Monday morning, Vicky and I were crossing the Bay Bridge to Washington in a new armored Suburban. This one was to be mine from now on; it had the hidden light package and the works, including heavy dark tinting on the windows and the secure weapons box in the back.
Today and tomorrow was to be at the Senate. We parked at the expensive parking garage as close to the Senate building as I could get. Vicky had secured reservations for all four days.
It was a short walk to the Senate building steps. I was carrying my portable office in a travel case with wheels. The only problem was the steps were staked out by the media. Oh well, time to play politician again as we started up the steps.
We made it almost to the top of the steps before someone recognized me.
“Ambassador Jones, Laura Purcell ADC news. Are you ready to go back to central Africa again after your last experience there?”
“Oh yes. I am going to go back a few weeks. JBG has a lot of work to do on the African continent.”
“Have all your injuries healed along with those of your men who were injured?”
“The last of my men will be released from the hospital today. Other than the scars on my soul, I have healed,” I replied.
Vicky and I went into the building and got in line for the security check.
I handed the agent my passport, my Ambassador’s ID and the subpoena for today. “Can you give me directions to get to that chamber?”
“Yes Ma-am, go down the hall, make the first right, then go to the second hall, turn to the right and the meeting room is the first door on the right.” He had been tracing the path in red on a building map.
“Welcome back Ambassador; there were a few minutes there that we were all worried,” he said.
“It’s good to be back, thank you,” I responded.
We went to find the room and the closest bathroom for a pit stop. We were thirty minutes early; I opened my state department computer and began looking at all today’s alerts and then began checking on embassies where I had employees.
I sent a memo to all the JBG embassy employees that the last three of their fellow employees injured in Kampala would be released from the hospital today.
Victor, Amy and Elmer came in and sat with us while we waited. Victor handed me the final version of the investigation into the Kampala attack; all 450 pages of it. At least it was in bold print and double spaced.
I wondered how long the Senate and House panel had their copies. I asked Victor, “Is there anything that stands out that I needed to read before the panel was called to order?”
Victor handed me a note with page and paragraph numbers that he said I should look at to refresh my memory.
“You will have plenty of time. It will take 2 hours to go through the preliminary political statements and disclaimers before they start asking any real questions,” Victor replied.
I started looking at the page he had identified and read all the paragraphs. The Senators were the last ones in as customary. We all had to stand until they were seated.
Victor was right; it took almost two hours for the political posturing, back scratching and my dick is bigger than yours before Victor and I were called upon to be sworn in. “Raise your right hand and repeat after me,” the sergeant at arms said. After we sat down, this statement was read.
“This investigation and all testimony are CLASSIFIED and shall remain so for fifty years by order of the National Intelligence Supervisory Board. There will be a media briefing of selected items by the chairman of this committee and only the chairman,” the sergeant at arms read the statement.
“On page 54 of this report it indicates that there were 27 containers loaded at Morton Field that there was no manifest for. Can you describe for the committee what the contents of those containers were?” Senator Marx asked.
“I don’t have the list of what was in the containers with me. The subpoena that I was issued contained no list of items I was to supply,” I replied then added.
“From my memory we carried a lot of foods that we were not sure if they would be available there; a bit of home if you will. We also carried new additional security equipment to upgrade the site. We also carried additional equipment for the security personnel.”
“What kinds of foods did you carry?” the Senator asked, as if it really mattered.
“We carried 14 thousand pounds of bacon, sausage, scrapple, hams, steaks, roast, potatoes, hamburgers, hot dogs, bake beans, rolls and eggs. All perishables were packed in dry ice for long term storage.”
“That seems like an awful lot for your security team,” he replied.
“We bought vegetables and other staples there and we left very little for the replacement crew. You have to understand that – in that heat – working and continuing an exercise regimen burns 4000 calories a day,” I said.
“You eat 4000 calories a day?”
“A lot of days yes, it’s easy to see,” I replied.
“I’m sorry, I don’t see it on you, and I don’t think we are headed in the right direction. This is not exactly a politically correct direction for this discussion,” he replied.
“On page 56 there were notations that are unclear as to their origin, about Intel that led to the suspicion that an attack was imminent on the embassy. Can you expand on that intel for the committee?” He asked.
“I would assume that information came from one of the federal agencies; after all they see all, know all and have it all,” I replied as the panel broke out in chuckles.
“Does JBG have an Intelligence gathering group?” he asked.
“I am not going to answer that question,” I replied.
“You were issued a subpoena,” he replied.
“That is correct as Ambassador, directed to address Ambassador functions connected to the Kampala embassy attack. The question you just asked is directed at me in a different position that no subpoena was issued to cover as President of JBG,” I replied.
“I had not thought of it that way. You are correct; I guess it is a gray area so let’s move on.”
“The report indicates that you were on the roof during the attack; what were you doing on the roof?’
“Watching the Uganda Anniversary Day Parade; the parade route made a turn two blocks from embassy. It was the perfect vantage point to see the parade. I had given a speech the day before at the official start at the Presidential Palace,” I answered.
“Yes, we have the video and text of your speech in the record.”
“When did you realize that something was not right with the event?”
“When large gaps started appearing between the parade floats indicated something was wrong. And then when the line started moving and one of the trucks that created the gap took off like a bat out of hell and ran through the crowd of people at the turn.”
“Is that when you ordered a defensive posture?” The Senator asked.
“Yes, and I believe you have a few minutes of the embassy video until the cameras were destroyed,” I replied.
“At what point did you realize that there were two truck bombers involved?” the Senator asked.
“The embassy helicopter was airborne making a security sweep and picked up on the second attack group. The type and design of the truck was out of place and fit the profile of a vehicle used for truck bombs. It was also on a section of road leading to the front of the embassy that had been temporally closed for the parade.” I replied.
“Yes, to respond to your previous answer, we do have all the pictures and from that point on – it speaks for itself. However, there was one picture that was not in the group has come to the attention of the panel and it was this one,” he said as he took a picture out of a folder and passed it around the table to get it to me.
I was expecting it to be a picture of the Russians and the Iranians, instead it was a copy of the one of me on the roof after the attack was over, taken with a cell phone from the welcome home dinner.
“Was there a reason it was not in any of the evidence supplied to the committee?”
“I did not know the picture existed until Saturday night, it is not a very flattering picture. The picture really did not add or take away anything about the attack,” I replied.
“It may not be flattering; most pictures are worth a thousand words – this one is worth a lot more than that, I think. Are there more that we have not seen?” he asked.
“That is the only one that that I know of,” I replied.
“The committee will release it with a select few at the news conference that will update today’s hearing at three. I have been assured that you will be part of that news conference.”
“Yes, I agreed to be part of the news conference,” I replied.
“Getting back to intelligence, did you rely on the State Department’s intelligence reports or did you do your own assessment?”
“I always do my own assessment after reviewing all reports and data from all government sources and all other sources that I could find. Then I compared my assessment to the departments. Over time I learned how to ignore the BS to get the real Intel that I needed. ” I replied.
“JUST what do you mean BS? Give me an example!” he demanded.
“An example, hmm; the government agency’s – primarily the NSA – has billions of bits of data on everybody on servers scattered everywhere. Every email, text, Face Book, twitter, every credit card transaction, checking account, every phone number called and answered; absolutely everything on everybody. Heck, on some people they even have film of the seed being planted that created their kids.”
“I believe they also have data from every county in the world, or so I have been told,” I added.
“Let’s call this data the bucket; at this point it’s just a bunch of useless data. Let’s grab a piece of this data. [The three blind mice went south.] That doesn’t mean a whole lot to anybody unless…”
“Well old Cougar Kat here, (I reached over and touched Vicky) has a taste for three blind mice. So she reaches into the bucket for more data and comes out with another piece, the three blind mice went south riding on a silver chariot pulled by rusty rat.”
“Now you have the makings of usable data that you can call Intel to work with; three blind mice, silver chariot, south and rusty rat. You narrow your search to only everything connected to those items. I mean everything; you have eliminated north, east and west, all the other mice, and only silver chariots but only one will be pulled by rusty rat.”
“Cougar Kat, how were those three blind mice?”
“Very tasty,” Vicky replied before laughing.
“All intel is ONLY as good as the questions the researcher asked and fails because of what they didn’t ask. That is why the Boston Bombers, the Fort Hood shooter, the Florida club shooter and the San Bernardino terrorist were successful; no one asked the right questions.”
“After the fact the FBI, DHS and NSA were able to give all kinds of data to the media that proved they were terrorist in waiting; why was this not found 6 weeks before?”
“Why not routinely search for all who traveled to Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia and Indonesia who married women from there in the last 10 years. Who are Muslim, or attend mosques with radical Imams who have Face Book or twitter accounts; who visit radical web sites or search web sites for homemade explosives or components.”
“Have any of those purchased or attempted to purchase assault weapons. Have any of their neighbors in a half mile circle made unusual weapons purchases. Are they communicating with radicals? Just who are they communicating with and who their friends are? Are the friends on any alert or restricted list? There are dozens of additional questions that should have raised flags. They left a crumb trail with everything they did; it was in the bucket. The individuals I just named did some or all of the above,” I stated.
“Has the PC ‘hands off, you can’t ask this or that’ culture gotten so bad that we now are willing to sacrifice our citizens?” I asked.
“My intel group has no restrictions. They ask every conceivable question to connect the dots and if the dots don’t connect they dig deeper. Somewhere there is something; sometimes it takes luck to find it. The BS is the gibberish and restrictions that gets in the way of useful Intel,” I replied.
“Then you do have an Intel group at JBG,” the Senator replied.
“If you had several thousand employees in 40 countries – soon to be 80 – in security positions, don’t you think an Intel and research group would be appropriate?” I responded.
“I suppose you are right.” Then the Senator closed the session for lunch. Vicky and I were invited to the Senate cafeteria for a taxpayer subsidized lunch. After lunch there would be a special top secret presentation and then a round table to prepare for the news conference to close out the day.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.