Another double posting today just a little diversion from the news. 127 and 128.
Thursday morning I carried the morning updates with me to the briefing room for the national security briefing. I was getting better at speed reading and did while the other members assembled.
They always went through some big routine of having aides open cases and placing everything at their fingertips for them. I just kept reading until everyone was finally seated.
I was at the end of the table and had them start to the left and work all the way around. It was a big day on intelligence; everyone had a lot to say – it was going to be a long meeting.
At 0930 I was back in the Oval Office. I took a few minutes to write my response to the resignation of Justice Copeland. I would send it to Harry as soon as the court made its announcement.
Admiral John Patterson came in with the update that I had asked for; he was ten minutes early.
‘‘Newport News Ship Building is working as you ordered. The Washington and the Truman will be done on the time frame you want. The work is also on going to the Bush and the Eisenhower, possibly in the time frame you want,” he said.
”The engineers are looking at the Stennis issue – no decision yet,” he added.
”The CV67 conventionally fueled Kennedy is at Philadelphia navy yard awaiting final disposition. Find out how long to put her back in service with an all hands effort. Fuel rods won’t be a problem – enough tankers might be?” I asked.
”You are planning to smack someone pretty damn hard,” he said.
”Daily reports are not getting any better. Keep me updated and get me some answers,” I said as I stood up.
Troy, Connie and I went to the meeting room for the special staff meeting I had called. Many of the people were already in there waiting.
”Connie, can you find the Supreme Court’s daily briefing on the TV?” I asked.
At 1000 the briefing started; it was the first item of the briefing.
”I have the resignation in my desk, I assume there is an official procedure that has to be followed. President Thomas nominated three during his seven years.”
”I expect there was already a plan for the next nomination. Is there a list of prospects that have been prescreened that I can review?” I asked.
”Yes there is. Several have been added that have not been screened yet. I will get you the list,” Troy replied.
I handed Troy the press statement I had written. Troy nodded and sent it to the press room for Harry to read at the press briefing.
The rest of the meeting was discussing the list of prospective judges.
I ate lunch with Marcy and talked of things at home. I was wanting to see the little ones; their innocence and time with them had become a form of stress relief for me.
I listened while she filled me in on things that happened at home today. She had been on VCATS with Andy, Jenny and Vicky. The Iranian fast boats were out playing again today. They were trying to get our boats to follow them into Iranian waters.
Aaron Purcell was prepared for such tricks and the boats didn’t fall for it. The Iranians finally gave up and went back to their base.
We were leaving Washington at noon tomorrow for the island. We were flying into Morton in Marine One as we did the last time. The Secret Service finally decided it was a good option to dealing with the traffic.
The hunt was still on for Saturday; no one had backed out, even after all the press.
The press was busy today following all the Congressional complaining about the vetoing of the budget. Congress was hard at work trimming dollars here and there. They were even debating closing some of the agencies I had marked.
Then the press was in a tizzy about the retirement of Justice Copeland. The liberals especially – they were already trying to get the Senators to block any nomination that I made, saying I was undeserving of the power to appoint a Supreme Court judge as I was not elected by the people.
Vice President Harrison sent me a note that the Senate was anxiously awaiting my nomination for the court to debate and hold a vote before the spring break.
At least that was encouraging and a positive note that my judgment would be seriously considered.
Troy finally found the list of prospective judges. There were nine male and six female. The top three on the list were female and that suited me to keep a balance on the court.
I sent the top three to the FBI and DHS for a new complete background investigation with a rush note attached. They had already been subjected to a preliminary investigation; this would finish it and update any missing items.
I had several calls from the Senate and the House about the budget and what changes it would take for me to sign it. Discussions that went nowhere.
Again Troy and Connie helped me. When the government shuts down because of a budget impasse the President can earmark essential agencies that can keep operating.
We started going through the list, first departments to stay operating was the Social Security agency, several intelligence agencies, the DOD, Veterans Affairs, DHS, Air Traffic Controllers and the FBI. I pondered about the National Park Service and finally added it to the list.
The National Park Service was now actively helping the Border Patrol fight the cartel in the parks that were along the Mexican border. The JBG Security zone had stopped more influx but the cartel had taken over the National Parks and were growing marijuana and processing drugs within the National Forest.
The liberal and progressives would be furious that none of their favorite programs were included and I would probably regret it in the end. But it is what it is.
To my surprise Marcy took the letter from the Iranians and said she would do a VCATS meeting with the girls and Andy, then we could write a letter today.
Marcy was back in an hour and handed me the letter she, the girls and Andy had put together.
”Dear Mr. Kars Marwan, President of Iran.”
”Based on the events of the attack on our escort ships, the statements of the crews and the video evidence that backs up their after action interviews, we have concluded that your country and your boats are responsible for the hostilities.”
”Any attempts to board our ships in international waters by armed individuals will be considered an act of piracy or hostage taking and will be dealt with accordingly.”
”The prisoners will continue to be held and will be joined by the injured as they are released from the hospital. Negotiations at a later date will determine their fate.”
”JBG will make no payments for the lost boats nor the lost personnel. You, however, will be required to pay for damages to our equipment before the prisoners will be released.”
”Continued harassment of our ships in international waters will result in us presenting a more aggressive position and escalation of tensions.”
‘‘President & CFO of JBG
Marcy De Stone Jones”
I read the letter and placed it back in the JBG envelope Marcy had it in. Then I called Ambassador Fazel Al Farsi to pick it up and deliver to his friends.
I received a text from Andy, ”Robert has found cartel leader number three in Morelia in the state of Michoacán De Ocampo. Rahim Lopez controls the cartel business in three Mexican states; his compound is heavily fortified.”
I sent back, ”That’s between you and Vicky, but keep me informed.”
Vice President Harrison knocked then came into the Oval Office. He had been to the Senate deliberations about the budget. They were nearly finished negotiating with the House committees.
”They have agreed to cut eighteen of the thirty sub agencies you wanted. They did agree to reduce the remaining by fifty percent this year and close them next year. They have asked if it was acceptable to allow the people to be eliminated by attrition verses being fired,” he said.
”The government hires thousands daily; offer them positions they are qualified for in other agencies twice. If they don’t take them then fire them is how I would work it. I thought that was normal procedure anyhow,” I said.
”Not when an agency is defunded. They are fired and have to reapply for open positions,” he said.
”You have the Navy and Newport News Ship Building worried. The Navy tried to get commitments from the armed services committees to lock down the funding to finish the five Fordson class ships. They did allocate an extra fifteen billion to the DOD earmarked to the Navy to get the carrier program back on track,” he said.
”The committees told them no, pending the outcome of the Fordson sea trails as you detailed,” he said.
”You can expect Newport News Ship Building to start applying all the political pressure they can.”
”I knew they would do that, so that is no surprise. You can be sure every senator and representative with an Ingalls owned plant or factory in their state will get some aggressive calls,” I said.
”The call center is recording more in favor of your Navy decision,” Troy said.
The call center was a system that had ten questions. They were yes or no or are for or against this policy or proposal. It was designed to measure public opinion on things with the White House. A previous President had the system installed. It was often rumored he took positions and modified policy based on poll numbers it generated along with other media polls.
I had no faith in it – special interest groups with paid operators or persons with auto dialers could load the position they wanted. There was no way to verify the polls, just as there no way to verify media polls.
I may not be a rocket scientist but I knew of many ways to skew the results.
”That’s nice to know for what it is worth. Who generates the questions and how often are they changed?” I asked.
”The media relations group and they are changed every three days if you create enough newsworthy items. The question on the budget veto is not in your favor,” Troy said.
‘‘Too many people with their hand out, afraid nothing is to be put in it,” I said.
Twenty minutes later Marcy and I along with the football were headed to the island in Marine One. Several helicopters left with the advance Secret Service team. They were going to inspect the Suburbans for bugs and bombs, even though they had been under lock and key with agents watching.
We were followed by a second team of agents and the media team. The government would run out of money at midnight Saturday night and I was not even going to be in Washington. The Senate and House were still negotiating. Let the fun begin.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.