Patti and I went to KCC on Tuesday like normal; we drove separate cars. I was coming home at noon and she was putting in a full eight. Patti had no clue that I knew she was getting a little more than friendly with one of the newly hired maintenance people at the college.
She had been a long time getting over the last abusive boyfriend. Purnell Miller – from all appearances – seemed like a nice gentleman. As of September I was doing background checks on all new hires for KCC. Purnell’s came back kitten clean.
If she found someone she could be truly happy and comfortable with, I would be happy for her. I would hate to see her move out of the house but she has to live her own life.
Emails I worked on emails and then the paperwork I needed to complete for the month of November; with the holidays it would be a short month. The e-mails and notes left on my desk had to take second place on the to-do list this morning. It was after 10 when Bob Jackson and Mr. Nobles walked into my office.
“I see you are at it again, we saw you on the news again. How are the injured students? God, they were lucky,” Bob said.
“Dan Parker, my director there, is going to the hospital this morning, and then I will get an update,” I replied.
Remembering that I had my JBG laptop with me with my copy of the video files from yesterday a couple of clicks and it was connected to the flat screen in my office. They watched the video of the assault that still had not been released to the public yet.
Then for shock value I played the previous three visits the pair had made to the Warrington campus.
Bob asked, “How many hours of searching did it take to come up with the visits?”
“It was easy after the fact, because we had the van,” I said. I explained about the tag scanner and how it narrowed the search parameters. Then I explained about developing a program to capture more real time data.
“We don’t have those scanners here. Why?” Mr. Nobles asked.
“Simple – all the open street parking defeats their use here. It would take a major reconfiguration of the traffic pattern to work here for us. That or a major fencing project and a parking lot addition,” I replied.
“Oh, OK, something to think about for the future security meeting with the full board,” he replied.
A few minutes later they both left after reminding me that there was a Thanksgiving luncheon at noon tomorrow in the cafeteria.
Dan called a few minutes later with the update on Shannon and Sonny. Shannon would be discharged sometime Wednesday afternoon in time to go home with her family for Thanksgiving, if there were no changes in her condition.
Sonny – on the other hand – was going to be in the hospital for at least the weekend, possibly longer. The surgery needed to place the bone chip back into place and install pins to hold it there had been lengthy.
The old doc I had talked to was a football fan and went out of his way to move muscle, veins, and ligaments instead of cutting them. Even though it had made the surgery lengthy but full recovery a greater possibility and faster. Sonny and his family were more positive today than yesterday. I thanked Dan for the update and asked for another tomorrow.
I received a text from Frank asking if we were having a meeting tonight. “Of course,” I replied.
“Good, I want to speak to you and your management team, I am leaving Washington now. I should be there in plenty of time. I am going out to Morton field first,” he said.
Frank came in with several men and a woman I did not know.
Frank introduced us to Victor Edmonson, director of embassy security, Amy Lockerman, associate director of the State Department and Elmer Hobart from the Embassy Appropriations division.
Frank began the conversations, “We had talked a little in the past about an expansion of your security business and you had clearly stated reservations. We are here to clear those up and convince you to partner with the agency on embassy security.”
“As you know Black Water is finished. The trials ended last week; the courts hammered some of those people hard but they deserved everything coming to them and more. The corporation will be closed and all government contracts ended on February 28 next year,” Frank said.
“That leaves us with a tremendous security hole with no one we trust to fill it, except possibly your organization,” Amy said.
“Every feedback report on cooperation with your group comes back as a five star rating. Here is what we propose. There are eighty embassies that rely heavily on contract security in some fashion or another. There was a separate division of Black Water that was not connected with the Iraq mess, but Congress has ordered the contracts closed anyway,” Victor said and then continued.
“There are 500 employees who are in place and some of them are working in deep intelligence gathering as well as security, something similar to the college gig we are doing with you right now. If we lose them we may not be able to put people that deep again in the short term. That is a huge national security risk.
The state department and the CIA are not bound by the budget limitations that other agencies are and I know you have benefited from the results of that. As a matter of national security, we want JBG to take over those contracts and put those 500 employees under your wing. I can assure you the terms will be very favorable.” Victor added.
Amy continued by saying, “You will need more logistics and we will help you acquire that. I hear you already have excellent facilities that I want to tour someday soon. To be honest, when I parked I never expected to see this expansive office hidden in this type of building.”
“Amy, I would be glad to give you a tour to see what we do here. That goes for the rest of you too,” I said.
Amy continued by saying “In these folders are the contracts with the last year’s payments and cost from Black Water. Pay scales and the benefits that were offered to those employees are included. You would have to match those scales for those employees. These are for your eyes only.”
“Frank has authorized a temporary mid-level security clearance for the seven of you to see these reports. Call him or me direct with any questions, my number is on the folder.”
They left a few minutes after that and left us with a pile of sealed folders, a million questions and a whopper of a decision to deal with.
But first there was a more important question I had for my in-house computer experts – Marcy, Ching Lee, Cindy, Vicky and Jenny.
“Today the news has been filled with reports that hackers from China and Russia have hacked all government employees’ personnel files including NSA, FBI and other top secret stuff. How do we stop our information from being hacked?” I asked.
Marcy replied, “If it is on the internet it will be hacked sooner or later, no matter how often you change passwords or logins. There are countries that have hundreds of experts who to do nothing but hack. The very best security programs last, at best, a year before they are broken. The only way to be sure is not to be on the internet at all.”
“Then what you are telling me is that we need two separate systems in place not connected to each other and one of them not connected to the internet in any way, to safeguard critical employee information,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Marcy asked.
“A separate server, computers and printers to handle all HR, payroll, insurance – any personal information – not connected by wire or wireless to the other computer system. We do not even do updates for the system or programs on it once they are installed and tested,” I replied.
“Make all applications available on-line on the net-connected system then after that everything gets manually put into the separate system from then on. Move all HR data over to the secure system. If someone needs info out of it sent electronically, print that page from the secure system, scan it in a connected computer and send it. It will mean more work and a couple more employees,” I said. “We are getting too involved in too many things and getting too big to let something like a hacker get everything we have on our systems.”
I could see by the looks that I was getting, I had the wheels turning in deep thought.
“I think we should run it by Robert Alderman – our in house IRS tax guy – to see if we can make the tax and payroll end work,” Marcy replied. Then added, “He will be back on Monday – if everything works I am all for it.”
We were working with the CIA and Homeland as it was. Do we really want to get involved with the State Department, I wondered?
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.