Friday, August 22, 2014

The Assets: ABC's Dropped Drama Based On The True Story Of The Uncovering of CIA Spy And Traitor Aldrich Ames Now On ABC On Demand

I was sorry to learn that ABC canceled The Assets, which dramatized the CIA's search for a spy and traitor who gave up all of the top Soviet "assets," after only two episodes.

The spy and traitor turned out to be CIA officer Aldrich Ames. Many of the assets, also known as agents, Ames betrayed were later executed by the Soviet KGB.

I suspect ABC expected to bring in ratings like the fictional espionage series The Americans and were disappointed when they did not.

Thankfully, ABC On Demand is now offering the rest of The Assets on Comcast Cable. I watched the rest of the series and I enjoyed it.

So if you have ABC On Demand and you're interested in the history of espionage and/or enjoy a good true spy story, then you might want to watch The Assets.

One of the spy hunters, and the co-author of Circle of Treason, the book the series is based on, is former CIA officer Sandra Grimes.

I interviewed Sandra Grimes for Counterterrorism magazine before the TV series aired. You can read my interview with her via the below link:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Krauthammer: Time To Stop ISIS

Charles Krauthammer offers his take on President Obama and the terrorist army ISIS in his column at National Review.

Baghdad called President Obama’s bluff and he came through. He had refused to provide air support to Iraqi government forces until the Iraqis got rid of their divisive sectarian prime minister.

They did. He responded.

With the support of U.S. air strikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have retaken the Mosul dam. Previous strikes had relieved the siege of Mount Sinjar and helped the Kurds retake two strategic towns that had opened the road to a possible Islamic State assault on Irbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

In following through, Obama demonstrated three things: the effectiveness of even limited U.S. power, the vulnerability of the Islamic State, and, crucially, his own seriousness, however tentative.

The last of these is the most important. Obama had said that there was no American military solution to the conflict. This may be true, but there is a local military solution. And that solution requires U.S. air support.

It can work. The Islamic State is overstretched. It’s a thin force of perhaps 15,000 trying to control a territory four times the size of Israel. Its supply lines are not just extended but exposed and highly vulnerable to air power.

... These are the worst people on earth. They openly, proudly crucify enemies, enslave women, and murder men en masse. These are not the usual bad guys out for land, plunder, or power. These are primitive cultists who celebrate slaughter, glory in bloodlust, and slit the throats of innocents as a kind of sacrament.

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

It's A Cruel, Cruel Summer: Once Again In The Hospital

I've not posted anything today, as I spent the day at the Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.

After spending most of July and August in the Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia (Methodist Hospital is part of the Jefferson Hospital organization), I reported to Jefferson early this morning to have a kidney stone removed.

The surgical procedure was successful, I'm happy to report.

I'm in a bit of pain this evening, but I'm glad to be home and I'm glad that my medical issues and hospital visits may finally be over.

Last month I reported to the Methodist to have the kidney stone removed, but my left knee was swollen and very painful. I was rushed from the OR to the ER, where the knee was drained (a very painful procedure) and the source of the pain and swollenness was discovered to be a flare of gout rather than inflection.

Had the knee been infected, I would had what is known as a "wash-out" surgical operation.

That I have gout explains the problems I've been having with swollen and painful feet for some time.

I suspected arthritis from my sport and work activity over the years, as I also suffer from arthritis in my back along with my nerve and spine damage caused by sports, work and life's "wear and tear."

Thankfully, the gout can be treated with medication and I'm now seeing a specialist. I hope to soon be able to take long walks again.

I returned to the Methodist this past Monday morning to have the kidney stone removed and after waiting for more than 10 hours, I was informed that I lost my OR time to a life and death emergency.

I was not happy to be bumped after such a long wait, but I was thankful that my medical condition, although painful, was not a life or death case. I prayed for the other patient to make it.

Today was "third-time lucky" - in a sense - for me.

I'd like to thank the fine doctors, nurses and staff at Jefferson and Methodist for their care and professionalism these summer months as I suffered from a serious kidney infection and other medical issues that landed me in the hospital for three extended stays, as well as the out-patient visits.

I'd also like to thank my beautiful wife for standing beside me and helping me to endure these past two God-awful months. And I'd like to thank my family and friends for their love, support and prayers.

Now back to work.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FBI: Counterfeit Goods Smuggling Ring Dismantled

The FBI web site offers an interesting piece:

When Ning Guo was sentenced to prison earlier this year, it marked one of the final chapters in a massive international counterfeit goods smuggling case—one of the largest ever charged by the Department of Justice—in which criminals attempted to flood the U.S. market with bogus cigarettes, handbags, and sneakers from China that would have been worth $300 million on the retail market.

From November 2009 through February 2012, the smugglers and their conspirators attempted to import hundreds of shipping containers full of counterfeit Nike shoes, Gucci handbags, cigarettes, and other items from China into the U.S. through the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey.

When a multi-agency force took down the operation in 2012, nearly 30 individuals were arrested and charged with various counts of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, as well as other crimes—including money laundering and drug trafficking.

“This was a complex case,” said Special Agent Ron Pascale, who worked the investigation from our Newark Division. “But over time, we identified the entire conspiracy and dismantled it.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

A Man Of Courage And ISIS's Face Of Evil

Tom Rogan at National Review offers his take on the brutal murder of journalist James Foley.

The video released yesterday depicting the Islamic State’s beheading of American journalist James Foley proves two things: the character of an immensely courageous man and the purely evil nature of the Islamic State.

Recording this brutal beheading, the jihadist group thinks it’s being strategic. Its leaders — who likely hold a number of other Western hostages, and appeared to show one of them in the video — hope the video will terrorize America into leaving them alone. They believe that when we see Foley’s death in a barren wilderness, we’ll cede them their empire of death. Tellingly, and simultaneous with the video’s release, Islamic State supporters began tweeting associated threats.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Russian Roulette - A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Giles Milton's Russian Roulette - A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot in today's Washington Times.

To Great Britain, the threat issued by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov — better known by his revolutionary name of Lenin — was clarion clear. In November 1917, soon after his Bolshevik faction seized control of Russia, he called on the “oppressed masses” of Asia to follow Russia’s example and throw off colonial rule.

He named as an early target India, the “jewel in Britain’s imperial crown.” Lenin declared, “England is our greatest enemy. It is in India that we must strike them hardest!” For emphasis, Lenin tore up the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention that laid out spheres of influence in Central Asia, specifically protecting India’s northern frontiers from Russian intrusion.

... As Mr. Milton documents, the British intelligence service flooded Moscow with swarms of agents soon after the Bolsheviks seized power. The tasks were many. Could the Bolsheviks be overthrown and replaced by the ousted Kerensky government? Did the new government have the political will (and military capability) of continuing the fight against Germany?

The story of British machinations in Moscow has been related by both operatives and histories, ranging from Sidney (“The Ace of Spies”) Reilly to Somerset Maugham. Through skilled use of recently declassified files of Indian political intelligence, Mr. Milton gives a gripping account of how the Reds tried to carry out Lenin's threat.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reclaiming John Wayne: The Duke's Ten Best Films

Timothy Mangan at looks back at the late great actor John Wayne.

John Wayne was a great actor. There, I said it.

It may get me thrown out of certain intellectual circles, it may cause some to wonder about my politics, but that’s my premise and I’m sticking with it.

Sooner or later (usually sooner), anyone who writes about Wayne has to face the topic.

“For years,” writes Scott Eyman in his new biography “John Wayne: The Life and Legend,” “the debate about Wayne centered around the ridiculous question of whether or not he could act, with liberals generally taking the negative position.” That’s a big part of the problem in assessing Wayne’s acting skills. His personal politics (conservative) got in the way of seeing the acting clearly, much in the same way that Mel Gibson’s loopiness or Woody Allen’s family troubles get in the way of seeing them.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on John Wayne via the below link: