Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Testifies On Top Five Global Military Threats

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2017 — North Korea, Russia, China, Iran and extremist organizations are the top five military threats facing the nation, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said here this morning.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart (seen in the below photo) testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss worldwide threats. Also testifying today was Daniel R. Coats, director of National Intelligence.

Expanding on the nature of the threats, Stewart said they include a nuclear-capable and increasingly provocative North Korea, a resurgent Russia, a modernizing China, an ambitious regional power in Iran and violent extremist organizations.

The last category encompasses ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, the general noted.

“We in DIA call these our no-fail missions because the risk is too high for us to fail in pursuing these missions,” Stewart added.

North Korea’s Trajectory

The world is focused on events in Pyongyang and for good reasons, Stewart told the panel.

“Since assuming power, Kim Jong Un has conducted three nuclear tests and the regime has tested an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles of varying ranges over the past year,” he said.

Despite technical shortfalls, the regime has achieved key milestones in specific systems and engineers get valuable data and insights from each test, Stewart observed.

“If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” the general said, adding that it’s impossible to say when the capability will be operational but the regime is committed and on a sure path to the capability.

Russia’s Key Objective

Stewart said Russia sees military power as critical to achieving key strategic objective and the nation devotes significant resources to its military modernization program.

“The Russian government seeks to be the center of influence in what it describes as a multi-polar, post-West world order,” he explained.

To support this worldview, he said, Moscow pursues aggressive foreign and defense policies by using a full spectrum of influence and coercion aimed at challenging U.S. interests around the globe.

Out-of-area operations remain a priority as demonstrated by its ongoing deployment to Syria and long-range aviation approaching U.S. airspace.

China’s Military Modernization

China is in the third decade of an unprecedented military modernization program involving weapon systems, doctrine, tactics and training, and space and cyber operations, Stewart said.

The nation now stands firmly as a near-peer U.S. competitor, the general added.

New bases are being built in the South China Sea and Stewart said that evidence suggests the outposts will be used for military purposes.

“A key component of China's strategy for a regional contingency is planning for potential U.S. intervention in a conflict in the region,” he added. “Its navy remains on a course for 350 ships by the year 2020 and anti-access, area-denial capabilities continue to improve.”

Iran’s Regional Security Threat

In Iran, despite sanctions Tehran is putting considerable resources into conventional military priorities such as ballistic and cruise missiles, naval systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and air defense systems that could threaten the U.S. and its interests in the region, Stewart said.

“Iran's conventional military doctrine is designed to protect Iran from the consequences of its assertive regional policy,” he added, noting that policy is spearheaded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Kuds Force and its regional proxy Lebanese Hezbollah, and in concert with certain Iraqi Shia militias and the Houthis, a Shia-led movement.

“We should expect Iran to continue to undermine the current regional security architecture,” the general said, “using terrorist organizations and proxies to complicate U.S. efforts throughout the region.”

Transregional Terrorism

Steady progress is being made against transregional terrorism but there is still a long way to go, Stewart said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been diminished in Libya, he added. Soon it will lose control of Mosul and of its capital in Raqqa, which is now nearly isolated by counter-ISIS local fighters.

“We've killed many ISIS and al-Qaida leaders, and numerous terrorist plots have been averted,” Stewart said.

Trend lines are moving in the right direction but the fight will not end soon, he noted, adding that the enemy is highly adaptable and capable, and instability and under-governed territory may give them opportunities to resurge.

“I'm particularly concerned about the long-term impact of returning foreign fighters and the potential for these groups to capitalize on the proliferation of armed unmanned aerial vehicles to do harm to U.S. and our allied interests,” the general said.

Note: In the top Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan airmen secure a load of cargo in a C-130H Hercules at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq on Feb. 3, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron delivered 30,000 pounds of cargo to aid in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pentagon Spokesman Describes U.S. Raid In Yemen

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2017 — Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a formidable terror group that remains intent on attacking Americans and the U.S. homeland, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of Pentagon press operations, told reporters today.

Davis addressed yesterday’s U.S. Special Operations counterterrorism raid that killed seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in Yemen’s Marib governorate, located about 150 miles north of Aden, the country’s capital.

Special Forces raided an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound comprising a few buildings, he said, adding, “[al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was] using this as a headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations and to lead the group.”

First Raid Deep In Yemen

The raid marked the first time the United States conducted an operation into Marib governorate, and the location was the deepest the military has gone into Yemen to fight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Davis said.

“The intent of the raid was to disrupt AQAP operations,” he said, noting that “at least” seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula militants were killed with small-arms fire and precision airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship.

No civilian casualties were reported, and based on observations on the ground and in the sky, there are no credible indications of such casualties, Davis said.

Dangerous Terrorists

“AQAP has significant amounts of American blood on its hands,” he said. “It is an organization that has used the ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks against America, our citizens and our allies around the world.”

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula attacked the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2008; attempted to down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009; and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010, he said.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's English-language magazine, Inspire, also has been used to encourage attacks against the West, Davis said, citing multiple attacks that include the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Fort Hood mass shooting in 2009 and other lone-wolf attacks in the United States and Europe.

Yemen Authorized Operation

Yesterday’s raid was conducted under the same U.S. authorities as those granted in advance of the earlier, Jan. 28 raid, which included authorities for airstrikes and follow-on action, he said.
The operation had the support and cooperation of the Yemen government, and was done in conjunction with U.S. partners, the spokesman said.

“We will continue to support Yemen in bringing stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP,” Davis said.

Sir Roger Moore, Actor, Author and UNICEF Ambassador, Dead at 89

The family of Sir Roger Moore announced that their father had died after a short but brave battle with cancer. He was 89.

Sir Roger Moore, best known for his film portrayal of James Bond and his television portrayal of The Saint, was also the author of several good books, including One Lucky Bastard: Tales From Tinseltown and My Word is My Bond,

The books, like Sir Roger himself, were witty, amusing, intelligent, and self-deprecating.

He shall be missed.

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Operator: Firing The Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden And My Years As A SEAL Team Warrior'

The Washington Times published my review of Robert O’Neill’s The Operator.

On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, founder and leader of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, the man responsible for the horrific Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and the most wanted terrorist in the world, was shot dead by American special operators during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The story leaked quickly that U.S. Navy SEALs from the superelite group known to the public as SEAL Team Six were the operators who took down bin Laden and captured a treasury of intelligence about al Qaeda as well.

In 2012 Matt Bissonnette, author of “No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL,” claimed that he was the operator who shot and killed bin Laden. Sources in the SEAL community, some of whom were outraged at Mr. Bissonnette’s breach of security, claimed that the “point man,” who has not come forward, was the actual shooter. In 2014 former Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert O’Neill came out and announced that he was, in fact, the special operator who killed bin Laden.

Now Robert O’Neill has written “The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.”

In “The Operator” Mr. O’Neill not only tells of the Abbottabad raid and his shots that killed the evil mastermind bin Laden, he also recounts his involvement in the operation to rescue fellow SEAL Marcus Luttrell of “Lone Survivor” fame in Afghanistan, as well as his involvement in the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was abducted by Somali pirates. The book also chronicles lesser known, but equally interesting military operations.

Mr. O’Neill’s book also tells of his Butte, Montana boyhood and how he came to join the Navy in 1995 and became a SEAL in 1996. He describes in harrowing detail (and abundant humor) his SEAL training and how he went on to join the SEALs’ most elite unit.

… I contacted Robert O’Neill and asked him why he wrote the book. He said the book was an American piece about a kid from Montana who didn’t know how to swim but became a Navy SEAL, rose to become a member of the SEAL’s most elite team and then found himself on some of the most historic missions in recent history, including the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

“The story and my name had been out there for a few years and there have been movies and books made from the story,” Mr. O’Neill told me. “I wanted to tell a different part of it — my part.”

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

Note: Below is a photo of Robert O'Neill:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Defense Contractor Employee Pleads Guilty To Selling Satellite Secrets To Undercover Agent Posing as Russian Spy

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Today, Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, California, pleaded guilty to federal charges of one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act. The charges are related to Justice’s selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service. Justice was an engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor. Specifically, he worked on military and commercial satellite programs.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.

In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the U.S. Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the U.S. under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.

Justice faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Justice pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge George Wu, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18. Justice has been in custody since his arrest in July 2016.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Attorneys from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case. 

A Look Back At The First War On Terror

Whenever someone laments the war on terrorism and states that it never-ending, I always suggest that they read history.

Our current worldwide conflict with terrorists is in fact our second war on terror. 

Then, like now, many people believed the conflict was never-ending.

The FBI offers a report that looks back at our first war on terror:

One of these issues was anarchism—an often violent offshoot of Marxism, with its revolutionary call to overthrow capitalism and bring power to the common man. Anarchists took it a step further—they wanted to do away with government entirely. The prevailing anarchistic creed that government was oppressive and repressive, that it should be overthrown by random attacks on the ruling class (including everyone from police to priests to politicians), was preached by often articulate spokesmen and women around the world. There were plenty who latched onto the message, and by the end of the nineteenth century, several world leaders were among those who had been assassinated.

The anarchists, in a sense, were the first modern-day terrorists—banding together in small, isolated groups around the world; motivated by ideology; bent on bringing down the governments they hated. But they would, ironically, hasten into being the first force of federal agents that would later become the FBI.

It happened at the hands of a 28-year-old Ohioan named Leon Czolgosz, who after losing his factory job and turning to the writings of anarchists like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, took a train to Buffalo, bought a revolver, and put a bullet in the stomach of a visiting President McKinley.

Eight days later, on September 14, 1901, McKinley was dead, and his vice president Teddy Roosevelt took the oval office. 

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

Note: Then, like now, many people believed the conflict was never-ending, but it did end. There are some anarchists active today and they often come out and participate in public demonstrations, but they are no longer a major threat. I suspect that our current war on terror will also end in time.

Reputed Philadelphia Organized Crime Boss Turns Down Plea Offer In Big East Coast Mob Case

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the bottom photo) offers a piece at on Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino (seen in the above photo) and the Fed’s big East Coast mob case

Brad Sirkin has folded his cards.

The prolific, enterprising mob associate and sometime driver for Philadelphia Mafia boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino has agreed to cop a guilty plea in that sweeping but flawed racketeering conspiracy indictment in Manhattan Federal Court, and also to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in a more pointed and apparently airtight case against him and seven co-defendants in federal court in Tampa.

Merlino, on the other hand, is hanging tough and is prepared to go to trial in Manhattan where several other defendants also have opted to take deals. The insurance scam, the central charge in the Tampa case, is just a small piece of the broader New York indictment.

Sirkin, in a plea agreement filed in Florida, admitted his role in what authorities have alleged was a $157 million insurance fraud scheme that included kickbacks to doctors and pharmacist who knowingly wrote and filled bogus prescriptions for what authorities said were "compound medications, chiefly pain creams and scar creams, irrespective of medical necessity."

Sources said insurance companies were billed from $500 to $1,000 for a tube of the bogus cream with many prescriptions written with up to 10 refills. The mob was late arriving to the scam involving compound creams which have been described by insurance company investigators as the "snake oil of the 21st century" and which have, according to early investigations, generated tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent insurance reimbursements.

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