IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
February 23rd, Thursday Noon, FBI Headquarters
“Billy,” I was exasperated. “Tell me you have more than this.”
Based on the way Pete was talking, the two religion consultants were ready to disavow their nation and turn to God knows what.
“Sir,” Billy said, “I’ve looked into all the ways we have of connecting cyber-attacks to individuals. I have exhausted subscriber information, IP addresses, geolocation history, and open sources.”
I decided to change direction.
“When you were here last time, you said the Warner Robins Counterintelligence guy was developing a broad base of friendlies, of contacts which you said he was encouraging onto the Religion Consultant.”
“Did you find out who the friendlies have in common, if anyone?”
Billy gave a long whistle and said, “I’m not sure it’s going to be helpful, sir.”
I was immediately short with him and exclaimed, “Why don’t you tell me what you have, and I’ll tell you if it’s helpful.”
“Well, sir,” he said, “These friendlies are all outgoing and therefore comfortable with all sorts of ministries and ministry leaders.”
“What do you mean?” I coaxed.
“These people all have connections which go back and forth from social media to automated emails to personal texts and periodically breaking bread together, when in the same towns. It’s almost impossible to say if there are unique relationships.”
I had to decide how much to give this kid and how much to hide. He could probably tell I was weighing something, so he remained silent.
After a while, he finally spoke, “There is something new which I haven’t shared with you yet though. And it might help you.”
He continued, “I found something from the Warner Robins character which bothers me. It is an encrypted file which was entered deep into my colleague’s computer, but not so it could be accessed easily.”
“What did it say?”
“Well, that’s what is so bizarre. It is a document which simply states the name and contact information of various ministries and how they can help the other candidate.”
“The other candidate?” I asked.
“Yeah, each paragraph, for each contact, seems to be written by completely different people (based on the tone and choice of words), and they are explaining the strategic ways they will be helping the opposing candidate. This is not something which should be within Issy’s grasp, if it’s not being given to our boss.”
I was nodding my head slowly when he went on, but I was busy thinking this investigation has just taken an ominous turn. And I had no idea where it was going.
I stood up and walked over to the plate glass window which overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue. I was staring at nothing in particular, and as a million thoughts ran through my mind I decided on a course of action.
I turned and asked, “Billy, what is your relationship with your counterpart in the other campaign?”
“Sammie? Great! She and I have been buds since we joined the US Government Cyber Crew (USGCC). As you know, after the previous Presidential election’s fiascos, the USGCC was established to be a non-partisan Cyber Crew.”
“How’s that working out?”
“What, our ability to be non-partisan?”
“I think really well, boss.”
I turned back to the window.
“Does the USGCC still meet weekly?”
“Of course, sir. I seem to recall you made it part of the requirement.”
I remained facing the window and he went on. “The mission is to boldly go where no one has gone before, by meeting weekly to maintain non-partisan accountability.”
“And?” I asked still looking out.
“And what, sir?”
“And are you crew members remaining non-partisan?”
“Actually, we are, surprisingly.”
Now I turned and walked towards Billy, eyeing the chair next to him.
“What do you know about Sammie, Billy?”
When I said that, he blushed, so I shut up just to see where this went.
“Umm,” he stumbled. “Umm, she’s about my age. She’s very pretty, and I think she’s single. Umm.”
“Billy, that wasn’t what I meant.”
“Oh,” he said and then really blushed.
“How good is Sammie, Billy? How do her skills compare with yours?”
He looked up at me with a smirk and asked, “May I cut to the chase, sir?”
“She’d notice if I were trawling around in her server.”
I had made my decision. “Alright Billy, I want you to put all of this information together, in your ‘cyber-geek’ way, so it can be easily explained to another cyber-geek.”
The kid blushed again.
“And Billy, the information needs to be in a format an old guy could figure out and use.”
“Oh,” he said, disappointed.
“Do I get to. . .” he started.
I lifted a finger. “Need to know, Billy, need to know.”
“Yes, sir. When do you want it?”
“Have it couriered to me this afternoon.”
“Done,” he said, nodding his head, and I in turn nodded my head towards the door.
He headed for the door and I headed for my desk.
I had what was bound to be a real scrappy meeting in about forty-five minutes with the head of Homeland Security, and he wasn’t going to like my directives.
“Grace,” I called through my intercom.
“Yes, Mr. Jones?”
“I need Sammie Prescott in my office tonight.”
“Yes, sir. By the way, Mr. Beecham is here.”
“Already? He’s early.”
“I said that, sir.”
“Tell him he’ll have to wait.”
“Did he and my previous appointment see each other?”
“By the ‘splittest’ of seconds, no, sir.”
Later Grace told me she watched Billy get onto the elevator, which she does for every visitor of mine. And just as the elevator closed, the one next to it opened and out stepped Mr. Beecham with one of his associates.
Grace has access to a loaded pistol in a specially outfitted pencil drawer. The drawer has to be a little deeper than normal to hold her Glock 21. She’s a very good shot and has large hands, hence the larger pistol, for a woman. But she needs the bigger gun. Her job is to stop those wanting to reenter my office to do me harm. She is authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, which means she needs to shoot accurately, even through a plate glass window.
It is her responsibility to make sure everyone leaving my office gets into the elevator. Once they are heading down the elevator, they are building security’s problem.
Fifteen minutes later I was ushering in a fuming Pete Beecham.
“I’m delivering today’s recon file to you directly because I want to talk about what is happening under your nose, and why you are not allowing the gloves to be pulled off.”
Leaning up against my desk when he walked in, I held out my hand which he briefly shook before he sat down.
I opened the file he handed me and went to sit down myself, pulling out the single page.
OPERATION: JUDAS I.
21, February 8:01 pm till 9:42 pm
Perps #3, #4, & #5 met privately for dinner. Perp #3 handed over document at beginning of their meet, which was successfully shielded by Perp #5. Their body language suggests they talked strategy before heading out.
Classified, Director Pete Beecham
Copy, FBI, Eyes Only: Jack Jones
I made a show of turning it over, and then looking in the file again.
“Kind of a small report today, Pete.” I said, trying to hold back a grin.
I couldn’t hold my sarcasm back, so I asked, “Three teams of four?”
He got up and headed for my door, sneering. I had to give it to him, he knew when he had a weak argument. And knew to not challenge me, simply based on a hunch.
But I stopped him before he got to the door. “What can you tell me about Perp #3?”
“The prayer-guy?” he spat.
“Yeah, the prayer guy who gets into offices and had the word ‘terrorism’ assigned to his name?”
“Nothing yet, Jack.” He took a deep breath and said, “I don’t like what I’m seeing. It doesn’t hold consistent with a terrorism label, but the words are still there when we talk to some of his colleagues.”
I nodded and he walked towards my door before he turned back to me.
“You may find this hard to believe, but I don’t want to write anything permanent that may be inaccurate, even if I don’t like these players. And I don’t like them. And in my opinion, they are the real criminals here.”
“What? Pete have you lost your mind? Perp #2 is cyber hacking, probably under the guidance of Perp #1 and these three holy-rollers are having a meal.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he growled and started to turn the door handle, but stopped.
“Wait a minute,” he continued, realizing his people had been followed, “How many teams did you have there, Jack?”
I smiled and asked, “At the restaurant or at the innocent-until-proven-guilty-party’s house?”
He opened the door and left.
He may be ticked, but he’s a straight shooter and that’s why I let him have a little rope.