Tuesday morning the White House looked like a dealership dedicated to Suburbans, there were so many there. I laughed at the thought that most of them were owned by JBG. I wondered what the watchdogs in Congress would have to say about that, not that anyone cared at the moment.
The Task Force spent the morning looking at evidence from the attack on my convoy. A few cell phones and personal papers had been collected from the bodies. There was enough evidence collected off of two individuals to order another raid in Richmond Virginia for this afternoon.
At 1100 Troy called and asked me to come to the Oval Office. Senators Miller, Johnston, Wakefield and Haden were sitting at the big desk. There was one empty chair for me. I hated meetings when the last chair was for me.
I handed the President and Troy each a mug of coffee before I settled in the chair, “Black and one with cream and sugar, I believe.”
“You were invited to give a classified briefing to the DHS oversight committee but we withdrew the subpoena, given the events last week. There a couple of questions we would like to ask you, if you are up to answering them,” Senator Miller said.
“Go ahead, ask away,” I replied.
“It has come to our attention that you may have worked outside the scope of the Task Force and Judiciary on some terrorist issues, what is your response to that statement?” Senator Johnston asked.
“I will follow every lead to find the terrorists, their financiers, informants and sympathizers within the rules and outside the rules or military rules of engagement. They obey no rules in their quest to kill us. To even hold our own against them, we are going to have to do some distasteful things from time to time,” I replied.
“They have tried to kill me several times and now they threaten the committee members. The gloves are off and when I find them, no rules are going to apply while I extract revenge. Revenge is best served cold.”
“I will pursue them to the ends of the earth. With my last dying breath I will stab at their heart and with my last burst of energy I will shove the knife deep; I will kill them. I have made that quite clear in the past and it is even truer today,” I said.
“How would you feel if you had been a repeated target and now had a bounty on you? That bounty puts anyone and everyone, friends, family, associates and anyone you meet on the street in jeopardy,” I asked.
“Probably about the same as you do,” Senator Wakefield replied.
“The Senate is considering a proposal behind the scenes to make the Task Force a permanent fixture of the Justice Department. What are your thoughts on that?” Senator Miller asked.
“By being under the Justice Department, over time it will become a servant of the department and other needs of the department will be distracting from the war on terrorism,” I said.
“A terrorist task force needs to be independent and made up of members from within the enforcement agencies. It must be able to act on intelligence immediately. They must have the authority to pool all agents together when necessary. You have had various forms of a task force within agencies that were only marginally effective, let’s not go back there,” I added.
“How you do that, I have no idea. A cabinet position, another agency reporting to the President or both?” I asked.
“I agree the Justice Department is already a huge department and at times seems to be unresponsive to immediate needs. Making it bigger with more power is not the answer. Many Senators think a new agency dedicated to terrorism is appropriate,” Senator Miller replied.
He followed up that statement, “We would like to form a working committee with the current Task Force as a model to develop the new agency. The President has suggested that he is open to letting Ben Smith and you participate in those early planning sessions, if you have no objections,” he said.
“I will assist as much as I possibly can and I am sure Ben will also. I haven’t told the President yet so this will be his notice but I am going to be out of the country in about three weeks for a few days. When the dates firm up, I will let you know so we can plan around them,” I said.
I left early again today as did all the committee members at 1400 and was in the command center at 1530. Vicky, Ching Lee, Jake and Jason were waiting to fill me in on the Korean trip.
I listened to an enthusiastic recap of the Korea adventure and shopping spree in Japan. We girls had plenty of souvenir traditional Korean and Japanese clothes to try on tonight.
After all the stories, we started our normal meeting. I found out that Lorrie, Marcy and the lawyers had finally made it through the maze of the former Hartford Aggregate company to place an option on Pig Iron Point.
It was named Pig Iron Point because in the early days settlers collected iron nodules from the mud banks in the area and sold them to the local blacksmiths.
Pig Iron Point was made into small shipping terminal in the 1700s because of its deep water. When steam ships came to the bay, it was converted into a barge landing terminal.
Cambridge, Salisbury, Betterton and Baltimore became the major passenger steam ship stops.
In the thirties and forties cheap coal and lumber from the Carolinas and Virginia was off loaded from Norfolk, decades before the bridge tunnel was built. In the fifties, sixties and seventies Hartford started unloading crushed rock there for its aggregate business.
The eighties recession had nearly bankrupted the Hartford company; they closed the terminal and others, downsizing the business back to its Hartford county location. The terminal had been left to rot.
The creosote moorings and piling were rotting as was the seawall bulkheads. Piles of old creosote pilings were everywhere. Towards the end, Hartford had used it as a dumping ground to get rid of creosote lumber and other wastes that were difficult to do on the western shore because of the growing environmental movement.
Huge concrete placements to store and keep all the stone types separated were still there and in very good shape. Good enough that they could be used as part of the required containment wall for storage tanks.
Developers had looked into the property only to run after getting estimates to clean up the place before any development could begin. The property was odd shaped and unsuitable to build condos on and have any parking or make a usable marina on. The access road was narrow, only slightly more than a single lane in some spots.
The state had recently changed the rules allowing the creosote to be disposed of in certain landfills after grinding into chips. There was also a new concrete recycling plant that had a portable concrete recycler.
The site was still zoned industrial heavy commercial and that was one of the reasons that developers ran away; to clean it up sufficiently to change the zoning to residential was just too much for them to bear.
From the property to the Morton Field fuel farm was six miles as the crow flies. Marcy wanted to rebuild the docks, place a new fuel tank with pumps there and install a four inch pipeline to the fuel farm.
Marcy had a price that she was willing to pay for the finished project if the couple of farmers across the route would not sell a right of way for a buried pipe or it was a no-go period.
While Jake was away Janet Ashworthy, Jake’s in house EPA engineer and the J&J estimating and engineering crew had done several site evaluations and finished up the report for Marcy. They even drilled holes in the ice to conform the channel depth. The real plus was that the water was still deep enough to accommodate medium draft tugs and a loaded barge. Hartford had dredged it exceptionally deep for rock filled barges.
More things for everyone to do. A lot of cleanup could be done now, just anything to do with water would have to wait until there was a thaw in the bay.
We had been at the meeting for two hours when Duke and Clarence arrived. In my office I explained what I had heard, my position, what I thought needed to be done and how. I helped them develop a position statement and an outline for a news conference tomorrow, taking the bull by the horns.
I also gave them a list of prospective nominees for the committee to write new planning and zoning rules. The list included Jason Coles, Jake Jones, Bob Jackson, Bob’s engineer and several others; all of them well thought of in the county.
“You know your campaigns will be heavily watched by the liberal Baltimore stations; that said, I cannot directly donate where they would be able to trace things back to me. However, there are other things that can be done such as sponsor cookouts and sporting tournaments at the gun club, spaghetti dinners and other fund raisers with donation tubs that I will see gets cash placed in them,” I said.
“Write up an op-ed setting out your position on the zoning issues and more. I will have someone look it over to make sure it makes no political blunders or miscues – if you like – and then you can deliver it to Elmo and pay him to run it as a full page ad in the Gazette,” I said.
“How are the campaign finances, do you have enough money to get started? I haven’t seen any fund raisers,” I asked.
“Normally we collect enough donations and then finance the rest out of our pockets if we have to. We usually wait until March to get very serious about campaigning,” Duke replied.
“Times are changing. This is going to be a much more expensive election and longer campaign season; money buys ads and voters, you just have to push the media to see your point of view and project it while making no blunders. I will make an anonymous donation to get you running,” I said.
I opened my desk drawer and placed ten thousand in one hundreds in front of each of them.
“What are you going to do with Pig Iron Point? Put a development there?” Duke asked.
“No; no developments. We want to return it back to a barge terminal to barge in Jet fuel. When the C5s and all contract flights are flying, we are using twenty tractor loads of jet A every day with a freight charge of one thousand dollars a load. One barge could deliver 500,000 gallons or about the same amount of fuel as 63 tractor trailers for 12000 dollars, a savings of $50000 every four days,” I replied.
“How did you hear about that already? The contracts were signed this morning. The state and federal agencies, along with planning & zoning will have all the permit applications tomorrow. We have been working on the plans a while now.”
“They paid the delinquent property taxes today and their representative made the comment that they had sold the site to you to the records clerk. I was at the side desk,” Duke replied.
Edit by Alsmeister
Proof read by Bob W.