Christmas was upon us; in the blink of an eye it was Christmas Eve. The gym was still open for those that had an access card, but they were on their own. The elevator codes were changed to require a JBG ID card swipe. The refreshment stand was closed.
At Morton Field the restaurant was closing at 8, but the tower was still 24/7; it was now part of the FAA network. All the shops were closed, but the UPS and FedEx flights were still operating to get those last minute and critical packages delivered.
The church that my and Jenny’s family had been going to for years had an early service Christmas Eve. This year when Mom and Lisa asked if we could go as a family, we said yes.
Even though it was not lady-like for church I wore a pant suit with two of the light vests and my hardware. Other than a down sized escort to get there I was sending most of the security team home; after all, it was Christmas. I would be my own bodyguard. There be the two who were at the house and the EIT duty man still was watching all the outside cameras of the house.
The question was how the boys would behave. They were as good as gold as they normally were. It was a traditional Christmas service. After the service we socialized for a few minutes with old friends and the minister before leaving.
We made the rounds, Mom and Dad’s first; Jake and Mindy were there and we exchanged gifts. Then on to Jason and Lisa’s and more gifts. The boys who – would soon be two – made out like bandits.
They had all kinds of toys, clothes that they would soon out grow and some they needed to grow into and they had a blast opening presents. Some of the toys would be put away and brought out in stages while older toys were put away for a month or two.
At home with the boys sound asleep we girls opened our presents. There were plenty of presents to give to each other. I and the girls had been making lists all year. With the help of internet shopping and Cindy there were only a few items that I did not get.
It was a wonderful family night together with Christmas music and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ playing on the TV. The boys would have more presents to open tomorrow morning under our tree.
I was up early – my natural clock would not let me sleep in – so I carried my clothes and dressed in the living room then quietly slipped out and took the tunnel to the office.
After checking with the EIT duty man I sent a general Merry Christmas email to all the security employees. Then I opened a VCATS and paged the communication room at the South Korean embassy; according to the schedule JBG employee Berry Simms was working.
“Record the conversation,” I instructed the duty man.
I looked at the employee file that was setup by HR for each embassy for easy reference so I would know for sure who I was talking to.
“Hello Berry; Merry Christmas,” I greeted.
“Merry Christmas to you ah-mm, Ms. Jones,” he replied.
“You can cut it with the Ms. stuff. BJ, Boss or Ambassador, whichever rolls off the tongue the easiest is fine. Are you alone in the control room?” I asked.
“Fred and I are the only ones in here,” he responded.
Fred was Fredrick J. Monahan, one of the three shift leaders for the JBG security group.
“Have Fred come sit in front the camera so we can talk,” I instructed.
“Howdy boss, how are things in Maryland today?” Fred asked.
“Things are good here. You do understand that the conversation we are about to have is JBG classified, strictly between you and me?” I said.
“Yes Ma-am,” they replied.
“Scramble the feed,” I replied and at the same time motioned to the duty man working the console to begin recording the conversation. The little red light on the corner of the screen came on indicating it was being recorded.
With the feed scrambled no one on either end system could monitor the conversation.
“What the hell is going on there,” I asked point blank.
There was a delay; a long delay – I thought I was going to have to ask the question again.
“There has been a lot of tension between the State Department personnel lately. There had been conflicting instructions and orders almost daily,” Fred replied.
“Is Foley the problem?” I asked.
“No. the assistant Ambassador Hammond Baines and Foley’s boss Clayton Albright seem to be the issue and neither is supporting Foley anymore. Foley is trying to do right but the assistant is undercutting him with the support of his boss,” Fred replied.
Clayton Albright had a dozen embassies in Asia under his assignment as assistant director.
“Baines is leaving a lot and dumping the security detail. Then he calls several hours later to be picked up, very drunk and reeking of sex. He is rarely picked up at the same location and not in the better parts of the city. Oh, and he always has his secure briefcase with him. Before he goes out he always spends a lot of time on the computer and printing documents. Several times it was unlocked when he was picked up and obviously empty,” Fred replied.
“How is Albright involved?” I asked.
“Albright covers for him, he has shut down several investigations and disciplinary actions Foley has tried to do over the last year,” Fred replied.
“You do know that Foley has requested a security expansion?” I replied.
“No! There is no place for anyone else here, we are already hot sheeting bunks. Foley has been trying to get that fixed and Albright has been stopping that,” Fred replied.
“Foley said he has been trying to get housing approved for three years, so Albright does not want a larger security force; he must be afraid someone will get curious,” I said.
“Proper housing will be taken care of soon,” I said.
“Who has the daily logs of all travel?” I asked.
“Baines and we know he alters them, we started keeping a duplicate set of our own a year ago to cover our ass, with coded notes on them,” Berry replied.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked.
“Off and on for a while, maybe eighteen months; Foley said he would put a stop to it. But in the last 30 days, a couple, sometimes three times a week,” Berry replied.
“Three weeks ago Albright came and read Foley the riot act with the door opened; that was just a couple days before his medical issues started. That’s when he told Foley he had crushed Foley’s investigations against Baines and that there were to be no more. Since then Baines has been really bad,” Fred added.
“Why haven’t you said anything before now?” I asked.
“Technically we are not supposed to be involved in the inner workings of embassy operations and I’m sure you know that; just security, but this is getting out of hand and if our suspicions are correct, sick to our stomachs,” Berry replied.
“OK, I will check into things, you may have some visitors in a few days that want to talk to you, the password for them to identify themselves so that you know it is OK to talk to them will be ‘Lone Ranger”. Your reply back will be ‘Tonto was a trusted sidekick,’ that works for both of you,” I said.
“Can you get enough private time to copy the last six months of the travel log you kept and send me a copy in an electronic format on the JBG system?” I asked.
“Foley and Baines are visiting other embassies all day tomorrow. You will have it then,” Fred replied.
“Ok, don’t get caught. I have to run, keep me informed,” I said as I closed the feed.
“Make me four copies of that conversation on DVDs; I need two and put two on Robert’s desk, mark them classified from me please,” I said.
I had just stepped into the house as the gang was getting up. Coffee was in the pot and I was waiting on the first cup.
By 0800 the boys were up and the last of the presents were opened followed by a late breakfast for them. It was boys and toys and clothes until 1500 when the McBride family came.
We had presents for all of them; we had asked Paul and Andi, Rachael’s mother if we could get Rachael the dress and some items for the ball before we bought them. We also had gifts for Candice, her younger sister by two years.
We had brought each one of them a former JBG laptop computer that Robert’s group had cleaned. Then they installed all twenty foreign language learning programs that were approved for JBG and at Marcy’s insistence, the complete office programs along with anything else they thought a gifted student would need.
Rachael knew she was getting a dress because she had gone with us to get the right size and the same with shoes. She did not know she was getting two; a different one for the second ball and different jewelry. The cover for the second dress was that Rachael’s birthday was three days after Christmas, while we would be in Florida.
Rachael was anxious to show the dresses off to her parents and with Vicky, Ching Lee and Candice tagging along, went to change. They were taking the other presents with them.
When they came back into the room my heart would have stopped if I had been a man, there were not enough words to describe how beautiful Rachael was. The dress was perfect; the diamond ear rings, necklace and bracelet that were also gifts completed the package. Rachael was going to need a bodyguard.
Paul and Andi just stared and were quiet for a moment, “I think our daughter grew up when we were not paying attention,” Paul finally said.
Rachael modeled the other dress; it was as perfect as the first one, only the jewelry for it was pearls.
It was 1600 when the calls and visits started; I guess that was how things were done in Washington.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.