Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ernest Hemingway, Reporter offers an interesting piece on the journalism of the late, great novelist and short story writer, Ernest Hemingway.

The piece mentions By-Line: Ernest Hemingway, a collection of Hemingway's newspaper and magazine pieces. I have a copy of the book in my library and it offers an interesting glimpse of Hemingway, young and old, and an interesting glimpse of Hemingway's times.

The piece also introduces readers to a web site called, where you can read Hemingway and other writers.

You can read the piece on Hemingway via the below link:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special Ops Forces Will Remain Essential, Acting Assistant Secretary Of Defense Says

By Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Aug. 30, 2011 – The nation’s special operations forces are experiencing heady but somewhat perilous times, the Pentagon official tasked with overseeing them said here today.

“The skills and capabilities of America’s elite special operators have never been more recognized by the nation – sometimes, frankly, more than I like,” Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, told hundreds of people attending the National Defense Industrial Association’s Joint Missions Conference here.

Operations since 9/11, culminating in the May strike that killed Osama bin Laden, mean special operations forces are more active and more integrated across the military than ever before, Lumpkin said, with Defense Department and other agencies’ senior leader ranks now peppered for the first time with generals and flag officers raised in the special operations community.

Public awareness of special operators may fade over time, Lumpkin said, but the demand for their skills likely will remain.

As the nation faces severe budget constraints, he noted, it remains critical to train and equip a special operations force that has more than doubled in size over the past decade. Across-the-board defense spending cuts could mean the military loses capabilities it would then have to rebuild at greater expense later, he said, adding that the key challenge is to identify capabilities that must be sustained and institutionalized to prepare the force for the kinds of conflicts the nation is going to face in the future.

Trends shaping the national security environment include the growth in power of nonstate actors, increasing instability in fragile states, and ever more readily available advanced technologies, Lumpkin said.

These threats mean the intensity of operations over the last 10 years likely will be sustained for the next 10, or even 20 years for special operations forces, he said.

“We need to be cognizant of the future and current fiscal climate while ensuring special operations forces retain their edge,” he said.

In Afghanistan and other regions, he noted, criminals and insurgents are nearly indistinguishable.

“Arguably one of the most important lessons we’ve taken from … Iraq and Afghanistan is that success in counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and post-conflict stability, he said, depends upon the integrated efforts of both civilian and military organizations in all phases of the operation, from planning through execution.

The complexity of likely future operations, Lumpkin added, will require special operators to work “fluently” with agency representatives across the defense, development and diplomacy aspects of government.

Narcotics trafficking, transnational organized crime and terrorist networks form a nexus that increasingly requires an interagency and coalition approach to combat effectively, Lumpkin said.

“These networks are challenging the character of the battle space, and thus forcing us to adjust our approaches in combat,” he added.

Lumpkin said new, multi-use tools and technologies linking U.S. forces, allies and police organizations are needed to counter such hybrid threats. “Picture a … digital, coalition joint task force sharing information, including forensic and biometric data, properly controlled, but without current obstacles to sharing,” he said.

Interagency and international approaches to acquisition are inherently beneficial to special operations forces, Lumpkin said, noting that his office oversees the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, commonly known as CTTSO.

CTTSO staff members work closely with representatives of more than 100 other state and national government, law enforcement and first-responder agencies “to gather front-line requirements and leverage the resources of multiple users for … rapid prototyping,” Lumpkin said.

As special operations forces and even regular forces face future missions likely to require small teams operating in remote locations around the world, Lumpkin said, new technologies to enhance communications, mobility and surveillance capabilities top the list of needs.

“Picture the great distances of Africa,” he told the audience. “And then consider what new technologies might be needed … to rapidly move and tactically maneuver.”

Light and rugged ground vehicles and aircraft that can be used with existing systems are critical, Lumpkin said. “Integrating new technologies with aviation support is a necessity to maintain our effectiveness in the current war and the small wars of tomorrow,” he added.

Small wars create shortfalls for the nation’s high-end defense aviation capabilities, he noted. “Mobile, rugged, high-endurance, quiet-loitering, persistent systems that can be embedded with and operated in close proximity to the user are necessary to meet warfighter needs,” he said.

Future operations will require mobility systems that can transport sensors, cargo and medical equipment to remote locations, he said, and surveillance capabilities will remain increasingly important.

“Acoustically quiet, long-dwell surveillance aircraft are critical to prosecuting high-value targets and sustaining eyes-on for extended periods of time,” he said.

A close air support aircraft that can arrive quickly with the proper ordnance and remain on station for at least four hours to support ground troops also is “operationally necessary in the irregular wars that we will fight,” he said.

“Such low-cost, highly agile aviation systems can be applied not just to special operations overseas, but to protect our borders as well,” he noted.

Innovations in aircraft design can revolutionize how aircraft are used on the battlefield, Lumpkin said.

Other key near-term needs requiring investment include fixed- and rotary-wing systems and vertical-lift capability, he said, as well as “long-range, high-speed infiltration, extraction and resupply to special operations teams in hostile, denied, politically sensitive areas, in the air, on land and on and under the sea.”

The department has established summits to bring together representatives from the military services, research labs and U.S. Special Operations Command to synchronize technology development efforts and speed and streamline new equipment acquisition for special operations forces, Lumpkin said.

“Closing these kinds of seams between Socom and the services’ acquisition processes will likely be increasingly important in the resource-constrained environment of the future,” the assistant secretary said.

Improving synchronization between Socom and the laboratories also will help to identify opportunities to work together, improve speed of transition to the field and ensure appropriate interaction with industry, Lumpkin added.

The key challenge DOD faces today is consistent for every component, Lumpkin said: balancing budget reductions with the need to preserve the “muscle and bone” of core capabilities. Defense industries must therefore be forward thinking and nimble, he said.

"Despite this fiscal climate,” he told the audience, “we need to really think big about the future of our military, and the future of special operations forces.”

Michael D. Lumpkin was sworn in as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities (SO/LIC&IC) on April 25, 2011.

Mr. Lumpkin assists the ASD (SO/LIC&IC) in the development of policy regarding the capabilities and operational employment of special operations forces, strategic forces and conventional forces. He also assists the ASD on counterterrorism strategy, counternarcotics, force transformation initiatives, and special activities.

Prior to his appointment as PDASD (SO/LIC&IC), Mr. Lumpkin served as both Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations he oversaw many of the day to day operations of the second largest U.S. federal department. Prior to joining VA, Mr. Lumpkin served as Executive Director of Business Development at ATI where he led tactical systems integration efforts in support of the Department of Defense and Tactical Law Enforcement Teams.

Mr. Lumpkin has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a US Navy SEAL where he held every leadership position from platoon commander to Team commanding officer. Mr. Lumpkin has participated in numerous campaigns and contingencies throughout the world to include both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He is a proven combat leader who served as the former Deputy Commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Mr. Lumpkin holds a MA from Naval Postgraduate School in National Security Affairs. He is a recognized subspecialist in Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Cool Photo: U.S. Navy SEAL Fires A Sniper Rifle From A Sea Hawk Helicopter During A Training Exercise

In the above photo a Navy SEAL fires an MK-11 sniper rifle from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a training exercise.

The Sea Hawk is assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9, which is deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

The carrier is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

The U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Brian Read Castillo.

You can click on the photo to enlarge.

Joseph Wambaugh's 'Police Story' Out On DVD Today

The Los Angeles Times reports that season one of Joseph Wambaugh's Police Story is being released today on DVD.

I was a big fan of the iconic TV series in the 1970s and I look forward to watching the shows again.

You can read the LA Times piece via the below link.,0,2352437.story

I reviewed Joseph Wambaugh's last novel for the Philadelphia Inquirer. You can read the review via the below link:

You can also read my interview with Joseph Wambaugh via the below link:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Arab Spring Has Created 'Intelligence Disaster,' Warns Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief

Michael Scheuer, the former CIA bin Laden unit chief and the author of Osama bin Laden, told the British newspaper the Guardian that the Arab Spring has not been a good thing for West intelligence services. He suggests that America bring back the rendition program.

The Arab spring has "delighted al-Qaida" and caused "an intelligence disaster" for the US and Britain, the former head of the CIA unit in charge of pursuing Osama bin Laden has warned.

Speaking at the Edinburgh international book festival, Michael Scheuer said: "The help we were getting from the Egyptian intelligence service, less so from the Tunisians but certainly from the Libyans and Lebanese, has dried up – either because of resentment at our governments stabbing their political leaders in the back, or because those who worked for the services have taken off in fear of being incarcerated or worse.

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

I interviewed Michael Scheuer for Counterterrorism magazine a while back. You can read the piece via the below links:

Note: The above photo was provided by Michael Scheuer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get Some: Al Qaeda's New Number Two Terrorist Has Been Killed By U.S. Forces

Matt Apuzzo at the New York Post reports that American officials are stating that Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al Qaeda's recently promoted number two terrorist was killed.

Al-Rahman moved up the terrorist organization's chain-of-command when the number one terrorist, bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in a raid on his compound in Pakistan. 

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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

U.S. Navy Photo of Hurricane Irene

The above GOES-13 infrared satellite image is provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, Calif. The image shows the status of Hurricane Irene at approximately 1 a.m. EST Saturday, Aug. 27.

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout, N.C. as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 miles-per-hour.

You can click on the photo to enlarge.

Hollywood Tries A New Battle Plan

John Jurgensen at the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece about how, after a string of anti-American, anti-military films failed at the box office, a new crop of pro-military films will soon be showing on TV and at the movies.

On a 2010 training exercise, a team of Navy SEALs converged on an ocean rendezvous point. Crouched beside the sailors on a bouncing Zodiac speedboat was a filmmaker, dressed in camouflage with his camera rolling as a submarine broke the surface. "We ran those boats right up on the back of that nuclear sub," said director Mike McCoy.

For years, war movies have centered on conflicted, disillusioned soldiers. John Jurgensen on Lunch Break looks at a new crop of films that aim to make a fictional drama with real-life Navy SEALs.

His team came to film the SEALs perform an underwater exit from the sub, then spent a week alongside its crew when rough seas dragged out the two-day shoot. For two years the filmmakers had inside access to the Navy's elite and secretive force for an unusual assignment: to create a feature film that starred real-life SEALs—not actors—in lead roles. The movie, "Act of Valor," is not a documentary. Instead, it straddles reality and fiction, military messaging and entertainment. It features strike scenes written by the SEALs themselves, jarring live-fire footage and a body count that would rival any '80s action flick. Yet the movie, to be released in February, was designed to set the record straight on a group that the military says has been routinely misrepresented in film.

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

You can read an earlier post on the Navy SEALs film via the below link:

You can also read my interview with former Navy SEAL Dick Couch via the below links:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Remembering Joey Vento, Philadelphia Personality

Dom Giordano wrote a good piece about Joey Vento in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Vento, who recently died, was a the owner of a popular sandwich shop, Geno's Cheesesteaks, and a vocal supporter of the U.S. military and the local police.

Philadelphia is a city of characters. With the passing of Joey Vento, we lost one of our biggest - a guy who parlayed great cheesesteaks, neon, an incredible work ethic and personality into a great business and status as a local treasure.

The Joey that I knew was pure Philly, warts and all. I got to know him at the start of the battle over the 6-by-9-inch sign requesting that people speak English when ordering cheesesteaks. The result was an international debate, a kangaroo court in Philadelphia and eventual triumph for Vento. But the sign and the battle over it are not his true legacy.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My On Crime & Security Column: Yellow-Pages Scam Artists Snag Small Businesses

The national small business web site published my latest On Crime & Security Column yesterday.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported last week that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action against a scheme that the BBB warned businesses about last year.

At the request of the FTC, a federal judge has temporarily halted a European-based operation that allegedly bilked small businesses and nonprofit organizations out of millions of dollars by deceiving them into ordering and then paying for unwanted listings in online business directories. The FTC is seeking to stop the illegal practices permanently and to require that the defendants reimburse their victims.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

U.S. Postal Service Celebrates John Huston - And Baltmore's Dashiell Hammett - With A Classic-Filmmaker Stamp

The late, great film director John Huston was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a stamp.

The Classic-Filmmaker stamp also honors the late, great crime writer Dashiell Hammett, as Hammett's character Sam Spade, holding the Maltese Falcon, is behind Huston.

Huston, of course, directed the classic film version of Dashiell Hammett's classic crime novel The Maltese Falcon.

You can read the Baltimore Sun's report on the Huston stamp via the below link:

The Case Against Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard

Ronald Kessler, a noted journalist, columnist and author of a good number of books on the FBI and the CIA, including his current book, The Secrets of the FBI, wrote an interesting column on convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

As chief of the Justice Department’s counter-espionage section, John L. Martin supervised the prosecution of Pollard and 75 other spies. Only one case resulted in acquittal.

He tells Newsmax that no other spy for a friendly country has ever been prosecuted for espionage, as Pollard was. “No spy for a U.S. ally has engaged in anything like the magnitude of the Pollard case and been charged with espionage. There are no cases comparable to Pollard’s.”

Indeed, Pollard gave Israel access to classified documents that would fill a space 10 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet. “The enormous amount of material he turned over to the Israelis applied to just about everything imaginable, including communications intelligence information and some of our most closely guarded secrets,” Martin says. “A good deal of it did not relate to Israeli security.”

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

I interviewed Ronald J. Olive, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent who helped bring down Pollard, for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the magazine piece via the below links:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Legendary FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone Speaks About His Time Undercover in the Mafia

Donnie Brasco, the Hollywood film featuring Johhny Depp as Joseph D. Pistone, the legendary FBI Special Agent who went undercover to investigate the Bonanno New York crime family, and Al Pacino as New York mobster Benjamin "Lefty Two Guns" Ruggiero, is considered one of the most realistic mob movies ever made.

The film is based on Joe Pistone's book, Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. 

You can watch Joe Pistone discuss his undercover life on a Current TV segment and hear actual recordings of Pistone's conversations with Lefty Ruggiero via the below link:

I met Joseph Pistone when he visited Philadelphia a few years back and I later interviewed him.

You can visit an earlier post and see photos of of the legendary FBI Special Agent as well as the real mob guys. You can also read my column about Joe Pistone and my review of Pistone's book The Way of the Wiseguy in the Philadelphia Inquirer, via the below link:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Joseph C. Goulden's Review of Tom Clancy And Peter Telep's Thriller 'Against All Enemies'

The Washington Times published a good review of Tom Clancy's new thriller Against All Enemies by author, journalist and espionage expert, Joseph C. Goulden.

Writing in these pages several years ago, I unkindly commented that the literary factory of master thriller-writer Tom Clancy “seems to be showing signs of rust belt obsolescence.” Essentially, I argued, Mr. Clancy had milked the same character for so many books that his material was running thin.

Well, relax and rejoice. The master of his genre is back, with the expert insight - not to mention boom-and-bang - that has captivated millions of readers since his 1985 debut with “The Hunt for Red October.” Mr. Clancy has taken on a co-writer, Peter Telep, author of about 40 novels on his own - a man who knows the Clancy territory and writes with Clancy zest. The product is pure Clancy.

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

I happen to be reading Against All Enemies at this time and I agree with Goulden's view of the novel. Clancy's new thriller is up to his old standards.

Joseph Goulden also reviews Robert Ludlum's The Borne Dominion. Like Goulden, I'm not a fan of Robert Ludlum's silly thrillers. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ray Bradbury, Mike Medavoy Adapting 'Dandelion Wine' Into Feature Film

According to the, Ray Bradbury, a writer best known for his great science-fiction novels, has teamed up with Mike Medavoy to adapt Bradbury's novel Dandelion Wine into a feature film.

Bradbury, who turns 91 on Monday, says this news is a great birthday present.

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

At 70, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine Still Has A Clue

Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor wrote an interesting piece about Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine 70th anniversary and he interviewed the magazine's editor, Janet Hutchings.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also visit Ellery Queen's web site via the below link:

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Q & A With David Wise, Author of Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War With China

My Q&A with David Wise, the country's leading expert on intelligence and espionage, and the author of Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War With China, was published in Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the interview below:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Robots Can Save Soldiers' Lives, U.S. Army General Says

By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2011 - Robots and unmanned systems potentially could improve enemy surveillance, reduce a soldier's workload and save lives on the battlefield, an Army general said here this week.

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and assistant Army chief of staff for installation management, addressed an audience at a session of the 2011 Unmanned Systems North America conference hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

"As I think about what's happening on the battlefield today," Lynch said, "I contend there are things we could do to improve the survivability of our service members. And you all know that's true."

His audience included some of AUVSI's 7,000 attendees, representing the international defense enterprise; industry; commercial, civilian and first-responder developers; researchers; robotic system operators and users; and acquisition interests.

"When I look at the 153 soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice," Lynch said, referring to soldiers who died under his command in Iraq, "I know that 80 percent of them were placed in a situation where we could have placed an unmanned system in the same job."

As an Army officer and U.S. Military Academy graduate, Lynch went to graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a master's degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on robotics. As part of his thesis at MIT, he designed a robotic manipulator that could be used to load 60-pound main gun rounds in a tank moving at 30 mph.

The Army has used increasingly capable robotic and unmanned systems for nearly 10 years. As a robotics engineer, Lynch said, he's seen some progress in the Army's use of such systems, but he makes a case for expanded and accelerated use.

In Iraq, in a place called Arab Jabour southeast of Baghdad, Lynch commanded 25,000 soldiers who were part of Task Force Marne. Over six months, he said, they killed or captured 6,000 insurgents.

"What I realized I was lacking on the battlefield then, and I contend it's probably still lacking today, is the ability for a persistent stare," the general said.

What he did have, Lynch said, were unmanned aerial systems, which he called "a magnificent capability for watching that area from the air."

"The problem was they didn't have sufficient loiter time, [and] ... I didn't have sufficient assets," he added.

Today over Iraq and Afghanistan, such systems have flown more than 1.2 million combat hours.

But if unmanned aerial systems are going to improve surveillance, Lynch said, "we could focus on capabilities like persistent stare. I've seen the technology over the last 28 years -- I know where we are."

Lynch said these systems, which fly from Point A to Point B at operational speeds, could be used in modified ways to produce the same results afforded by persistent stare, Lynch said.

"That would be powerful -- an additional application on the battlefield today to improve situational awareness," he added.

The Army uses robotic ground systems that haul gear, navigate tunnels and rough terrain, monitor remote areas, capture and transmit images, search for roadside bombs, remove obstacles from roads and sometimes go where no soldier can safely go.

Such robots can be used to reduce a soldier's workload, and even can make up for the reduction in the Army's civilian workforce that will occur over the next year as the defense budget is cut.

As commander of the Army's Installation Management Command, Lynch is responsible for what he calls "120,000 dedicated civilians worldwide." Defense cuts are reducing Lynch's by about 7,000 by the end of fiscal 2012, he said. "Could we use robotics to address some of those issues?" he asked the audience. "I contend the answer is yes."

Not many of the Army's robots, though, are completely autonomous. Most are remotely controlled or tele-operated, meaning real-time control of remotely located machines.

"I'm an advocate of autonomous vehicle technology. ... There's a place on the battlefield for tele-operated systems, [but] we have to continue to advocate for pursuit of autonomous vehicle technology," he said.

In 2009, as 3rd Corps commanding general at Fort Hood, Texas, Lynch organized a Robot Rodeo. As part of the festivities, Lynch and Gen. Ann Dunwoody, commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, rode on a fully autonomous vehicle called TerraMax, developed by Oshkosh Defense (seen in the above photo).

"We got in the bed of a truck that [had] traveled across country in an autonomous fashion," Lynch said. "It was she and I, and somebody sitting behind the wheel for safety reasons, but he didn't have to touch the wheel or the brakes or the accelerator. He didn't have to touch anything, because it was an autonomous system," the general added.

"We all know that could happen," he said. "What I'm concerned about is people saying, 'We don't need that. Tele-operated is good enough.' But I don't believe that's true."

To reduce the workload, Lynch said, "we've got to keep the warfighter in the loop, but he doesn't have to be dedicated to a particular mission."

"You can give the system a certain degree of autonomous capability so [the warfighter] can monitor and supervise multiple systems and continue his mission with a reduced workload," he said.

Over the last 28 years, Lynch added, he has made it a point to host some kind of robotic vehicle demonstration everywhere he's been. "And I've seen the evolution of technology," he added. "I believe candidly we can accelerate the evolution of autonomous technology if people would just acknowledge that it's important."

Maj. Gen. Walter L. Davis, deputy director of the U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center, part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, joined Lynch at the conference. Today, he said, unmanned systems improve persistence, endurance and protection across all warfighting functions.

"They provide situational awareness, unmanned lethal and nonlethal fires, unattended precision target attack and acquisition, maximum standoff from threats, ... and perform unmanned logistics support and services," he said.

The capabilities that unmanned systems enable are unquestioned, the general added. "[And] at least from the Army's perspective, this is all about our soldier, who is the center of gravity," he said.

The soldier, Davis said, "must be the focus of everything we're trying to accomplish, and it's about enabling that soldier to be more effective, efficient and protected while supporting the Army's mission." 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nucky Johnson Made An Empire Out Of Crime In Atlantic City

David J. Krajicek wrote an interesting piece for the New York Daily News about Nucky Johnson, the political boss of Atlantic City during prohibition.

The HBO series Boardwalk Empire is based on Nucky Johnson.

Nucky Johnson licked his chops the day the knuckleheads banned booze in America. It was a gift to Atlantic City, transforming it from Philadelphia's sandbox to "The World's Playground."

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Philadelphia Inquirer Review Of Michael Harvey's 'We All Fall Down'

The Philadelphia Inquirer published my review of Michael Harvey's crime thriller We All Fall Down this morning.

You can read the review below:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Philadelphia Mayor Nutter's Call

Rich Lowry, columnist and editor of National Review, wrote an interesting column about Philadelphia Mayor Nutter, who blasted the wild kids in Philly who went on the rampage in flash mobs.

I live in South Philadelphia and I'm not a particular supporter of the Mayor, but I liked that he took a public stand and like comedian Bill Cosby, had the courage to blast both the wild kids and their parents.

Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia was true to his word when he took to the pulpit at Mount Carmel Baptist church and prefaced his remarks: "I'm going to say some things this morning that I know from time to time many of you think, but may not say. They will not be PC."

He proceeded to unloose a 25-minute speech that must rank among the most brutally forthright calls for personal responsibility and adult authority that an elected official has ever delivered in these United States.

You can read the rest of Rich Lowry's column via the below link:

Krauthammer: The System Works

Columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote an interesting column countering the claim that our political system is  broken.

Of all the endlessly repeated conventional wisdom in today's Washington, the most lazy, stupid, and ubiquitous is that our politics is broken. On the contrary. Our political system is working well (I make no such claim for our economy), indeed, precisely as designed - profound changes in popular will translated into law that alters the nation's political direction.

The process has been messy, loud, disputatious, and often rancorous. So what? In the end, the system works. Exhibit A is Wisconsin. Exhibit B is Washington itself.

You can read the rest of the column at National Review Online via the below link:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Che In Your Face

Jay Nordlinger wrote an interesting piece for National Review Online about the many posters, murals and photographs we see of the Communist murderer and thug Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

My daughter recently moved to [a southwestern city]. My grandson will be going to [a local high school]. They were impressed with the student murals painted throughout the school. So I accompanied my grandson when he went to pick up his schedule. The murals were impressive, but when I discovered that one of the largest was of Che Guevara, it ruined my day.

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

You can also read my interview with Cuban-American Humberto Fontovia, author of Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him, via the below links:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Legendary Film Director John Ford Honored With U.S. Stamp

The Los Angeles Times reports that the late, great film director John Ford has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a stamp.

Ford, one of my favorite film directors, made many of my favorite films, such as Fort Apache, The Horse Soldiers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, They Were Expendable and The Searchers. All of these classic films featured John Wayne, one of my favorite actors.

You can read the Times piece via the below link:

John Ford was a proud patriot and he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. You can read about his naval service via the below link:

FBI Has Mixed Views of Obama Administration

Ronald Kessler, a columnist for and the author of a good number of books on the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service, wrote an interesting column about what the FBI thinks of the Obama administration.

For his new book, The Secrets of the FBI, Kessler interviewed Arthur M. "Art" Cummings II, who oversaw the FBI's counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations until he retired last year. He offers Cummings' candid views of the Obama administrations in his most recent column.

You can read Ronald Kessler's column via the below link:

I interviewed Ronald Kessler a while back and you can read my interview via the below links:  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Couldn't Have Happened To A Nicer Feller: Turner Classic Movies Salutes Ben Johnson

The Tulsa World reports that Ben Johnson, the late, great cowboy character actor, will be honored on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this Thursday.

As he said when he received his Academy Award for The Last Picture Show, "This couldn't have happened to a nicer feller."

You can read the story and see what Ben Johnson films TCM will be airing via the below link:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

U.S. Special Ops Forces Unmatched In World, Admiral William H. McRaven Says

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 - U.S. special operations forces are unmatched by any country in the world, said Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, who assumed command of the Tampa, Fla.,-based U.S. Special Operations Command today.

McRaven took the reins from Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson during a ceremony presided over by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. The video of the ceremony streamed to special operations teams around the world.

McRaven had been the commander of Joint Special Operations Command and worked with then-CIA Director Panetta to find and kill Osama bin Laden. The admiral told Panetta he looks forward to working with him in his new position.

"Today's [U.S.] special operations forces are the finest the world has ever seen," McRaven said. "As demonstrated time and again, their courage, their experience, their dedication to the mission and their sense of patriotism is unparalleled in the annals of history."

McRaven, who was promoted to four-star rank earlier, also praised families of special operations personnel. "Behind every SOF warrior stands a family of equal strength and commitment," he said. "As a nation, we are blessed to have such magnificent patriots."

McRaven spoke directly to special operations personnel during his short statement upon taking command. "I look forward to serving with you," he said. "The world today is as unpredictable as ever. As such, the American people will expect us to ... answer every call to arms, to venture where other forces cannot and to win every fight no matter how tough or how long. They will expect it because we are the nation's special operations force, and I guarantee you we will not let them down."

McRaven, a Navy SEAL, has commanded at every level from SEAL platoon leader to his current position. He served during Desert Storm and was commander of Special Operations Command Europe where he also served as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Coordination Center.

Demand Will Increase For Special Ops Forces, Admiral Eric T. Olson Says

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 - Special operations forces will become more important in the future, said Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, who turned over the reins of U.S. Special Operations Command today.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven succeeded Olson, who will retire from the Navy later this month.

Olson was the first Navy SEAL to become a four-star admiral, and he has been in charge of the command since July 2009. While special operations forces come from all services, they have a similar mindset, he said.

"It was with purpose and focus, agility and talent, tenacity and courage, celebration and mourning that our forces moved forward," he said during the transfer of command ceremony in Tampa, Fla. "Special operations forces by nature do not own mass or terrain. What they have is agility and speed, innovation and wisdom. They value knowledge over doctrine, experience over theory."

Special operations forces form a community of "self-starters, deep thinkers, imagineers, problem solvers, aggressive leaders and teammates to whom they can and often do trust with their lives," Olson said.

Special operations forces are a small part of the overall military, but they have become essential in two major lines of operation in Afghanistan – counterterrorism and the enduring local security force activities. Special operators also are key in training Afghan commandos and special forces.

"Their proven abilities to arrive unexpectedly, to kill those who plan to do us harm, to take precise action when required, to inspire their counterparts, all combine to make them a force in high demand," Olson said. "To be closely associated with such forces is a true privilege. To serve as their commander is the highest of honors."

The admiral said he has worked mostly with senior officers and senior noncommissioned officers during his time at the command, but he has tried to get out and speak with those on the ground at combat outposts and forward locations when possible. Roughly 85 percent of special operations deployments have been to Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'm proud to note that our ranks are solid, [and] the future is bright," he said.

Special operations forces have become the solution of choice for many of America's military challenges, Olson said.

"They punch above their weight, and they absorb blows with abnormal toughness and stamina," he said. "Our nation deserves and expects to have such a force that operates without much drama or fanfare, and whose greatest heroes are among the least acknowledged. This force is it. The yin and the yang – hunting enemies and bringing value to the people and places we go, are in close harmony."

This is a force that America can and should be intensely proud of, and it is a force that America needs to face the threats of the future, the admiral said.

"Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida version 2.0 is brewing," he added. "Conflicts over natural resources, borders, ideologies and theologies will continue. Cyber war looms. The lines between terrorism and crime will become less distinct. Global friction will intensify, and special operations forces will be necessary to turn down the heat."

Olson said he is concerned about some aspects of the force, including the "conventionalization" of special operations forces and a potential decrease in support from the services because of budget pressures. He has expressed concern about the effects of persistent warfare on personnel and their families.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Walter Noble Burns: The Wild West's Premier Mythmaker


I love Westerns, which are generally crime stories with an American Wild West backdrop.

According to Mark Dworkin in Wild West magazine, many of the stories about the most famous Westerners are based on myths of the Wild West that came from one writer - Walter Nobel Burns.

Billy the Kid. Wyatt Earp. Joaquín Murrieta. The names of these Western characters are ingrained in America's consciousness, as are the trio's legendary deeds. But that was not the case as late as the first two decades of the 20th century. It took three books—The Saga of Billy the Kid, Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest and The Robin Hood of El Dorado: The Saga of Joaquín Murrieta—written by one man between 1926 and 1932, to make that happen. All three books remain in print more than three quarters of a century after their initial publication. The trilogy's author, Walter Noble Burns, deftly combined diligent research with his own skillful embellishments to rescue from obscurity these and other nearly forgotten figures central to the dramatic story of the American West.

... Sophie Poe, widow of Pat Garrett's deputy John Poe, was hired as a consultant on the King Vidor film based on Burns' Saga. Unhappy with what she deemed glorification of the Kid, she told Vidor, "Sir, I knew that little bucktoothed killer, and he wasn't the way you were making him at all." On the other hand, the romance of Saga appears to have inspired Bonnie and Clyde. Found in the back seat of their death car among shotguns, pistols, ammo and stolen license plates was a copy of The Saga of Billy the Kid.

You can read the rest of Mark Dworkin's interesting piece about Burns by via the below link:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Polished Menace Of Eric Ambler

Shmuel Ben-Gad wrote an interesting piece about one of my favorite writers, Eric Ambler.

Ambler's The Mask of Dimitrios and Journey Into Fear are two of my favorite thrillers.

Spy stories are, at least sometimes, a secular equivalent of ghost stories, tales of mysterious menace. (Note that spies are sometimes referred to as spooks.) Eric Ambler (1909-1998) is unquestionably one of the best writers of spy stories in English. His stories are filled with mystery and menace and are distinguished by an air of realism, sophisticated plots, and polished prose.

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cool Photo: U.S. Navy SEALs In Training

In the above photo a Navy SEAL climbs up a ladder attached to the side of a gas and oil platform during training to prepare an upcoming deployment on July 26, 2011.

The U.S. Navy photo is by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson.

You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My On Crime & Security Column: Are You Prepared To Fight Back Against Credit Card Fraud?

The national business web site published my latest On Crime & Security column.

The column covered counterfeit credit cards.

You can read my piece via the below link:

How ATF Delivered Assault Weapons To Drug Cartels

Kevin Ferris, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, wrote an interesting column about President Obama and Eric Holder, his Attorney General, and their misguided gun control policies.

... What did happen was Fast and Furious, a new operation out of the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that turned the world of fighting gun trafficking upside down.

You can read the rest of Ferris' column via the below link:

You can also read two earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious via the below link: