At 1000 we were standing in the bricked patio to the south lawn. The wind had died down and the sun felt good, especially as it was the middle of February. I went out with the early ones and stood at the wall next to the door.
Ninety minutes later I was still standing by the door when the question and answer session began. The camera hogs were getting hammered with tough questions. The stuttering soon started and they began passing questions to others.
Then the words I was hoping I would not hear were uttered, “I believe Ambassador Jones had a broader knowledge of events and can answer that question,” one of the agency directors said. “Is the Ambassador still here?”
“I think she is standing at the back,” someone replied. My cover blown, so I walked to the podium.
“Yes I can answer that, these arrests are indeed part of the previous terrorist raids. The information that was used to formulate last night’s arrests was part of an intercepted file in Middle East and Africa terrorist web traffic,” I said.
“Encrypted large files take time to break into, as these have,” I said.
“Marley, I think you had a question a moment ago?” I asked.
“Yes Ambassador; has the fact that this many high level government officials compromised this or previous investigations?”
“The extent of the damage at this time is unknown, that investigation will obviously take a lot time. The task force and other agencies have reached their limit without additional investigators. It takes a tremendous amount of time to train them and get them on board with things this complex,” I replied.
“Of the group of officials, which one had been the most damning to the task force?” he asked.
“For the task force itself, it would have to be the one in the FBI IT lab. Luckily we divided up evidence and sent things to be evaluated to two labs. I have suspected something was wrong with the FBI lab because they were so slow and often reported poor data results when the other tech group reported in twenty four hours or less,” I said.
“There were arrests nationwide last night; has everyone on the list been arrested?” Paul asked.
“No, the arrests go on. I am sure as the ones arrested negotiate for less jail time, they will give up accomplices. They need to make that decision quickly for it to have any value in negotiations. I’m not a fan of bargaining away jail time unless it is traded for people of value,” I replied.
“However, that is a Justice Department decision to make, not mine. My decision would be for the firing squad immediately after the guilty verdict. I have been told I have no compassion; a true statement when it comes to traitors. For a few bucks they sold hundreds of billions of dollars and decades of research and development to our enemies. The result could be thousands of causalities – possibility millions – if a war went nuclear,“ I added.
“Another point of issue is the billions of dollars and time it is going to take to make existing weapons systems reliable and dependable. The question is always going to be there; is a weapons system now programmed to fail when you need it the most? In some cases complete systems may be down months while the programming is rewritten and tested or they may simply have to be replaced. The DOD has a tremendous job ahead of it now.”
“I think that is about all the time we have. Any of you gentleman and ladies have a closing statement?”
When no one did the VIPs scattered.
I saw Hanna was off to the side giving a report to her station for the noon day report; I stepped off the patio to go speak to her. Four Secret Service agents followed me. She was just finishing up.
“Hey girlfriend, did you hear we bought the radio station we talked about?” I asked.
“No, are you still going the play that crappy music?” Hanna asked.
“NO! After we talked about the purchase, everyone had a different thing they wanted. Jason wanted big band music, Lisa wanted classical, Jake wanted truck driving songs, and I wanted old time country- something besides the new screaming at the top of their lungs and calling it a song. We decided to do segments; a hour long of each kind of old music and to do a real farm report three times a day,” I replied.
“You are going to have trouble finding advertisers for that, I think,” Hannah replied.
“We are not looking for them for a while; Ching Lee is going to run ads that sell the things JBG does and along with the new things that are in the works for us. The format and call letters change starts Monday as does the personnel shake up. The sales and accounting people are going to various JBG departments,” I said.
One of the Secret Service agents tapped me on the shoulder, “Boss, there are a couple people waiting on you inside.”
“I have to go, stop in and see me at the office. We can talk some more,” I said.
“The most sought after interview in all Washington and she invites you to her office for a chat. Some people have all the luck,” I heard one of the other reporters mumble as I walked away.
As I walked into Section Twelve, Marty Coeburn introduced me to my new team member, Rodney Marks.
“Ma-am, I have been told that I have big shoes to fill; just keep pointing me in the right direction and I will do my best,” Rodney said.
“I can do that and add a good swift kick in the ass if it is necessary. I don’t like shell games and mysteries. Speak your mind and any ideas you have loud and clear. Remember, you are joining a team that is a bit unorthodox but it has been effective. Let’s go meet your team partners,” I said.
Marty smiled, nodded and walked away.
I had just sat down at my desk when General Ingram came in. Instead of sitting in the chair across from me, he pulled it around the desk beside me.
He placed the papers so we could both look and started pointing at the things highlighted, “What do you make of these entries,” he asked.
Why did the five star general sitting beside me want my opinion when he had a staff of hundreds at his fingertips? Was he having doubts about the credibility of his closest people?
“They do look odd. I shoved the file out without dissecting every piece of data; I thought it was more important to end the treason and get the culprits before they could do any more damage,” I said.
I copied the file, sent it to Robert then called, “Robert, can you run those entries through the programs and see what you come up with?”
“Yeah, the super computer is working on it now; that set of digits in the middle look like a link to the deep dark web. It should only take a few minutes. I will call you when it is done,” Robert said as he hung up.
“You have immediate access to a super computer? We have to schedule time,” the General said.
“My IT team built our own; we use it a lot. It was a lot easier to buy the components and put it together. Takes up two complete rooms in our basement. The servers for the rest of the business operations take up another,” I replied.
My cell phone buzzed, “Turn on your JBG laptop and hit OK on the remote operator. It’s easier to do it that way than to try to talk you through it,” Robert instructed.
The General and I watched and listened as Robert went through screen after screen, “I was right, the four digits in the middle were the link to the deep end of the dark web. The codes at the end were the login; the digits up front were the password.”
“This site is a Craigslist for buying and selling the world’s deadliest banned arms and components. This seller was selling components for the W87 nuclear warhead for the Minuteman 3 ICBM, including the switches and triggers,” Robert said.
“The seller was computer literate and bounced through hundreds of ISP addresses with each post; the first one originated in Virginia. There were a lot of hits and conversations plus a bidding war at the end,” Robert said as he was allowing us to read each screen.
“The materials and money exchange is to take place on Saturday; guess where?” Robert asked.
“La Jarita Mexico,” I read out loud.
“That is the same area where we killed the drug kingpin and confiscated the machine guns destined for the college attacks,” I said.
The General just looked at me and then said, “You carried out a clandestine operation in Mexico?”
“I do what I have to do to win; I hate to lose,” I replied.
“I got the buyer by the IP address; he is from Havana. It is not bouncing around, he is not even trying to hide it,” Robert added.
“Robert, print it all off and email it to me; keep working to see if you can identify the culprits,” I said.
“General, you have lots of decisions to be made in a hurry. Some food for thought is that part of Mexico is cartel country; they are even imbedded in the military. There will be no help in the Mexican government who you can trust. Even the new joint border patrol is not working along that part of the border,” I said.
“I will keep that in mind. The DOD has a special group that handles things nuclear, I will keep you informed,” the General said as he stood to leave.
I didn’t say anything but with the number of high level people named in the file, I wondered if the seller was a high level individual. Getting access to that kind of materials should be extremely difficult.
Every single piece of any nuclear weapons dismantled, rejected for defects or obsolete had to be totally de-milled before disposal. In many cases the components – even screws and bolts – had to be melted into molten metal and poured into an ingot under the watchful eye of a DOD inspector.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.