Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chapter 11. The Ruse

“Mr. President?” Major General Bill Holland was at a remote site and calling through a speaker phone in the White House situation room.

“Yes, General?” replied the Commander in Chief.

“I have a damage assessment from satellite recon over Israel, and it’s surprising.”

“How bad is it?” The President steadied himself for the worst.

“There’s no damage, sir.”

“No damage?” Obama repeated.

“Sir, all the missiles, ahh, all the missiles...missed.”

Panetta spoke up, “Sir, I can confirm that. We have assets in Jerusalem and Haifa, Jaffa and Be’er Sheva and they all report missiles flew overhead but none scored.”

“How the heck did they manage that?” asked Jim Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor. “We need to get some of that.”

Admiral Mullen leaned back in his high-back leather chair and studied a folding map he held in his hands.

“Leon, maybe you know the answer to this. Is there a way to change the signals being sent by GPS satellites and make an object believe it is in a certain place on earth, when it is really about 50 miles west?” Mullen was amused by the prospect.

“Admiral, as I understand it - and I can tell you we have looked into it - there are a couple signals sent by GPS satellites that could be tampered with. One is a timing signal. If you know where satellite A is located and you know the speed of light, you can tell how far away you are by comparing what time the signal was sent to what time you received it. Time signals are important because if there’s even a slight error the huge numbers in the speed of light would throw a position way off. These satellites are so precise they use the time signal to synchronize the world’s cell phone base stations. Everytime you turn on your phone, it goes to a tower somewhere to announce itself and synchronize the time.

"But another is the location signal. The point in space where the satellite is orbiting. If you could hack into the right three or four satellites, or more, you could very precisely warp the apparent dimensions on earth.” Panetta looked to Mullen to see if he had understood.

“Cell phone technology is involved?” asked Mullen.

“Sure,” replied Panetta.

“The Scailex calling card, Leon. I think they were letting us know how they planned to beat the Iranians. I think they told those missiles they needed to travel an extra 40, 50 miles and they ended up falling harmlessly into the sea.”

Panetta grinned because his insistence that the Israeli covert and military prowess was second-to-none had been attacked earlier, and it was slowly being revealed that he was correct in his assessment. “I can’t imagine another explanation,” he said, “except having someone deliberately screw up the guidance systems or the target locations - but this was failure on too grand a scale to be an inside job.”

“How long were they into our site?” asked Mullen.

“Ahh. I have that in this notebook,” Panetta shuffled a stack of looseleaf binders in front of him. He found a navy blue one-inch binder, checked the spine for its title, and flipped it open. He found a certain tab and began tracing a finger down the page.

“It was 3 point 4 seconds. Do you think that means something?” he asked.

“I don’t know. 3 point 4?” Mullen scratched it onto a pad in front of him. What if we multiply 3 times 4.”

Panetta agrees, trying to follow, “Okay.”

“What’s the distance of one second of arc on the surface of the earth.”

“It’s about three point five miles, Mike.” General Holland chimed in.

“Three point five times 12 is......?” asked Mullen.

“42,” answered the President.

“How wide is Israel at its widest point, Leon?” asked Mullen.

“Christ, Mike, gimme a break,” pleaded Panetta.

“I thought you were in charge of intelligence,” joked Mrs. Clinton. There were a few chuckles. The Major spoke up.

“It’s about 40 miles, sirs. Maybe 45 at the widest point. ”

"That's no coincidence, Leon," Mullen stated emphatically, "That's a message."

Jael and Alon were wrapped in each others’ arms and lying on a sofa in the apartment barracks. The scratchy old army blanket was keeping them warm and hiding them from the peering eyes of the multiple survelleilance cameras in the room. They were hoping their compatriots had the discretion to look away. It wasn’t likely given the unnatural levels of curiosity flowing in all their veins. The precautions were a good idea.

“This could get serious, I think,” whispered Jael.

“I hope so. I don’t feel like I did such a good job for our first time.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” she insisted, “You were wonderful.”

“Still, I think I could do with some practice.”

It was good. He was a tall and a big-boned boy-man who was being very naturally gentle and playful, and that was just exactly what Jael needed. She suddenly sat bolt upright, the blanket falling off her shoulder and to her waist.

“Alon, have you ever heard me speak of Eliezar Weisz?” Her voice was a bit unsteady, enough that Alon could hear it waver.


“I may need to do that. He was my fiance...” she swallowed hard, “and two years ago he was murdered by a Palestinian bomber.”

“Oh, Jael. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay,” She slid back down and closer to Alon. He reached over to her face and she placed his hand on her breast. “I’m dealing with it.”

“But I am not your therapy, am I?” asked Alon.

“You are the best medicine, my little rooster. But I will not toss you away, don’t worry. It was a long time ago. But this is our time.”

There was a long pause. Finally Alon spoke.

“Little?” he asked as their pagers began blinking and scuttling across the coffee table beside them.

Admiral Mullen hung up his phone and turned to Obama. “I have ordered two F-22 Raptors readied to go into Iran at your call, Mr. President and Admiral Eric Olsen, Commander Socom, is online from MacDill to propose a solution. Admiral?”

“General, Mr. President.” Olsen, the Commander of US Special Forces was on screen in hi-def 1080p. MacDill had the best technology in the US military. They had so many 60-inch screens installed in Tampa and the Green Zone for the Iraq war, that for six months after the installation was completed not even Best Buy had any in stock.

“Admiral, I’m eager to hear your plans,” said Obama.

“Then, I’ll get right to it. Thank you. We are looking to send three aircraft to a site the Israelis have identified for us. You should be seeing a satellite image of Teheran on your monitor. And you will see Azadi Stadium captioned. The apartment complex identified is a circular array of six 20-story buildings around an interior plaza about a quarter mile west of Azadi. The target is in a small two-story building in this interior plaza. No doubt, the target’s personal guards are using the surrounding towers as lookouts. It’s a pretty secure location for him. Also, there are gardens in the plaza with tall hedgerows. He’s able to come and go to or from the perimeter with pretty good cover.

“We have determined that the target IS a real human, not an animation, a car or a pet, for example. We overlayed the Israeli signal on our own information and we have synched to all our command and control systems.

“Our plan is to send three aircraft. First will be a CH-47 C Chinook Helicopter. It’s being painted as we speak with Iranian ID and the well-known three-triangle yellow symbol for nuclear radiation. The Iranians have two Chinooks and they’re occasionally seen flying around Teheran, so it’s not going to raise a red flag. That Chinook is going to come in with a crew of two and six native Farsi speaking Special Ops. The Chinook will laze the location of the target from its maximum distance to direct the bombs, and it will capture video of the strike. One Raptor will deliver four GBU-39 Small Diameter bombs - these are 250 pounders - the second will carry two more 39s and a BLU-95, that’s a fuel-air bomb.

“We don’t know which floor in the building the target might be so we’ll have to bring it down and crush them. Could be the basement. That’s the job of the GBU-39s. The BLU-95 will create a huge fireball and concussion - followed by a mushroom cloud. It’s a 500 pound bomb so it could take one of the six towers with it. We’re creating a ruse, hoping it looks like a tactical nuke, because when the Chinook comes in, about four minutes after the strike, the Special Ops platoon will be dressed in Iranian-flagged radiation protection and waving off any Revolutionary Guards or onlookers.

“Their job will be to check for and photograph casualties, get DNA and get the hell out.

“That’s the plan. Any questions?”

Hillary Clinton raised her hand and began speaking, “Admiral Olsen, what if they don’t believe its a nuclear blast?”

“Madame Secretary, good question. The Iranians are scared to death of the nuclear activity taking place in their midst. We only have to be concerned about the Revolutionary guards who’ve been given radiological badges and Geiger counters. Some have. So, we’ve brought a box of powder with us that we’re going to release upon descent. The prop wash should spread it around pretty good and it’ll scare the bejeesus out of anyone with a badge or a Geiger counter. The half life is short, though and it won’t hurt anyone or leave a trail.”

“What if the sonofabitch gets away?” asked Emanuel.

“Then we were never there,” answered the Admiral.

The President spoke up. “Are we all good, people?”

A couple people, the military in particular, looked quizzical. It was strange to see such an important mission the subject of a committee vote at the Command level. Damn, sometimes you just have to make a decision. Get off the pot. Fish or cut bait. True leadership was a rare trait and when it was absent, it raised all kinds of alarms in the minds of warriors. It’s absence was a very, very dangerous thing to a country, and to anyone who reported to that Commander. Unfortunately, in this case, everyone did.

Fifteen minutes later a giant Chinook helicopter cleared the sand from a city block of tarmac beneath it as its rotors pulled it skyward and toward the capital of an outpost in the Evil Empire.

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