they were losing the fear of the water and wanted to play in the gentle surf; at times they were up to their waist.

All of us girls were working on our no tan line tans. We were jealous of Ching Lee; apparently she had spent every day on the beach. Even her back was dark tanned. I wondered how she did that. I knew there was no way she could lay on her stomach.

Today – because of all the guests – I was wearing a string bikini. It was just three small patches of fabric and strings; just enough to say I was wearing something.

The other guests were scattered along the beach or snorkeling the coral beds that were between the island cays and bone fishing.

It was 1630 when my phone rang; I was on the lounge chair watching the boys play with Lorrie. I had just opened the second Budweiser of the day. I placed it between my legs to hold it so I could use both hands on the phone.

“What are you doing?” It was Troy requesting a video call.

I flipped the button to accept the video call, “I’m very busy; what’s up?” I asked.

“I thought you were on a mini vacation,” Troy replied.

“I am and I’m working hard at it,” I replied.

I turned the phone around and did a sweep of the beach in both directions, showing the boys and the beer between my legs. I picked up the beer and placed it back between my legs with a lot less in it.

“I am working hard at relaxing,” I added as I was looking back at Troy.

“Looks like it; if you need any help I will volunteer to be your helper next time you go there. What I called for is to tell you that the President had scheduled a cabinet meeting Monday afternoon. He wants to meet with you before the meeting and he wants you to attend the cabinet meeting,” Troy said.

“I will be there, I have a meeting with the full task force in the morning to clear up some lose ends,” I replied.

Saturday morning all of us went snorkeling; the models that had been here all week had things they wanted to show us they had found that was interesting. We took one of the flat bottom boats made for just that. We even took the boys along so they could watch. I had fun as did everyone else! We took turns staying in the boat with the boys so everyone could spend time in the water.

Saturday evening started with the big buffet style supper in the common cafeteria in the community center and then a bonfire on the beach. It had started with just us girls and soon nearly every guest was sitting in the sand on the beach. The beach party lasted till midnight. As the fire died down, couples left. Sunday was more of the same sand, sun, ocean until 1600. The G5 was on its way to carry us home; by the time we made the ten minute helicopter ride and our way through customs, it was parked at the general aviation terminal waiting on us.

The G5 had unloaded passengers from Morton who were coming there to spent the next seven days. Those guests were taking the rooms we had vacated. Other guests were flying in on Monday for a week stay and a few were booked for two weeks.

The response to the ad campaign Ching Lee and Lorrie started on Monday had been far better than expected. East Water Cay was booked full for the next month. As soon as the arrangements could be made there were going to be three new cottages built on the three lots Tug had been able to buy back and some of the others, if the bookings stayed productive.

The flight back was quiet. The next few weeks were going to be busy; first with things at 1600 Penn Avenue and then with Lorrie and Ching Lee. All of us thought that the babies would be arriving soon. Jenny believed that Ching Lee would deliver this week.
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Chapter 546

I talked for an hour with Robert and his team trying to figure out why the post and comments on the dark web site bothered me.

To me it looked like the post and the responses were too well scripted, and after a lengthy discussion Robert agreed. Robert suspected the posts were instructions and the replies were acknowledgment or request for clarification after viewing the post. If this were true, they had developed another or a series of encrypted codes to be used by fighters in different locations around the world.

Another area that I talked Robert into looking at was the sex slave for sale. Again there seemed to be something irregular about the wording of the descriptions on some of the posts and the questions submitted to the seller. There were also instructions and links to other dark web sites. I was betting that nothing good was carried out there.

Robert and I decided a new direction and approach was needed to the web sites and their posts. I was sure there was a new code and encryptions they were using. I also suspected that there was a connection between the poster and the blog responses as if they were one and the same; possibly leaders passing out orders.

Ben-David called and requested a meeting tonight with Robert and me after I returned to the office. I knew they had the links and was sure they had noticed the same thing by now.

I called Ben to come into my office. I needed to tell him both Bobbie and I were off tomorrow. Bobbie had left at noon; it was easy to tell she was looking forward to the weekend. Bobbie was to help Dan finish up the things so they could go with us to East Water Cay. We were planning on leaving at 0800.

We needed to plan for the four days next week that I would be here and then for transferring the chair to him.
We planned and talked about all the open investigations that still needed follow-up. Both of us needed to spend time with Alyssa to sign off cases on Monday. There was still the possibility of warrants if the investigators were done and Mike’s new and improved department was finished with the electronic investigation of email and text accounts.

We had been at it for two hours; it was 1400. With Bobbie gone I was answering my calls without the normal screening she did. I did not realize just how many calls came into the office that were just bull crap calls. I finally gave up and assigned one of the other clerks to answer the phones so Ben and I could get the work done.

We were interrupted by a knock on my closed office door. It was General Ingram. This time he pulled up a chair opposite the desk as Ben left.

“Here is the classified file that contains the full investigation into the missing and recovered nuclear materials, including the recovery by JBG.”

“Look it over when you have a chance. I have scheduled a meeting Wednesday morning – if it works into your schedule – to work out any changes on the recovery you think it needs before it is sealed forever,” he added.

“Who is he trying to kid; nothing is sealed forever in Washington,” I thought to myself.

The right media, the right judge and the public’s right to know eventually overrule the necessity of state secrets. The only way to guarantee anything was to feed all the copies into the shredder. I wondered how many copies there were of the completed report and folders of discovery notes that were used to put it together.

“The brown sealed folder in the back is a proposal we in the DOD would like you to review and give serious consideration to accepting. The President may think he has used the best of you and your organizations talents but we think only the surface has been touched,“ General Ingram said.

“I will look it over and let you know on Monday when I get back,” I replied.

It was time to go when the General left; I still needed to meet with Robert before supper.

As soon as I was in the Suburban I opened the sealed folder and started reading. The proposal was fifty pages long and interesting. I thought it would be just an extension of our existing Air Force contract. I was wrong; it was a lot more. I needed to do a slow read and then let the rest know, especially Jenny.

The ride home went fast as traffic was light. That was a miracle in itself.

The weather was going to be bad for the weekend with a major late March snow storm. I expected the roads and stores to be packed with people taking in provisions home for the long haul.

We girls were going out for supper tonight to the big Italian restaurant in Annapolis. We had not been out for dinner – other than the airport restaurant – for weeks; tonight was going to be different. The OPs team that normally drove me, drove all of us to the restaurant.

All the men and ladies that made the daily trip to Washington and their family had been invited. Those men and ladies had put in long varying hours and never complained; they were the same group that had weathered the attack on the highway. They had extracted revenge in South Africa as I had. In a few more days we could get back to normal.

I had rented the largest room and it was just big enough. Their wives and families were there already. For three hours we ate all kinds of Italian food and samplers accompanied by beer. It was the best time I had with the men in six months. I was determined there would be more.

At 0600 we were packing for our trip to East Water Cay; an hour later we were going through customs with all the others who were also going to the Cay. Dan and Bobbie were at Morton when we got there. I shepherded them through the line ahead of us. By going through prescreening at Morton, it would be a breeze to get through customs at Freeport International.

The girls and I along with the boys, Dan and Bobbie, were in the seats at the front of the plane. The girls and I made plans for the three day weekend. The first order of business was to meet with Tug while groups of the guests were carried to the cay.

It was during this conversation that I fully learned of Lorrie’s solution to the horrible hour van ride over much less than desirable road and then the boat ride from the big island to the cay.

Lorrie and Marcy had teamed up to buy a nearly new Sikorsky s92 executive helicopter. I listened while they told me of their plans and advantages of the purchase.

The S92 was set up with fourteen passenger executive seating and it would carry all the passengers that could make the trip in one of the G5’s; there was even some storage for reasonable amount of luggage. It had enough range to make the trip from Freeport to Miami Florida.

From Freeport to the Cay was fifteen minutes in the S92. Between the two of them, Lorrie saw the quick trip to the Cay for our high revenue guest and us.

Marcy saw paying sightseeing tours and passenger traffic to the other Cay’s, and there were plenty of those. Then there were possible flights to Florida for the well to do patrons of the Grand Bahamas that did not want to wait on scheduled flights or the hassle.

I could always count on Marcy to see a way to make money. I wondered if, in her desire to diversify the income streams, she was getting a little overzealous? I would soon have time to more closely watch that.

She even had a pilot and copilot rotation figured out; it would be two weeks in the sun doing a working vacation. It was volunteer duty; the three month roster filled up in the first hour.

We were on the ground parked at the general aviation terminal. We sent our paying guest through customs first and then on the chopper to the East Water Cay. That was where Ching Lee was waiting with Tammy Tittles to see if all the changes they had made and were planned would work out.

We met with Tug to complete the purchase of the three houses and two of the lots. We also reviewed the completed task list for the previous owners; they were ready to collect some of the escrow money.

While we were doing that, the rest of the group finished with customs and made the flight to East Water Cay. Just the five of us were left when we finished with Tug and the chopper was on the way back to pick us up.
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Chapter 545

Not only did Kurt Allen step out of the elevator but also the town’s commissioners, town manager, Mayor and the head of the sewer and water department. They all were carrying files, folders and blueprints.

“Oh my, what have I gotten myself into,” I thought as we showed them to the meeting room.

The blueprints were maps they had drawn up today with the proposed location of the truck stop. The Mayor and town council obviously wanted to lock down an official agreement before anyone could stop it.

The town engineer – Charlie Backwater – had all the numbers and estimates for water and sewage flow for the project. They wanted to make me aware that there would need to be a pressure booster for the water supply and two pumping stations for the sewer.

I informed them that they did not have all the information on the proposal. I explained that the water for the site would be supplied from the Morton Field water tower. That would reduce the cost and what I wanted was to connect the Morton Field sewage and the truck stop to the plant.

Charlie countered and asked if we would be open to connecting the Morton water tower to the Qtown water system. One of the town’s wells was marginal and needed replacing at a cost of over a million dollars and two years worth of delays and permits. If the Morton water met state quality standards, Qtown would be willing to negotiate on the sewage treatment cost and pay the cost to run the fresh water pipe from Qtown to Morton.

I knew that Marcy would negotiate aggressively.

I also explained that I knew about the pumping stations and the extra cost associated with them was expected. Jake had told me that they would be needed.

I already knew that the water met the standards; it was tested quarterly because of the restaurant and the Crash Motel.

With the extra information they left and with the good faith check. They were going to start the plant upgrades immediately because of the long lead times. The town was going to begin the process with the state for the permits to place the pipe along the highway. A JBG contractor would install the pipes.

I was sure we could get it done a lot cheaper than letting the town getting it done, and then reimbursing them. Everybody likes to overcharge government and that never ending bucket of taxpayer cash.

Once the sewer pipes were in and operational, the town would accept the ownership of them and all maintenance costs for the sewage pipe and pumping stations. JBG would retain ownership of the fresh water pipes from Morton to the truck stop. It was a better deal than I had hoped.

The pumping stations would be built with the same equipment as the town already had; spare parts would be on hand in case of failures. I wanted no part of sewer repairs and keeping spare parts on hand.

The second meeting group had been from Cville; they were sitting in the lobby when the Qtown group left.

“Unless you change your sewage plans and the grant for the proposed site to the town of Cville, we are going to sue and tie your project up in court for years and also fight the zoning,” the town commissioners said.

“You will never get it built,” one of them added.

“You are the ones that eliminated yourselves from consideration and did it in the most public way on the county TV channel. The contracts have been signed. Our attorneys are prepared for anything you try to do. So go ahead – make my day – and I will make yours just as miserable! I’m sure the taxpayers will remember all of this in November,” I replied.

We spent two hours in the gym before going to the house, but not before refusing to give a statement to the media that came into the lobby, demanding that I do so about the torture allegations. I wish I had personally shoved Balthazar into the furnace against the President’s wishes. It was too late for that now.

I stopped by the EIT as we made our way through the basement headed home. Robert had a file tray for Vicky, Ching Lee and me for things that we needed to look at; critical things were handled by phone calls as soon as they were unencrypted.

The Iranian web sites were getting more active. Robert and his group were busy trying to find the ISP locations of those in the US that were posting or commenting on the sites. I read the pages and put them in my portable office to study tomorrow. There was something about them, but I could not put my finger on what it was.

I worked the smarter than smart phone all the way to Washington; by the time I arrived I had finally mastered the updated version. In the process I sent a text to Robert that I wanted him to call me closer to lunch.

I wanted to have time to reread the papers that he left me yesterday and try to figure out what made me uneasy about them.

When I stepped out of the Suburban, the media was at the fence yelling questions. I waved and walked inside.
This morning I was to testify for the last time in front of the Senate committees for the school and college security bill. The vote was on the schedule for 1400.

I spent the first hour in the Oval Office going over the latest developments from the UN and the media.
With an escort of Secret Service and FBI I made my way up the steps to the Senate, ignoring the herd of reporters trying to block my way.

I had three committees to give testimony to before noon. The first two were about the college security funding bill. The committees wanted clarification of some of the provisions and minor adjustments before the final votes. Things went smoothly and fast with those two.

The third one not so much; it was closed to the public. This was the last update I was to give to this National Security policy steering Senate committee.

I gave an overview of all the domestic terrorist attacks that resulted in mass casualties for the last eighteen months. There had been at least one attack a month until the Thanksgiving learning center raids. The US had been free of mass causality attacks for the last five months. There had been the cycle bombers but there had been no causalities with those.

I finished the overview and waited for the inevitable question and answer session, expecting the worst.

I was not disappointed. “Ambassador Jones, what to you attribute the last five month decline to?” Senator Hall asked.

“There are several factors, the first is that all the agencies are working much better as a single unit when It comes to terror related gathering of intelligence, response, investigations and sharing that information in a timely manner,” I replied.

“The second is we are taking every report of a potential attack as being a fact and devoting resources to it immediately to determine the credibility of the report. There was a time when the agencies waited for several tips or reports before devoting the resources. In today’s fast moving reality, waiting can cost lives,” I added.

“There have been reports of the task force using questionable means to get intelligence. Just how much information was gained from water boarding and other various tortures of prisoners?” Senator Kalhid asked.

“The task force is not in the business of interrogating prisoners. The arresting jurisdiction has custody. As for water boarding, past practices have pretty much proven the information gained to be unreliable and of little use by the time you go through multiple sessions to get it. That and also the fact that it is highly controversial,” I replied.

“Just what do you consider to be acceptable?” Senator Kalhid asked.

“Blasting the Simpsons into the cell 24/7 might get anyone to talk. If that did not work, 24/7 of Judge Judy surely would do the trick,” I replied to a chorus of laughter.

“Is the investigation into Senators and Representatives completed?” Senator Axle asked.

“No, those investigations are being expanded because of new Intel,” I replied.

“Just how many are being investigated? I question if the task force has the authority to investigate the hill. I believe that is to be investigated by the ethics committee,“ the Senator asked.

“I won’t give you an answer to that question and no, I won’t tell you if you are one of them,” I replied.

“Treason will be investigated by the task force, and our DOJ partners in an arena that carries the death penalty, not censure. However, I will tell you that it may be to the advantage of several dozen members of Congress to retain counsel experienced in such matters,” I replied as a hush fell over the room. One that a pin hitting the floor would have sounded like a MOAB; (Mother of all Bombs) being dropped in the street outside.

With that I left while they were still pondering my answer as well as looking at each other trying to guess the guilty parties. I had just entered Section Twelve when Robert called.
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Chapter 544

The ride to 1600 Penn Ave was one of deep thought and work. I fiddled with the smarter than smart phone trying to work on emails. The thing seemed to have a mind of its own after Robert had deleted all the trash, unnecessary folders, completed the scan and updates.

It was just one more reason I hated the necessary evil of updates on the computer and the phone. They always changed something, creating a new learning process when I did not have time for it.

I kept thinking about the truck stop and dealership and wondered if I had handled it right. I was still wondering why all the county commissioners seemed to be on board so quickly.

I could only guess how badly the Cville town manager was getting his ass reamed this morning. His immediate response last night was a serious error on his part. It also prompted my announcement of the grant in retaliation for being interrupted. The grant was to be part of later private negotiations, but then I was worried that Qtown might jump and follow his lead. For the moment things were settled; tonight there may be whole a different take on things.

In Section 12 Ben had arrived before me and the first pot of coffee had just finished. I made the copier busy with the printouts Robert gave me last night.

In the talk over the first cup there Ben made no mention of being sworn in next Thursday afternoon and I did not bring it up. I wondered if Ben knew, or had that decision been made within the President’s inner circle in a planning session? That would certainly narrow down the possible leak.

Staying with the routine Troy, Frank, Eric and the President appeared at the door with a mug in hand.

“Come into my office; we need to have a private discussion.

“Ben, Frank; what have your agencies learned from the Prince’s computer? You have had them for two weeks now,” I asked.

“Best I can say there is a lot to analyze; the DOD is looking at the military things. We are still dissecting the things the generals sold the Prince and the international ramifications,” Frank replied.

“The NSA is still working on all the linking of the net traffic from the Prince to those US individuals, closing the loose ends,” Ben replied.

“Have you assigned anyone to investigate the dark web connections that were found and the growing connections to international terrorism?” I asked.

“I have a couple people looking at it, but it consumes so much time and the protocols they are using change so often,” Ben replied.

“I’m not getting a good feeling with where I think this is going,” Eric replied.

With that statement I passed around the first paper with the websites and the first post – the one about the cancellation of the first bounty. Robert had written on the borders the ISP location and other notes.

Then the pages with the new bounty on all of us and the forums. The discussion afterward was not one to be remembered but to be feared.

The next page I handed out was the one about Ben’s swearing in.

“Mr. President, what day did you have that closed meeting?” I asked.

“It was two days ago and just my inner circle,” he replied.

“So in twenty four hours the Iranians have it posted on a terrorist web site. Don’t you think alarm bells should be ringing? You still have a traitor in your office. Your complete cabinet needs a shakedown,” I said.

“Frank, Ben, Marty and Eric should have a new priority assignment right now,” I added.

“We need a list of names who attended that meeting and anyone that has access to the meeting notes,” Eric said.
I saved the information about Iran’s complaint to the UN for last.

“Here is the one that is really going to make your day and it is going to happen at the UN today. You may want to call the ambassador and prepare him,” I said.

“Robert is trying to follow up on which legislators are being emailed and back track to the planned protest. I think there may be crimes being committed but that will be up to Ben and Rodney Marks to figure out,” I added.

The discussions, conference calls and meetings lasted until lunch. UN ambassador Charlie Marcus reveled in one of the conference calls that Iran had requested the general chamber floor at 1300. We would be watching.

“It is time to up the ante. I will have Alyssa work on the charges for Balthazar starting with terrorism, spying, possession of weapons of mass destruction, participating in terror attacks, visa violations and anything else we can think of,” Frank said.

“Some of those charges carry the death penalty and can be tried in the secret terrorism court,” Frank added.

“Good idea, that will give us reasons for taking a hard line with them. If they want to play chess so can we. Transfer him from the DOD back to federal prison and end contact with the Egyptian ambassador; the talks have been about more than a swap. We can allow him access only to his lawyer,” Eric said.

At 1300 Iran’s UN Ambassador gave an hour speech railing about the US task force using various tortures including water boarding and other physical violence at multiple locations. They accused the US of kidnapping Iranian officials in Mexico and Africa.

They also identified Gitmo and Andrews Air Force base as the locations of torture but were only able to say at other secret locations.

Our Ambassador denied all allegations and countered that we had arrested an Iranian spy on US soil who was working with terrorists by supplying training and weapons.

Balthazar had been bagged both times he was moved. With enough interviews and time they would eventually be able to name Morton and Fort Smith as one of the locations.

Iran did not identify their missing and supposedly tortured individuals. To do so would be a major blow to the IRG’s command structure and flag similar individuals in other countries.

The news media was asking questions in the daily White House news brief. Harry was on his own today; I was not making an appearance.

The rest of the day was a single meeting to decide on what to do about the new bounties.
Nothing.

We were already doing all the security we could do for the task force members, short of housing them on a military base or jail.

They were getting the same level of security supplied by the FBI as I was getting from JBG (with the FBI picking up that tab). Their houses were being watched as mine was by my security.

One more day this week and then three in the sun with four left and I was done. I was looking forward to the weekend in the sun.

At the office I was in time for the last part of the meeting and appointments that had been made for me. My calendar was getting full for the week after next. The girls were loading me up with all the meetings they did not want to go to.

Marcy had me going to the county and business association meeting. There were county individuals from a couple departments who were still sore about the settlement that the federal judge had handed down about the original airport fiasco and the tax determination. They had been giving Marcy some problems.

I would see how they acted with me there instead of her.

Tug had been given the assignment to buy back the lots and the three houses that had been sold on East Water Cay if he could. I thought the lots would be easy to buy back. I was wrong; not one of the lots had been bought back but all three house owners had agreed to sell. It was one more thing we had to do on Friday when we were there.

The three houses had been built to be rental units, either as a single unit or split units. That had been the selling point East Water Cay had used to sell the lot and having someone build on them. The home owners would make money. The problem was East Water Cay was unable to keep their units full without adding the other three houses. In the four years since they had been built they had only been rented a few times. Tug had offered them a profit on their investment and all three jumped to take it.

It was a good thing too; with the ad campaign those three houses would be rented for the weekend under the old agreements and the East Water Cay properties would be full for the first time in three years. All of the guests were coming from the Washington/Baltimore area and flying out of Morton. That presented a little problem in that there were more people than the G5 could carry. It was either two G5’s or use one of the Bombardier 200’s.

One of them had just been put back in service after a factory four month rebuild and refit with new paint. Lorrie said it smelled like a new car. She had opted for a lot of the bell and whistle passenger comfort upgrades. It now had extra padded seats, WiFi, the airline style TV’s and an improved galley for a fifty passenger plane. The 200 it was.

Lorrie had been dealing with questions from various local media all day about the truck stop. One of the first things she had done today was bring all her administrators up to speed on the project so they could take calls.

The commissioners wanted the display we had carried to the meeting to stay in the administration building until after the next meeting.

The lobby attendant called to say that the first group was here for their appointment and were coming up in the elevator.

Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
Thanks to Alfmeister and Bob for putting the final touches on each chapter.
Jack

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Chapter 543

Chapter 543
“Do you really need parking for 200 trucks?” someone asked.

“It is easier to over build it now than to try to figure out how you are going to expand it later; let one process handle it all. We believe that with all the over the road trucks on 301 and with the expected increase because of highway improvements in Delaware, a major truck stop is needed,” Lorrie replied.

“You need an exit ramp over 214 heading north to connect traffic to 301; it will take decades for the state to agree and fund that,” the local state highway manager said.

“In order to save time and be able to make reliable statements for this presentation tonight, JBG short circuited the process and went directly to the executive level of the state highway administration in Annapolis and to the Governor. We did that because we knew that it would take decades working from the local level, going up the ladder,” I replied.

“Our corporate attorneys negotiated a letter of agreement with the State today stating that JBG could build the exit ramp as long as we used a state approved contractor and submitted the plans for review. Those plans will be completed and the bore testing completed within thirty days,” I added.

“What are you going to do with the sewage from the site? There is no sewage plant on the model or did you forget that tidbit?” the local environmental activist from the Bay Foundation asked.

“We haven’t approached the two local towns to work that out,” I replied, then was loudly and rudely interrupted by the Cville town manager.

“Cville will not have anything to do with the sewage from this project, so don’t ask,” he stated.

“As I stated, we have not formally approached Qtown to negotiate a sewage agreement yet. The agreement we are going to offer them is that JBG will pay for the necessary piping plus give them a five million dollar grant to upgrade the sewer plant to handle the increase,” I said.

Qtown had just completed a new sewer plant a few years ago and it was in trouble already. Growth had been more than anticipated and sewage flow at the time under estimated when in the design process. It was exceeding the plant capacity and was close to violating the discharge quality the state would allow.

The plant was a modular design that could be easily upgraded as demand grew. The problem was funding; they had used all available state and federal grants and were not eligible for ten years for another. The only way was to raise town taxes substantially or sell bonds, not a good prospect for politicians. The grant would cure that problem and have money left over.

We also knew that we were running to the wire with the sewage system we had put in for Morton with the addition of the Crash Motel; we were having the system pumped every few days now instead of a couple times a month.
The pipes to the truck stop would come not only by Morton but the gun club, allowing a cure for that problem millions of dollars cheaper than building a new sewage plant. Getting discharge permits from state could take years if the bay nuts fought it.

The water tower at Morton could supply the water to the new project. They would only need the sewage pipe run from the town to Morton and then two pipes for the rest of the way.

We always looked at the big picture when we made plans.

Qtown manager Kurt Allen didn’t hesitate; he walked directly to me. He saw a solution to their problems and did not need anyone to explain it.

“We can do a gentleman’s handshake agreement on your offer tonight, if you like, and consider it a contract,” he said as he extended his hand, and I did.

“Wait a minute; I may have been a bit hasty in rejecting that offer so outright. The town elders may be interested,” Cville’s manger said. His phone had been getting texts like crazy.

“It’s hard to retract a statement like that when you put your foot so deep down your throat in such a public manner,” I replied.

Cville was in a twist all of its own making; for years the town had remained a small town county seat and the old town politicians wanted to keep it that way.

Growth had been restricted by a variety of methods; the growth took place outside of the town limits. As a result, town taxes went up every year. The old political clique slowly died off or they were finally booted out of office; with that, change came.

A strip mall shopping center came and there were two developments; one on the north end of town, a bedroom community of several hundred houses. The owners mostly worked the western shore and commuted but voted in the local elections.

The other was on the south end of town. It was a retirement community by a national developer. The residents were 55 and older, very wealthy, well educated and were from all over and used to getting their way; the usual money and power influence. They voted. Both developments were annexed into the town for sewage and water.

The six people for the town council included four members from those two communities. I expected the retirement community to fight to stop the project.

“Kurt, stop by the office and pick up a two million dollar check as a good faith advance on the project,” I said in front of the county council and media.

If they cashed the check the deal was done for sure. The only way Cville could stop it then would be to annex the property into town, which I doubted they would do. But then I had a counter for that.

A few more questions from Elmo and Hanna, then a group picture with the commissioners. I was surprised when the commissioners wanted a group picture of us all shaking hands around the display.

We had just stepped into the house when all of our phones went crazy with texts; Ching Lee had sent a few pictures and wanted a VCATS conversation.

Ching Lee filled us in on two days of happenings. The audit on the books was not going good at all. Lexi Morgan had found discrepancies, big ones. The number of days, weeks and weekend rentals were properly recorded in the backup set of books Tammy Tittles kept at the island.

The set of books the group used at the sale and matching deposits were different. One would have thought they would have been elevated to show they were making good money.

Just the opposite was true; all the guest numbers and corresponding receipts were reduced by four visitors each week. At the price they were charging that was $32,000 a week or $128,000 a month during the season. They still would not have been making any money but nowhere near the losses they were showing.

The credit card transactions and approvals for the guests to stay were processed at their Florida office. Someone in the office was skimming money from the Cay account.

It did not change our purchase but Lexi was going to turn over her findings to an IRS friend after we finalized the purchase. Getting the IRS and Florida’s State attorney involved before that could tie up the sale for months.
After that bit of news we started on the more pleasurable things; pictures! There were lots of pictures in the emailed file. There were plenty of pictures suitable to use in the ad campaign. All the ladies and gents who went were perfect examples of beautiful people having fun in the sun, sand, snorkeling and fishing; the things ad campaigns are made of.

Everybody was obviously having as lot of fun with and without swimsuits or topless. Sadly for them, they were coming home Friday afternoon. The rest of us along with invited guests were flying there early Friday morning. The jet was going to lay over until late Friday to give them a full week there. Ching Lee was of course staying for another long family weekend.

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Proof read by Bob W.

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Chapter 542

I ate lunch with a group of Senators including Harrison, Whitby and Fordes in the Congressional cafeteria. I had known them since our first contracts with the State Department and the CIA.

We had serious conversations and then some lively ones that were joined by others who pulled up chairs to join in. It was the most jovial time I had seen from this bunch in the six months I had been here.

The time broke things up as all hearings slated for the afternoon session started at 1400. I made my way over to the House chambers to testify and be on hand for the final vote on first round of funding for the college security program. The vote was scheduled for today.

I presented the facts, observations and guidelines we had used in making the recommendations. The question and answer session was brutal and lasted for two hours. It was after 1700 when the vote hit the floor. It passed by a majority but not a veto proof one.

Tomorrow I was to testify before the Senate one last time before they voted on their version of the measure. Both versions were close but would still have to go before a committee to iron out the differences, if the Senate were to pass it.

All those people who tallied numbers for a living said the vote would be extremely close; their bet was the Senate bill most likely not passing.

I left to go home in the third Suburban tonight. On the Bay Bridge I received a text from Robert, “See me ASAP”; I wondered what all that was about?

Unfortunately I soon found out; I looked at the big screen in the command center while Robert flipped through new intercepted emails from the Middle East. It was a communications chain that included Iran, remnants of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and dozens of other splinter groups.

This email group and link to two dark web sites were new. The web sites went online today and there was a flurry of emails to various terror groups worldwide announcing it. The groups had to apply for the passwords and had to have connections to ISIS, Hezbollah or the Islamic brotherhood.

Many of those email addresses were new, some were not; the ones that were not had come from the four computers we had taken in South Africa. Robert worked his way in though by using some of the contacts from the Prince’s computer.

One web site was to be a dark web news site for the terrorists, the other was to be a terrorist forum with links to their email server located in – of all places – the IRG headquarters in Tehran.

The forum was to be loaded with the latest tools for terrorists, tactics, how to explosives, coordination and planning. They were also going to post videos of their conquests and successes. Other things were to be weapons sales and auction site for used weapons and sex slaves.

The first post on the news site was an announcement that the five million dollar bounty on me and the one million dollar on the task force members had been canceled due to the death of the bounty sponsor.

The second post was the announcement that a ten million dollar bounty had been placed on me and Ben Smith and two million dollars on each of the other task force members and my five mates. The bounty was on deposit in an account and guaranteed by the Bank of Iran. It was the same account used for the blood money to pay the parents of suicide bombers on Gaza for successful attacks.

They knew Ben was going to replace me and when; in three days, early on Friday of next week. Ben was to be sworn in Thursday evening before I left. Even I had not been told that yet. I guess the White House was ready to cut ties with me. They still had a spy inside the White House inner circles; Patel was not the only one. Just when think you have made progress there are 10 steps back. The players get higher and the stakes get bigger.

I sent a text to Ben, “Has your phone had a security scan in the last few days?”

“No; why?” he responded.

“I will tell you tomorrow; use your backup for critical communications until it is scanned,” I replied.

Robert handed me my JBG phone back after being scanned. I turned off my State Department phone and pulled the battery then located the backup and turned it on. I sent the same text to Frank and Eric.

The FBI scanned all these White House phones. I wondered if Patel had placed a snooping program on selected phones in the process.

Without knowing who the stooge could be, I directed Robert to shut down all communications with the all the federal agencies and print off what he had found. I would give it to Ben, Frank, Eric and the President personally.

With the girls now included, that meant more of JBG resources were going to be needed to protect them. Luckily there were three with Ching Lee at the East Water Cay. We had left them there when we made the decision that Ching Lee was going back.

I called Andy, broader planning was needed. Jenny, Vicky and Marcy were safe at the office; the tunnel cured that problem. Lorrie would need an escort unless she decided to work from the main office.

We had one place to go tonight and that was the County Commissioners meeting in the courthouse.

We had a quick supper because we wanted to arrive early in case there was issue with us being armed and having bodyguards.

There would be sheriff’s deputies there and also would be additional JBG security there for us, whether they liked it or not.

The plans and blueprints for Marcy’s truck dealership and Lorrie’s truck stop had been completed yesterday and applications for the permits submitted this morning along with the fees paid.

Applications for new commercial building permits were read at the Commissioners meetings each week. The reason for that was that there would be a series of public hearings and a comment period before commercial applications could be approved. The Commissioners meetings were broadcast on the local county cable channel.

We had another ace that we were going to play tonight, to inject change in the normal process. I liked shaking up the county process. The engineering and design group at Bob’s Construction had a new toy; a 3D printer that made plastic models of projects.

The 3D model of the girl’s project was the first to be presented in this way. So far they had just used it for client proposals. This was also the first time a project model would be shown before the hearings at a Commissioners meeting. Bob’s group was on the way with the model.

I called Commissioner Duke Justice and asked permission as soon as I found out everything was ready for this afternoon.

“Do it, the meetings are so cookie cutter they are boring. You can shake things up and get away with it,” he replied.

A couple of rookies were operating the ID station, the x-ray and body scanner. I started through first; all the buzzers and beepers went crazy. I handed my Federal ID to the operator. He handed it to the other rookie, then called a sergeant who was in the hall.

“Good evening Sergeant Albertson; do you mind if we sit in the meeting tonight?” I asked.

Sergeant Albertson was a regular at both the gym and Morton restaurant.

“Ma-am, yah-all are welcome any time. I think you want to sit together and in a corner where your bodyguards can watch over you. Just follow me,” he replied.

Before we were seated Bob’s engineers arrived with the model of the project and Duke arrived at the same time. They set the table in the front and assembled all the pieces. Much of it snapped together, Duke and I looked on as the pieces were snapped together to complete the display. I was impressed; it was the first time I had seen 3D printed parts.

The meeting dragged on for two hours before they began reading the commercial permits. The permit for the truck stop and dealership was the last one to be read by the clerk.

The permit set off nothing short of pandemonium; they had to gavel the room quiet. Truck stops – for some reason – were frowned on in this county. There had been two when I was a young girl; one on the US 50 east bound just past the split and the other on 301N. Both were busy.

The one on US50 east had a mysterious fire just after the road was widened. The widening created congestion and accidents. The county and the state both fought the permits to rebuild it. The owners fared badly and after several court proceedings, filed for bankruptcy.

The one on 301N fared better for a while through several ownership changes. It was given the death blow by another road expansion a few years ago. The expansion and overpass should have helped, but for some reason it did not; it reduced the available parking, killed any hope for future expansion.

The county refused to allow them to install new signage that could be seen above the highway; with the new overpass a much higher sign was needed and was above the height limit for signs. Times change; this time the lawyers were better and other court cases eased the way. The state made large secret settlements to stay out of court. What was left was still operating and for sale. But that property was too small now for what we wanted.

After the gaveling, “BJ I think you have something you want to share about the proposed project at this time?” Duke asked.

“Lorrie or Marcy, do you want to do the honors?” I asked.

They looked at each other and both stood. Vicky connected her laptop to the screens and flipped through the drawings that the engineers had supplied while Lorrie gave her presentation.

“What we are proposing is a state of the art truck stop on the north end of the property adjunct to the 214 overpass with twenty five diesel pumps and ten gasoline pumps. The design includes parking for 200 trucks and there will be overnight parking for RV travelers including a dump station, fresh water and propane refill.”

“The retail section will be 70000 square feet including two 24/7 fast food restaurants and a grill. The shopping area will have a larger than customary quick market. The general retail area will have products for everything that travelers and truckers need to keep trucks safe and rolling.”

“There will be showers, bathrooms and a laundry for drivers. Freight brokers will be on site to direct empty trucks to where the freight is waiting,” Lorrie added.

“JBG is a licensed dealer for International, Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks in Georgia. That arrangement will be moved to a new building on the west end of the property. It will be a full sales and service dealership for those brands with the latest in hi-tech diagnostic equipment and state of the art repair shop. It will also provide services needed in partnership with the truck stop,” Marcy said.

The cover was pulled off the model. The print media and TV must have taken hundreds of pictures. All the commissioners gathered at the table along with all the county activists groups and the heated questions began.

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