At 1245 legislators were coming in for the briefing and going through the display area. I was sitting at table beside the podium working the laptop. Robert was hitting me with email after email with attachments; some of them were distressing.
In a big video file it showed Saif and his two helpers working on a new deadlier suicide vest. It was a ‘How to build an improved suicide vest’ video professionally edited. The 200 pipes were on the work bench.
They had been to a machine shop somewhere and had shallow scores cut both vertically and horizontally. It showed them screwing and tightening one cap then a paper sleeve was centered. They alternated putting small pieces of steel, bolts nuts small washers cut into ¼ sections around the outside of the tube and carefully filling the tube with TNT.
When the pipe was filled to the brim a detonator was installed. To me, the detonator looked like a model rocket igniter. The wires were fished through a hole in the cap and then the cap securely tightened. They did all 200 pipes the same way the video showed then stacked them on the work bench.
Then they fastened 10 pipes to a very wide leather belt, three on each side and four on the back. Once fastened in place the wiring was completed. The only thing lacking was the battery.
The shallow cuts turned the pipe into hundreds of pieces of small shrapnel in addition to what they packed inside. Normally when a pipe filled explosive charge is detonated, the pipe splits at its weakest point. The violent expansion of the gases would carry the ingredients out through the split. Usually the pipe was recovered from the blast site in just a few pieces
The new modifications meant more shrapnel for the doctors to remove from survivors and more dead.
The final scenes in the file were the 20 belts being boxed up in cardboard boxes along with the batteries.
The ones we had interrogated had only told us part of their future plans and carried the rest to their grave.
I hoped that Robert’s group could come up with names and locations where the belts went. As meticulous as the record keeping seemed to be I was confident something could be found.
I wondered about such detailed record keeping; was the Prince demanding that kind of accountability for his money?
Searches were being conducted in New York and West Virginia. The houses, cars, electronics, rental storage and places of employment of every individual dead or alive that were at the centers, were getting the most thorough search ever conducted.
On top of that all the family members were going to be interviewed in an interrogation room as possible co-conspirators.
I called Howie and told him that in about an hour we would be ready for him to do his thing.
I saw the President and his staff come in and head for the display area. With him was the head of Mexico’s Federal Police force General Fernando Garcia. I walked over to give the President, his guest and his staff a guided tour of the displays.
No one said a word but the President’s staff stayed at arm’s length. After the tour I did the same program as I did for the law enforcement. I added the new video of the new vest construction and an explanation.
For the next hour I answered questions with the help of several members of the task force, this time.
Some of the questions were out in left field and some were truly serious about our findings.
While I was doing the Q&A I sent 2 Secret Service and two FBI agents out to the Suburban to confirm that it was an armored unit.
Finally I announced we have one live fire demo. I asked the agents if the Suburban was indeed armored; they confirmed that it was. I just wanted it known among this group.
Howie ran the motorized IED towards the Suburban. Then he stopped it to make the final wiring connection after it was away from the building.
Watching the mounted camera image on the computer, Howie ran the thing under the right side and hit the trigger.
I watched an armored Suburban, very similar to the one I drove and every armored Suburban in the GSA motor pool, disintegrate before our eyes. The doors were blown off, windows blown out, the roof opened like a tin can.
“Mr. President; the Beast (the nickname for the presidential limo) has the same armor package that was in that Suburban,” I said.
“Ladies and gentleman, you have just witnessed the next level of terror coming our way and I believe they were designed specifically to target and kill you. Security measures must be revised and enhanced immediately.”
“There are ten and possibly as many as thirty unaccounted for. As of today we believe six of these units are already in Washington DC and four in New York City.”
“This conference is over,” I said as I closed down my equipment. Agents began carting the display items into the secure evidence lock up.
“Good job Howie,” I said as we watched the fire team struggle to extinguish the burning Suburban.
Frank Eric, Marty Coeburn, Troy, the President, General Garcia and as many as ten Senators were coming my way as a group.
“Let’s go to the executive meeting room; it will be a little quieter,” Marty said.
A separate meeting room for executives must be nice I thought; I could see Marcy’s expression at that.
For the next hour people that understood the complicated relationship the US had with Mexico discussed cooperation between our countries against terrorism and a host of other international issues.
Most of the international things I had lightly covered in my research as Ambassador but I listened and learned. I made pages of notes and questions that I could ask the right people later.
We had one more thing to do and that was the news conference. I was coming to dread the word news conference. Maybe the VIPs would hog the spotlight with Garcia here.
It did not happen that way. I spoke for a third of the conference and was called back to the podium twice.
After it was over Troy approached me carefully, “You are invited to the state dinner for Garcia tonight if you want come. For the record I objected to the changes today.”
“Yes, I know you did; we will discuss the issue at length tomorrow. I have too many things to do, you can have my share of the food,” I replied.
My phone never quit dinging all afternoon; there were emails and text coming in. Things were happening at New York and West Virginia.
The most important thing was the forensics people were done at all seven of the centers. I called all seven contractors and gave the approval to demolish the sites Wednesday making them a clear lot. Baltimore was going to be pissed all over again.
Very large contractors had been hired because they guaranteed they had equipment and the man power and could do the job in one day.
I was going to have a memorial stone placed at each site and the lot planted in grass. There would be no gathering place to encourage and motivate would be terrorists.
With Ching Lee and Vicky riding home with me, there was lively conversation that broke the doom and gloom mood I had been in most of the day.
Robert and his team had long gone home; his last text said that he left a hard copy folder on my desk of things he thought important and the complete electronic version on thumb drives taped to the folder. I would take it with me to Washington tomorrow.
Tonight was family, hot tub, beer and boys. Jenny had carried them to the docs for checkups today and had a lot of things to tell me.
It was time for a few days off. The point was driven home today when I realized I was addressing every text as, ‘Now what’ when my smarter than smart phone went ding.
Monday night I spent with Lorrie; warm, cuddly, passionate and slept like a baby. Even the wake up was refreshing and exhilarating.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.