Chapter 27

Book 3 Chapter 27

            The first MTAC was before the plane even got off the ground. It was a joint MTAC with Admiral Petty and General Mitchell. The Japanese ships had arrived and at first light, the helicopters would start ferrying the healthy to them.

            ‘’The Catalina Bay and Mexican Pacific both are nearly full, about five hundred more on each ship will finish them out. Then they will make the run to California. By the way, Rear Admiral Melvin sends his thanks for the respirators and says to keep them coming,’’ he said. Rear Admiral Melvin was the commander of the medical team on the ‘Mercy’.

            ‘’We are going to split some of the arriving medical staff and respirators up between the carriers and assault ships to ease the bed problems on the Mercy. We are also transferring about two hundred from the ‘Mercy’ to the Catalina Bay. The docs thought they are well enough to travel,’’ he said.

            ‘’According to the notes I have this morning, there are twenty GEMs flights today bringing more hospital equipment and doctors. Also, the supply ship USS Acme is to arrive with food and supplies. The USS Red Lion will arrive tomorrow. They were already at sea,’’ I said.

‘’Two more supply ships are loading as we speak and will depart before the end of the day. They are loading a lot or respirators and medical equipment on them,’’ I said.

            “That’s good – we need them – this many people are depleting our supplies. Supplies was one of the next topics I wanted to talk to you about,’’ he said.

            ‘’I understand they are looking at landing a C130 with respirators on one of the carriers,’’ I said.

            ‘’Isn’t that plane too large for carrier landing? Can they do that?’’ Admiral Petty asked.

            ‘’I asked the same question and was told it had been done before in 1963 on the USS Forrestal off Boston. It was an evaluation to decide what plane was going to be used for a carrier supply plane,’’ I answered.

‘’Apparently the C130 did touch and goes, full stops and takeoffs. Today’s carriers are bigger than the Forrestal. Today’s 130 has better ABS braking, better props and more powerful engines – the thinking is it will be a piece of cake,’’ I said.

            ‘’They are running confirming test this morning – they must verify drop rates and a few other things. If it works, the 130 will carry six times as many respirators as a GEMs flight,’’ I said.

‘’The Nugget and Silver Spoon will be returning with more medical equipment and doctors on board,’’ I added.

‘’We have fifty thousand on the ships and another ten thousand in the bunkers waiting to leave. The troops ashore at Hawaii have located about ten thousand more. Health-wise, they are in worse shape. We are transporting food and water to them until we can get them aboard ships,’’ Admiral Petty said.

            ’That would be roughly eighty-thousand out of one and a half million. These are not good numbers. If we didn’t find a lot of people soon and that had to be in the next few days, this was shaping up to be the worst disaster in history,’ I thought.

‘’It appears that there were dozens of structures that were built to withstand sizable earthquakes and cyclone force winds that have stood up to the ash. As soon as all this started, they were used as shelters and they are packed full of people. Some of them had several levels of underground basements.”

“Unfortunately, they are finding a lot of dead – the ash and gasses have taken their toll,’’ he added.

‘’We had that discussion a day ago about what to do with the bodies. The NCIS forensic team and the NCIS group is still in one of the bunkers. They are going to do the documentation,’’ I said.

‘’The thought is to place bodies in body bags after identifying them – if possible – or take facial photographs and start a mass grave, for the time being,’’ I said.

‘’The bodies are decomposing rapidly with the heat from the ash. Something must be done quickly,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’The assault ships have body bags on board – although I do not know how many – but I think it is a considerable number. Other than that, alternatives are few. We certainly can’t bury that many at sea or carry that many to the west coast for burial,’’ I said.

‘’The two carriers assigned from the Russia base agreement will arrive tomorrow as will four more assault landing ships from Okinawa. The assault landing ships will put ten thousand more men on the ground to search for survivors plus another ten helicopters and one hundred landing craft. Four more cruise ships will also arrive. Time is running out,’’ I said.

I finished with another MTAC to FEMA on the status and progress with the camps. There needed to be a place to put sixty thousand more people and possibly twice that many more. The closest thing I got to a firm answer was, ‘’We are working on it.’’

I met with my staff to discuss the body problem – and it was going to be a big problem very soon. Then we did another MTAC with the staffed command center of Admiral Petty, General Mitchell and General Emory. It was very early morning in Hawaii; in fact, it was 0200.           

The body issue was discussed in depth. Tomorrow morning all the body bags in storage would be sent to Hawaii. The Marines on the assault ships not directly involved in the rescue would be directed to assist NCIS in identifying the dead, placing them in body bags and transporting them to what had once been a 200-acre park for burial and cover them with ash.

The Seabees would use their heavy equipment as needed to push the ash aside, allowing mass graves to be dug and then cover the bodies.

With an unknown number of dead and the difficulty of all this, they were told to stack them several deep. The rescuers would be told to mark the locations where they found bodies so the BRU (body recovery unit) could locate them. I felt sorry for them – it was going to be a gut retching job, but somebody had to do it.

With all the assault ships at the location, there should be plenty of Marines to handle this additional task.

Troy handed me several reports that he had printed off while I was in meetings and on MTAC. One of them was from the Department of Energy. Rolling blackouts were expanding. First it was just Washington, Oregon and northern California. Now Idaho, Montana and parts of Minnesota were having them.

The winds were carrying the bulk of the ash over those states. Washington and parts of Oregon were reporting over an inch of accumulation. Idaho, Montana and northern Minnesota were reporting half an inch. Canada was reporting an inch and more.

The ash accumulation on solar panels was causing the problems. Light rains and heavy morning dew were turning the ash into a goo that was sticking to everything and in many places freezing; after all, it was early February and cold. The mess was going to have to be scrapped off with scrapers or washed off if possible. Either one was labor intensive with lots of the panels on residential roofs.

The commercial solar farms were a different story – but still labor intensive – with all the snow still in the farms and narrow roads between the rows of panels complicated the process. Many of them would not be producing electricity for weeks, possibly months. A very large concern was – what damage had the ash done to the special glass – would the output be anywhere near normal?

Another report was from the National Weather service and NOAA. It was a severe weather warning. The ash had reduced temperatures by blocking the sunlight by as much as three degrees and could possibly take them even lower. To go with that, there was a massive Siberian cold front joining with a Canadian clipper headed for the northern and north-eastern United States.

‘’Damn!” I thought, “We might have to issue winter clothes and get heat instead of air-conditioning and summer clothing for the tent dwellers.’’

Another report from the Agriculture Department was an advisory of severe damage to the US winter wheat and grain crop. The weight of the ash could destroy the crops creating shortages. I was damn glad the Russian grain deal was completed. If the temperatures didn’t rebound by spring planting, crops and yields could be in jeopardy.

Another paragraph in the report was the possible starving or poisoning caused by the ash of cattle feeding on the open range creating meat shortages and food shortages for all livestock.

I sent a note to Secretary of Agriculture to begin aggressive negotiations with Argentina and Brazil for increased beef imports immediately; both were large beef exporters. If the ash was affecting our western beef producers, it was also going to affect Canada beef producers as well. We imported a lot of beef and pork from Canada.

It was then I wondered if Nigeria and Cameroon could be convinced to get into beef production. That was another question to ask real soon. I wondered how developed the country was as a whole.

I finished up more calls then met with the congressional delegation that was with me on this flight. It was senators and representatives responsible for disaster agencies and emergency response along with those with over site for DHS. Also, there were the two senators and representatives from Hawaii.

Then we met with the Hawaii delegation and the first thing they asked for was hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild.

‘’We are a long way from discussing any rebuilding of Hawaii. The first priority is finding all the survivors and getting them away from the area to safety,’’ I said.

‘’From the reports I have seen, rebuilding may not be possible for much of the islands and the other areas could take decades if ever – certainly not in our lifetime,’’ I said.

            It was a six-hour flight to California and then a Humvee ride to Camp Parks. All the survivors were going there until it was full and then the rest of the newcomers would be sent to the new tent city at Camp Pendleton.

Culinary units from all the National Guard units were arriving at Pendleton, getting the kitchens and dining tent set up. There was no argument from any of the Governors this time about sending the guardsmen to California.

We arrived at an organized fiasco. Buses had just finished unloading people from the first ships. The people were in shock, bewildered, dazed, exhausted and many just wanting to crash on the cots.

Camp staff were trying to get them registered; we needed information for a lot of reasons. Progress was being made but it was slow. It was a good thing we had the homeless experience as a guide for operations.

Another fiasco was the media, they were worse than a starving pack of wolves. They were trying to intimidate the guards for entry, yelling and screaming, trying to get the survivors to come to the fence and talk. On top of that there were the local and national politicians trying to get their free time on a screen.

My group started with the people in charge and finally ended up talking with some of the first survivors. I listened to all kinds of horror stories. It had an awfully familiar ring to it – despair fear, desperation, the fight for survival, starving and the lost loved ones.

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Book 3 Chapter 26

Book 3 Chapter 26

            At 1700 I sent everyone home; it had been a mind-boggling day. I issued more executive orders today than any previous day of my presidency, but they were desperately needed to keep things moving in the direction I thought was necessary.

            As a result of all those orders, there were plenty of agencies, states, departments and unions unhappy with me. One of those orders that caused people to be unhappy was an expansion of national emergency directives.

            The first one was a change in the Department of Transportation rules for over the road truck drivers, allowing them to drive more hours before a mandatory rest period.

            Today’s trucks were like sitting in your easy chair and driving with controlled temperature, automatic transmissions and quiet in the cab. Most even had a sleeping birth and a bathroom. We needed emergency materials to the west coast, not sitting in the rest areas.

            Another part of that was the companies that had or controlled the electronic logging for the drivers and trucks. The electronic logging device simply shut off the truck when the driver’s time was up.

Even if it was in the middle of an intersection or traffic jam! It allowed one twenty- minute restart and run to allow the driver to get the truck off the road and then the engine had to be off for eight hours minimum. Those companies had to change the settings on tens of thousands of trucks. Those people were upset with me.

            The next was a waiver on Department of Transportation weight limits. Doing that allowed the trucks to carry more freight if there was room. It also required more changes to the electronic logging devices on the trucks.

Many of today’s trucks monitored the truck weight automatically by reading the air pressure in the air suspension systems. More weight on the truck required more air pressure in the system to keep the load and the truck somewhat level and a smooth ride for the freight. When the pressure hit the limit, buzzers and bells went ringing and the truck computer limited truck operation. More to be changed by the dealer’s shop tech people. They were unhappy.

The next part of the Department of Transportation waiver was the weigh station and portable over the road inspections. We have all seen them – a truck pulled over and several officers looking over the truck and the driver and another officer with a handful of papers.

The officer was checking the driver hours and comparing them to the logs, toll tickets, bills of lading – who sent the freight – where it was from – where it was going – what the freight was and to see if the placards displayed on the side of the truck matched the freight. Also, where the driver bought fuel last as fuel tax was an important revenue in some states.

There was even a system to divide up all the various taxes on trucks among member states.

Sometimes they even cut the security locks off the trailers to inspect the freight. Depending on conditions, each stop could take forty-five minutes. Cross three state lines and there was the possibility the truck could get stopped three times.

Two lights out on the same corner were a twenty-five dollar fine; a brake light was fifty. A tire that was at the wear bars was fifty dollars, two tires was a hundred and it was out of service – call a tire company at a thousand dollars for a road call in some places.

If a drop of oil fell on the officer while he was under the truck inspecting, it was out of service – fix it or call the tow truck. All those were upset with me, the officers were now doing other things, investigating accidents, playing cards whatever.

The states were upset – no more fine money for the politicians to spend. It was easy to write big fines for out of state truckers, they knew very few would be able to come back to court to contest the ticket. They would just pay the fines.

The west coast longshoreman union was upset with me. They were at the end of their contract, threatening a work slowdown and strike – the negotiations had been going on for months. The executive order I signed also extended further talks out one hundred and eighty days. They were upset because they saw the emergency as leverage in the talks.

Their attorneys were going to appeal the executive order and the unions were going to strike in two days – emergency or not. They were depending on their political clout influencing the judicial system there. ‘We shall see,’ I thought.

I was ready to close my office and walk through the tunnel when Troy called me back to a phone call from Japan. At first, I thought it was going to be Jake. He, Mindy and their kids were over there for two weeks.

The call was from Japan’s Prime Minister Shichirou Masao. I had made the call two days ago to ask if Japan would send any cruise ships to help move the former citizens of Hawaii to the mainland.

            Japanese cruise ship companies plied several popular routes for their business. The most popular one was to the Philippines and to Australia. Both of those countries had restricted travel. It took months in advance to schedule vacations and cruises there.

            Four cruise ships had returned to Japan in the last two days and they were headed to the Hawaiian Islands. They were available for two weeks before they needed to be back for the cruise schedule. They would be in area in two days by traveling at maximum speed.

            The Kobayashi Maru had a six thousand passenger capacity. The Akagi Maru had a capacity of three thousand. The Nippon Maru had a capacity of three thousand five hundred. And the last was the Diamond Princess, a British flagged ship owned by the Princess Cruise lines. The Diamond Princess sails Asia and Australia and has a two thousand six hundred passenger capacity.

            Those ships had a maximum speed of twenty-two knots and would take four days to make the trip to California after being loaded with passengers. They would only be able to make one trip, but it was a help. Every bit was going to help.     

            I sent a note to Eric and Admiral Petty that the four Japanese ships were coming and that they were only going to be available to us for two weeks. I wanted them moved to the front of the line so they could make at least one run to San Diego to keep an important ally happy.

            The Mercy was at full capacity with the sick and so were the sick bays on the carriers. There was a dire shortage of respirators and qualified people to do the treatments. The only way to cure this was Gems supply flights to the carriers.

            I issued orders for respirators from the national warehouse to be flown to the San Diego Navy base. Then a call for volunteer doctors and respiratory technicians in the area was sent out.

            The closest warehouse was in Nevada, so it was a short trip. By the time the respirators made the trip, doctors were waiting. Six hours after the calls went, Gems flights were on the way. It was going to take a lot of them.

            The Seabees had made it ashore on Hawaii at noon with their equipment. The ash was deeper than reported in places and not as deep in others. They were using GPS to stay on the roads, matching it to the maps. They were working into the areas where the most buildings were still standing. They began finding groups of survivors still alive. It was a sign of hope.

            Marine General Emory ordered the Marine detachment on Oahu to transfer two thousand Marines to Hawaii to assist the Seabees in getting people to the ships. More were going as soon as there was room for them as roads and space was cleared.

One of the Seabees large landing ships was to make the transfer. It was tasked to transfer more heavy equipment from Oahu to Hawaii to deal with the deep ash.

            On Oahu, General Mitchell ordered the Army troops there to knock on every door while looking for survivors and to use bull horns and airhorns air horns announcing they were in the area. Time was running out for survivors.      

            The ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon’ was to dock in California tonight. Preparations were being made to deal with the sick. There was plenty of space available in the tents for the healthy. Buses and ambulances were ready and hospitals had stopped elective surgeries, making beds available.

            The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ and ‘Pacific Wave’ were to dock mid-morning with another twelve thousand on board. There would be plenty of action in California tomorrow.

            I had Troy set up a flight for the executive team for tomorrow. I needed to make an appearance and then fly to the Hawaiian Islands for a look out the window at the damage for the media to report on. The following day we were leaving for the Cay.

            I walked into the living room to join in a discussion with my mates about what to take to the Cay. Excitement was in the room; everyone wanted to get away for a few days. The temperatures here were in the mid-thirties; at the Cay it was eighty-five. The weather forecast was sunny with a mild ocean breeze for all fourteen days. It was perfect weather for swimming and working on all over natural tans and building sand castles with the kids.

            It was a wonderful evening with my mates and the kids. Together, they drove away the stress I had been under all day.

            Morning arrived too quickly – by the time breakfast was finished, Air Force One was already at Morton with all the important people from Washington, waiting for all the important people here to get aboard.

            I bid my family farewell, saying I would see them later tonight. I settled into my seat at the flying Oval Office to a desk full of updates to review. It was going to be a long morning some of it on video conference.

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Book 3 Chapter 25

Book 3 chapter 25

            Morning brought better news. Two fleet carriers from California and four more assault landing ships were off the coast of Oahu. Admiral Petty now had one hundred twenty landing craft to rescue people from the island.

            The landing crafts were carrying them to the assault ships for evaluation and then those that needed medical attention were the first to be carried to the carriers.

The hospital ship Mercy was to arrive on the scene later today. The Mercy has 1100 beds and five hundred medical people aboard to add to the doctors and staff. When it arrived those needing medical would be transferred to it.

The east coast hospital ship ‘Comfort’ was going to be a month or more. It had to undergo repairs before it could be used. That I was infuriated was an understatement. My new Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense were going to be called to my office for a very unpleasant talk on their part.

Just to make sure they understood things, I sent a memo to SECNAV, a daily report was to be sent to the White House listing all Navy ships unavailable for immediate service, the reason why and an expected date they would be ready for service. The Air Force was sent a memo requiring the number of aircraft mission ready to be sent to the White House.

It also finalized my decision on what was going to happen to the USS Thomas as soon as the new nuclear-powered Thomas was ready for service. It would be the hospital ship the ‘Thomas’ and would be home ported in the Gulf for quick dispatch to either ocean. The Navy had already placed it on the SINKEX list to be sunk as a target.

Another deck could be built on the aft half of the flight deck adding hundreds of beds. The hangar deck could all be hospital rooms and the same with many other decks.

There were huge rooms for storage, it already had plenty of operating rooms and plenty of electrical power. It could travel to an emergency at thirty -five knots – twice the speed of the current hospital ships. It was the perfect ship.

When the helicopters were not needed for emergency medical transport, they were shuttling people to the carriers, which had enormous space in the hangar deck for cots.

Two of the cruise ships, ‘Silver Spoon’ and the ‘Golden Nugget’, had arrived at 1100 and began taking on the civilians from the carriers that the doctors deemed well enough to go. Helicopter flights from the carriers to the single helicopter pads on the cruise ship were continuous. It was anticipated that the Silver Soon and the Nugget would leave for California at 1600 with eight thousand survivors on board.

At 1630 two more cruise ships had made the journey ‘The ‘Pacific Wave’ and the ‘Catalina Bay’ were taking on passengers. At 1700 we had today’s planning session with all the departments. Reports from all the services at Hawaii gave a bleak picture; the volcano was still erupting but showing signs that it was possibly ending.

The lava output had dropped but the steam and gasses had increased. There were fears from the experts that a deep-water fissure had opened, allowing sea water to enter the core of the volcano. if that was the case, the lava flow would be cooled allowing it to solidify, possibly sealing the vent and temporally stopping the eruption, allowing it to build tremendous explosive pressure again.

The other possibly was it would open up an underseas path for the lava to escape. There was also the fear that a new volcano or volcanic island was in the making.

We had serious decisions to make regarding the survivors on the ships. It was determined that as soon as the cruise ships were filled to capacity, each would return to San Diego, unload and return. Camp Parks had thirty thousand empty cots. These would be used initially for the survivors. The hunt was on for places to house thousands long term.

A lot of the homeless that had been sent there had found jobs and recovered enough to be in housing other than the camp. The empty tents were still there; It wasn’t the Hilton, but they were going to have to put up with it – at least until we knew and understood the extent of damage to Hawaii.

They were going to need long term housing, but the big question was – how many survivors were there and where were we going to find it?

There were already those quietly saying the island of Hawaii would have to be abandoned and that it could be years before Oahu could be fully inhabited again. There were more questions than answers. I gave all those departments heads a list of questions I wanted answers to for tomorrow’s 0800 briefing. Troy had requested an hour at 1000 for a news conference.

To improve the possibility of finding survivors on island of Hawaii, there had to be a method of scouting the island and deal with the deep ash. The Seabees at the California Marine base had been ordered to deploy yesterday against opposition from the brass. They were a day away from arriving.

With breaks in the ash, steam and clouds, the satellites were able to collect some data. It was determined that the ash was between six feet and eight feet deep in places. MRAPS and tracked vehicles as well as helicopters were currently out of the question.

The only way to do a reconnaissance was going to be with front end loaders moving ash while making paths where the streets were thought to be. The consensus was that we had to deal with the ash like it was snow. Given the depth, front end loaders and bulldozers would be needed and the Seabees had them.

The Army and Marine troops were still using the bunkers on Oahu. Generals were wanting them withdrawn. I ended that thought; as long as there was food and sanitation, I wanted them to stay and not take up precious space on the rescue ships. Another thing was they were going to be needed to help search the island.

After the briefing my staff began the task of preparing for our vacation next week. Lorrie had left a block of two weeks that all the rental units would be empty for staff, security, Secret Service, limited media and our families.

During our stay at the Cay there were two fund raisers planned – one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina. It was a start to getting enough funds for the expensive midterms.

            There were two dozen of the opposition party I would like to see gone and if I could help do it, all the better.

            At 1700 the Secret Service came in with the report from the discovered tunnels by the White House. There were twenty seven pages of items discovered in the old tunnel.        

            ‘’The tunnel construction was started during James Monroe’s first term around September 1817 and closed at the beginning of Chester Arthur’s term in January 1881 – we think. Based on that, seventeen presidents could have used the tunnel.’’

            ‘’From the number of artifacts, the tunnel was used a lot more than as a secret escape for the president. We have found indications that the carriage house was the largest in Washington, having as many as one hundred stalls and storage for carriages.’’

            ‘’We found sixty seven coins with an 1812 penny being the oldest, lost by the miners – we think by its location – in between the floor planks that were covered with straw and sawdust. There were five gold pieces and then other coins.’’

            ‘’Halfway through there was a room that was added after the initial construction. To us it looked like a rest stop for all those overweight presidents during that time.’’

‘’We found several of the coins in there along with tools and what we think was a liquor cabinet. There were several whisky bottles in it, empty of course. There were some things that make us suspect it may have been as illicit meeting place. I won’t go into a description of what they were.’’

            ‘’There were also a few newspapers and campaign posters nailed to the wall from various presidents. The archives are going to try to save them, but we think they are too far gone.’’

            ‘’The door that opened into the White House basement that was removed when the entrance was closed off with brick was laying inside the side of the tunnel. It was still in good shape. The Smithsonian wants it for an exhibit. As they do all the artifacts along with all the photographs. I think you will have the final word on that,’’ Agent Finkelsburg said. Denton Finkelsburg was the White House Historian.

            We talked for the better part of an hour about what they had found before I sent him on his way.

            I was up at 0500 – my mates all had a busy day – myself included. At 0600 I was reading intelligence reports and the latest updates from Hawaii. There was an update from the CIA on the Africa Problem. The group headed towards Polokwane has slowed down their travel.

            On the Hawaii problem the ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon were scheduled to dock after midnight tonight. Hundreds of school busses had been contracted to carry the survivors to camp parks. The ships were to refuel, take on food and supplies and then be sailing back towards Hawaii by noon

            I received an update from the general staff and Admiral Petty.  

            The two cruise ships that were there would be filled to capacity by 1000, the Navy thought. Aircraft operations has been suspended at 2000 for safety reasons. One was the small dangerous helicopter landing pads on the cruise ships and also the need for the helicopters to be inspected.

            The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ arrived after midnight – there were complications, it had no helicopter landing pad and no catwalk steps up the side. The shipfitters  ship fitters, machinist and welders on the carriers were planning and manufacturing and thought they had a solution. At daybreak they would know if it would work.

            The carriers had big machine and repair shops and welding equipment – anything necessary to keep the ship on its duty station and fighting.

            At daybreak two more cruise ships were arriving – the ‘Mexican Pacific Delight’ and the ‘Baja Express’ – both were capable of carrying 5500 passengers each and both had helipads.

            Twenty thousand had been carried to the cruise ships and another ten thousand were in bunkers and waiting on the assault landing ships and carriers.

            At 0100 Hawaii time the eruption petered out. The lava stopped, but the volcano was still belching steam and gasses that had picked up in volume. On the next satellite pass there should be pictures that we could work with.

            The 0800 staff meeting was filled with directors and the Secretary of Defense was in attendance. There was heated discussion about where to put all the people coming in on the ships. Camp parks were filling fast. By now thousands of cots, tents and supplies were showing up at the San Diego Navy base. It only made sense to build more in California.

            Camp parks were to be expanded using those materials. There was room to put up tents to house twenty-five thousand more people. It was decided that Camp Pendleton would be the next camp city. Pendleton base was on 130,000 acres. Building the tent city there for a hundred thousand people in a hurry would be an undertaking, but it needed to be done.

            All the forces were directed to start putting the city together as an all-hands effort. The leadership teams that had built Camp Parks were to lead the effort and get the logistics starting immediately.

There were a hundred thousand military members ordered to start work at daybreak. The materials needed to be moved from the Navy holding yard to the camps. Luckily, it was on pallets to speed things along

 FEMA was ordered to send the rest of their stockpile to Camp Pendleton today. The rest of vendors that the utilities used for hurricane recovery were waiting for orders to come to work. Dozens were already on site. Those vendors supplied everything to keep a tent city going. Thousands of good things were happening today.

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Book 3 Chapter 24

Due to a death in my immediate family the writing and posting schedule has been affected for a while. Please bear with me.

Book 3 Chapter 24

            I left the news conference and went to my office followed by my aides. I was disappointed with the news conference, there was so much said and so much unsaid, but only time would correct that.

            How many of the one and a half million residents of Hawaii were dead and how many were still going to die was anybody’s guess. I knew we had done a lot in a short time, but there was a lot more that needed to be done.

            I started on the pile of notes that was waiting on my desk. Kitty, Connie and Troy were putting them in order for me to look at and making calls. I called Eric back and told him I wanted every cruise ship on the west coast commandeered and sent to Hawaii.

            Then I called Secretary of Defense Scott and told him to make it a priority to get supply ships loaded with food and supplies and headed towards Hawaii.

            FEMA was still hunting for more cots and supplies across the entire United States. There should have been ten times more tents and cots in warehouses than there was available in the reports. They had surplus money in the last four years budgets; where was it and what was it used for, if not to build up the inventory of emergency supplies? That would be a good question to ask Eric – FEMA was under his agency.

The pile of notes on my desk was growing instead of getting smaller for the two hours that I had already put in on them. Various aides were getting information ready for the next news conference at 1300.

            I went over to the house with my mates for lunch. We were scheduled to go to the Cay next week for a vacation that was to last for ten days. The debate was – given the circumstances, should we cancel?

            ‘’No,’’ we decided. Short of going to the Hawaiian Islands and shoveling ash, there was nothing I couldn’t do from the Cay that was different from being at Summers Lane or 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The vacation was on.

            This was to be the last vacation before Marcy and Vicky were to deliver the additions to our family in two months. Marcy was having a girl and Vicky a boy, rounding out our children at four boys and two girls. Jeanna was elated that she was going to get a granddaughter to pamper and spoil.

            After lunch my staff began putting the 1300 news conference together. All the agencies were to do video reports as before. The only difference was the media personalities. The six media personalities were different because of the lottery selection they liked so well. Troy forced them to choose another group.

            At 1300 we did as before – we had everyone on the video monitors for an update. The update was not good news. There had not been any decrease in the eruption – if anything, it had intensified.

            Yesterday I had ordered all emergency warehouses be opened and staffed 24/7 in all 48 states. This included all state and federal emergency warehouses. The order also contained instructions to crate up fifty percent of their emergency supplies and ship it to the Naval base at San Diego. From there it would be loaded on supply ships and sent to Hawaii.

            The ash plume was over a thousand miles wide and spreading. In places it was sixty thousand feet high and was now being picked up by instruments on the coast of Europe.            

            Seismic equipment was picking up intensifying earthquakes on Hawaii and Oahu. What had been minor tremors were now registering in the 4s and 5s on the scale – and there were a lot of them. According to the experts, the earthquake activity should have been diminishing instead of increasing.

            There was some good news. Some communications had been restored in addition to the Naval Pacific command that we used for the first news conference. Underground communications had been restored to Fort Shafter. Fort Shafter was the 25th Infantry command center.

            Army General Mitchell had ordered that the chemical warfare suits be distributed to all soldiers that were in bunkers. They would be breathing air filtered free of contaminants, ash and gases. This would give them some level of protection when they were ordered to rescue civilians.

He also ordered all Army equipment be set up for desert/chemical war operation as soon the ash started falling. That order meant extra filters were installed on the engines and the passenger compartments sealed – recycling the air instead of bringing contaminated air in.

The downfall in all of this was the heavy ash would act like sand blasting on the cooling systems of the equipment. The huge fans sucking in the ash would destroy the soft copper radiators and plastic turbocharger after-coolers in a matter of hours. I knew that unless other precautions were taken that all this equipment would be out of service in just a few days.            

I called for a meeting with General Ingram – ASAP – he needed to get people involved quickly.

            The Army had huge inter-connected self-sufficient underground bunkers for soldiers in case Hawaii was ever attacked with nuclear weapons at several sites. The Marine base was equipped with the same type bunkers.

            General Mitchell and Marine General Emory – commander of Marine Corp Base Hawaii (MCB Hawaii) and Naval Pacific command – were able to communicate through a buried communications cable to be used during nuclear war. After a conference call to the Pentagon they agreed they could begin joint civilian rescue operations.

Two hundred Humvee and MRAPS from the Army and two hundred from MCB were working the streets, rescuing people and carrying them to the bunkers.

There were millions of N95 mask in the warehouses stored for the next pandemic. Cases were loaded on the rescue vehicles to be given and worn by civilians as soon as they were seen. It was an effort to reduce respiratory damage.

            Admiral Petty, Sectary of the Navy Bramble, General Mitchell, General Emory, Troy, Eric and I were on a secured ink. For an hour we debated and discussed hundreds of possible scenarios. With the increasing earthquakes the bunkers could become unusable.

            Several aircraft hangars had already collapsed from ash and possibly the earthquakes – two at joint base Hickam and two at Wheeler Army Airfield. Ten F35G models were in the Wheeler Hangar – most likely total losses.

            At joint base Hickam a C17 that was in the hangar was a loss that would hit the materials command hard. It was unlikely any large cargo planes would ever be built.

            After the cameras were off, the bad news kept coming in. Ash had started falling on the west coast. There was enough that it was causing havoc in several areas. Flights were being cancelled canceled and the utilities were experiencing outages.

            The west coast had gone off the deep end with solar and wind energy. The ash was coating the solar panels; output from the panels had dropped to nothing. Hundreds of thousands of panels were going to have to be washed to get the ash off.

            The wind towers were another thing all together; ash was an abrasive – think pumice like in many heavy duty hand soaps industry used. The ash was grinding the gel coat off the blades as they were rotating. The gel coat was harder and protected the Kevlar and fiberglass spars that were the main strength ingredients of the enormous blades.

Those wind power towers that had been turning showed visible damage and they had only been subjected to the ash for less than twelve hours. The owners and utilities wanted them shut down immediately to save them. Their argument was that it would be better to be down a few days than to be down the months it would take to repair or to replace all of them.

The west coast had closed many of its fossil fueled plants. Rolling blackouts was now the reality. Not only had the environmentalists forced closure of the power plants, they wouldn’t allot the transmission lines to be replaced, built or up-graded. They had laws passed that only clean energy could be sold in their state.

States, communities and utilities caved to the new normal and that was local solar farms, local wind generation and battery farms to store a day’s worth of energy for your local area. The sun shined and wind blew every day. Blackouts and rolling blackouts were starting today.

At the 1800 update Admiral Petty and General Mitchell reported the winds had picked up from the west, increasing the visibility around Oahu. Short wave emergency radio broadcast was now being picked up. Civilian pickup points were being broadcast and other emergency instructions were being broadcast from the ships. At noon Oahu time, eighty landing craft from assault carriers started coming in.

The three assault carriers had eighty landing craft and they started picking up people who had made their way to the pickup points on the beaches.

Six thousand people had been rescued by the time darkness fell, when the operation had to be shut down. By sunrise two fleet carriers would be in the area to receive transfers for the smaller assault carriers. The MRAPS and Humvees would start moving people to the beach for transfer to ships.

Progress was being made.

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Book 3 Chapter 23

Book 3 Chapter 23

            At 0630 I had a mug of coffee and a plate of eggs, scrapple and one slice of toast with grape jelly, with another mug of fresh squeezed orange juice as per orders of the White House doctor. I put in enough ice cubes that the juice would be well diluted by the time I got around to drinking it all.

            Troy was sitting with me; we were looking at satellite photographs of the island just moments before the ash cloud blocked the satellite view.

            I had two sets of photographs; one from the CIA’s Space Eagle 4; a super top-secret intelligence asset that was on an orbit that carried it over Hawaii, southern United States and Mexico, North Africa, India, Southern China and Taiwan.

            The other was from Land Sat 4. Both were close to the same, but the CIA ones were much clearer and there were more of them, plus I had live video.  After, that Frank pulled from the receiver in Texas. Frank did not want the CIA’s released to the public; the agency did not want anyone to know the quality of the intelligence it gathered.

            By the timestamp, at 1104 Honolulu time the earthquake hit. At the 1114 timestamp every building on the island was leveled including all the hotels, motels and tourist traps.

At 1120 a fissure could be seen opening up ten miles long and a mile from the shore. As the fissure opened, lava and ash were ejected from the exploding volcano. The land south of the fissure began its slide into the ocean.

Six thousand acres of resort hotels, motels, buildings, tourists and residents disappeared under the waters of the Pacific. Two large tourist ships tied to the longest dock in the world capsized and were sucked into the void left by the landslide, to be quickly covered with thousands of tons of water and lava. Moments later all visibility from the satellites was blocked by ash.

I had a list of questions for every agency that was to be on the video conference. With Troy and Connie’s help, the list soon became multiple pages long.

I reviewed all the orders I had given yesterday and all the attached reports that had come in overnight related to those orders. Together we began writing an outline for the news conference. I had an hour to interview the participants off screen and to allow them to gather the necessary information to answer my questions onscreen.

At 0845 the lottery chosen representatives for the medias were brought in. There were six of them; two were from radio, two from print media and two were from broadcast media. There was a link to the White House media room where the rest of the media was located.

Harry was here with a plate of donuts on the table and his assistant was at the White House. At 0900 I walked to the podium; yeah, we had one of those now with the Seal of the President on the front of it. Behind me were big flat screens with twenty individuals from various agencies waiting to answer the questions.

‘’At 1104 Honolulu time an 8.5 earthquake struck the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. The quake shook the island for sixteen minutes. On the center screen is a PowerPoint made from the satellite images. As you can see by the time stamp, not a building was left standing ten minutes after the quake started,’’ I said.       

‘’At 1120 a fissure can be seen opening up on the south side of the island where all the resorts, motels and hotels were. That fissure was ten miles long and a mile back from the ocean,’’ I added.

‘’Six thousand acres of the island began a dreadful slide into the ocean. Moored to the docks were two cruise ships. The ‘Mystic Princess’ was reported to be carrying thirty-five hundred passengers and a crew of fifteen hundred. The ‘Jewel of the Pacific’ was carrying four thousand passengers and eighteen hundred crew,’’ I said.

‘’The photographs show both ships capsizing and sinking into the whirlpool created by the sinking section of land. The has been a tremendous loss of life. It will be weeks, months – possibly years before we get firm numbers, if ever,’’ I said.

‘’Director Robinson will give us an update on the FEMA response. Eric, you’re up,’ I said. Eric Roberson was Director of the Department of Homeland Security. FEMA was under his agency.

            ‘’From the outline of the response developed at the emergency management meeting yesterday afternoon, all the emergency disaster relief supplies in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have been flown to California. Thousands of cots, blankets, bottled water and emergency rations were loaded on assault landing ships and aircraft carriers destined for Hawaii,’’ Eric said.

            ‘’Those ships departed shortly after midnight; at maximum speed they will arrive in two and a half days. I know that is a long time, but the distance is two thousand miles. The ash situation is so bad that it will be a while before there are any flights into the area; it will be weeks before the airports are clear enough of the ash to allow aircraft operations,’’ Eric said.

            ‘’Last night President Jones requested that cruise ships be contracted that could be used to house residents of the islands until it is safe to return to their homes. I can report that as of fifteen minutes ago three are under contract and as soon as they are filled with supplies, they will be en route to the area.’’

            ‘’Those ships are ‘The Golden Nugget’ and the Silver Spoon’ From the Alaska Cruise lines. The other is the ’Oasis of the Seas’ from the Royal Caribbean cruise lines. Talks with others are progressing,’’ Eric said.

‘’Thanks Eric, that is good news,’’ I said.

            ‘’I think here would be a good time to get an update from the Navy at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Felix Petty is in commander of the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, ‘’ I said.

Admiral Petty was on one of the flat screens from the underground command bunker at a secret location near Pearl Harbor.

            ‘’Admiral; you have the floor,’’ I said.

‘’Following orders, all ships departed Pearl for the open seas to escape the damaging ash. All but two ships were able to depart. Those two ships were in dry dock undergoing repairs.’’

‘’Once at sea and clear of the ash fall, those ships began the process of clearing the desks of ash to begin rescue and recovery operations. Communications this morning indicate that the ash was shoveled or washed overboard, and those ships are now fully operational with only minor damage to equipment,’’ he said.

‘’The Lincoln, Roosevelt, Carl Vinson, and others are all en route – minus their aircraft wing – from various locations to aid in the search for survivors. Without an air wing aboard, the hangar decks can be set up with cots,’’ he said.

“It’s here that we should talk about those that survived on Honolulu and Oahu and the problems they are going to encounter. For that we turn to the National institute of Health and Dr. Victor Campbell, and also from John Hopkins Hospital, Emory Davidson via video,’’ I said.

‘’Aside from physical injuries – broken bones, burns, dehydration and exhaustion – you are going to encounter tremendous respiratory damage. Everyone is going to suffer from ash inhalation. You’re are going to need thousands of respirators,’’ Dr. Campbell said.

‘’I second that and will add there will be long term health problems, especially for the very young. John Hopkins has done extensive research on the effects of ash and have developed extensive successful treatment procedures,’’ Dr. Davidson said.

‘’Dr. Peter Schwartz is considered one of the leading volcanologists at the University of California. Dr. Swartz, I know we are not quite at the twenty-four-hour mark into this tragedy and the eruption shows no signs of weakening. In your expert opinion; is this unusual and how soon can we expect a decrease in the activity?’’ I said.

            ‘’Normally there is a decrease after the initial eruption, but this is a different acting volcano. Based on available shared data it has shown no sign of weaking weakening ,’’ he said.

            ‘’There are multiple volcanos in the ring of fire – are they showing increasing or decreasing activity? Should we be expecting eruptions from other volcanos volcanoes or has this massive eruption reduced the pressure in them?’’ I asked.

            ‘’There has been no change in activity so far. The university has been polling all the monitoring stations. A new report should be available later today that may provide a better answer to your question,’’ he replied.

            ‘’I think everyone in the Pacific awaits that report,’’ I said.

            ‘’Dr. Baker – as the leading volcano volcanoe seismologist at the University of Alaska in the volcano volcanoe group – does the lack of seismic activity give us any indication as to the duration or continued strength of the eruption?’’ I said.

‘’Normally there are weeks or months of underground seismic activity that increases, indicating that an eruption may be imminent. None of our instruments placed at multiple locations in the Hawaiian Islands showed any potential pending activity. The University is scouring months of recorded data for anything that could have been missed,’’ he said.

            ‘’Dr Baker, have the final reports come in on any damages caused by the tsunami?’’ I asked.

            ‘’Johnson Atoll received heavy damage while the Marshal Islands received moderate damage, as did Kiribati and Melanesia. The death tolls are unknown,’’ he said.

            ‘’In internal conversations with other experts, they all seem to agree that there is no life left on the island of Molokai after all the damage from the earth quake and the lava and ash that is expected to be ten feet or deeper. Does everyone here agree that all recovery and rescue efforts need to be directed to the other islands?’ I said.

            There was a lively conversation but agreement in the end that it was best to put the resources where they had the best chance to be successful. As long as the eruption continued at its current strength, there was no safe way to conduct a search of the island by land or by air.

            ‘’The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora caused what is known as the year with no summer. It led to the great potato famine in Europe by dropping the temperatures in the norther hemisphere by an estimated five degrees. Are we in danger of that happening again or it too early to tell?’’ I asked the experts.

            ‘’It’s too early to tell – but every hour that the eruption continues at its present pace increases that likelihood. Ash has already been detected in central United States in the jet streams and is detectable on the radar images. The ash is high in metallic properties and is causing interference in television and radio broadcast over the airwaves. Currently, it is not affecting the cable systems,’’ Eric said.

            ‘’I think we have covered about everything for now. I will remind everyone that we are to do this again at 1300,’’ I said. With that I closed the conference.

As soon as I did Connie handed me a wad of notes that I needed to read and react to. But I knew I would not escape a few questions by the media.

            ‘’Madam President, why are so many ships being sent to the islands? Wouldn’t it be better to send people and get the infrastructure back operational?’’ one asked.

            ‘’It will take months to get the roads and utilities back to anywhere near normal. In the meantime, there are going to be thousands of people needing medical attention, food and a place to stay.’’ I said.

‘’If I remember correctly, each carrier has twelve operating rooms and all the equipment. The smaller assault carriers also have a large medical facility. They also have the ability with landing craft to immediately shuttle people from shore to the ship,’’ I said.

‘‘I envision the landing craft picking up survivors, carrying them to the assault troop carriers and being transferred to the carriers for medical checkup attention and then transferred to the cruise ships for temporary housing. Helicopters can shuttle the people between ships. If I remember correctly, the cruise ships have helipads on them,’’ I said.

‘’Given what we know, I believe this is the fastest way to help the victims of this disaster. Will it be enough? Sadly, no. This is just the beginning of what’s needed. Until the eruption subdues and the ash lessens there is little we can do but stage, plan and prepare to give it our best effort. That effort will be led by the Navy, I said.

‘’Make no mistake, this is going to be a herculean effort. Once they are on the ships, providing food, clothing and the basics is going to be another massive undertaking,’’ I said.

‘’According to the last census, Hawaii came in at a million and a half people. As of yet we have no tally of the people visiting there yesterday,’’ I said.

‘’There are no words that describes the size and scope of this tragedy or the necessary effort to overcome it,’’ I said.

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Book 3 Chapter 22

Book 3 Chapter 22

            I settled into my chair and began to read all my messages. Fortunately, Connie was putting them in order of importance. I turned on my JBG desktop and my White House laptop so I could work on both. I also opened the appropriate text messaging on both.

            Just as I did Jenny sent a text, ’’On our way home, be there in a couple hours. Everything went great, acquisitions are on schedule. Have lots of things to tell you when we get there.”

            I went through the notes and dictated the necessary responses for Connie to type up and handle. Some of them I forward to the proper agency for follow up, after attaching a note of instructions.

            I was nearly done when my mates came in back from their trip to Thimble Shoals. I listened as they gave me the short version of their meeting. Curtis Warren and several from his legal group were on their way back to Washington. They had flown to the Shoals with them.

            Two G5s made the trip today to separate my mates, in case there should ever be an accident. They would have made the trip in one of the business jets, but both were gone on a two-week lease.

            All the t’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted. All the acquisitions Marcy was looking at were on track to be completed by the time of the various stockholders’ meetings.

There was a change in plans. Marcy’s plan was to pay off the corporate debt of the companies as she took them over. After the meetings today, Midwest Bank was going to continue to hold the corporate debt allowing TSPBCIC – Marcy to go after several more of the large companies that were ranked as her second or third choice. I didn’t ask the names of the additional companies she was after.

On another topic, the gold coin sales to brokers were going better than expected. A lot more of the gold was being turned into cash deposited in the accounts, helping all the numbers look better.

They went to their offices to do the same thing I was doing and that was to catch up on all the notes that needed follow-up from the day they were gone.

The security at Polokwane was watching a large group – possibly three hundred – making their way from the south – southeast. The security team there under Andy’s orders had extended the range of the aerial group.

            Andy sent an update on the South Korean embassy issue. The surveillance was getting more frequent and more obvious. Andy was concocting a plan to grab a couple of those who were watching. They would be sent to the Doc if they were not cooperative when they were grabbed. There was already a Cessna long range jet standing by at the Incheon Airport.

            Vice President Harrison was in Germany working on improvements to NATO. Every two years there was an assessment of manpower, materials and response. Those who should have been at the meeting were not; nothing unusual there.

            Special Agent Mickens arrived from Washington with the first reports on the newly discovered tunnels along with video, maps and pictures.

            ‘’The first tunnel was dug after the White House was burned in 1814 during the term of James Madison. Madison and family had escaped Washington just minutes before the British troops under Major General Robert Ross entered the city. During the twenty six hours the British occupied Washington, nearly all government buildings were burned,’’ Agent Mickens said.

            ‘’Madison, his government and military officials spent the night in the small town of Brookeville that is now in Montgomery County Maryland,’’ Agent Mickens said.

‘’The planners decided there had to be an escape route for the President in case such an event happened again,’’ Agent Mickens added.

‘’Coal miners from Shamokin Pennsylvania and Charleston West Virginia were brought in to do the job because they were experienced in rigging and building deep mining tunnels,’’ Agent Mickens said.

‘’The tunnel is twelve hundred and fifty four feet long and exited at the carriage house located at what is currently 15th Street NW and G street, at what is now the Old Ebbitt Grill. Both ends of the tunnel were sealed during the Arthur Administration in 1885. If one knew what they were looking for, there is evidence of the closed end in in the White House basement by the layout of the brick,’’ Mickens said.

‘’Not long after that, the carriage house burned and the Old Ebbitt Grill was built. There are some interesting artifacts that you can see after restoration. There was a lot of things put in the tunnel before it was closed, or it may have been used for storage,’’ Agent Mickens said as we were looking at the pictures of the investigation.

‘’They used heavy white oak beams for support, the floor and the roof of the tunnel. They were sealed with pitch and pine tar to keep the water out. According to the information we found, they even back tamped and packed heavy clay to also act as a sealer around the structure as the digging progressed,’’ Agent Mickens said.

‘’The second tunnel was much newer – dug in 1979 – and was intended to be a secret underground shortcut for the President and White House officials to get to the subway system and away from Washington.“

‘’All of that ended with the attempt on Ronald Reagan and the realization that in the event of natural disaster or riots, the subway system would be congested and unusable. The Secret Service decided it was too risky to have an entrance into the basement of the White House. The tunnel was abandoned before completion and the end at the subway connection was filled with concrete,’’ Mickens said.

‘’The people in charge of the grounds and the historians want to relocate the gate fifteen feet to preserve the 1814 tunnel, and fill the 1979 tunnel with concrete slurry,’’ Agent Mickens said.

‘’I agree with that as long as there are no tours for the next twenty five years or so,’’ I said.

Andy called on VCATS from Polokwane. The groups of rebels that were slowly making their way from the south, that Polokwane security had been watching, were indeed part of the violent uprisings that were happening in and with coordination from the rebels’ groups in the Sudan. I ordered Andy to extend intelligence flights a hundred miles further and add the photography package on one of the planes for further assessment and put in place the necessary response.

The picture was grim in the areas as they made their way north. They were operating under a scorched earth policy – killing everyone and everything and then burning it to the ground for grievances of the past. The collective was demanding total control and ownership of everything to give to its followers and soldiers.

At 1700 we went over to the house for supper. Dad and Jake were eating with us and Mom, Mindy, Vicky and Marcy were going to watch the kids as the rest of us tried to finish putting the rest of the gold in the basement.

We had finished and just returned to the house when Eric called with an alert from Hawaii. At 1800 our time – 1100 their time – the thought to be dormant volcano erupted moments ago after an 8.5 earthquake.

The combination caused a large section of the island to slide into the ocean causing a massive tsunami with an alert issued to all the Pacific. The affected island was Molokai, twenty miles from Honolulu and just a few more from Maui.

The erupting gas and ash were rising to fifty thousand feet and more. All air travel was suspended due to the dangers from volcanic ash that was covering the islands and spreading. Ash was settling over everything. Pearl Harbor was not spared from the ash, with it over a foot deep on everything.

I ordered the Navy to abandon the base and send everything to sea – men and ships – to escape the ash and rock fall, if it was possible to do so. They were then to begin a search for those that may be alive in the water, although I doubted there would be many.

The ash falls and earthquakes were expected to continue for several days. I suspected that many of the aircraft would be junk at the Navy and Air Force bases.

I ordered all Navy ships at Washington, California and Guam to sail to Hawaii to participate in the recovery operation. They were to leave the docks immediately – they were not to wait on crew members on leave, if there were enough manpower to run the ship. They were going on a rescue mission and not to war.

By the time they got there the ash and the eruptions should be greatly reduced and sadly enough, everyone that went into the sea would be dead and it would be a recovery operation.

FEMA was mobilizing a response but was waiting on reports from the USGS and the FAA as to when they thought it would be safe for aircraft to fly into the area.

The entire Hawaiian island chain was covered in falling ash. In some places reports were saying it was over a foot deep – and still falling in places – and visibility was limited to feet. The volcano was still erupting with rivers of lava flowing into the ocean and lava fireballs shooting hundreds, if not thousands of feet into the air.

My emergency management team was on the way for the first meeting at 1900. There would be no gold stacked tonight and I was also sure it would be a long night.

I went to the command center and started entering the numbers to get various departments on the screens and to get updates from Hawaii. Information was trickling in. Many civilian communication systems were down from the heavy ash interfering with the wireless signals.

The military communications were better from the emergency bunkers – they were with underseas cables to the mainland. I wondered why the civilian systems were so bad to the mainland; they were using undersea cables.

Then it occurred to me that many civilian communications immediately went to wireless systems to eliminate poles in a state where trees were a scarcity and underground communication were quickly adopted. Power cables were underground by necessity. Now after such a massive earth quake many buried cables were ripped apart and useless.

I spent from 1900 to 2300 in the command center with every agency head that had a part to play in the tragedy. The military had their orders and FEMA was ordered to get everything loaded on air freighters and pre-stage them to California for delivery as soon as the air cleared enough for planes to fly.

All agencies were to be at their offices by 0600 and online at 0800 for a conference meeting and a news conference. Troy notified the media of the news conference. It would be held in our big meeting room and televised from there.

By 2400 I was freshly showered and snuggled next to Marcie, feeling the baby move.

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Book 2 Chapter 21

Book 3 Chapter 21

            The waiter held the door open; in walked Frank, Eric, Ben and Marty.

            ‘’Well, we get to see one more of your secrets, you do have a bar. I’m impressed,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’There are lot more, there a few that you will never see,’’ I said.

            ‘’They said at the desk that your mates are away, they are not filling your spot on a clandestine special operation, are they?’’ Frank asked. But, before I could answer, ‘’Then they said Andy was away and that raises more questions?’’ Ben said.  

            ‘’My mates are conducting business at Thimble Shoals and will be back later today. Andy is somewhere in Africa then to the Middle East for the next week and after that, on to Portugal,’’ I said.

            ‘’No, they are not filling my spot on the OPS team today, although they have several times recently,’’ I said.

‘’With Marcy and Vicky expecting, Ching Lee, Lorrie and Jenny have stepped up to the plate on the OPS team,’’ I said.

‘’Marcy and Vicky are expecting?’’ Frank said.

‘’That’s not for public knowledge yet,’’ I said.

            ‘’Marcy was to leave some items for me for an operation in Asia. It was a last-minute thing this morning, did she have time to get them before she left?’’ Frank asked.

            ‘’She was in the air when you called but she filled me in. They are across the hall in the walk-in vault. I’ll get them before you leave,’’ I said.

            ‘’How are you coming on the special projects?” I asked.

            ‘’Making steady progress – as soon as we decode the work Robert has done we need to plan a raid. Andy is scheduling the people for the specialized mission requirements,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Our hope is to catch the trainers all there. These are the people that were initially paid by the prince and are now being paid by Pakistani factions and China,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Robert has been monitoring the traffic and comparing the satellite photos. When are you going to replace that crappy satellite with something that is the best we have?’’ I asked.

            ‘’I know there was money budgeted for ten new ones in the budget two years ago. Where are they in the launch schedule?’’ I asked.

            ‘’On top of those, money was budgeted last year for ten more to complete upgrading the surveillance systems,’’ I added.

            ‘’I don’t know but I will find out. I have sent several requests to NASA and have gotten no response for the five they were to launch. Vandenberg has one a month starting in July.

            ‘’Are the satellites completed and just waiting on NASA for the launch vehicle?’’ I asked.

            ‘’The packages are complete and ready to ship to the launch assembly site,’’ Frank replied.

            ‘’Troy, get me a list of all scheduled launches from NASA for the year. I also want to know what agency the launches are for and the what functions the satellite are to perform and for whom,’’ I said.

            We talked about intelligence that was affecting the agencies and where the experts thought it was leading. I questioned the group aggressively.

After an hour, ‘’Gentleman, my meeting with Frank, Ben and Eric is going to last a while. If there is nothing else we need to talk about now, I will talk with you tomorrow unless there is an emergency,’’ I said to the military men, sending them on their way.

            ‘’Frank, you seem to be having more trouble with some of your secret connections. Are there new issues developing?’’ I asked.

            ‘’No, they are not new, but they are growing with a lot of help from China, now that Russia is out of the picture. They started with the Obama administration. President Clinton had made many promises to the western European countries after the fall of the Soviet Union to get them to join the nonnuclear nations and give up the nuclear weapons under their control,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’They did. The agreements were called ‘The Budapest Memorandum’. Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as non-nuclear-weapon State also happened,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Great Britain, Ireland, the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to respect the sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine. They also agreed to immediate United Nations security council actions and to aid Ukraine in the event of aggression against them,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’France and China also issued similar agreements with Ukraine if it would to give up its nuclear weapons, although the wording was not as strong as in the Budapest Memorandum,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’The agreements were solid under Clinton and under the first President Bush. The second Bush was distracted by 9-11, then with all the military in the Middle East, things took on a new meaning with intelligence after the failures that led to 9-11,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Then Obama became president and things in the intelligence agencies changed again and our longtime adversaries were now the good guys. The situation became terribly worse with Obama’s support for the spring uprisings in the Middle East and Africa. That distraction led to the Benzi incident that cost the ambassador and his staff their lives, then came the distractions of the cover up, with Obama allowing China to build islands for military use with only a whimper in objection,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’While all that was going on, Russia attacked Ukraine then withdrew with the US hardly raising its voice, when it should have been the leader and very vocal about the implied guarantees in the Budapest Memorandum. Shortly thereafter came Russia’s problems and Putin’s mysterious death,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Then came the Trump administration which was mired in conflict and controversy from the very beginning. His domineering aggression and at times abusive demeanor, over-use of social media and what would have been helpful was not. All the while China was growing in power and influence,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Then came Biden with the COVID fiasco, crashing economy and massive unemployment. There was an obsession with anything green, all kinds of bans on fossil fuels that drove inflation out the roof, plus the attacks on parents and massive new taxes. In the process of all that, Biden was going senile with his aides doing everything.’’

‘’Russia took advantage again and destroyed the Ukraine without a whimper from those that pledged to come to Ukraine’s aid from the Budapest agreements. Biden had been a Senator and ranking member of the Foreign Relations committee and had debated them at the time agreements were signed,’’ Frank said.

‘’As for President Biden, he even denied ever knowing anything about the American, Britain, and Irish and Russian part in the agreement. China defended Russia’s actions at the UN,’’ Frank said.

‘’Weeks later China began the military attack against Taiwan – again the US did nothing but make a little noise,’’ Frank added.

‘’Thomas was elected and tried to restore our good standing with our allies, but the damage was done. The US was no longer viewed as a dependable ally, especially in third-world countries. There was a string of failures – Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, add to that Ukraine and Taiwan.”

“Fledgling governments and groups avoided the US. Intelligence and sources dried up. That was why your group was so successful finding out about the terrorists’ attacks before we did. China is driving that point to potential allies,’’ Frank said.

‘’To make matters worse, China is now working aggressively for the Yen to replace the dollar as the benchmark currency. By using the monster US debt to leverage the change to the yen, many countries and groups we need to work with don’t want the dollar, fearing it will be worthless,’’ Frank said.

‘’I knew a while ago that you were losing official channels for intelligence. I could see it in the reports when I compared them to Robert’s. The debt was the reason I am pushing so hard to get a balanced budget without using the gimmicks,’’ I said.

‘’For clandestine operations and to support various groups, they are demanding something other than American paper money and I know how you feel about the drugs. Neither one of us wants our gonads put in a jar in your office,’’ Frank said.

‘’We have been told your mates feel the same way and may be even more aggressive than you,’’ Ben said.

‘’That’s why the deal with Marcy – we have an important connection that wants gold to conduct business. We can’t go to a brokerage house and buy it. The Post would have the story in hours and the subpoenas would be flying, nor can we get any from the gold reserve. To run around and buy that much on the market would be problematic and soon be public,’’ Ben said.

‘’We know the mines you bought were still somewhat productive and if anyone had a private stash, it would be Marcy. If anyone could pull strings, we knew Marcy could – if there were any to pull,’’ Frank said.

‘’Marcy said that since it will be just a funds exchange, no need to do the add-on numbers,’’ I said. 

‘’How much do you want?’’ I said.  I knew Marcy said eight million, so I was just checking them out.

‘’Its an eight million transaction over three months so that’s how much I need. I can take it all at once or split it up if Marcy needs to,’’ Frank said.

‘’Are the three of you going to carry it out, or do you want a cart?’’ I asked. Eight million was fourteen 12.5 kilo bars – with change left over – or eight hundred coins.

‘’There should be a cart by the elevator,’’ I said. Troy went to get one.

I took the two keys needed to open the lock that secured the grade eighty hardened chain that was wrapped around the handles to the double doors. The glass in the doors had been painted to keep the contents from being viewed by prying eyes.

With the chain out of the way, I swiped my card, entered my pin and then the retina scan so the door would open. I held the door open for Troy to push the cart in followed by Frank, Ben, and me.

‘’I guess the mines are more than somewhat productive,’’ Frank said.

‘’I think coins would be easier for you to deal with than the bars,’’ I said.

The bags of coins were stacked on the side. Frank, Ben and I placed eight bags of coins on the cart. Each bag was one million dollars and held one hundred of the ten thousand-dollar Thimble Shoals gold coins.

Troy and Eric were motionless, staring at the bars stacked to the ceiling. I snapped my fingers to bring them back to life.

‘’What you see or what happens in the basement stays in the basement – or death shall quickly follow,’’ I said.

‘’Would you like to hold one, just so you can always say you have?” I asked.

I walked over, picked up two of the bars and then handed one to Troy and the other to Eric.

‘’It’s a lot heavier than I thought it would be,’’ Troy said.

‘’Hold it up Troy,’’ I said. I took his phone and took a picture after making sure there was nothing incriminating in the view.

‘’Do you want a picture, Eric?’’ I asked.

‘’No, I think I will pass,’’ Eric said.

‘’Just send Marcy a check,’’ I said to Frank.

I closed the doors and locked it all up again.

Frank, Eric and Marty left, Troy and I went upstairs to my office to address all the messages waiting for a response.

            Edit by Alfmeister

            Proof read by Bob W.

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Book 3 Chapter 20

Book 3 Chapter 20

            Eighteen crates were emptied into the gold room tonight. Dad and Jake helped again – a couple more nights and we would be finished and then Lorrie could start using the secure hangar for other things.

I wondered what those other things where – she had never said. Neither had any of the others. Then the crates could be sent somewhere with freight in them. The Toyota pickups from the Mexican operations were all gone now.

            The repair shop had pulled all the engines, transmissions, doors, and beds from them and sold them online. The bodies were used in the hostage training setting at Fort Smith. They were now burned-out scrap metal hulks, destined for the scrap yard when Andy decided he was finally through with them.

            I slept very well in my own bed; Vicky was snuggled tightly against me all night. Morning came much too fast. Marcy, Jenny, Ching Lee and Vicky were flying to Thimble Shoals for the directors meeting, then returning in the afternoon. Lorrie, Mom and Lisa were boy and babysitting.

            At 0700 I was reading updates – at 0800 I was in the meeting room in the basement with my new Secretary of Defense Scott and all the Chiefs. Today’s discussion was on the list of base closings. The GSA and the GAO were also at the meeting with estimates and they were going to be compared with the DOD cost estimates.

            The cost was figured several ways; first was the cost to just close the named base. The second was the cost to transfer assets from that base to another – in other words, relocation cost. The third was the savings based over a ten-year span – there was that infamous government ten-year budget worm hole. The fourth was cost to the local community in lost wages and fees associated with the base and fifth was the return on the sale or disposal of the base.

            There were all kinds of endings for closed bases. Some were given to the community or states with the hope and promise they would be turned into industrial parks or other revenue generators. Parts of some previously closed bases were used to create recreation area or parks.

Others were eventually abandoned to grow up in weeds; some were sold to be repurposed into developments or factories. Many times, Navy bases became port facilities or marinas. Sometimes, those turned into developments that came back to bite the government in the ass.

Home buyers were always told that hazmats and other contaminates had been cleaned up when really, only a minor portion had been. Many times, misleading or forged paperwork was supplied by crooked contractors.

Then people started to get sick and a thorough investigation was done. At the end of all the publicity, lawsuits and politicians’ grandstanding, the federal government always ended up responsible and ultimately paid dearly.

            Many times, bases that were slated to be sold were only sold after years of petty politics by the state’s congressman and senators, each trying to get special favors and promises from their many special interest groups.

            Each scenario had its pitfalls, there were always cleanup cost for hazmats and environmental issues. A number of bases were going to a reserve status – closed but kept in a condition to be used in thirty days. The grass would be cut, utilities kept on but pipes drained and buildings closed up but lightly maintained.

            There were thirty bases in Europe and the Middle East slated for stand- by status, consolidation or closed. There were twenty-five minor bases and ten major bases that were to be shuttered was the term the Pentagon wanted to use. It was more palatable to the public. There were ten bases that were scheduled for reductions in operations. Dover Air Base was in the list to be shuttered-closed.

            I spent all morning in the meeting and on MTAC with officials in the Pentagon. At 1100 the GSA and GAO people left. They had been trying to leave for the last hour, desperately wanting to get out of the hot seat.

            Shortly after they left, Troy and the waiter brought over menus of the things that were available for lunch today as a ‘take an order’ from the chef. I guess the Secret Service agents were going for broke, assuming most of the staff could get a first-class lunch and supper without objections. Whatever, but I knew who the bill was going to be sent to.

            Troy, Kitty, Connie, Secretary of Defense, the Generals and I placed our lunch order with the waiter and I told him to bring it down to the first room on the left when coming through the tunnel when it was ready. We would have a working lunch in that room.

            To make things interesting, I decided that I would have our meal in our private bar. After all the kidding with Frank, Ben, Marty and the General about my private bar whenever JBG carried out our clandestine operations, I decided that I would have one built.

            The first bay next to the tunnel towards the house had been filled with all those things that were too good to throw away. Because – you know – someday they may come in handy. In other words – junk- which was thrown away and the room cleaned out.

            I had Bob’s Construction build me a private bar. A bar with bar stools and coolers for beer – the most popular ones under the counter – and a refrigerator. There were wine coolers and canned drinks.

There was the traditional mirror behind where any bartender would stand with a variety of hard liquor in front of it on the back wall. The one that always got broken in a bar fight.

Across from the bar were three crescent shaped booths and a couple of small tables and chairs. I opted for well-padded ones, not the hard wooden ones.

            Bob even found a company that made replica jukeboxes and there was one in the bar with old time bar room country music ballads, truck driving and drinking songs for conversation topics. Bob found some classic collectible bar room signs to place on the wall. He also found a pool table, every bar had to have a pool table. There were a couple TVs, one in each corner.

            My mates weren’t much enthused while it was being built but when it was finished, they were happy with it. It became a place where we could sit and talk or whatever to get a few minutes peace when we were over here. It was quieter than our offices and allowed us to be able to debate work related issues in private.

My mates went through my old photo albums and picked out some photos of me from my Marine days. There were some with me dirty, dusty and just beat or worn out. Dad had asked me time and time again for pictures of me on duty. I finally promised that I would and I did. There was always someone in the unit willing to take pictures, no matter how bad they were.

There were some with me marching in the desert with full gear and pack, others in the barracks – if there were any available – or in the tents. There were others with me carrying an injured soldier.

There were a few with me standing over Taliban dead with my M16 – those were a no-no, but I had a few of them. There were several of the trucks I drove, a few with them burning and a few of the destroyed villages we had been through.

There were a few from the Kampala attack, the one with me on the roof at the refugee camp and one of me in the Blues along with pictures of my mates. I was opposed to so many pictures of my hard times in life on the wall, but my mates won out on that one.

On the wall with the pictures was a poster, ’Never piss off a lady with a knife, a gun and an attitude. There are no second chances.’

We did have a phone, internet and wireless installed so our laptops would work on that end of the basement. It was locked and only our cards, along with Dad, Jake and Crash’s cards would open the door and of course, the cleaning people.

            I called up the refreshment center and had them send down a bucket of ice. The bar had no ice maker, there was running water with a pump under the sink to pump the waste water into the sewer pipe and a small electric water heater.

The glasses had to be taken to one of the dishwashers – either in the lunch room, refreshment center or over to the house – and then brought back; some inconvenience but not much.

            When the ice was brought down, ”Let’s go to the other room, a lot of people use this room for lunch. We can have a more controlled conversation over there,” I said as I picked up the ice bucket.

            I unlocked the door and held it while they went in. ‘’So, you do have a private bar and it’s a nice one. Ben, Frank, Eric and Marty have never said anything about it being here,’’ General Ingram said.        

            ‘’That’s because they have never been in here,’’ I said.

            ‘’They will be here before we finish. There are some updates they want to go over and explain as they have been working on some projects for me. They had a meeting at the hangar this morning. I would imagine they are eating lunch at the restaurant in Morton,’’ I said. Then I added, ‘’We can wait for them here. I need to find the ball carriers and let them know where I am.’’

            ‘’Admiral Holt, please pick up the com phone,’’ I said.

            When he answered ‘’I am in the last room on the right at the tunnel if you need me,’’ I said.

            ‘’What gets discussed in the bar stays in the bar. This is my ultimate private sanctuary,’’ I said.

            ‘’The waiter is bringing down tea, water and soda, does anyone want anything else?’’ I asked as I pulled a cold mug from the refrigerator and a cold beer from the cooler.

            Everyone else chose a beer as I did, except for Kitty and Connie. I chose a few selections on the jukebox and turned the volume down. The reason I did that was if anyone was trying to record anything, the music would interfere. Then I started with conversation.

            ‘’Looks like I over valued Dover Air Force Base property based on the numbers presented by the GSA,’’ I said.

            ‘’I think Congress will say the numbers from the GSA are low and I don’t think anyone will beat the accessibility sweeteners that you placed on the bid,’’ General Ingram said.

            ‘’Well, there is still a long way to go; the forces must sign off on the process, the Secretary of Defense must sign off on it, Congress must approve the process and then the GSA will go through a process. The best-worst case scenario would be for Congress to force it to a public auction but then the Air Force will lose all those things that would help the Department of Defense,’’ I said.

            ‘’Mr. Secretary, there needs to be a push on all the processes. Without getting all the changes made, the budget numbers will not work. Programs will have to be cut and systems put on hold, as I won’t sign for additional funding to the Department of Defense to cover for delays,’’ I said.

            ‘’I have looked at all the proposals and today’s meeting added more information. I will further review with the planners tomorrow for the final recommendations to Congress. Madam President, you will have an advanced copy to review before it is delivered to Congress.”

            The waiter and the chef brought the food on a rolling cart. Mine was a salad with soup and a grilled sandwich with sweet tea. I had finished my beer and the sweet tea hit the spot with the meal. The Generals had all kinds of cold sandwiches and soup. Connie, Kitty and Troy elected for soup and a hot sandwich.

            As the waiter was leaving, I heard, ‘’Is President Jones in there?’’

            Edit by Alfmeister

            Proof read by Bob W.

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Book 3 Chapter 19

Book 3 Chapter 19

            It was a short walk through the tunnel to the house. All the visiting aides and staff were politely told to be gone by 1630, unless there was an approved reason for them to stay.

            Dad had loaded six more crates from Polokwane earlier today at Morton. The farm truck was backed up to the loading dock waiting for the forklift. There were still sixty crates in the secure hanger that needed to be moved into the basement storage. War, campaigning, elections, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and inauguration had interfered with our work to move it down into the basement rooms.

            Lorrie wanted the hangar cleaned out to use for other things so there was a push to get it done. Jason, Jake and Dad were going to help so we were hoping to do twelve tonight. I was glad it was being sent directly to Pirates Bank now, eliminating that work for us.

            We had thirteen days before we were leaving for Deep Water Cay for two weeks of vacation. We wanted to go on vacation before Marcy and Vicky were due to give birth. Marcy and Vicky were both having girls.

            I thought for sure we should be able to get all of them moved in by that time. What we didn’t get moved we would stack in the hall – two high – by the gold room doors and finish it up when we came back from vacation.

            After the cameras were turned off we started on the crates. We had all twelve done in two and a half hours. It was a good night; supper was a little late, but all in all it was a good night. We planned to do the same thing tomorrow night.

            I checked with Robert’s night duty man in the command center and the agents that were there with him monitoring all the cameras around the house and in the guard. Then I turned back on the cameras for the tunnel. We ate a light supper and then we spent time playing with the kids before sending them to bath and bed. We spent a few minutes in the hot tub before Crash and Troy came out to the refrigerator for a cold beer.

            Crash sent Troy over with a tray of drinks for us. Troy was startled but didn’t drop the tray; I knew Crash had set Troy up. As soon as the tray was empty, they retreated into the house. We only stayed in fifteen minutes – that was all the docs wanted Marcy and Vicky to stay in even with the reduced temperature settings. It was a great evening and better night spending it with Lorrie in my arms. We went to sleep listening to Sara breathe.

            We were up early; I smelled the coffee at 0500. The cook must have started a new pot. At 0600 we were dressed, and I had put on my camo – by luck I had brought the ones the Guards give out with CIC Jones on the name line. I was at home and was not expecting visitors that I needed to influence today – the fancy clothes could stay in the closet.

            My staff was in early. Harry came and brought a dozen boxes of donuts from the Hut. He was going to gig the White House reporters today. His plan was to do the White House news today on the VCATS link to the press room and have the donuts on the table in front of him – if there were any left. Who said he didn’t have a sense of humor.

            I read the intelligence reports after breakfast while sitting at my desk. Still not good, but no worse than yesterday. At 0900 I was doing a video meeting with my research group that was getting the data together so that Andrew and I could work on my State of the Union address that was coming up.

            By 1000 I had a general outline for Andrew to work on and sent it to him. It was a good thing I was finished because Dick James came in unexpectedly, wanting a meeting with several topics.

            One of them was the upcoming general election In Iran. Even though I was not keeping a close eye on things there, I knew things were moving along. The numbers of candidates were greatly reduced after the primaries. Several candidates had to be eliminated because they had held offices in the previous government that they tried to hide.

            Dick James had dealt with dozens of expatriates trying to force their way back into Iran, so they could force themselves into positions of power. There were a dozen or so from Europe that had the aggressive backing of the UN and the European Union. There were also several from Canada, Cuba and Central America. They were told they were not welcome back.

            All of them that arrived at the borders were sent back. They tried the border crossings of Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Those that tried to get in by caravan through the mountain trails met a violent death along with the smugglers they hired. So far, the Army, Marines and Air Force had ended all the smuggling operations through the mountain trails, especially the trails from Pakistan.

            Hanna and Melinda had left Sunday with four more groups of reporters. So far the feedback had been fair and that was all I thought we could ask for. Hanna and Melinda were getting plenty of air time with their reports. At the rate they were going, they would be done with all the White House news groups in four more weeks.

            China was still buying oil even though they complained about the price with every payment. The funds were being deposited in Pirates Bank and payments to the reconstruction fund were being made. Reconstruction was on schedule and progress was visible on multiple fronts.

            At 1100 the GSA called with more problems from the gate relocation project. Not one but two tunnels previously unknown to them had been discovered by the ground penetrating radar that was being used to locate buried cables and pipes. Both were leading to the White House. Why they had not been discovered before was a mystery.

            Now there was big debate on how much of the grounds to dig up to find out information on them. Both were being tracked by the radar to determine where they started and how close they were to the White House.

            Radar and other tools and devices were being used in the basement on the walls. They were trying to find out if either had an entrance in the basement that had been covered up in all the previous renovations and upgrades in the history of the White House.

            It was beginning to look like it was going to be a lot longer than two weeks before I would be going back to my housing quarters. I wondered why they had not been found when the massive underground addition was added? I guess it was by luck they constructed that section on the opposite side of the White House. Or – did they know about the tunnels and elect to avoid them by using the opposite side where there were none?

            The GSA had opened a Pandora’ s box by exposing then. The historians were called as were the archaeologists. They were going to be entered – if they could find any entrances – to look for clues. If not, they were going to have access holes drilled and cameras lowered into them. One appeared to be very old and the other very recent.

            I ordered a complete media blackout on the tunnels once they started the entry process. I also ordered Frank and Eric to be involved. I wanted a complete report before anything was made public. It would be bad news if one of the former presidents stored bodies down there.

            My best guess was that the older one was a secret entrance for presidents to escape through or to allow special visitors to get in and leave unseen. After all, the British had burned the White House and the Capitol in August of 1814.

            There were plenty of conspiracy theories involving early presidents, mistresses, harems and various bootleggers and other activities that would have been political suicide or caused public hangings.

            The recent looking tunnel was anybody’s guess. Hopefully there was evidence left in both of them to answer the questions. It would be a riot if Jimmy Hoffa’s body was found in there.

They were already sifting the dirt looking for artifacts – the construction was halted for no one knew how long. The lawn was going to be dug up and whatever else needed.

            The servers were going to be removed from the basement to a more secure location for the time being. So were all the top secret records and communications.

            There was just going to be too many people wandering in the basement and around the White House. Security was going to be a problem and many things at risk.

            If my mates and I did not have so much going on, we would go the Cay and stay for the next few months just to piss everyone off.

            After a great lunch with my mates and boys, Connie, Kitty, Troy and I discussed and made plans to move more of the staff here – the Secret Service was adamant I was not going back until the area was completely secure and security upgrades were established and they could guarantee everything else was secure. MTAC screens and controls was going to be added to more of the JBG basement offices.

            I was going to change the way I was doing things. I started with the item veto Bill that Congress passed; there was much more that needed doing to make it official. It had to be added to the Constitution as an amendment. Legal scholars had debated the issue for decades; the Supreme Court ended the debate years ago by saying that the President did not have the authority for item or line item, that an amendment was necessary.

            Congress had done its part and I had done mine by signing the bill; now it was up to the states. Thirty-three needed to pass a companion bill for it to become an amendment. When the bill was introduced in the House a companion bill was introduced in each of the fifty states. Fifteen had already passed and been signed, eighteen more to go. It needed two thirds.

            Today I was calling the leaders of the remaining states to give them a little push. I could have aides do it, but the personal attention may be more helpful. Those that had video conferencing would be by video.

            Troy had done the preliminary steps by setting up a time for me to call so all the right people could be in the room. I spent three hours on the phone and video and would do the same tomorrow. Progress is important.

            At 1600 I was back in the meet room on MTAC with my investigation group getting updates for tomorrow’s MTAC meeting with the director of the EPA, Shep Hollingsworth. He was the current EPA administrator and was leaving tomorrow. My new administrator had been ratified by the Senate today and would be sworn

            Shep knew since the election that he was going to be out. He wanted to leave his legacy on the agency. He was appointing dozens of die hard  in tomorrow. environmentalists into all kinds of jobs, creating new departments for them and with hundreds of new rules, regulations and powers.

            Many of the things he was doing were illegal and unethical and some were actually criminal. The agency was required to post all new regulations in the Federal Register and provide a comment period for the public and affected industries. None of that was being done.

            His argument was that he was upgrading existing regulations and departments and not writing new ones; therefore, he was within the law.

            The last dozen EPA administrators had been environmentalists. I chose an industrialist to put the brakes on the agency and begin the process of eliminating the thousands of EPA agency people agreed to in the budget cuts.

            Along with the people, there were thousands of regulations that were going to get looked and any that Shep installed into the agency’s rule book were to be removed.

            Harland Maxwell was scheduled to be sworn in at the White House tomorrow, now he was coming here and would be sworn in my media center. Yes, one of those was completed today. The classroom by the tanning room had been remodeled.

            Ching Lee and Vicky wanted it inside; they had been using the loading ramp in the past for all the press conferences. That was too dangerous for them to do it that way now.

            Harry had given today’s White House news conference from it. Shep was going to lose out on his final venting at me, which he said he was going to do to my face on camera, but he had no invitation.

            The White House media group was going to be unhappy because it was going to be broadcast live to the White House media center.

            Edit by Alfmeister

            Proof read by Bob W.

            On another sad note due to an unexpected death in the my immediate family delays in postings of future chapters may be necessary.


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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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