Friday morning continued with updates and satellite pictures from the DOD and CIA. Pakistan’s Premier still had not called. His military was speaking for him.
Thousands of troops were descending on every province where there were any roads, paths or dog crossings into Iran. The compounds, training areas, camps and a couple villages that the militants between Rasman Kargud and the Iranian border had been using were leveled.
High magnification photographs showed bodies everywhere and they weren’t just the militants. The Premier’s troops had paid a price as well. There were over one hundred army trucks that had been destroyed by rocket or RPG fire.
The militants had staged the attack on ‘Forward Base Hammer’ from this area. Pakistan was making sure there would be no more.
”Cancel the departure orders for the last two carriers. Let the first four continue to the Indian ocean. Issue a stand down for the bombers from Lackland Air Force Base. Order a stand down order for one of the bomber groups from Russia, have the other land at Teheran and stay a few days,” I said.
”Better yet, have the bombers fly the Iranian Pakistan border, say at twenty thousand feet, low enough for the Pakistani troops to see and hear them,” I said.
The bombers there would make good press when the White House media was there.
The Thomas and the Fordson were two of the carriers that were going to the gulf. They were the visiting carriers to Subic Bay Naval. When they left the Indian ocean this time, it would be to return to NewPort News Ship Building and the Navy yard.
The Fordson and the Thomas would have a checklist of ship defects repaired. They had had the longest shakedown cruise in history.
The White House media group was in a tizzy over my orders to the Labor Department ignoring the court’s orders. The Justice Department had a court date Monday with the appeals court. I was undecided if I was going to make an appearance with Harry today or not.
The protesters were already outside throwing trash over the fence and climbing on it. I went to the Secret Service office and looked at all the cameras outside, there were no poor protesters out there. All of them were carrying commercially made signs and posters and they weren’t starved or wearing rags. Many were carrying union messages.
Congress had changed to a format of aggressively restricting access after the 1-6 incident, including fencing and razor wire. I wondered if I could do the same thing for the White House. After the acid smoke during the run-up to the Iran assault, I would bet on it. I called the agent in charge of White House security, telling him I wanted a meeting ASAP.
It just pissed me off royally that the DC police did little and the Secret Service seemed to be hamstringed to do anything about it. It was one thing to orderly protest but to throw open bags of trash over the fence onto the White House lawn was not going to continue. Neither was spray paint on the fence and sidewalk.
Today was a meet and greet for the final group of newly elected members of Congress. I went through the niceties and the pep talk about standing together on my policy. I laid them out and asked where they stood to open the dialog. It was a good meeting. I emphasized that we had an open door policy when there were needs to be discussed.
I also stressed that the media was not a sounding board for ideas and could never be relied on to be truthful nor friendly towards them. All media thrived on controversy and created as much as possible for ratings. All those things finished out my morning.
The after lunch meeting was with Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health and the Department of Education and other alphabet names from the field of medicine. The meeting almost turned into a brawl between the alphabets.
The flu season was on us in full swing. All the agencies were afraid they were doing too little and wanting their time in the lead while dispensing fear on the media. Since the great pandemic of the 20’s, fear and control was the weapon of choice for the health agencies.
As usual this year’s flu started in China. They always started in China. I had to wonder why. And as usual, this year’s flu shot was the wrong strain for the flu that was making the rounds. The flu shot was for J1A – the flu was H2JN
When I got order restored – that only took a few seconds – I started asking questions.
”Is this year’s flu shot helping at all, since it was for the wrong strain?” I asked.
”Oh yes, absolutely,” Dr. Armistead said.
”Can you explain that to me as it is the wrong vaccine this year?” I said.
”It will give people peace of mind that they are vaccinated and J1A may make an appearance,” Dr. Armistead said.
”Vaccinated with the wrong vaccine – that is some piece of mind – not! The vaccine for this flu season is worthless. When was the last time the right vaccine was given for the flu?” I asked.
”So, the National Institute of Health spent twenty billion for vaccine development and production for nothing, same as last year and the year before that,” I added.
I got no answer, only stares at the table.
The next part of the conversation was on school closures and masking. The Department of Education wanted to close schools and go with virtual learning for the rest of the school year. They were having many internal discussions, both in house and with the National Association of Teachers and other education related unions.
The National Institute of Health along with Health and Human Services were the ones pushing masking and wanting a federal mandate.
I settled the arguments. ”it’s a flu that happens every year, same as last year and the year before. Seven to ten days feeling bad, chills, vomiting, loose bowels. Some are having to go to the hospitals, a few are dying – they are few – mostly senior citizens and the very young. The rule of nature – the strong survive – the rest perish. It’s had been happening since the beginning of time, it’s sad but that is life,” I said.
”There will be no mandatory masking; a voluntary masking recommendation will do for those that may have weakened immune systems. There will be no virtual schooling or closings,” I said.
”The public service messaging is to carry all the normal cold and flu information – fluids, rest and treat the symptoms. That will be the administration policy unless something drastically changes. This applies to all agencies. That will be the public stance we take,” I said.
It was the same policy that former President Thomas had in place the last seven years.
The afternoon slowed down, except for the media hounding Harry. I had one more meeting with the intelligence group and one more with Bob for terrorist updates.
The terrorist trials were winding down and would be finished in a couple of months. Then there would have to be decisions made about then for the terrorist task force. It was just more food for thought I needed to address.
At 1700 the chopper landed on the lawn with my family, all of them carrying briefcases again and a few suitcases. The dress maker with the seamstress and the fashion experts were already in the building. There were multiples of them, so they would get finished faster. The dresses had already been chosen, this was to be the final adjustments before inauguration.
We were finished by 1900; the kitchen staff had a late supper for us. Then we went to the family rooms. My mates talked for another hour while I listened and played with the boys.
At 2200 my mates and I were in the master bed making up for the time apart. That was the way the weekend went – spending time together.
Saturday morning the C17 flight from Dover left on time with Hanna, Melinda and the other four reporters and camera people. General Ingram had made the necessary arrangements for housing, escorts, and an interpreter. It wasn’t going to be a joy ride for the group. He had also made arrangements for Melinda to be sent to Forward Base Hammer for the report she did for me.
Sunday morning Washington had Melinda’s first report from Forward Base Hammer, complete with interviews of soldiers and video of the base damage. The report was thirty minutes and covered all aspects of the trip from Dover to Teheran and the accommodations for the news groups.
The other news teams had chosen areas around the major cities. Interviewing mayors and anyone else they could find that would talk to them. They were asking questions about the reconstruction and the war. They were interviewing our soldiers as well.
Monday my mates left early to get things at JBG headed in the right direction. Monday was always the busiest for the office. Marcy had lots of things to check out in accounting and on the stocks she was buying.
Lorrie needed to verify status of all the airplanes needed for the week. Jenny needed to check in with HR and legal. Ching Lee looked in on the college security. And Vicky needed to check in with Andy and on the embassy security. I always called Robert for updates on intelligence.
The time sheets had to be recorded from all the employees worldwide and the process went on from there to ensure that everyone got a paycheck on time and the payroll taxes paid. Vice presidents handled everything. My mates just needed to confirm everything and sign off.
Monday morning went to crap not long after we finished with the NSA meeting at 1100. Duncan Woods – the Secretary of Education who was sitting at the table Friday as part of the decision making on this year’s flu policy – had called a news conference at 1000.
At that news conference he said that as Secretary of the Department of Education, ”I am ordering full masking and virtual classes as soon as the arrangements could be put in place until the end of March to prevent the spread of the flu.”
”Hell will have no fury compared to me when my presidential orders are overridden or ignored,” I thought. I wondered what the hell had transpired between Friday afternoon and this morning for him to make that kind of decision and not think it important enough to call for a special meeting.
Troy called all the agencies that were here on Friday to be here at 1200 for an emergency meeting. Mr. Woods office informed my caller that he was too busy to attend the emergency meeting.
That was a big mistake.
I made two calls, one to Art Cummins to get a list of phone numbers to and from Woods and Parsons cell, home and office phones starting Friday after my meeting and a copy of all emails and texts until now.
The second call was to get a printout of who the phone numbers were assigned to. I would have had Marty Coeburn do it but he would have wanted court orders to do it, so I called Frank. The CIA would run them without court orders.
I made one more call to the Secret Service, ”Bring Duncan Woods and his second in command Emit Parsons to my meeting, in hand cuffs if necessary.” I sent Ziva and Abra with them.
I didn’t know for sure what the Secret Service agents would do, but I knew what Ziva and Abra would do.
It was 1215 when the agents with Ziva and Abra came in with Parsons and Woods in handcuffs. Ziva placed both of them in a chair, leaving the cuffs still attached to their wrists.
”This is an outrage. Never before have I been treated in such a manner. I demand to have an attorney present,” Woods screamed.
”I don’t think you need an attorney to sit in on this meeting and explain your actions in violation of administration policy that you help develop on Friday.”
Frank followed them in with the reports from their phones. Frank and I walked off to the end of the meeting room where he explained the papers he held. They were what I expected – therefore no surprise.
”Secretary Woods, you participated in the policy meeting in this very room Friday afternoon where we discussed and implemented my administration’s current policy towards this year’s flu,” I said.
”Less than seventy two hours later you discarded that policy and formed one of your own without notifying your superiors. Explain that to me and what information that you received that caused you to formulate the policy change,” I said.
”I took calls all weekend long from school systems and teachers’ organizations that were very critical of your policy and demanded a change to it. After consultation with the school boards and the American Federation of teachers and others, I decided that virtual schooling was the only way to go,” he said.
”Any demand to change my policies should have come to me. Only me and no one else – including you – can change my official policy,” I said.
”Who called wanting you to overrule my policy?” I asked.
”I can’t remember all of them but there were a lot of representative calls from state school boards advising of their concerns wanting a change. After listening to their arguments, I agreed with them,” Duncan Wood said.
”Well, let’s see,” I said as I opened the folder Frank gave me.
”There was a total of fifty calls between your office phone, your official cell phone, your personal cell phone, and your home phone between 1600 Friday and 1100 today from Mary Sue Folcomer, President of the National Teachers Association,” I said.
”There were thirty calls from Luanne Fiske of the State Employees National Federation of Teachers Union with calls to your office, personal cell and home phone. There were also several calls from other organizations connected with virtual learning management,” I said.
”According to the phone logs, there were no calls from any state school boards,” I said.
”Even I don’t have your personal cell number, but the Presidents of these unions have. There is something wrong with that picture.”
“Teacher’s unions do not set national education policy, nor do they set policy for the National Institute of Health or Health and Human Services for my administration,” I said.
”Mr. Parsons, were you in on any of these calls and when did you become involved with the change?” I said.
”I took one call Friday afternoon from Mary Sue Folcomer, wanting my support for changing the policy. I told her that it was an executive branch decision and any change was above my pay grade and that she needed to call the White House or someone else,” Parsons said.
”Does anyone else have any information that would suggest that we needed to change the policy made on Friday?” I said. No one said anything
”OK. Friday’s decision still stands as policy. Mr. Woods, please stay – I have a form you need to fill out and sign. Mr. Parsons, wait in the lobby and anyone else that has something that I need to address also wait in the lobby. I should only be a minute,” I said.
I had the papers for termination or resignation in the folder.
”For insubordination, check one of the boxes, date and sign it or this one will go in your file.” Connie had already filled out the ‘you’re fired’ one; I signed it and slid both over to him.
Troy left the room to make three calls, one was to Art Cummins to cancel Woods’ ID and authorizations, the second to the US Marshal service to assistant Woods in cleaning out his personal belonging. The third was to Congress, notifying them of the change for the department of education.
Mr. Parsons was called to the Oval Office.
”In case you haven’t guessed it, Woods has been fired. You are acting Secretary of the Department of Education until an Executive review of the department is completed. I would strongly suggest that you do not give your personal or government cell numbers to any unions or organizations. I would also suggest that you take no calls from Mary Lou Folcomer, just send them to an underling. Better yet, inform your staff not to forward any union calls to you and not to give out your phone numbers to anyone,” I said.
”Wait until Troy gets back and he will write up a joint press release reaffirming Friday’s policy and announcing that you are acting Secretary of the department. Then you can give a press conference at your office and notify all the states and local boards that there was a miscommunication in Woods’ press release and Friday’s policy stands,” I said.
I wondered how many more agency heads were going to try me to see how far they could push me. Six more days to inauguration.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.