I've always been a fan of Dean Stockwell's since seeing him in Quantum Leap. He brings such energy and depth to each role he plays. Having just got cable I was able to watch him in the later seasons of JAG and I wasn't disappointed. I loved the interaction between him and the JAG characters and I wanted more. Unfortunately, there isn't any so I made some myself. If you like it, tell your friends, if you don't, please tell me.
Disclaimer: I don't own any rights to this programme and I make no claims I do.
A MATTER OF TRUST
Admiral Chegwidden's office
Falls Church, Virginia
Admiral A.J. Chegwidden scrawled his name on the document, tossed it into the out tray and picked up the next file with a sigh. As he began to read, the phone rang, Chigwidden glared at it as he impatiently punched the loudspeaker attachment. He kept the irritation out of his voice; however, the call had come directly through to his phone, not through the switchboard or his Yeoman. Only a limited number of close personal friends and senior officials had access to his direct number.
"Chegwidden." he said.
He recognized the voice at the other end as soon as she started talking. SecNav Sheffield's P.A. What was her name? Marcia, Maggie, Marge?
"Admiral? This is Marcie Alverez, from the Secretary of the Navy's private office."
Marcie, that was her name! "Yes?" he responded.
"I'm sorry but the SecNav will have to cancel your 10:00 meeting."
"OK. Thanks for letting me know." he replied. Then he paused. As the man responsible for overseeing almost every aspect of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, the SecNav was a busy man. Having meetings with him cancelled at short notice was not unusual. This time, however, there was something in the P.A.'s voice that indicated this was different. "Is everything alright?" he asked.
There was a long silence before she answered and, when she did, her distress was evident. "I've been ordered not to say anything." she said before quickly putting down the phone.
A.J. leaned back and considered. "I've been ordered not to say anything." sounded ominous.He knew that the SecNav had not been the President or Secretary of Defense's choice for the job. In fact, Sheffield had used the power of his Senate office and role on the Intelligence Committee to strong-arm the administration into giving him the job. He wondered if Marcie's distress was the result of some political maneuvering that finally allowed them to get rid of him. Marcie had been one of a number of people Sheffield had brought with him from the Senate. She had been with him for years. It would be understandable for her to be upset if he were to lose his job after giving up his Senate seat.
The Admiral hoped he was wrong. Despite an extremely rocky start, they had slowly built up a relationship and, while they would never be close friends, Chegwidden had come to respect the tough-minded, decisive man who had been his boss for the past months and considered him the best SecNav the Service had had for a long time.
Then mentally he shrugged and went back to his paperwork. I'm probably reading far too much into this he told himself. Whatever's happened, I'll hear about it eventually he decided before giving his full attention to the papers in the Mueller case.
Falls Church, Virginia
Commander Harman Rabb Jr. stood outside the courtroom looking glumly towards Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Mackenzie who was shaking the hand of a young marine lance corporal. Finally, with a broad grin, the marine stepped back, saluted her crisply and marched away.
Mac turned towards him with a self satisfied look on her face. As she came level he fell into step as they made their way back to the bullpen.
"I don't see why you're looking so smug." he grumbled. "You've just helped set a self confessed thief loose."
"Didn't I just prove that he's a young man who acted in the highest traditions of the Corps, not a thief?" she replied with an amused glance towards him. ""His unit was due to be deployed to Iraq and a bureaucratic SNAFU led to their combat rations being delivered to a unit that had just been rotated stateside. Using his initiative, Lance Corporal Henderson liberated those rations and delivered them to his unit, where they should have been anyway."
"Yeah right, you did look at his juvenile record?" Harm asked cynically.
Mac chuckled, "All power to the Marines," she responded, "for taking a troubled young man and finding a socially approved outlet for his talents."
"He'll be back." Harm predicted good naturedly as they entered the bullpen, only to stop short.
Normally the general office was a hive of activity and noise with lawyers, paralegals and other staff going about their business, discussing cases or just passing the time of day but now it was eerily quiet, except for the sound coming from the TV, round which everybody, including the Admiral, were crowded.
Trying to push back their fears of another terrorist attack, Harm and Mac joined the huddle.
"What's going on Bud?" Mac whispered to Lieutenant Bud Roberts, who was standing on the edge of the crowd.
"It's the SecNav, Colonel." Bud whispered back as he moved slightly, allowing then to see the TV screen clearly.
The picture showed a figure they both instantly recognized as a Pentagon spokesperson standing behind a podium. He was evidently giving some sort of press briefing.
"… so, in the circumstances, the Secretary of Defense has accepted the Secretary of the Navy's request for a leave of absence until this matter is resolved." he concluded, "I'll take questions now."
The picture cut to the ZNN studio and Dianne Wallace, their anchorwoman who obligingly summarized the situation. "That was the Pentagon's reaction to news today that a secret Federal Grand Jury into Congressional corruption has issued indictments against, among others, Secretary of the Navy, Edward Sheffield for receiving bribes when he was a U.S. Senator. Secretary Sheffield has previously been in the news for his controversial decision to travel to The Hague to answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity laid against the U.S. in the International Criminal Court. It looks like his experiences as a criminal defendant are not over yet! Now, on to other breaking stories …"
The bullpen erupted into animated conversation as Admiral Chegwidden signaled for the sound to be turned down while Harm and Mac looked at each other in disbelief.
The admiral took a few steps towards his office then turned to face his staff. "Quiet!" he snapped, then when he had everyone's attention, he continued, "I know you are all concerned about the implications of this for the Navy and Marine Corps in general and this office in particular but we have work to do, let's get back to it. You can discuss and speculate all you like when you're off duty."
Commander Harmon Rabb Jr's office
Falls Church, Virginia
Despite the Admiral's instructions, discussions about the SecNav's situation had continued but in a more restrained manner. As the officers responsible for defending him in The Hague, Harm and Mac had found themselves beset on all sides by people wanting their opinions on the indictments and the man himself. Finally, they had retreated to Harm's office with a select group consisting of Bud Roberts, his wife, Harriet and Commander Sturgis Turner.
"…I find it difficult to believe he would sell his vote for money." Mac was saying, "He's ruthless, manipulative and unscrupulous, you only have to look at how he orchestrated Nelson's fall to see that, but, in a strange way, he's also a man of principle. He was ready to sacrifice himself at The Hague for what he believed in. That doesn't seem to me like the behavior of a man who'd accept bribes from defense contractors."
"Yeah, but then you think some juvenile delinquent was only trying to do right by his unit." Harm responded with a good natured grin at his partner. "What I don't believe is that he'd allow himself to get caught. He's one of the smoothest operators in Washington."
"It only takes one mistake." Turner pointed out. "You know what they say, the cops only have to get lucky once, if you're a criminal you have to be lucky all the time. And people have an incredible ability to rationalize their behavior. How many times have we had guys through here, guilty of the most terrible crimes, who seem to have convinced themselves they were perfectly entitled to do what they did?"
Just then there was a knock on the door and P.O. Jennifer Coates, the Admiral's Yeoman, poked her head around the door. "Ma'ams, Sirs," she said shyly, "the Admiral sent me out for the newspapers. I thought you might like a set too."
She handed the papers to Harriet and closed the door behind her. Everyone took a copy and unfolded it. The headlines screamed at them in big black type. The Washington Bugle had really gone to town, it's front cover was taken up entirely by mug-shot like photographs of the SecNav and the other indictees with the word 'Indicted' stamped across each one in thick red ink. The others were more restrained but it was the lead story in each, taking up most of the front page and several inner pages.
Bud Roberts leafed through his paper until he found details of the indictments. "He's being charged with three counts of bribe-taking," he noted, "All relating to a defense contractor called Sensa-Tech. They're alleging he took $300,000 to vote in favor of them getting a contract for a new missile guidance system, the same amount to torpedo a bid from one of Sensa-Tech's competitors to provide a new computer system and $500,000 to tack an amendment onto a Finance Bill allowing them to buy a parcel of Federal land at rock bottom prices for a manufacturing facility. Apparently it was all disguised as campaign contributions."
Harriet frowned, "Sensa-Tech." she said, "That name rings a bell but I can't think why! Hang on! I think former SecNav Nelson is on their Board of Directors!"
Harm turned to his P.C. and brought up the web page for the corporation. "Sensa-Tech, for the best defense technology in the world." he read aloud. After a few further clicks he looked up, an odd expression on his face. "So he is, Harriet. Well, isn't that interesting?"
"It could be a coincidence Harm," Mac pointed out, "after all, the defense industry may be big but it has only a small number of major players and besides, the allegations all relate to before Nelson joined the Board."
"Do you really think that?" Harm asked her.
"Well," she replied with a slight smile, "like you said, it's interesting."
She and Harm exchanged a long look of total mutual understanding.
Admiral Chegwidden's office
Falls Church, Virginia
A.J. sat behind his desk, studying the front cover of the Bugle. He had already read the story on pages 2,3,4,5 and the editorial on page 7. Aside from Sheffield, five other people had been indicted, two were former executives of Sensa-Tech, two were congressmen and the other, a congressional aide. The congressmen were Burman and Manheim, A.J. knew them quite well and considered them lightweights. He wasn't surprised to find them in this position as he'd always felt they had been out for the main chance, rather than the good of their country but he had been surprised that they were linked to the allegations against the SecNav since he knew they had not been close to him politically or personally.
The stories had been heavy on sensationalism but light on specific details of the evidence against the defendants but, reading between the lines and using his experience as a trial lawyer, he'd gathered that the case against the SecNav in particular was heavily circumstantial. Alone, that meant nothing, he'd tried enough cases himself using circumstantial evidence to know that it could be as effective in gaining a conviction as direct evidence, but it gave him hope of Sheffield's innocence. He hated to think he could have been so wrong about anyone.
There was a knock on the door and he looked up, "Come in." he called.
Harmon Rabb and Sarah Mackenzie entered and stood before him.
"Admiral," Harm began, "We've just found out that ex SecNav Nelson is connected to Sensa-Tech. It might be nothing, but, on the other hand …" He let the rest of the sentence trail off
A.J. knew what Harm was getting at. Sheffield had been responsible for Nelson losing his job. There was no love lost between them.
"We know it's not exactly usual but we'd like permission to do some digging." added Mac. "If Sheffield is being set up somehow, maybe we can find out and get the indictment quashed. It's not good for the Navy or the Marine Corps for the SecNav to be absent, especially under these circumstances."
Chegwidden considered them, "And what if he's guilty?" he asked. "An unauthorized investigation could jeopardize the prosecution's case and damage this office's relationship with the U.S. Attorney's Office." He sighed, "I've got the same feeling that something is wrong here that you have but I'm not prepared to put this office on the line until I'm sure."
A.J. came to a decision, "I'm going to see Sheffield. I think I know him well enough now to know when he's telling the truth, hold fire until you hear from me."
He watched as they saluted and left; then consulted his address book.