Thursday, July 2, 2015

The CIA Officer Who Recruited His Son To Spy For Russia


Bryan Denson, author of The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained  to Spy for Russia, offers a piece about the former CIA officer, traitor and spy in the Irish Times.

In one of the most bizarre twists in America’s war on terrorism, the CIA assigned veteran operations officer Harold James “Jim” Nicholson to run a counter-terrorism branch in the heart of its Virginia headquarters. This was in 1996, more than five years before the attacks of September 11, 2001, as the Central Intelligence Agency worked around the clock to draw beads on disparate cells of Middle East terrorists - groups that would later coalesce into al-Qaeda.
 
By all appearances, Nicholson’s installment as chief of the Other World Terrorism branch was a clever move to pit one of the agency’s rising stars, a so-called “blue flamer”, in a tilt against terrorists. But the CIA’s installment of Nicholson as chief of the highly specialised counter-terrorism unit came under the most extraordinary of circumstances: He was secretly under investigation for espionage.
 
The FBI and CIA had begun to suspect Nicholson of spying for Russia in the mid-1990s. So those in charge of the joint spy catching operation engineered a plan to get him reassigned from The Farm (the agency’s covert training center, where he taught tradecraft to young spies) to his new position at CIA headquarters so they could keep an eye on him. The FBI secretly installed a tiny surveillance camera above Nicholson’s desk, bugged his home, searched his office and minivan, and tailed him night and day.
 
Their target and his subordinates performed authentic work to identify and defeat foreign terrorist cells. But Nicholson’s hand-picked deputy - CIA officer John Maguire, a veteran counterterrorism operative - secretly served as the eyes and ears of the covert spy catching venture. Maguire reported his boss’s every move to FBI investigators to help them take down the agency’s latest Judas.
 
In my new book (The Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son he Trained to Spy for Russia), I point out in Maguire’s own words the outrageous irony of the CIA’s predicament: “We’re on the front end of the (counter-jihadist) spear, and we have a spy that’s the boss.” 
 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
 
 
You can also read veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden's review of The Spy's Son in the Washington Times via the below link:
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Great Leader And The Fighter Pilot: The True Story Of The Tyrant Who Created North Korea And The Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way To Freedom


Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Blaine Harden's The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lietenant Who Stole His Way To Freedom.

In September 1953, bold headlines dominated American newspapers. “Mystery Red MIG Lands Near Seoul,” trumpeted the San Francisco Chronicle. The North Korean pilot, Lt. No Kum Suk, aged 21, was so disgusted with the totalitarian state shaped by the Soviet-installed dictator Kim Il Sung that he broke off a training flight to land near Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Early press reports attributed the defection to “Operation Moolah,” the offer of $100,000 (about $900,000 in today’s dollars) to the first North Korean, Russian or Chinese pilot who defected in “a modern, operational, combat-type jet in flying condition” — meaning a Soviet-made MIG fighter, which USSR pilots were secretly flying on combat missions. U.S. planes littered North Korea with more than a million leaflets publicizing the offer.

But to the utter surprise of everyone involved, Lt. No had never heard of the reward. Rather than being a “Moolah Man” he was a brave person determined not to live in a totalitarian communist state. He defected for principle, not money.

Blaine Harden’s skillfully crafted book meshes two stories. First is how the Soviets installed Kim Il Sung as dictator of North Korea in 1945. Essentially a faux “hero” of the war against the Japanese, Kim’s utility was that of willing toady. With Soviet power at his command, he crushed any hopes of a free society, brutalizing his own people.

No Kum Suk chafed under Kim’s iron-hand rule. In the pre-World War II era, his father was an executive in an industrial plant owned by the occupying Japanese. The father accepted Japanese rule as a way of life, as did his son. Indeed, in the waning months of the war, Lt. No wanted to volunteer as a kamikaze pilot to attack American warships. “Are you crazy?” shouted his father.

Lt. No’s attitude toward America changed dramatically once Kim and his communist masters took over Korea. Heavy-handed propaganda was belied by the hungry misery of everyday life. (Nonetheless, more than two decades ago, research by CIA analyst Helen-Louise Hunter concluded that Kim Il Sung’s propaganda permanently influenced several generations of North Koreans).

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

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/30/book-review-the-great-leader-and-the-fighter-pilot/ 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Colombian Paramilitary Leader Sentenced To More Than 15 Years In Prison For International Drug Trafficking


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

A senior paramilitary leader and one of Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers was sentenced today to serve 190 months in prison for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that imported into the United States ton-quantities of cocaine.  Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

“Through his leadership position in the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez directed the manufacture and shipment of over 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States and elsewhere,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “In addition to enriching himself, Mancuso-Gomez and the AUC used this drug money to raise and arm a paramilitary force of more than 30,000 fighters and cement his control over regions of Colombia.  This case is yet another example of our continued commitment to collaborating with our international partners to prosecute criminals and warlords who traffic in illegal narcotics, violence and intimidation.”

“DEA is committed to relentlessly attacking global criminal networks who use drug trafficking as a means to finance their terrorist activities,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Riley.  “The arrest and prosecution of Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez clearly illustrates this dedication.  As a senior leader in the AUC, Mancuso-Gomez controlled huge amounts of cocaine production in Colombia, and oversaw its movement to the United States and other parts of the world.  Proceeds from his drug trafficking enterprise were used to acquire weapons and further the AUC’s violent criminal agenda.  DEA is pleased that this significant narco-terror leader has faced justice in a U.S. court of law.”

Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez, aka El Mono and Santander Lozada, formerly of Monteria, Colombia, pleaded guilty in October 2008 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine knowing and intending that it would be imported into the United States.  U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia imposed the sentence.

According to the statement of facts agreed to as part of his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez held one of the highest level leadership positions within the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC), a terrorist and paramilitary organization in Colombia.  In September 2001, the AUC was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.  In May 2003, the AUC was placed on the Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers list by order of the President, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.  In February 2004, Mancuso-Gomez individually was designated as a Tier II Kingpin by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, subjecting him to severe economic sanctions under the Kingpin Act.

The statement of facts also established that the AUC consisted of approximately 30,000 armed soldiers organized into blocs (or regions) with commanders for each bloc.  In connection with his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez admitted that, from the mid-1990s through 2004, he directed thousands of soldiers in two blocs of the AUC, controlling large areas where cocaine was produced.
Mancuso-Gomez admitted that the AUC produced approximately 2,000 kilograms of cocaine per month during the conspiracy, and that he and members of the organization transported the cocaine to the coastal areas of Colombia where it was loaded onto go-fast boats and other vessels for ultimate transportation to the United States and Europe.  Mancuso-Gomez also admitted that he levied taxes on other narcotics traffickers who needed passage through AUC-controlled territories, and that he used proceeds from his drug trafficking activities to purchase weapons and other supplies for AUC activities.  Mancuso-Gomez further admitted that he and the AUC maintained tight control of their territories in Colombia through intimidation of corrupt members of the Colombian government, including law enforcement and military personnel and politicians.

Today’s sentence does not account for violations of Colombian human rights-related laws allegedly committed by Mancuso-Gomez, which are being addressed in Colombia through the Justice and Peace process – a legal framework enacted in 2005 to facilitate the demobilization of its paramilitary organizations – and Colombian criminal justice system.

The case was investigated by DEA’s Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia, Country Offices, and the DEA Special Operations Division.  The government of Colombia provided unprecedented assistance through the investigation, prosecution and sentencing phase of this case.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Paul W. Laymon and Carmen Colon of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS).  NDDS Judicial Attachés in Bogotá, Colombia; the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Colombia (Fiscalia), including the Fiscalia’s Transitional Justice program, provided significant assistance.

Hemingway's 'The Killers' On Film: Blu-Ray's Double Feature


Raymond Benson, who wrote several James Bond continuation novels, looks back at the two film versions of Ernest Hemingway's great crime story The Killers at cinemaretro.com.

The Criterion Collection gave us the DVD versions of these two excellent crime thrillers twelve years ago. The company has now seen fit to upgrade the release to Blu-ray.

Based loosely on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, both versions of The Killers begin with the author’s premise and then take off from there in very different directions. It’s interesting to see how the respective screenwriters adapted the story and then created two disparate feature-length tales out of it. In Hemingway’s piece, two hit men arrive in a small town looking for “the Swede.” They terrorize the owner, cook, and a customer in a diner in an attempt to find the guy. After the killers leave in frustration, the customer runs to the Swede’s boarding house and finds him in bed with his clothes on. He warns the Swede about the men, but the Swede says he’s not going to do anything about it. The customer goes back to the diner and, after realizing no one cares, leaves town. And that’s it.

The 1946 version faithfully captures the short story—even down to the dialogue—for the first ten minutes. Where the short story ends, the movie goes on and we see the hit men actually kill the Swede (played by Burt Lancaster in his first starring role). Enter Jim Reardon (Edmond O’Brien, with third billing, but he’s really the protagonist of the film!) as an insurance inspector—it turns out the Swede had a life insurance policy that benefits an old lady who helped him once. Reardon is determined to uncover the story behind it all, and the rest of the movie follows his investigation into the Swede’s life in crime (told entirely in flashbacks). The Swede was a boxer who got mixed up with Big Jim, a racketeer (played by Albert Dekker), and falls in love with Big Jim’s gal, Kitty (played by smokin’ hot Ava Gardner, in one of her first starring roles; Gardner had been kicking around Hollywood since the early 40s—this was her big break). As we all know, it’s not good to mess around with the crime boss’s dame.
 
... The 1964 version is a different animal. It was produced to be the very first TV movie, but NBC viewed the finished product and deemed it too violent for television. Instead, the producers released it theatrically worldwide. Directed by Don Siegel (billed as “Donald Siegel”), The Killers Mach II stars Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager as the hitmen, who here become the focal point of the new story. John Cassavetes plays the Swede character, only here he is a racecar driver named Johnny. The femme fatale, Sheila, is played by Angie Dickinson, and get this... the crime boss is none other than Ronald Reagan in his last film role before he became a politician.
 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
 
 
You can also read more about Hemingway's short story The Killers via the below link to my Crime Beat column:
 

July 4 Terrorist Attack On U.S. Soil A Legitimate Threat, Officials Warn


Maggie Ybarra at the Washington Times offers a piece on a possible terrorist attack on July 4th.

U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers are worried that chatter about a terrorist attack on U.S. soil this Fourth of July may be more than just talk.

The FBI has arrested at least 10 U.S. citizens in three weeks who were plotting various attacks on the homeland on behalf of the Islamic State group, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin with the FBI last week putting local law enforcement agencies across the country on heightened alert.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States,” former CIA Deputy Director Michael J. Morell said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “That’s how serious this is.”

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

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/29/july-4-terrorist-attack-on-us-soil-a-legitimate-th/ 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rodney Dangerfield On Johnny Carson, Cracking Jokes And Promoting His Film 'Easy Money'


Below is a link to a video clip of one of my favorite comedians, Rodney Dangerfield, cracking some great jokes and promoting his film Easy Money on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=738VLg7JJ2k

Note: Although he is not in the above clip, Joe Pesci appears in Easy Money and he is nearly as funny as Rodney Dangefield.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

He Had A Way With Words: George Carlin Greatest Comic Rant


The entertainment website cinemaretro.com looks back at one of George Carlin's greatest comic rants.

You can watch the video of George Carlin via the below link:

http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/8661-GEORGE-CARLINS-GREATEST-RANT.html