The helicopter ride seemed to take forever, even thought it was only forty minutes.
I called the girls to fill them in and to tell them I would be on the news again.
I turned the swivel seat around to face Eric, Ben, Anne and Andrew.
“I want every single individual from every department and agency that was on site to be interviewed starting on Friday. This needs to start from the time they turned off the highway on to the lane. I need what they did, what they saw, what orders they were given, and how many rounds they fired.”
“I want maps and location of every vehicle with notations of who was in the vehicle. I want the location of everyone dead and who was injured. I want to be able to reconstruct this fiasco like a movie script from beginning to end,” I said.
“Axle took pictures as he was leaving; I will get you copies to help with mapping the scene. When that is finished we will meet with all the agencies and hash out the differences.”
“Anne, since you have the most experience at analyzing data and systematic planning you are in charge. Don’t be afraid to exercise your authority. Split the agencies in half with Andrew. Get it done.”
“I will authorize an expense account with air travel and have the GSA authorize a car for both of you. I will also authorize for you to get whatever clerks you need from the pool to assist you.”
“Eric can supply the list of agencies that participated and the contacts with them,” I said.
“How long do you think you will need?” I asked.
“Not more than thirty days to the final report with both of us working on it. The sooner the interviews happen, the better – before memories get cold. We just have to wait until the funerals are over,” Anne replied.
“This investigation is not to assign blame. I have already accepted that. It is to identify why and what went wrong, and how to fix it before the next one happens – and it will,” I said.
Then I called Andy, “Bring all our people and equipment home from Harrisburg. They can stay and watch the fireworks there or come home to be with their families for the holiday.”
“Monday run them through the gun range and the fitness test. They will be reassigned to the Pact Countries by the end of the week.”
“Plan on a team going to Paris with me during the last week of July. Fate has scheduled a meeting for me with the angel of death. Make sure there is a coffin on board to bring my body home,” I said.
After a long pause, “OK,” Andy replied.
Every eye in the helicopter was wide and on me but no one said anything.
A few minutes later we were landing on the west lawn at the White House.
We met with the President and his staff for most of an hour, first discussing the all the information. The FBI bomb squad confirmed that all one hundred bikes were recovered and disarmed.
Friday they were going to cut the tubes apart with a pipe cutter and remove the C4, holding some of it for evidence and disposing the rest of it.
There would be long and drawn out trials for those arrested in the machine shops and community members of Avon Heights. The raids had produced plenty of evidence.
I could just imagine the fun they would have blowing things up with it. I loved to play with explosives myself at times.
The news conference started at four with Ben and Eric in front giving statements. The grim news about the causalities was given and the agencies they worked for. Then the condolences and sorrow for the loss of life and the gallant sacrifices of the fallen officers.
I stood with Anne and Andrew behind Ben as I said I would. The politicians gave the usual pat themselves on the back and the fine work that their agencies and people had done protecting the citizens of the nation.
Then there was the reassurances that everything that could be done to protect the public was being done. And then the questions started.
Ben, Eric and the others answered carefully. One of the things we had done in the meeting before the news conference was to discuss how certain questions and answers were to be given. The Harrisburg group was given a script to use before we left there so we would be on the same page. We wanted to preserve the dark web intelligence if we could.
At the Harrisburg news conference DHS director Creber had followed script when answering the question on how we found out about the terror group and their plans. Eric answered the same way but the Washington reporters were insistent on more detail to the point of harassing Eric.
Finally I stepped to the podium.
“I can give more information on that, as Director Roberson had stated – the first information did come through the tip line.”
“One of the members of the group had a weakness for strippers and booze. He was a mouthy bragging drunk. He visited a strip joint several times a week. One of the strippers that he fancied became very concerned at some of the things he was bragging about and phoned the tip line several times.”
“The lady agreed to an interview and after a convincing interview, I made the decision to replace all the strippers at the joint with agents if we could fine enough qualified volunteers.”
“Ten volunteered with conditions. There were enough ladies that the complete staff were agents for the hours of operation.”
“The drunk unknowingly supplied a wealth of information about their plans, even going to the strip joint to tell the lady he may not see her again and giving her a substantial tip,” I said and then turned to stand behind Eric.
I was hoping it would key up the media and it did. The more attention it drew, the better the chances it would get to the General.
“What kind of qualifications did you require?” someone asked.
“They had to look good in lingerie, pasties and dental floss – all the normal things for that business – and be able to master the pole,” I replied.
That left the media group in hysterics.
“What were those conditions?” another asked.
“Their identities had to remain anonymous, there was to be no electronic or paper trail that would ever lead to them. Their work computers were logged onto and work under their ID was completed every day they were on this assignment. They were not to be photographed in working attire.”
“The reports they generated were on paper and picked up by a courier, they were not copied, scanned or photographed. Once I read them they were shredded.”
“The internal and external cameras at the joint were disconnected and cell phones were forbidden inside the joint.”
“Their assignment ended last night and the employees returned to their normal work today. All things at the strip joint were returned to the condition it was before the surveillance started,” I said.
A Senator who was standing with the administration went ballistic.
“Am I to understand that you had female federal employees – from the FBI no less – working as strippers in a strip joint and had them there for a while in violation of dozens of rules?” he yelled.
“Who gave you that authority? I demand an investigation, that you be fired and criminally charged,” he said.
“The terrorists obeyed no rules in their quest kill thousands – I bent a few rules to stop the carnage and save thousands. I’m willing to bet few people attending the fireworks will have a problem with the undercover intelligence operation methods I used,” I said.
The President returned to the podium.
“On another matter I am nominating Hap McCoy as the Director of the IRS effective today. I would like to thank Ambassador Jones for her work there and hopefully this will reduce some of that overworked condition she has been under.”
With that the news conference was over. We members of Section Twelve started for the elevator but were stopped by the President and Troy.
Before the President could say anything, Ben said “If that was a little white lie I would hate to see a big one.”
“Yeah, it qualifies as a whopper. It was the only way that I could think of that might salvage the dark web source by convincing the General he had a failure of personnel and not broken code. We will know for sure in a day or two. If the code stays active it will be worth it.”
“The media is going to go crazy trying to find which nonexistent strip joint cooperated with us. Congress will spend millions trying to find ten FBI agents,” the President said.
“There are at least six strip joints and even more adult clubs, none of them are going to talk to the media and I bet they don’t say a word to any investigators,” Eric said.
“You are going to need another presidential pardon for when the wolves close in,” he added.
“You answered the question I was going to ask but would you really put agents in that position?” the President asked.
“To stop a terrorist strike like this, I would work the joint myself, if necessary. But I doubt anyone would pay to see me in pasties and dental floss,” I replied.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.