President Robert Shaw stared grimly down the table.
“Seems like we have a lot of questions, but damn few answers a day after the murder of Don Reynolds and his people.
“Perry, I want to know who’s our suspects.”
Perry Ailes was the head of FBI, and nominally in charge of the investigation. Jack Hill was still angry that the Secret Service was not running the case, but Ailes was already running LEGATTs in a dozen cities around the globe, showing resources everyone knew would be critical to the task.
“Mr. President, we’ve got some information, but nothing definitive” said Ailes.
“Understood” replied Shaw, “but you’re leaning somewhere for starters. Let’s hear what you are looking at.”
“Obviously, this was a conspiracy,” began Ailes, “which for some reason seems to have focused solely on Governor Reynolds and Ms. Green. We have found no evidence of a conspiracy to kill either Mr. Jordan or Ms. Connolly, possibly because Reynolds led in the polls ever since the conventions.
“We’ve run into problems with the shooters, as well. Five men, one woman, Middle Eastern in appearance, though witnesses said their English was European.
“The team was a suicide crew, we are sure. The van was clean of papers, and besides the phony ID’s there was nothing to trace, not even the normal pocket litter. They burned prints off their hands and palms with acid, but we’re doing sub-cutaneous tracking to try to raise something. Homeland is working TSA tapes to find entry points, starting with Dulles and working up the coast, but so far no video. Autopsies underway, but early signs are poor; nothing in the stomachs but bread, amphetamines and caffeine. No tattoos, even the dental work appears minimal. We have some scars which could give us leads, but so far the team appears brand new to us, someone we’ve never seen.”
“What about pre-hit chatter” asked Shaw.
NSA answered, “Only what we expected right after the election, and nothing at all from known Al-Qaida spots.”
“Al-Qaida”, repeated the President. “Well, we’re all thinking it, so let’s talk it out. Is this an Al-Qaida hit?”
“No” said three people at the same time. Shaw looked surprised.
“That’s pretty strong: he observed. “OK, why not Al-Qaida?”
“First, Mr. President, Al-Qaida has effectively been disintegrated” said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. “They can’t even issue a press release with an official spokesman, they have to use the FDM.”
“FDM?” asked the Secretary of the Interior.
“Favorite Dead Martyr” explained the President, “since AQ still uses Osama-bin-mashed-to-jelly for their videos.
“General, I hope you have not forgotten that John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln AFTER Lee surrendered. Losing a war does not mean they stop going after folks.”
“I know that, Mr. President” replied the Chairman. “But this is a serious operation, something well beyond the ability of Al Qaida.”
“Besides,” interjected NSA, “we’ve heard nothing to show Al Qaida was training for anything like this. This team stayed under the radar right up the attack. Mister President, this was state-sponsored.”