Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Spy And The Traitor: How A KGB Officer Stopped The Soviets From Launching A Nuclear Attack On The West

Cole Moreton at the Daily Mail offers a piece on the former KGB officer who helped prevent WWIII.

We’re walking through a park in London where a Soviet spy once carried out a secret drop – just before he saved the world. ‘Most people have no idea how close we were to nuclear war at that time,’ says Ben Macintyre, author of The Spy And The Traitor, which tells the extraordinary true story of a KGB agent turned British informant called Oleg Gordievsky (seen in the above photo). ‘He was able to crack open the inner secrets of the Kremlin. No spy had ever done that for Britain before.’

Gordievsky worked undercover for the KGB – the Soviet secret service – in London in the early Eighties, sending reports back to Moscow. But he was also, bravely, spying for the West. ‘If Oleg had been caught he would have been tortured and executed, and most of his family would have been rounded up as well.’ 

Then came Able Archer 83, a NATO war-game training exercise in November 1983, leading up to a simulated nuclear attack. The Soviets thought it was real. ‘Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric about the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” was interpreted in Moscow as a direct threat. The Kremlin genuinely believed the West was going to launch a first nuclear strike.’

The Soviets panicked and prepared to launch their missiles first, believing it was the only way to save themselves. Gordievsky heard all about it as a senior KGB operative, but quickly passed word on to his handlers, who took it to the highest level.

‘People in Downing Street and the Oval Office didn’t believe it at first, but Oleg managed to convince them it was true – and say that unless they calmed down the fighting talk, the West would effectively press the button on its own destruction.’

Moves were made to calm down the Soviets, who never fired. ‘A lot of what spies do doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. This is one of the few cases in which spying changed history.’

Gordievsky was even more intimately involved in the next historic development, when the Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to London in 1984 for a meeting with the Prime Minister that would hasten the end of the Cold War. ‘Oleg was briefing both sides. He was telling Thatcher what to say to Gorbachev and he was telling Gorbachev to say to Thatcher. Extraordinary.’

Gordievsky had been brought up a loyalist, the son of a KGB agent, but his stomach was turned by the sight of the Berlin Wall going up while he was stationed there. ‘He came to believe that he was serving a corrupt, barbarian regime. He didn’t do it for money; he did it purely for ideological reasons.’

All this is laid out in The Spy And The Traitor, which is about to be released in paperback. So I’m walking with Macintyre, a short, bespectacled 55-year-old with a tweed jacket and a fierce intelligence, through Coram’s Fields near Holborn. This is where Gordievsky carried out his last dead-drop, hiding £8,000 in the bushes for a newly arrived Soviet spy. ‘He brought his kids as cover. They would have been aged three and six. He left them on the swings, went behind the hedge and dropped a brick with the notes, wrapped in a plastic bag.’

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

You can also read my review of The Spy and the Traitor via the below link: 

A Little Humor: Hiring A New 007 With A License To Kill

With James Bond getting on in years, the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was looking to hire a new 007 with a license to kill. 

After all the background checks, interviews and testing were done, there were 3 finalists: two men and a woman.

For the final test, an SIS officer took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. 

“We must know that you will follow your instructions no matter what the circumstances. Inside the room you find your wife sitting in a chair… kill her.”

The man said, “You can’t be serious. I could never shoot my wife.” 

The SIS officer said, “Then you’re not the right man for this job. Take your wife and go home.”

The second man was given the same instructions. 

He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes. 

The man came out with tears in his eyes, “I tried, but I can’t kill my wife.” 

The SIS officer said, “Then you don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”

Finally, it was the woman’s turn. 

She was given her instructions: kill your husband. 

She took the gun and went into the room. 

Shots were heard. The SIS officer heard screaming, crashing, and banging on the walls. 

After a few minutes, all was quiet.

The door opened slowly and there stood the woman, wiping the sweat from her brow. 

“This gun is loaded with blanks” she said. “I had to kill him with the chair!”

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Former CIA Officer Sentenced To Prison for Espionage

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 62, of Leesburg, Virginia, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after being convicted under the Espionage Act for conspiracy to transmit national defense information to an agent of the People’s Republic of China.  Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.
“Former U.S. Intelligence officer Kevin Patrick Mallory will spend the next 20 years of his life in prison for conspiring to pass national defense information to a Chinese intelligence officer,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.  “This case is one in an alarming trend of former U.S. intelligence officers being targeted by China and betraying their country and colleagues.  This sentence, together with the recent guilty pleas of Ron Hansen in Utah and Jerry Lee in Virginia, deliver the stern message that our former intelligence officers have no business partnering with the Chinese, or any other adversarial foreign intelligence service.”
“Mallory not only put our country at great risk, but he endangered the lives of specific human assets who put their own safety at risk for our national defense,” said. U.S. Attorney Terwilliger.  “There are few crimes in this country more serious than espionage, and this office has a long history of holding accountable those who betray our country.  As the Chinese continue to attempt to identify and recruit current and former members of the United States intelligence community, those individuals should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate security officials.  This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information.  We will remain steadfast and dogged in pursuit of these challenging but critical national security cases.”
“U.S. Government employees are trusted to keep the nation's secrets safe,” said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, “and this case shows the violation of that trust and duty will not be accepted.  The targeting of former U.S. security clearance holders by foreign intelligence services is a constant threat we face, and the FBI will continue to preserve and combat these threats head on.  I would like to thank the men and women of the FBI, and our counterparts at the Department of Justice, for their years of hard work to investigate and prosecute this case.”
Mallory was found guilty by a federal jury in June 2018 of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery, delivery of national defense information to aid a foreign government and making material false statements.  The district court subsequently ordered acquittal as to the delivery and attempted delivery of national defense information counts due to lack of venue.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in March and April 2017, Mallory, a former U.S. intelligence officer, travelled to Shanghai to meet with an individual, Michael Yang, who held himself out as a People’s Republic of China think tank employee, but whom Mallory assessed to be a Chinese Intelligence Officer.
Mallory, a United States citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, consented to an FBI review of a covert communications (covcom) device he had been given by Yang to facilitate covert communications between the two.  Analysis of the device, which was a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, revealed a number of communications in which Mallory and Yang talked about classified information that Mallory could sell to the PRC’s intelligence service.  FBI analysts were able to determine that Mallory had completed all of the steps necessary to securely transmit at least five classified U.S. government documents via the covcom device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the United States government.  At least two of the documents were successfully transmitted, and Mallory and Yang communicated about those two documents on the covcom device.
Evidence presented at trial included surveillance video from a FedEx store in Leesburg where Mallory could be seen scanning documents classified at the Secret and Top Secret level onto a micro SD card.  Though Mallory paid to have the paper copies of the eight documents shredded, FBI agents found a carefully concealed SD card containing those documents during a search of Mallory’s home, the day of his June 22, 2017 arrest.  A recording was played at trial from June 24, 2017, where Mallory could be heard on a call from the jail asking his family to search for the hidden SD card.
Mallory has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defense contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).  As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career.  Mallory’s security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. Gibbs and Colleen E. Garcia, and Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie and Evan Turgeon of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Herman Wouk, WWII Naval Officer And Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Of 'The Caine Mutiny' And Other Great Navy Novels, Dies at 103

Herman Wouk (seen in the above and below photos), a naval officer in World War II and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of some of my favorite WWII Navy novels, including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, died today. He was 103.

The Caine Mutiny was made into a 1952 classic film with Humphrey Bogart and The Winds of War and War and Remembrance were made into TV mini-series starring Robert Mitchum as Commander "Pug" Henry.

You can read about his life and work via the below link:

You can watch The Winds of War via the below link:

Philadelphia Cosa Nostra Member And Associate Plead Guilty To Making And Collecting Extortionate Loans

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Philip Narducci, 56, of Philadelphia, and James Gallo, 44, of Philadelphia, entered pleas of guilty today before Judge Timothy Savage on several counts relating to making and collecting upon extortionate loans.  Narducci is a member of the Philadelphia organized crime family La Cosa Nostra (LCN), and Gallo is his associate.
At the hearing, the defendants both admitted that Narducci made usurious and extortionate loans involving tens of thousands of dollars to an unnamed borrower.  When the borrower failed to make weekly interest payments – sometimes with an interest rate above 80 percent - Narducci used threats of violence and actual physical assault to force the borrower to repay the loans.  One such incident occurred at Chick’s Philly, a bar and restaurant operated by Narducci, on Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia.  In one particularly disturbing exchange, Gallo told the borrower he should be scared of Narducci, saying, “He’s a killer you f***ing idiot.  He’s killed f***ing eight people.”
“Philadelphians deserve to be safe and live without the fear or threat of violence, especially from unscrupulous defendants like these,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “My Office takes organized crime in this District very seriously, and will investigate and prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This organized crime network threatened the safety of our neighborhoods by extorting and assaulting Philadelphians,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Thanks to strong collaboration between our law enforcement partners, we were able to put an end to this criminal behavior and keep the people of Philadelphia safe. We will continue working together to investigate and prosecute organized crime wherever we find it.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan B. Ortiz.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Two More Navy officers Censured For Fat Leonard-Related Infractions

Geoff Ziezulewicz at the Navy Times offers a piece on two more Navy officers punished in the “Fat Leonard’ bribery and fraud case.

The Navy has censured a pair of commissioned officers for their roles in the Fat Leonard public corruption scandal.

The letters of censure issued to the captains by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer serve as both a public rebuke of their actions and shine more light into the web of kickbacks, payoffs and port contracts spun by the portly Leonard Glenn Francis (seen in the below photo) that cost U.S. taxpayers at least $35 million.

At least 10 captains and admirals have received similar written reprimands in recent years.

Capt. Heedong Choi’s (seen in the above photo) infractions took place from 2008 to 2013, as he served in several leadership positions in the Western Pacific, including as commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Chafee, according to the April 26 letter.

But Spencer concluded that his relationship with Francis went back to 2001, when Choi was a flag aide to the commander of 7th Fleet.

“As Flag Aide, Mr. Francis specifically described you as his means to ‘grease’ your Commander and the ‘pipeline’ between him and your Commander," Spencer wrote. "He also said you were on his ‘payroll’ since that time because you ‘kept delivering.”

…Retired Capt. Ricardo Martinez was also censured in an April 26 letter.

His Fat Leonard-related infractions took place while he was serving as the U.S. Naval attaché to Indonesia and New Zealand from 2001 to 2008, according to the reprimand.

Martinez received or solicited nearly $16,000 in gifts from Francis and his port services company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, and the April 26 censure letter contains a “chronological list of misconduct."

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Fat Leonard case via the below link: 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

RIP Tim Conway, Ensign Parker On 'McHale's Navy'

When I was a seaman recruit in Navy Boot Camp at the Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Training Center in 1970, I recall standing at parade rest on the grinder field as our drill instructor told us that the 1960s TV comedy series McHale’s Navy was one of the best weapons the Communists had in their arsenal.

I whispered to the sailor next to me that McHale’s Navy was one of the reasons I joined the Navy. 

Yes, I might have told the drill instructor if I had the chance, McHale’s World War II PT-73 crew was an undisciplined, raucous, gambling, girl-chasing, moonshine-making bunch, but they were also the most effective combat PT boat crew in the fictional squadron. 

I loved that show and I have a couple of DVDs that I still watch from time to time. 

So I was sorry to hear that Tim Conway had passed away.

Tim Conway portrayed Ensign Parker (seen in the above and below photos), the executive officer of the PT-73 under Ernest Borgnine’s Commander McHale (seen in the below photo). 

Ensign Parker was an innocent, goofy, clumsy, but good natured officer who was a constant irritant to the squadron’s pompous, ambitious, officious and somewhat insane commanding officer, Captain Wallace Burton (Old Leadbottom) Binghamton, portrayed by the late Joe Flynn (seen in the below photos). 

Later, while serving on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, I realized that Tim Conway’s Ensign Parker had some counterparts in the real U.S. Navy, although some of those junior officers were not so innocent or good natured (Ha). 

And later still, as a civilian Defense Department administrative officer, I discovered that Joe Flynn’s Captain Binghamton also had some counterparts in the real U.S. Navy. 

I didn’t watch Tim Conway on Carol Burnett's TV show, but my wife and I were fortunate to have seen Tim Conway live on stage in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. He portrayed Felix, the fussy one, and Tom Poston portrayed Oscar the slob. Tim Conway added clumsy comedic pratfalls on stage to his portrayal of Felix. We enjoyed the show.

Lastly, while watching SpongeBob SquarePants on TV with my grandchildren, I was pleased to discover that Tim Conway was the voice of the cartoon character Barnacle Boy, the sidekick to Mermaid Man (voiced by Ernest Borgnine), SpongeBob’s underwater superheroes.

Tim Conway will be missed.             

Note: You can watch the first episode of McHale’s Navy via the below link: