Marty’s FBI agents were the first there to pick up the seller of the bomb components. He was not a happy camper; breakfast was not up to his standards nor was the jail.
“It’s not too late to ask you some questions. You should think about that carefully,” I replied. After that he had nothing to say.
Six CIA officers showed up next to pick up the two Iranians. Neither had anything to say so I said it for them, “I can assure you that next time we meet the circumstances are not going to be as pleasant for you!”
With them gone I turned the heat down to fifty-five and locked the doors. The cleanup crew would be here in a couple of hours after they were notified.
I walked back into the terminal to greet Major Black.
“I’m Major Heather Black; I’m here to pick up the materials. WHERE ARE THEY?” she demanded rather loudly.
“You mean the materials – that with all your security protocols – were still stolen and could not be accounted for? The ones I had to go to a foreign country, into hostile territory to recover for you?” I asked.
“Yes those,” she replied a little toned down.
“We do things differently here, I need two IDs from each of you, one of them with a photo,” I said.
With their IDs in hand, “Take a seat; this will take a few minutes,” I said.
I read the names and then made a copy. Major Heather Black, Lt. Laura Mason, Captain Jesse Lee Bloom and Captain Herman Bullock, all Air Force.
I took the IDs and copied them, then pulled up the State Department system that had every ID the government had issued for the last 20 years and checked them. When I was satisfied, we went over to the armory.
Vicky input her ID and then I did mine and I pulled the massive door open. There on shop carts were all the components we brought back. Major Black started for the carts and stopped.
On the racks along the wall were the old and new gun drones with new full ammo belts in the box. The controllers were under each one and then there were the drones set up for devices. The assembled devices were stacked on wooden storage racks.
“I have heard about those but these are the first ones I have seen, I also hear in capable hands they are very effective,” the Major said.
“Extremely effective,” I replied.
Major Black went straight to the box with the plutonium ball, checked the serial number and then opened it and read the matching serial number out loud to Lt. Mason.
“That’s the correct numbers,” Lt. Mason replied.
The process was repeated with the implosion core.
My sheet said the same thing; Major Black was going to sign for everything she took.
The Major began aggressively looking at all the rest of the parts.
“More here than I expected, I think we have everything we need. Let’s get headed back,” she said.
She handcuffed the case holding the plutonium core to Captain Bloom’s left wrist and did the same thing to the case holding the implosion core to Captain Bullock’s left wrist.
The rest of the small components were moved to one cart while the bigger parts were all placed on another. We walked through the terminal to the doors for the tarmac where the government G3 was parked.
I waved off the TSA inspector running to stop them, “Classified items exempt from TSA,” I said. He nodded and turned away.
I turned to start my trek to Washington, only to run into Duke.
“What can be so important that you handcuff the cases to your body?” he asked.
“Those things are the parts for a 500 kiloton thermonuclear bomb, we don’t want them to lose them before they get to the storage depot,” I replied.
“I would hope not, but I think you are feeding me some BS,” he said.
“I thought you would say that,” I replied.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I’m here to book the big meeting room and talk to the restaurant about doing some kind of dinner for a fund raiser,” he replied.
“Get Lorrie to go with you; she can pull strings for the days you want,” I said. Lorrie already knew I was working with Duke and what the arrangement would be.
Bill, the team and I drove west to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave; I was ready for the fireworks to begin.
There were no media at the gate; they were all on the White House steps until they saw my convoy. There was a mad rush to the gate but too late – I was inside before they could get there.
I sent notice to the kitchen staff I wanted donuts and coffee sent to the press room for the 1400 news conference; there was no way I was going to escape today’s news update, but first was the big meeting.
I stopped first at the Oval Office; Troy met me at the door.
“I don’t know how you are going to handle your time today; everyone wants a piece of it. Harry is saying he will not start the daily news briefing without you there. They are already hitting on him,” Troy said.
“The joint chiefs want a closed door meeting, lots of interest there for some reason. You’ve made them look bad; first they lost the goods, and then to have to get you to recover them. It hurts their pride; be careful,” Troy said. “But first the President.”
“We don’t know how that rumor got started,” the President said as he handed me the envelope I had given him.
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait a day or two to see where the fallout ends?” I asked.
“No, we have already seen the media footage and the Air Force satellite film for what it was. Some issues but nothing drastic, as you said from time to time we will have to do some distasteful things. Apparently you have no problem with the distasteful things,“ the President replied.
My next stop was at Section Twelve; all my crew was there working on the new information from the Prince’s files. They were working with the evidence, helping Kathy Shellman put it in order for the team of federal prosecutors that were going to do the real work of getting convictions.
Things came to a halt while there was a mini reunion of sorts; my team was glad I was back.
I was distracted one more time before I could meet with the joint chiefs. The engineer for GSA wanted to meet about the office expansion. Congress had approved the new independent cabinet department that would report to the President.
Section 12 was going to be expanded; the department beside us was being relocated, the wall separating the two removed. The changes were going to allow whomever the new chairperson was to have a larger office, more investigators, a larger meeting room and a dedicated lunchroom.
Changes in the labor rules now required a separate lunchroom. Employees were no longer allowed to eat lunch at their desks.
Ben and I worked with the GSA design team to do the layout. I let Ben take the helm on the plans. I was down to three weeks and six days; I would be gone before the changes were completed. There was no need for it to be made to my preferences.
I finally met the joint chiefs – or I should say – they met me. I was just walking out the door with the GSA engineer to meet them upstairs.
Troy, the President, the five chiefs, Frank, Eric and Art Cummings, “Let’s go to your office; it’s large enough to go over the things we need to,” Troy said.
“We would like to go over the recovery of the components and the after-action report, if you will,” General Ingram said.
“I understand you have satellite video, let’s watch it first,” I replied.
After five minutes I could see why the President had said about for what it was. It was bad.
“Just stop; turn it off – it’s a terrible video. How much money did you pay for the cheap copy of this action movie?” I asked with a laugh.
“I think I have an original production, not a bootleg copy; but first some facts. We were outnumbered by thirty fighters; we were in hostile territory – their home area. With the number of fighters they had, we were out-gunned on the ground,“ I said.
“Our advantages were in the element of surprise, superior planning, weapons and aviation support in the form of drone gunships,” I said. I then played the DVD I had taken from the drone computer.
It was great video from a production standpoint, clear and good detail. It was easy see the gunship drones making their sweeps, the transfer of the components and drugs to our vehicles and then the fires to destroy all theirs.
The camera drone had been the last thing out of the air after a general sweep of the area.
“There you have it; the good, the bad, the ugly,” I said as I closed the video.
“What happened to the drugs?” Troy asked.
“The DEA has them, we are doing DNA testing to determine where they came from. Were they from local sources or from Iran? Inquiring minds want to know,” Eric responded before I could answer.
“Did you bring any of their weapons back?” Art asked.
“No, the weapons were placed in the trucks before they were burned to destroy both the weapons and the vehicles,” I replied.
“You took no prisoners, killed everyone there other than the three main players. Why?” General Ingram asked.
“We were not equipped to deal with prisoners; we certainly couldn’t call the Mexican authorities. We had no medical facilities to care for them, the humane thing to was to put them out of their misery. Besides, you did not want survivors on Mexican media saying it was an American raid now did you. The dead tell no tales,” I replied.
“You knew from the very beginning this was what had to happen; there was no choice. To stay as clean as possible, you contracted it out to JBG,” I replied.
I handed the President a list of names for the presidential pardons. It included everyone connected to the operation.
“It’s time for the daily news briefing,” I said as I closed the video system down.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.