When I wrote last week’s installment, I couldn’t imagine going further with this story about bringing down corrupt government officials without bringing the protagonist from my novel, Blood Orange, into the mix. Brad Rafferty is a career military man, but is one of those characters, in the spirit of Mitch Rapp, who can separate love for country and doing what is right from those in power.
Please enjoy this installment. I’m going to tally up the words from the 20 parts of this and see if there is interest in turning it into a novella or novel. Thanks to those of you that have been reading it.
Road Kill Part 20
The chopper whisked us from the ship to Naval Station Mayport near Atlantic Beach, Florida in less than two hours. Rafferty had contacted Clifford Jones prior to our departure and he reluctantly agreed to help us once more. Rafferty was able to leverage Jones’s sense of patriotism and then resorted to leveraging the relationship between his sister and Jones’s partner, Frank Rozzani. Jones finally relented and agreed to meet.
We arrived in Mayport and Rafferty had a car ready to take us the short distance to Jones’s office. Unlike the last time we were in this area, we didn’t have to look over our shoulder. Donovan had fabricated the charges against me and said there was no way to tie the investigative activities we were carrying out to Ben and I. That was comforting at the time, even though it wasn’t totally true.
Jones was sitting behind his desk, but stood up to shake hands with Rafferty. He was wearing neon green board shorts, flip flops, and a Scooby Doo t-shirt. He looked like he had just come from the beach, which, in fact, he had.
“Nice of you to dress up for us,” Rafferty said in a tone that was only partially joking.
His military life was full of uniforms and protocols. Jones was definitely not from that same mold. But he was brilliant. Rafferty would soon come to realize that the reality was much more impressive than the hype.
“This is my normal dress and it shouldn’t affect the skills that you say you need,” Jones replied only partially joking as well.
“If you boys are finished discussing fashion, can we get down to business,” Ben quipped in an effort to break the tension.
I wasn’t exactly sure what ‘business’ was, but Rafferty, based on the information we provided, seemed to have a plan.
“Alright, let’s get started. There are two aspects of GTMO’s data storage that we want to gain access to. First is the surveillance video and second is the drug inventory,” Rafferty said.
I understood why the surveillance video was important. We wanted to look for any movement involving the prisoners that were identified in what we found in the State Department files. I wasn’t sure why we needed the prescription records. Rafferty explained.
“In order to move these prisoners without detection, the RFID chips in their arms would have to be removed. The prescription records will give us the serial number and other identifying information of the chips. They will also tell us if any local anesthetic and pain relief medication were prescribed to these prisoners.”
“Can’t they just fake those records like everything else they’re doing?” Ben asked.
“You would think so, but the GTMO prescription records, along with all other prescription records related to the military, have a very high degree of security protocol.”
“Why is that and what kind of security protocol are we talking about?” Jones asked.
“The government lost millions of dollars each year due to loose security around prescription medicine. Too many people had access making drugs vulnerable to abuse and illegal resale. The amount spent to beef up security to avoid illegal activities and the potential scandal was pretty significant,” Rafferty said. “As for the type of security, it’s a complex login and password combination along with a biometric component.”
“That complicates things,” Jones said. “What kind of biometric component?”
“The most inexpensive. Fingerprints are used to access the files after the login and password have been entered.”
“Lucky for us. Retinal scans and voiceprints are a lot harder to deal with,” Jones said.
“You think you can crack the fingerprint scan?” Simpson asked.
“I might have a way. Let’s take this one step at a time. Let’s start with the video surveillance. We’ll worry about that when we get to it,” Jones answered.
We set to work on the initial steps of hacking into the GTMO security system. Since GTMO is a military base, accessing the files would require DOD credentials. Luckily, Rafferty had ultra-high clearance and could get us knocking on the door. He had access to GTMO prisoners since many of them had ties to nations that were under his umbrella of investigating nuclear materials.
“The surveillance system seems to be on its own server,” Jones said after studying the configuration. “I can temporarily update your existing clearance to give us temporary access. I just have to figure out which server it is,” he said to Rafferty.
Jones worked away for the next 45 minutes or so while we sat at a table in his office building’s conference room and ate some lunch that was brought in from a local restaurant called the Sun Dog. I spent some time in New Orleans and the food from this place was a true taste of that great city.
Finally, after we had eaten our fill, Jones came in and announced that he was into the video surveillance server.
“I’ve already downloaded video from the past three months from the common areas and the sections where the prisoners in question are located.”
“That was quick,” Rafferty said. “What kind of Internet connection are you running on? That has to be several gigabytes of data that you transferred in a short period of time.”
“Um, I’d rather not say. It’s something experimental I’ve been working on with some associates. Maybe when we get it perfected, we’ll sell it to the military for a couple billion dollars.”
“They’d pay for it, that’s for sure,” Simpson said. Remember the $600 hammers and $400 toilet seats. That still goes on today to some extent.”
“So what’s next, Rafferty asked. How are the four of us going to go through thousands of hours of video feeds?”
“We’re not,” Jones answered.
He was met by perplexed faces around the table.
“I have some advanced facial recognition and matching software. I can take the mug shots of the prisoners that you downloaded. My software will map their facial features. Since they are full mug shots, the software can also map any tattoos, identifying marks, and even approximate their height and weight. Then we’ll turn it loose and let it analyze the video and spit out the matches.”
“That’s amazing,” Simpson said. “Where did this software come from?”
“Oh, it’s just something I’ve been working on. I’ve tested it out and I think it’s ready for a job like this.”
Rafferty raised his eyebrows and looked at me. I could see that the doubts he may have had about Jones’s ability were quickly melting away. If this software worked, it would save us a great deal of time and manpower.
“I’m going to go kick off the utility and then we’ll sit down and figure out how we’re going to tackle the prescription database.”
Jones left us for about five minutes and then rejoined us in the conference room. In his hands, he held what looked like a pair of latex gloves that might be used in an operating room.
“This is something else I’ve been working on,” he said as he passed the gloves around.
I looked at them and saw nothing remarkable at first, but then I looked at the finger tips. They had very subtle prints on them almost like fingers with actual fingerprints.
“What are these for,” Ben Simpson asked.
“Let me demonstrate,” Jones said as he plugged his laptop into the display screen port in the conference room.
The screen was locked, but when he ran his thumb over the fingerprint reader near the keyboard, a picture of the beach with surfboards stuck in the sand appeared. Then then hit a key combination to lock computer again. He asked me to put on the right glove, with I did. The material didn’t feel like latex, it felt more skin-like.
“Now you rub your gloved thumb over the fingerprint reader,” Jones instructed.
I did and the beach and surfboards reappeared.
“How did you do this,” Rafferty asked.
“With some high resolution imaging of my fingerprints and a high-end 3D printer.”
“Are you hoping to replicate fingerprints from the GTMO personnel,” Rafferty said with raised eyebrows.
“Yes, fingerprints are stored digitally as ones and zeroes at the most basic level. All I need are those scans, which I assume are stored on the personnel files, and I can replicate the fingerprints we need. Chances are they’re stored with their individual records.”
Rafferty seemed impressed. Jones had single-handedly replaced a number of personnel that we would normally need to carry out this type of analysis. We could get the information on the GTMO prisoners and quickly move forward in deconstructing the plan to use them to attack the soccer stadium.
Rafferty shook his head and smiled.
“I’m glad you’re on our side, Mr. Jones.”
“I’m actually on my own side. At the moment, I agree with your side more,” he said returning the smile.