Thursday started off like all my days did – digesting page after page of updates.
The CIA update on Russia was almost chilling again. Russia was moving one more step closer to civil war – a war that would certainly involve current and former Eastern Bloc countries and all of Europe. There were reports of armed fighting in today’s brief.
The DOD people were in Nigeria and had approved a location for the new Doppler radar installation. The Army Corps of Engineers was drawing up plans for the first infrastructure we were assisting with.
As expected China had pulled out in a huff. They had been bluffing during the lead up to renewing the agreement. First they argued that they had over-bid the original mineral contracts and were going to cut the price. Then they tried to say they had over-reported the tonnage that was shipped and wanted adjustments.
Emir Bello had documented that they had under-reported the amount by fifty percent. The last few days leading up to the end of the contract were tense with China resorting to threats.
As I expected they would, the Chinese had destroyed all the equipment they could not get on ships at the surface mining operations as they left. But I had been prepared; in my planning I had called Dan Ortiz – owner of Brazil Mining and Minerals.
I had met Dan when I was Ambassador to Uganda. BM&M had mineral contracts in Uganda and was always wanting updates about the Sudan civil war on how close it was to his operations. It was his company that we bought the abandon mines adjacent to the Polokwane gold mine from. It was his plane that carried me to kill the Prince and the group.
I explained to him what our agreement was and that we were looking for a management company to oversee the mining operation and also train the Nigerian people to operate it.
I learned that BM&M had been in the beginning stages of developing and working the mining and mineral deposits, when China made their pitch demanding control of the mining operations as leverage for loans for infrastructure projects.
Dan agreed to the terms of the agreement I had made with Emir Bello and even went a little further.
Scales would be put in at the shipping terminal and all materials exported would have certified weight tickets. Dan also suggested that we start a lab to determine the quality of the ore to bargain for better pricing on the international markets.
He also recommend that we do a geological survey and seismic testing because there were indications that there were much larger deposits of natural gas and oil in Nigeria than initially thought. The current producing wells were near the coast and bordering Cameroon.
It was an idea that I had not thought of but it made sense. Technology in finding oil had changed dramatically in the last few years. The existing wells were over forty years old and production was diminishing.
BM&M had two freighters of new Cat mining equipment docking in a couple of days. Dozens of two hundred ton trucks, massive pay loaders and dozers; the things that were needed to run a mining operation.
Other freighters were coming with the necessary equipment for road and bridge building from the good old USA. The first part of the infrastructure plan was several new roads to cross the country.
Once the road construction was underway other major pieces needed to come together, such as sewage plants and power plants with a reliable utility distribution system. The current system was anything but reliable. It wasn’t like I had not done something similar but now I had no control over any of it, other than shutting off any more money.
My next update was a combined update from DHS, Health and Human Services and HUD on the California issue. It was good news. HUD had spent weeks in California securing additional qualified contractors to construct low income housing.
Three hundred contractors were now or would soon start constructing three hundred two hundred unit complexes. There were additional properties coming forward every day that were offered to join the HUD program.
Additional money donated by a group of California tech companies had quadrupled the one billion investment and now people were taking notice and willing to work with the agency.
HHS had been working with the homeless to find them jobs or return them to previously held jobs. Six thousand had returned to jobs. When they secured a job they were moved to tents closer to the main gate. Public transportation was stopping at the main gate every fifteen minutes from early morning through late evening.
Moving them to the closer tents was a reward. Another perk was they were added to the list to get the first of the low cost apartments as soon as one was completed.
Another reason they were moved was to prevent a passage way for contraband entering the camps.
HHS had also placed over three thousand of those needing mental health treatment in proper hospitals. Another two thousand veterans were now under the care of the VA.
There were still a lot of problems, but we were getting there – one step at a time.
One more step was the number of soldiers were being drawn down each week. That was a step that made everyone happy.
My first meetings after lunch were with the first ten utility companies; they were the ten largest in the country. I told them to bring me evidence and they did – boxes full.
I had the dates when they submitted plans, requests and applications for fossil fueled, hydro and nuclear power plants for the last twenty years. They also brought all the responses back from the federal agencies; in almost all the nuclear cases there had been no response.
In the conventional fueled plant applications, individuals from the department immediately alerted environmental groups so the groups could fight the plants. The process was supposed to be confidential until it was past the fourth step departmental review before any public announcements.
Former Presidents, under pressure from environmental lobbyist, had appointed anti-everything wonks to administrative positions within the agency.
I now had something for my investigative branch and the hundreds of researchers under my control to work on. We had not even named the investigative branch yet. I had named the ten lead prosecutors and they had chosen staff. I could hardly wait for the first subpoenas to be issued to hear the challenges from Congress.
But first we would act nice and just call them to come to a meeting and bring any and all documents for each of the applications the utilities had submitted. That meeting was set up for Friday.
Troy and I were just about to go down to Section Twelve to see Bob for a few minutes when the red phone started ringing. It was not by protocol that the red phone rang first.
The black phone was supposed to ring first to allow the aides and interpreters get into position to overhear, translate and document every word and innuendo murmured.
The red phone ringing was a shortcut that could only be a disaster in the works. It was 2200 in Moscow.
“This is Jones, good evening,” I said in Russian.
”I believe it is afternoon in Washington – good afternoon. This is President Orbatch. Anton Pavlenko said you were fluent in our language – a pleasant surprise,” President Orbatch said.
”Anton is an old friend. How is he doing with all the changes?” I asked.
”Quite well and anxious to see you again,” he said.
”Not that I am rushing our conversation but Anton says you are all business first and then pleasure. The subject I wanted to discuss with you is a visit. I want to discuss the current problems in Russia and possibly Europe.”
”America has taken great interest in the combined areas since the first Great War. You have come to the aid of the region many times. Your help is needed again if we are to avoid another massive war again,” he said.
”I have been watching the reports with great dismay. I think such a meeting is called for very soon, but you have to understand the negotiations will be tough in the current political climate. Determination and a willingness to bargain with real things on the table can overcome the political naysayers,” I said.
”Yes, yes it can,” he said.
”Would you like to arrive here on Sunday for talks on Monday for however long it takes for us to reach agreement on critical items? I will leave as many days open on my schedule as necessary. I am sure no one wants to feel we are rushed into any agreement.”
”Yes that would be excellent. We should do a public announcement that we are meeting,” he said.
A few minutes later we had statements that closely matched. An arrival time for President Orbatch at Andrews was set. That ended the conversation between us.
Our staffs continued the conversation on the black phones, going through the procedures that had developed over decades.
I sent the announcement to Harry to read at the news briefing.
I gathered my senior staff for a closed door meeting; Frank Love of the CIA, Bob Smith of the task force and the DOD intelligence people. I gave them one simple order.
”I want to know everything about Russia and I mean everything. Old weapons that are in their arsenal, how many of each and their effectiveness. Their Navy, Army, Air Force ships, subs, planes and defensive systems; the real numbers, ” I said.
”I want to know just how bad of a shape their agriculture system and manufacturing is in. I want to know more than is in the summaries. I need all this in my hands as soon as I can get it or by Saturday morning,” I said.
“As if that is not enough. I want to know the state of our agriculture in the same time frame. I want to know about our projected needs until harvest and surpluses of all food stocks.”
After putting everyone to work they left my office before more came their way. I still wanted to know more about Russian President Orbatch; there were several leaders from countries that routinely met with the Soviet leader. One was the Prime Minister of Israel. Another was the Prime Minister of Germany.
Israel met several times a year with President Orbatch as he was trying to be a peace broker for Hamas, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Talks had been going on for forty decades.
Every time there was progress, one side or the other moved the goal post and the process took ten steps back. In my opinion they would still be talking and fighting until the end of time or until the region was a glass parking lot.
Everybody had tried to be a peace maker, the Egyptians, Americans, the British, the Germans, Greece, Turkey and the Russians.
The Russians were still in the region from their part in the Syrian civil war. Every time they were close to an exit, there was always a flare up. Wars are easy to get into and a bitch to get out of – damn few ended honorably.
It was midnight in Israel and Germany as well. I would have to make those calls tomorrow; the next few days I was going to be extremely busy. I wanted to spend the weekend at home and now that was not going to happen.
My mates and the kids were now coming over Friday afternoon and we had another fundraiser Saturday night at Daytona Beach Florida.
Friday morning started the usual way by reading the security reports. I was finishing up the normal reports when Troy came in.
”There are several Senators from the Intelligence Committee in the lobby waiting to see you.”
”As if I do not know what they want to talk about. Will you get me the intelligence reports for the last week that has the Russian information? I will walk them back,” I said.
”Senator Fordes, Senator Whitby, good morning, good to see you again. Come on back to my office and have a cup of coffee with me,” I said.
“Two reps from the House intelligence committee are on their way,” Senator Fordes said.
‘‘Ok, we will wait a few minutes for them,” I said.
While we were waiting, Connie started bringing in folders from intelligence briefings for the last two weeks with the info I had asked for marked by yellow tags.
I wondered how many red ink pads it took to stamp classified and top secret for so many places on each page and better yet, who had that much time?
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
Thursday started off like all my days did – digesting page after page of updates.