Thursday, March 31, 2011

British Spy And Traitor Kim Philby Was Disillisioned By Communism When He Died In The Soviet Union

The British newspaper The Guardian reports that British spy and traitor Kim Philby was disillusioned by communism and his personal failures at the end of his life.

Philby, according to his Russian wife, drank heavy and expressed his disappointment with communism as the defector ended his days in the Soviet Union. Philby died in 1988 before the fall of the Soviet Union, so he died not knowing that he spied for the losing side.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:  

U.S. Southern Command Chief Outlines Criminal Threats

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 - Central America remains a hotspot of instability caused by violent criminal organizations that use drug money to undermine legitimate governments, the commander of U.S. Southern Command said here yesterday.

Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser said the northern triangle formed by Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is possibly the most violent place on Earth today. Criminal organizations involved in illegal activities in the area –- including drug trafficking -- realize a global profit of $300 billion to $400 billion, he said.

Fraser used United Nations figures to back up his point at a Pentagon news conference.

"If we look at Iraq in 2010, the violent deaths per 100,000, according to U.N. numbers, was 14 per 100,000," he said. "In Honduras last year, it was 77 per 100,000. In El Salvador, it was 71 per 100,000."

The region has some very capable militaries, the general said, noting that El Salvador sent troops to Iraq that American partners rated among the best in that battle. But the governments of the region are overmatched, he added.

"If you look at the transnational criminal organizations, it's a well-financed, capable capacity -- an enterprise, if you will," he said. "Our estimates are anywhere from, on an annual basis, on a global basis, the transnational criminal organizations bring in 300 billion [dollars] to $400 billion a year. That's a significant number when you put it against the capacities of the governments that we're talking about."

One example of the technology these criminal organizations use is self-propelled, fully submersible vessels. These subs typically are 100 feet long, manned by a crew of four, and they can carry 10 tons of cocaine. They do not dive far below the surface and can transit between the northern parts of South America to the northern parts of Central America and into Mexico.

Militaries are not built to handle law enforcement activities, but many have been called upon to aid police in the effort, and U.S. Southern Command helps this effort, Fraser said.

"Because of the concern from a law enforcement standpoint -- and I'll use El Salvador as an example, the president, to address this issue, has asked and brought the military in to support law enforcement, very much in the same manner that we talk about within the United States," the general said. "Within their authorities, they work with the law enforcement to address the issue. But almost half of the military of El Salvador is working to address the violence. And we're seeing the same things -- not to the same level -- happen within other parts of the region."

Southern Command is working hand in hand with the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. law enforcement agencies and others to address this issue, Fraser said. Southcom personnel are part of the solution, but not the entire solution, he added.

"It's much more complex than that," Fraser said. "And we have to address it, in my mind, on a regional basis, and not just on a country-by-country basis." Toward that end, he said, the Central American Regional Security Initiative and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative are aimed at improving the ways countries work together, helping to empower the law enforcement and judicial systems.

"It's a multi-pronged effort," Fraser added.

But the foundation for these initiatives is building and sustaining military-to-military relations with partner militaries in the region, the general said.

"We engage with our partners ... to build that security capacity," Fraser said. "Our efforts include military-to-military engagements, exercises, training [and] subject-matter expert exchanges wherever we can, to help build capacity within our military partners."

Another important Southcom mission is to be prepared to respond in the event of natural or man-made catastrophes. The earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 was one example, and a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile last year, Fraser noted. Hurricanes probably are the most predictable natural disaster that can strike the area, he added, but the command has to be ready for everything from volcanoes to forest fires.

Southern Command works with the U.S. Northern Command to combat transnational criminal organizations. Fraser said the smuggling of drugs, guns, people and money is a regional problem, and it must be treated as such.

"Our boundaries from a U.S. forces standpoint is the southern border of Mexico with Guatemala and Belize," he said. "But from our standpoint, that's a very, very fuzzy boundary," because of the close cooperation between the two American combatant commands.

Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South, which coordinates the interagency capacity to detect and monitor traffic in the maritime environment, has boundaries that go beyond those between the Northcom and Southcom areas of responsibility, Fraser said, and it reaches into parts of U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command's areas as well.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Garner Files: James Garner's Memoir To Be Released In November

I was pleased to read in The Los Angeles Times that one of my favorite actors, James Garner, has written a memoir.

I've been a Garner fan since I was a kid watching Garner as Bret Maverick on television. I also loved Garner as Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files. 

Garner also starred in a number of good films, including The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, Up Periscope, Darby's Rangers and The Hour of the Gun. 

My favorite Garner film is the one where he portrayed one of my favorite characters, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. Garner portrayed the wise-cracking, tough private detective in 1969's Marlowe.

I've written here before that I believe Garner is the actor who comes closest to Chandler's Marlowe. Had the film been set in the proper period, the 1940s, instead of a contemporary setting, the film would have been near-perfect. (The above MGM photo is of James Garner as Philip Marlowe).

I look forward to reading James Garner's book.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

An Interview With The Dickens Of Detroit, Crime Writer Elmore Leonard

The Detroit Metro Times interviewed the "Dickens of Detroit," the great crime writer Elmore Leonard.

Leonard was questioned about his crime novels, realism, his writing style, the films made from his books, and why he continues to live in Detroit.

You can read the interview via the below link:

Today Has Been Designated Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day

Today has been designed Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day by the U.S. Senate.

If you know a Vietnam veteran, simply say "Welcome home" to him.

You can read my earlier post that links to a's piece on the designated day via the below link:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FX's Crime Drama Justified Hits The Mark

I've long been a fan of crime writer Elmore Leonard and I'm also a fan of Justified, the television program based on one of Leonard's characters, U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens.

I recently reread Riding the Rap, a Leonard crime novel that features Raylan Givens, and I saw how well actor Timothy Olyphant is portraying the Givens character.

Elmore Leonard is fond of Olyphant and the TV program as well (Leonard appears in the above photo with Olyphant). published an interesting piece on Justified and offered the below: 

It's clear to the nearly four million Oly-fans who tune in to FX's adaptation of crime-novel mastermind Elmore Leonard's work each week that everybody involved is having a blast. "Elmore doesn't know how to write anything that's not cool," Olyphant raves of the Get Shorty/Be Cool/Out of Sight author. "When it really cooks, it's just a great job."

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

You can also read my online column on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

The Power And Destruction Of A Tsunami offers a video of the damage caused by a rising Tsunami in Japan.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Better Late Than Never: March 30th Is Designated Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day reports that March 30, 2011 has been officially designated Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day by the U.S. Senate.

The date marks the 38th anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. combat and combat-support units from Vietnam.

You can read the piece via the below link: also offered a good piece by the late Colonel Harry G. Summers Jr on the deliberate distortions that still obscure understanding of the Vietnam War.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Too Soon Comedy From Gilbert Gottfried

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried lost his well-paid voice over advertising job with Affleck insurance due to his tasteless (but funny) jokes about the disasters in Japan, but the annoying (yet funny) comic has made a video that makes fun of the reaction to his jokes.

The video, Too Soon Gilbert Gottfried (with no question mark) can be viewed via the link below:

Tattooed By Politics: Michael C. Moynihan On Radical Swedish Detective Fiction

I confess that I could not finish reading Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

I gave up on the novel not because of Larsson's leftist, anti-capitalist views - Lord knows I've read a good many books by leftist novelists. I laid the novel down because I thought it dull.

Michael C. Moynihan in his Wall Street Journal review of Henning Mankell's The Troubled Man, begins with noting that Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo offered "cartoonish tales of capitalists doing battle with righteous journalists and anarchrist hackers."

Moynihan goes on to write that Larsson, a former member of a Viet Cong support group, has a literary heir of sorts in Mankell, a Swedish crime writer, former Maoist agitator and author of the Kurt Wallander detective series. The Troubled Man is the latest novel in the series.

 "Like Larsson, Mr. Mankell is a writer of middling talent and radical political beliefs," Moynihan writes.

You can read Moynihan's interesting piece via the below link:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Threat Matrix: The FBI At War In The Age Of Global Terror: A Q & A With Author Garrett M. Graff

Jamie Weinstein at The Daily Caller offers a good Q & A with Garrett M. Graff, the author of a new book on the FBI and the war on terrorism.

You can read the interesting Q & A via the below link:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Barefellas: The Mob Makes New Members Remove Clothes For Initiation

New members about to be initiated into Cosa Nostra must disrobe, The New York Post reported on Friday.

Accorded to the Post, the mob bosses fear that one of their new applicants might be wearing a recording device, which has happened in the past, so the new goodfellas take their oath in their underwear or nude.

You can read the Post's story via the below link:

Life Is Like An Online Movie Poll, You Never Know What You Are Going To Get: Forrest Gump Voted Most Memorable Movie Character Over James Bond

ABC TV offered a program about the greatest movies of our time, with online voters choosing the best film and a host of categories, including the most memorable movie character.

I find it hard to believe that the voters choose Forrest Gump over James Bond, who came in second, and Gone With the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara, who came in third.

In the above photo sequence, film viewers were introduced to Ian Fleming's truly iconic character James Bond, portrayed by the one and only Sean Connery, in 1962's Dr No.

You can watch the video of the ABC program via the below link:

Friday, March 25, 2011

My On Crime & Security Column: Armed Robbery Can Be A Deadly Business

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

My column covered the deadly business of armed robbery and the desperate and ruthless criminals who commit the crime.

You can read my piece via the below link:

Clive Owen Shows Off His Hemingway Moustache

The entertainment web site Monsters and Critics reports that British actor Clive Owen showed off his Hemingway moustache on the Ellen DeGeneres TV program.

Owen (seen in the above Russ Einhorn/Splash photo) explained to DeGeneres that he grew the moustache to portray Ernest Hemingway in a film for HBO about the writer and his journalist wife Martha Gelhorn. Actress Nicole Kidman is portraying Gelhorn.

You can read the item via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on the Hemingway/Gelhorn film and other films on Hemingway via the below link:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ghost Author Robert Harris May Write Biography Of Former Spook John Le Carre

In a previous post we reported that Adam Sisman is set to write an authorized biography of spy thriller writer John le Carre - - -

Today the British newspaper The Telegraph reports that Fatherland, Conspirata and Ghost (made into the film The Ghost Writer) author Robert Harris is considering writing a rival biography of le Carre (seen in the above Telegraph photo).

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

John le Carre has led an interesting life.

He was the son of a con man and thief and the working class boy was raised to pass himself off as an upper class "gentleman."

Le Carre later served in the British security service, MI5, and the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, before he became a world-famous spy thriller writer.

John le Carre wrote about his unusual childhood in his thriller The Perfect Spy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edward Conlon's Red On Red: An NYPD Detective's Foray Into Fiction

I heard New York Police Detective Ed Conlon speak at the Philadelphia Free Library a while back when he was promoting Blue Blood, his memoir of his first seven years on the NYPD, and I spoke to him briefly.

Conlon (seen in the above LIFE photo) appeared with the legendary former FBI special agent Joe Pistone, who spent six years undercover with the New York Bonanno Cosa Nostra organized crime family. Pistone wrote about his experiences in Donnie Brasco, and Johnny Depp later portrayed Pistone in the film Donnie Brasco.

Conlon has now written a novel called Red On Red and he was interviewed about the novel by Steven Kurutz at The Wall Street Journal.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read about Conlon's take on police fiction via the below link:

I thought Blood Blood was interesting and I look forward to reading Red On Red.

Meet The New Russian Secret Police, Same As The Old Russian Secret Police

Joseph G. Goulden, author of The Death Merchant, reviewed a new book on the Russian security service called The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB (Public Affairs). The book was written by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan.

Goulden wrote the below:

No one familiar with the security system of the old USSR expected the KGB to dry up and blow away when communism collapsed in 1991. Further, many of us doubted whatever government replaced the Soviet state would make any changes of substance in its intelligence agencies.

Skepticism is proving well-founded. Indeed, the newly constituted security services are more shadowy and powerful than was the KGB at its prime. The Federal Security Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, or FSB) has flourished under former KGB officer Vladimir Putin - first as president, now prime minister - and the government is top-heavy with his onetime intelligence colleagues.

The book sounds interesting.

You can read the rest of the review in the The Washington Times via the below link:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adam Sisman to Pen John Le Carre Biography

The web site Booktrade reports that Adam Sisman will write "the definitive life of John le Carre."

The spy thriller writer will provide Sisman with information and his private archive, but he will have no control over the biography, which is the wish of both writers.

You can read the piece via the below link,

You can also read my review of le Carre's latest thriller, which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, via the below link:

Monday, March 21, 2011

No-Fly Zone In Place, But Danger Remains, Admiral Says

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2011 - While the attacks on Libya's integrated air and missile defense system have been successful, thousands of anti-aircraft artillery emplacements and portable missile launchers still pose threats to coalition air crews, the director of the Joint Staff said today.

On the second day of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney said the coalition cruise missile strikes against selected air defense systems and facilities were successful, and that coalition ships and submarines launched 124 Tomahawk missiles against these targets.

(In the above DoD photo by Air Force Master Sgt Jerry Morrison, Navy Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, updates reporters on Operation Odyssey Dawn at the Pentagon, march 20, 2011).

"We judge these strikes to have been very effective in degrading the regime's air defense capability, to include their ability to launch many of their SA-5s – their long range missiles – their SA-3s and SA-2s," Gortney said during a Pentagon news conference.

Moammar Gadhafi's regime has not launched aircraft, and the coalition has not detected any radar emissions from the air defense sites targeted, the admiral said.

"There has been a significant decrease in the use of all Libyan air surveillance radars," he added. "These seem to be limited to the areas around Tripoli and Sert."

Air Force B-2 bombers also attacked Libyan airfields, flattening the hardened shelters Libyan fighter-bombers use, Gortney said. Coalition tactical fighters also hit Gadhafi's ground forces on the outskirts of Benghazi, where 15 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, French and British aircraft participated in the action about 10 miles south of the opposition stronghold. "We judge these also to have been highly successful at halting the regime ground movement in this region," Gortney said.

Libya's fixed surface-to-air missile threat and early warning radars are gone. The threat that remains comes from mobile surface-to-air missiles -- SA-6 and SA-8 systems – as well as thousands of shoulder-fired SA-7 missile launchers, the admiral told reporters.

The coalition has not directly targeted anti-aircraft artillery, Gortney said, because many are near homes and there are thousands of these guns.

The coalition has grown and will continue to increase, Gortney said, noting that it includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Qatar, Belgium, Norway and Denmark. More nations will directly participate in the coalition, he said, and other nations will provide overflight rights, basing and logistics. Gortney said those nations will make their announcements at their own times.

The United States leads the coalition effort now, but that will change, the admiral said.

"Our intent is to be a part of the coalition throughout, and transfer the command to a coalition command," he said. The United States would shift to more of a support function that would include aerial tankers; electronic warfare aircraft; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; and logistics."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Look Back At Our 40th President During The Ronald Reagan Centennial

I wish Ronald Reagan was still with us and I wish he were still the president.

Alas, he is gone.

But during the Ronald Reagan Centennial, the year-long celebration to commemorate the 100th birthday of our 40th president, we have several books out that look back on the man many Americans believe was one of our of greatest presidents.

My friend and former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Wilson, wrote a good review of Ron Reagan's My Father at 100: A Memoir and Michael Schaller's Ronald Reagan.

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

You can also read my review of William F. Buckley's The Reagan I Knew, which appeared earlier in The Philadelphia Inquirer, via the below link:

And if you truly want to get to know the real Ronald Reagan, read his letters in Reagan: A Life in Letters. You can sample some of the letters via the below link:

How To Keep A Thriller Real

Frederick Forsyth, author of the The Day of the Jackal and other classic thrillers, explains how he writes fact-based, realistic thrillers in a piece in The Wall Street Journal.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read my column on Frederick Forsyth and how he wrote his latest novel, The Cobra via the below link:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yakuza Aid: Even The Japanese Mafia Is Offering Humanitarian Help To The Japanese Disaster Victims

Jake Adelstein, the author of Tokyo Vice, reports in The Daily Beast that the yakuza, Japan's organized crime group, is helping the disaster victims in Japan.

Although Adelstein, who worked as a crime reporter in Japan, describes the yakuza as a criminal organization, and notes most yakuza members are tribal sociopaths, he reports that the Japanese underworld is pitching in with food and other services to help the victims.

You can read the Daily Beast piece via the below link:

You can also read my column on Adelstein and Toyko Vice via the below link:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Loose Lips Still Sink Ships: U.S. Sailor To Be Court-Martialed For Attempted Espionage

The Virginian-Pilot reports that Bryan Minkyu Martin, an enlisted sailor accused of attempted espionage and other charges, is scheduled to be court-martialed at Norfolk, Virginia on May 19th.

Martin was arrested by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as he attempted to sell classified material to an undercover federal agent.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

American Sailors, Ships and Aircraft Provide Aid And Supplies To The Japanese

As a former sailor who served aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, I'm proud of the good work the sailors on today's aircraft carriers (as well as other ships and aircraft) are doing to aid the Japanese people during this crisis.
In the above U.S. Navy photo American sailors move supplies onto an HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in the Pacific Ocean.
The USS Reagan Strike Group is conducting search & rescue operations and resupply missions of the coast of Japan.
I visited Japan when the USS Kitty Hawk was temporarily relieved from combat operations off the coast of Vietnam and pulled into Sasebo for an R & R visit.
I retain fond memories of Japan and the Japanese people.
I wrote about my visit to Japan in my Crime Beat column on Stephen Hunter's thriller, The 47th Samurai.
You can read my column via the below link:

First Authorized John Wayne Photo Book To Be Published This Fall

The camera loved the late, great actor John Wayne.

He was photogenic and he had great screen presence, so I suspect that a collection of John Wayne's photos will be welcomed by his many fans. reports that the first authorized John Wayne photo book will be published this fall. The book will contain personal family photos and photos from his films.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Don't Feel Like A Rat, Says Chicago Hoodlum Who Testified Against His Mob Father And Other Hoods In Family Secrets Trial

Frank Calabrese Jr, the Chicago hoodlum who testified against his Chicago "Outfit" mob father and other organized crime figures in the "Family Secrets" trial that devastated the Chicago mob, talked to John Kass at The Chicago Tribune about his new book, Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family.

You can read Kass' column via the below link:,0,4611578.column

You can also read my piece on the Family Secrets trial via the below link:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conversations With Film Director Martin Scorsese

Betsy Sharkey at The Los Angeles Times reviewed film critic Richard Schickel's new book, Conversations With Scorsese.

You can read the review via the below link:

I'm a big fan of Scorsese's classic crime films, Mean Streets, Goodfellas and Casino, so this is a book that I look forward to reading.

You can read my Crime Beat column on Scorsese's crime films via the below link:

My On Crime & Security Column: Beware Of Small-Business Grant Scams

The business web site posted my On Crime & Security column today.

My column covered small business grant scams.

You can read my column via the below link:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The History Of The Philly Cheesesteak

In 1970 I was an 18-year-old sailor stationed in San Deigo, California, just prior to shipping out to Southeast Asia.

Passing a sandwich shop in downtown San Deigo that advertised "Philly-Style Cheesesteaks," I pulled my two fellow sailors into the shop for a taste of something their pitiful hometowns didn't offer.

The sandwich tasted nothing like the cheesesteaks I grew up on in South Philly. I was somewhat embarassed and I told my friends that they would have to visit South Philadelphia to taste the real thing.

Since then the Philly cheesesteak has become famous and several local firms ship the authentic sandwich to other parts of the country. offers a good piece on the history of the cheesesteak and you can view the video and read about the history of the famous sandwich via the below link:

As an aside, the sandwich ought to be called the "South Philly Cheesesteak," as it was first made in my part of the city.

And although Pat's made the first cheesesteak, I prefer Geno's.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Agatha Christie's Secret Life As An Archaeologist

London, England (CNN) -- She is one of the best-known crime writers of all time but few know the extent of Agatha Christie's archaeological pedigree.

Married in 1930 to eminent archaeologist Max Mallowan, Christie spent two decades living on excavation sites in the Middle East, writing her crime novels and helping out with her husband's work.

(The above British Museum photo shows Christie's husband Max Mallowan, Christie and Leonard Woolley at the Biblical ruins at Ur in 1931).

Travel by boat and on the Orient Express to far-flung places such as Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad inspired some of Christie's best-known works of detective fiction, including "Murder on the Orient Express," "Death on the Nile," and "Murder in Mesopotamia."

Now, 3,000-year-old ivory artifacts recovered by Mallowan between 1949 and 1963 from the ancient city of Nimrud, in what is now Iraq, and likely cleaned by his famous wife using cotton wool buds and face cream, go on display Monday at the British Museum in London.

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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get Carter Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

The BBC reports that the classic British crime film Get Carter is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Get Carter is one of my favorite crime films and it still holds up today. Michael Caine, one of my favorite actors, is terrific as a Brit hoodlum in the film.

You can read the BBC piece via the below link:

Get Caine: You can also read an earlier post that links to an interview with Caine:

Thirteen Somali and One Yemeni Indicted For Pirate Attack That Killed Four Americans

NORFOLK, VA—Yesterday, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted 13 Somalis and one Yemeni with pirating a yacht and taking hostage four U.S. citizens, who were ultimately killed before their release could be secured.

(The four American victims are seen in the above photo. They are left to right, Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Ridge).

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Diego Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's New York Field Office; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Norfolk, made the announcement.

"This is a horrific crime, involving the armed hijacking of an American ship and the slaughter of American citizens," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "The alleged pirates will now face justice in an American courtroom."

"These 14 men are alleged to have been willing to do anything, including killing their hostages, in a vain attempt to obtain ransom," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk said. "Modern day piracy has real and serious consequences, disrupting commerce and threatening Americans' lives. It is a crime against the international community, a form of terrorism on the high seas. Today's charges should send a clear message to those who attempt to engage in piracy against Americans or American vessels: even on the open ocean, you are not beyond the reach of American justice."

"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service provides unique forward deployed law enforcement capabilities to the U.S. Navy's Maritime Strategy," said NCIS Special Agent in Charge Russ. "NCIS special agents are currently deployed to support the Navy's counter-piracy strategies and national objectives. This case clearly represents the undeniable aspect of violence and criminality which is associated with all acts of piracy. Additionally, the well coordinated community response demonstrates the strong working relationship between uniformed military forces and NCIS—which is a civilian agency—and our federal partners to ensure cooperative security and stability across the maritime domain."

The indictment was returned on March 8, 2011, and remained sealed until the defendants made their initial appearances before a magistrate judge in Norfolk.

According to a three-count indictment, 14 alleged pirates boarded an American sailing vessel named the Quest on Feb. 18, 2011, and held four U.S. citizens hostage for five days. The U.S. military negotiated with the alleged pirates to attempt to free the hostages. As the military continued its negotiations, at least one of the alleged pirates on board the Quest fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Sterett. That same day—without provocation—at least three of the men on the Quest allegedly intentionally shot and killed the four hostages before their release could be secured.

Following the shooting of the hostages, the Somalis on the high seas were taken into custody by the U.S. military. The indictment states that the alleged pirates possessed a rocket-propelled grenade and several AK-47 and FAL assault rifles and that the defendants threw overboard additional weapons prior to being taken into custody.

All 14 men were charged with piracy, which carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison. In addition, the indictment also charges them with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the use of a destructive device during a crime of violence. The latter charge carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, which would run consecutive to all other charges.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI's New York Field Office and Norfolk Field Office and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch, Joseph DePadilla and Brian Samuels from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman Will Lead Security Company Formerly Known As Blackwater reports that retired U.S. Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman will lead the board of directors for Xe Services, the security company formerly known as Blackwater, USA.
Inman (seen in the above photo and the below photo when he was the Deputy Director of the CIA) is an experienced intelligence officer and a well-respected intelligence agency director.
You can read the FoxNews story via the below link:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fort Bragg Spy Case To Be Tried At Naval Station Norfolk

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Bryan Minkyu Martin, the enlisted Naval intelligence specialist charged last Thursday with several counts of attempted espionage and mishandling classified information, will face those charges at Naval Station Norfolk, The Fay Observer reports.

Martin (seen in the above U.S. Navy photo) is being held in the Naval Brig in Norfolk, Virginia.

You can read the news account via the below link:,-Virgin

You can also read my earlier post on Martin via the below link:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs Exhibit At The National Constitution Center In Philadelphia

I attended a press luncheon and preview of the Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last Thursday. I covered the preview for Counterterrorism magazine.

The new exhibit, which will run until May 30th, was created by the International Spy Museum and illustrates the challenges of securing our nation from threats while preserving our constitutional rights.

The Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs exhibit offers artifacts, interactive displays and themed environments that explore our country's long line of threats throughout our history.

Below is a link to a video on the exhibit that appeared on

I'm a frequent visitor to the Constitution Center and I've visited the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. several times. Both museums offer world class exhibits.

I'll post my piece on the Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs exhibit here when it comes out.

You can also read my magazine piece on the International Spy Museum via the below links:

Monday, March 7, 2011

You've Seen The True Grit Movies, Now Read Charles Portis' Novel

My hope is that as a result of the debate over which True Grit film is better, the new Joel and Ethan Coen version starring Jeff Bridges, or the 1969 Henry Hathaway version starring John Wayne, film goers will go to the source material - the 1968 novel by Charles Portis.

After watching the original film with the Duke as Rooster Cogburn in 1969, I went out and bought the novel and quickly read it. I thought it was a fine novel.

Jim Cullen at the History News network offers a review of Portis' novel True Grit.

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

USS Bulkeley Crew Frees Ship Seized By Pirates

Below is a Combined Maritime Forces News Release:

MANAMA, Bahrain, March 7, 2011 - A request for assistance from a Japanese-owned merchant vessel in the Somali Basin led to the crew of the Combined Maritime Forces warship USS Bulkeley securing the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members from four suspected pirates yesterday.

At about 3 p.m. local time March 5, the oil tanker Guanabara reported it was under attack 328 nautical miles southeast of Duqm, Oman.

USS Bulkeley, assigned to the Combined Task Force 151 counterpiracy mission, was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO's counterpiracy Task Force 508.

(In the U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Anna Wade above, the crew of the USS Bulkeley freed a merchant vessel southeast of Oman, March 6, 2011).

Following confirmation from Guanabara's master that the suspected pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge in the ship, Bulkeley's boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.

There was no exchange of fire at any time during the operation, and the decision on what to do with the suspected pirates has yet to be made, officials said.

Commodore Abdul Aleem of the Pakistani navy, commander of Combined Task Force 151, praised the latest success in the international counterpiracy effort in a statement released yesterday.

"The ships and aircraft under my command have today scored a real and immediate victory through the disruption of a suspected act of piracy and the detention of individuals believed to be engaging in piracy," he said. "Through our mutual cooperation and shared coordination, CTF 151 and our partner organizations have prevented the kidnapping of legitimate mariners who sought only to go peacefully about their business. Today, there will be a merchant ship sailing freely that would not be doing so were it not for the efforts of CTF 151."

In accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and in cooperation with nonmember forces, the Combined Maritime Forces mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation, officials said.

(Below is a U.S Navy photo of the USS Bulkeley).

Kill The Irishman: True Cleveland Gangster Story To Hit The Big Screen

A film about Cleveland gangster Danny Greene will soon be hitting the big screen, reports Clint O' Conner in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The film has a good cast which includes Ray Stevenson as Danny Greene, along with Christopher Walken, Vincent D' Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Robert Davi, Paul Sorvino and Tony Lo Bianco.
The film is based on Rick Porrello's book, To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia.
You can read about the film via the below link:
Greene was an Irish-American hood who waged a car-bombing battle with Cleveland's Cosa Nostra organized crime family. He was eventually killed in a car bomb himself.
You can read about the true story behind the upcoming film in a Plain Dealer piece via the below link:
The Plain Dealer staff also assembled the photos of the real people alongside the photos of the actors who will portray them in a piece called Real Life Vs. Reel Life.
You can view the photos via the below link:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Actors We Miss: Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach is the latest actor highlighted in the Actors We Miss series at Cinematical.

I enjoyed the late actor in his role as a detective on TV's Law & Order, but I thought his finest role was that of a darker, more complex detective in the film Prince of the City.

You can read the Cinematical piece via the below link:

Friday, March 4, 2011

U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist Charged With Attempted Espionage

A U.S. Navy enlisted intelligence specialist has been charged with attempted espionage, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Minkyu Martin was arrested by FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative in December and he was formally charged today.

You can read the news account of the case via the below link:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

U.S. Army Adds 22 Charges Against Suspected WikiLeak Leaker

From a U.S. Army Military District of Washington News Release

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C., March 2, 2011 - After seven months of additional investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and other investigative agencies, the Army has added 22 charges in the case of a military intelligence analyst accused of leaking classified material.

The new charges against Pvt. 1st Class Bradley E. Manning allege that he introduced unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloaded it, improperly stored it, and transmitted the classified data for public release and use by the enemy.

The investigation remains ongoing, officials said.

"The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Private 1st Class Manning is accused of committing," said Capt. John Haberland, a legal spokesman for U.S. Army Military District of Washington. "The new charges will not affect Private 1st Class Manning's right to a speedy trial or his pretrial confinement."

U.S. military officials in Baghdad preferred two charges consisting of 12 specifications against Manning on July 5. Officials said the commander of U.S. Army Headquarters Command Battalion preferred the new charges yesterday.

In addition to a charge of aiding the enemy in violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the new charges include 16 specifications under the UCMJ's Article 134:

-- One specification of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy;

-- Five specifications of theft of public property or records, in violation of 18 U.S. Code 641;

-- Eight specifications of transmitting defense information in violation of 18 U.S.C. 793(e);

-- Two specifications of fraud and related activity in connection with computers in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(1); and

-- Five specifications in violation of Article 92 of the UCMJ for violating Army Regulations 25-2, "Information Assurance," and 380-5, "Department of the Army Information Security Program."

The charge of aiding the enemy under Article 104 is a capital offense, officials said. However, they added, the prosecution team has notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty to the convening authority, Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, commanding general of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Under the UCMJ, the convening authority ultimately decides what charges to refer to court-martial, and whether to seek the death penalty if Article 104 is referred. Therefore, if convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade,; total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for life, and a dishonorable discharge.

At the request of Manning's defense attorneys, the trial proceedings have been delayed since July 12, pending the results of a defense-requested inquiry into Manning's mental capacity and responsibility, pursuant to Rule for Courts-Martial 706. Depending on the results of the inquiry, an Article 32 hearing may follow, officials said. An Article 32 hearing is the civilian equivalent of a grand jury, with additional rights afforded to the accused, they explained.

Manning remains confined in the Marine Corps Base Quantico brig in Quantico, Va. He was notified of the additional charges in person during a command visit today, officials said.

Officials emphasized that Manning is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and added that the Army is committed to ensuring his continued safety and well-being while in pretrial confinement.

Discovering The Lost Script Of Casino Royale, Written By The "Shakespeare of Hollywood," Ben Hecht

In the 1960s James Bond was King at the box office and Sean Connery WAS James Bond, according to the movie advertisements.

In 1966 a film producer who held the film rights to a single Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale, attempted to buck the powerful Bond film producers by making a rival Bond film.

Rather than compete with Connery and the Bond series, the producer ended up making a broad awful comedy (although there are some funny bits) rather than a thriller.

But before he made the comedy, the producer hired "the Shakespeare of Hollywood," Ben Hecht (seen in the below photo), author of The Front Page, to write a screenplay that closely followed Ian Fleming's dark thriller.

I happen to be reading a collection of Hecht's columns, 1001 Afternoons in Chicago this week, when I came across a story in the British newspaper The Telegraph that reveals that Hecht's Casino Royale script drafts have been discovered.

You can read the newspaper story via the below link:

Channelling George Washington: Roosevelt v. Roosevelt

Thomas Fleming, the noted author and historian, offers another installment of his Channelling George Washington series at the History News Network.
His latest concerns President George Washington's comparison of two fellow former presidents named Roosevelt, Theodore and Franklin D.
You can read the clever and informative piece via the below link: