Back in the house Jenny asked, “BJ, what the hell is going on?”
“We are targets and have been for some time. I should have realized it after the Morton Field attack. Every time we are successful at thwarting an attack on an embassy or at a college, we move higher on that list and give them growing determination,” I replied.
“The weakest thing we do is walking across that road from the house to the gym several times a day. We are making ourselves easy targets to get gunned down from a car down the road, or run over, or kidnapped. Before we know it, the two boys will be big enough to want to go over there ten times a day, another kidnap risk,” I replied.
“By completing the tunnel we eliminate all of that plus no more bad weather to trek through. We are also running out of office space again; once it is finished, we can look at what can be moved down there. The spooks, the server’s, records storage, entire departments?” I said.
By the time I finished, their heads were nodding approval. The realization of events had sunk in. I didn’t really pressure Bob but I hoped he would pull men off other jobs and make it a real priority for us.
Supper was at the Seafood Inn and I asked for the private room again. In between food servings, we discussed tomorrow and made plans. Dad and Mom were going with the six of us in two SUVs.
The email from the White House contained parking passes and initial IDs to get to the security screening check point. There was valet parking available at the official White House parking lot.
As we were leaving, Elmo Cartwright – reporter and editor of the local county paper – was standing at the reservation desk, “I thought those were your SUVs in the parking lot. Are there any rumors you would like to put an end to tonight?”
“I try not to deal in rumors or comment on them,” I replied.
“You are not going to tell me, confirm or deny what the big media is saying?” he replied.
“You know the rules the dark side has to live by,” I replied.
“What time are you going to Washington?” Elmo asked.
The old bird was trying to be cagey.
“We have a meeting at the Pentagon at 0900; we have finally gotten our foot in the door for contract work with the Air Force. It will mean more work for Morton Field with more international flights to Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating from Morton. It will be a win for the county, JBG Aviation and the Air Force. I expect more hiring will be necessary!” I replied.
“When are you going back to Africa to the refugee camp?” he asked.
“As soon as we get a plane load, it will go. You know, if you put a plug in your paper every week that we are taking financial contributions and clean clothing from toddlers to adult sizes, that may speed things along,” I replied.
“You know you could buy ad space for that,” he replied.
“How about a deal; you run a free ad one week and we will pay for the same size the following week, up to 26 ads in a year,” I replied.
“Who do I see about doing that?’ he asked.
I see the wheels turning, picking up speed in his brain. I would bet the ads would be half or full page, replacing the free filler he got from somewhere.
The local paper was filled with so much filler and fluff that if outhouses were still around, it would have replaced the Sears catalog.
“Try the public relations department under Ching Lee,” I replied.
We made our way out the door before he could ask any more questions.
At 0600 we were on our way across the bridge. This time of day it was rush hour; four lanes running 80 miles an hour, bumper to bumper. The zoo had opened the gates and let out everything crazy they had and they were driving. The key to survival was to run with the traffic. It was 70 miles and we made it in an hour, even with all the turns and stops.
We pulled into the parking lot where the instructions directed and the valets took our vehicles. Then we made the short walk to the entrance that we were scheduled for.
I was expecting reporters to be staking out the entrance but I guess it was too early for them.
An hour early would give us plenty of time to make it through security. I was carrying both my Glock and the knife that I always had with me, and all the IDs I had; my Maryland drivers license, my federal permit to body guard everyone but the president as part of our State Department contracts, my Ambassador’s ID that a few more days left on it, my JBG ID and finally my passport.
My girls and I were all wearing our bullet proof vests. They were now a standard wear item unless we were home or in the gym.
Dad, Mom and the girls had their licenses, passports and JBG IDs; hopefully that would be enough and the girls had their own federal IDs.
We made it through the first security that just checked our papers, bags and my portable office. Both laptops I carried had to be inspected, even removing the batteries and powering them up after the batteries was reinstalled. They checked both my phones – my personal and the state department issued one.
The next check did not go over so well, the metal detectors picked up both the knife and my Glock. The agent who was running the scanner was so shook up, he was shaking.
“We can’t let you carry those in,” he responded.
“How many times have you been shot?” I asked the young man.
“None Ma-am,” he replied.
“Good! Keep it that way; it hurts like hell,” I replied.
“I understand that you have lockers for me to place them in until I leave,” I said.
“Yes Ma-am, right this way, then back through the scanner again,” he replied.
Ten minutes later we were led to the Oval Office to meet the President. After a cordial few minutes of introductions and socializing, the rest of my family left to take a guided tour.
I stayed in the Oval Office in a private meeting with the President. He called in various advisers to answer my questions and I answered theirs. We were both looking for common ground and to see if we could work together.
We discussed my lack of political correctness, my hard nosed attitude towards terrorists and my preference that they have a speedy trip to meet Allah.
“I’m not going to change in that respect, they have killed my employees, tried to kill me and my family. I have felt the sting of their bullets. If that is a problem then I am probably not the right candidate for the job,” I replied.
“That’s the problem. There are too many people that look at this as just a job. They have no personal stake in the outcome; their only interest is to feather their cap and climb the next rung on the ladder in their career. Not one can make a life or death decision on their own, everything has to be by committee. Committees are nothing more than one big delay and to spread out the blame when things go south,” President said and then added.
“The House, the Senate and the Governors all want investigative committees. Not one of those committees will catch this guy or anyone else – for that matter – or make the colleges safer today. I want someone who will bring the go-getters in the agencies together and do something, the hell with the gentleman’s agreements.”
At 0800 an aide interrupted and said the other guests were assembled; he and I walked to a lower level meeting room.
Every person in the room were Director levels or above including the Secretary of State, Frank, Eric, Art Cummins, Marty Coeburn, Ben Smith from NSA, Arnold Harris the director from INS and a dozen more.
The next hour was a shake-down of everything we knew about Saif Alawai al-Jawfi. Everyone had copies of the report I had given Frank.
Eric gave a lengthy report on all the active searches for Saif from Arizona and surrounding states.
At 0900, hot coffee and donuts were brought in and a break was declared.
The aide who brought in the refreshments said “Ambassador Jones, there is an Air Force General waiting for you in conference room 12, if you have a minute. Your executives are already with him.”
“Thank you, I will be back before the break is over,” I replied.
In conference room 12 there was one chair left for me. General Walton had already gone over the contract with Marcy, Lorrie, Jenny, Vicky and Ching Lee. The General gave me a quick overview.
“Are you satisfied with the terms?” I asked the girls, “Any questions or hesitations?”
“When do you want to get your staff together to sign?” I asked the General.
“I will get you a date and time and get the other things in the works. I think this is a good contract for the Air Force and JBG,” he replied.
“I agree with that,” Marcy replied.
Back in the meeting, the scope, size and direction of the committee was established. As chairman I would be assigned two full time secretaries and two process coordinators.
An assistant director from each federal intelligence agency was picked as were several from the justice department. The department of education was to assign 4 members. Those four were to be at this afternoon’s meeting.
The task force was to meet five days a week, to organize and get the processes started. Once it was running to my satisfaction, I could reduce my attendance to four days a week. My term as chairman would expire in six months.
The task force and my teams were assigned all of section 12 in the new underground addition to the White House offices. After today’s news conference I was to meet with the GSA to design the offices for my team. The GSA people would work through the night to set the offices and phone systems up. We had finished all the particulars by 1000 hours.
As the morning had clicked away into the book of history, small gains were being made in the search for Saif.
The President left for other presidential business. His aides and agency personnel began the task of taking all that information in order so I could write my speech and give the latest information based on all the secrecy guide lines. After today, my secretaries and process coordinators could do this.
I finished the speech with plenty of time to spare. One of the President’s secretaries took the speech, “Do you want it put on a teleprompter or bold print in a ring folder?”
“The folder is fine. That is all I have ever used,” I replied.
I was sure the President was going to look over the speech, politics being what they are.
With 10 minutes to go I walked to the east lawn side and looked out the window at the big thong of reporters.
“Damn; walking into the fire with gasoline may have been an understatement,” I thought.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.