Book 3 Chapter 16
Friday morning started out early at 0500 with a bang. A terrorist tried to drive a dump truck through the White House security gates. The Secret Service assigned to the roof put a Stinger missile into the engine after it crashed through the gate and over the tire busters and was still moving. All the alarms were ringing; agents were running everywhere.
0500 was when there was a shift change. The agents’ shift change was done in two parts an hour apart so there was always a full staff on duty watching all the monitors and guarding the President. The result was that there were more agents on the grounds.
The driver must have had experience from the battlefield or maybe was just lucky or chickened out. Seconds before the missile hit, he jumped from the truck and tried to run – only to run into a dozen agents. Fearing the truck was loaded with explosives and with the driver in hand, everyone moved quickly away. That the truck’s load was covered with a canvas only added to the fear.
My family and I were ushered into Section 12; the underground bunker that housed the terrorism task force among other agencies. It had separate fresh air inlets and a power supply that was filtered multiple times for all kinds of threats. The other White House staff were down here on other levels.
After 9-11 the White House had gone through many secret upgrades and renovations – many disguised as normal maintenance. All the windows had been replaced with reinforced bulletproof glass. The original wooden window frames had been replaced with steel. The storm shutters were made operative and also bulletproof.
There were boxes on the roof designed to look like duct work – they were actually storage for Stinger and Tomahawk missiles and machine guns. The roof had been replaced with armor plating and titanium covered in a rubber coating making it waterproof in the upgrades.
When the bed cover was pulled back, it was found that the bed of the truck was filled with twenty and forty pound propane cylinders. The wiring leading into the truck body had been burned off and whatever they were using for the trigger was destroyed, improperly set or a delayed timer.
Equipment was brought in to unload the cylinders one at a time, then they would be robot inspected before being hauled away. It was an all day job.
”Eric, who has custody of the driver?” I asked.
”The FBI and DHS are trying to interrogate him now but the lawyer is refusing to allow him to answer any questions,” Eric said.
”What nationality is he, what language does he speak?” I asked.
”He is from Somalia we believe, he has a heavy North African accent,” Eric said.
”Does he have a green card or is he a citizen from some of the previous programs?” I asked.
”Not that we can find,” Eric said.
”Finger prints?” I asked.
”Not in the system,” Eric answered.
”Before you ask, facial scan is negative,” Eric added.
”What is the information on the truck?” I asked.
”No tags; everything in the cab was burned, no names or phone numbers on the cab or the body,” Eric replied.
”The VIN number is deeply stamped at least four places on the frame; one on each side by the front axle and one on each side of the frame between the rear cab mount and rear axle. Depending on the year, there may be more – sometimes under the cab on the inside frame rail,” Marcy said.
”I run into that all the time when the body up-fitters paint over the VIN number stickers or mount equipment over them. I even had to threaten some up-builders because the information and scan bar are required for warranty work and DOT roadside inspections. The cab sticker has the Maximum front and rear axle weights limits as well as Gross vehicle weight,” Marcy added.
”Tell the lawyer that the suspect has been designated as a foreign terrorist and is being transferred to Gitmo for a tribunal investigation and trial. Bag the suspect and take him to Morton; I’ll call the Doc to do a medical. Call Frank and Ben to meet you there – or do you want me to do it? Every minute you lose before he talks allows any accomplices to get further away and destroy evidence,” I said.
“The Secret Service will have a team pick you up at the Capitol steps, you can use the tunnel to get to the Capitol building. When we get over there, we will call for the pickup time,” Agent Gardner said.
”It’s too risky to land the chopper here until they get the truck empty, the Beast will pick you up over there at the Capitol steps when the Suburbans arrive,” said the Secret Service agent in charge. Like it or not, I was in for the convoy ride to Summers Road unless I wanted to go to Andrews by car then transfer to Marine 1.
We went back to the White House and picked out things that we would need. I would be home a half a day early. I also gave most of the staff the rest of the day off.
I didn’t get through the Congressional Hall without an impromptu news conference that I ended quickly – as soon as the Secret Service agent said the Beast was at the steps. It took almost two hours to get home, but we were home at lunch time.
With the traffic in Washington a nightmare, by the time we got home Frank, Ben, Andy, and Eric were at Fort Smith with the Doc, watching a very upset prisoner getting wired up.
The prisoner was not the only one upset, his lawyer was livid that he had lost his meal ticket on the government tab for years.
It was near supper when Ben, Eric and Frank came to the house to fill me in on the information they had gained. The prisoner was on his way to Gitmo – unconscious – in one of our C130s.
”The truck had been stolen six weeks ago from a construction site in West Virginia. It had been carried – covered by canvas – on a lowboy trailer to a warehouse on the outskirts of DC where the propane cylinders had been placed in the dump body,” Frank Said.
”The propane cylinders had been acquired from a recycling center. They were originally sold as scrap because of rust pitting or out of date certification. Some of the cylinders had been filled with gasoline, others diesel fuel, some were refilled with propane and four were filled with gun powder,” Eric said.
”The ones with gun powder were the ones that had blasting caps in them to start the explosion,” Eric said.
”Why didn’t it blow up then? With all that gasoline and diesel, it would have a great fireball,” I said.
”They had it wired to the truck batteries. We think when it hit the first barricade the batteries weren’t fastened down and were ejected, shearing all the wiring. The force of the impact may have caused the driver to be too disoriented to find the trigger or else he chickened out at the last minute,” Eric said.
”This must have been a new group without connections since they did not have any C4, RDX or ANFO – or else we have tightened up the tracking and controls enough that it is not easy to get,” I said.
”They have got all the tanks removed and the truck will be removed tonight. The impact with the gate and the barriers shifted everything in the truck, pulling the wires and detonators from the tanks with the gunpowder. The detonators went off but ignited nothing but air,” Agent Gardner said. He had just received an update from the ATF agents working on the truck.
”With all the threats that have been placed against you in the past, the Secret Service doesn’t want you to go back to the White House until the security gate is repaired and the changes you wanted to the streets will be done at the same time. GSA and the contractors will work around the clock. They think enough will be done by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest so you can return,” Agent Gardner said.
”By the way, the DC city council has dropped all opposition to the changes you wanted,” Agent Gardner said.
”OK, I will call the staff and have the ones I need report to the JBG office here on Summers Lane on Monday,” I said.
”The crash pad is clean and empty. Get a list of the people you want to stay close and they can stay there. It’s a lot more secure than staying at one of the hotels. They can get cars from the airport for travel,” Marcy said.
”Come up with the number of spaces you need and I will get Baltimore Office Supply to bring desks and cubicles and the rest of the equipment to finish out the bays in the basement as office space today,” Marcy said.
”I was in the process to do that before all the April takeovers happen. I already ordered everything. They have it all and are waiting to deliver it. The cleaning crew is finished the cleaning,” Marcy said.
I called Troy and Connie on a conference call. Between the three of us we picked the staff we thought we needed for a few days. Troy was going to notify them.
”My wife is visiting her sister in Nashville for a few weeks. She is fighting cancer and needed my wife to help while she is getting treatments. I can get a motel room to be close,” Troy said.
”We have a couple extra rooms at the house; you can stay in one of them if you want,” Marcy said.
”I can do that,” Troy said.
Marcy was going to make a few changes in the office for the people coming. The last office expansion also included a new larger Verizon phone bank expansion.
Marcy had reserved a bank of an additional of one hundred phone numbers in case there was ever a decision to expand the office even further before the Jones towers were completed. There were still ninety five numbers that were not used.
When Bob’s Construction finished out the electric in the basement, they also ran and installed phone jacks and internet cables into each bay at Marcy’s request. She was planning on a lot of the offices down in the basement if necessary.
Marcy called Verizon and Baltimore Office Supply to come today and start putting the offices together and Bobs Construction to be on hand if there were any difficulties and to assist with installations.
Robert’s group began programming desktop computers and laptops with standard office programs and connectivity to our internet. Marcy instructed them not to put any access to our secure office programs on them.
I felt sure that anyone that came would have their government laptop with them anyhow.
Troy showed up at 1400 with several suitcases. We put him in the last upstairs room. Crash had one, the Smithfield’s had one, one had become our in-house beauty salon and Troy was in the fourth one for a few days.
There were still the six rooms in the basement if they were needed. They were routinely cleaned and dusted.
After he carried his bags to his room, I gave him the tour and gave him a JBG ID card so he could go from the house to the offices in the basement and second floor and work the elevator.
I had Robert do a facial scan, finger print, DNA swipe and retina scan to give him the card.
”Do you want to run him through Genie?” Robert asked.
”Sure, just so we have a record,” I said.
”What’s Genie and why did you do all those things?” Troy asked.
”You are going to be with me in a setting other than the White House and I am still a target. If it happens and there is nothing but damaged pieces, this information will help identify all the pieces,” I said.
”Oh, I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Troy said.
”Verizon and Baltimore Office Supply say they will both be finished by tomorrow afternoon. I’m having Bob’s men do a few things while they are here. Bob is going to stop in a couple hours to give updates on the construction projects,” Marcy said.
”BJ, Barry Simms from the Korean embassy paged for a VCATS in ten minutes if you want to sit in on it,” Vicky said.
”Sure, I can do that,” I said.
I was going to show Troy where the offices for those coming from Washington were going to be but a detour to the command center that was only a few feet away wouldn’t take long.
Vicky, Cindy, Troy and I were sitting in the command center when Barry paged for the call.
”Morning Barry, how are things going with the new housing?” I said.
”The housing is great; the guys are really happy. What I paged for was there seems to be increased surveillance of the embassy in the last few weeks. Nothing that really screams at you, but I have noticed the same people killing time three or four times a week on the street across from the embassy,” Barry said.
”I have logged them six times on my shift and the evening and night shift have logged a different individual at least that many times,” Barry said.
”Barry, send the video and stills to Vicky, the alphabets are going to stop by in a while; we will discuss it with them. In the meantime, do you want Vicky to send you some extra men? There should be room in the dorm for them if you think you want them,” I said.
”Just look at the film, run the pictures and then decide,” Barry said.
”Be careful Barry, we will be in touch soon,” Vicky said.
”I’ll get Robert to look at them too,” Vicky said.
”Do we need an antenna on the housing unit and embassy so Robert’s team can monitor local radio traffic?” I said.
”I’ll ask him,” Vicky said.
The next few hours was spent working in the basement with the contractors. It seemed the crew from Baltimore Office Supply was made up of new people who needed constant supervision to get things the way Marcy had it on paper. Three men from Bob’s Construction jumped in to help the Office Supply crew.
Without the cubicles in place, Verizon couldn’t place the phones and Robert’s group couldn’t get the computers and associated equipment working. We had boosters installed long ago so cell phones would work in the basement.
By 1700 three bays were set up as offices with seven office cubicles in each one. The crews were coming back tomorrow to finish out one more bay. I didn’t think it was necessary. I could use my old office upstairs or the command center with the meeting room across the aisle.
Verizon was running tests on the phone lines and associated fax lines and machines before they left. With all that finished, we girls and Troy went back through the tunnel and home. It was time for supper, kids and then the hot tub and bed.
Verizon was coming back Saturday morning to fix the bugs in the phone lines – and there were plenty. Several from Roberts EIT group were coming to watch over them. They wanted to make sure Verizon’s techs did not do anything to our intelligence systems.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
Again another mind blowingChapter.I wish I knew how you could do such a beautiful chapter.Thanks again from the bottom of all our hearts.