Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Philadelphia Inquirer Review Of John Le Carre's 'Our Kind Of Traitor'

The Philadelphia Inquirer published my review of John le Carre's latest thriller today.

You can read my review via the below link:

And below is a link to an earlier post about le Carre regarding his disparaging remarks about fellow thriller writer Ian Fleming:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rescued From the Stasi Shredder, Carlos the Terrorist's Missing Years

Documentation from the Stasi, the former East German security service, reveals the missing years from Illich Ramierez Sanchez, or Carlos the terrorist.

The British newspaper The Independent reports that 15, 500 bags of shredded or torn documents have been pieced together to reveal the level of support the Stasi afforded Carlos when they sheltered him in East Germany.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

Carlos is the subject of a recent film bio. You can read about the film and link to an interview with the film's director via the below link:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Isn't the WikiLeak Dork Dead?

Why isn't Julian Assange, the computer hacker dork behind the massive leak of classified American military war documents on the Internet, dead?

This question was asked by conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg.

Goldberg answers his own question via the below link:

Assange (ass for short) is an egomaniac already in the act of self-destruction. His own group is revolting (in both senses of the word) and there are several allegations against him regarding women.

On Kane and Wayne: Peter Bogdanovich on the Classic Films Citizen Kane and The Searchers

Peter Bogdanovich, the writer and film director, spoke to The Toronto Star about two classic films, Orson Welles' Citizen Zane and John Ford's The Searchers, starring John Wayne.

These are two of my favorite films.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

Bogdanovich, like many writers and critics, notes that John Wayne played himself in every role.

While it is true that Wayne essentially portrayed a "type" of character in most of his films, the dark, cold and bitter man that Wayne portrayed in The Searchers was certainly not like the characters in his other films, and it was certainly not Wayne.

That was acting.

I believe The Searchers was one of John Ford's greatest films and offers John Wayne in his greatest role.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hemingway in Idaho

Bill Croke wrote an interesting piece in The American Spectator about the late, great novelist Ernest Hemingway's days in Idaho.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spy's Arrest Underscores Beijing's Bid For Agents

Bill Gertz, the outstanding national security corespondent for The Washington Times, writes that the recent guilty plea of Glenn Duffie Shriver, who attempted to infiltrate the CIA for Communist China, underscores China's bid for agents in America.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

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

WikiLeak's Redaction Doesn't Remove Danger to Troops and Allies, Official Says

By Cheryl Pellerin American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2010 - Despite WikiLeaks' attempt to redact the names of Iraqi informants from its recent leak of classified military reports, some of those people are still in danger, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

On Oct. 22, WikiLeaks released more than 400,000 sensitive documents chronicling military operations during the Iraq war from 2004 to 2009.

"We had identified 300 or so people whose names were [mentioned in the documents] that possibly would be put at risk if their names were published," Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said.

Of that group, he added, the names were removed but "in a few dozen cases there's still information that could identify those people."

Such remaining information includes job titles, he said.

The U.S. Central Command has the names of those potentially at risk and "is deciding whether they're going to make notifications or not," Lapan said.

A joint task force led by the Defense Intelligence Agency is comparing the original with redacted documents, he said, to assess the damage that WikiLeaks' publication of the classified Iraq significant-activities reports, called the SIGACTS data base, could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and current operations.

During an Oct. 22 State Department press briefing with Pakistani Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denounced the WikiLeaks release of sensitive military documents.

"We should condemn in the most-clear terms the disclosure of any classified information by individuals and organizations which puts the lives of United States' and partner servicemembers and civilians at risk," she said, "threatening our national security and the national security of those with whom we are working."

The count of civilian war deaths in Iraq –- 15,000 more than reported by the Pentagon, according to some news reports and the nongovernmental organization Iraq Body Count -– is one topic arising from the WikiLeaks' release.

"We have rejected the premise that ... the U.S. has not been tracking civilian casualties. We have. We report that on a regular basis to Congress," Lapan said.

Also in the reports to Congress, he added, "We note carefully that these are not a complete picture. ... We don't profess to have knowledge about every civilian that's killed across Iraq. We can only report on the ones that we're aware of."

All reports of civilian casualties –- even those that put the number of casualties at 15,000 more than the U.S. has reported -- all come from the same SIGACTS data base, Lapan said.

"The matter of trying to estimate Iraqi civilian casualties in the war has been an ongoing issue," he said, including a June report by the Congressional Research Service.

"To suggest that there is some kind of precise number that some organization has, I find hard to believe," he added, "because over the years it has been impossible for any of the various organizations that have tried to come to agreement on a specific figure."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Call Me Senator: David Zucker, Director of the Comedy Classic Airplane, Directed Political Ad Mocking Senator Barbara Boxer

David Zucker, the director of the 1980 comedy classic Airplane and the more recent film An American Carol, directed a political ad mocking Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

Senator Boxer (seen in the above photo) famously upbraided an Army General at a Senate hearing when he called her "Ma'am" rather than senator.

You can view the very funny political ad via the below link:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

WikiLeak's Unauthorized Release of American Classified War Documents On Web Places Troops and Allies in Danger

The WikiLeaks release of U.S. military classified war documents on the Internet places American troops and allies in danger, states the U.S. Defense Department. I agree.

Below is a piece published yesterday by the American Forces Press Service on the leaks:

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2010 - The Defense Department is preparing for an additional publication by Wikileaks of classified military documents from Iraq operations, DOD officials said here today.

A DOD task force has been combing through the Iraq data base to assess the damage that a proposed Wikileaks publication of 400,000 significant activity reports could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies, and on-going operations.

"We strongly condemn the unauthorized disclosure of classified information and will not comment on these leaked documents other than to note that 'significant activities' reports are initial, raw observations by tactical units," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters. "They are essentially snapshots of events, both tragic and mundane, and do not tell the whole story.

"That said, the period covered by these reports has been well-chronicled in news stories, books and films and the release of these field reports does not bring new understanding to Iraq's past," Morrell added.

In a note to news organizations, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said the department does not know for sure what Wikileaks will publish, but officials expect the same type of documents the organization put on the Internet in July about the Afghan conflict. Wikileaks put 77,000 documents from the Afghan data base on line in that breach of national security.

"If the release of documents is four times what it was for the Afghan logs, this is larger in that sense," Lapan said. "But in view of the types of information, the two are very similar."

Task force officials, he said, concluded that Wikileaks might release the names of Iraqis who cooperated with the coalition and information that could aid enemies in operations.

The potential breach is dangerous, but not fatal, Lapan said, noting neither the Iraq, nor Afghanistan data bases contain intelligence sources and methods.

"That's a different level, and that's not what is in these documents," he said.

The data bases contain reports of every company level significant activity, Lapan said.
"These are raw observations from the tactical level of combat operations," he said. "They could be casualty incidents; they could be IED incidents, information on working with Iraqis –- any number of things that units use this database to report."

Wikileaks should not publish anything, the colonel said.

"The problem with Wikileaks is it goes beyond just taking out names of people," Lapan said. "There is lots of other information that could be damaging, and they don't have the expertise to know what they are."

Lapan said if Wikileaks does publish the documents on the Web, servicemembers and DOD civilians should steer clear of the site.

"The information remains classified even if it is released publicly," Lapan said. DOD personnel should not access that website from their government computers, he said, lest they create a security breach.

"We deplore Wikileaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies," Lapan continued. "We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large."

Wikileaks' actions are putting the lives of troops and civilians at risk, Lapan said.

"The only responsible course of action for Wikileaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their websites as soon as possible," he said.

Carlos the Jackass: The Notorious Imprisoned Terrorist Dislikes His Film Bio

According the British newspaper The Independent, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, is not happy with Olivier Assayas' film bio of his life of crime and terrorism.

The egotistical terrorist (seen in the below photo), currently in a French prison for murdering two French policemen and a police informant, should be pleased that Edgar Ramirez (seen in the above photo), the actor portraying him in the film, is far better looking than him.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:
You can also read an interview with Olivier Assayas, the writer and director of Carlos, via the below link:

Donnie Brasco: A One-Man Play About Legendary FBI Agent Joe Pistone's Infiltration of the Mob

Joe Pistone, the legendary FBI Special Agent who infiltrated the Bonnano crime family in New York and took down more than 100 mobsters, will be featured in a one-man play at the Pennsylvania Playhouse, The Allentown Morning Call reports.

Pistone, whose life was portrayed in the book and movie Donnie Brasco, has his nephew portraying him in the one-man play.

You can read the piece via the below link:,0,2365178.story

I met and interviewed Joe Pistone a few years ago and I reviewed his book The Way of the Wiseguy: True Stories From the FBI's Most Famous Undercover Agent for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

You can also read my earlier post and my On Crime & Thrillers column about Pistone via the below link:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Michigan Man Pleds Guilty To Attempting To Spy For Communist China

The U.S. Justice Department reports that Glenn Duffie Shriver, 28, of Detroit, Mich., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to conspiring to provide national defense information to intelligence officers of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The guilty plea was announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division (seen in the above photo); Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and John G. Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office.

Shriver pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging him with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it. In a plea agreement, the defense and government jointly recommended a prison sentence of 48 months. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2011.

"This defendant attempted to gain access to classified U.S. national defense information by securing a position within the U.S. government under false pretenses, with the ultimate goal of providing that information to intelligence officers of the People’s Republic of China," said Assistant Attorney General Kris. "Through the diligent work of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors assigned to this matter, the defendant’s scheme was detected and neutralized."

"Mr. Shriver betrayed his country and took repeated steps toward spying for another government," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "We remain vigilant against threats to our national security and will do everything in our power to find and punish those who seek to betray our country."

"Mr. Shriver threw away his education, his career and his future when he chose to position himself to spy for the PRC," said John G. Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. "He failed to appreciate that the PRC simply created a ‘friendship’ with him to use him. It’s a valuable lesson to others who might be tempted to do the same."

According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Shriver is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and lived in the PRC both as an undergraduate student and after graduation. While living in Shanghai in October 2004, Shriver developed a relationship with three individuals whom he came to learn were PRC intelligence officers. At the request of these foreign agents, Shriver agreed to return to the United States and apply for positions in U.S. intelligence agencies or law enforcement organizations.

Shriver admitted in court that he knew that his ultimate objective was to obtain a position with a federal department or agency that would afford him access to classified national defense information, which he would then transmit to the PRC officers in return for cash payments.

From 2005 to 2010, Shriver attempted to gain employment as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State and as a clandestine service officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. Shriver admitted that, during this time, he maintained frequent contact with the PRC intelligence officers and received more than $70,000 in three separate cash payments for what the officers called his "friendship."

In December 2009, Shriver received notice that he was to report to Washington, D.C., in May 2010 for final employment processing activities with the CIA. Shriver admitted that he communicated with a PRC intelligence officer that he was "making some progress" in obtaining a position with the CIA and that he would not be free to travel to PRC for another meeting because it could raise suspicion with federal agents conducting his background investigation.

Shriver admitted that he made false statements on the CIA questionnaire required for employment stating that he had not had any contact with a foreign government or its representative during the last seven years, when in fact he had met in person with one or more of the officers approximately 20 times since 2004. He also deliberately omitted his travel to PRC in 2007 when he received a $40,000 cash payment from the PRC for applying to the CIA.

In addition, Shriver made false statements during a series of final screening interviews at the CIA, and he admitted he made each of the false statements to conceal his illicit relationship with the PRC intelligence officers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview With Olivier Assavas, The Writer and Director of Carlos

I watched Carlos tonight on Comcast's On Demand channel.

I thought the film was outstanding. Although the film billed itself as a fictional account of the pre-9/11 terrorist Ilich Ramierz Sanchez, aka Carlos, the film was historically accurate.

Thankfully, the film did not, like Che, glorify a murderer and terrorist. The film's gritty realism reminded me of The Baader Meinhof Complex, another fine film about terrorism.

The Scottish newspaper The Scotsman offered an interview with the film's writer and director, Olivier Assavas.

You can read the interview and view the film's trailer via the below link:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dutch Treat: Sports Columnist Surprised at Elmore Leonard's Book Dedication

Bob Wolfley, a sports columnist for The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, has written an interesting piece about how Mike Lupica, The New York Daily News' sports columnist, was surprised to learn that the great crime writer Elmore "Dutch" Leonard dedicated his latest novel Djbouti to him.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

See the Declassified History of the U.S. Navy Frogmen at the UDT-SEAL Museum

The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida offers the declassified history of the World War II Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogmen and the modern Navy SEALs.

You can watch a good video about the UDT frogmen, the SEALs and the museum via the below link:

My late father, Edward M. Davis (seen in the center of the above photo), was a World War II UDT frogman and he trained at Fort Pierce prior to seeing combat in the Pacific.

You can read my piece on the UDT frogmen and Navy SEALs that appeared in Counterterrorism magazine via the below links:

Mark Twain Is Back On The Best-Seller List

The late, great writer Mark Twain may be dead, but he is back on the best-seller list.

You can read about Mark Twain's "new" work via the below link:

Monday, October 18, 2010

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Says Cyberspace is the New Domain of Warfare

By Cheryl Pellerin American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2010 - With the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command in May and last week's cybersecurity agreement between the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, DOD is ready to add cyberspace to sea, land, air and space as the latest domain of warfare, the Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said.

"Information technology provides us with critical advantages in all of our warfighting domains so we need to protect cyberspace to enable those advantages," Lynn said during an Oct. 14 Pentagon Channel interview.

In the above photo, U.S. sailors assigned to Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command man their stations at the Joint Expeditionary Base in Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. The sailors monitor, analyze, detect and respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and computer networks. (the above U.S. Navy photo is by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua J. Wahl)

Adversaries may be able to undermine the military's advantages in conventional areas, Lynn said, by attacking the nation's military and commercial information technology, or IT, infrastructure.

This threat has "opened up a whole new asymmetry in future warfare," the deputy defense secretary said.

DOD's focus on cyberdefense began in 2008 with a previously classified incident in the Middle East in which a flash drive inserted malware into classified military networks, Lynn said.
"We realized we couldn't rely on passive defenses and firewalls and software patches, and we've developed a more-layered defense," he said.

Lynn laid out a draft cyberstrategy in the September/October issue of "Foreign Affairs" magazine. He said DOD is working to finalize the strategy.

"There's no agreed-on definition of what constitutes a cyberattack," Lynn said. "It's really a range of things that can happen -- from exploitation and exfiltration of data to degradation of networks to destruction of networks or even physical equipment, physical property. What we're doing in our defense cyberstrategy is developing appropriate responses and defenses for each of those types of attacks."

One element of the strategy –- working with Homeland Defense to protect critical military and civilian IT infrastructure -– was put into place Oct. 13, when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a new agreement to work together on cybersecurity.

The agreement includes a formal mechanism for benefiting from the technical expertise of the National Security Agency, or NSA, which is responsible for protecting national security systems, collecting related foreign intelligence, and enabling network warfare.

Another element is what Lynn calls a "layered defense, where you have intrusion detection and firewalls but you also have a ... layer that helps defend against attacks."

In his draft strategy, Lynn describes the defense-layer component of cybersecurity in terms of NSA-pioneered systems that "automatically deploy defenses to counter intrusions in real time. Part sensor, part sentry, part sharpshooter, these active defense systems represent a fundamental shift in the U.S. approach to network defense."

And, since no cyberdefense system is perfect, DOD requires "multiple layers of defense that give us better assurance of capturing malware before it gets to us," Lynn said.

"We need the ability to hunt on our own networks to get [intruders] that might get through and we need to continually improve our defenses," he continued. "We can't stand still. The technology is going to continue to advance and we have to keep pace with it."

Envisioned attacks on military networks could impair military power, national security and the economy, Lynn said.

Enemy cyberattacks could deprive the military of the ability to strike with precision and communicate among forces and with headquarters, he said, and it could impair logistics or transportation networks and eliminate advantages that information technology has given military forces.

"Beyond that, cyberattacks conceivably could threaten the national economy if [adversaries] were to go after the power grid or financial networks or transportation networks, and that, too, would be a national security challenge," Lynn said. "And over the long run there's a threat to our intellectual property ... basically a theft of the life blood of our economy."

Working more closely with allies is an important element of the strategy, he said, to ensure a shared defense and an early warning capability.

The NATO 2020 report rightly identified the need for the alliance's new 10-year strategic concept -- a draft of which is an expected product of the 2010 NATO Summit slated for Nov. 19-20 in Lisbon, Portugal –- to further incorporate cyberdefense concepts Lynn wrote about in Foreign Affairs.

U.S. technological advantages are a critical part of the cyberstrategy and the Pentagon already is working with industry and with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to put these to work, Lynn said.

As part of a public-private partnership called the Enduring Security Framework, Lynn wrote in his Foreign Affairs article, chief executive officers and chief technology officers of major IT and defense companies meet regularly with top officials from Defense, Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

DARPA also is working on the National Cyber Range, a simulated model of the Internet that will enable the military to test its cyberdefenses before deploying them in the field.

The Pentagon's IT acquisition process also has to change, Lynn wrote in Foreign Affairs. It took Apple Inc. 24 months to develop the iPhone, he said, and at DOD it takes on average about 81 months to develop and field a new computer system after it is funded.

"The Pentagon is developing a specific acquisition track for information technology," Lynn wrote in Foreign Affairs, and it also is bolstering the number of cyberdefense experts who will lead the charge into the new cyberwar era.

The military's global communications backbone consists of 15,000 networks and 7 million computing devices across hundreds of installations in dozens of countries, Lynn wrote. More than 90,000 people work full time to maintain it, he said, but more are needed.

Through the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command and the bolstering of cybersecurity at other defense agencies "we've greatly increased the number of cyber professionals we have at DOD and will continue to increase that," Lynn told the Pentagon Channel."

You can read my earlier post on the history and threat of cyber warfare via the below link:

Boardwalk Empire: Atlantic City Still Haunted by Nucky Johnson

George Anastasia, the veteran crime reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote an interesting piece about how Enoch "Nucky" Johnson still haunts Atlantic City.

Nucky Thompson, the character in HBO's Boardwalk Empire, is based on Johnson. Johnson was the political boss of Atlantic City.

You can read Anastasia's piece via the below link:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Elmore Leonard On Books, E-Books, Movies and Where the Great Crime Writer Picks Up His Snappy Dialogue

Elmore Leonard told Reuters how he feels about books, e-books and the movies, and he revealed his surprising source for his snappy dialogue.

Leonard also discussed his new crime novel, Djibouti.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Actors We Miss: The Late, Great John Wayne

Jeffery M. Anderson wrote an interesting piece for Cinematical about the late, great actor John Wayne.

Like Anderson, I admire and miss the old Duke. Unlike Anderson, I share many of Wayne's conservative views.

I love John Wayne in The Searchers, Fort Apache, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, True Grit, The Green Berets, The Alamo, The Cowboys, The Shootist and in many, many more films. I've seen these films and others many times over the years.

I can even even watch his not-so-classic films again and again, because the Duke had great screen presence.

You can read read Anderson's piece via the below link:

I too miss the Duke, but he left behind some great films for our enjoyment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Michael Connelly, Author of The Reversal, Hits the L.A. Streets

Scott Bowles has an interesting piece on Michael Connelly, author of the new crime novel The Reversal, in The Desert Sun.

You can read the piece vai the below link:

You can also read my interview with Michael Connelly about killers, cops and crime reporters via the below link:  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

73 Members and Associates of Organized Crime Indicted On Health Care Fraud Crimes Involving More than $163 Million

WASHINGTON – Seventy-three defendants, including a number of alleged members and associates of an Armenian-American organized crime enterprise, were charged in indictments unsealed today in five judicial districts with various health care fraud-related crimes involving more than $163 million in fraudulent billing, announced Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler, FBI Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division Kevin Perkins and Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson.

In this national, multi-agency investigation, 52 were arrested today by FBI agents in the largest Medicare fraud scheme ever perpetrated by a single criminal enterprise and charged by the Department of Justice.

The defendants are charged with engaging in numerous fraud activities, including highly-organized, multi-million dollar schemes to defraud Medicare and insurance companies by submitting fraudulent bills for medically unnecessary treatments or treatments that were never performed. According to the indictments, the defendants allegedly stole the identities of doctors and thousands of Medicare beneficiaries and operated at least 118 different phony clinics in 25 states for the purposes of submitting Medicare reimbursements.

“The emergence of international organized crime in domestic health care fraud schemes signals a dangerous expansion that poses a serious threat to consumers as these syndicates are willing to exploit almost any program, business or individual to earn an illegal profit,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grinder. “The Department of Justice is confronting this evolving threat here and abroad through a number of initiatives including a strengthened Attorney General’s Organized Crime Council and the creation of the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) to ensure that we are focused and coordinated in our efforts to combat international organized crime.”

“The international organized crime enterprise known as the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian, fleeced the health care system through a wide-range of money making criminal fraud schemes. The members and associates located throughout the United States and in Armenia, perpetrated a large-scale, nationwide Medicare scam that fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $100 million of unnecessary medical treatments using a series of phantom clinics,” said Kevin Perkins, FBI Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division. “We want to restore the confidence in the nation’s health care system and assure practitioners we will not stand by and let their identities be used for criminal gain.”

“Today, special agents of the Office of Inspector General working in tight coordination with our federal law enforcement partners made 52 arrests across the nation—from New York to Los Angeles—on charges including Medicare fraud and medical identity theft totaling more than $163 million,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. “Criminals stealing from Medicare needn’t look over their shoulders to know that we are in hot pursuit.”

Forty-four defendants were charged in two indictments unsealed today in the Southern District of New York with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit the following acts: health care fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, fraud in connection with identity theft, credit card fraud and immigration fraud. In addition, seven defendants were charged in the District of New Mexico with health care fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, forfeiture and aggravated identity theft.

Six defendants were charged in the Southern District of Georgia with health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Six defendants were charged in the Northern District of Ohio with health care fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Lastly, 10 defendants were charged in two indictments in the Central District of California with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, criminal forfeiture, aggravated identity theft, aiding and abetting, and causing an act to be done.

According to the charges filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization is named for its principal leaders, Davit Mirzoyan and Robert Terdjanian. The leadership of the organization is based in Los Angeles and New York, and its operations extend throughout the United States and internationally. Among the defendants charged with racketeering is Armen Kazarian, who is alleged to be a “Vor,” a term translated as “Thief-in-Law” and refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminals from Russia and the countries that has been part of the former Soviet Union, including Armenia. This is the first time a Vor has ever been charged for a racketeering offense, and the first time since 1996 that a known Vor has been arrested on any federal charge.

The racketeering charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit bank fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The conspiracy to commit money laundering charges each carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit money laundering charges each carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with identity theft charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated identity theft charges each carry a required two-year consecutive prison sentence to any other sentence imposed, the conspiracy to commit credit card fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit immigration fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges announced today are merely allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The defendants charged in each district will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys from each of the respective districts in which the cases were charged. The cases were investigated by special agents from the FBI’s Los Angeles and New York field offices.

Today’s arrests are an example of the FBI’s ability to conduct cross-program, multi-divisional investigations targeting a national level threat. In recent years, the department has undertaken a series of steps to modernize its organized crime program and enable federal law enforcement to take a unified approach to combating international organized crime. The Attorney General’s Organized Crime Council brings together the leadership of the FBI and eight other federal law enforcement agencies or offices with the department’s prosecutors, focusing high-level attention on these issues. The IOC-2 provides support in the form of information and intelligence to the member agencies that enhance efforts to identify, penetrate and dismantle the most dangerous organized crime groups through investigations and prosecutions.

The creation of the International Organized Crime Targeting Committee and the Top International Criminal Organizations Target (TICOT) List, directs investigators and prosecutors to concentrate their limited resources on those international organized crime groups that pose the greatest threat to the United States.

The department’s Criminal Division, through the Health Care Fraud Unit, Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, has created new training programs to educate investigators and prosecutors on the intricacies of international organized crime and financial investigations.

Some years ago I interviewed the FBI's squad supervisor in Philadelphia about health care fraud.

You can read my newspaper column via the below link:

John le Carre Reads An Extract from His Latest Novel, Our Kind of Traitor offers John le Carre reading an extract from his latest novel, Our Kind of Traitor.

Although I disagree with le Carre's worldview, I believe he is a fine writer, and as one can judge from the video, he is a fine actor as well. He does the voices of his characters very well.

You can view the video via the below link:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

U.S. Navy Honors Sailors Killed, Injured in USS Cole Attack

By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 - Navy officials, current and former crew members and families of the fallen gathered today at Norfolk Naval Station, Va., to remember the 17 sailors killed and 39 others wounded in the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole 10 years ago today.

(The U.S. Navy photo above of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole is by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Pittman).

Suicide bombers launched the surprise Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the Arleigh Burke-class, Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer as it was anchored in Aden, Yemen, for a routine refueling stop. The attackers detonated an explosive-laden boat against the ship's port side, tearing a 40-by-40-foot hole in the hull and sending seawater gushing into the engineering compartment.

The attack was the deadliest assault against a U.S. naval vessel since the Iraqis attacked the USS Stark on May 17, 1987.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, the Cole's commander during the attack, recalled the impact of the blast.

"There was a thunderous explosion. You could feel all 505 feet and 8,400 tons of guided missile destroyer violently thrust up and to the right," Lippold said during a recent radio interview. "Lights went out, and within a matter of seconds, I knew we'd been attacked."

During today's ceremonies, Navy Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., commander of USS Fleet Command, saluted the Cole crewmembers' quick response and valor as they fought to keep the ship afloat and tended to the wounded while defending against a feared follow-on attack.

Harvey said the attack underscores the importance of always being trained and prepared, and he praised the sense of vigilance that has been passed down to subsequent USS Cole crews.

After 14 months of upgrades and repairs following the attack, the USS Cole made an overseas deployment in November 2003. The ship later deployed to the Middle East in June 2006.

The USS Cole, which recently returned to its Norfolk homeport after a deployment that took it through the Gulf of Aden, shows no visible evidence of the deadly attack that occurred a decade ago. But below its decks are regular reminders, including a blackened U.S. flag that survived the attack and 17 gold stars that line the ship's "Hall of Heroes" passageway.

As a ship's bells rang 17 times during today's ceremonies, the names of the fallen 17 sailors were read aloud:

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, a hull maintenance technician from Mechanicsville, Va.;

* Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, an electronics technician from Morrisville, Pa.;

*Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, a mess management specialist from Woodleaf, N.C.;

* Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, an information systems technician from Rice, Texas;

* Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, a signalman from Rex, Ga.;

* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, an engineman from Fond du Lac, Wis.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, an electronics warfare technician from Vero Beach, Fla.;

* Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.;

* Seaman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, an engine room fireman from Churchville, Md.;

* Seaman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, a fireman from Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.;

* Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, an electronic warfare technician from Portland, N.D.;

* Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, a mess management specialist from Kingsville, Texas.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, an operations specialist from Ringgold, Va.;

* Seaman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, a fireman from Rockport, Texas;

* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.; and

* Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.

My On Crime & Security Column: Stop. Think. Connect, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The online small business magazine published my On Crime & Security column today.

My column covered National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and a major FBI roll up of an international cybercrime operation.

You can read my column via the below link:

Friday, October 8, 2010

U.S. Army Official Historian Captures Evolving Story in Iraq

By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2010 - With a front-row seat to the history unfolding in Iraq, Army Lt. Col. Les' Melnyk is capturing it all for posterity, so the American public knows the full story behind what happened there, and the military can learn from its experiences.

Army Lt. Col. Les' Melnyk, official historian for U.S. Forces Iraq, is capturing details about U.S. military operations under way in Iraq to support a comprehensive history about Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Melnyk, a National Guardsman with a Ph.D. in history from the City University of New York, serves as official historian for U.S. Forces Iraq.

Since deploying in late May, he has chronicled several major historical developments in Iraq, including the official end of the U.S. combat mission, the transition of operations to State Department control, and the drawdown of U.S. forces to just under 50,000 troops.

Melnyk also played witness to the leadership changes at USFI, with Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno passing command to Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as Operation Iraqi Freedom officially ended and Operation New Dawn was born.

Throughout these events, Melnyk works like a sponge, absorbing details about the USFI operations and how they fit into the broader strategic plan. Tape recorder and notebook in hand, he's a regular at a long line of briefings, from Austin's commanders' updates four mornings each week, to lower-level staff sessions where the details of day-to-day operations get hammered out.

Unless specifically asked to put an issue at hand into a historical context, Melnyk is a silent observer, the proverbial fly on the wall.

"That's the whole point," he said. "I'm not there to influence events. I'm there as an observer. The most important thing for me is to take notes on what the [commanding general] and the other senior leaders say and what their reactions are.

"It's not just about documenting facts, but also about what the CG says to the staff," Melnyk continued. "What are his priorities? What are his concerns? What does he find encouraging or in some cases, discouraging, about what is going on?"

Melnyk remains in a collection mode between briefings, interviewing the USFI staff to gain insights and situational awareness, as he examines decision papers and other key documents.
Unlike journalists, always fighting the clock to meet the next deadline, Melnyk has the luxury of reflection. His focus isn't on what happened today -- just how it fits into the broader picture of what's happening in Iraq.

"I don't have to produce a product on a daily basis, so I have more time to digest it all," he said. "I also have the security clearance and access and wear the uniform, so I have the understanding that comes with having been in uniform for 22 years that enables me to put it all into context that a reporter doesn't have. I have a better understanding of how a large headquarters conducts operations and how the military does things."

Melnyk consolidates the huge volume of information he gathers into a single report each quarter. His first report, which covered April, May and June, was 88 pages long and included almost 300 footnotes referring to documents and interviews he had collected.

He considers this a rough draft to support the bigger story of U.S. military operations in Iraq -- one future historians will write down the road, after the mission is complete and documents related to it are declassified.

Those historians, with the advantage of 20-20 hindsight as they tell the story of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, will rely heavily on the on-the-ground accounts and documentation that Melnyk and other military historians who have preceded him in Iraq have been amassing since 2003.

They're all contained on a massive share drive housed within USFI, and shared with Melnyk's three customers: the Army Center for Military History, the U.S. Central Command's historian and the Joint History Office at the Pentagon.

As he goes about his work during his first experience as a deployed historian, Melnyk said he's impressed by the reception he has received. "Almost everywhere, you run into people here who think history is cool," he said. "They each bring their personal, and in many cases, family history to the table, and they are fascinated by the history of the military they serve in."

That appreciation isn't new to the military. In a memo to his staff in November 1947, then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower emphasized the importance of Army historians as they chronicled the history of World War II.

"The Army possesses no inherent right to conceal the history of its affairs behind a cloak of security, nor is such conduct conducive to a sound and healthy approach to the performance of its duties," Eisenhower wrote.

"The historical record of the Army's operations as well as the manner in which these were accomplished, are public property," he continued. "Beyond this, the major achievements with which the Army is credited are, in fact, the accomplishments of the entire nation."

Melnyk keeps Eisenhower's memo by his desk at the USFI headquarters at Camp Victory in Baghdad to guide his work today.

"Part of the reason we care about the history is what Eisenhower said: the public has a right to know," he said. "The public has made a big investment in lives and people and its treasury, and has a right to know about what our military forces have done."

But tomorrow's military stands to gain from that story as well, he said. "You want to have this history available for lessons learned, to teach what we did, what worked and what didn't work, and about the unique complexity of Iraq," Melnyk said.

"Future generations will want to know what we did here so that they can learn from it."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dick Couch, Former U.S. Navy SEAL, CIA Officer and Author, Speaks to Future Leaders at Virginia Military Institute

Former U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA officer, Captain Dick Couch (ret.) recently spoke about ethics and leadership to the cadets at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

Captain Couch, who teaches ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy, is also an author. He has written nonfiction books on Iraq, the Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces, such as SEAL Team One and The Sheriff of Ramadi. He has also written several thrillers.

You can read about this event via the below link:

You can also read my Q & A in Counterterrorism magazine with Captain Couch via the below links:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Inside the Philadelphia Police Academy Series, Parts One Through Three

In an earlier post I offered part one of my Philadelphia Police Academy series, which I wrote for The South Philadelphia Review in 1994.

I was the only reporter in Philadelphia to attend and cover the pilot course of the Civilian Police Academy Program.

You can read part one of the series via the below link: -

Below are links to Part Two, Stopping Cars is a Dangerous Business:

And below are links to Part Three, Patrolling Philadelphia's Mean Streets:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Interview With Bernard Cornwell, Creator of the Richard Sharpe Series, On His New American Revolutionary War Novel, The Fort

John J. Miller's Between the Covers radio program at National Review Online features an interview with Bernard Cornwell, the historical novelist.

Cornwell is the creator of Richard Sharpe, the Napoleonic-era British soldier who is featured in a wonderful series of novels and portrayed by Sean Bean in the popular BBC TV series.

Cornwell's new novel is The Fort, which is set during the American Revolutionary War

You can listen to the interview via the below link:

Below is a description of the novel from the publisher, HarpersCollins:

"While the major fighting of the war moves to the south in the summer of 1779, a British force of fewer than a thousand Scottish infantry, backed by three sloops-of-war, sails to the desolate and fog-bound coast of New England.

Establishing a garrison and naval base at Penobscot Bay, in the eastern province of Massachusetts that would become Maine, the Scots—the only British troops between Canada and New York—harry rebel privateers and give shelter to American loyalists.

In response, Massachusetts sends a fleet of more than forty vessels and some one thousand infantrymen to “captivate, kill or destroy” the foreign invaders. Second in command is Peleg Wadsworth, a veteran of the battles at Lexington and Long Island, once aide to General Washington, and a man who sees clearly what must be done to expel the invaders.

But ineptitude and irresolution lead to a mortifying defeat—and have stunning repercussions for two men on opposite sides: an untested eighteen-year-old Scottish lieutenant named John Moore, who will begin an illustrious military career; and a Boston silversmith and patriot named Paul Revere, who will face court-martial for disobedience and cowardice.

Grounded firmly in history, inimitably told in Cornwell's thrilling narrative style, The Fort is the extraordinary novel of this fascinating clash between a superpower and a nation in the making."

You can also read my three-part interview with Bernard Cornwell about his Sharpe series via the below links:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Former CIA Officer, Spy and Traitor Harold Nicholson Goes On Trial Next Week for Passing Notes Through His Son to the Russians

The New York Post reports that Harold Nicholson, a former CIA officer currently serving 23 years in prison for providing Russia with classified information, will go on trial next week for his passing messages to the Russians while he was in prison.

Nicholson (seen above in an FBI photo) passed the messages on napkins to his son, who in turn, passed the messages to the Russians.

You can read the Post story via the below lnk:

On January 29, 2009, federal officials charged Harold Nicholson and his son, Nathaniel Nicholson, with two counts of Conspiracy, one count of Acting as Agents of a Foreign Government, and four counts of Money Laundering.

The maximum penalty for the substantive charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government is ten years imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government is five years imprisonment. Each money laundering count, including the money laundering conspiracy, carries a maximum of twenty years imprisonment.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of funds provided to Nathaniel Nicholson by the Russian Federation, which the indictment alleges are the proceeds of his father’s past espionage activities.

Nicholson, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, is serving a 23-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Sheridan, Oregon, for a 1997 conviction of conspiracy to commit espionage.

The indictment further alleges that Nicholson, working through his son Nathaniel Nicholson, received cash proceeds of his past espionage activities from, and passed information to, agents of the Russian Federation between 2006 and 2008.

As described in the indictment, during the course of the conspiracy, Nathaniel Nicholson met with his father on several occasions to obtain information that was intended to be provided to the Russian Federation.

Nathaniel Nicholson then travelled to various places to meet with representatives of the Russian Federation, including San Francisco, Calif.; Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; and Cyprus, where he collected money from them and received additional instructions.

Nathaniel Nicholson then brought the funds he received back to Oregon to disperse to family members at the direction of his father.

The indictment further alleges that the funds paid by the Russian Federation to Nathaniel Nicholson represented proceeds of his father's past espionage activities.

"The conduct alleged in the indictment shows a sinister and continuing scheme, by a former senior CIA officer-turned spy, to betray the United States of America for financial gain, " said the U.S. Attorney for District of Oregon, Karin J. Immergut. "Thanks to the continued vigilance of the FBI, and the extraordinary cooperation of the Bureau of Prisons, we expect to hold a former spy, and the son who joined him in his criminal conduct, responsible for their actions.”

Matthew G. Olsen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said, “Today’s indictment alleges that an imprisoned spy recruited and trained his own 24-year-old son to travel the globe to collect on past spying debts and channel information to foreign agents. These charges underscore the continuing threat posed by foreign intelligence services and should send a clear message to others who would consider selling out their country for money."

“Harold James Nicholson, already convicted of spying and compromising national security, thought he could profit from his previous espionage despite being behind bars," said Executive Assistant Director Arthur M. Cummings, II, of the FBI National Security Division. "Now, along with his son, he again acted against the interests of the United States, according to the charges."

"This is an amazing case," said David Ian Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Harold James Nicholson, a convicted spy, was allowed to serve time in a federal prison in Oregon to be near his family. Without regret, he used that proximity to his family to continue contact with the foreign country for which he was previously convicted of spying."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Conversation with Conservative Author and Humorist P. J. O' Rourke

The New York Post has an interesting and amusing interview with conservative author and humorist P. J. O' Rourke.

O'Rourke has a new book coming out called Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards (Atlantic Monthly Press).

I've been reading O'Rourke since his National Lampoon days and I truly enjoy his magazine piece and his books.

You can read the interview via the below link:
Below is the link to O' Rourke's page at the Cato Institute. (The above photo is from
Below is the link to P.J. O'Rourke's official website:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tony Curtis, A Fine Actor and A Proud U.S. Navy World War II Veteran

Tony Curtis died Wednesday. He was 85.

Much as been written about his fine performances in The Sweet Smell of Success, Some Like it Hot, Operation Petticoat and other great films, but there was little coverage of his military service.

In addition to being a fine actor, Tony Curtis was also a proud U.S. Navy World War II veteran.

The Navy Times wrote a good piece about Curtis' wartime Navy service and how he was forever grateful to the Navy.

You can read the Navy Times via the below link:

The top photo shows Curtis as a Navy officer in the service comedy Operation Petticoat. The lower photo is of Curtis as an enlisted man in the Navy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Inside The Philadelphia Police Academy Series, Part One

I was recently discussing police actions with a friend and I mentioned my time at the Philadelphia Police Academy.

In 1994 I was asked by the editor of The South Philadelphia Review if I would like to be the first reporter to attend the Philadelphia Police Department's new Civilian Police Academy.

The editor wanted me to attend the academy course and write a series of articles on police training and operations for the weekly newspaper. I agreed.

Below is the piece:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

'True Grit' Updated by the Coen Brothers

I'm not one of those film buffs who believes that remaking classic films is sacrilegious. It is not an either/or situation and the new one does not cancel out the old.

I believe that director John Huston had it right when he suggested that film makers should remake film failures rather successful films (as he did with The Maltese Falcon), but film makers today like to remake successful films.

So it does not bother me that Joel and Ethan Coen are offering a remake of True Grit, even though I am quite fond of the 1969 Henry Hathaway film staring John Wayne.

Wayne, you may recall, received his only Oscar for portraying Rooster Cogburn in this film.

I like the Coen brothers' odd and funny films, so I look forward to seeing their version of True Grit. I also like Jeff Bridges and I'd like to see what he does with the Rooster character.

I read Charles Portis' fine novel True Grit shortly after seeing the Hathaway/Wayne film in 1969. The Coen brothers claim their film is closer to the Portis' novel than the earlier version. We shall see.

Tom O'Neil of The Los Angeles Times wrote an interesting piece about the Coen brothers' remake. You can read his piece and view the trailers for both the original film and the remake via the below link:

O'Neil made the comment that John Wayne's Oscar was undeserved.

I disagree.

I thought John Wayne's comic, self-mocking character was wonderful. (I also think the Duke should have won an Oscar for a number of other films, including his greatest film , in my view, The Searchers.

I thought Wayne was truly great in True Grit when sitting on his horse facing four outlaws on their horses across a field, he yells "Fill your hands, you son of a bitch," and then charges the outlaws, a rifle in one hand, his revolver in the other, and the horse's reins in his teeth.

True grit, indeed.

I also like that director Henry Hathaway populated the film with great character actors like Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Strother Martin. (Glen Campbell, a singer and not an actor, was the weak point in the film).

I recall Mad magazine's 1969 satire of True Grit, which they called True Fat.

In the comic satire, Mattie tells Rooster that she wants a fat man for the job because fat men are jolly.

"Well, sister," Rooster replies. "I may be fat, but I ain't jolly."

"The job pays $500."

"Ho, ho, ho!" Rooster shouts out.

Very funny, I thought.

One last thought on classic film remakes. Even the poor remakes urges one want to see the original film. The remake may also introduce the original film to young people who have not seen or heard of it. And the films often make one want to read the novel the films were based on.