“What’s going on?” Anne asked.
I showed her the phone. The congressional people suddenly found some reason to be hanging around.
“Anne, when the other Suburbans get here, you and Andrew are to split up and each take one back to the White House. There is no need of you two being collateral damage if there is an attempt on me. I will ride by myself,” I said.
The court clerk handed me six copies of the judge’s order; typed, written and signed as he spoke it in court. I was reading it when Senator Black stepped beside me.
“Are they after you again?” he asked.
“Chatter is making rounds on terrorist channels. You never know what will happen. It may be nothing but you cannot take chances. Either way it would be best to keep some distance from me in public for a while,” I said.
Agents in tactical gear walked in carrying my heavy armor. ‘It was just too hot to wear this too long,’ I thought as I put it on.
The trip back to the White House was quick and quiet. That meant if the threat was real, it would happen on the way home again.
Anne, Andrew and I met with the President’s inner circle and went over the Harrisburg report one page at a time. I answered a lot of questions and a lot more on the recommendations.
Anne and Andrew were leaving at 0800 for Harrisburg; their meeting was scheduled at 1000.
The press conference and release of the report was also at 1000. Department heads and the congressional committee heads were to receive their copies at 0900.
Andy sent four Suburbans with six of the new graduates from training. They would be leaving in a few days for Europe but today they were in body armor with MP5s slung across their shoulders and fingers on the trigger guard.
The press at the gate knew something was different than this morning. They shot right to the fence and started yelling questions. I didn’t even bother to wave as I was hustled into the SUV.
The ride home was fast. I watched ZNN for their latest take on things. After I left, the White House had released a statement that the final report on Harrisburg was at 1000. They were building up hype for today’s news run. It was politics as usual in the Washington merry go round.
We arrived home without incident, nothing unusual at all. It was a relief but at the same time concerning. Were they trying different communication methods to see if we had broken the codes and were able monitor them?
I headed straight to Robert’s office to find out what was going on. Robert had left for the day but there were several reports in my box and the duty man explained how they had come across the chatter.
It came from a telephone and then a text conversation between the escort group handlers near the Norfolk Navy yard. The time on the call logs indicated the text happened at noon. I wondered how Robert got the active phone conversation.
This would be something new if the EIT group had come up with a way to randomly monitor phones. I knew the NSA had the capabilities but they were not sharing the tech.
One thing that I was certain of is that the terrorists were embarking on a systematic testing of all their communications. They were then waiting to see our reaction to determine if that line of communication had been breached.
I left Robert strict orders that unless there was reliable, indisputable evidence that an attack on the family was imminent, we were to respond in no way publicly.
It was a short meeting with a quick read over things at Polokwane. There was a spreadsheet with material, equipment orders and delivery dates. That list was growing by dozens of lines daily.
Someone had sprinkled outdoor fever dust on my mates. They all wanted to go the gun range and then visit Fort Smith.
I knew what the Fort Smith visit was all about; Jenny let the cat out of the bag. RJ and JJ had been pestering all day to go there. The girls had promised them that I would take them when I got home.
I should have been upset, but it had been a while since I had taken a close look at the fort in a while. It was getting used hard and I wondered how everything was holding up and if repairs were needed.
But first was the gun range even with the two boys, just to see how they would react to the noise. They were still years away from doing any actual shooting. Eventually they would be taught with gun safety being the first and I would insist they show and demonstrate that.
We had practiced that for a while, unless our Glocks were in a holster on our body they were in a locked drawer or the gun safe. The very first safe I had bought and placed in the closet was still the one we were using at home.
The boys behaved well although it was a challenge to get them to wear double hearing protection – the foam ones and the clam shell style over top of them.
We spent over an hour at Fort Smith looking at most things. I was happy that Andy’s group was seeing that everything was kept up. The boys picked up more souvenirs.
Because I was looking at things and places where they normally wouldn’t go, the boys stayed with my every step. Of course the questions never stopped. No wonder my mates wanted them to go with me. Vicky had brought them the other day. They had worn her out with questions and running from one place to the other.
The ride to Washington was as quiet as I expected. A government plane carried Anne and Andrew plus a couple helpers from Andrews Air Force base to Harrisburg International.
I stood with the President, Troy and the Justice Department officials as the spin was put on the Harrisburg investigation. Most of the questions were directed at me for my little caper. The reporters were furious that I would answer no questions about that part of the investigation and all the blackouts on the first few pages.
Anne and Andrew were back long before I went home. Their meeting had gone quite well, especially with the recommendations for multiple agency large scale training exercises. There was to be more cross training between SWAT groups and proper access to excess military equipment, armored HumVees and MRAP light weapons along with extra training on reinforced structures and above all, improved tactics training for large scale operations.
Traffic was a fiasco because of the normal ‘get to the beach’ driving for the weekend. School and colleges would be starting soon, putting pressure to get the family vacations finished. To make matters worse the weatherman had promised sunny, muggy and hot; normal August weather.
The weekend went fast. Saturday was family work time – something that had gotten put off the last few weeks with the rush. We made up for it on Saturday. The house was cleaned from basement to the attic. We carted two truckloads of old clothes, trash, magazines and worn out furniture to the dumpster behind the office.
We had spent money everywhere else on everything for months. It was time to start upgrading where we lived. The girls were going to look for new carpet for the downstairs and upstairs. One of the heat pumps had been repaired twice this summer. We made the decision to replace it with something new and more efficient before winter.
The dredging of the creek behind the house was done with all the shoreline work and the dock completed. We could start looking for a nice sized boat for us to use next year. It was just too late to get one to use this year.
We had a small cookout for just family – my mates and the kids, mom, Dad, Jason, Lisa, Jake and Mindy – on Sunday afternoon. Food, beer and doing just nothing hit the spot.
You never get away without thinking of work just a little or I didn’t. I wondered about Oklahoma State. We supplied their security. Were there any holes in it that needed plugged?
But for now it was still more family time. First was the hot tub and then with the boys in bed, we all retired to the living room for more intimate time and play. It was midnight when we were all too tired to continue. The only thing left was to all of us hitting the showers and smuggling up with our mate.
Morning came way too fast. Sitting in the hot seat was not going to make it any better. The ride again was uneventful and fast.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.