Monday, February 28, 2011

Last American World War I Veteran Dies

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2011 - Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, died yesterday at his West Virginia home. He was 110.

Sixteen-year-old Buckles enlisted in the Army on Aug. 14, 1917 after lying to several recruiters about his age.

"I was just 16 and didn't look a day older. I confess to you that I lied to more than one recruiter. I gave them my solemn word that I was 18, but I'd left my birth certificate back home in the family Bible. They'd take one look at me and laugh and tell me to home before my mother noticed I was gone," Buckles wrote in 2009.

Buckles tried the Marines and Navy, but both turned him away. An Army recruiter, however, accepted his story.

"Somehow I got the idea that telling an even bigger whopper was the way to go. So I told the next recruiter that I was 21 and darned if he didn't sign me up on the spot!" he wrote.

Buckles earned the rank of corporal and traveled England and France serving as an ambulance driver. After the Armistice in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. He was discharged in 1920.

In 1942 Buckles worked as a civilian for a shipping company in the Philippines, where he was captured in Manila by the Japanese the day after they attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He spent three and a half years in the Los BaƱos prison camp. He was rescued on February 23, 1945.

Buckles married Audrey Mayo of Pleasanton, Calif., in 1946. The couple moved to his Gap View Farm near Charles Town in January 1954 where Buckles reportedly continued to drive his tractor until he was 106.

On February 4, 2008, with the death of 108-year-old Harry Richard Landis, Buckles became the last surviving American World War I veteran. Since, Buckles championed veterans' causes, was invited to the White House and honored at the Pentagon.

In March 2008 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates honored Buckles during a Pentagon ceremony in which officials unveiled a World War I veterans' exhibit.

(In the above DoD photo by R.D. Ward, Defense secretary Robert M. Gates, left, talks with Frank Buckles during the Pentagon ceremony).

"Whoever views this display will, I am sure, feel a connection to Mr. Buckles and his comrades-in-arms," Gates said. "We will always be grateful for what they did for their country 90 years ago."

Buckles, then 107, received a standing ovation from the mostly military audience.

"I feel honored to be here as a representative of the veterans of WWI and I thank you," Buckles said.

Buckles is survived by his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999.

In a White House statement issued today President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama saluted the fallen veteran.

"Frank Buckles lived the American Century," the President stated. "Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. And just as Frank continued to serve America until his passing, as the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, our nation has a sacred obligation to always serve our veterans and their families as well as they've served us.

"We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans."

Unsettling Prose From Patricia Highsmith, Author of "Strangers On A Train"

My friend and former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Wilson, wrote a very good review of a new collection of Patricia Highsmith's novels and stories

Highsmith, the author of psychological thrillers such as Strangers On a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, had a couple of dozen films made from her works. The most famous film adaptation is Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On a Train.

You can read read Frank Wilson's review in The Philadelphia Inquirer via the below link:

You can also read Frank Wilson's popular literary blog, Books, Inq, via the below link:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How John Le Carre Tinkered With His Spy Character

The British newspaper The Telegraph reports that spy novelist John le Carre has donated 85 boxes of material to Oxford University's Bodleian Library.

The material includes photos and hand-written pages about his novels. The pages show how le Carre "tinkered" with his George Smiley character in the process of writing what I believe is his finest novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

Although I don't subscribe to le Carre's anti-American leftist worldview, I think he is a good writer and an interesting writer.

You can read my review of his latest novel, Our Kind of Traitor, which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on le Carre and his comments regarding his fellow spy thriller writer Ian Fleming via the below link:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created The OSS And Modern American Espionage

I'm reading Douglas Waller's Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created The OSS and Modern American Espionage.

Simon and Schuster, the publisher of Wild Bill Donovan, wrote the below description of the book:

He was one of America's most exciting and secretive generals—the man Franklin Roosevelt made his top spy in World War II. A mythic figure whose legacy is still intensely debated, "Wild Bill" Donovan was director of the Office of Strategic Services (the country's first national intelligence agency) and the father of today's CIA. Donovan introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale it had never seen before. Now, veteran journalist Douglas Waller has mined government and private archives throughout the United States and England, drawn on thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, and interviewed scores of Donovan's relatives, friends, and associates to produce a riveting biography of one of the most powerful men in modern espionage.

William Joseph Donovan's life was packed with personal drama. The son of poor Irish Catholic parents, he married into Protestant wealth and fought heroically in World War I, where he earned the nickname "Wild Bill" for his intense leadership and the Medal of Honor for his heroism. After the war he made millions as a Republican lawyer on Wall Street until FDR, a Democrat, tapped him to be his strategic intelligence chief. A charismatic leader, Donovan was revered by his secret agents. Yet at times he was reckless—risking his life unnecessarily in war zones, engaging in extramarital affairs that became fodder for his political enemies—and he endured heartbreaking tragedy when family members died at young ages.

Wild Bill Donovan reads like an action-packed spy thriller, with stories of daring young men and women in his OSS sneaking behind enemy lines for sabotage, breaking into Washington embassies to steal secrets, plotting to topple Adolf Hitler, and suffering brutal torture or death when they were captured by the Gestapo. It is also a tale of political intrigue, of infighting at the highest levels of government, of powerful men pitted against one another. Donovan fought enemies at home as often as the Axis abroad. Generals in the Pentagon plotted against him.

J. Edgar Hoover had FBI agents dig up dirt on him. Donovan stole secrets from the Soviets before the dawn of the Cold War and had intense battles with Winston Churchill and British spy chiefs over foreign turf. Separating fact from fiction, Waller investigates the successes and the occasional spectacular failures of Donovan's intelligence career.

It makes for a gripping and revealing portrait of this most controversial spymaster.

David Wise, a noted author and expert on espionage, reviewed Wild Bill Donovan for the Washington Post. You can read his review via the below link:

U.S., Kuwait Mark Gulf War 20th Anniversary

By Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2011 - This week marks 20 years since the United States, as part of a 34-nation coalition, drove Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait, returning that nation to sovereignty and reshaping the U.S. military to the force it is today.

U.S. service members will join military members from dozens of other coalition countries tomorrow in a grand military parade through the streets of Kuwait City, in what the Kuwaiti government is calling its country's "Golden Jubilee." The event also marks the 50th anniversary of Kuwait's independence from Great Britain and, U.S. military officials say, will recognize the important strategic alliance between Kuwait and the United States.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will join 22 presidents, 64 heads of state and other senior officials attending the ceremonies.

"Twenty years ago, Kuwait and the United States formed an unbreakable alliance, which has grown into a comprehensive partnership that promotes freedom, prosperity and democracy in the Middle East region and the world," Army Lt. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of U.S. Third Army, said in a statement to the Kuwaiti people.

The celebration comes as history is being made in the Middle East where citizen uprisings in recent weeks have prompted revolutions against repressive governments that have spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Iran, Libya and elsewhere.

The Kuwaiti government on its website says Iraq's invasion was "a critical point in modern Arab history." It goes on to say that "the Kuwaiti government and its people will never forget all those who stood with them and supported them during the period of brutal invasion."

The first Gulf War was sparked when then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered an invasion of Kuwait after that nation's government defied his demands to cut oil production to allow for increased prices.

On Aug. 2, 1990, three armored divisions of Hussein's Republican Guard crossed into Kuwait, sped toward the capital of Kuwait City and, within days, overran Kuwait, according to Army historian Richard Stewart's "War in the Persian Gulf: Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, August 1990-March 1991," published by the Center of Military History.

Many Kuwaitis fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia -- the largest foreign supplier of U.S. oil. Many Saudis feared Hussein would unleash his million-man army on their country next. At the urging of President George H. W. Bush, Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, on Aug. 6, 1990, approved moving U.S. military assets onto Saudi soil, opening the door to "the most concentrated and complex projection of American military power since World War II," Stewart wrote.

(In the above U.S. Army photo by Sgt. M Benjamin Gable, a formation of armored vechicles, manned by U.S. soldiers and Marines, stand ready to lead a convoy of coalition forces through the parade grounds established for the 50/20 celebration in Kuwait City on Feb. 21, 2011).

Under the direction of then-Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney -- who would later serve as vice president to President George W. Bush when U.S. forces pushed into Iraq to topple Hussein in March 2003 -- and Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., then-Centcom commander, U.S. forces amassed a buildup of nearly 200,000 troops in Saudi Arabia by late September 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield.

The U.S. commitment to drive Iraq's army out of Kuwait would grow to 697,000 soldiers, Marines and airmen, and include the deployment of 108 Navy ships to the region, Webster noted in his anniversary message to the Kuwaitis.

America wasn't alone during the first Gulf War. The Bush administration built a 33-member coalition that included longtime western allies such as Great Britain, France and Canada, as well as Iraq's neighbors in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Oman, and Qatar, as well as Pakistan.

"The United States assembled an unprecedented and broad coalition to redress the strategic balance in the Middle East upset by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait," according to a Joint Staff paper about the war. The first Gulf War "ushered in an era of coalition warfare in which the United States has generally sought the approval and support of other governments and international agencies before intervening in a regional crisis," the paper said.

Coalition troops assembled in the region as civilian leaders worked with the United Nations to pressure Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. When embargos and other measures were exhausted, the U.N. set a Jan. 15, 1991, deadline for the Iraqi military to depart Kuwait. Hussein ignored the deadline.

"The hammer fell on Iraqi forces early in the morning of Jan. 17," Lt. Col. Les' Melnyk, an Army National Guard historian, wrote in "Mobilizing for the Storm: The Army National Guard in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm." In the United States, where it was still Jan. 16, he noted, "the air and missile attacks coming in over Baghdad were broadcast live as the [television] networks broke in on their evening lineup," allowing Americans, for the first time, to watch a real-time, play-by-play of their military at war.

"It was the most stunning bombing campaign in the history of the world," Melnyk wrote.

For 38 days, the aerial bombardment put on full display weapons and equipment that could not have been imagined when U.S. troops fought their last major war two decades earlier in Vietnam.

"There were silent airplanes that could not be tracked from the ground, bombs that could be steered to hit a target the size of a chair, missiles that could destroy other missiles in midair, and satellites that could tell a person in the middle of the trackless desert where they were," the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission wrote of the Gulf War.

The Iraqis' counterattack of aging Scud missiles was no match for the coalition, which dropped at least 88,500 tons of bombs during more than 100,000 sorties, destroying all significant Iraqi targets, allowing for the U.S.-led ground war, Operation Desert Storm, to begin Feb. 24.

With the Vietnam War as their previous point of reference, American broadcasters and politicians speculated that the ground war would change the coalition's good fortunes, Melnyk noted. Hussein had used chemical weapons before and there was reason to believe he would again, he said.

That proved not to be the case. Just 100 hours after the ground war began, it was over. By Feb. 27, Iraq's ground forces were in full retreat, and Bush declared a cease-fire and the liberation of Kuwait.

The United States suffered 148 combat deaths and 145 non-combat deaths during the seven-month conflict. In addition, 467 U.S. service members were wounded in action.

The Gulf War was a significant turning point for the U.S. military in many ways, not the least of which was proving it could fight alongside its Arab allies.

"The coalition proved that Western and Arab forces can and will stand together, and can do so with speed and precision," Webster wrote in his letter to the Kuwaitis.

The first Gulf War also solidified confidence that National Guard and reserve members could effectively fight alongside active duty troops, Melnyk said. "We take it for granted today, but before the Gulf War, and in the 20 years since then, the [Guard and] reserves have been part of virtually every contingency operation, large or small, that the military has engaged in," he said.

The war also vindicated changes in military training, doctrine and structure, and the investment in high-tech equipment that took place throughout the 1980s, Joint Force historians said. It further validated laws that strengthened the role of joint forces and that of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders, they said.

"The Gulf War marked the emergence of the United States as the dominant and continuing force for stability in the Persian Gulf region," they wrote. "Perhaps most importantly, overwhelming victory in Operation Desert Storm reaffirmed America's faith in its armed forces and, to some extent, in itself, its products, performance, purpose and dedication."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Everything You Ought To Know About Osama Bin Laden: Former CIA Officer Michael Scheuer On America's Public Enemy Number One

I interviewed Michael Scheuer yesterday for the next issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

The veteran former CIA officer, who served as the chief of the Bin Laden Unit (called Alec Station) at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999, has written an interesting and informative book called Osama bin Laden.

Although I don't totally agree with his worldview, I respect his knowledge, his opinion, his service to the country, and his commitment to the security of our country.

I'll post the interview here when the magazine comes out.

You can read more about his book, published by Oxford University Press, via the below link:

Scheuer appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes television news program in 2004. You can watch a video and read about his appearance via the below link:
You can also read my earlier post on Michael Scheuer and bin Laden via the below link:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Heroes In Special Operations: My Q & A With Oliver North

The current issue of Counterterrorism magazine offers my Q&A with retired Marine Lt Colonel Oliver North.

North, a syndicated columnist, author, and host of the television documentary series War Stories on Fox Cable News Network, has written an interesting book called American Heroes in Special Operations.

The book offers incredible true stories about the heroism and bravery of our Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and the other special operators in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book also offers a good assortment of photos of the special operators in action.

You can read my Q&A with North below:

Are We Prepared For Another Terrorist Attack?: My Q & A With Professor Michael Greenberger

The current issue of Counterterrorism magazine offers my Q&A with Professor Michael Greenberger, the director of the Center of Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) at the University of Maryland.

Professor Greenberger explains how CHHS works with federal, state and local governments, hospitals and private industry in developing preparedness plans so that we may be better able to respond to catastrophic natural disasters and horrific terrorist attacks.

You can read my Q&A with Professor Greenberger below:

Below are two photos of CHHS personnel training and conducting drills:

Actors We Miss: Lee Marvin

Cinematical looks back on the film career of the late, great actor Lee Marvin.

I'm a big Lee Marvin fan and if I had to pick three favorite films, I would choose The Dirty Dozen, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Point Blank.

These are films that I can watch again and again, and there so many other Lee Marvin films that I've enjoyed as well over the years.

You can read the Cinematical piece, which offers clips of some of his films, via the below link:

It's Justified: Elmore Leonard Speaks About His Lawman Character Appearing In A New Novel As Well As The Hit TV Series

The great crime writer Elmore Leonard speaks to The Detroit Metro Times' Jim McFarlin about his deputy U.S. marshal character, Rayland Givens.
Leonard tells McFarlin that the popular lawman character will appear in his new novel as well as the current hit TV series.
You can read the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

U.S. Admiral Provides Details Of Somali Piracy Killings

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 - Four pirates are dead and 15 are in custody, but not before they killed four Americans in the bloodiest piracy incident in recent history, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command told reporters in a conference call today.

Navy Vice Adm. Mark I. Fox (seen in the above U.S. Navy photo), who also commands the Navy's 5th Fleet, said the pirates shot Scott and Jean Adams of California and Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle of Washington state. The surface vessel Quest was sailing around the world when the Somalis hijacked it off the coast of Oman.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that President Barack Obama authorized the use of force if there was an imminent threat to the hostages. He said the president was informed of their deaths at 4:42 this morning.

"The loss of our fellow Americans is a tragedy," Fox said from his headquarters in Manama, Bahrain.

The admiral gave a timeline of the action. Pirates captured the vessel about 190 nautical miles southeast of Masirah Island, Oman, Feb. 18. Four U.S. Navy warships responded: the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley.

The ships found the vessel and made contact with the pirates via bridge-to-bridge radio, and began a series of negotiations. Yesterday, two pirates boarded the USS Sterett to continue negotiations.

"At 8 a.m. this morning ... a rocket-propelled grenade was fired by the pirates from the Quest toward the Sterett," Fox said. "Immediately thereafter, gunfire erupted from inside the cabin of the Quest. Several pirates appeared on the deck of the Quest and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender."

U.S. special operations forces closed in on the Quest in small boats and boarded the yacht. "They discovered that all four hostages had been shot by their captors," Fox said. The service members took immediate steps to provide medical care, but the four Americans died of their wounds. The boarding party also found two dead pirates aboard the vessel.

The special operations forces did not fire weapons during the boarding, Fox said.

"While clearing the vessel, two additional pirates were killed," the admiral said. "The remaining 15 suspected pirates are in U.S. custody."

Fox said two additional pirates were killed as the special operators cleared the boat. One was killed with a pistol, the other in a knife fight, the admiral said. There were no casualties to service members or damage to Navy ships. The Navy and the FBI are investigating the incident.

Somali Pirates Kill 4 Americans On Hijacked Ship

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 - Somali pirates killed all four Americans they had held hostage aboard a sailing vessel in the Indian Ocean this morning, U.S. Central Command officials announced.

U.S. officials were negotiating with the pirates for the safe return of the captured Americans when the murders took place, officials said.

Centcom officials said that in the midst of negotiations, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the S/V Quest. When the forces reached the boat, officials said, they discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds.

During the boarding, the Somali pirates fired on the U.S. forces, who killed two pirates and captured 13 others. U.S. forces already had captured two other pirates, and the servicemembers boarding the Quest found the remains of two other pirates.

"In total, it is believed 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the S/V Quest," Centcom officials said.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, Centcom's commander.

The pirates seized the boat Feb. 18 off the coast of Oman. Somali pirates -– often operating from mother ships far out to sea -- have captured scores of ships and generally have held the ships and crews for ransom. News reports indicate Somali pirates currently hold 29 ships with more than 660 hostages.

Piracy in the region occurred originally off of Somalia's east coast for several years. In August 2009, the pirates extended their attacks to the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia's north coast. The pirates since have ranged farther out to sea -– up to 600 miles –- and now affect more than a million square miles in the Gulf of Aden, the west Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

The United States has worked closely with regional and international partners to attack the problem. In this case, American forces closely monitored and tailed the Quest. Four U.S. Navy warships made up a response force dedicated to recovering the S/V Quest: the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (seen in the U.S. Navy photo above), the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bond And His Bentley: A Classic Car For A Classic Character

The BBC reports that James Bond will be driving a Bentley once again in the upcoming Bond continuation novel, Carte Blanche. The novel will be written by American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver.

Although Bond is mostly associated with the Aston Martin sports car, in Ian Fleming's early thrillers, Bond drove a Bentley.

In Fleming's novel Goldfinger, Bond was assigned an Aston Martin, which the character also drove in the Goldfinger film and in the subsequent Bond films.

You can read the BBC piece via the below link:

RIP: Dr Christian J. Lambertsen, Inventor of the SCUBA Diving System

Christian J. Lambertsen, a scientist and doctor who invented an underwater breathing system used by the military in World War II and later coined the "scuba" acronym by which such systems are widely known, has died, The Los Angeles Times reports.

He died Feb. 11 at his home in Newtown Square, Pa., outside Philadelphia. He was 93.

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

Chief Cos II: Video of Bill Cosby Being Made An Honorary U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer

In my earlier post, I offered a piece from the U.S. Navy on comedian Bill Cosby being made an honorary Navy chief petty officer.

(The above Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Jason M. Graham shows Bill Cosby at the ceremony).

Below is a link to the ceremony and some funny remarks by Cosby:

The below link is to an earlier video of Cosby telling a funny story about his Navy experiences:

The below link is to my earlier post on Cosby's ceremony:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chief Cos: The U.S. Navy "Promotes" Navy Veteran Bill Cosby to Honorary Chief Petty Officer

By Navy Chief Petty Officer Sonya Ansarov, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

WASHINGTON - Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West recognized actor, comedian and former sailor Bill Cosby as an honorary chief petty officer in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center on February 17, 2011 .

(In the above Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason M. Graham, Cosby stands between West and Mabus at the ceremony).

"Bill Cosby is not just a comedian and an actor -- although he's pretty good at both -- he's also been a tireless advocate for social responsibility and education and a constant friend to the Navy," Mabus said. "Last year was the highest compliment I've ever received –- being made an honorary chief petty officer, and now Dr. Cosby –- you're about to get the same honor."

Cosby holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Mabus and West placed chief petty officer anchors on Cosby in front of a huge gathering of chief petty officers and other sailors. West helped Cosby don a chief hospital corpsman's service dress blue jacket, and Mabus presented Cosby with the accompanying visored hat.

"I will tell to you like I tell all of our new chiefs ... when I pin these anchors on you, your job isn't over and your journey is just beginning," West said to Cosby. "There is no greater honor than having earned the title "Chief" -- and the responsibility to our sailors and our Navy that comes with it -- and we will expect more of you."

Cosby expressed his gratitude for the honor and for the lessons he learned in his Navy service.

"[Over] the years I spent in the Navy, and so many moments remembering that, the Navy gave me a wake-up call. The Navy showed me obedience, and that's the thing that pushed me to realize the mistakes I had made in my young life at 19 years old, and that I could do something with myself and become somebody."

Cosby began his relationship with the Navy in 1956, when he joined as a hospital corpsman and attended recruit training at Naval Training Center Bainbridge, Md.

During his four-year tour, Cosby was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; Naval Hospital Argentia, Newfoundland; aboard USS Fort Mandan; and Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

At Quantico and Bethesda, Cosby worked in physical therapy, helping to rehabilitate Korean War veterans, a duty he said he liked and excelled at. He was also an athlete for the Navy, playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track and field.

Cosby said the Navy transformed him from an aimless, uneducated kid into a man with drive, discipline and self-respect.

He was honorably discharged in 1960 as a petty officer 3rd class. His awards included Navy Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He also received the 2010 Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Get Caine: An Interview With Michael Caine

Michael Caine discusses Sean Connery, John Huston, his great films, such as The Man Who Would Be King, why he made so many stinkers, and how he met with real gangsters for his great crime film, Get Carter.

Get Carter and The Man Who Would Be King are two of many Michael Caine films that I love. I also love an odd, little film that Caine made called Pulp (Not to be confused with Pulp Fiction).

"The writer's life would be ideal, if it were not for the writing," Caine's character, a pulp crime writer, says in the film.

You can read the interview via the below link:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello, Old Lovers, Whoever You Are: The Smooth Jazz Sound Of Kenny G And Smokey Robinson

I've heard enough songs about young love. It's good to hear a song with lyrics about mature lovers, like Kenny G and Smokey Robinson's song, We've Saved the Best For Last.

You can listen to their smooth jazz sound via the below link:

Screenwriter And Director Hired For Upcoming Film Of True World War II Spy Story, Agent Zigzag reports that Rowan Joffe has been hired to pen the screenplay of a film adaptation of Ben Macintrye's outstanding true World War II spy story, Agent Zigzag. Mike Newell has been hired to direct the film.

Macintyre's book covered the incredible story of a British criminal, Eddie Chapman, who was a double agent for the British against the Nazis.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read my three-part interview with Ben Macintyre via the below links:

You can read more about the book and the true spy story at the publisher's web site via the below link:

March Of The Bowler Hats: A Taste Of Smooth Jazz From Chris Standring

For a taste of smooth jazz you can listen to Chris Standring's March of the Bowler Hats via the below link:

I like the title of the song and I like the song. March of the Bowler Hats appears on Chris Standring's Blue Bolero CD.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guantanamo Detainee Pleads Guilty To Supporting Terrorist Organizations

By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service

NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Feb. 15, 2011 - Accused terrorist training camp instructor Noor Uthman Muhammed pleaded guilty here today to charges of supporting and conspiring with international terrorist organizations against the United States.

Behind barbed wire and a dense network of sturdy orange barriers and in accordance with a pretrial agreement, the native of Sudan admitted to activities that could lead to his imprisonment for life.

Noor, as he has asked to be called in court, will be sentenced at a hearing this week before members of a military commission.

(Navy Capt. John Murphy, chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, briefs reporters after the Feb. 15, 2011, trial of Noor Uthman Muhammed at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba in the above DOD photo by Cheryl Pellerin).

"The prosecution is very pleased with the entry of the guilty plea by Noor this morning," Navy Capt. John Murphy, chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, told reporters after the trial. "We believe it is another step in the justice that we are achieving in the commission cases."

The commission now has resolved six cases to date, including Noor's, all of which have resulted in convictions after trial or pleas of guilty, Murphy said.

Noor's traditional white Muslim garb was covered with a dark blue jacket. Covering his head was a small white cap. He wore headphones through which an interpreter conveyed the words of the trial judge, Navy Capt. Moira Modzelewski.

Noor pleaded guilty to the first charge against him, which included the following:

-- Acting as a weapons instructor at the Khaldan terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and between 1996 and 2000 instructing terrorist trainees on topics that included small arms and artillery;

-- Serving on the Khaldan camp's leadership council, called a shura, and acting as the camp's deputy emir, or commander;

-- As deputy emir, overseeing the camp's daily operations, including training and acquiring food and supplies.

The second charge held that, between August 1996 and March 2002, Noor conspired with al-Qaida and others to commit "one or more substantive offenses triable by military commission." Noor pleaded guilty to this charge, but he denied some of the elements in it, including attacking civilians, murder in violation of the law of war and destruction of property in violation of the law of war.

The guilty plea is the "strongest form of evidence known to the law," Modzelewski told Noor, and she said she would use the plea to determine his guilt and the commission would use it to decide on his sentence.

When answering in the affirmative, Noor softly answered, "Na'am," the Arabic word for yes. He answered most of the judge's questions this way, resting in his chair and laboring to his feet slowly when asked to rise.

Noor's defense team included Howard Cabot, Navy Cmdr. Katie Doxakis, Army Maj. Amy Fitzgibbons and Navy Capt. Chris Kannady.

The prosecution team consisted of Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Sachs, Marine Corps Maj. James Weirick, Marine Corps Maj. Glen Hines, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Gaston, Army Maj. Daniel Cowhig and two assistant U.S. attorneys representing the Justice Department, James Trump and Mikeal Clayton.

Noor's is the last case the military commissions office is free to prosecute, Murphy said. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder designated three other suspected terrorists to be prosecuted in military commissions rather than in civilian criminal courts, he said: Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the alleged mastermind behind the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole; Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi, brother-in-law of Khalid al Mihdhar, whose hijacked Flight 77 hit the Pentagon on 9/11; and suspected al-Qaida member Obaidullah.

The three have not been charged yet, and Murphy said the military commissions office is awaiting authorization to proceed or not from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

In all military commissions, a panel of military officers, called "members," determines the sentence when there is a finding of guilt, Defense Department spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher said today.

At a hearing scheduled for Feb. 16, the defense and prosecution will have a chance to present evidence and arguments before the members determine a sentence.

The terms of Noor's pretrial agreement are not disclosed to the members and will be made public after the sentence is announced.

The Guantanamo Bay detention center is operated by the U.S. government's Joint Task Force Guantanamo. The facility was established in 2002.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Raymond Chandler and His Wife Cissy Are Finally Reunited

The late, great crime writer Raymond Chandler has finally been reunited with his wife Cissy, Diane Bell reports in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Cissy Chandler's remains, held in a mausoleum for 57 years, was laid with her husband in a ceremony in San Diego. A good number of Raymond Chandler fans were attendance, including actor Powers Booth, who portrayed Chandler's iconic character Philip Marlowe in a series on HBO in the 1980s.

You can read Diane Bell's piece via the below link:

The top photo is of Raymond Chandler and the above photo is of Cissy Chandler. Below is a DVD cover of Powers Booth's HBO series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, and the bottom photo shows some of the actors who portrayed Philip Marlowe in films and on TV. (My personal favorite is James Garner, who appeared in the 1969 film Marlowe).

Monday, February 14, 2011

That's Amore, By Dean Martin: Happy St Valentine's Day


That's Amore!
You can listen to the late, great Dean Martin sing his wonderful song via the below link:

She Walks In Beauty Like the Night, By Lord Byron: Happy St Valentine's Day

Happy St Valentine's Day.

She Walks In Beauty Like the Night, a poem by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Crime Beat Column: Michael Scheuer, The Former Chief of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit, On Bin Laden

I read Michael Scheuer's Osama bin Laden over the weekend.

While I may not agree with Mr. Scheuer's worldview, particularly on noninterventionism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought his book was a knowledgeable and interesting look at Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, terrorism, and Islamist insurgency.

Know Thy Enemy!

Scheuer, seen in the above photo, is a 22-year-veteran of the CIA and served as an analyst and chief of the bin Laden unit at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. Today he is a foreign policy critic and the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War On Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes.

Scheuer's new book debunks the popular misconceptions about bin laden and al Qadea. Scheuer wrote that Bin Laden is successfully leading an Islamist insurgency. Scheuer believes bin laden is a formidable enemy and his is winning the war against America and the West.

I ventured to Philadelphia's Central Library this past Thursday to hear Michael Scheuer speak about bin Laden, the war on terrorism and the crisis in Egypt. Although I didn't agree with everything he said, I found him to be an interesting and engaging speaker.

He was critical of the efforts of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations to fight al Qadea. He pointed out that before 9/11, the Clinton administration blew several chances to kill bin Laden and the Bush administration blew the chance to kill bin Laden after 9/11 at Tora Bora during the initial action in Afghanistan.

I plan to interview Michael Scheuer for the upcoming issue of Counterterrorism magazine. 

I heard Michael Scheuer speak before at the Philadelphia Main Library a few years back. Scheuer appeared with Gary Berntsen, the CIA field commander who lead one of the first teams into Afghanistan after 9/11. Berntsen wrote a book about that time called Jawbreaker.

I later spoke to Gary Berntsen and wrote a piece for Counterterrorism magazine, noting Scheuer and Berntsen's talk in Philadelphia .

You can read the piece via the below link:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Free Convicted Spy Jonathan Jay Pollard? Never

Retired CIA officer Frank Anderson makes a good case against pardoning convicted spy Jonathan Jay Pollard in The Los Angeles Times.

You can read the piece via the below link:,0,4722186.story

I wrote a piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer back in 1999 that also made the case that Pollard should not be pardoned.

You can read the piece via the below link:

I also interviewed the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent, Ronald J. Olive, who put Pollard away.

You can read my piece, which appeared in Counterterrorism magazine, via the below links:

Talk That Walks: How Hemingway's Dialogue Powers A Story

John L' Heureux wrote an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal about Ernest Hemingway's use of dialogue in his fiction.

"Young writers often confuse dialogue with conversation, under the assumption that the closer you get to reality, the more convincing you sound. But dialogue is not conversation. Dialogue is a construct; it is artificial; it is much more efficient and believable than real conversation. Just as fiction itself distorts reality in order to achieve a larger truth, so dialogue eliminates all the false starts and irrelevant intrusions of real life in order to reveal character and move the encounter toward a dramatic conclusion," L'Heueux wrote. "Ernest Hemingway demonstrated over and over that dialogue alone can carry a story. One of his best stories, "Hills Like White Elephants," is almost totally dialogue."

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eqypt Crisis Highlights U.S. Intelligence Failures

In his latest column, retired Marine Lt Colonel Oliver North writes about the crisis in Egypt and the failures of our intelligence community.

Although I agree for the most part with him, it should be noted that the U.S. intelligence community has been able to thwart more than 40 terrorist attacks on America.

There are many good people serving in the intelligence community.

In my view, the intelligence failure stems from a lack of leadership, beginning with Obama.

You can read Oliver North's column via the below link:,2933,602922,00.html

I interviewed Oliver North for Counterterrorism magazine and the issue will be published soon.

An Interview With Timothy Olyphant

I watched and enjoyed the first episode of Justified, season two, this week.

I believe the TV program truly captures crime writer Elmore Leonard's original and quirky characters.

Timothy Olyphant, who stars as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, is interviewed by

You can read the interview via the below link:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Kicks Off Book Tour At National Constitution Center In Philadelphia

Donald Rumsfeld began his national book tour to promote his new book, Known and Unknown (Sentinel), at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last night.

I covered the event for Counterterrorism magazine and along with more than 700 people in the audience I watched the exchange between historian Michael Beschloss and Rumsfeld.

(Beschloss is on the left and Rumsfeld is on the right in the above Zimbio photo).

Donald Rumsfeld, 78, who served as the youngest Secretary of Defense under President Gerald Ford, and later served as the oldest Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, was "on watch" at the Pentagon during the 9/11 terrorist attack and the subsequent launching of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I thought Rumsfeld was engaging, forthright and humorous.

Unfortunately, I thought Michael Beschloss asked the sort of softball questions one would expect from CNN's Larry King.

I received a review copy of Known and Unknown today and I look forward to reading it.

I'll post my Counterterrorism piece here when it comes out.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daniel Partick Boyd, AKA "Saifullah," Pleads Guilty To Terrorism Charges

The U.S. Justice Department announced that Daniel Patrick Boyd, aka “Saifullah,” 40, pleaded guilty today in federal court in New Bern, N.C., to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country.

The guilty plea by Boyd, a U.S. citizen and resident of North Carolina, was announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and George E.B. Holding, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Boyd was first charged along with seven other defendants in a federal indictment returned on July 22, 2009. He was arrested on July 29, 2009 and the indictment was unsealed. On Sept. 24, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment that added additional charges against Boyd and two of the other defendants.

According to the superseding indictment, during the period from 1989 through 1992, Boyd traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he received military-style training in terrorist training camps for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad. Following this training, according to the indictment, he fought in Afghanistan.

According to the indictment, from roughly November 2006 through at least July 2009, Boyd conspired with the other defendants to provide material support and resources to terrorists, including currency, training, transportation and personnel. The defendants also conspired with others to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad during this period. The object of the conspiracy, according to the indictment, was to advance violent jihad, including supporting and participating in terrorist activities abroad and committing acts of murder, kidnapping or maiming persons abroad.

The indictment further alleges that, as part of the conspiracy, the defendants prepared themselves to engage in violent jihad and were willing to die as martyrs. They also allegedly offered training in weapons and financing, and helped arrange overseas travel and contacts so others could wage violent jihad overseas.

In addition, the defendants raised money to support training efforts, disguised the destination of such monies from the donors, and obtained assault weapons to develop skills with the weapons. Some defendants also allegedly radicalized others to believe that violent jihad was a personal religious obligation.

“Today, Daniel Patrick Boyd admitted his role in a multi-year conspiracy to advance violent jihad by recruiting and helping young men travel overseas to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons. I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who helped bring about today's successful outcome,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding commented, “This case proves how our world is changing. Terrorists are no longer only from foreign countries but also citizens who live within our own borders. We must protect our homeland. I am committed to using any and all legal means to take on the challenge of finding and prosecuting others with similar radical views who plot violent attacks.”

“North Carolina and the United States are safer now that Daniel Boyd is no longer in a position to plot against us. His admission of guilt today proves to the world he intended to carry out violent jihad, which our evidence against him has shown. This should send a signal to any who may share Boyd’s extremist ideology -- the FBI and our law enforcement partners won’t back down in our fight to stop the next attack,” said Joseph S. Campbell, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service was proud to partner with the Raleigh FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in this investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). “We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect America's war fighters whether overseas or at home in America. By thwarting the terror plans of this group, we averted the unnecessary loss of lives of US military members and others.”

At sentencing, set for May 2011, Boyd faces potential life in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country and a potential 15 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI Raleigh-Durham Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the FBI, the DCIS, the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, the Raleigh Police Department, the Durham Police Department and the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Bowler and Barbara D. Kocher of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and Trial Attorney Jason Kellhofer, of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Former Dow Scientist Convicted Of Stealing Trade Secrets And Selling Them To Communist China

The U.S. Justice Department reported yesterday that a federal jury in Baton Rouge, La., convicted a former research scientist of stealing trade secrets from Dow Chemical Company and selling them to companies in the People’s Republic of China, as well as committing perjury.

After a three-week trial, the jury found Wen Chyu Liu, aka David W. Liou, 74, of Houston, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and one count of perjury.

According to the evidence presented in court, Liou came to the United States from China for graduate work. He began working for Dow in 1965 and retired in 1992. Dow is a leading producer of the elastomeric polymer, chlorinated polyethylene (CPE). Dow’s Tyrin CPE is used in a number of applications worldwide, such as automotive and industrial hoses, electrical cable jackets and vinyl siding.

While employed at Dow, Liou worked as a research scientist at the company’s Plaquemine, La., facility on various aspects of the development and manufacture of Dow elastomers, including Tyrin CPE. Liou had access to trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information pertaining to Dow’s Tyrin CPE process and product technology.

The evidence at trial established that Liou conspired with at least four current and former employees of Dow’s facilities in Plaquemine and Stade, Germany, who had worked in Tyrin CPE production, to misappropriate those trade secrets in an effort to develop and market CPE process design packages to various Chinese companies.

Liou traveled extensively throughout China to market the stolen information, and evidence introduced at trial showed that he paid current and former Dow employees for Dow’s CPE-related material and information. In one instance, Liou bribed a then-employee at the Plaquemine facility with $50,000 in cash to provide Dow’s process manual and other CPE-related information.

“Today a federal jury found Mr. Liou guilty of stealing protected trade secrets from Dow Chemical Company, including by bribing fellow employees for this valuable information,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division Breuer. “American industries thrive on innovation and they invest substantial resources in developing new products and technology. We will not allow individuals to steal the technology and products that U.S. companies have invested years of time and considerable money to create.”

“This office will continue to pursue sophisticated and complex schemes, such as the one perpetrated by this defendant,” said U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. for the Middle District of Louisiana. “Such actions undermine the economic viability of our community and our nation, and will not be tolerated.”

“Companies within the United States lose millions of dollars to the theft of trade secrets such as this,” said Special Agent-in-Charge David Welker of the FBI’s New Orleans Division. “The FBI is committed to aggressively identifying and investigating such schemes and along with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In addition, according to evidence presented at trial related to the perjury charge, Liou falsely denied during a deposition that he made arrangements for a co-conspirator to travel to China to meet with representatives of a Chinese company interested in designing and building a new CPE plant. Liou was under oath at the time of the deposition, which was part of a federal civil suit brought by Dow against Liou.

Liou faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on the conspiracy to commit trade secrets theft charge, and a maximum of five years in prison on the perjury charge. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson, who serves as the Senior Deputy Criminal Chief, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian F. Hipwell for the Middle District of Louisiana, as well as Trial Attorney Kendra Ervin of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The case was investigated by the FBI’s New Orleans Division.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Brutal Rise And Bloody Fall Of The Colombo Crime Family

Brad Hamilton wrote an interesting piece for The New York Post on the violent history of the Colombo crime family in New York, leading up to the recent arrest of more than 100 Cosa Nostra members.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read my piece on "Crazy Joe" Gallo (seen in the above photo) and the Colombo crime family via the below link:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don Rickles Roasts President Ronald Reagan At His Second Inaugural Celebration

To honor President Ronald Reagan on his 100th birthday, The Daily Caller offered a video of comedian Don Rickles "roasting" the popular president at his second inaugural celebration.

The video shows what a great sense of humor Reagan had.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beware Of Communist China's "Honeytrap" With Beautiful Female Spies

The Week reports on Communist China's use of beautiful women in cases of corporate espionage in the West.

The Week explains how the "honeytrap" uses beautiful women spies to seduce and then blackmail the targeted person.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Iraqis Reject Insurgency And Support Transition, U.S. Military And Civilian Leaders In Iraq Tell Senate Armed Forces Committee

By Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2011 - Iraq's citizens want a U.S. civilian presence in their country and overwhelmingly reject the insurgency, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq said here today.
"The people do not want what al-Qaida brings to their country," Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I don't see them returning to the prominence they had a while back. The [Iraqi] people have seen better days."
Polls show Iraqis are supportive of plans laid out in the U.S.-Iraqi strategic framework agreement calling for all U.S. military to leave Iraq by the end of this year, turning future operations over to the U.S. State Department, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey said.
"In all these [Middle Eastern] countries, there is a nervousness about having too close a relationship with any foreign country," he said. "They have a long history of being exploited by their neighbors, and colonization. But, we would say there is a general, positive feeling in Iraq toward the United States."
Those positive attitudes from Iraqis will help the 17,000 or so civilians who stay in Iraq after the military leaves, Austin (seen in the above DoD photo) and Jeffrey (seen in the below State Department photo) said.
It was the second time this week that the two testified before Senate committees about the transition from military to civilian-led operations in Iraq.
Austin and Jeffrey said they are confident the State Department can complete the mission if Congress fully funds their budget requests.
"We are dedicated to partnering with our embassy teammates," Austin said. "The key is to fully resource the embassy."
Jeffrey said failure to fund the effort properly would be a mistake. "Given all the U.S. has sacrificed in Iraq," he said, "now is not the time to be penny-wise and pound-foolish and risk ceding the field to al-Qaida and Iran."
The U.S. budget in Iraq will decrease from $78 billion for Defense Department operations there last year to a State Department request of about $6 billion for next year, Jeffrey said. That would make Iraq the State Department's largest program expenditure and would double its costs there now, he said.
Jeffrey added that Iraq increasingly is paying more for its own governance, security and programs, and currently pays for half of civilian construction projects.
As part of its role to advise and assist, Austin said, the military is working to turn over its training of Iraq's 650,000 security forces to embassy personnel in Baghdad as part of a new office of security cooperation. The office is slated to have 157 personnel to advise, assist and develop Iraqi forces and oversee $13 billion in U.S. military equipment sales to Iraq, he said.
State Department workers now have military escorts everywhere outside of Baghdad, but that has not always been the case, Jeffrey said.
"We have operated with our own contract security in Iraq under far worse conditions than we're under now," he said. "We continue to operate in Baghdad with our security personnel, and we're prepared to do this throughout the country." He added that he expects the civilians to have more than 5,500 security personnel, doubling their current numbers.
Iraqi security forces have had the lead in providing the country's internal security since last year and are prepared to continue after U.S forces leave, Austin said. U.S. forces will continue to train and equip Iraqi forces to better prepare them for external threats, which will remain a challenge through 2012, he said.
Iraq's continued development of its new national government will be critical to sustaining progress, Jeffrey said. "We've pressed them, but more importantly, they've pressed themselves," he told the committee.
The national government recently signed a 19-point plan with leaders of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on issues such as revenue sharing and oil exports, Jeffrey said. And Iraqi leaders, cognizant of potential threats from neighboring Iran and are "nationalist in their orientation" to dealing with them, he added.
"The Iraqi government is well aware of the potential for trouble," he said.