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Failed Attempts, Increased Tensions

Posted on 24 Aug 2022 @ 10:06pm by Assistant Game Manager Beth & Game Manager Stephen & Assistant Game Manager Tristan & Assistant Game Manager Pat B

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Washington, D.C. – White House, Situation Room
Timeline: Date 2025-05-01 at 0500

It was never a good thing when the Situation Room of the White House had multiple cabinet members, the Chief of Staff, and the President of the United States present. With Aldrich having just taken his seat and the room following suit it was time to begin the briefing.

“We’re good to go Mr. McClusky,” one of the military aides present announced as the screen on the wall came alive with a presidential seal.

“Good morning.” The Attorney General opened a folder and put on his reading glasses, “At 2230 the other night, Metro Police responded to a fight at a local club. When they responded, one of the officers was assaulted by a suspect who was taken into custody. A search incident to arrest of the suspect, turned up a loaded 9mm handgun and a passport of the People’s Republic of China.”

He opened the first picture on the screen, which showed a Glock-type handgun, along with cash and a passport with Chinese lettering.

“During a routine interview, the suspect clammed up, claimed to only speak Chinese, MPD brought FBI in for translation services. Agents were sent to the residence found on a bill for cable TV. During initial interviews an officer found a rifle in a closet, which, upon further inspection, was a fully automatic Kalashnikov. Two people were arrested with more documentation, most of it in Mandarin.” More pictures, including maps, were displayed on the screen.

“The investigation continues, and translations will be available once we have them. At this point suspects are being held for various offenses including violations of the National Firearms Act for the automatic weapons, and unlawful possession of a weapon, for the concealed carry weapon. Agents are working on the impression this is likely linked to the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile as the intended victims. “ He looked up then sipped his coffee, “Any questions?”

“How was that link made?” Secretary of Defense Allard asked.

“We received intel from the CIA, through what they called a ‘reliable source’. The documentation seems to show a planned attack plus the firepower led to the link. We’re still processing evidence and following up any leads.”

“Thank you,” Allard responded.

Aldrich sat at the head of the conference table within the Situation Room and steepled his fingers under his chin. This news was unsettling. While it was no secret the PRC and the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile were not friendly, this would’ve been the first instance of the PRC sanctioning a terrorist attack on the Turkistanis. “Has the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile been made aware?” he asked his Attorney general.

‘Yes. I sent the Assistant Director in Charge of the DC Field office and an Assistant Attorney General to discuss the situation with them and offer support and assistance sir.”

“Excuse me,” the Director of National Intelligence, Lydia Avery said, as she entered the Situation Room and crossed to an open seat.

“Mr. President, I apologize but we have some further information that has come in and I thought it prudent to have it available for this meeting,” she said by way of excuse. She placed the satchel she carried on the table in front of her and took the seat.

Aldrich had taken notice of the DNI entering late, and he now looked towards her with raised eyebrows. “And what information would that be Lydia,” Aldrich asked as all eyes turned to her.

“We have been able to identify some of the suspects from the stopped attack as agents of the PRC government,” the DNI announced. “But if we’re not there yet we can get back to that, sir.”

Aldrich nodded before turning his attention back to the table. “So, the question now is who is the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile, and why would the PRC be gunning for them,” he asked, looking to Secretary of State Fitzgerald for an answer.

Fitzgerald was leaned back in his chair, hands clasped in his lap and legs stretched out in front of him under the table, but once called upon he straightened, flipping open a closed manila folder that had been situated in front of him on the table. He gave a generic wave in the direction of the screen and a map of China, with a particular section in the north-western part of the country highlighted, appeared on the screen. "Formally the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile claims to represent a portion of the People's Republic of China known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They claim that region is the country of East Turkistan and is currently experiencing an illegitimate military occupation."

Looking up from the file he looked around the room, eyes finally landing on the President. "Naturally, Mr. President, the PRC disagrees and has considered Xinjiang a part of China since 1949. The ETGE was formulated here, in DC, in 2004, but has representatives across the globe. And, perhaps more importantly, we do not recognize their claims to the land in question."

"It was mentioned before that we were offering assistance, what assistance could that be?" the Secretary of Defense spoke up next. It was a bit of a risk to try and get in before the President had a chance to respond but it seemed like an important note to touch on and he didn't want it go by.

"Providing information that we would provide to any government on a possible active threat." McClusky explained, "Advising of the threat, and offering support, exactly what support." he shrugged, "is dependent on how far we want to go with relations with the government in question." The relationship was always iffy, and they didn't want to antagonize China, that was above his proverbial pay grade.

Fitzgerald wasn't a great poker player and so his expression was somewhere between concerned and alarmed as he listened. "I'd be cautious of anything that the ETGE could promote as even a tacit acknowledgement of their position. They're likely to do so if they think they can get away with it. Our acknowledgement of them would be a boon." He looked around the table realizing he was making this sound fairly extreme, but when it came to groups like this it seemed important to remain extra cautious. "Guards outside their location because they're on US soil is probably fine, but beyond that..." he frowned. "It's not that I want to invite trouble, but pissing off China would be even worse. We're talking the better of two evils here."

Aldrich steepled his fingers under his chin as he contemplated his response. He knew that Fitzgerald was right that any hint of recognition could set the Chinese off, but their recognition of Taiwan had already done that. "The Chinese have already been rattling the saber since we officially recognized Taiwan. While I agree that any semblance of assistance could be interpreted as recognition, if this was a sanctioned attack plan by the PRC we must respond," Aldrich replied before looking around at the assembled members of his cabinet. "Need I also remind you that one of this administration's platforms was increasing our response to any international pushback from the PRC? I would say this falls into that arena," he said before leaning back into his chair.

"Lydia, why don't you share what intel you have. I believe now would be the pertinent time," Aldrich said, turning his attention to the Director of National Intelligence.

"It was determined that the individuals who were planning to perpetrate these attacks were members of the Ministry of State Security of the People's Republic of China." Lydia said, as she shuffled through a folder that had the markings of compartmented intelligence. "We are familiar with the identities of these men specifically from previous operations. There is no denying that this was a direct attack planned by the PRC themselves."

"If these men were known to us already, how come they weren't identified and watched when they entered the country," Aldrich asked, concern showing on his face. These individuals had only been discovered due to a chance arrest by the DC police, but Aldrich was curious to know if they still would've been caught by their own people.

"We aren't sure how they entered the country sir. We do not believe it was via airport, and we suspect through a port. We are working with the FBI and Coast Guard Investigative Service to check into that. We've also reached out to Border Patrol to see if there is anything they can do for land crossing. These players were last thought to be in China having been in London prior."

Nodding slightly, Aldrich turned his attention to the Secretary of Defense, "Dan, has there been any increase in PRC military activity that correlates to this attempted attack?"

"We have no unusual activity by the PRC, sir," the Secretary of Defense responded. "There still is the massing of units around the coast overlooking Taiwan but that has been since we announced our intention to back them as a nation."

Aldrich nodded again before rapping the table with his knuckles. "So, we have clear evidence that agents of the PRC were operating on our soil intending to attack known dissidents. Short of recognizing the ETGE, what are our response options aside from what Frank suggested," Aldrich asked the room.

"I think this would be a perfect time to up the ante. We push more support of Taiwan to the United Nations and we keep this between us and China as the leverage as to why they aren't going to do anything about it," the DNI suggested.

"I would not trust them to not attempt anything again," the SECDEF added.

"Mr. President, if I may," General Spitz spoke up after clearing his throat. "I'd recommend placing the Seventh Fleet on alert and sending in a Carrier Strike Group as a precaution. If we deploy the whole fleet, it could be perceived as an overt hostile act on our part by the PRC. I'd also recommend placing an amphibious strike group in Okinawa," Spitz said before removing his reading glasses and looking towards the President.

"And what if the PRC deploys their own naval assets to the area?" Aldrich asked the general, giving him an upraised eyebrow. "Their fleet and ours in such proximity brings us closer to the possibility of an incident."

"I agree, sir," Spitz said before looking around the table, "I would advise we deploy the CSG into undisputed international waters near Taiwan with strict rules of engagement not to provoke the PRC."

"None of the waters around China are undisputed," the DNI responded.

"I was referring to waters that the global community agrees are international. That way if the PRC objects we have global backing," Spitz said to the DNI before returning his attention back to the President. "It sends a clear message to the Chinese that we are ready and willing to stand by our commitment to ensure Taiwanese sovereignty," he continued.

"I would agree with that," the Secretary of Defense responded. "Sir, we need to be strong on this. It is a major platform of the administration. I would suggest also maybe preparing some prepositioning ships with supplies and perhaps some Army units toward the area as well... at least to one of our bases in Japan."

Aldrich sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers under his chin again. He looked around the rest of the table. "Anyone else agree or disagree?" he asked.

Margaret Palmer had been silent for the length of the briefing, taking the information in and letting it settle. With it had settled a grim sense that there was no avoiding a conflict. She knew that wasn't the right view to take, but it was hard to shake all the same. "What happens if we do nothing?" she asked. It was an unpopular opinion and she knew it before it even left her lips, but it seemed important to be sure. "If we very carefully brush this under the rug. If the ETGE speak out about it we deny it." She was warming to the devil's advocate position as she spoke, catching the eyes of her fellows around the table. "They are hardly in a position to bargain here and could easily be discredited. The attack was thwarted. In the meantime, though, we reach out to the President and make him aware of what we know. That if he wants us to stay on the footing we're on right now he needs to back down his troops collecting near Taiwan."

She sat back in her chair as she finished her statement, gut churning. Something like this was a gamble. A game of chicken to see which party would acquiesce to the other or try to call their bluff up to and and including movements toward all out war.

"Problem with that," McClusky responded, "when we indict the folks in custody we're going to drop evidence that is going to reveal a lot." Then he exhaled, "As for what would happen, what makes you think China is going to back down without some show of force? If they back down with what publicly looks like nothing they'd lose face over this, and that could destabilized their entire government."

"I agree with Mr. McClusky. Doing nothing would just embolden the PRC. We can't have foreign operatives operating on our own soil without impunity," General Spitz replied giving the Chief of Staff an incredulous look. "And what message would that send to our allies, namely Taiwan? That when push comes to shove we back down?" he asked again.

Palmer pursed her lips at the General's chiding, but merely shrugged. "I'm not saying no shows of force. I'm saying give them a chance to do the right thing and when they don't then we make a show of force."

Aldrich leaned forward and placed his hands on the table. "I agree that we must respond. Therefore, we proceed with the plan outlined by General Spitz. We send in a carrier group, with specific rules of engagement to not conduct any overt shows of force. We will also place our forces in Okinawa and Korea on alert. If pressured by the PRC, our position is that our actions are in response to increased Chinese activity around Taiwan. We also notify the South Koreans and Japanese governments of our actions. Once the news about this thwarted attack comes to light, we will be poised in a better position to respond to anything the PRC throws at us," he said looking around the table.

"Are we in agreement?" Aldrich asked the room. With a various amount of nods and Palmer's descent note,d but clearly the minority, he nodded. "Start moving the units... and in the meantime lets make it clear to China that this will remain quiet as long as they start pulling people backward and we see no problems with our support of Taiwan."

 

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