Book 2 Chapter 18

Book 3 Chapter 18

            Monday started early with the smell of fresh coffee from the kitchen. The new agency chefs quickly learned how I liked coffee. I wondered why there was such a turnover in agency chefs.

            There had been a procession of agents attempting to be quiet while getting food and coffee since 0500. I was contemplating ordering the visiting agents to eat elsewhere or at least over at the refreshment center.

            I was surprised that places at the dining room table were not filled when we dressed and went down. The kitchen had gotten disposable plates and utensils; there was a stack of them that had not been here last night. But, they had taken over the garage though.

            The tables and chairs that we used for cookouts had been set up in the garage – our Suburbans parked outside. The chefs – there were two of them this morning – had food prepared buffet style in the kitchen. The agents were getting plates full and carrying them out to the garage.

            The garage now had a heater in it. I wondered when that had happened – something to ask my mates about.

            My family – the boys and the two little ones in high chairs included – were being served coffee, tea or orange juice while the chef was getting a breakfast order.

            ”I have most of what you normally eat in the kitchen buffet style if you would like to look at it, or we will cook it fresh if you like,” Master Chef Pierre Diodore said. ”With so many agents here, we decided it would be faster to do things that way.”

            ”I understand from the manager of the refreshment center that you get a wholesale food delivery from Sysco Foods in the afternoon if it is placed before 0900. If I get an order together, will you allow it to be placed and delivered over there? We are going to run out of a lot of things with so many people here for the next few days. I will put on the government card,” Pierre said.

            ”Sure, get it together. You may want to order a lot extra, especially coffee. I don’t know how many will be here today and you may want to have the manager to do the same over there,” I said.

            The chefs did not have that much food left on the buffet after the agents had raided it, so the food we got was just coming off the griddle.

            Troy came down and I invited him to sit at the table with us to eat. Agent Carter came in and handed me the early morning intelligence updates to look over at my leisure. A courier had delivered them to the Secret Service guard at the gate.

            Pakistan was drawing down the troops on the Pakistan – Iran border. They had been there three weeks. In that time dozens of villages had been destroyed – leveled with artillery and finally bulldozers. Some of the inhabitants were moved by military trucks hundreds of miles to villages to the east. Satellite photographs showed many Taliban being executed by firing squads and many graves.

            The civil wars in Africa were ongoing – the hot spots just moved from place to place. Libya was boiling again, rattling sabers against Algeria near the border with Tunisia. Also, Sudan and Chad were at it again.

            Ethiopia and South Sedan were in the cooling off phase again. There had been costly battles on both sides. They were licking their wounds, rearming and recruiting, many of the new recruits were considered to be child soldiers.

            I was going to meet with Andy when he came in to meet with the girls at 1000. I would get his assessment where we had men and compare it to the agencies.

            At 0700 it was time to get everything started. My mates needed to attend to JBG things, Lisa had arrived and was getting the den ready for the boys’ school day. My mates and I went through the tunnel followed by Troy and more agents than I needed.

            Connie Hines and Kitty Winn were both just entering the lobby escorted by a couple agents who were wearing an ear wick in one ear and a cell phone ear piece in the other. They were asking where they were to go. I wondered just how they could keep any conversation going and not walk into the wall. I had them sent to the elevator and then to the basement level. I walked them down to where they were going to have office space.

            ”See if you can get logged into your e-mail and White House systems with the links the GSA gave you,” I said.

            After seeing that the systems worked I settled into my chair in the command center with Connie to my side. Kitty stayed at her desk and began sorting through the hundreds of emails that came in every day, assigning them a level of importance and where they needed to go. This morning – as in every morning – they were printed off and put into piles.

            Troy went to his desk and started through his emails and appointment list and making calls.

            The ball carriers were in the meeting room with links to the Pentagon. I gave Tom the numbers to make the connection for MTAC with the task force in Section Twelve.

            I went through the list of items from this morning’s updates from NSA with Ben. I had questions and he had more work to do about the NSA items. Then I had more questions about the terrorism task force investigation into Jabil Faisal – the truck driver. Our conversation lasted thirty minutes and really answered only a few of the questions I had.

            Ben and I spent a while on the North Africa alerts and memos of interest. There were a lot of them today. So many that I went to Robert’s office for a copy of the reports that EIT generated for Andy.

            Frank and Eric sent a text – they would be here in an hour along with the rest of the Security Council for the scheduled national security meeting. General Ingram and the chiefs paged for the next spot on MTAC.

            MTAC had gone more modern with its last updates. They thought they were streamlining, but it was wasting time and was leading to more open mike gaffs.

            If the terminal of the office – or person in my case – was on a secure scrambled transmission, it transferred the incoming call to a queue like a busy office and assigned it a number. That meant that you were waiting for the conversation to end.

            That was fine if all conversations were short and you were number one in the queue, but many of my conversations could run on and on leading to delays and frustration. Now everyone was texting if they were in the queue, adding even more distractions.

            I ended the call with Ben and paged General Ingram. There had been a training accident early this morning at Fort Macon Army Base. Two Black Hawks with sixteen aboard each had collided over an infantry unit on the ground in high gusting winds. The helicopters were disembarking the troops close to the ground. Over fifty Army soldiers were injured with ten – possibly more – dead. It was not a good way to start off a Monday.

            If there were high gusting winds, why were we doing a training exercise with helicopters carrying troops hovering over troops on the ground? Training was something that had to be done. Now ten were dead – never to fight – and many more on the ground would never fight again or would be months before they could.

            So, what was learned from this training? Something that we already knew – high and gusting winds with helicopters hovering near the ground was a big no-no. I could see corrective action coming swiftly for some officers in charge.

            Investigators were on the way to the site. The Chiefs and the Secretary of the Army would be here after lunch to personally update me and then I would decide where the ax was going to fall.

            Troy had left to take a call in the middle of the conversation. He ended up taking several calls. First the GSA person in charge of the White House fence and repairs from the dump truck had bad news.

            The damage caused by the truck to the main gate and supporting heavy structures had done serious damage below ground to them below ground. They would not support the gate when it was operated – they moved, and the gate was hitting the ground when it swung.

            They were going to have to be completely ripped out and replaced, which would create even more problems. Near the area where those heavy supporting structures were buried underground was close to buried electric and natural gas lines along with water and sewer. They were within inches of the gas pipeline. Now the gas lines were going to have to be dug up and checked for damage. The few days needed to do repairs was now two weeks, possibly more.

            I ask Troy if the entire fence and access gate could be moved in closer to the new White House grounds boundary, since the city had dropped all opposition to the street changes. Now was the time to do this since the gate and supporting structures were going to have to be completely rebuilt. Why not just build the new in the new position and move the fence while they were at it?

            The GSA had contracted the work to change up the streets, so I suggested they step up to the plate and do it now or find a contractor who could.

            Troy and I spent the next hour on various calls to the GSA, finally convincing them to make the changes now.

            Kitty brought me a fresh mug of coffee and a handful of emails and notes that needed my input before she could reply to them. The GSA tech team succeeded in transferring my primary White House phone to my cell phone.

            The red and green phones were another issue to the GSA all together. Prime Minister Attenborough and Russian President Orbatch both had my cell number, so it was a non-issue to me.

            At 1000 Andy texted that he was in the Horsey building and ready to meet anytime I was ready. I told him to come on over, that I would meet him in the girls’ meeting room.

            I listened while Andy gave detailed reports on the growing menace that was in Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and the Sudan. Yemen pirates and hostile groups were using the Red Sea to traffic weapons to the African coast.

             The pirates were the new middle-men in the arms trade from Pakistan and North Korea to the area. Saudi Arabia was looking to increase JBG fast boat presence in the Red Sea, wanting a base for operations and another base near Jizan. That would make five bases for the JBG coastal patrol boats. Black and Bear were back scouting for a suitable site.

            Andy had sent Paul Drake and the fifteen man ops team to the Korean embassy to further investigate the suspicions of being watched –  that the videos confirmed. They were carrying a lot of new surveillance equipment from Robert to install.

            Marcy had bids for another twelve boats to order as soon as the papers were signed by the King. I learned from this meeting that several more wells in Nigeria and Cameroon had started producing – the refineries were soon going to be running at one hundred percent of capacity.

            I learned that there was now a contract to send two finished product tankers a month to the US from our refinery in Nigeria. One was gasoline destined for Baltimore and the other fuel oil for New York; both were with Shell Oil USA.

            Another contract was for two finished product tankers a month to Russia, both fuel oil. It was a short term contract – just two years – until the Russian refineries were producing enough again.

            The revenues for these sales was deposited directly to a JBG account at Pirates Bank for Marcy’s expansion ventures which was moving ahead and picking up speed. I still did not know what companies she had her sights on, except that everything was going according to her plan.

            The National Security Council made their appearance at 1100. There were more than enough places to sit at the big meeting table. We had plenty of things to talk about, most of them being in North Africa. The meeting lasted till lunch. It was great to sit at my own table with my mates and kids to have lunch.

            After lunch a messenger from Congress sent over several bills that had been finished by the conference committees. One of the bills was historic; it gave the President – me – item and line item veto, a new budget control item.

            I was surprised that Congress would give up a piece of the control they had. But then, while they could still override my veto, it took two thirds of each to do that.

            Another bill moved things further along on base consolidation and closings. Before I was going on my own with it, now Congress was on board. The DOD would generate a list with help from the State Department and White House with the desired action and then the defense over site committees would debate and either approve or deny. Then I would approve or veto the actions. I guess they failed to realize what the new item veto could do to the process.

            I was going to sign the bill at 1600 for today’s news cycle in the office meeting room, allowing two of waiting news teams and White House photographer for the official record. Politics as usual – the game I hated – I was learning to play.

Edit by Alfmeister

Proof read by Bob W.

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