The ride home was quiet; nobody jumped out at us. The State Police and transit authority did their thing.
In the office we had the big meeting I was dreading; there were several parts. The first was the six of us with Robert Alderman, our in house tax man. It was depressing to listen to the amount of taxes that would have to be paid if we all died at the same time. More corporate changes were coming and fast, all were above my head.
The next meeting was with Dad, Mom, Jake and Jason, Lisa and Jeanna and was a talk that I did not want to have. I laid out the why; Marcy and Robert Alderman the how. Then there were discussions that were followed up by a trip to the Morton armory and the two safes, along with an explanation.
While we were there I had my security team load up ten new FM-9s, ten of the modified bag that held the belt and five refurbished FM-9. The standard bag held two hundred and fifty rounds. The machine shop that made the devices for our drones made up the new larger ones that held five hundred rounds.
We had a rack full of the FM-9; most were new, some refurbished. We used the same ones over and over in training and they wore out. The barrels and mechanisms simply couldn’t hold up to thousands of rounds fired through them. They were sent back to be rebuilt as good as new.
They loaded them, a case of clips and one manual loader. You could push the bullets into clips with your fingers; the guys had done so many times. It was hard on the fingers and the loader made it much easier and faster.
The gun club would do a transfer to the Secret Service and invoicing tomorrow as required by the ATF.
Tomorrow is to be my last day at the White House until after New Years, unless there was an emergency. The following day was Christmas Eve. There were Christmas parties at the office and at Morton Field that I wanted to attend.
I hated to do it but I needed my Christmas order picked up from the jewelry store. I couldn’t just go with twenty bodyguards so I asked Ed to go and pick up the things for me. I gave him my credit card to pay for them.
I had ordered very expensive fancy necklaces and earrings to go with the new party dresses for all my mates, Mom and Lisa. It was something they would never buy for themselves. I had done it weeks ago. The jeweler called and left a message on my phone a couple days ago. That would complete my Christmas shopping.
I chose a different style necklace and earrings for each of them and I was anxious to see what they would look like with the dresses, but I had confidence they would look great. I just hoped he had the boxes marked according to the way I ordered them.
We spent the evening with present wrapping and final decorating for Christmas. We also had some fun time in the hot tub before quality time in the basement playroom; it was our first over a week.
The convoy took me to Morton Field before heading west. Robbie and Ed had something they wanted to show me.
Sitting in the main helicopter shop was one of the Blackhawks; Ben-David’s secret shipment had been mounted on it. The extended range fuel tanks had been removed. In their place were the weapons pods that would hold eight Hellfire missiles on each side or eight Stinger missiles.
I was directed to the shipping crates and in the bottoms were sixteen of each.
“Guys, I know you think this is a good idea but you cannot load those weapons on that helicopter and that thing cannot be flown anywhere around Washington. That kind of weaponry is strictly forbidden,” I replied.
“Robbie and I did some research within various circles and we can under a research and development clause. There is a small gray area we can
squeeze it in,” Ed replied.
“That small gray area may lead to a small federal prison cell,” I replied. “I will make some calls and see what exemptions our federal licenses cover.”
After a thought, “I wonder if this shipment was intended to be installed on the extra helicopter at Kampala.”
The trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. went as normal and that was no problems. This morning I was again in the third SUV in line. The outside media gang was staked out by the fence to the parking lot. The Secret Service allowed the four Suburbans to go inside the parking lot and make a circle.
My Suburban was staying in the parking lot in case I needed to make an emergency exit. The Secret Service would coordinate escorts in such an emergency.
I handed Agent Archer the keys, “There are some things you wanted in the back, please take a picture of the end of the box with the numbers and the serial number on the unit and email them to Jim at the address on the business card.”
Jim Braxton ran the wholesale department at the gun club. James Clown ran the retail department.
The first order of the morning after coffee – and with the President and Troy present – was set the protocol for the holidays. The clerks were going to split the duties as were the rest of the team. I would be on call as normal.
Today, same as yesterday, was putting all the data coming in into an order we could use.
One piece of data that quickly drew attention was a possible surveillance photo of Balthazar Khamini at a Quick Gas and Go on route 95 at Woodbridge Virginia.
As usual with these Gas and Go stations, half of the cameras were not working so there was no tag number to go with the purchase. I guess they did not feel that it was important that transactions at the pump be video recorded since it was a credit card or cash only in advance site. There was little risk of drive offs without paying.
Agents were on the way to interview the attendants and get the video. The flag on the photo came from a secret data scan that was being carried out on all things sent to the cloud. More secret stuff that was going on that no one talked about.
The hope was that there were enough images with time stamps and with traffic camera footage with close time stamps, a list of possible cars could be generated. It was something that was impossible just years ago but now a real possibility. Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC had been in a race to see who could put in the most traffic cameras. Almost every intersection and exit was now on camera.
We had just finished talking about Khamini when Wayne Thompson – my resident DHS assistant director – handed me a folder he had just printed off.
“You are going to get a kick out of this after yesterday’s call,” he said.
The folder was a report generated last night from the FBI. Baltimore’s Mayor Blum – who had read me the riot act yesterday – had received a detailed death threat in the afternoon mail. The stuff in the mail had included pictures of his house, his kids playing in the yard, his wife – even the dog. All the pics had been photo shopped to show them bloody.
I wondered how I would handle such a delivery to the office.
“FBI and DHS plus the Baltimore PD are handling it for now,” Wayne replied.
“Keep me informed of any happenings next week,” I replied.
I finally had time to do a VCATS with Ambassador Reddick and Bob Short. I had not talked to either one of them in over a week.
“I hear you have had some excitement in the last few days. Are you going to stop making people mad?” Andy asked.
“If you think they are mad now, just wait,” I replied before I laughed.
“How is the reconstruction project coming along? Are you on schedule?” I asked Bob.
“Going to be close, might be done a day or two ahead of time; Amy Lockerman, Victor Edmonson and Elmer Hobart are checking in every few days. Andy and I are putting together a photo file of the progress with before and after photos of what we have done,” Bob replied and then added, “When it is finished I will send you a copy.”
“Keep those three happy and everything will be OK. I need to run,” I replied as I signed off to answer my phone.
“Hello, this is Jones.”
“This is Mayor Blum. I need to apologize for my tone and harshness yesterday. I didn’t fully comprehend the risk you take personally for just doing your job until yesterday afternoon.”
“I was aghast at the way your security team handled you but now I wish I had them to watch over my family.”
“You said yesterday I should get a vest and armored SUV, and I cannot agree more now. I got a vest from my police department but it looks nothing like the one you are shown wearing. What kind is it and where did you get it?” the Mayor asked.
“It’s a new experimental version. It’s heavy and the tests show it will handle everything except 50 caliber rounds. The military is never going to adopt it because of the weight and my Special OPS are not going to use it,” I said.
“We are using that style for VIP protection because it completely covers the upper torso, even the arm pits, and is easy to remove once you are at a secure location. It wraps around the body and overlaps so there are no gaps for bullets or shrapnel to find their way in. If you remember, the bullet that almost killed President Reagan entered under the armpit,” I said.
“The company only does limited manufacturing runs. I don’t know how many JBG bought or what size, but I will look tonight for you,” I added.
“The other thing you suggested was getting an armored SUV. There are none to be found. None to buy with over a year waiting list and none to rent. Every company I called said we were a day late and a dollar short. After the news conference last week everything was rented or sold,” the Mayor said.
I knew that not to be true, at least for JBG; Marcy had just made the comment in our meeting the other night that all the replacement ones for the contract were in. She and Lorrie were looking at the logistics to get them to the embassies that were scheduled to get them. She had ordered several extra; it seemed like we were losing a couple a year to terrorist damage or accidents.
They were stored in hanger E along with fifteen that had been worth refurbishing from last year and were just returned to JBG. My plan was to expand the number of JBG executives that would get one and college security directors if they wanted one. The events this week only reinforced that issue. There was no way we were going to sell them on the consumer used car market.
Would Marcy sell one to the city of Baltimore? I didn’t even have to ask.
“Be at our main office 1001 Summers Road at 1730 and bring your family and your security team,” I said.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.