I asked a Secret Service agent if there was another door out to the VIP section. My family was already out there. I wanted a couple more words with them.
“Just this one; I will walk you out there,” he replied.
As soon as I stepped out the door, it seemed like 10 thousand camera flashes went off and never stopped. My mates crowded around me as I got to them, “Are you nervous BJ?” Jenny asked.
“Yes I am; I know it is a little late, but are all of you OK with this?” I asked for the second or third time in the last day.
Marcy was the one to answer, “We would have said something long before now if there were concerns. You do what you always do and that makes us proud.” The rest were nodding and smiling.
“I think I am speaking for all of us. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that we would be standing on the White House lawn waiting for one of our own to speak after the President. From the beginning, we were together supporting one another and we are together supporting you in this,” Vicky said.
I responded by giving them all hugs, and as I finished the agent said, “The President is almost ready; we need to go back inside.”
Five minutes later I followed the President, Vice President and his senior staffers out on the east lawn facing what looked like hundreds of reporters. I chose my usual place behind everyone else; there was no hope that they would forget I was here today.
The president began his speech.
“Troubled times call for drastic action and trouble has hit America twice in three weeks. Terrorism has come home, directed against our youth at our colleges.”
“Our colleges are a place where our differences were open for discussion and debated. Now the open debate of ideas is stifled by fear, bombs and death.”
“I ordered the creation of an Anti-terrorism Presidential task force to coordinate efforts to find the terrorist involved and to assist all colleges to bring security to the unprecedented levels necessary to protect college students, faculty and citizens in the future.”
“I wanted someone for chairperson of this task force who fully understood the risks. Who was not afraid to give orders, not afraid to kick ass when it was called for and had personal experience in dealing with terrorists.”
“I chose Ambassador Roberta Jones for Chairperson. Ambassador Jones has served our country repeatedly, first as a highly decorated Marine, and then President of a multinational security company that supplies security forces for 80 US embassies and 14 colleges covering thousands of students and factuality members.”
“Ambassador Jones personally responded to an act of terrorism at the Annapolis mall, the Morton Field attack, the attack at MSU just 3 weeks ago and who can forget the picture of Ambassador Jones standing on the roof of the US embassy in Kampala after the terrorist attack. Blooded, bruised but still standing tall and still serving.”
I walked to the podium with my folder and shook the President and Vice President’s hands on the way.
“Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, senior staff, thank you for having the confidence in my abilities to lead this very important task force. Mr. President, that introduction reminded me of why my body hurts so much sometimes.”
“As the President said, the task force was given a set of directives. The first one of those was to coordinate the search and arrest or bring about the death of Saif Alawai al-Jawfi, who evidence shows to be the explosive expert and master mind of the Minnesota and possibly the Arizona attacks.”
“The Attorney General will have much more on that in a few minutes.”
“To accomplish this, task force membership will be representatives from the DHS, FBI, CIA, INS, NSA and the Pentagon, along with other justice departments, strategic agencies and the Department of Education. Other agencies may be called upon if their assistance will be beneficial.”
“Another directive is for the task force to create national standards for security of all colleges, schools and public events. The haphazard security practices of the past are no longer sufficient.”
“The changes that need to be made are going to affect more than our educational system. Every single public event has to be viewed as a potential target – baseball, football, hockey, auto races – the list goes on and on. Security must become the primary part of planning for every event. The sponsors of these events will be held accountable if they have not provided sufficient security.”
“Saif Alawai al-Jawfi and his associates working with him are not the first and are certainly only one of many terrorists that have made their way from the Middle East conflict, who intend on a massive body count for their cause. They will not be the last. We can only hope that aggressive vetting and better border security and intelligence will stem the flow of those who would do us harm.”
“There will be inconveniences, along with increased surveillance. The pubic must report suspicious activities and individuals. Your safety, the safety of your family and friends and even your survival may depend on it.”
“As a nation we will do what we have always done in the face of danger, adversity or peril. We will stand tall. We will unite and we will rise to the challenge.”
I stepped away from the podium so the President could introduce Attorney General Dunne. I listened very carefully to the speech to find out if he had any new information. There was nothing new from his report.
The President stepped back to the podium, “I have time for a few questions.”
“Melinda Schaffer ZNN; Mr. President, the news desk has 2 questions for me to ask. A Pentagon press release from a year ago stated that Saif Alawai al-Jawfi was killed in a drone attack that it was supposedly confirmed. How did he escape to make it to the US without being intercepted? And the second quested is for Ambassador Jones.”
“That is one of the areas that the task force is going to investigate. I do know that Ambassador Jones met with Air Force Generals this morning. The discussions within those meetings are of course classified.”
“The conformation process has to be looked at and certainly improved. Ambassador Jones spent service time in the region and I am sure she could speak volumes on the difficulties of everything there from her experiences,” the President said.
“Ambassador Jones, you were at MSU when the attack occurred, the public statement you gave there said you were evaluating the latest in security equipment and techniques. Will that equipment be part of the new security standards?”
“Melinda, as you know, not one of the terrorists were able to get into the field house. We will take everything learned from the evaluations there that prevented entry and put it to use,” I said then I added.
“Finding a balance of inconvenience versus cost and benefit is going to be tough. I don’t want to see one more person to die from a terrorist attack. I know that is an impossible goal.”
“The bigger colleges – with billions in endowments, budgets and professional sports – are going to be able to absorb the cost. It is the local high school sports events that are going to have a problem, and they will be targets sooner or later,” I said.
That ended the news conference. The major media had started to disperse. I had noticed Hanna and Sylvester sort of wondering what they were to do next. I gave one of those ear piercing whistles I used in training to get attention and boy, did it! I got everyone’s attention. I waved Hanna and Sylvester to the yellow tape. Most of the other media stopped and headed discretely toward the tape.
I stepped off the marble pad and ducked the yellow tape with the secret service agent after me.
“Hello girlfriend, did you have any trouble getting in?” I asked as I gave her a hug.
“No, but it was an experience,” she replied.
I gave Sylvester the whirling hand sign to start recording. The little red lights on other cameras came on too.
“Are you ready to go back to Africa?”
“If I can get time off to go; yes, any time you are ready,” Hanna replied.
“Hey, can I get in on that and then a lot of me too,” it was Melinda joined by several others.
“It takes 30 vaccinations and 6 weeks for them to work. I can put you in contact with the doc if you like,” I replied.
“You knew for longer than six weeks that you were going and kept it to yourself. You are a sly little devil,” one of the other reporters who knew Hanna replied.
“Ambassador Jones, how long did you sign up to work for the government this time? The first time was 10 years and then 6 weeks in Uganda,” Hanna asked.
“Six month sign up this time, then re-evaluate,” I replied.
“I understand that your service as an employee with KCC ends in a few days as JBG officially takes over the security department there. Are your teams ready to go on that site?”
“Everything is ready to go with the exception of the new equipment that was evaluated at MSU. KCC will be the first JBG site to get it. KCC is close to the main office where our tech people can work out the bugs,” I replied.
“Is the equipment that good that you are going to put it at all JBG sites?” Hanna asked.
“Any equipment is only as good as the operator, but yes, it is that good. There have to be changes in access to the grounds, parking and access into the buildings. Some of those things are going to be complicated and require negotiations,” I replied.
“Are you still going to be in the gym as often as you were? I still need more training. No pain no gain, you said,” Hanna asked.
“How else am I going to keep my girlish figure, especially with this donut fueled cushy government job?” I replied which brought chuckles from the reporters who had stayed to hear our conversation.
The Secret Service agent tapped me on the shoulder, “Boss Ma-am – they told me I should call you Boss – lunch will soon be ready and you have visitors coming at 1300.”
“Duty calls; let’s do this again,” I said before I turned and walked away. I could hear Hanna getting plastered with questions from the other reporters.
My mates were eating lunch with me and then they were going home.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.