Chapter 534

Marty’s FBI agents were the first there to pick up the seller of the bomb components. He was not a happy camper; breakfast was not up to his standards nor was the jail.

“It’s not too late to ask you some questions. You should think about that carefully,” I replied. After that he had nothing to say.

Six CIA officers showed up next to pick up the two Iranians. Neither had anything to say so I said it for them, “I can assure you that next time we meet the circumstances are not going to be as pleasant for you!”

With them gone I turned the heat down to fifty-five and locked the doors. The cleanup crew would be here in a couple of hours after they were notified.

I walked back into the terminal to greet Major Black.

“I’m Major Heather Black; I’m here to pick up the materials. WHERE ARE THEY?” she demanded rather loudly.
“You mean the materials – that with all your security protocols – were still stolen and could not be accounted for? The ones I had to go to a foreign country, into hostile territory to recover for you?” I asked.

“Yes those,” she replied a little toned down.

“We do things differently here, I need two IDs from each of you, one of them with a photo,” I said.

With their IDs in hand, “Take a seat; this will take a few minutes,” I said.

I read the names and then made a copy. Major Heather Black, Lt. Laura Mason, Captain Jesse Lee Bloom and Captain Herman Bullock, all Air Force.

I took the IDs and copied them, then pulled up the State Department system that had every ID the government had issued for the last 20 years and checked them. When I was satisfied, we went over to the armory.

Vicky input her ID and then I did mine and I pulled the massive door open. There on shop carts were all the components we brought back. Major Black started for the carts and stopped.

On the racks along the wall were the old and new gun drones with new full ammo belts in the box. The controllers were under each one and then there were the drones set up for devices. The assembled devices were stacked on wooden storage racks.

“I have heard about those but these are the first ones I have seen, I also hear in capable hands they are very effective,” the Major said.

“Extremely effective,” I replied.

Major Black went straight to the box with the plutonium ball, checked the serial number and then opened it and read the matching serial number out loud to Lt. Mason.

“That’s the correct numbers,” Lt. Mason replied.

The process was repeated with the implosion core.

My sheet said the same thing; Major Black was going to sign for everything she took.

The Major began aggressively looking at all the rest of the parts.

“More here than I expected, I think we have everything we need. Let’s get headed back,” she said.

She handcuffed the case holding the plutonium core to Captain Bloom’s left wrist and did the same thing to the case holding the implosion core to Captain Bullock’s left wrist.

The rest of the small components were moved to one cart while the bigger parts were all placed on another. We walked through the terminal to the doors for the tarmac where the government G3 was parked.

I waved off the TSA inspector running to stop them, “Classified items exempt from TSA,” I said. He nodded and turned away.

I turned to start my trek to Washington, only to run into Duke.

“What can be so important that you handcuff the cases to your body?” he asked.

“Those things are the parts for a 500 kiloton thermonuclear bomb, we don’t want them to lose them before they get to the storage depot,” I replied.

“I would hope not, but I think you are feeding me some BS,” he said.

“I thought you would say that,” I replied.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

“I’m here to book the big meeting room and talk to the restaurant about doing some kind of dinner for a fund raiser,” he replied.

“Get Lorrie to go with you; she can pull strings for the days you want,” I said. Lorrie already knew I was working with Duke and what the arrangement would be.

Bill, the team and I drove west to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave; I was ready for the fireworks to begin.

There were no media at the gate; they were all on the White House steps until they saw my convoy. There was a mad rush to the gate but too late – I was inside before they could get there.

I sent notice to the kitchen staff I wanted donuts and coffee sent to the press room for the 1400 news conference; there was no way I was going to escape today’s news update, but first was the big meeting.

I stopped first at the Oval Office; Troy met me at the door.

“I don’t know how you are going to handle your time today; everyone wants a piece of it. Harry is saying he will not start the daily news briefing without you there. They are already hitting on him,” Troy said.

“The joint chiefs want a closed door meeting, lots of interest there for some reason. You’ve made them look bad; first they lost the goods, and then to have to get you to recover them. It hurts their pride; be careful,” Troy said. “But first the President.”

“We don’t know how that rumor got started,” the President said as he handed me the envelope I had given him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait a day or two to see where the fallout ends?” I asked.

“No, we have already seen the media footage and the Air Force satellite film for what it was. Some issues but nothing drastic, as you said from time to time we will have to do some distasteful things. Apparently you have no problem with the distasteful things,“ the President replied.

My next stop was at Section Twelve; all my crew was there working on the new information from the Prince’s files. They were working with the evidence, helping Kathy Shellman put it in order for the team of federal prosecutors that were going to do the real work of getting convictions.

Things came to a halt while there was a mini reunion of sorts; my team was glad I was back.

I was distracted one more time before I could meet with the joint chiefs. The engineer for GSA wanted to meet about the office expansion. Congress had approved the new independent cabinet department that would report to the President.

Section 12 was going to be expanded; the department beside us was being relocated, the wall separating the two removed. The changes were going to allow whomever the new chairperson was to have a larger office, more investigators, a larger meeting room and a dedicated lunchroom.

Changes in the labor rules now required a separate lunchroom. Employees were no longer allowed to eat lunch at their desks.

Ben and I worked with the GSA design team to do the layout. I let Ben take the helm on the plans. I was down to three weeks and six days; I would be gone before the changes were completed. There was no need for it to be made to my preferences.

I finally met the joint chiefs – or I should say – they met me. I was just walking out the door with the GSA engineer to meet them upstairs.

Troy, the President, the five chiefs, Frank, Eric and Art Cummings, “Let’s go to your office; it’s large enough to go over the things we need to,” Troy said.

“We would like to go over the recovery of the components and the after-action report, if you will,” General Ingram said.

“I understand you have satellite video, let’s watch it first,” I replied.

After five minutes I could see why the President had said about for what it was. It was bad.

“Just stop; turn it off – it’s a terrible video. How much money did you pay for the cheap copy of this action movie?” I asked with a laugh.

“I think I have an original production, not a bootleg copy; but first some facts. We were outnumbered by thirty fighters; we were in hostile territory – their home area. With the number of fighters they had, we were out-gunned on the ground,“ I said.

“Our advantages were in the element of surprise, superior planning, weapons and aviation support in the form of drone gunships,” I said. I then played the DVD I had taken from the drone computer.

It was great video from a production standpoint, clear and good detail. It was easy see the gunship drones making their sweeps, the transfer of the components and drugs to our vehicles and then the fires to destroy all theirs.

The camera drone had been the last thing out of the air after a general sweep of the area.
“There you have it; the good, the bad, the ugly,” I said as I closed the video.
“What happened to the drugs?” Troy asked.

“The DEA has them, we are doing DNA testing to determine where they came from. Were they from local sources or from Iran? Inquiring minds want to know,” Eric responded before I could answer.

“Did you bring any of their weapons back?” Art asked.

“No, the weapons were placed in the trucks before they were burned to destroy both the weapons and the vehicles,” I replied.

“You took no prisoners, killed everyone there other than the three main players. Why?” General Ingram asked.

“We were not equipped to deal with prisoners; we certainly couldn’t call the Mexican authorities. We had no medical facilities to care for them, the humane thing to was to put them out of their misery. Besides, you did not want survivors on Mexican media saying it was an American raid now did you. The dead tell no tales,” I replied.

“You knew from the very beginning this was what had to happen; there was no choice. To stay as clean as possible, you contracted it out to JBG,” I replied.

I handed the President a list of names for the presidential pardons. It included everyone connected to the operation.

“It’s time for the daily news briefing,” I said as I closed the video system down.

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Chapter 533

Two hours later we drove up to the open cargo doors of the C5s and let the cargo masters tie down the trucks and equipment. It is a sign of a successful mission when you go home with everything and everyone you took to the fight; in our case, we were plus three.

As soon as we were in the air, I called the President, “I have the goods, mission complete.” A little conversation and I ended the call.

The next call was to General Ingram, “Great news, I want the details Monday. When can we pick up the materials?”

“Three hours at Morton,” I replied.

“We can’t get anyone qualified there in that time. I understand you have secure storage; just go ahead and store them. It will be Monday morning.”

You will get details before then, I bet; just as soon as the media finds out, I thought.

I called Ben, Frank and Eric on a conference call that lasted 20 minutes. I informed Eric to send the DHS to pick up the drugs. Then I napped until I heard the gear lock down. It was midnight; I feared the fun was just beginning.

It was late 0300 when I crawled into bed with Jenny. At 0600 I heard the boys being shushed and carried out of the room. An hour later they had snuck away and were crawling on the bed to see if I was awake. I had been watching out of the corner of my eye as they helped each other up on the bed.

Another year or two and this pair are going to be something to be dealt with; they were learning and reasoning things out way too fast for their age.

I sat up quickly and grabbed both of them for a tickle session and a kiss before sending them back to the kitchen for the breakfast that I could smell cooking.

After breakfast and cleanup, I turned on the news and was sorry that I had.

Mexico City was a disaster; some of the legislators that had been taken hostage had been executed on the steps. Shop owners were being killed, the stores looted. The only ones spared were the ones paying protection money to the cartel.

At 0600 there had been a change in orders from their President. It was a two part order; the first part was the troops were shooting on sight anyone with a weapon of any kind and they had been turned loose in the streets. The second part was a complete curfew at 1200; any violators would be shot. It was a last ditch attempt to restore order.

The next part of world news was devoted to the massacre at La Jarita. The Mexican media was there in the form of live TV from Ciudad Anahuac. There were bodies and burned vehicles – and of course – crying widows.

I felt bad for them but not that bad; their men had decided to take the cartel route. Rumor had it that the new cartel boss’s requirement was to kill someone in front of a leader to prove they were worthy of joining.

If that is true, justice was served with just a shortcut missing the trial. No cartel member had been convicted of anything in months; the witnesses never lived long enough to testify, no matter how the prosecutor tried to protect them.

When they settled into the national news I was shocked.

“Now to Congressional reporter Tracy Cox with breaking news. Tracy, what do you have?” the host asked.

“An anonymous Congressional source told me a little while ago that Terrorist Task Force chairperson Ambassador Roberta Jones handed her resignation to the President on Thursday. The ambassador was not at the White House on Friday,” Tracy said.

“That would be startling news considering how effective the task force has been; our White House reporter is trying to find a spokesperson for a comment,” the host replied.

“That same source said that there are nuclear weapons components and possibly a nuclear warhead missing from the strategic inventory,” Tracy said.

This information could have only come from one of the two Senators who were at the meeting Friday. I wondered when the rest would come out.

It was a classified meeting. I wondered if I could investigate the source of the leak; if any more came out, I knew I would.

I listened for an hour while they went from one Washington reporter to another with all kinds of speculation; the story grew as each time one of them commented.

My phone rang three times while the morning news show was on; all three times it was ZNN’s Washington Today. I was sure Arthur Kennedy wanted a statement. He wasn’t going to get one today.

With the TV off, I went to find mates and boys and found both. I spent several hours on the floor building Lincoln log cabins with the boys. They had enough logs to build a whole town and then some.

When the boys finally went down for a nap, Vicky and I relived yesterday’s action for the girls. We could have watched the firefight from the video that I had forgotten about. The camera drone had recorded everything.

I needed to go find that laptop, copy the video and then have Robert replace or scrub the hard drive. An hour later a copy of the action was in my portable office and a DVD in my safe.

The rest of the day was family and fun time. We stayed the limit in the hot tub except for Lorrie and Ching Lee; they were now limited because of being pregnant. In just a few more months we would have two more little ones in the house. After the boys were in bed it was girl time and we made the best of it.

I was up early; my first call of the morning was to Eric. I wanted to know when the DEA was picking up the drugs we had brought back. I was glad to hear they would be here at 0900. The cash, and there were bags of it, had already gone into one of our safes and was going to stay there; I viewed it as one of the perks for taking that kind of risk.

The next call was to General Ingram, “The team is already in the air to pick up the components; they should be there in an hour. Major Heather Black will be in command of the team, give her hell about having to retrieve her lost parts from all points south.”

“Will do,” I replied.

The next call was Frank to come get the Iranian buyer and his partner who were in the Camp Smith jail. I wanted them gone; agents would be here by 0900. The CIA was going to pick up those two.

“If they are uncooperative, can we bring them back to interrogate there?” he asked.

“I’m sure we can work something out,” I replied.

Marty Coeburn was next on the list, “Come pick up the seller,” I said. He agreed and the man would be gone by 0900.

I was relieved; getting all this mess cleared out by noon would be great.

The last call was to Troy and the President, the call lasted thirty minutes. As soon as the Major left I would go to 1600 Pennsylvania and we would put out the fires that the media was fanning – and fanning they were – it was growing like a Sana Anna wildfire.

Some news outlets were reporting that I had a big fight with the President, his chief of staff and the national security team. They were reporting I had been carried out of the room by agents. If it wasn’t so serious, we would have been laughing. We decided to let them stew for awhile; the White House was not going to make a statement until the daily news briefing at 1400.

After a big breakfast, the girls and I began our routines; Marcy to her office and crunching numbers while Ching Lee would be reviewing the issues that had appeared at the colleges over the weekend. Lorrie was going over all things with aviation and rental houses. The rental season would be winding down in a couple of months. Now was the time to schedule repairs and upgrades. Those things took time to get estimates and award contracts.

Jenny and Jason were still dealing with the lawsuit. Vicky was going with me and Lorrie to Morton to wait on all the people that were arriving.

My normal complement of security escorted us to Morton. It was a good thing we were early. Things were ahead of schedule already.

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Chapter 532

Sorry for posting late ER issues traveling issues and i lost track of the days. Jack

It was a long restless night; Lorrie was called twice from Morton to make special flights to get members of the OPS team.

I was called once from the Doppler tower at AF479 at 2 AM, “Ma-am, we were told to call you with any activity. A small twin engine plane just landed at the airfield at La Jarita – we were ordered to watch it for you,” the caller said.

“Thank you sir, appreciate the call very much,” I replied.

I went back to the command center and looked at La Jarita with the State Department’s infrared. I watched drug dealers transferring bricks of cocaine from the plane to a pickup and the payoff. They used the headlights from four vehicles to light up the runway when the plane took off.

I turned the screen off and went back to bed. In two hours it would time to get up again. Marcy was possessive and wanted to cuddle, almost squeezing the breath out of me.

I dreaded crawling out of bed but it was morning with plenty to do. I started by calling Greg Archer telling him not to come pick me up today. Then I called Ben to tell him the same thing; he was in charge.

By noon all the equipment was ready and loaded. The C5s were fueled. We were waiting on the last of the men who were going to make it. We were ten men short of a full team. Vicky and I were both going in the field; sand, rocks and hot sticky heat again, only this time in Central America.

We said our tearful goodbyes in Lorrie’s office and then settled in for the 1800 mile flight to Texas. We would arrive in time to be able to unload and be ready to move out at dusk.

Standard operating procedure is for everyone to try to sleep. Even though there were VIP bunks over the cockpit, Vicky and I napped in our seats like the rest of the men.

While the unloading process was going on Vicky, Andy and I rode to the mini control tower to talk with the controller on duty. What I really wanted was all the phone numbers I could get in case of an emergency; I left with several.

We were in our gear and in the vehicles driving away from AF479s southern security fence when my satellite phone rang.

“We need to send an expert with you to verify the components,” Frank said.

“You’re too late, the mission has already started; we are in the field crossing into Mexico,” I replied.

I had the same concerns about identifying the parts but there was a solution.
What I knew that Frank did not know was Robert had found detailed color photographs of every component of the W87 warhead, even down to the mil spec part numbers stamped on them on the dark web. I had them all loaded on my phone. I also had two radiation detectors one I had borrowed from the customs officers at Morton and the other from the UPS depot that was leasing one of the hangars.

Other than an occasional fox, jack rabbit and armadillo, the infrared cameras found nothing. I was surprised that the ATVs made the trip without needing refueling. We had ten gallons in two five gallon cans in the back of each one.

At daylight we were stopped a mile from the airfield. Four scout teams made the trek to the airfield on foot to do a recon. While we waited Vicky and I both were on the phone looking at text and emails. One of those was to call Robert.

“They have exchanged satellite phone numbers; the buyer wants confirmation the seller is at the site and waiting before the plane lands. I am monitoring both. They have set a time to meet at the airfield as you suspected they would; they agreed on noon,” Robert said.

“The Alvan’s departure time from Tampico has been changed; it’s leaving at midnight,” Robert said.

Noon would give us plenty of time to get into place and the vehicles covered.

At 1100 vehicles started showing up in groups of three or four; some of them carried four or more armed men. By 1130 there were over 100 armed men waiting for the meeting. We were out numbered.

A few minutes later my lookouts indicated that there were four pickups coming fast from the direction of Laredo.

Robert called to tell me there had been calls on the satellite phone. The plane was 20 minutes out and the parts very close.

The four pickups drove to the end of the strip close to where we were located. There was a warm greeting among thieves; too warm for comfort. The group walked to where the Prince’s plane had been burned, looking at the remains.

We waited listening to the growing sounds of an aircraft. It was soon in sight as it circled over the runway with its landing gear down. A few minutes later it was coming to a stop where the pickups were parked. It was a Cessna twin engine 414.

The big new camera drone was sent first away so it would not be seen and then it was sent high – 1500 feet – so it would appear to be no more than a speck and moved directly over the assembled group.

The expensive camera package worked perfectly. It took a half an hour before any real action started. There were three plus the pilot that exited the plane. Two of them were armed.

The canvases were pulled back on the pickups and boxes were opened and inspected. The things I saw looked like the pictures that Robert had loaded for me.

The buyers must have been happy, because they moved over to plane and began opening the wing lockers and unloading boxes from the cabin. Some were obviously drugs – probably heroin – and there were a lot of packages and cash.

The gun drone operators had been given explicit instructions “Do not hit the vehicles carrying the bomb components, the seller and the buyer; everything else was fair game.” The rest of the instructions were simple, “Kill them all.”
I nodded to Andy and picked up my sniper rifle. Andy was not going to let me or Vicky get close to the action but we could pick off a few hiding around the vehicles.

“Go, Go, Go!”

At the last “go” I pulled the trigger on my first target,

Moments later the drones made their first pass, guns blazing.

The fire fight lasted twenty minutes before the drones were called off. The only ones left alive were huddled around the pickup and the plane who decided it was time for a white flag. The plane was not going anywhere; the pilot was the first one I put down.

As soon as the dust settled we were all on the site, single gunshots one after another told me that the team was finishing off the wounded. None of my men – including me – wanted to be shot in the back by someone thought to be dead who wasn’t. We did not have any way to care for them; the humane thing was to end their misery quickly.

I looked in the back of the pickups; things there matched the pictures I had on my phone. I opened one of the two decent wooden boxes to see the plutonium ball nestled in Styrofoam. The detector said it was the real deal. I quickly closed and latched it.

In the other truck I opened another latched box to see the implosion section. The device when activated mixed the components to start the big bang.

Even though I had ordered the trucks not to be shot, stray and bouncing bullets had finished them; tires were flat and radiators leaking. Andy sent for our trucks to transfer the parts to.

I ordered Andy to load all the drugs as well. The DEA would be happy to run tests on them to see where it came from before they destroyed the junk, and of course there would be a press conference.

I turned my attention to the four men who were still standing with their hands tie – strapped as all the support equipment was loaded back up. My men searched the seller’s trucks for anything of intelligence value.
I took a picture of the seller, his license and passport and sent it to Ben.

Next I started with the first bodyguard; he had no identification on him. “What is your name?” I asked.
He answered me in Persian – being a smart-ass – thinking I could not understand, “Screw off you whoring bitch! I’m telling you nothing.”

“Wrong answer asshole,” I replied in Persian and pulled the trigger, putting a 40 caliber round between the eyes.
I turned my attention to the second body guard. I didn’t even get to ask the question.

“I will tell anything you want, everything; please don’t shoot me.”

The three were tie strapped more securely and tied in the back of one of the pickups. It was not going to be a smooth ride back for them.

All the weapons were picked up and placed in the automobiles, doused and set on fire; the same thing happened to the plane. Everything was burning as we drove towards AF479.

Vicky was sitting beside me in one of the Humvees. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“Yep, good to go,” she replied.

“How many?” I asked.

She held up five fingers and smiled.

“You know you are not supposed to enjoy doing this,” I said.

“I don’t, it is just something that had to be done and I’m going to do my part,” she replied.

My phone rang; I looked at the caller ID and let it ring. I leaned back and tried to nap.

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Chapter 531

I thought a long time before answering.

“You do realize you are setting up another potential Bay of Pigs fiasco?” I asked.

“There will be Presidential pardons for everyone involved, use of Airfield 479 and ground communications with the Doppler radar tower there and triple expense payment,” I added.

Airfield 479 was a secret airfield used by the CIA for its clandestine flights. It was ten miles north west of Laredo International located in an area of restricted airspace. It was built during WW2 for B29 training, and had long wide concrete runways that were still maintained even thou the base was closed in 1950. There were two large hangars and one small barracks left and a fuel farm; all the rest had been destroyed.

I knew about it because some of the CIA flights that JBG flew landed there to pick up the freight. I also knew U2 and SR71 spy planes had used it in the past.

“Why AF479 and the Doppler?” Ben asked.

“I believe because of the distance the buyer is flying to La Jarita to make the purchase; possibly to the same airport that the Prince’s plane was found. The Doppler will give advance warning to the ground operation if that is their plan. AF479 because it is twenty miles from La Jarita with plenty of smuggler roads along the border in that area,” I replied.

“There are lots of things that have to come together. With the information we have it is still a needle in a hay stack,” I said.

I took the paper out of the folder signed, dated and wrote the time on it. After folding it I placed it in an envelope and handed it to the President.

“That’s my resignation; if things go smoothly you can give it back on Monday. If not, you can use it to cover your collective asses,” I said as I stood to leave. “I have lots of things to do and set in motion. I will need the Secret Service to carry me home; my men are not going to have time.”

Ben and Frank both looked at me, smiled and nodded.

Back at Section 12 I sent a text to the girls, “VCATS ASAP.”

The second text was to Andy, “Leadership team to command center VCATS ASAP.

First was the girls and that took some convincing that we should get involved. They were convinced that it was worth the risks at the end.

Next were Andy, Bill and Ed. I let Robert explain everything before I said anything. Then I explained what I knew and the agreements I had made. What followed was one massive planning session. Lorrie sent orders to Robbie to get two of the C5s ready and both Blackhawks. They would be loaded in one C5; unloaded, made flight- ready at AF479 and ready to fly to the rescue if the plans collapsed in the field.

The auto repair shop was told to drop everything, get the 12 Humvees checked out; they were going. And then put batteries in the six Toyota trucks we had had taken from the cartel three months ago and check them out; they were going.

The ops team was to get the new and the old gun drones checked out and ready to go along with two that could drop bombs.

Dad was given the task to find all the camouflaged ATVs that he could at the local dealers and get them delivered today. If they were not camouflaged, spray paint would take care of that.

Vicky had someone looking for all the Mexican flags she could find. Mexico’s military had lots of Humvees; Bill’s idea was to put a Mexican flag on the radio mast making them look like one of theirs.

Everything that made them look like US military was gone anyhow, other than they were a Humvee. Part of the d-mil process we had to do was remove all numbers and unit information. They were now strictly desert camo painted.

The Toyota pickups still had Mexican tags on them and would fit the part.

Andy was still working on the numbers of how many men he would have, I had given everyone time off after South Africa.

I closed the VCATS; there was little more I could do for now. When I finished and opened the door there were a dozen Secret Service men and ladies there and my heavy vest was on the table. The low talk and whispering stopped; I guess some secrets cannot be kept in the basement offices after all; I wondered which one they were whispering about.

Frank, Eric, and Art had come to the office while I was on VCATS.

“Looks like you have completed politics 2.0 on the fast track without telling anyone. That move caught all of us by surprise but given the circumstances it was the right thing to do, something that none of us thought about,” Eric said.

“What time do you want us to pick you up in the morning? I’m in charge of the convoy detail for you,” Greg Archer asked.

“I’m not sure and won’t know for at least sixteen hours. After South Africa I sent all the OPS on vacations; if we cannot get enough back I will go on the mission as an OPS team member. You have to have boots on the ground to win. Vicky is going and so are several from the IT group to run communications,” I said. There were plenty of widened eyes.

The Secret Service had me back to the house in an hour; they drove fast but not as fast as my men did.
Greg drove me into the garage and was getting ready to walk out to one of the other vehicles to return to Washington when I stopped him.

“Please call all the men and ladies to come here. I have something I want to say,” I said as I was taking off the vest.

“I don’t know how the weekend will go; there are a hundred different ways this can go sideways. If it does I may not be back or back in good standing. I want to thank all of you for everything you have done to protect me and help me learn the ways of Washington. Thank You,” I said and then shook hands and gave each a hug; screw political correctness.

Five minutes later I was standing in the command center with Robert looking at the latest developments, not that there were many. On the other hand the big meeting room was filled with activity. Whiteboards were on stands everywhere with information being updated. Computer screens had more information.

Vicky was at one whiteboard, checking off items as they were completed. Six of the Hummers had been completed with all the maintenance items checked.

So far Dad had ten ATVs delivered with ten more on the way. That would be enough vehicles to carry everyone into the desert and more than enough room to carry the drones and equipment.

One C5 was finished and the two helicopters were being loaded in it. The pilots and loadmasters were assisting. Ahead, between and around the helicopters were a couple of Humvees and ATVs.

Things were ahead of schedule for such a short lapse of time. It needed to be; the plan was to be in Texas by dusk and navigate to the site using night vision equipment. The last mile to the airfield would be by teams on foot. The night vision equipment would help locate any sentries sent there by the cartel.

The biggest holdup was getting the team members to Morton.

Everyone not busy was made busy loading clips and belts for the drones.

I went back to the command center and looked at the State Department’s fancy Google program and studied every foot from AF 479 to airport to La Jarita. When I finished I then did a ten mile search around the La Jarita airport looking for anything that could be an issue.

Still not satisfied, I went back to the La Jarita airport and looked at it in big magnification and then in the infrared mode. Satisfied there was nothing there tonight I closed the screen and went looking for Robert.

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Chapter 530

My security team picked me up early today; we were still varying the times. I wondered when I would be able to stop this foolishness and had that discussion with Andy and the girls.

I reluctantly agree to continue until the end of my term at the task force, four weeks and four days to go.

It was good to be able to see all the day people in the office and have a normal conversation with them. I finally had time to talk with Cindy, Susie Q and Mark to see how they liked the Vice President positions now that they had been in them for a few weeks.

I got to sit in on the first full length business meeting in days instead of hearing just the highlights. I was glad to hear that the Pig Iron Point permitting process was ahead of schedule. The state and county environmental departments signed off immediately after determining the creosote would be removed. Jenny had to send confirming letters to both. The federal part had two more approvals to go through.

The rest of the news was good. We left early; Lisa had stayed with the boys all day. She had crock pots with beef, pork, mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls. Lisa, Jason, Jake and Mindy finished out the family meal. The boys were getting better at feeding themselves. We had a great family evening; hot tub and a feel, fondle and cuddle session.

It was Thursday, just two more days this week to make the trip. I needed real private time with the girls and boys. This job was beginning to wear on me.

Things started to go downhill by nine; General Ingram had been in twice and closed the door both times.
There were big meetings going on upstairs in several rooms, meetings that I did not even have clearance to attend, not that I wanted to.

He had been frustrated in his attempts to do anything in regards to meeting in La Jarita Mexico.

The best he could come up with was satellite surveillance of the area with increased border security and hope they could catch the traitor going across. None of which were much help in either of our opinions.

For one thing, I thought the components were already across the border stashed somewhere. Why run the risk of carrying all of it at one time? A box of switches or other small parts isn’t going to pique the interest of a border guard but all of it together may.

That would possibly mean there were partners in the cartel.

My thoughts were interrupted by my phone.

“The two are negotiating again. The one is still bouncing but originating from Virginia but the other is fixed at Havana. I’m sending the GPS numbers; use your fancy system to locate them,” Robert said.

The government’s fancy Google didn’t have any trouble finding the spot. It was a freighter at the commercial dock flying the Iranian flag in Havana. After checking the international shipping schedule the general cargo freighter Alvan was 168 meters long. It was scheduled to leave tonight and dock tomorrow at Tampico. Tampico was on Mexico’s east coast, a marine terminal plus a major support terminal for the offshore oil wells.

From La Jarita Mexico to Tampico was over 300 miles through some of the most contested cartel territory. If I was betting it would be a drug plane flying the buyer to La Jarita and then flying the purchase back to a grass strip near Tampico to be loaded on the Alvan.

As I was thinking, the computer kept running; the Alvin was scheduled to depart Tampico two days later for Caracas Venezuela. Iran had agreements with Venezuela and made suspicious flights with military personnel. That’s how the parts were going to make the trip to Iran.

I called Frank. I knew the agency should have assets there, or at least I thought they would. I called the General to make the trip to see me for the third conference of the morning.

“What have you found out?” I asked. I wanted to know what his spooks were doing.

When he responded with nothing new I filled him on what I knew.

“We have assets working there but they are few,” Frank replied.

I called and asked the General the same question and gave him the same information. It was a screw-up at several levels; security reviews had been ordered. A full scale investigation was held off as not to scare everyone away. The DOD in the critical weapons destruction group, the nuclear weapons tracking group and the NRC that was to track and have control of the weapons core were all going to be in the hot seat.

I was clear of all of those groups and decided to wash my hands of the whole mess. A lot of people received big salaries, great retirements, and prestige from those jobs; have at it boys.

I went back to reviewing the data for my appearance in front of the House for the college security budget request. After that I started looking at the arrest reports that resulted from the warrants. Only a few were still open.

I had an idea and a question; Ben working with Rodney could answer it.

“Has the ten that are still at large, been thoroughly investigated with their web traffic and net suppliers checked and their online history? Would either of them have had access to nuclear materials? The reason I say that is the seller is still online so he could be one of the ten,” I asked.

Both left the room to find out.

My Coast Guard officer who was monitoring shipping traffic called, “The Alvan is going to be two hours late departing Havana; they have boiler problems.” I wondered if that problem was caused by one of Frank’s assets.

At noon ZNN went crazy; the cartel had assaulted the Mexican Congressional building and had taken many hostages. All Army troops were directed to the capital and several other major cities but that was only part of the problem. The cartel had threatened the families of so many troops they were deserting their post or not reporting at all.

The President was trapped in the official residence, the Mexico City airport closed. A full blown war was on the brink of exploding on our border for the first time in one hundred and twenty years.

It was 1400 when Ben and Art Cummins walked into my office. “We need you to come with us,” Art said.
“Oh crap, now what? What have they found out?” I asked myself.
I followed with the folder in hand that contained the letter that Bobbie typed up for me and a freshly filled mug.
There was one chair left, only this time it was in the front center of the table and not on the end or back.

I listened while one bad report was followed by another. The nuclear audit found that a plutonium core was missing from storage. It was the same size and weight as used on the W87 warhead. Not only was the core missing but an implosion core section as well from another location; again for the W87 warhead. All these items together made a complete operable nuclear weapon.

“Is this a sale to a foreign government or potential terrorist strike at home? “I asked.

“What do you mean?” Troy asked.

“What if the Iranians are going to assemble it to be brought back to say San Antonio or Dallas,” I asked.

“Oh God no, only you would think like that,” Troy replied.

“I think Iran would rather a working bomb to copy and then test it in a surface test in its mountain range. The structure of the entire Middle East would be instantly changed by doing an air test. The message would be that it did not give a crap about world opinion or what its neighbors thought and we already know that.”

“Iran would instantly be the only power broker and dictating everything; the states caving in to Iran like dominos as Iran sent large numbers of troops to their borders. The price of oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel in a matter of days after the test. They only need one working bomb, just one,” I said.

“We agree that it is going back to Iran but that only the beginning of the problem. The disaster in Mexico has tied our hands. We were in negotiations to send US personnel to intercept and recover the parts.”

“All that is over now, the government there does not know who to trust, the US Ambassador there is under house arrest as we speak. Misinformation is getting to the El-Presidente from all directions. He has refused any assistance,” Art said.

“We can’t send any military personnel there, the international community would take it as an invasion. Even sending a few agents into the cartel stronghold would be political suicide,” Troy said.

“That said, all of us knew about the JBG team’s exceptional performance in Uganda and Windhoek. A little while ago I learned what a select few other people knew about South Africa,” the President said, “but that is a topic for another day.”

“Do you think your JBG OPS team can retrieve the components from Mexico?” the President asked.

“OH, NO!” I thought.

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Chapter 529

At 1000 we were standing in the bricked patio to the south lawn. The wind had died down and the sun felt good, especially as it was the middle of February. I went out with the early ones and stood at the wall next to the door.

Ninety minutes later I was still standing by the door when the question and answer session began. The camera hogs were getting hammered with tough questions. The stuttering soon started and they began passing questions to others.
Then the words I was hoping I would not hear were uttered, “I believe Ambassador Jones had a broader knowledge of events and can answer that question,” one of the agency directors said. “Is the Ambassador still here?”
“I think she is standing at the back,” someone replied. My cover blown, so I walked to the podium.

“Yes I can answer that, these arrests are indeed part of the previous terrorist raids. The information that was used to formulate last night’s arrests was part of an intercepted file in Middle East and Africa terrorist web traffic,” I said.

“Encrypted large files take time to break into, as these have,” I said.

“Marley, I think you had a question a moment ago?” I asked.

“Yes Ambassador; has the fact that this many high level government officials compromised this or previous investigations?”

“The extent of the damage at this time is unknown, that investigation will obviously take a lot time. The task force and other agencies have reached their limit without additional investigators. It takes a tremendous amount of time to train them and get them on board with things this complex,” I replied.

“Scott,”

“Of the group of officials, which one had been the most damning to the task force?” he asked.

“For the task force itself, it would have to be the one in the FBI IT lab. Luckily we divided up evidence and sent things to be evaluated to two labs. I have suspected something was wrong with the FBI lab because they were so slow and often reported poor data results when the other tech group reported in twenty four hours or less,” I said.

“Paul?”

“There were arrests nationwide last night; has everyone on the list been arrested?” Paul asked.

“No, the arrests go on. I am sure as the ones arrested negotiate for less jail time, they will give up accomplices. They need to make that decision quickly for it to have any value in negotiations. I’m not a fan of bargaining away jail time unless it is traded for people of value,” I replied.

“However, that is a Justice Department decision to make, not mine. My decision would be for the firing squad immediately after the guilty verdict. I have been told I have no compassion; a true statement when it comes to traitors. For a few bucks they sold hundreds of billions of dollars and decades of research and development to our enemies. The result could be thousands of causalities – possibility millions – if a war went nuclear,“ I added.

“Another point of issue is the billions of dollars and time it is going to take to make existing weapons systems reliable and dependable. The question is always going to be there; is a weapons system now programmed to fail when you need it the most? In some cases complete systems may be down months while the programming is rewritten and tested or they may simply have to be replaced. The DOD has a tremendous job ahead of it now.”

“I think that is about all the time we have. Any of you gentleman and ladies have a closing statement?”

When no one did the VIPs scattered.

I saw Hanna was off to the side giving a report to her station for the noon day report; I stepped off the patio to go speak to her. Four Secret Service agents followed me. She was just finishing up.

“Hey girlfriend, did you hear we bought the radio station we talked about?” I asked.

“No, are you still going the play that crappy music?” Hanna asked.

“NO! After we talked about the purchase, everyone had a different thing they wanted. Jason wanted big band music, Lisa wanted classical, Jake wanted truck driving songs, and I wanted old time country- something besides the new screaming at the top of their lungs and calling it a song. We decided to do segments; a hour long of each kind of old music and to do a real farm report three times a day,” I replied.

“You are going to have trouble finding advertisers for that, I think,” Hannah replied.

“We are not looking for them for a while; Ching Lee is going to run ads that sell the things JBG does and along with the new things that are in the works for us. The format and call letters change starts Monday as does the personnel shake up. The sales and accounting people are going to various JBG departments,” I said.

One of the Secret Service agents tapped me on the shoulder, “Boss, there are a couple people waiting on you inside.”

“I have to go, stop in and see me at the office. We can talk some more,” I said.

“The most sought after interview in all Washington and she invites you to her office for a chat. Some people have all the luck,” I heard one of the other reporters mumble as I walked away.

As I walked into Section Twelve, Marty Coeburn introduced me to my new team member, Rodney Marks.

“Ma-am, I have been told that I have big shoes to fill; just keep pointing me in the right direction and I will do my best,” Rodney said.

“I can do that and add a good swift kick in the ass if it is necessary. I don’t like shell games and mysteries. Speak your mind and any ideas you have loud and clear. Remember, you are joining a team that is a bit unorthodox but it has been effective. Let’s go meet your team partners,” I said.

Marty smiled, nodded and walked away.

I had just sat down at my desk when General Ingram came in. Instead of sitting in the chair across from me, he pulled it around the desk beside me.

He placed the papers so we could both look and started pointing at the things highlighted, “What do you make of these entries,” he asked.

Why did the five star general sitting beside me want my opinion when he had a staff of hundreds at his fingertips? Was he having doubts about the credibility of his closest people?

“They do look odd. I shoved the file out without dissecting every piece of data; I thought it was more important to end the treason and get the culprits before they could do any more damage,” I said.

I copied the file, sent it to Robert then called, “Robert, can you run those entries through the programs and see what you come up with?”

“Yeah, the super computer is working on it now; that set of digits in the middle look like a link to the deep dark web. It should only take a few minutes. I will call you when it is done,” Robert said as he hung up.

“You have immediate access to a super computer? We have to schedule time,” the General said.

“My IT team built our own; we use it a lot. It was a lot easier to buy the components and put it together. Takes up two complete rooms in our basement. The servers for the rest of the business operations take up another,” I replied.

My cell phone buzzed, “Turn on your JBG laptop and hit OK on the remote operator. It’s easier to do it that way than to try to talk you through it,” Robert instructed.

The General and I watched and listened as Robert went through screen after screen, “I was right, the four digits in the middle were the link to the deep end of the dark web. The codes at the end were the login; the digits up front were the password.”

“This site is a Craigslist for buying and selling the world’s deadliest banned arms and components. This seller was selling components for the W87 nuclear warhead for the Minuteman 3 ICBM, including the switches and triggers,” Robert said.

“The seller was computer literate and bounced through hundreds of ISP addresses with each post; the first one originated in Virginia. There were a lot of hits and conversations plus a bidding war at the end,” Robert said as he was allowing us to read each screen.

“The materials and money exchange is to take place on Saturday; guess where?” Robert asked.

“La Jarita Mexico,” I read out loud.

“That is the same area where we killed the drug kingpin and confiscated the machine guns destined for the college attacks,” I said.

The General just looked at me and then said, “You carried out a clandestine operation in Mexico?”
“I do what I have to do to win; I hate to lose,” I replied.

“I got the buyer by the IP address; he is from Havana. It is not bouncing around, he is not even trying to hide it,” Robert added.

“Robert, print it all off and email it to me; keep working to see if you can identify the culprits,” I said.

“General, you have lots of decisions to be made in a hurry. Some food for thought is that part of Mexico is cartel country; they are even imbedded in the military. There will be no help in the Mexican government who you can trust. Even the new joint border patrol is not working along that part of the border,” I said.

“I will keep that in mind. The DOD has a special group that handles things nuclear, I will keep you informed,” the General said as he stood to leave.

I didn’t say anything but with the number of high level people named in the file, I wondered if the seller was a high level individual. Getting access to that kind of materials should be extremely difficult.

Every single piece of any nuclear weapons dismantled, rejected for defects or obsolete had to be totally de-milled before disposal. In many cases the components – even screws and bolts – had to be melted into molten metal and poured into an ingot under the watchful eye of a DOD inspector.

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Chapter 528

In my time at the task force in the basement of the White House, it always amazed me just how many insiders managed to get invited to free food even if it was only pizza.

I asked the chef to send several dozen boxes and paper plates to the men and ladies still working in Sections One through Fifteen in the basement, “Right away Ma-am, these people always seem to forget about those making them look good down there.”

I thought that was an interesting take on the movers and shakers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, when the general staff referred to them as “these people.”

The main cafeteria – although it was not that large – was packed. Pizza was lined up on the tables from one end to the other. Very expensive gold decorated china and real silver utensils were stacked for people to use. These people were too high classed to use paper.

There was an undercurrent in conversations. Everyone knew something big was going on but knew better than ask. Many were second tier staff assigned to many of the offices.

Bobbie brought me another folder; this one was updated. All the data from the file was checking out. “This will be the last until morning. Judge Haynes has signed the warrants for the Senators, Representatives and the Generals,” Bobbie said.

After most of the pizza was gone and everyone was full to the point of being uncomfortable, I made my way to the door of the executive meeting room.

I pulled out my list of the individuals who were to attend this briefing and started calling out names.
“Mr. President , Troy, senior executive staff, Chairman and the Joint Chiefs, Speaker of the House and the minority leader of the house, the two Senate leaders, Directors, Frank Love, Marty Coeburn, Eric Roberson, Attorney General Dunne,” and so on.

A Secret Service agent only let those in who were called on. Aides, assistants and lackey boys were not allowed in, much to their dismay. Several were visibly upset, but my rules; my way or no way.

My description and general breakdown of the materials lasted thirty minutes; the questions lasted almost two hours. I was asked the same questions over a dozen different ways. I had finally learned that this was the Washington normal method of operation for all politicians.

Bobbie knocked on the door with a note that the agent inside the door brought to me. “The five Congressmen and two Senators had been arrested and were being held without bail.”

It was the excuse that I needed to end tonight’s session; my men had already been waiting three hours. I made one more announcement.

“The will be a ten AM news conference on the south lawn. I will remind everyone that the topics discussed are still classified and there is a news blackout in effect until the news conference.

It was after ten PM when I stepped into the kitchen. I was glad to be home; I was ready for some hot tub time and family time. But it was not to be.

Sitting at the table with my mates was Ben-David and Israel’s US Ambassador Ableman and Israel’s ambassador to Uganda Ambassador Dansky.

“Old friends, what brings you here tonight?” I asked.

“Ambassador Dansky was in town for a couple days and wanted to meet your family and see your operation. Your family was gracious enough to give us a very informative tour,” Ambassador Ableman said.

“Just a social call to give you a well done on a mission, hear about the tidbits and a word of warning,” Officer David added.

“That was quite a feat you pulled off. We hear the King was really upset in the beginning. Word through the channels is he is pressing your President for help in solving the mystery,” Ambassador Dansky said.

“Ah; I have already been asked and rejected that idea,” I replied.

“Things have changed in the last day or so. The King began his own investigation and was extremely upset at what his sons were doing and who they were working with. Many of the Crown Prince’s inner circle are headed to the palace basement,” Ben said.

“Not good for them – the old palace dungeon – the place of a thousand tortures if it lives up to its reputation. The power of the sheikhs – for decades to maintain order and loyalty – was not in how many made the trip to the dungeon but how many would do anything not to make the trip. Fear is the greatest motivator among thieves,” I said.

“So right,” Ben replied.

“A bloodbath has already started in the King’s family; several were hung just hours ago. The King is reasserting his personal control over the kingdom that he used in his youth. This will go on for days,” Ben-David said.

“Robert’s working on the other computers; as soon as he finishes you can get the data,” I replied.

“Now that you have got your man, are there going to be any changes?” Ben asked.

I knew where he was going with that question. There was really no need to ask it.

“I see no need to make any changes. We both have assets in hot spot areas; terrorism is not going away, cooperation will be essential to defeat it. I fully expect there will be more attacks against the US embassies that we supply security to. Our joint cooperation has worked well in the past. When it is not broke, don’t fix it,” I replied.

The conversation lasted another forty minutes before they left. The parting words echoed our desire for peace that we knew would take decades, “Shalom my friend.”

It was midnight when the girls and I left the office after a few quick updates on things JBG. It was a short visit to the hot tub and then a short night. I was in Section 12 by seven.

The media at the gate – that was normally dozens – now numbered a hundred or more. I waved as we went by and ignored all the shouted out questions as I went into the White House.

The Washington media was on a crusade to find out what was going on. The official news blackout was still holding but barely. Speculation was growing that the Task Force was at it again.

Local news stations were carrying reports and video of all the other arrests from around the country. Hanna Page had the full video of the arrest of the Vice President of Alamo International, a defense contractor who specialized in battle communications. The Prince was paying for equipment not authorized for export along with frequency jamming equipment that he had sold to Iran.

After reviewing all the arrests and accompanying data – and there was a lot of data – the agents were connecting all the pieces together by working around the clock. The task force members and I felt confident we were ready to script the news conference.

Ben and I went to the Presidents meeting room to meet all the participants. The rest of the agency heads and VIPs were already there; the place was packed. A lot of people thought they needed to say something.

Repeat – review – repeat; it was a thirty minute exercise getting all of them up to date. And then came the hard part; the pecking order was picked; the President, Speakers of the House and Senate, Attorney General Dunne, Eric, Marty, Frank, Art Cummings of the NIA and others. I kept quiet as the secretary printed out the list and passed it around. In the urgency to get all the political players in front of the cameras, I had been over looked and I was not saying anything. I would stand in the back behind the tallest persons I could find and just listen.
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