9/12/2001, THE DAYS AFTER THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENED – Part 5 (A serial book excerpt)
Previous installments – After Flight 93 crashes into the White House on 9/11/2001 killing President Bush as was originally planned, Dick Cheney, the Vice President, is taken to a secured location for protection.
From there he oversees the demolition of what remains of the Twin Towers.
The first estimates were 5,000 dead at the Twin Towers, 400 at the Pentagon and 34 at the White House. The Twin Towers they might never know the exact number given how many visitors and tourists were there at the fateful moments.
Head companies located therein were already sending the FBI their personnel files of who was working that day. Police phone lines were jammed with worried relatives asking about their kin who worked there.
It was already known that a number of emergency personnel, especially firemen, had been crushed when the towers collapsed. The intentional demolishing of the towers would be kept a top secret.
There would be too much misunderstanding of a necessary action. Large segments of the populace would definitely see it the wrong way.
It could probably not be hidden forever, but hopefully would hold for a while until some order was restored.
The combined effort of the CIA and the FBI were already coming up with a profile of suspects on the fated planes. A disturbingly high number of Saudi Arabian nationals were on all the flights.
That alone was enough of an answer for many. It was probably an Islamic terrorist attack. Suspicions were also thrown in the direction of Saddam Hussein’s corner, but it was doubted that he would do such a low budget form of revenge and with so many planes.
It was not his style. Already conspiracy theorists were having a field day with the aggressors being everything from Irish separatists to the Vatican.
More serious and studied minds put their feelers out towards domestic saboteur possibilities, Libya’s President Gaddafi, the Red Army and Palestinian vengeance. Of those four, only the Palestinian idea held any real likelihood.
But the real, the looming, the almost obvious suspicion was the heart of the Mideast discontentment- Al Queda or any one of the dozens of wanna-be terrorist groups who wished to be taken seriously and vented aggravations both real and imagined against the United States and Western society in general.
The entire scope of the U.S. Intelligence community was working on the solution.
The East wing was made the center of operations for the White House. Little could be salvaged from the Oval Office. What instruments were lost there had been quickly replaced.
The Lincoln Bedroom was now the substitute for the Oval Office. The great Emancipators bed had been pushed to a corner and a rather ordinary oak desk was the subsistence for Bush’s antique one.
Of course there had been a big to-do about this in the newspapers with numerous photos of Cheney taken while working. The photos were always accompanied by another photo of the wreckage of the West Wing for psychological impact.
A large conference table had also been maneuvered into the the room. Today it would be well used for this would be the first Cabinet meeting of President Cheney’s leadership.
Cheney kept the meeting of the first Cabinet meeting to the point. Everyone was on edge anyway because of the bombing and the unexpected changes it brought about. One thing he could count on was they were all instep with him.
They were Bush’s choices. A few of them would be slowly moved out. They had worked well with the hick from Texas, but Cheney was going to have to be Wyoming with them, and a couple would not make that cut.
He wanted a sleek machine. One that didn’t give him “No.” for an answer. One that did as he ordered. That was one thing he picked up from the military that he ruled but did not serve. Giving orders and expecting them obeyed.
“The first order of business will be to put a tab on every damn Muslim in this country. I don’t care if he is a babe just getting delivered, they need to be watched.
“We will keep most of it secret, but I am sure the liberals will come up with some lovey-dovey reason for being touchy feely with them. We cannot put up with that BS. We need to immediately round up anyone who is even a little suspicious. This goes for their teenagers too.
“We don’t want them passing through the sieve only to light a fire under our beds the next morning. We don’t want concentration camps like we did for the Japanese in WWII, but we want as close to that as we can come and get away with it.”
“The eggs who show any real suspicion we will hold in one maximum prison. I am thinking of ADX in Colorado. It will be easy to watch them there. If they escape they’ll stick out like sore thumbs.” He gave his own half-joke a half smile. The crowd laughed nervously at it.
“We will keep the whole affair as secret as we can, which of course is impossible. But right now we have the worlds’ sympathy. The only ones that will strongly object are the other Muslim countries and, of course Russia and maybe the Mainland Chinese just to be pain in the asses.
“Any European country with a sizable Muslim population- Germany, England, France, will be nervous too and back us up. And they are the ones who matter. But we will say we are doing it to protect them from retaliatory violence. We could probably even get away with saying we were doing it to shield them from the bad Muslims. “
“This is also a great chance to grab as much power as we can. Everybody is behind us either out of anger at what happened or fear of what could happen. We’ve got to act fast to line up things in our favor as much as possible before the feeling ebbs.
“Even the Democrats for God’s sake are stiff as boards. We yell boo and they’ll jump a foot. We’ve got the citizens by the balls if we grab them right.”
Cheney soaked in their enthusiastic applause when he finished. He was especially pleased that there was not an once of rebuttal against anything he had said.
“McGurty,” Cheney reached out and grabbed his arm before he got too far away, “I need to talk to you for a moment.”
He could see that the new head man was serious. He gave him his full attention.
“This is confidential. Only you and me are talking, OK?”
“Got it.” It made him nervous, but long political experience gave him a poker face to cover all his range of emotions, especially fear.
“I’m going to need to get rid of Hastert.” He stopped to let this sink in. It looked like it came to James as a surprise, but not as a shock. “He’s not going to work for me. I need someone with a little more spunk. I don’t want a VP who is just going to sit on his hands.”
‘Who do you want for this?” asked James.
“I want Tom DeLay. He has the sort of brashness that I will need. I need someone who can be a plow and not a picnicker.”
“That will take some doing. It would be easier if Hastert had done something we could throw mud at. Is there anything?”
“Nothing that would make it stick. I think the conservatives would go with us just to have a strong candidate.”
“We sill have to move quick before Hastert gets too cemented into his job.”
“Let’s get moving on it then. I want DeLay in the White House as quickly as we can.”
“Yes sir. I’ll get on it.”
Cheney went on his busy was, leaving McGurty standing there to figure out exactly how he was going to pull this one off.