I looked out past the curtain at the gathered media raiding the tables with coffee and donuts; Harry was standing beside me. It was five minutes to two.
“Harry, let’s go get us a donut before the vultures clean the carcass,” I said.
“You aren’t afraid they will try to grab a piece of flesh?” he replied laughing.
“As long as you are breathing and moving they will stay back. Troy – on the other hand – might be in trouble,” I replied with a laugh as I took my mug and walked towards the steps with Harry following.
The masses quickly moved to the table as Harry and I filled our mugs. At first the conversation was sociable but then questions started.
I winked at the questioner, “The Spanish inquisition isn’t scheduled to start for a few more minutes,” I said.
Harry began with the normal list of agencies reports and statements that he needed to give. It took him forty minutes; he had a big list today. I sat in the chair next to the wall and worked on texting with Marcy. She was working on the bill for my trek to Mexico. It would be ready for me to review when I got to the office tonight.
Harry was finally done and began taking questions. As I expected, the first question was directed at me.
“Well that did not take long,” Harry relied.
“Yes Melinda,” I replied.
“Ambassador, how serious is the revolt in Mexico and is it affecting our ability to fight cross border terrorism?”
“I am told the Mexican government has made big strides today in ending the revolt by the cartel. A substantial number of the cartel leadership has been killed or is under arrest. The death toll and damage to the city has been extensive. Border security was beefed up from the beginning and overtime was approved. There were arrests of cartel members today trying to cross into the US,” I replied.
“In the La Jarita state over the weekend, there appears to have been a massive fire fight that the cartel lost. Do you have any information on that?”
“The task force is aware of it but it is out of our jurisdiction. It looks like a drug deal gone bad in a big way. Mexico has not asked us to help in any investigation that I know of,” I replied.
“Shree, you’re up,” I said.
“Ambassador, there was a report that you turned in your resignation to the President on Friday from a very reliable source. I know you are here but what can you tell us about that report?” Shree asked.
“You need to have a conference with Tracy. I’m sure the two of you can come to a conclusion about your very unreliable source,” I replied.
“Ambassador, there was a report about possible missing nuclear weapons components along with the report that they may be in the hands of terrorists,” she asked.
“You need to get in on that conference with Tracy and Shree. A complete inventory of all nuclear weapons in the field and storage and all critical components has been completed and all are accounted for and secure,” I replied.
“Ambassador, you only have a couple more weeks left on the task force; what are your plans after that?” Becky asked.
“One very big blow out cookout and party with my family and friends who I have seen little of for the last six months. After that, a family vacation to some private secluded place where we can shed the vests and heavy clothes to work on our all over natural tans,” I replied.
“That’s all the time I have; Harry can take over now,” I said. Then I stepped down to the table and grabbed one more donut to take with me.
Back in Section 12 I started dealing with the issues of the afternoon. There were still a few arrests going on. Some of those arrested had decided to negotiate and were singing like a canary. The FBI and DHS agents were busy sorting things out.
On my desk was a folder from the FBI on Kris Reynolds; he had been the seller. Forty six years old, a twenty six year career DOD employee. He had transferred to the critical weapons disposal unit – affectionately known as CWDU – ten years ago.
His garage and storage unit were filled with classified parts and weapons that he had signed off as witnessed destroyed. He had developed a system to get the things he wanted.
He would accompany a shipment for disposal and once the items were on the conveyor, he would give them a closer inspection. He would pull selected items off the conveyor and fill out elaborate fake paperwork, finally saying the items needed to be returned to the DOD, only to end up in his garage.
The plutonium ball was acquired the same way. He treated the people at the sites very well, paying for meals, whiskey and other gifts which should have raised all kinds of flags.
Kris had been selling parts on the deep web for two years; that was over now. With his computers seized, a list of what he had sold, for how much and to whom was now in the hands of the FBI. The FBI electronics unit under its new boss was producing; this file had been completed in just six hours today.
The file had lists of the materials in his garage – it was a lot – and was in the hands of the FBI as well as his bank accounts, safety deposit box and anything else they could seize.
I wondered if they left enough money for his wife to buy food for his kids and to pay utilities. If his lawyer was smart and could get the paperwork to him, they should file for retirement, although until he was convicted and a termination hearing he could continue drawing his paycheck. They could not touch his retirement.
My thoughts were interrupted by Troy standing in my door. “Do you have a few minutes to come upstairs? We have a visitor that would like to see you.”
Mexican Ambassador to the US Francisco Garcia was sitting in the Oval Office with the President, the Secretary of State Dick James and Eric Roberson. There was a chair for me beside Garcia; the White House photographer had all his equipment set up and started taking picture as soon as I approached the pair. This part was to be a photo op and I was to be part of it.
After the politics the real discussion began.
“Ambassador Garcia, the President and I have been discussing the cartel activities in the last few days. Mexico would like all the cartel members that our border patrol have arrested returned to Mexico immediately. I explained the difficulties on doing that and they will work with our system but we will return them as fast as we can,” Mr. James said.
“What has been done to assist Mexico in their return?” I asked.
“That is the purpose of this meeting; it is to formulate a procedure and policy. I thought you may have ideas to speed things along,” the President replied.
“Right now the DHS is holding them at several remote locations pending recommendations. And before you ask, they have not been allowed to see lawyers yet,“ Eric said.
“How far from the border are they being held?” I asked.
“At one facility near the El Paso Texas crossing and the other at Laredo, less than 5 miles from the border crossings. Both are DHS owned,” Eric said.
I wondered why Eric said they were DHS owned, so I took the bait.
“Load them on a bus, drive them back across the border, and then turn them over to the Mexican border patrol – if they haven’t been processed. The only thing they will do in an American jail is form more gangs and continue to run cartel business and create more havoc,” I replied.
“It is not that easy,” Eric said.
“I’m sure you can find all kinds of loop holes in international law that will allow it to be done. Get the drug dogs to see if they have been handling drugs then check their clothes to see if there is any gun powder residue. If there are, then they are cartel and you can send them back,” I replied.
“If it were only that easy,” Mr. James said.
“Do you want me to send you some bus drivers?” I replied.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.