I started with the first most important one; the President. At least it was not MTAC – it would be one on one, or so I thought.
The President was in the situation room on a speaker phone with all his staff.
”Looks like your mission was a success. Embedded reporters; now that is some confidence. How long are you going to be there?” the President said.
”It is going to take a few days to clean up this mess,” I replied.
”Frank, Ben – are you in this conference?”
”Yes we are here.”
”My G5 left here two hours ago with VIP prisoners – they are not your concern and best if you stay as far away from them as you can. But – the box that pilot Max Grover is in charge of is. Have your agents carry the box to Robert and help him unravel the mystery the box holds – send your best electronics agents to meet the plane. You have little time before all hell breaks loose and it will lose all value,” I said.
The phones from the VIP prisoners and all the papers on them was in a lead-lined box. I was afraid to pull the batteries out of the phones and didn’t want them tracked, the lead-lined box would stop that. The numbers in the phones and any text messages could speak volumes to the right people.
”When will you be back?” Ben asked.
”I am hoping Sunday but it will probably be Monday. The Mexico operation is a go for the end of next week. My time is limited,” I said.
”I guess you know Congress is coming your way with a handful of subpoenas. The Congressional crying committees have already let everyone know their panties are in a twist. It amazes me how you being just one person can piss off so many people in such a short time,” Troy said.
”Practice makes perfect and I am still learning,” I replied with a laugh.
”What else is new? They may ask a lot of questions, but they are getting few answers. I have told my lawyers to fight every subpoena that does not involve the task force all the way all to the Supreme Court,” I said.
”I have to go – get back to you later.”
The media was wanting another news conference with the French President and now Louis with his cabinet were more than willing to bask in the spotlight. Even though they had wanted to stay away as far as possible, they were now more than willing to be in the media glow. Politics as usual no matter where one went.
Andy – still at the training site – sent updated statistics that I gave when it was my turn to speak.
”With the counts tallied there are a total of two hundred and thirty prisoners. The number of dead – including those killed when the suicide vest was detonated – is at seventy four killed in the two buildings.”
”The number of suicide vests between the two buildings stands at two hundred. There were one hundred and eighty various weapons and an estimated fifteen thousand rounds of ammo.”
”Unfortunately there were thirteen civilian deaths that were trying to halt the advance of the two battalions conducting the raids and thirty civilian automobiles were damaged or destroyed.”
”JBG International Security in partnership with the Pact Countries has to consider this a successful operation. There were several important goals that were met.”
”One was to capture or kill the majority or the terrorists of this cell and with the number of prisoners and dead, I believe we have done that.”
”The second was to stop the attacks that were planned, and with the number of captured IEDs, suicide vests and weapons I think we have done that as well by depriving them of the weapons to carry out future attacks. There may still be lone wolf attacks but this operation has to temporally cripple their abilities for large scale attacks in the region.”
”The third was the collection of information. The swiftness of the attacks meant there was no time to destroy records. We should have wealth of information on the human and weapons smuggling operation and be able to end that for the time being.”
”The fourth goal and one that we failed at was to get the leaders alive. They died in the gunfight or turned the guns on themselves to avoid capture. They carried the real information we needed to their graves.”
”Overall I believe this operation to be a success. Once the prisoners are interrogated and details of what they were planning and weapons evaluated there will be enough information released to the public for them to come to the same decision,” I said.
We had collected all the information we thought pertained to the leaders and left the rest for Louis. The French police and agencies needed something to do to feel they were part of the process. I had stepped on too many toes as it was.
I overheard some of the grumbling as various high level police officers made their way through the scene collecting evidence.
I needed to get to the US embassy for an MTAC with the President, Frank and the Secretary of State Dick James. As soon as the powers to be in Iran figured their VIP’s were missing, all hell was going to break loose. They needed to be prepared to respond, not hit with a broadside because of my connections to the administration.
And then there was the needed VCATS with Robert and my mates.
By 1500 the fun and games were over; I turned the sites over to Louis and the National Police. The streets were clear of protesters not long after the news was filled with pictures of captured weapons; they disappeared. Many of the news teams had left. They had enough materials to fill several days of broadcast time.
Hanna and Melinda ‘talking softly’ were giving interviews to news stations at home one right after the other about their experiences and about Melinda taking a hit in the vest that she was still wearing.
Melinda had turned down a visit to the doc for x-rays and a checkup. I knew she would regret that decision later tonight when the excitement wore off and the pain took over.
I had the situation covered in a way. Five of the men in the battalion were former medics in the services and had agreed to act as the same for JBG on missions if needed. The Doc had worked to have them recertified in the state of Maryland. The Doc had put together the same medical and drug boxes that were carried on ALS ambulances. If Melinda needed pain meds in the night, they had them.
I ordered all my men back to the barracks to clean up and rest for a bit before dinner tonight. I asked Louis if the drivers could stay with us for dinner.
I had paid the chefs plenty extra to plan a big American dinner for all of us tonight. Louis and his aides were also invited. It was to be a farewell for the French drivers and a thank you for a job well done for the men. At 0800 tomorrow morning we were all going home.
I had them carry me to the US embassy where I could use the secure MTAC to call Washington.
I sent a text to Troy ”MTAC thirty minutes. You, the President, Dick James, Frank Love and Ben Smith – no recordings or stenographers.”
When the screen went live, ”I needed a private conversation with you is the reason for this call. I wanted to give you a heads up,” I said.
”Has my plane arrived yet?” I asked.
”No, the agents just called, the flight board shows it as thirty minutes out they said,” Frank replied.
”OK, the plane is not going to stop at the terminal building, it is stopping on the back taxiway behind the large hanger first. There will be several Suburbans there to remove the prisoners and deliver them to the jail at Fort Smith,” I said.
I read the list of the prisoners and who they were and then waited for a response. And waited.
”That’s not a fire, that is a gasoline fueled inferno ready to drop in your lap. What are you going to do with them?” Dick asked.
”I intended to interrogate all of them before the capture. For now I am just going to interrogate the five terrorist leaders and hold off on the others until after they are finished; by then I will have a solution. We did not know that level of VIPs were going to be there.”
”Their bodyguards stormed out firing. After the guards were dead there was little left to do but take them into custody and get them out of there. The French do not know I have them. And it is best that you deny knowing anything about them,” I said.
”I do not know who or what you are talking about,” the President said. The others quickly agreed with his assessment.
”I do have one issue you are going to have to deal with. The chairman of the White House press corps is demanding that you use a lottery system to determine who the imbedded reporters are going to be on future missions,” Troy said.
”Just tell them I do not gamble – so no lottery. This is not a government operation so the reporters that go along will be of my choosing,” I said. “I am surprised they would ask after Melinda got hit, eight inches higher and she would be dead. I give them no assigned protection.”
My phone signaled a text, it was from Robert, ‘‘Call me 911.”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.