Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Look Back At Timothy Dalton As James Bond In 'Licence To Kill'

MI6, the James Bond web site, not the intelligence agency, offers an interview with Timothy Dalton from 1989 when he was portraying James Bond in Licence To Kill.

You can read the interview via the below link:


You can also view a trailer of Licence To Kill via the below link:


And you can watch a video of Gladys Knight's theme song from Licence To Kill via the below link:


Although to me Sean Connery is James Bond, as an advertisement once proclaimed, I thought Timothy Dalton was very good as Bond.

Dalton replaced Roger Moore, who portrayed Bond in a lighthearted manner. Dalton, who was and is a serious actor, reread all of the Ian Fleming novels and then attempted to portray Ian Fleming's Bond.

Dalton portrayed Bond as serious, quiet, cold, sardonic, tough and ruthless. I think he largely succeeded.

Except for a few silly bits, I thought The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill were good Bond films.

I especially liked Robert Davi's portrayal of a Drug Lord villain in Licence To Kill. 

Sadly, the making of Bond films was suspended for six years due to legal battles and Dalton elected not to return when the producers resumed production.

I believe Bond fans should take a second look at Timothy Dalton's portrayal of James Bond.

Intelligence Chief Describes Complex Challenges

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2012 - America and the world are facing the most complex set of challenges in at least 50 years, the director of national intelligence told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence here today.

James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant general, said capabilities, technologies, know-how, communications and environmental forces "aren't confined by borders and can trigger transnational disruptions with astonishing speed."

"Never before has the intelligence community been called upon to master such complexity on so many issues in such a resource- constrained environment," he added.

CIA Director David H. Petraeus, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. and others accompanied Clapper during his testimony on Capitol Hill. Clapper spoke for all agencies in his opening statement.

All U.S. agencies are combating the complex environment and making sense of the threats by continuing to integrate the community and "by taking advantage of new technologies, implementing new efficiencies and, as always, simply working hard," Clapper said.

Still, he said, all agencies are confronting the difficult fiscal environment.

"Maintaining the world's premier intelligence enterprise in the face of shrinking budgets will be difficult," the director said. "We'll be accepting and managing risk more so than we've had to do in the last decade."

Terrorism and proliferation remain the first threats the intelligence agencies must face, he said, and the next three years will be crucial. "With Osama bin Laden's death, the global jihadist movement lost its most iconic and inspirational leader," Clapper said. "The new al-Qaida commander is less charismatic, and the death or capture of prominent al-Qaida figures has shrunk the group's top leadership layer."

But while degraded, the organization remains a threat, Clapper warned. "As long as we sustain the pressure on it, we judge that core al-Qaida will be of largely symbolic importance to the global jihadist movement," he said. "But regional affiliates ... and, to a lesser extent, small cells and individuals will drive the global jihad agenda."

Efforts to develop, acquire or spread weapons of mass destruction, also pose a major global strategic threat, Clapper told the senators. "Among nation-states, Iran's technical advances, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthen our assessment that Iran is well-capable of producing enough highly-enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders, specifically the supreme leader himself, choose to do so," the director said.

North Korea continues to export ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, Clapper said, and intelligence leaders do not see a change under Kim Jong Un, the North's new leader.

Cyber threats have risen in danger, Clapper said. "We foresee a cyber environment in which emerging technologies are developed and implemented before security responses can be put in place," he said. "Among state actors, we're particularly concerned about entities within China and Russia conducting intrusions into U.S. computer networks and stealing U.S. data."

Nonstate actors also are cyber threats capable of employing disruptive, and even lethal, technology, Clapper told the panel. The two biggest challenges in the cyber world, he said, are centered on knowing who launched an attack and how to manage the enormous vulnerabilities within U.S. networks.

While some troops are coming home, Afghanistan remains a hot spot, Clapper said.

"During the past year, the Taliban lost some ground, but that was mainly in places where the International Security Assistance Forces ... were concentrated," the director said. "And the Taliban's senior leaders continued to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan."

ISAF's efforts to partner with Afghan national security forces are encouraging, he said, "but corruption and governance challenges continue to threaten the Afghan forces' operational effectiveness."

To be successful, Afghanistan must have support from ISAF and its neighbors -- particularly Pakistan, Clapper said. "And although there's broad international political support for the Afghan government," he added, "there are doubts in many capitals, particularly in Europe, about how to fund Afghanistan initiatives after 2014."

U.S. troops are out of Iraq, but U.S. interests in the country remain, the director said. Since the pull-out, violence and sporadic high-profile attacks continue. Iraqi government actions have heightened political tensions with Sunni leaders, "but for now, the Sunnis continue to view the political proves as the best venue to pursue change," Clapper said.

Revolts and unrest have spread across the Middle East and North Africa, Clapper noted. People confronting ruling elites; sectarian, ethnic and tribal divisions; lack of experience with democracy; stalled economic development; military and security force resistance; and regional power initiatives all have potential for exploitation by extremists.

"These are fluid political environments that offer openings for extremists to participate much more assertively in political life," Clapper said. "States where authoritarian leaders have been toppled -- like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya -- have to reconstruct their political systems through complex negotiations among competing factions."

In Syria, the Assad regime continues to dig in and has ordered security forces to fire on their own people. Continued violence "could potentially turn domestic upheavals into regional crises," the director said.

In Yemen, although a political transition is under way, the security situation continues to be marred by violence, and fragmentation of the country is a real possibility, he said.

"The intelligence community is also paying close attention to the developments across the African continent, throughout the Western Hemisphere, Europe and across Asia," Clapper said. "Here, too few issues are self-contained. Virtually every region has a bearing on our key concerns of terrorism, proliferation, cybersecurity and instability.

"And throughout the globe," he added, "wherever there are environmental stresses on water, food and natural resources, as well as health threats, economic crises and organized crime, we see ripple effects around the world and impacts on U.S. interests."

Cool Photo: U.S. Navy F/A Super Hornet Launches From Aircraft Carrier In The Arabian Sea

A U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft launches from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) while in the Arabian Sea on January 26, 2012.

The Super Hornet is attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17.

The DoD photo is by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy A. Hazel.

You can click on the photo to enlarge.

Monday, January 30, 2012

South Philly's Dante & Luigi's Italian Restaurant Is A Longtime Hit

Although Dante & Luigi's in South Philadelphia has scores of customers who are not mob-related, the outstanding Italian restaurant is as widely known for its connection to organized crime as they are for their wonderful food.

William Bender wrote an interesting piece about the restaurant for the Philadelphia Daily News.

Sure, bullets were flying in the barroom at Dante & Luigi's on Halloween night in 1989, when a masked man pulled a gun out of his trick-or-treat bag and starting pumping round after round into Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., son of the former Philadelphia mob boss.

Before that, the Italian restaurant at 10th and Catharine streets was a hangout for Angelo Bruno, the mob boss who was killed outside his Snyder Avenue home in 1980 by a hitman with a shotgun.   

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


William Bender wrote another piece about a South Philly eatery with an organized crime connection, Joey Giusepp's Pizzeria.

The place was formerly owned by the former boss of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family.

Joe Stanfa doesn't want you to read this.

He can't make you put down the newspaper or click on another website, but he's worried that continuing on could be bad for business, for his fresh start.

"I don't want to scare people away," Stanfa said from behind the counter at Joey Giusepp's, his new pizzeria just off the Schuylkill Expressway, in Grays Ferry.

Stanfa is perhaps the only proprietor in Philadelphia who doesn't want you to know about his pizza joint. He'd rather make you a hoagie than talk about the blood that was shed at the same address nearly 20 years ago, or the story behind the scar on his cheek.

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


Sunday, January 29, 2012

NCIS Cold Case Squad Never Forgets Victims

William H. McMichael at the Navy Times offers an interesting story on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service's Cold Case Squad.

You can read the story via the below link:


I've covered NCIS for a good number of years, reporting on stories about espionage, procurement fraud, terrorism, and other major crimes.

I wrote a piece for Counterterrorism magazine on how NCIS counters terrorist spies a few years back.

You can read the piece via the below links:




I also interviewed Mark Clookie, the NCIS director, for Counterterrorism magazine. 

You can read the interview via the below links:




Authors Praise Joseph Wambaugh To Mark His 75th Birthday

Otto Penzler's MysteriousPress.com, the publisher's web site, offers the praise and well-wishes of several well-known authors for Joseph Wambaugh on his 75th birthday. He turned 75 on January 22nd.

MysteriousPress.com publishes some of Wambaugh's classic novels as eBooks. 

The former LAPD detective sergeant and novelist has a new novel, Harbor Nocturne (Grove/Atlantic), coming out in April. I received an advance copy and I'm about to begin reading the novel.

You can read the author's comments about Joseph Wambaugh via the below link:


You can also read my previous post on Joseph Wambaugh and link to my interview with him via the below link:


Saturday, January 28, 2012

U.S. Navy Wants Commando 'Mothership' In Middle East

Craig Whitlock at the Washington Post offers a piece on the U.S. Navy's plan to convert the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport dock, into a Special Operations 'Mothership.'

This, in my view, is an outstanding idea, not only due to mobility and striking power, but also for force protection - the safety of the Navy commandos and support personnel.

This also means we won't be dependant on a host country to provide a base for our Special Operations forces.

The USS Kitty Hawk had her combat aircraft removed after 9/11 and during the start of the war in Afghanistan the carrier was used as a floating base for Special Operations. Navy SEALs on helicopters were launched from the carrier's deck and transported into Afghanistan.    

The Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali pirates, among other threats.

In response to requests from U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, the Navy is converting an aging warship it had planned to decommission into a makeshift staging base for the commandos. Unofficially dubbed a “mothership,” the floating base could accommodate smaller high-speed boats and helicopters commonly used by Navy SEALs, procurement documents show.

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


Friday, January 27, 2012

The Navy SEALs Turn 50: Elite Frogmen Muster In Virginia To Celebrate

Kate Wiltrout at the Virginian-Pilot reports on the muster of U.S. Navy frogmen in Virginia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Navy SEALs.

You can read the story via the below link:


I've covered the Navy SEALs for a good number of years and below are two of my Counterterrorism magazine pieces on the Navy's Special Operations warriors.

The first piece offers a Q&A with Dick Couch, a retired Navy SEAL who served in the Vietnam War and wrote an interesting book on the SEALs in the Iraq War.

You can read the interview via the below links:





My second linked magazine piece offers a history of how the SEALs developed from the World War II Navy UDT frogmen. 

You can read the piece via the below links:




The above U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Meranda Keller.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Look Back At The FBI Closing In On The Barker/Karpis Gang

The FBI web site, FBI.gov, offers a look back at their pursuit of the Parker/Karpis gang.

In January 1935—77 years ago this month—more than a dozen Bureau agents surrounded a quaint two-story home on Lake Weir, Florida. Within moments, a fierce shoot-out erupted. It didn’t go well for the heavily armed criminals inside.

For the Bureau of Investigation—just six months away from being renamed the FBI—the firefight was a continuation of a busy year of battling gangsters. In 1934, notorious public enemies like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and “Baby Face” Nelson had fallen at the hands of Bureau agents. Heading into 1935, the top priority was to put a dangerous gang—led by the wily Alvin “Creepy” Karpis and a pair of Barker brothers—out of business.

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

A Little Smooth Jazz: Keiko Matsui's 'Falcon's Wing'

Lately, I've enjoyed listening to Keiko Matsui on Comcast's Smooth Jazz music channel.

I like her blend of smooth jazz, fusion and new wave music.

If you are unaware of Keiko Matsui, you can listen to her song Falcon's Wing via the below link:


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FBI Offering $100,000 Reward For Information Leading to Arrest Of Fugitive Robert William Fisher

The FBI is offering a $100,000 Reward for Fugitive Robert William Fisher

Robert William Fisher is wanted for allegedly killing his wife and two young children and then blowing up the house in which they all lived in Scottsdale, Arizona in April of 2001.

Fisher is physically fit and is an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman. He has a noticeable gold crown on his upper left first bicuspid tooth. He may walk with an exaggerated erect posture and his chest pushed out due to a lower back injury. Fisher is known to chew tobacco heavily. He has ties to New Mexico and Florida. Fisher is believed to be in possession of several weapons, including a high-powered rifle.

An undated video shows him walking with a small child. Fisher has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list since 2002, and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Internet's Dr Evil Arrested At 'Bond Villain Lair' In New Zealand

Anthony Bond at the British newspaper the Daily Mail reports on the police takedown of Kim Dotcom, a suspect in the Megaupload.com scheme, at his "Bond villain lair" in New Zealand.

It sounds like something more reminiscent of a James Bond film than real life.

When police officers attempted to arrest the man accused of being one of the world's biggest internet pirates at his multi-million pound mansion, things were a bit trickier than they might have expected.

Instead of giving himself up easily, Kim Dotcom refused to let the police in, activated a number of locking mechanisms in his sprawling home and then hid in a safe room.

The determined police officers had to cut their way through to gain access and then found Mr Dotcom hiding near a gun.
Fortunately, thanks to dozens of police officers, backed by helicopters, they managed to detain the 38-year-old without anyone coming to harm.

Mr Dotcom, a German national, was one of four men arrested on Friday as part of an investigation of the Megaupload.com website.

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


Sunday, January 22, 2012

U.S. To Keep 11 Aircraft Carriers To Show American Sea Power

Foxnews.com reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told sailors aboard the USS Enterprise that America is committed to maintaining 11 aircraft carriers in the fleet to project sea power.

Panetta also told the crowd of 1,700 gathered in the hangar bay of the USS Enterprise that the ship is heading to the Persian Gulf region and will steam through the Strait of Hormuz in a direct message to Tehran.

Iran has warned it will block the Strait, a major transit point for global oil supplies, and bluntly told the U.S. not to send carriers into the Gulf. The U.S. has said it would continue to deploy ships there.

"That's what this carrier is all about," said Panetta. "That's the reason we maintain a presence in the Middle East ...

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


The above U.S. Navy photo of Panetta on the deck of the USS Enterprise was taken by Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Pitman.   

Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Centuries

Susan Elkins at the British newspaper the Independent looks at the best books on Charles Dickens during his bicentennial year.

If Charles Dickens were as immortal as his writing, he would be celebrating his 200th birthday on 7 February. He may be – like Jacob Marley – as dead as a doornail, but culturally he's never been more alive, thanks to all of those timeless themes in his work. We are still wrestling with Orlick-style crime; punishment for men such as Sykes; daunting lawyers such as Jaggers; greedy industrialists such as Merdle and terrible poverty for Oliver Twist-like children. And family anxieties, tensions, miseries and joys – think Micawber, Pocket, Cratchit, Wemmick and Gradgrind – have changed remarkably little.

...in acknowledgement of his bicentenary, the Dickens commentators, critics, editors and creative responders have been busy producing new books.

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


You can also read an earlier post on the preparation of the Dickens bicentennial via the below link:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dom Irrera Teaches Us How To Talk South Philly Italian

Below is a link to a funny video of South Philly comedian Dom Irrera teaching us how to "talk South Philly Italian:"


Friday, January 20, 2012

Surviving Families, Victims Of Terrorist Attack On The USS Cole Seek Justice

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2012 - Family members who lost loved ones during the USS Cole attack and two survivors urged yesterday that justice be served in the quest to ensure a fair trial for the accused mastermind of the attack.

The family members and survivors appeared grim-faced, and some choked with emotion as they spoke to reporters at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following the second day of a pretrial hearing for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Nashiri is charged with several crimes, including a role in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the Cole as it was refueling in Aden Harbor, Yemen. Suicide bombers detonated an explosives-laden boat directly against the ship's port side, killing 17 sailors and wounding 37 others.

Among the survivors was James Parlier, the ship's command master chief petty officer, who worked directly for the Cole's captain and traveled to Guantanamo Bay to watch the pretrial proceedings.

Parlier admitted yesterday that seeing Nashiri during his first visit to Guantanamo Bay since Joint Task Force Guantanamo was stood up "brings up a lot of raw emotion."

"This is a long process, and it has been tough for all of us," he said, noting that the attack affected not only the sailors killed and their families, but also their shipmates, who continue to suffer from physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Every person on that ship lost something," agreed Ronald Francis, a retired sailor whose 19-year-old daughter, Seaman Lakeina Francis, died aboard the Cole. "Everyone is now affected by the outcome of the USS Cole bombing."

Olivia Rux said her life hasn't been the same since her husband, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Rux, an electronic warfare specialist, "was murdered" during the attack. She shared with reporters the emptiness she feels and her personal struggle as one of the family members left behind "to figure out where I belong in this society that has been overlooked."

Rux dismissed defense arguments during the pre-trial hearing that the military commission process is being rushed, denying Nashiri the opportunity to receive a fair trial.

She recalled the painful wait for news after the attack, not yet knowing if loved ones and shipmates were alive or dead, and the agony of having to bury their loved ones. "Where is the justice in that?" she asked.

Francis questioned, after hearing members of the defense team challenge the fairness of the military commission system, who's thinking about those whose lives were cut short, or were left behind. "When the defense talks about justice, where is the justice [for the] sailors aboard that ship?" he said.

He said he wanted to "see the process and justice done – not only for my daughter, but for all the shipmates that were on that ship."

Eleven years after the attack, Master Chief Petty Officer Paul Abney, who was sitting in the ship's mess when the explosion occurred, said he traveled to Guantanamo Bay to seek closure. "I am here to witness justice and to see this process to take place," he said.

He disputed the defense team's arguments that military commissions aren't legitimate court proceedings and insisted that alleged terrorists don't deserve the right to be tried in the United States.

Abney also scoffed at the notion that Nashiri, as a defendant, is likely to have access to national secrets that even he isn't entitled to because he has no need to know. "It doesn't feel fair," he said, "but that's the process and the rules."

He commended the efforts those conducting the commission are making to ensure that Nashiri receives a fair trial. "They are doing their job to be as fair and honest as possible, and we need to let the process go as it was set up at this place, in this time," he said.

Parlier agreed that the legal process has been "more than fair, I believe, with Nashiri." But he made no secret of what he hopes the outcome will be.

"I pray to God that we do prove that he worked with [deceased al-Qaida leader Osama] bin Laden and his cell, creating the nightmare for us that he did," Parlier said. "And I pray that one day, as an older man, that I see him receive the justice that he deserves."

Jesse Neito, whose son, Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Neito, was killed in the attack, lamented that justice has been "slow, very slow." He expressed hope that he "will be able to see and be alive when the outcome resolves itself."

Rux was more direct. "I have nothing but time to wait until that detainee draws his last breath," she said.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Former NYPD Detective Edward Conlon Nominated For Best First Novel By Mystery Writers Of America

Congratulations to Edward Conlon for his nomination for Best First Novel, Red On Red, by the Mystery Writers of America.

Conlon, who recently left the New York Police Department to write full-time, is also the author of an excellent nonfiction book about his police experiences and the long line of cops in his family called Blue Blood.

You can read my earlier post on Edward Conlon via the below link:


The above photo of Edward Conlon by Brian Scannell.    

Elmore Leonard And T.Jefferson Parker: Two Crime Writers At The Top of Their Game

Mike Downey at the Los Angeles Times reviews Elmore Leonard's Raylan and T. Jefferson Parker's The Jaguar.

The new year is a happier one already for aficionados of America's top crime novelists. That is because, along with T. Jefferson Parker and a snarling, teeth-baring rip-snorter called "The Jaguar," a couple of our most creative writers are back and in good form. Their flawed but basically heroic lawmen — Charlie Hood being the Parker brand — are men of action, written with wit. A law gets bent here and there, but who cares?

Kidney-nappers are at the heart of "Raylan," a pair of Kentucky varmints who turn up unexpectedly at your door, disguised behind Barack and Michelle Obama
masks, to drug you, drub you, relieve you of a vital organ — two, in some cases — and then rub-a-dub-dub you in a tub. Good ol' Stetson-topped Raylan, the coal miner's son who became a fed, ends up on the case.

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


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pretrial Proceedings Begin For Alleged USS Cole Attack Mastermind

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., Jan. 17, 2012 - The commander of the U.S. detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, defended the new policy that allows government officials to monitor prisoners' mail during the opening day of pretrial proceedings for the alleged mastermind in the USS Cole bombing.

Navy Rear Adm. David Woods, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, testified today in response to a motion by the defense at the military commission hearing for Abd al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed al Nashiri. Army Col. James Pohl ruled during proceedings at Guantanamo Bay that Woods should explain the policy he instituted last month.

Woods, one of the highest-level officials to testify in a military tribunal, said the new policy balances his responsibilities to facilitate attorney-client communication while also ensuring security, safety, force protection and good order at the facility.

Woods told Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes of the defense team the new policy allows members of a team that reviews detainee privileges to conduct a "plain-view review" of written communications not marked as protected attorney-client information. The review, he said, is designed to ensure this correspondence does not include physical or "information contraband" such as maps of the detention facility.

Woods disputed the defense position that the policy violates client-attorney privilege, or that reviewers must read the material in full to make a determination. He also denied that the policy restricts access between detainees and their lawyers.

One of its benefits, he said, is authorizing guards to search the plastic bins reserved for legal paperwork and correspondence in detainee living spaces. Guards reportedly have found contraband stowed in these "legal bins" in the past.

Woods acknowledged that the policy depends on the professionalism of the privileged review team, as well as their contractual commitments, to ensure their review is conducted properly and ethically. He noted that reviewers, all civilian contractors, must sign a non-disclosure agreement that bars them from sharing this information, particularly with prosecuting attorneys associated with the case.

The prosecution called the defense's request for Woods to appear before the court irrelevant to the case because Nashiri hasn't been subject to mail searches.

However, officials said Pohl's decision to call him likely was made because what happens in the Nashiri case – the first to go through a revised military commission system -- is likely to set the precedent for trials to follow. Army Col. John Head, deputy chief of staff for the convening authority, told reporters the defense's request likely is intended to institute an across-the-board process that ensures all detainees receive equal treatment.

Pohl is expected to render a decision tomorrow, the second of two days of a pretrial hearing to consider 10 motions in the case.

Nashiri, 47, is charged with "perfidy," or treachery; murder in violation of the law of war; attempted murder in violation of the law of war; terrorism; conspiracy; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; attacking civilians; attacking civilian objects; and hazarding a vessel.

The charges arise out of an attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in January 2000 and an attack on the USS Cole in October 2000, during which 17 U.S. sailors were killed and 37 more wounded. Nashiri also is accused of involvement in an attack on the MV Limburg, a French civilian oil tanker, in October 2002 in which one crewmember was killed and about 90,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Aden. If convicted, Nashiri could be sentenced to death.

Nashiri did not enter a plea during his arraignment at Guantanamo Bay in November.
Although the defendant was in the room during today's proceedings – albeit it out of camera view for remote viewers for most of the hearing – all the activity revolved around the prosecution and defense teams.

Pohl rejected two defense motions: one to allow Nashiri to be unrestrained during his meetings with his legal counsel, and one to establish an enclave – a protected network within the larger Defense Department computer network – in an effort to keep DOD from monitoring the defense counsel's computers and electronic communications.

Pohl dismissed civilian defense counsel Richard Kammen's argument that defense counsel should be able to meet with unrestrained detainees in locked-room meetings, as representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross are able to.

The current policy requires detainees to be shackled and in an unlocked room during meetings with their attorneys, enabling guards to enter the room and for attorneys to exit quickly in the event of a disturbance, the prosecution noted.

Anthony W. Mattivi, a member of the prosecution team representing the Justice Department, expressed concern that changing the current policy could put the guards at increased risk and said Woods should be the one to make any changes to the policy, not the court. "That's not his call," Mattivi said of Kammen. "It's the commander's."

Pohl agreed, ruling to keep the current policy intact.

The judge, however, left the door open for a possible request by the defense for an enclave or other security remedy for its electronic communications in the future, while acknowledging that even material in enclaves is subject to monitoring.

Kammen compared the encryption system the defense now uses to protect sensitive materials to putting them in a locked drawer in an office, then handing the government the key to the drawer and leaving the office door open. "It's the appearance of confidentiality without the substance," he told the court.

Lockhart argued that an enclave isn't necessary because encryption already ensures the maximum security possible for the documents. Pentagon computer security expert Adam Bennett, whom she called to the stand, said it's virtually impossible for government officials to access encrypted information or open documents – including those used by the defense team – without the password and encryption software needed to access it.

Both the defense and prosecution, as well as the judge, recognized that all material on DOD networks is subject to routine, noncontent-related screening to prevent viruses and cyber attacks.

In other motions considered today, Pohl granted a motion supporting more public access to court proceedings. Currently the proceedings are broadcast from the court at Guantanamo Bay via closed circuit to just three locations in the United States. Two of those sites are here at Fort Meade in a theater and training-room facility. Another, at Norfolk Naval Base, Va., is reserved for families of USS Cole victims as well as crewmembers aboard the vessel during the attack.

Pohl also moved that unofficial transcripts of the proceedings, posted online while the official transcript remains classified, may be referred to by both legal teams during the trial.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Kammen said the defense considered today "on balance, a very successful day," while acknowledging that some of the motions made could ultimately delay the trial, possibly as far out as 2015.

Kammen called military commissions "at best, a second-class system of justice" and said they are designed to be secretive and provide expedient justice at the expense of transparency and fairness. He added that the defense team today fought for things it wouldn't have had to in federal court, and accused the government of blurring the line between classified and embarrassing information.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, disputed Kammen's charges, noting that the prosecution team in the commissions operates much like prosecutors in federal courts. They play no part in handling defendant's correspondence or defense attorney's emails, don't communicate with facility personnel about contacts with an accused legal materials and aren't privy to those materials, he said.

Martins said proceedings like today's are designed to ensure legal issues are resolved in a way "consistent with the fair, transparent and accountable administration of justice under the rule of law."

Despite the manpower and expense associated with the commission proceedings, Martins said the United States has a responsibility to follow them through. "Not only must we continue to pursue the truth for the surviving family members of victims who have been rendered silent, but we must also pursue it because that is what justice requires," he said. "A civilized and open society facing very real and modern security threats can demand no less."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hell In The Pacific: Rare WWII Photographs Of American Soldiers and Marines During The Brutal Battle of Saipan

Lydia Warren at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a good story on the furious fighting on Saipan in the South Pacific in World War II. 

It is the little-known battle that claimed the lives of thousands of Americans during World War II.

But now black-and-white photographs, captured by Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith, show the everyday horrors for the U.S. soldiers fighting against Japanese forces on the Mariana Island of Saipan between June 15 and July 9, 1944.

Faces etched with the pain of their experiences, war-weary men are captured transporting their wounded comrades or forcing Japanese civilians from their hiding places.

You can read the rest of the peice and view the great photos via the below link:


You can also learn more about the Battle of Saipan by reading a good piece by Francis A. O'Brie at Historynet.com via the below link:


The Battle of Saipan interests me as my late father was a UDT frogman who hit the Saipan beach on June 14, 1944, a full day before the American troops landed.

I wrote about my my father and the WWII Navy frogmen for Counterterrorism magazine. You can read the piece via the below links:   




The South Bank Show: A Look Back At 50 Years Of James Bond Films

With 2012 being the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, one might be interested in watching the British TV program the South Bank Show that looked back on the highly successful film series based on Ian Fleming's thrillers.

The TV program offers good interviews with the first Bond film actor Sean Connery and the current Bond actor Daniel Craig.

You can watch the program via the below links to youtube.com:






Monday, January 16, 2012

Celebrating 50 Years Of James Bond Films

Fifty years ago today the first James Bond film, Dr No, was released and millions of viewers were introduced to the suave and rugged British secret agent with the license to kill.

There are a good number of newspaper, magazine and Internet stories celebrating the history of the film series based on the Ian Fleming thrillers.

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers an interesting excerpt from the late Bond film producer Cubby Broccoli's autobiography. Broccoli tells of a memo author Ian Fleming that spelled out how James Bond should be portrayed.

We had the script rewritten to bring it more in line with Fleming's original story. Which was just as well, because Ian attended several of our meetings well before the picture started. It was good having him around. His whole persona, the way he held his cigarette, his laid-back style, that certain arrogance, was pure James Bond. 

After one of our meetings, Ian sent me a fascinating memorandum, which must be the definitive thesis on the way James Bond should be played. 

For instance: 'Atmosphere: To my mind, the greatest danger in this series is too much Englishness. 

There should, I think, be no monocles, moustaches, bowler hats or bobbies or other "Limey" gimmicks. There should be no blatant English slang, a minimum of public-school ties and accents, and subsidiary characters should, generally speaking, speak with a Scots or Irish accent.   

James Bond: Bond is a blunt instrument wielded by a government department. He is quiet, hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. In his relationships with women he shows the same qualities as he does in his job. He likes gambling, golf and fast motor cars.   

So, incidentally, did Ian - and guns, espionage and beautiful women, particularly in the uniform of the WRNS. He'd have given anything, I imagine, to have been James Bond.

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


Your Guide To Boston's Infamous Mobsters

The Walpole Times offers an interview with two Boston journalists, Beverly Ford and Stephanie Schorow, about their book on Boston's infamous mobsters, The Boston Mob Guide: Hit Men, Hodlums & Hideouts (History Press).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary, James Bond. Ian Fleming Began First James Bond Thriller On This Date In 1952

As Dell Deaton at annarbor.com notes, on this date in 1952 Ian Fleming began his first James Bond thriller, Casino Royale.

Fleming began the novel while vacationing at his Jamaican villa Goldeneye. 

In 1952, January 15 was a Tuesday.

Some time that day, Ian Fleming put a blank sheet of paper into his well-used portable typewriter and literally created James Bond.

Ten years and one day later, Sean Connery brought that character to life (so to speak) when the initial day of filming began on the movie version of Dr No.   

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


You can read more about Ian Fleming and James Bond in my Crime Beat column via the below link:


As an aside, Fleming's watch was a Rolex Explorer, but Sean Connery's James Bond wore a Rolex Submariner in the films in the 1960s.

Lloyd Bridges also wore a Rolex Submariner as Mike Nelson, the ex-Navy frogman in Sea Hunt, which aired on TV from 1958 to 1961.

The Rolex Submariner was and is a popular watch with sports divers, as well as U.S. Navy frogmen, sailors in general and military aviators like legendary pilot General Chuck Yeager.

My Rolex Submariner has been my most prized possession since my beautiful wife bought the watch for me a month before we married so many years ago.

Book Em': Elmore Leonard's U.S. Marshal Character Goes From TV Back To A Book With 'Raylan'

Vince Cosgrove at NJ.com reviewed Elmore Leonard's new crime thriller Raylan.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, whose Stetson rides high and whose gun is quick, returns in Elmore Leonard’s latest thriller — after appearing in the novels “Pronto” and “Riding the Rap,” and the short story “Fire in the Hole.”

That story inspired “Justified,” the hit series that stars Timothy Olyphant as Raylan (its third season kicks off Tuesday on FX). Leonard thinks so highly of “Justified” that he dedicated “Raylan” to Olyphant and Graham Yost, the series’ creator

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


I'm a big fan of Elmore Leonard and I like his Raylan Givens character in his novels and short stories and on the TV show Justified. I look forward to reading Raylan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meet The Boss Of Italy's Biggest Business, The Ruthless Don Running The Mafia

Nick Pisa at the British newspaper the Daily Mirror wrote an interesting piece about the "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

The organized crime group was recently reported to be the biggest Italian business.

He's the boss of Italy’s biggest business – but he’s not your run-of-the-mill chief executive.
Worth an estimated £2.5billion, Matteo Messina Denaro loves fast cars, designer watches and sharp suits. But 49-year-old Denaro is also a cold-blooded murderer whose ruthless streak has helped him rise to the very summit of the Italian Mafia.
Now known as the Don of Dons, he is believed to have personally executed at least 50 people and ordered the deaths of scores more. He has been on the run since 1993 and has chillingly boasted: “I filled a cemetery all by myself.”
You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Investigating Officer Recommends Court-Martial For Suspected Wiki-Leaker PFC Bradley Manning

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2012 - The investigating officer has recommended that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning face a general court-martial for charges of leaking classified documents, Military District of Washington officials announced yesterday.

Army Lt. Col. Paul Almanza issued his recommendation yesterday, concluding that reasonable grounds exist to believe that Manning committed the alleged offenses, officials said.

The 24-year-old intelligence analyst is suspected of leaking military and diplomatic documents to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks in what officials believe is the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history.

WikiLeaks, in turn, released thousands of these documents, including classified records about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its website last year.

Manning faces more than 20 charges alleging he introduced unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloaded it, improperly stored it, and transmitted the data for public release and use by the enemy.
Almanza's report concluded that the charges and specifications are in proper form for the case to move forward, officials said.

His recommendation follows eight days of pretrial proceedings during Manning's Article 32 hearing, with both prosecution and defense delivering their closing statements Dec. 22.
An Article 32 hearing, often compared to a civilian grand jury, is a pretrial hearing to determine if grounds exist for a general court-martial, the most serious of courts-martial.

The special court-martial convening authority, Army Col. Carl Coffman, will now review Almanza's report, officials said. He will determine if the charges should be handled at his level or forwarded to Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, the general court-martial convening authority.

If convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of life in prison. He also could be reduced to E-1, the lowest enlisted grade, and could face forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge, officials said. 

Allen West On The Marine Pissing Incident: 'Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell'

Daniel Harper at the Weekly Standard reports on Congressman and former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Allen West's comments regarding the video that appears to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban bodies.

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

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


American Sniper: A Review Of Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's Book

Joshua Sinai at the Washington Times wrote an interesting review of American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History.

"One shot, one kill" is the creed of military snipers. For those in elite warfare units such as the U.S. Navy SEALs, the additional skill of being able to quietly infiltrate an enemy's area undetected in order to deliver precision fire is mandatory. Working in proximity to where adversaries are operating, and being expected to survive in order to be deployed to additional firefights, is a given.

"American Sniper" is retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's gripping and dramatic account of how he became the deadliest sniper in U.S. history with 160 officially confirmed "kills" in the Iraq War from 2003 to 2009.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

San Francisco Film Noir Festival Celebrates Crime Writer Dashiell Hammett

G. Allen Johnson at the San Franciso Chronicle reports on the 10th San Franciso Noir City Film Festival. The festival will show films written by or based on work written by the late great crime writer Dashiell Hammett.

"It's amazing - as the sun sets and you sit in this room, it really starts to feel like Sam Spade's apartment," said Muller, referring to Dashiell Hammett's hero in his novel "The Maltese Falcon."

"It is a trip to read that book in this apartment. It makes your head spin. You feel it, you really feel it."

We are sitting in the apartment where Hammett lived in the late 1920s. Here, at 891 Post St., Hammett, a struggling writer who worked at Samuel's Jewelers on Market Street, wrote his first three novels: "Red Harvest," "The Dain Curse" and, of course, "The Maltese Falcon," in which Sam Spade's living quarters and office in the novel was based on Hammett's apartment.

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


TNT Orders Crime Drama Pilot Based On 'L.A. Noir'

Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times reports that Frank Darabont will write, direct and produce a pilot for the TNT channel called L.A. Noir.

TNT said in a news release that it had ordered a pilot for “L.A. Noir,” adapted from John Buntin’s book of the same title, about the real-life battle between the Los Angeles Police Department and the West Coast mob from the 1930s through the ’60s. The planned series, if it is picked up by the network, will be set in the ’40s and ’50s, and focus on the conflict between the Los Angeles police chief William Parker and the mobster Mickey Cohen.

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


You can also read my review of the book L.A. Noir via the below link:


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mafia Is Italy's Largest Business, Biggest Banker, ABC News Reports

Phoebe Natanson at ABC News offers a report on organized crime in Italy.

While Italy's new prime minister sweats to fix Italy's dire economic situation and Italians are hit with increased taxes, there are some in Italy who are doing just fine in the country.

A report released today by an Italian employers association states that organized crime is the biggest business in Italy generating an annual turnover of 140 billion Euros (over $204 billion.)

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


Between The Covers: Interview With Stephen Hunter, Author of the Thriller 'Soft Target'

John J. Miller offers an interesting interview with Stephen Hunter, author of the new thriller Soft Target.

In Soft Target, ex-Marine sniper Ray Cruz, son of the legendary Marine sniper "Bob the Nailer" Swagger, takes on a group of terrorists who've laid seize to the Mall of America.

We've managed to kill most of their smart guys, and now we're dealing with their dumb guys, but the one guy we haven't dealt with is the lucky guy," says Stephen Hunter, author of Soft Target.

You can listen to the audio at National Review Online via the below link:


Oliver North's Column: Obama's Defense Budget - New Strategic Guidence Is Strategic Capitulation

In his latest column, retired Marine Lt Colonel Oliver North raps Obama's proposed Defense Department budget.

Washington, DC – The U.S. military better get ready to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less. That’s the bottom line of the so-called “new strategic guidance” issued this week by Mr. Obama during a brief visit to the Pentagon.

Flanked by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mr. Obama proudly proclaimed to allies and adversaries alike that the United States is heading toward a much less expensive, far smaller, and ultimately less capable military than we’ve had since before
World War II.

...He claims it is now a “national security imperative” to reduce our federal deficit “through a lower level of defense spending.”

That’s a “strategy” driven by dollars – not the threats and risks we face.

You can read the rest of the column via HumanEvents.com's below link:


Monday, January 9, 2012

Letters Of Note: A Bitter Note From Crime Novelist Raymond Chandler To Film Director Alfred Hitchcock Regarding the Film 'Strangers On A Train'

Jason Boog at MediaBistro.com offers a look at a note Raymond Chandler wrote to Alfred Hitchcock, blasting him about the script for the film Strangers on a Train.

The excellent Letters of Note site has posted a bitter note that private detective novelist Raymond Chandler mailed to Alfred Hitchcock, an angry sermon punctuated with this zippy line: “if you wanted something written in skim milk, why on earth did you bother to come to me in the first place?”

You can read the rest of the piece an watch a trailer from Strangers on a Train via the below link:


Saturday, January 7, 2012

'Sherlock Holmes': Hollywood Finally Plays By The Book With Watson

Geoff Boucher at the Los Angeles Times is pleased that Sherlock Holmes' partner in solving crimes is finally being portrayed on the screen as intelligent, which is how he was portrayed by Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson's creator, author Arthur Conan Doyle.

It’s a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes — you might call it “The Doltish Doctor of Baker Street” — and the scene of the crime was in Hollywood the day before April Fools’ Day 1939.

That’s when 20th Century Fox released “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” the first of 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson, that daring duo from Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed books. Doyle has deeply devoted fans across the globe and through generations, and the eager ones who went to see “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in theaters back in ’39 were surely shocked when they realized there was something very different about this new Watson: The man was a complete idiot.

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


The above photo shows Robert Downey Jr as Holmes on the left, and Jude Law as Watson on the right.

Defense Secretary Commends U.S. Navy Team That Rescued Iranian Fishing Vessel From Pirates

The below was released by the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet yesterday:

From a U.S. 5th Fleet News Release

ARABIAN SEA, Jan. 6, 2012, Jan. 6, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today made a congratulatory phone call to the commander of a U.S. strike group that rescued 13 Iranian sailors from suspected pirates yesterday in the northern Arabian Sea.
Panetta called the USS John C. Stennis this afternoon and spoke to Navy Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of Strike Group 3.

The secretary congratulated Faller and the entire team, saying it was a "well executed effort," adding that the team did exactly the right thing and that he's proud of what they were able to do.

"When we get a distress signal, we're going to respond," he said. "That's the nature of what our country is all about."

At about 12:30 p.m. local time yesterday, an SH-60S Seahawk from the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai. Simultaneously, a distress call was received from the master of the Al Molai claiming he was being held captive by pirates.

A visit, board, search and seizure team from the Kidd boarded the Al Molai and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. The Al Molai had been pirated and used as a "mother ship" for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, members of the Iranian vessel's crew reported.

The pirates did not resist the boarding and surrendered quickly, officials said.

"The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40 to 45 days," said Josh Schminky, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd. "They were held hostage with limited rations, and we believe [they] were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations."

Members of the Kidd boarding party reported that the Iranian crew said they were forced by the pirates to live in harsh conditions, under the threat of violence with limited supplies and medical aid.

"When we boarded, we gave them food, water and medical care," Schminky said. "They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect.

"After securing the ship and ensuring the safety of all persons on board," he continued, "we began distributing food and water to both the crew and the suspected criminals, as is our standard practice in Ccounterpiracy operations."

The pirates were detained on the Al Molai by the Kidd boarding party until this morning, when they could be transferred to the USS John C. Stennis, where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution. The pirates remain on the Stennis.

"The captain of the Al Molai expressed his sincere gratitude that we came to assist them," Schminky said. "He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months."

Piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution and is a threat to all mariners, U.S. 5th Fleet officials said, and the presence of U.S. Navy ships in the region promotes freedom of navigation and protects the safety of those who transit the sea.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is conducting maritime security operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The above Defense Department photo shows the USS Kidd alongside the Iranian fishing vessel.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obama Unveils Defense Cuts While Iran Threatens

KT McFarland at FoxNews.com took Obama to task for his proposed drastic cuts to defense.

Whose bright idea was it for the president of the United States to unveil his defense budget cuts the cusp of a crisis with Iran and in the Pentagon’s briefing room? -- What were they thinking?

McFarland wonders what Iran, the Taliban, North Korea, China and our allies like Israel will think of the proposed military cuts.

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


The above Defense Department photo shows Obama and Defense officials at the Pentagon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spec-Ops Troops Study To Be Part-Spy, Part-Gumshoe

Kimberly Dozier at the Associated Press wrote an interesting piece about a new training course at Fort Bragg's Special Warfare Center.

The raid to grab Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan took just under 40 minutes , roughly 10 to get to bin Laden.

Special operators spent much of the rest of the time gathering evidence: computer files, written notes and thumb drives that pointed to new al-Qaida plots and previously secret operatives around the globe.

That science is what special operators of all types are learning at Fort Bragg's Special Warfare Center, with real-life scenarios meant to shock , and teach.

...The coursework is similar to the CIA's legendary spycraft training center called The Farm, and is at the brainchild of Green Beret Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, a veteran of elite special operations units and a long stint on loan to the CIA.

Among the students at the CIA-approved Fort Bragg course are Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine Corps special operators. As in the Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden, everything from computers to fingerprints can be retrieved from a raid site and quickly analyzed. In some cases the analysis is so fast it can lead to several new targets in a single night.

You can read the rest of the story at the below link to Philly.com:


Military Special Operators gathering evidence and intelligence is not a new concept.

None other than Ian Fleming, the creator of the fictional iconic character James Bond, conceived and organized a commando group called the 30 Assault Unit to do just this in World War II.

I wrote a piece on Commander Ian Fleming and his WWII intelligence-commando group for Counterterrorism magazine. You can read the magazine story via the below links: