I thought about that article and Bob all morning. There were so many elements that bothered me. The one thing that stood out immediately was the words on the sign. It made me wonder. If the sign had been written by the captors, why were the fonts different? Why even have a sign at all? Why not just create a YouTube video and say “we’ve got your man” and then give a list of demands? That’s usually how those terrorist groups operate. They love to brag, and instill fear. I just knew as soon as I saw that sign that Bob was the one who wrote it. I simply can’t explain that. It was a gut feeling.
For some reason that tv show “What Would You Do” hosted by Don Quinones popped into my head. What would I do if it were me? I started to picture myself in Bob’s shoes. If I were working with the C.I.A. and I questioned my safety on a mission, I’d have some sort of “proof of life” on my person that also sent a message that wasn’t obvious. I could only make up so many signs with hidden messages. How could I possibly know how long I would be held?
It was time to put my theory to the test. I had to tackle each element of the picture that bothered me, so I started with the font. On my lunchbreak, I opened up MS Word and changed the compatibility mode to 2007. Bob disappeared in 2007, and if the sign was written by him as I suspected, it was important to be accurate in locating the correct font. I typed out that first sentence and changed the font until I found the match. It was Bodoni MT Black. Why? Why that one? I scrolled through all of the available fonts once more and noticed something; Bodoni was the only one in that entire list that had a font called MT Black. Odd. I wrote that in my notebook. It was important, but I wouldn’t find out until much later how it fit.
What was so great about Bodoni? I opened up Google and started to research the history of the font. Ironically enough, I got my answer on the Cambridge University Website. Bodoni was from the U.K. He followed the font practices and teachings of John Baskerville. Bodoni’s font was considered “extreme” in his day. The boldness of the letters and the curvature were considered “cutting edge” back then. It was a new form of written communication in a modern society, and it became almost as popular as the Union Jack. When I saw the name Baskerville I immediately thought of Sherlock Holmes, and “The Hounds of the Baskerville”. That research just proved to me that Bob was indeed the one who wrote that sign, and he had an amazing sense of humor. The idea of “old school” sleuthing made me giggle.
The fonts used, Holmes, and Baskerville were all U.K. based. Strange. Even the sentence typed out was odd; “I am here in Guantanamo do you know where it is”? Guantanamo is located in Cuba which is an island, just like the U.K. That was significant to me but I didn’t know how or why. That puzzle piece would come to light later as well. The facts gnawed at my brain with tiny, prickly teeth. What did the U.K. have to do with Bob? How did Guantanamo fit? What was the bigger picture?
Over the next several weeks, I google searched every single article that mentioned him. I spent countless hours reading story after story. Several articles I found said that the C.I.A. denied any involvement with Bob, and his mission. Now there’s a shocker! The reason given was that they had no email proof. There was nothing on the server to confirm the story. The article went on to say that emails and investigative reports from Bob were sent to his boss Anne Joblonski at home. That struck me as odd. I love a good conspiracy theory as much as “Munch” from SVU, and I found that part of the article significant. If Bob was working on a mission that involved British Intelligence, it would make sense that nothing concrete was sent to the US Government e-mail server. It is certainly no secret that the U.K. feels the American Government is lax when it comes to securing electronic intelligence. That would certainly explain the use of the font called MT Black. Black op’s mission. MT is pronounced as “Empty”. That word was written in caps to Bob from Anne Joblonski in an email. The coffers were empty, and his consulting work would need to be on hold until a budget was approved. He wasn’t an “official” C.I.A. spy. He was an independent contractor now without a source of funds.
That word contractor brought up many memories for me, and shed some light as to Anne Joblonski’s motivation. I myself was hired as a Government Contractor back in 2000. I quickly learned that it was a dirty word. I had zero credibility and was often referred to as “the girl who is trying to take my job”. Long time Fed’s felt threatened, and when I was finally hired in an official capacity in 2002, numerous people filed union complaints.
The problem back then was that work wasn’t getting done and the only way to achieve goals was to outsource the work. If I had a nickel for every time I heard another federal employee say “that’s not my job” I’d be so rich that I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be on a beach somewhere. I’ve little doubt that Anne felt frustrated, and saw Bob as a way to get some real work done, and produce positive results for the agency.
Did she cross the line by hiring someone without authorization to run ops? Yes, but it is extremely foolish to think that her chain of command was clueless. I myself am familiar with “blind eyed management”. I asked myself “why”?
When you are a Fed and believe whole heartedly in America, and the ideas and beliefs that the Country was founded on, you quite often run up against opposition. If you are intelligent, and hard-working you are often viewed as being arrogant. Add in a willingness to shed light on things regardless of Politics, and you can pretty much count on ending your career in a basement sharpening pencils or taking inventory of Government supplies.
Every article that I read brought me a clearer understanding of who Bob was as a person, and it motivated me that much more to find the truth. I started to feel like I knew him. I already knew how Washington worked, so I started there. I had to look at the facts, motivation, and truths.
The most glaring fact that stood out to me immediately was the C.I.A. claimed that there was no budget. Bob’s work wasn’t being funded by them. Did I believe that? Yes. My knowledge and experience regarding the budget process told me that was in fact true. I had another “What would you do” moment. If I were Bob, and I had no money from the C.I.A, what would I do? I’d do what any retired Federal employee does, I’d go back to the original source. In Bob’s case, it was the F.B.I.
I truly had a “eureka” moment when that thought occurred to me. Suddenly every article that I read made sense. The worst part for me though was the acknowledgment of history repeating itself. I was seeing 9/11 all over again. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of 9/11 was the fact that the C.I.A. and the F.B.I both had credible intel about the attacks, and failed to communicate that intel with one another. Suddenly, the word Guantanamo on Bob’s sign and the connection to the U.K. made sense. It was right there in front of me, and the only thing that I could do was sit there watching my blinking curser and utter the words “Holy Shit!” My research suddenly took a new direction, and my notes in my notebook grew. I had arrows everywhere. I just needed to figure out which one to follow, though I had a pretty good idea where to start.