This 44-part series began running in WCT Nov. 8. Readers can read all the installments to date at www.windycitymediagroup.com
From the journal of John 'Jack' Quincy Adams, Chief Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, The White House. Code Name: One.
Part 26. The Death of the Vice President
Jack Adams, the Secret Service agent charged with assassinating President George W. Bush and being held for psychiatric evaluation, is telling about the evening just before Christmas when word was received in the Oval Office ( Diadem ) that the Vice President had suffered a fatal heart attack.
Trailblazer sat down and gripped the arms of his chair.
'He was home with his wife when he began complaining of chest pains. Naturally, Mrs. Cheney summoned his agents. They helped the vice president into his bathrobe and headed downstairs. By the time he reached the bottom of the stairs he was in too much pain to move, so agents picked him up and carried him outside. He expired before they reached the car.'
'Where is he now?' Trailblazer asked. It seemed to me he wasn't quite taking it in; his question sounded like he expected them to say he was in the hospital recuperating.
'His body is currently at G. W. University Hospital, sir. I believe they are considering an autopsy.'
'Standard procedure, sir, for someone at the head of…near the head of government, sir. Mrs. Cheney is trying to decide whether to approve it. She thinks it isn't necessary.'
'Of course it isn't necessary. The man had a crappy heart. He's had six heart attack's for Pete's sake.'
Raife and I both knew that didn't mean crap. If there was anyone on the top of every hit list outside and inside the U.S. government, Angler was the one. Security for him was nearly double what was assigned to Trailblazer. I always wondered if it was because of the number of enemies Angler had or if it was because he was more crucial to the running of the affairs of state—a debate one could hear in agency halls and locker rooms every day of the week.
When we arrived at the hospital, Author, that is Mrs. Cheney, was in the chapel with her daughters. When Trailblazer walked in, the two girls got up, received a hug from him and then said they were going to hunt for some tea in the hospital cafeteria. I sat in the last pew of the tiny chapel and Trailblazer and Laura sat with Mrs. Cheney near the front. The room was so small and the ceiling so low it had the look of a converted storage closet. There weren't even any windows. They talked in hushed tones for about twenty minutes and then Mrs. Cheney left to sign some papers. Trailblazer and Laura stayed a while longer. They both said a prayer and then Laura asked, 'What now?'
'What do you mean?' the president said.
'What are you going to do now? You don't have a vice president. You have to start thinking about it.'
'Right this minute?'
'George, by the time you get back to The White House Gallagher, Mehlman and Rover will be waiting with a short list, and you won't have anything to say about it. They're probably already moving Dick's things out of his office and calling every Senator who's still in town.'
'Oh,' he said.
'What I'm saying is that you need to decide who you want as your vice president. You need to have at least one name, and preferably two—one you want and one you can give up in negotiation—by the time we get home.'
And she tries to tell me she's just an accessory after the fact to the Presidency. I couldn't help but wonder how much of an obstacle Angler had been to her influence on her husband. And I wondered if that was about to change.
Laura was right. When we got back to Diadem, Mehlman, Gallagher, Rover and several of the political advisory staff were waiting. Mehlman was holding a clipboard. Before he could say anything, Trailblazer sat down at his desk and said—without any introduction, explanation, or by-your-leave, 'It's either Don Rumsfeld or Condi. Take your pick.'
I had to stifle my laughter. They were all caught with their pants down. No one had even imagined he would have the slightest idea of who to start vetting. Way to go, Laura.
But I was doing some thinking of my own.