Monday, December 28, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Jael Simcha was thinking about the madness that was this morning. In just the past few hours she had helped deflect a massive Iranian missile strike on multiple Israeli cities, she had admitted to herself for the first time in years that she was ready once again to love a man completely and unequivocally, and she had made love to him - freely, passionately, completely releasing herself to him without any expectations, without any guilt or hesitation. Now, she felt like she had restarted her life, a young and vital life that had been on hold for way too long.
Making love seemed to be the key to escaping from her perpetually blue state. She felt in her heart of hearts that she always knew that it would make the difference. When she was ready for physical intimacy again, she would know she had finally healed. It even made enjoying her morning coffee seem like a new experience. She liked to add a little marjoram, Turkish style, and drink out of a glass instead of a ceramic cup. She often started her days in the apartment daydreaming, staring out the window of the tiny breakfast nook watching the city’s day dawn and marveling that she had the honor of serving the state and an important role in helping to protect it. Everything at the intersection of Yafo and Nevi’im Streets below looked like a normal, sunny, Jerusalem day. Westward, up the hill, was a small home with an interior plaza, in Spanish style, nestled in the tree-filled, upscale neighborhood. She imagined it was hers. There were lots of nice homes below, the shops, consulates and lawyers’ offices that lined the street made it very desirable. Nearby was the Davidka monument. There, at the base of a giant limestone edifice, was the solitary piece of artillery used by the Jewish defenders in 1948 to hold off the Arab assault on Safed. It was a tiny cannon - not as tall as a man - a mortar used to lob shells down onto the enemy, and beside it a quotation from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 37, verse 35, ‘for I will defend this city to save it.’
She had spent a lot of time looking out that window. She admired the bougainvillea growing up the side of the Spanish house. She envied the three adjacent neighbors who had the trappings of wealth - a swimming pool, a Mercedes S500, a Jaguar XJ in that deep green color that turns heads. And the kids, there must be twelve kids among those three families. Life was good.
To the east, just two miles or so, were the ancient walls of the Old City. The only pools were either reservoirs that had been built by the Romans or mikvaot, ritual baths, built by the Jews before the year 70 and the destruction of the Temple. There were Mercedes and Jaguars there, too, but there were more camels and sheep than cars around the Old City. At dawn, before the din of automobiles grows to its standard background noise level, old Jerusalem is nearly silent, to be awakened by the sound of bells. First the sheep and the donk-donk-donk of the lead ram’s bell. And then the Christian church bells, and soon the air is filled with the strange music, the pleasing dissonance the bells create. Jael loved that celebratory sound. She thought it was as close as humans would ever get to singing like birds to greet the dawn. She did not, however, find any romance in the call to prayer that interrupted the chorus of bells and reminded her again of that night in Netanya.
Still, she wasn’t a religious bigot. She had a few really good Arab friends, she was more tolerant than most, except the crazy minority of Jews that wanted just to hand over territory as a result of some abject guilt over who-knows-what. Jael just had a reason not to trust and it was in the form of random flying ball bearings, nails, broken glass and lag bolts delivered by a pretty girl selling roses in a bar off Sderot Nitza Street. But the human conflict that underpinned the Capital, the daily drama, was one of the most compelling things about Jerusalem, the two cities, the old and the new.
The conflicts and opposites were all around. The richness of the city and its clear, cold and crisp springs was just a few miles from the scorched desert and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. The neighbors, those Arabs and Jews who chose every so often to kill each other, between periods of uneasy calm and commerce. The internecine drama between the religious and the secular Jew was every bit as heated as the friction between Arab and Jew. As a result of the many factions that formed from the religious and political distinctions, there were perhaps a dozen or more political parties whose members hold seats in the Knesset. Nowhere on earth was there a religious group united by a common ancestor and faith so at odds with itself. Jael had heard that fervor explained, “The Jews are just like everyone else, only more so.”
There was something beautiful about this cacophony of life, this insane bunch of people who had to be at this singular spot on the planet because they believe God set it apart from everywhere else. Fittingly, one could choose to laugh or cry in response to that thought and either might well be appropriate.
After a while, Avi Ben-Tzvi appeared as the elevator door opened.
“Hmmm. Just having a shot of black coffee to steady my nerves,” said Jael taking a swig and clearing her throat.
“You know, it was an incredible day today,” said Ben-Tzvi, grabbing a coffee for himself. Jael watched him try to pour with the carafe that always dribbled. The poor guy was wearing a bolo tie, a blue jean jacket, Levis and pointed boots. He was a cowboy from Tel Aviv with coffee dribbling down on his fly.
“Avi, you’re spilling it!”
“Ah! Shit I couldn’t feel it until you shouted! Shit! Shit that’s hot!”
“Come here, sit down and relax. Here’s a napkin. It’s not so bad, sit and let it dry.”
“Oh, Jael, I’ve been under a lot of pressure.” He looked down and shook his head in disgust at the wet spot on the crotch of his jeans, “ and I’m wound way too tight right now. I had to get outta’ there. Daniel was going through this whole thing about resetting in case there are attacks in response. I know the routine, and he knows I know. Daniel’s tough on me, you know, because I’m the eldest member of the team.”
“I know, Avi. I’ve noticed. Everyone has. But you’ve respected his authority. The mission was a success.”
“Well, then what’s wrong, Avi?”
“I think I need to go back to Yeshiva, I want to get a Master’s in Talmudic studies.” Jael raised her eyebrows at the comment. “I feel drawn to it. I think I could be a good rabbi and I need to find out,” Avi lowered his head and a wisp of steam rose from his coffee and left a cloud on the lenses of his glasses, He looked up over the top of the black plastic frames, “What do you think?”
“I think I just had a somewhat similar thought about my own situation. Really,” Avi looked at her as though wondering if she was patronizing him. “Here’s what I think,” She reached out and took his hands in hers.
“Avi, we were just in a war. We were on the very edge of that war, but we were in it. That kind of experience makes me...makes us...reevaluate our lives. You love Israel, don’t you?”
“Yes, with all my heart. I love my country and I love the One who gave it to us.”
“Then you must do what you have to do. You must follow your heart.”
“Go over that line again, David, would you please?” Obama asked his Chief Political Advisor, David Axelrod.
“Sure. We understood the risks and we understood that previous administrations had come close, but had failed to capture the King of Terror.”
“I don’t know. Just say, ‘we understood the risks but we knew the the American people were tired of hearing that we missed him again. But, don’t call him the King of Terror, “ Obama chuckled, “It makes me think of Larry King.” Several people laughed out loud at seeing the President loosen up and chuckle. “I don’t know why I think of Larry King at all,” he said, and they laughed even louder.
“How are we explaining how we found him?” asked Obama.
Axelrod was prepared for that one. “I think we have to say that we had assets on the ground that just picked up his trail and had been following Bin Laden for a very short time. We did not know that Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs were collaborating with this murderer but the fact that they were developing a nuclear capability and meeting with him is chilling.”
“I love it! It makes such good sense. Ahmadinejad isn’t collateral damage then, he deliberately put himself in a position where he could get hurt. He collaborated with Bin Laden!”
Hillary spoke up, “That’s the Bush Doctrine, Mr. President.” Leon Panetta couldn’t help but look right at her and smile, the two aging politicians went way back.
“Oh my gosh, you’re right. Well, we’ll stay one step away from drawing that conclusion, then.”
Axelrod spoke up, “Mr. President, The Bush Doctrine is just a group of words that frame a diplomatic position. Bin Laden being brought to justice is a reality.”
“Yes, David, that’s absolutely correct.”
“If anyone brings up the Bush Doctrine, you have the answer.”
Obama surveyed the room and decided the worst was over, “Thank you people. Job well done. I’m heading upstairs. I have a few calls I must make, and Gibbsy’s scheduled a press conference for about an hour from now so we’ll be busy until then. Ah, listen Mike, I’d like you and Hillary to be there. Leon, I’ll need you for follow-up conferences. David, I need you there, too. Why don’t you kinda’ tandem up with Gibbsy. Also, Jim Jones. Definitely, you need to be there. Okay, people. I’m gone,” and with that, the President turned and left the room.
Strangely, the room grew silent. No one spoke, although a lot of eye contact and half smiles were exchanged - meaning nothing. Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton remained seated. As the last few people exited the room, Panetta stacked the several notebooks and papers he had at the ready. After they were neatly arranged, he took his pen, and placed it on top of the stack.
“Well, Leon,” said Hillary, “how do you think it went?”
“About as well as it could have gone, I would say.”
“I think you’re right,” she concurred, as she stood across from her old friend, still seated at the massive conference room table.
“Where’d you get that pen, Leon?”
Panetta looked down at the gold pen he had just placed on his stack of notebooks. “Hmmmmm. I don’t remember.”
“Isn’t that the UN seal?”
Panetta picked the pen up and studied it closely. “Yeah, it is.”
“It’s very nice,” said Mrs. Clinton.
“Thanks,” said Panetta.
Monday, October 26, 2009
“I want to know for sure. Get some goddam face recognition software or something. This is bad. I’m gonna’ be asked what the hell is going on and I need answers fast.” The President slammed the phone down and turned to Leon Panetta.
“NSA’s on it. You on it?”
Panetta peeled his glasses off his face and looked the President in the eye, “Mr. President, it is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. We’ve just killed the government of Iran, probably all the Ayatollahs. They tend to travel together in a gaggle. This is precisely...”
Obama cut him off.
“David, get Gibbs and start working. And not just for domestic consumption,” he turned to face the balance of the team. “Hillary, could you have someone get with David and work on a diplomatic statement?”
“Sure, but I need to know our position.”
Obama shouted at her. “I don’t have a fucking position on taking out a foreign government. I want you to give me one.”
“You don’t have a position? Let me recommend that the US position is that we didn’t do it. That it may have been political opposition or insurgents.”
“I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” said National Security Advisor Jim Jones. “I have Bob Gibbs on the line.”
“What line? asked the President.
The President punched the button.
“Gibbsy. What’s up? Who the fuck is Malini, what? Malini Wilkes? Hang on.”
“Malini Wilkes has a story,” Obama reveals to the assembled group and puts the phone back to his ear. “Fox? Oh, shit. Major, punch up Fox News on the monitor!”
The face of Fox News Channel’s Bagdad reporter appeared almost full screen on the Hi-def monitor. The caption read, “Malini Wilkes, Tehran EXCLUSIVE”
"My cameraman had put the long lens on our camera and was scanning the neighborhoods, the horizon, and we spotted these two jets. You can see the flight path is a typical bombing run, the jets are on a fairly straight and level flight and they suddenly drop their bombs and peel off that flight path, and then we lose them in the sun. These are F-22 Raptor fighter jets. They were manufactured in the United States and the US Congress refused to let Boeing sell them outside the country in a move critics said was designed to kill the program. President Obama, in fact, did kill the production of F-22s shortly after he was inaugurated, citing budget overruns. That was just a few weeks before his administration insisted on the $3 Trillion stimulus package to prevent unemployment levels above 8 percent. The F-22 program employed about 3,000 people.
"The bombs created a huge explosion followed by this mushroom cloud just about a mile from our building. We watched the cloud for several minutes. No word on radiation, Brian...”
“Oh, shit,” the President was watching his job, his reputation and his presidency come apart before his eyes.
“Malini, we have Colonel Hunt on the line. We haven’t put him on yet but we want you to know that he already told us that it was extremely unlikely that a bomb could set off a nuclear explosion. Also, tactical nuclear weapons are much more sophisticated than Iran would be capable of producing. This was more likely a Daisy Cutter, a giant conventional weapon.”
“Well, I am very glad to hear that, Brian. We were concerned that there might be radiation or additional explosions. We have this footage of an Iranian HazMat team combing through debris near the scene. We were shooting through streets and alleys but you can see them definitely dressed in anti-radiation coats.”
“Turn it off,” ordered Obama. “We’re in a world of shit here people. Fox was tipped off. How did they get that footage? I need ideas and I need them fast.” He grabbed his cell phone and made a quick speed dial call to Robert Gibbs while the group cross-talked and tried their own arguments out on their neighbors.
“Yes, sir,” the standard answer Gibbs offered Obama whenever he called.
“Bob, you don't need to know what’s going on right now. I want you to remain in the safety of deniability, got it?”
“Got it. But, listen, I’m getting a lot of calls and there are suggestions that there’s some video out there of US military in HazMat suits walking through the rubble of this attack in Iran and machine-gunning some survivors.”
“Not our guys,” said Obama.
“Good. Can I say that?”
“You better say that,” replied Obama emphatically.
“I think it’s probably a good time for me to call the President, Ehud,” suggested the Israeli Prime Minister.
“He’s probably quite upset. You could wait until he calms down a bit.”
“He won’t calm down. The pressure will build from the media, from the Arab states, Islamic nations, his liberal political base. It will get worse fast.”
“Then we risk his making a mistake, making a bad judgment.”
“Right. There’s a high probability of that. The only good judgments he’s made are those we forced him to make.”
“Very well. I will arrange to have the package delivered to the consulate.”
“No, no. Deliver it in Tel Aviv to the American Embassy. I don’t want it in Jerusalem. How long do you need.”
“The plane arrived from Teheran about an hour ago. I’d say thirty minutes.”
“Fine. Have Pinkus call the Ambassador, and make sure the package is driven over in a military vehicle. No limos.”
“Yes, that’s good. I’ll make the arrangements. Thirty minutes?”
“Yes, from right now.”
“Listen people,” Obama had made some decisions about the direction this crisis needed to go. “As a practical matter we need to lay this off on Israel. I really don’t care as much about your religious or cultural sensitivities right now as much as I care about what kind of grief the US is going to get if we’re caught up in this.”
“Blame the Jews? Not very original, Mr. President,” said Mrs. Clinton. It was a stunning comment to be spoken aloud. Obama decided to respond calmly as though it was good advice.
“I know, Hillary. But it’s not a hollow claim. The world knows they led a strike on Iran. We’re not making that up. Now the world knows we sent two jets into Iran. We need to explain why.”
“And that explanation is...?” asked the Secretary of State.
“Classified.” responded Obama.
“That’s it?” asked Mrs. Clinton.
“Absolutely. We indicate we may be able to reveal the reasons in a few days, maybe a few weeks...”
Emanuel spoke up, “Mr. President, that’s just not going to fly. We just blew the entire government of Iran to hell. Now, I’m not saying we should feel real bad about that, but it just isn’t done. We can’t say we have to be mum about what’s happened because everyone fucking knows what happened. I mean why we did it can be pretty much inferred from what happened, you know?”
“Ah, shit. You’re way too practical,” replied Obama in frustration. “Listen, if we say we can’t talk about it, it’s going to imply that there’s more to the story that just the strike and its results. It makes it bigger than it even appears to be.”
“Nope. This is as big as it gets. This is ‘we screwed up” time,” pleaded The Chief of Staff.
“I’m not gonna’ do that, Rahm,” insisted the President. “I’m not taking the fall for this when our decision was the right one. This is Israel’s fault. I was lied to and we were tricked,” Obama shot back angrily. "Now, get the Speaker, get the Leaders and the minority leaders and get them in here. I also need to call the Chief Justice and inform him, too. See, Rahm, where this bullshit gets us. It was a trick and I'm pissed."
“I know. We all know. We were here when it happened, Barack. But the explanation that we can’t talk about it is bullshit. It’s bullshit. Do you know what the Republicans will do with that? What I would do with that. They’ll say, ‘we’re waiting for the president to order an attack on Pyongyang, or Caracas, or Havana, or Toronto, or Boise. Hopefully, after he has a few weeks to craft his story, he’ll tell us about it.’”
“Rahm. You’re leaving me no way out.”
“There IS no way out.”
“Nope. There’s always a way out. We just have to find it. Mike, I want an evaluation of our current state of security. You and Jim work that out. Leon, help them out, and anyone else who needs to give input. I don’t want to be caught flat-footed if we’ve pissed off someone. Just get the leaders in here.”
Most of the military officers had long since checked-out of the conversation mentally and emotionally. The battle was over, at least for the time being, and Israel had performed an amazing feat. They had somehow defeated their enemy with a flock of medium range ballistic missiles, a computer hack, six helicopters and bunker buster bombs delivered by an unseen hand. It was shock and awe on a scale that had never before been achieved.
The politics of the matter was a morale-killer, however, for those who were true warriors. Some generals have political aspirations, like Wesley Clark. He and the Clinton Administration were part of the same political machine. But is arrogance never caught on because he had no folksy side to give it balance. He was no Ike. But it was uncomfortable, when you were among those who deal with the outcome of battles conducted with lethal force, to sit among the politicians and maintain one’s silence while such trivial and inconsequential matters, like the outcome of an administration, were being discussed. As a result, only the political types were animated.
Mrs. Clinton spoke up, “Mr. President. Ambassador Cunningham is calling me from Tel Aviv. He says Alon Pinkus is pulling through the gates in an Israeli Army lorry.”
“What the hell is that all about?” said Obama shaking his head is disbelief.
“Mr. President?” the Major interrupted, “Prime Minister Netanyahu is on Green 10, sir.”
Obama punched the button and picked up the handset.
“Mr. Prime Minister. I have been lied to and compromised because I trusted you. We are at risk now because we treated you as a friend and confidant.”
“Yes, I understand. But I did not lie to you. You spoke with Ehud about this and not me. I didn’t make you any promises so save your anger for Barak.”
“What?” Obama was incredulous. “Like you didn’t know we were being suckered into making a raid on Ahmadinejad?”
“No. You were not persuaded to attack Ahmadinejad. That’s not what happened. You were persuaded to attack Osama bin Laden. Is that not true?”
“Yes. That’s precisely the case. But Osama was not the target. The target was Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs and you knew it.”
“What I knew was that you would never help us. You would never attack. You wouldn’t even allow us to fly over a country you occupy - not your country but one that you occupy - in order to protect our own people and the stability of the entire Middle East. What kind of a foreign policy is that? How do we separate ourselves from the way the United States treats its enemies. So don’t tell me you were lied to. I know when I am being lied to. There is no slavery Jews haven’t experienced and no lie we haven’t heard, so don’t try to claim any moral high ground.
“Like it or not, Mister President, you have done the right thing and every nation in the Middle East knows it. You have found a way to earn the respect of a culture that has been based on tribe against tribe for thousands of years. A culture that respects the use of violence as a measure of your resolve and even your veracity. They will believe you now merely because you have cut the head off this snake. Don’t you see that unless you’re willing to do that there’s no reason they should believe you?”
“You lied to me. You knew we were targeting Ahmadinejad and you didn’t tell me. That’s the bottom line.”
“No, Mr. President, that is NOT the bottom line. The bottom line is you have preserved the stability of the Middle East. You have stood by a putative friend. You have demonstrated to those who would attack you and call you a Great Satan that they could incur your wrath - not a bad thing.”
“We do those things with diplomacy, not with violence.”
“Precisely wrong, Mr. President. War is merely an extension of diplomacy that works. Diplomacy does not work until after wars have been waged. You haven’t noticed that? It’s in every history book. Diplomats fail, wars are fought, diplomats rush in to fill the void and things go along well for a couple generations. What are you missing?”
“Prime Minister, I don’t need a lecture right now. I am going to issue a statement condemning Israel for the raid. I’m going to indicate that we were close to an agreement with Iran...” Netanyahu interrupted.
“Then what do you want me to do with the body?”
“The body of Osama bin Laden was just delivered to your embassy in Tel Aviv. You can take it to the States for DNA testing and claim it was a casualty of the raid, or we will claim we captured him in Pakistan and flew the body back on a cargo flight from Pakistan, which we did, and which we have the video to prove.”
“Mr. President, Ambassador Alon Pinkus and Jim Cunningham are on the line,” interrupted Mrs. Clinton as she held her Blackberry aloft.
“Pinkus and Cunningham are on Hillary’s phone Benjamin, what’s that about?” asked the President.
“They’re confirming what I’m telling you, I knew you had no reason to believe me without proof, so here’s proof.”
“Hang on. Hillary, confirm...I mean, tell them you’re here with me, I’m on the line with Netanyahu and I said for them to tell you whatever they have to say to me.” Clinton nodded her understanding.
“Mr. Prime Minister, if you hand that body over to me, my immediate problems are solved. But the political crap I’m going to take for killing the Iranian government is not going to go away.”
“I know, Barack. But this is the truth. We did not know the Ayatollahs were with him. This was a miracle. We believe we may have also, you may have also, eliminated the Mahdi Army and Hizbollah with this raid. We’re still checking.”
“A miracle, huh? We need to meet. I’m okay with this on the short term, but long term we have issues we need to get straightened out.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Are you sure this is bin Laden? I'm serious.”
“Absolutely. This is no trick. We also have video you can use for media releases that we will supply to Ambassador Cunningham.”
“Thank you for keeping your promise.”
“No. Thank you, Mr. President. You are a pragmatist. I knew you would understand.”
Monday, October 19, 2009
The US attack on Teheran was devastating. The fact that it was the only attack of the 4-hour war to specifically target personnel was not lost on Obama and his assembled senior advisors. It had to be done. This was the first chance to get Bin laden since Spring, when with Musharraf’s cooperation, there had been a joint strike in Waziristan. Of course, someone - or everyone - in the ISI, the Pakistani Intelligence Service had tipped him off and the valley where Osama was guaranteed to reside was devoid of everything except footprints and feces. The raid was scrubbed after the Predators couldn’t spot a living thing in the valley after an hour of scouting.
There was someone looking back, however. Because for the first time since they began using the drones over Pakistan and Afghanistan, a Predator returned with a cal. 30 hole in the left wing. No accident.
The fact that UBL was in Teheran was also important. It meant several things to Obama. For example, Obama could now de-emphasize the war in Afghanistan, claiming that the cabal between Al Qaeda and Ahmadinejad had been broken up. The threat was gone or reduced to a point where the enemy could never recover. Plus, Obama could hasten the departure from Iraq. With Al Qaeda humbled, there was no chance they could supply lines from Pakistan to Iraq without great difficulty. The time it took them to rebuild was time the Iraqis could build their own defenses.
Politically, it meant Obama could return to his base with a promise kept, while simultaneously handing the head of Osama to the right. It was a beautiful thing.
The Situation Room watched the attack play out. It was great theatre. It was the best reality show on TV and had the most limited audience. It was also the most expensive pay-per-view.
The Chinook landed in a nearly-vacant parking lot 12 blocks from the apartment complex. That maneuver gave the guards on the upper floors something to look at. The satellite view showed them looking through field glasses and pointing. They had to have seen the Iranian markings. To add to the legitimacy, some crew exited the helicopter and ran around to the other side. A couple others walked away from the craft, toward the apartment complex and examined maps and papers on the top of an automobile. They returned to the helicopter, the rotors returned to full revolutions and the craft rose into the air.
It made a large sweep away from the apartment complex in order to appear to have no interest in that particular district. As it did, it gained altitude until it was at 2,500 feet. At that altitude the beating of the rotors was still very loud and would cover the sound of the incoming F-22s until it was too late.
The chinook made certain that it wandered south far enough to no longer be heard. That would be a couple miles. Then, it performed a few lazy loops until the Raptors were 10 miles out. At that point the lumbering workhorse made a graceful turn and began to bear down on the apartment complex. At one mile, the argon laser was charged and aimed at the target. The crosshairs were set two floors below the roof so that there would be some DNA to recover. The giant helo would pass to the west of the complex after bombs were released. Until then it had to maintain laser fix on the target - a task which was largely automated unless the helicopter went around the building.
The Chinook was close now. A half mile away and 3,000 feet. It climbed in order to appear to the guards to be moving without sacrificing a good angle on the building. At a quarter-mile the word was relayed, “Bombs away.” The Chinook was put into a fast climb as a monstrous package was released from its gaping cargo bay. The box fell three-thousand feet in about eight seconds and a parachute popped open.
At the very moment the chute opened, a half dozen of the guards saw it pop as the floor exploded under their feet. The men’s legs and hips were instantly broken as the lift of the building’s roof sent their appendages flying before their greater mass could accelerate. Now, helpless on the concrete tiles they rose into the air like pancakes on the end of a spatula, flipping and flopping.
Some in the crowd were tossed clear of the roof and into space. They were still conscious of the upper portions of the building passing them as they fell to earth. One or two were seen rolling from a relatively unscathed section of the roof that no longer had an ornamental railing, they fell at the same rate as the debris, which had now fallen back upon itself.
It was at the moment when it looked like the building might remain damaged but standing that the package beneath the parachute shed it’s case. In a microsecond, the metal shroud of the fuel-air bomb was parted from the contents by a precise explosive. That blast also distributed a lethal mixture of ethylene oxide and a metal particulate over an 80-foot diameter. The shock wave of the initial explosion causes the metal particles to slam together and ignite at the same time. The detonation of the metal creates a blast wave that has more devastation per ton of explosive than any other conventional weapon. It would be heard over the chatter of a conversation forty miles away. Anyone within a block or two would suffer permanent hearing loss even indoors, that is if the flying glass did not kill them first. There would be no glass untouched for about a mile from ground zero.
The 200-foot tall faces of the two apartment buildings adjacent to the blast disappeared from the screen as the camera struggled to adjust to the sudden brilliance of the blast. A massive fireball gathered, rolling into itself and becoming larger, then cooling and turning dark with a glowing underbelly. Debris could be seen rushing into the space that had been occupied by the fireball and falling away as chaff. Immediately, as the mushroom shaped cloud rose to 500 feet, the two cleft buildings fell helplessly into the street below.
The Chinook was about three-quarters of a mile away when the mushroom cloud appeared. Teheran would begin to panic. A mushroom cloud is a mushroom cloud and when you expect to be bombed with nuclear weapons, you will believe your own eyes.
It was fifteen minutes before the fires had died down sufficiently for the Chinook to return. No one was at the scene. Cars could be seen on every street surrounding the fallen buildings and the one thing they all had in common was that they were all headed away from that one spot.
The Chinook settled into soccer field across the highway from the devastation. The main doors opened and men in HazMat suits emerged. Some carried weapons, some Geiger counters with live radiological samples taped to the case to provide a constant rattle, like metallic popcorn in a frenzy. One man carried an HD video camera transmitting pictures back to the Chinook, and then via satellite, directly to The White House. It was also transmitting sound.
The camera bounced as the man struggled to maintain his balance in the cumbersome space suit as he stepped over chunks of debris searching for human remains.
Bodies were seen some distance from the base of the structures, but several had dropped with the structure and were expected to be found in the rubble.
About ten meters ahead of the camera there was burst of automatic weapons fire. None of the HazMat suited men reacted, one of the men was seen pointing his weapon and waving the others forward. Whatever he saw was no longer alive.
The camera moved forward. Several men ahead could be seen moving plywood, asphalt, concrete block and drywall, revealing a massive pile of bodies. Remarkably, there was not much blood. But it was difficult to see facial features because dust and soot covered many of the faces. Each man had a spray bottle they used to direct a stream of disinfectant-laced water. As each face was revealed a number was placed beside the face, digital photos were taken, a syringe was inserted into the neck of the victim and fluids withdrawn and the actual number tag and the contents of the syringe were placed into a plastic zip lock and dropped into a fishnet bag.
This grizzly activity moved rapidly, but there were so many bodies it was taking a long time.
It became apparent to the group at The White House that something was going on before the cameraman noticed. Two or three of the Special Ops fighters were gathered in one corner of the screen. They looked down, sprayed, moved a few objects, sprayed some more and for the longest time just stared at the ground. Then they stood erect, just looked at each other. One turned toward the camera and called out in English.
“You need to get that over here,” the voice behind the clear vinyl mask could be heard to say, and even though his face was obscured, there was a clear sense of urgency.
The picture bounced and bobbled, for a moment it revealed the damage to the remaining buildings, then quickly tilted down and spun toward a point just three feet below the lens. The auto-focus motor attached to the protruding tube of optical glass
spun the lens around until the unmistakable visage of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came into view.
“I got another one,” a voice called from a few feet away.
Again the camera swayed and rocked before finding its target, a hirsute and craggy face, now detached from its lifelong perch upon a pair of shoulders somewhere, elsewhere, in the rubble. A pair of blue-gloved hands reached down, grabbed the skull by the ears and pointed it right at the camera.
It was the remains of Ayatollah Khamenei.
In moments, a number of additional bodies were discovered, all in the clerical garb associated with the Ayatollahs. Each was being tagged and bagged. The Special Ops guys were suddenly on pins and needles. They didn’t expect what they found, and even though these guys were the most battle hardened in the service, it shook them up.
After all, at the suggestion of and with the help of Israel, The United States of America had just murdered the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Uri Oren was winging his way back to Israel aboard the Airbus 330 that had just delivered a death blow to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, dropping 15 ton Bunker Busters deep into hardened facilities where they pulverized the contents and sent hundreds of feet of debris falling into the rubble, effectively burying it beyond recovery. Further, any radiological materials that had been within the targeted facilities had, no doubt, been scattered throughout, making any entry by a living human being a suicide mission guaranteeing a slow, painful death.
At the moment, however, Oren could not even consider the great victory he had helped to deliver. He had been contacted through secret channels and ordered to talk anyone he could contact into getting an Iranian radio station, Irib Payam, back on the air.
He hadn’t been told why, but the station’s radio energy was being used to make a locating device reveal the location of Mamoud Ahmadinijad, the madman who ostensibly presided over the Islamic Republic, doing the bidding of a collection of throwbacks to the dark ages who were considered Ayatollahs, or penultimate religious leaders in the Theocracy. Most of them were low on intellect and big on hate-driven fervor. They were the Dons of this religious Cosa Nostra called Iran.
The American’s had been given the output of the device and the American President had become convinced that the signal reveled the location of Osama Bin Laden.
No one had actually said that to him, but Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak had said that someone had referred to the target as the sheik. The Israelis had long ago decided that if Obama took the bait that they would thank the US for their support and deny they ever said the target was Obama. Obama’s favorability ratings in Israel were in single digits, yet he failed to suspect anything. As Israel suspected, Obama’s ego was too big and out of control for him to exercise the thoughtful restraint necessary during a crisis. He was hooked on the bait that Israel had dangled. If in the future Obama might again stand against the Jewish State, he could be sure that there were tapes or transcripts that would leak. In addition, there were the domestic political considerations.
Hillary Clinton was just waiting to pounce on an Obama miscue. No one would be surprised if she would resign in opposition to an Obama move to elevate herself and damage him in the process.
Obama had made a mistake putting her the big chair at the State Department, one he couldn’t easily undo. And, she had allies - like Leon Panetta. Panetta had been hammered by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and accused of lying to Congress. It had demoralized the CIA and made Panetta wish he’d declined the appointment. Obama had been unwilling to defend the CIA and Panetta had privately called him, “pathetic.” Clinton was an old friend, a Pelosi nemesis and a survivor. The stars were aligned against Obama and yet, at the moment, he was only concerned with the sudden loss of the signal from Iran.
Oren was waiting for young Amin Mahmudi, a technical assistant at the radio station. He had persuaded Mahmudi that he was Mohmmad Soleimani, the Minister of Information and Communications. Mahmudi would do anything for the government official in charge of the nation’s radio and television.
“I have three people with me who each have a telephone.”
“Excellent, they are to use their telephone’s to provide light. Use them as torches and have them search for the emergency generator. When they find it, they are to shout out to you and guide you to their location. Then, we’ll take it from there.”
“Yes. I understand. I will explain this.”
Oren could hear Amin in the background saying, “Come, follow me to the basement. Use your phone for a light and I will tell you what we are looking for.”
Suddenly, Ami was back on the line, “Minister, what am I looking for?”
“Amin, it will look like a large electric motor attached to an engine, perhaps an automobile engine. It may be more than a meter in diameter. There may also be batteries nearby for the starter and...the entire thing may be in a cage. I don’t know. You must just look in utility areas.”
“Very good,” Amin said with an official air, and he returned to instructing his entourage as they entered the dark basement.
“I think you should call it off, Mr. President,” said Leon Panetta. He was responding to a discussion that Jim Jones, National Security Advisor and Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff were having with the President regarding the framing of the announcement should they hit Bin Laden, or should they hit and miss Bin Laden.
Emanuel asserted himself before Obama could engage Panetta,“The decision’s been made,” he said.
“I know,” said Panetta, “but nothing’s happened yet. There’s still time to think about this.”
Obama followed Emanuel’s lead. “Leon, we’ll keep an eye on the screen. How long before everyone’s in position for the strike, General Holland?”
Air Force General Bill Holland responded on the speakerphone. “An hour and maybe 15 minutes. The helicopter will take about that long to reach the target, the jets don;t have to scramble for another few minutes.”
“A lot can happen in an hour,” assured Obama, looking at Panetta. Nevertheless, Panetta had gone on record as being opposed to the mission and that was just where he wanted to be.
“Minister Soleimani! I think I have found it!” Came a shout through the telephone link.
“Excellent, Amin! Describe what you see.”
“It is just as you said. There is a large motor. I think it is electric because I can see shiny wires inside the motor and there is an engine attached to it. A large engine.”
“Are there any signs, or warnings?” asked Oren urgently.
“It says General Electric. I know that symbol, but I cannot read the English!”
“Okay. Look for a large switch or a push button.”
“Yes, I see a large red and green button.”
“Push the green button, Amin.”
Oren could hear a whining churning sound, like a car turning over on a cold morning. It didn’t sound right.
“Amin. Push the red button.”
“It did not start, Minister. What should I do?”
“It needs fuel, Amin. Do you see a tank of fuel?”
“No, Minister, there is an oxygen tank.”
“Amin, that’s the fuel. It’s an LPG tank. Can you tap on it, is there a gauge?”
“No, there is no gauge. The line goes to the first machine, to the engine.” Is there a valve on the tank, Amin? Damn, Amin. You must think about this. I cannot do it all.”
Oren was disappointed that he had lost his temper, except it was very much in character for anyone in the upper echelons of the corrupt Iranian government. That’s why they were hated so much. It’s why just two weeks earlier a secret group of Iranian Sunnis opposed to the government of Ayatolah had selected a member from their midst to walk into the middle of a room filled with leadership of the Revolutionary Guard and Basiji. The Basiji are plain-clothes vigilantes who do the bidding of the revolutionary guard. The Baathists in Iraq were the same kind of a hit squad. Almost two-dozen were killed and nearly seventy seriously wounded. It shook the foundations of the Khamenei regime.
The Israelis commenced the strike earlier than planned after the Sunnis struck, fearing that Ahmadinijad would strike first in order to coalesce the populace in a war against the Jews.
“Minister, there is a valve in the line right on top of the engine. It was shut. I have opened it, shall I try the green button again?”
“Yes, Amin. Now!”
No one had said a word in about 10 minutes. The equipment room in the basement of the Jerusalem apartment building was heating up as racks of electronic equipment maintained their stations in the cyberwar battle against Iran.
“What is that?”
“It’s one of the Apartment buildings.”
“They’re moving across the entire building like there are no walls?”
“It is the roof. They are on the roof! It’s the only part of the building without walls.”
“Is our feed still up?”
“Yes, the Americans can see it now.”
Cheers went up in the Situation Room. A couple people shook Obama’s hand as if to congratulate him for something.
“Mr. President the jets are away,” reported General Holland.
“Thank you, General.”
“Mr. President,” Mullen had his earpiece pressed to his head with his right hand. “The Pentagon has analysts on this signal. The target’s moved and it looks like he’s on the roof of one of the buildings in the complex.
“Let’s hope he’s taking nap,” said the President.
“Yeah, surrounded by a hundred of his top guys,” added Emanuel.
“Our satellite has acquired a picture, Mr. President.”
“Put it up, Morrell,” ordered Obama.
“Amin. You will receive a medal if I have anything to say about it! You have done a wonderful job under difficult circumstances.”
“Thank you, Minister. But I must go up to the studio and make sure there is something on the air.”
“Amin, I want you to just get something on the air. A CD. An opera perhaps. Leave the transmitter on and post a message. You may sign my name. The message must say that no one may enter the premise until further notice. Can you do that Amin?”
“Yes, Minister. Whatever you ask. But what about the programming? The CD will run only about an hour.”
“Amin. Just go home. These things are decided at the highest levels. The Basiji will be at the station soon, you should just go be with your family.”
“Do you see him?” asked Mrs. Clinton.
“Man, black is the new black in Iran,” cracked Emanuel.
“There’s a shitload of guys in black,” said Biden. “They might be clerics. If we blast them we’re in a world of hurt.”
“Joe, nobody likes these guys. Nobody,” countered Emanuel.
“I don’t like blowing up Mullahs, Barack,” said Biden, “Bad foreign policy.”
Mrs. Clinton perked up. “We’re way past the point of diplomacy, Mr. Vice President,” she said. It was a brilliant statement, distancing her from the decision and putting the room on notice.
“It’s some kinda’ meeting. They probably wanted to get up in the air to be safer. Forgot about our birds,” suggested Jones.
“No, they don’t think we’re in the game,” said Obama.