By Kevin Lamarque
First there is the phone call. It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon in Washington when the phone rings. “Can you be at the White House for a meeting in four hours? I can’t tell you why, but we need you to be there.”
Hmmm … I’ve seen this show before, and I pretty much know what the deal is. President Obama is going to be traveling somewhere unsavory and everything about it will be Top Secret until he lands at his mystery destination.
A beautiful weekend here in the D.C. area is instantly transformed from worrying about my son’s soccer games to worrying about where I am going, how long I will be gone and what preparations must I make before departure? The wheels are already churning before the White House meeting that evening.
As soon as we walk into the meeting, we are told: our destination is Afghanistan. Purpose: to sign a strategic partnership agreement. Coincidentally, or not, it is the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
After hearing warnings about the need for secrecy we are given the details. We are to meet at a rarely used entrance to Joint Base Andrews (where Air Force One is kept) Monday evening after dark. Wheels up will be near midnight. Before going to the plane, all of our communication devices are to be confiscated. Our iPhones, Blackberrys and laptops will be returned once we are well into the flight and communication is impossible. This measure is taken to preserve the secrecy of the departure.