Four days in february, p.5
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       Four Days In February, p.5
 

          
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CHAPTER FIVE

  Andrews Air Force Base 0745

  Strate said: "Patriots, what we do, let's do quickly. Yates and I are returning to the Pentagon. Olds! France! You get to the Senate, and be ready to work on your colleagues, as soon as the President speaks to the nation."

  Olds said: "How is the Secretary going to get to see the President? Woods has been hunkered down in the White House for a week."

  "Ishnik will require a meeting with the President alone, this afternoon, due to matters of national security. The President will have to receive him. The Secretary will then be able to make his demand, that for the nation's good the President must resign. He will inform the President that this demand is backed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the highest levels of the military command. The command has decided that it is unacceptable and intolerable that his weak presidency continue. Ishnik will charge that agents of foreign powers have already killed one President and that these powers are prepared to take advantage of our weakness. If President Woods does not resign he must know that the military will do their duty and defend the nation and Constitution."

  Yates said, "We have to keep President Woods from being able to contact all the Joint Chiefs. The Chairman is not as solid about our demands as the Army and Navy Chiefs are.

  "I worry about the stability of the Air Force Chief too," said Strake. "From what I have heard he has vacillated about Secretary Ishnik becoming the 'Acting President.' He thinks that is unconstitutional."

  Senator Olds said: "Unconstitutional! What is more constitutional than preserving our nation. What we are doing is the very thing the founding fathers would expect us to do in this time of danger. Presently, this nation is leaderless; is going to be taken over by foreign powers. We are going to lose our liberty. That calls for extreme action. 'Give me liberty or give me death.'"

  France said: "Yes, but if Woods does resign we must make sure he does not hand the presidency to that feeble minded Speaker or absent minded President pro tempore, no, not even for a moment."

  Strate continued: "Ishnik will inform the President that the Speaker and the President pro tempore, and the Secretaries of State and Treasury have yielded their right of succession to him. The President must announce to the nation that Defense Secretary Ishnik is to be sworn in as President."

  Olds snorted: "I don't care what the Secretaries of State or Treasury think about it, I don't want them to be President either. It wouldn't change things for the better.

  "Right," Yates said, "and we have plans, ...if either of those two cause us trouble. They and some other of the Cabinet might have to go to an undisclosed location for security reasons. But if they fall in line and are loyal, they can be useful."

  Strate continued: "Senators, we are counting on you to rally the Senate to President Ishnik. We want as many of your fellows as possible... you do not have to get all of them, but we need at least thirty-four senators, so that a President Ishnik cannot be convicted if the House impeaches him. We don't know whether we can count on the House to back us, or not. They could impeach. But if we can show them that they don't have the votes in the Senate to convict, then we can reason with them to fall in line behind the new President. What other choice would they really have?

  Yates spoke up, "Like the Congress could do anything dramatic, let alone quick. With the world problems we face now, Congress would still be debating, while foreign troops were marching through American cities."

  Strate said, "But don't antagonize the members of either house, so that they will unnecessarily oppose us, or worse resist us. We are ready for trouble, but we do not want it.

  "No, we do not want martial law enforced in the streets, by regular U.S. troops. That might strain the loyalty of certain forces and officers."

  Yates replied: "I have been going around the Army, and have ordered all commanders to tighten up on discipline. I have told them if political things get confusing in Washington, to make sure that they and their junior officers follow orders, only that come through the chain of command. I said that I would be in direct communication with them, and that we, the Army, are guardians of the Constitution, and ultimately our freedom and nation. Let's do our duty."

  Yates watched senators France and Olds leave and turned to Strate and said: "Do you think we can count on them to get us enough Senators?"

  Strate said: "If they do, it is helpful, it makes things less messy. If they don't, it won't change our outcome. It will just mean that we will have to bring in some troops and stop any opposition. The Senate is a 'seniors' debating club that cannot react as fast as events. It would be useful if our friends can quiet their concerns. They must appeal to patriotism, and preservation of everything American. Weak Presidents mean a weak America. A weak America means America loses. No! No! We are not going to allow that."

  Strate then asked, "By the way, what do you make of Bull Pinchon not accepting your invitation?"

  Yates said, "I don't know. I am positive Bull was coming to meet with me, and he was the one guy I wanted to talk to. He has so much influence up and down the Army."

  Strate said: "Yes, and he also believes in what is 'right.' If he were to think that what we were doing is wrong, we would have to deal with him quickly."

  Yates replied: "Yeah, Bull is for the American way through and through."

  Strate said: "...And he doesn't like Ishnik, so he could be a problem."

  "That is why I wanted to talk to him," Yates said, "to show him we are for America and not against it. He may not like Ishnik, but he loves America. If he can see that we are on the side of right, he won't be a problem. "We are really close, and I wanted to bring him over to the Secretary."

  Strate said: "But Bull didn't show up."

  "Yeah," said Yates, "I will have to tell the Secretary that Bull's reaction is still unknown. I like him, but we are going to have to have a plan if he turns on us."

  Strate said, "Well we have a few places where certain enemies are going to have to sit quietly until things are secure."

  "Still, if things go well, order is shown, and strength is seen, we may not need to lock many people away," said Yates. "I do not want the Army damaged in all of this, for the bond with the people to be broken. That is why I think we are going to succeed; after all the Armed Forces come from the people. In Vietnam things got messed up because of the draft, and political interference. But the Mideast wars brought the people back to the Army and the other forces. The people trust us and rely on us to stand up for the nation."

  Yates phone rings. He listened carefully for a couple minutes, frowns, and speaks into the phone, "No he didn't show, I didn't see him. I don't know why he is here, but I will get right on it, and find out, Sir."

  Yates hangs up the phone. "That was the Secretary. He has an appointment at 10:00 a.m. at the White House with President Woods. He said the President's Chief of Staff tried to put him off until the evening, but that he insisted that he speak directly to the President about the highest security matters."

  Strate said, "That is what we wanted, things are going as planned."

  Yates said, "The Secretary also asked me if I had seen Bull. It seems that mystery plane from Hawaii didn't land at National airport after all. Military security at Andrews, reported an unmarked plane landing at Andrews this morning, and that two or three men were seen de-planing and then transported off base. The Andrews security officer who observed the arrival said one of the men getting off the plane, he was positive, was General Bull Pinchon. The reason he recognized Pinchon was that four years ago he had served on the General's staff."

  "I don't like this. Who would be able to get the General to fly overnight to Washington and why," Strate said.

  "...And why didn't he at least cancel his meeting with me?" Yates said. "I have to find him, and get to the bottom of this. I don't like Bull Pinchon being a loose end, let alone a possible loose cannon. I have got to make calls and put out feelers, and find out where
Bull is; I have got to talk with him."

  Yates settled back in his chair for a moment, and looked at the picture collection hanging on his wall, of the Generals of the American Civil War, from both the north and south. Large pictures of General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee hung directly behind his desk. Yates always admired Grant for his tenacity, and Lee for his military genius, moral character, and devotion to honor.

  Underneath Grant and Lee's pictures, resting in a display, were two Civil War officers' swords, one Union and one Confederate. On a table beneath the pictures was a glass case with Yates prized pair of 'New Model' Army Remington ivory handled, long barrelled, .44 caliber revolvers from 1864. He told people that Confederate General James Longstreet, Lee's right hand man, had taken these revolvers from a captured Union Colonel, at the battle of the Wilderness, in May 1864, near Spotsylvania Virginia. He couldn't prove that, but it was a great story. For safety reasons, the cartridge chambers, which could be interchanged, were unloaded, but Yates had a spare loaded cylinder in his desk. He liked to tell the 'history' of the old revolvers, to visitors to his office.

  **********

 
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