I was up early; truthfully, I just cat napped most of the night. There were just so many things on my mind. I wondered what was going on with Andy this morning; it was already 10:00 there. No news was good news, I hoped.
Then there was the information out of Diya’s phone; would it help or was it just another dead end? After all, it had been three weeks since the MSU attack. How many of the numbers in there had been trashed?
The final straw for today was the two subpoenas I had to honor, even when I had more pressing things I needed to do. The Senate Embassy Steering committee was the first one at 10:00.
Bob was at the concrete box as I leaving. I stopped to say hello.
“Do you have time for quick tour?” he asked. Then he added, “Marcy added some changes.”
“No, not really; I have a very busy day today. I have to testify before Congress and have a lot to do beforehand. I’m hoping to get the chance over the weekend. I hear you have a lot of people working. I want to thank you for that.”
“Do you carry a tube of KY, or is that one of those where they just screw you over dry?” Bob asked just before broke into a laugh.
“Be careful, I just might let you go in my place,” I responded as I opened the door on my SUV.
I was making coffee in the second big coffee maker at 06:50 when the crew started coming in. There was already a group of people with coffee cups and mugs from the other offices draining the first one. They knew they were welcome to get a mug as long as we were not holding a meeting.
That was another thing I learned; most office managers in this underground complex didn’t want workers from other departments walking in and out of their offices.
Those workers seemed appreciative of the chance to get a few minutes with us. That was one thing about this floor – the coffee aroma traveled and drew people like a magnet.
The rest of the task force was now making the early start time. I suspected they were afraid they would miss something.
I had Cassy make copies of the reports that had come from Diya’s phone for each of the law enforcement agencies. The Department of Education people didn’t need copies, besides they were still trying to figure out how to run the reports I asked for two days ago.
I slid Diya’s phone on the table, “The new pass code on this phone is 12345. This one is all the incoming calls. This one is outgoing calls. This one is the contact list and this is the text,” I said as I passed out the copies.
“I have to spend most of the day on the Hill. When I get back I want to see the results of your day. Use the tools at your disposal; check all the numbers to see if they are still active.”
“See if they were stupid enough to have activated the GPS. If they were, where were they on the day of the attack? See if there was a flurry of calls between any of the phones before, the day of and the day after the attack. Find out which phones were and are the most active among all the phones.”
“Between the possible GPS and all the cross-tower pings and the cross-number checks, you should be able to come up with some very useful data to tell me when I get back,” I replied.
“Yes ma-am we should, and then I want to know how you got into that phone and all this out of this phone in just 12 hours without court orders,” Rex replied.
“You have heard it before, if I tell you I will have to kill you,” I replied.
My phone started ringing, “Jones,” I said.
“Ma-am; Major Holland Dent from the remote flight operations center in Tucson; I was told to report to you every day at this time with a report for the drone flight over the assigned location. There was no activity in the last 24 hours.”
“I was ordered to request new operational orders from you Ma-am,” he said.
“Your existing orders are to observe and report, I amend those orders changing the reporting criteria. I am to be notified immediately anytime there are any changes at the property, visitors and any vehicle traffic. The second change is for there to be infrared imaging done at least once a day if that is possible,” I replied.
“10-4 Ma-am that is indeed possible. I will amend and publish the orders for all operators,” he replied.
“Thank you Major, that is all,” I replied.
It was 0900; I had sent a text to Kent Dalton and Len at 0700 that I wanted a joint VCATS with them at 0900. They paged that they were on line right on the money.
“I need to let you know that we think we have found where the suicide vests and truck bombs were made. I have an Air Force drone stationed over it 24/7 for a week. There has been no one there in the last 24 hours. If there is no activity in the 7 day period I will authorize it to be raided. If there is a sudden burst of activity it needs to be raided then,” I said, and then added.
“If they have abandoned the site I am concerned that it may be heavily booby trapped. After all, Saif was a master explosives maker for vest, car bombs and IEDs. Would you want your SWAT teams to conduct the raid or do you want me to see if I can get a bomb unit from one of the Army or Marine bases that have field experience finding those things?” I asked, and then added.
“I would not want to see one of your SWAT teams wiped out by an IED, and I would not want to have to give that press briefing.”
“If it goes the other way and there is a burst of activity, how long would it take you to put your SWAT teams on site? The site is a few miles from Page on 169,” I asked.
“I was good with the State Police handling the raid until the part about maybe being booby trapped. I need to talk to the Governor so I will have to let you know. As for a raid there – a couple hours – the teams would have to come out of St. Cloud,” Kent replied.
I closed the conversation and left for the Hill. Actually a White House limo carried me and my portable office from the steps and with the assistance of two secret service agents to help fend off reporters; I made my way to the security station. I presented the subpoena to the check-in agent at the security station and got directions to the Senate Embassy Security Steering Committee room.
I started down the hall to the meeting room 143 that was off the great chamber that was always shown on TV. Every few feet it seemed I ran into a Senator coming out of an office.
There was always an aide with a camera, “Can I get a picture of you with the Senator?” or a local reporter from their home town was getting the free tour today.
I understood politics and the need to be in the current news cycle and spotlight. That was one of the reasons I hated it so much. So many things were all for the camera; fake tears and anguish, promises they knew they would never keep and words that never amounted to anything but for the news print.
I also knew I needed to play politician no matter how bad the taste. I smiled for the camera and shook hands and did my best to be good at double talk.
When the oath was taken and the camera lights were turned off, the embassy steering committee got down to business. Amy Lockerman – associate director of embassy affairs – was sitting next to me on the left and Elmer Hobart from the State Department Appropriations was to my right.
It had been a while since I had a meeting with the both of them. Both were talkative, a lot more than usual.
Amy asked if there were any updates from Namibia.
“None since daybreak their time, everything was fine at that time,” I replied, and then I added.
“I am scheduled to video conference with Ambassador Reddick at 1300 if you want to sit in on it.
The meeting was started and for an hour I answered question after question dealing with embassy security. Then there was a short break that turned into another photo op.
Vicky should have been here to sit in on this meeting. She and I had discussed it in detail and decided since there was a subpoena only for me that I should handle it.
The flip side of that argument was that she needed to be at the office to coordinate with Robert and Andy if that situation went down hill.
After the break the questions changed to include the now eight South American embassies that had requested JBG security.
I listened while Amy and Elmer were on the hot seat responding to various questions about available space for the additional security personnel and requests for additional funding.
There was only one question out of that part of the session that was directed to me.
“Will JBG be able to put the manpower and equipment in place in a reasonable time?” the chairman asked.
“Yes; once the final determination of the staffing levels is made, the pieces will come together in a timely manner,” I replied.
I had learned government-speak and the art of double talk as well. I was listening to the final comments when my cell received several pages.
One was from Andy, “It has started.”
The other was from Vicky saying the same thing.
I quickly put the State Department computer on the desk and logged in to VCATS to get the video feed from Namibia. As soon as it went live, it showed continuous explosions in the court yard and automatic gunfire; the volume had been full up. A couple of the cameras were off line; destroyed, I had to assume.
It was noon here, 1700 hours there and darkness was not far off. That gave away their plan. A mortar and small arms assault to keep everyone hunkered down and then after dark, rush the entrances.
It was a copy of the assault used in Libya in which the Ambassador and his guards had died.
Amy, Elmer and I, with a couple Senators looking over our shoulder, watched for a few minutes as everything in the courtyard was destroyed by mortars and RPGs that were landing everywhere.
“Folks, I hate to shut down the feed but I need to get back to my office,” I said as I closed the computer and called my White House taxi to pick me up.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proofread by Bob W.