Friday, August 31, 2012

Eduaro Arellano-Felix Extradited From Mexico To The United States To Face Charges

The United States Justice Department released the below information today:

WASHINGTON - Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, one of the alleged members of the Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO), was extradited today by the government of Mexico to the United States to face racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking charges in the Southern District of California.
The extradition was announced by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department?s Criminal Division. Arellano-Felix was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, on Oct. 25, 2008, following a gun battle with a Mexican Special Tactical Team. A final order of extradition to the United States was granted in 2010. After two years of unsuccessful appeals, Arellano-Felix arrived in the United States this afternoon. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in U.S. District Court in San Diego before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Lynn Major.
U.S. Attorney Duffy, whose office secured the indictment against Arellano-Felix, said, "This extradition is a significant step in our effort to bring another key figure in the Arellano Felix Organization to answer, in an American court of law, to very serious charges. We are grateful to the Government of Mexico for its assistance in the extradition."
Today's extradition is a milestone in our fight against the Mexican drug cartels. I want to thank the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs for its tireless work in helping to ensure that Eduardo Arellano-Felix and numerous of his alleged co-conspirators face justice in the United States, said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.
The extradition of Eduardo Arellano-Felix today marks the end of a 20-year DEA investigation into this vicious drug cartel, said William R . Sherman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This extradition illustrates that DEA and all its law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue these drug traffickers until they are brought to justice.
San Diego FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn said, "The FBI is pleased with Mexico's efforts to bring to justice a leader from one of the most violent criminal enterprises in our history. The spirit of cooperation between our two countries is a powerful force in disrupting the criminal activities of these groups that instill fear and threaten the safety of our citizens in the border regions of the United States."
Long-reputed to be one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations, the AFO controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. Its operations also extended into southern Mexico as well as Colombia.
The seventh superseding indictment charges Arellano-Felix with conducting the affairs of an illegal enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, as well as money laundering. The indictment alleges that the leadership of the AFO negotiated directly with Colombian cocaine-trafficking organizations for the purchase of multi-ton shipments of cocaine, received those shipments by sea and by air, in Mexico, and then arranged for the smuggling of the cocaine into the United States and its further distribution throughout the U.S. The indictment also alleges that the proceeds of the AFO's drug trafficking, estimated by law enforcement to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, were then smuggled back into Mexico.
Brothers and former leaders of the AFO, Benjamin Arellano-Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, are currently serving sentences in the United States following their convictions for racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
This case is being investigated by agents from the DEA, the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and prosecuted in the Southern District of California by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Green, James Melendres and Dan Zipp. The Criminal Division Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition. The investigation of Arellano-Felix was coordinated by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and coordinate all law enforcement resources in this country's battle against major drug trafficking rings, drug kingpins, and money launderers.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant is presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

'No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account Of The Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden'

Peter Bergen at the Washington Post reviewed No Easy Day.

Even before the book went on sale, the announcement by the publisher Dutton that the pseudonymous Mark Owen, one of the SEALs on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, would be publishing an account of his role in the raid quickly propelled “No Easy Day” to the No. 1 slot on Amazon, displacing “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

It was inevitable that one of the men on the bin Laden mission would eventually write a book about it. After all, we live in an open society. Anyone involved in this history-making mission would want to set the record straight about what exactly happened — given some of the nonsense that has been written about it — and also make a little money on the side. (To his credit, Owen — whose real name has been revealed to be Matt Bissonnette — is donating most of the proceeds of his book to charities that help the families of fallen SEALs.)

... Owen’s account of the raid fits almost exactly with my own understanding of the operation, based on being the only outside observer allowed inside the bin Laden compound before it was demolished and interviewing dozens of American officials familiar with the details of the operation, as well as interviews with Pakistani officials who investigated the aftermath of the raid.

The only surprising thing, perhaps, given the code of silence that exists among the men of SEAL Team 6 — a small, tightknit covert unit that prides itself on being the “quiet professionals” — is how soon this tell-all book was published. After all, it’s been only a little over a year since bin Laden’s body was dumped from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson as it cruised off the coast of Pakistan.

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

Former U.S. Consulate Guard Pleads Guilty To Attemping To Communicate National Defense Information To China

The U.S. Justice Department released the below today:

WASHINGTON – Bryan Underwood, a former civilian guard at a U.S. Consulate compound under construction in China, pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia in connection with his efforts to sell for personal financial gain classified photographs, information and access related to the U.S. Consulate to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).
At a hearing today before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, Underwood pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government with intent or reason to believe that the documents, photographs or information in question were to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.
The guilty plea was announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Eric J. Boswell, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.
Underwood, 32, a former resident of Indiana, was first charged in an indictment on Aug. 31, 2011, with two counts of making false statements and was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011. On Sept. 21, 2011, he failed to appear at a scheduled status hearing in federal court in the District of Columbia. The FBI later located Underwood in a hotel in Los Angeles and arrested him there on Sept. 24, 2011. On Sept. 28, 2011, Underwood was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government, two counts of making false statements and one count of failing to appear in court pursuant to his conditions of release. Sentencing for Underwood has been scheduled for Nov. 19, 2012. He faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.
“Bryan Underwood was charged with protecting a new U.S. Consulate compound against foreign espionage, but facing financial hardship, he attempted to betray his country for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “This prosecution demonstrates that we remain vigilant in protecting America’s secrets and in bringing to justice those who attempt to compromise them.”
“Bryan Underwood was determined to make millions by selling secret photos of restricted areas inside a U.S. Consulate in China,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “His greed drove him to exploit his access to America’s secrets to line his own pockets. The lengthy prison sentence facing Underwood should chasten anyone who is tempted to put our nation at risk for personal gain.”
“Bryan Underwood sought to benefit from his access to sensitive information, but his attempted betrayal was detected before our nation’s secrets fell into the wrong hands,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Together with our partners, the FBI will continue to work to expose, investigate and prevent acts of espionage that threaten our national security.”
“The close working relationship between the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office resulted in the capture and conviction of Bryan Underwood before he could harm the security of our country,” said Assistant Secretary of State Boswell. “The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to thoroughly investigating all potential intelligence threats to our nation.”
According to court documents, from November 2009 to August 2011, Underwood worked as a cleared American guard (CAG) at the construction site of a new U.S. Consulate compound in Guangzhou, China. CAGs are American civilian security guards with Top Secret clearances who serve to prevent foreign governments from improperly obtaining sensitive or classified information from the U.S. Consulate. Underwood received briefings on how to handle and protect classified information as well as briefings and instructions on security protocols for the U.S. Consulate, including the prohibition on photography in certain areas of the consulate.
Plan to Sell Information and Access for $3 Million to $5 Million
In February 2011, Underwood was asked by U.S. law enforcement to assist in a project at the consulate and he agreed. In March 2011, Underwood lost a substantial amount of money in the stock market. According to court documents, Underwood then devised a plan to use his assistance to U.S. law enforcement as a “cover” for making contact with the Chinese government. According to his subsequent statements to U.S. law enforcement, Underwood intended to sell his information about and access to the U.S. Consulate to the Chinese MSS for $3 million to $5 million. If any U.S. personnel caught him, he planned to falsely claim he was assisting U.S. law enforcement.
As part of his plan, Underwood wrote a letter to the Chinese MSS, expressing his “interest in initiating a business arrangement with your offices” and stating, “I know I have information and skills that would be beneficial to your offices [sic] goals. And I know your office can assist me in my financial endeavors.” According to court documents, Underwood attempted to deliver this letter to the offices of the Chinese MSS in Guangzhou, but was turned away by a guard who declined to accept the letter. Underwood then left the letter in the open in his apartment hoping that the Chinese MSS would find it, as he believed the MSS routinely conducted searches of apartments occupied by Americans.
In May 2011, Underwood secreted a camera into the U.S. Consulate compound and took photographs of a restricted building and its contents. Many of these photographs depict areas or information classified at the Secret level. Underwood also created a schematic that listed all security upgrades to the U.S. Consulate and drew a diagram of the surveillance camera locations at the consulate. In addition, according to his subsequent statements to U.S. law enforcement, Underwood “mentally” constructed a plan in which the MSS could gain undetected access to a building at the U.S. Consulate to install listening devices or other technical penetrations.
According to court documents, the photographs Underwood took were reviewed by an expert at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security who had original classification authority for facilities, security and countermeasures at the U.S. Consulate. The expert determined that many of the photographs contained images classified at the Secret level and that disclosure of such material could cause serious damage to the United States.
In early August 2011, Underwood was interviewed several times by FBI and Diplomatic Security agents, during which he admitted making efforts to contact the Chinese MSS, but falsely claimed that he took these actions to assist U.S. law enforcement. On Aug. 19, 2011, Underwood was again interviewed by law enforcement agents and he admitted that he planned to sell photos, information and access to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to the Chinese MSS for his personal financial gain.
The U.S. government has found no evidence that Underwood succeeded in passing classified information concerning the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to anyone at the Chinese MSS.
This investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Global James Bond Day Announced

MI6, the James Bond web site, offers a piece on the announcement of a Global James Bond Day celebration.

It has been announced that October 5th, 2012 will be Global James Bond Day, a day-long series of events for 007 fans around the world.

Commenting on Global James Bond Day, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of SKYFALL, said, "We are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating James Bond's golden anniversary on film with this special day of events for Bond fans around the world."
The MI6 piece also reports on the release of a new documentary on the making of the James Bond films.
A new feature documentary from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, will also be unveiled (with country-specific release details to follow). Directed by Stevan Riley (Fire In Babylon), Everything Or Nothing focuses on three men with a shared dream - Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and author Ian Fleming. It's the thrilling and inspiring narrative behind the longest running film franchise in cinema history. With unprecedented access both to the key players involved and to EON Productions' extensive archive, this is the first time the inside story of the franchise has ever been told on screen in this way. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Navy SEAL Book Raises Questions About Bin Laden Death

Kimberly Dozier at the Washington Times offers a piece on the new book about the Navy SEALs' raid on bin Laden.

A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.

Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in “No Easy Day.” The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint.

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

Otto Penzler's 5 Underrated Crime Writers

Otto Penzler offers a list of underrated crime writers for The Daily Beast.

Otto Penzler, proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York and editor of "The Great Detectives," a collection of essays written by the world's greatest crime writers, picks the authors he thinks should be more appreciated.  

You can read the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Authors Behaving Badly: The Amoral Ways of Rumpole's Creator John Mortimer, Graham Greene and Other Beloved Writers

Graham Lord at the British newspaper the Daily Mail reports on the amoral and awful behavior of John Mortimer, the author of the Rumpole stories, Graham Greene, and other beloved authors.

John Mortimer was a hugely talented writer and barrister: clever, witty, mischievous, naughty, jolly, charming and funny; an immensely loveable man who was irresistble to womaen and inspired affection in almost everyone who met him, including me. 

I knew him well for many years, and have a sheaf of affectionate cards and letters that he sent me over the years.  But, sadly, I discovered a very different man when I started to worte his biography in 2003, initially with his blessing. 

When the book was eventually published in 2005, it was so critical of him and his amoral behavior that he was urged by relatives and friends to sue me. 

 'I can't,' he said miserably. 

 'Why not?' 

 'Because it's all true.'

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

Christopher Hitchens Was An Impossible Act To Follow

The British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece by Carol Blue, the wife of the late writer and speaker Christopher Hitchens. Blue recalls her husbands final days in the piece.

Onstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.

If you ever saw him at the podium, you may not share Richard Dawkins’s assessment that “he was the greatest orator of our time”, but you will know what I mean – or at least you won’t think, “She would say that, she’s his wife.”
Offstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.
At home at one of the raucous, joyous, impromptu eight-hour dinners we often found ourselves hosting, where the table was so crammed with ambassadors, hacks, political dissidents, college students and children that elbows were colliding and it was hard to find the space to put down a glass of wine, my husband would rise to give a toast that could go on for a stirring, spellbinding, hysterically funny 20 minutes of poetry and limerick reciting, a call to arms for a cause, and jokes. “How good it is to be us,” he would say in his perfect voice.
My husband is an impossible act to follow. 

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

You can also read an earlier post on the passing of Christopher Hitchens via the below link: 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Suspect In Philadelphia Police Officer's Killing Apprehended In Alabama

Veteran crime reporter George Anastasia at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on the arrest of the second suspect in the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker Jr.

A second suspect in the murder of Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. was apprehended in Alabama on Sunday at the very hour when hundreds were gathering at a North Philadelphia church to pay their respects to the slain patrolman.

Chancier McFarland, 19, of North Philadelphia, was taken into custody in Montgomery around 4:30 p.m., police said. McFarland, the subject of an intense search, turned himself in to the FBI and is expected to be returned to Philadelphia shortly to face murder charges, according to Capt. James Clark of the homicide unit.

"We got him, that's the main thing," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Sunday as he stood outside Deliverance Evangelistic Church at 20th Street and Lehigh Avenue.

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

Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat

Joseph C. Goulden, the veteran journalist and author, wrote an intersting review of Max Holland's  Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat for

The who of the Deep Throat mystery that captivated Washington for decades was not resolved until Mark Felt, the former number two man at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), revealed in 2005 that he was the unnamed source who fed information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate investigation. But left dangling was why he chose to breach the bureau’s code of silence and give a journalist inside information on one of the more sensitive criminal investigations of the century.

In their first book on Watergate, All the President’s Men, published in 1974, Woodward and Post colleague Carl Bernstein depicted Deep Throat (who they did not name) as a selfless, high–ranking official intent on exposing the lawlessness of the Nixon White House. Deep Throat, they wrote, “was trying to protect the office [of the presidency] to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.” A secondary goal was to prevent the FBI from being corrupted by being drawn into a White House cover–up.

That statement turns out to be 100 percent false, according to Max Holland, whose exhaustively researched work is a must-read for any person interested in the tangled scandal that drove President Nixon from office.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Where The Mob Keeps It's Money

Roberto Saviano, the Italian who wrote Gomorrah, an interesting true crime book about the Neapolitan organized crime organization the Camorra, wrote a piece for the New York Times about organized crime and money.

The global financial crisis has been a blessing for organized crime. A series of recent scandals have exposed the connection between some of the biggest global banks and the seamy underworld of mobsters, smugglers, drug traffickers and arms dealers. American banks have profited from money laundering by Latin American drug cartels, while the European debt crisis has strengthened the grip of the loan sharks and speculators who control the vast underground economies in countries like Spain and Greece. 
Mutually beneficial relationships between bankers and gangsters aren’t new, but what’s remarkable is their reach at the highest levels of global finance.    
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

One Of America's Greatest Heroes: Defense Secretary Praises Neil Armstrong's Legacy

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he was deeply saddened by death of Neil Armstrong today, calling the pioneering astronaut "one of America's greatest heroes and naval aviators."

Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission he commanded as a NASA civilian. He also had a distinguished career as a Navy combat aviator during the Korean War. He died from complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, according to a statement released by his family. He was 82.

"On behalf of the Department of Defense, I express my condolences to the Armstrong family during this difficult time," Panetta said in his statement. The defense secretary called Armstrong "one of our own," praising his service to the nation both in and out of military uniform.

"As a decorated Korean War veteran, as an astronaut for NASA, and as the first man to walk on the moon, Neil inspired generations of Americans to believe that as a nation we are capable of achieving greatness that only comes with determination, perseverance, and hard work," Panetta said.

"As a true pioneer, his one small step showed all mankind the great feats we can accomplish when we set ourselves to the task," the secretary said.

Panetta said Armstrong may be gone, but "his legacy of American achievement and national pride will live forever."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Camorra Crime Boss Shot And Killed Leaving Beach South Of Rome

The Washington Post offers a piece on the murder of a Camorra crime boss who was killed near Rome.

Authorities were searching Friday for a gunman who shot and killed an organized crime boss clad in a swimsuit as he walked from a beach to join his family at a hotel in a resort town south of Rome.

Gaetano Marino — a boss from the Neapolitan Camorra — was hit by at least four shots to the head and another five or six to his back Thursday afternoon after he left the beach en route to his hotel in Terracina, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Rome in Lazio region. His family had gone ahead of him back to the hotel, police said.

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

You can also read a Vanity Fair piece on the Camorra via the below link:

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's ADMIRAL McRaven, Mr. President! Obama Botches Rank Of Top Navy SEAL

Toby Harnden at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers an interesting piece on the Commander-in-Chief's public goofs concerning the military, including his refering to Admiral McRaven as General McRaven.

Barack Obama has always been known for his silken words, soaring rhetoric and ability to use language to his advantage. Lately, however, the president seems to be losing command of the details. 

... "I'd advise that you talk to General McRaven, who's in charge of our Special Ops. I think he has a point of view in terms of how deeply I care about what these folks do each day and every day to protect our freedom."

The Difficulty with this is that William McRaven is an admiral not a general. As a SEAL, he is a member of the U.S. Navy, not the U.S. Army or U.S. Marines. Obama has made mistakes with military terminology before. In February 2010, he mispronounced 'corpsman' - as 'corpse-man' instead of 'core-man' several times.

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

Why Notorious Philly Mob Boss And Informant Ralph Natale Is Suing The United States Government

Tara Murtha at the Philadelphia Weekly offers an interesting piece on former Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss and government informant Ralph Natale, who is suing the federal government.

After Ralph Natale was released from prison last year, he and his wife Lucy settled into new digs at an undisclosed location. It looks like the typical home of any other great-grandparents: A figurine of a cat in a Santa hat sits on the table alongside a mug with “Wish. Let your heart be light” emblazoned inside it. A flower portrait painted by one of the kids hangs on the walls. A dusty copy of Moonstruck sits atop the VCR next to a jumbo book of crossword puzzles.
Nothing about the place suggests Natale’s dubious distinction of being the first American mob boss to turn government witness.

... At 77, Natale has spent nearly half his life in prison. He went to prison for the first time in 1980, serving 15 years for firebombing a furniture store in an insurance scam. After he got out in 1995, he was Philly’s mob boss until 1999, when he was indicted for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine—after already having been picked up on a parole violation for associating with known criminals the year before. He was facing life when he cut a deal with the feds.

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

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Organized Crime Boss Matthew "Matty The Horse" Ianniello Dies At 92

Paul Vitello at the New York Times offers a report on the death of the New York organized crime figure Matthew Ianniello (seen in the above FBI mugshot)..

Matthew Ianniello, the low-key reputed Genovese crime boss known as “Matty the Horse,” who was convicted of rigging construction bids, skimming union dues and wringing protection money from bar owners, pornography peddlers and topless dancers during a half-century career that, among other highlights, helped transform Times Square into the dingy world capital of peep shows in the 1960s and ’70s, died on Aug. 15 at his home in Old Westbury, on Long Island. He was 92. His death was confirmed by his trial lawyer, Jay Goldberg of Manhattan. A death notice placed by his family in Newsday said Mr. Ianniello died “peacefully at home with his family.”

Mr. Ianniello — whose mob name derived from his powerful physique and his early career as an enforcer — served only two significant prison terms during his life: a nine-year term for racketeering and tax evasion involving Midtown topless bars that he owned, which he served from 1986 to 1995; and an 18-month sentence for his role in illegally controlling garbage-hauling companies in Connecticut, which he completed in 2009, at 89. 
Yet federal prosecutors considered him the mastermind of one of organized crime’s most lucrative profit centers in New York — the topless bar scene and pornography shops of Manhattan.
You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

Is A Remake Of The Classic TV Western 'Have Gun - Will Travel' A Good Idea?

I grew up watching Richard Boone as the intelligent, cool and tough gun for hire on TV in Have Gun - Will Travel.

I loved Richard Boone as Paladin as a kid and I'm watching and enjoying the old classic TV show again on Comcast's Demand Encore Channel.

Now comes word that David Mamet is planning a remake, or reboot, of the old western.

Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly thinks that a reboot is a great idea. I'm not so sure.

David Mamet is reportedly developing a new version of Have Gun — Will Travel for the network that first presented the series in 1957, CBS. It’s a great idea, since the central character Paladin, played by Richard Boone, is very much in the Mamet tradition of well-spoken but violent, meticulous yet profane protagonists. Take off his holster, and Paladin would have fit right in among the salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross (Paladin is the only TV Western hero who handed out business cards) or on Mamet’s earlier CBS drama, The Unit.

Have Gun ran from 1957 to 1963, and stood in stark contrast to the most popular Westerns of that era, the squares-ville Gunsmoke and the more tongue-in-cheek Warner Bros.-produced shows such as Cheyenne and Sugarfoot. Have Gun — Will Travel signaled its break with standard TV Westerns right from its opening. Paladin, unlike other heroes, dressed in black. The first thing you saw was not the man but his gun and holster, the latter embossed with a white knight chess piece. You saw Paladin draw the gun, point it straight at the viewer, and heard Boone articulate a kind of credo, that he would not hesitate to kill you if you didn’t do as he said.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Former FBI Official Says Trip Wires Are Foiling Terrorist Plots

Ronald Kessler, the veteran journalist and author of several books on the CIA, the Secret Service and the FBI, including his latest, The Secrets of the FBI, offers an interview with former assitant FBI director Dr. Vahid Majidi (seen in the above FBI photo) in his column.

Trip wires developed by the FBI to warn of threats are rolling up terrorist plots and saving lives, Dr. Vahid Majidi, the former assistant FBI director in charge of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, tells Newsmax.

To devise trip wires, the FBI in effect reverse-engineered a terrorist operation. It looked at a potential terrorist incident and then worked backwards to pinpoint all the elements a terrorist might require to achieve his goal. The FBI then had a roadmap of possible clues to an impending plot.

As an example, the FBI asked companies or laboratories that supply certain chemicals or biological materials to report any suspicious purchases to the FBI or police.

Trip wires led to the arrest of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old college student from Saudi Arabia who allegedly was planning to blow up the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. In another case, a nursery notified the FBI of large purchases of castor plants. The FBI found that the purchaser was planning to make ricin from castor beans and send it to a judge.

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

You can also read my interview with Ronald Kessler about his book The Secrets of the FBI that appeared in Counterterrorism magazine via the below link:   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DEA Announces Seizure Of $150 Million In Connection With Hizballah-Related Money Laundering Sheme

The DEA released the below yesterday:
DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara today announced the seizure of $150 million in connection with a civil money laundering and forfeiture complaint filed in December 2011 alleging a massive, international scheme in which entities linked to Hizballah, including the now defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank (“LCB”), used the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into Lebanon.
In September 2011, Société Générale de Banque au Liban (“SGBL”) agreed to purchase most of the assets of LCB, and at least $150 million in purchase price funds related to that sale are being held in escrow in Lebanon at the Banque Libano Française SAL (“BLF”). The seized funds are substitutes for the money in the LCB escrow account at BLF, and came from an account at a U.S. bank that is used by BLF to conduct U.S. currency transactions (the “correspondent account”). The funds were seized pursuant to seizure warrants issued on August 15, 2012. There are no allegations of wrongdoing against BLF, SGBL, or the U.S. bank that maintains the correspondent account for BLF in the U.S.
“As we alleged last year, the Lebanese Canadian Bank played a key role in facilitating money laundering for Hizballah controlled organizations across the globe,” Administrator Leonhart said. “Our relentless pursuit of global criminal networks showed that the U.S. banking system was exploited to launder drug trafficking funds through West Africa and into Lebanon. DEA and our partners are attacking these groups and their financial infrastructure, while establishing clear links between drug trafficking proceeds and terrorist funding.”
“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,”
U.S. Attorney Bharara said. “We will use every resource at our disposal to separate terrorists and narco-traffickers, and the banks that work with them, from their illicit funds, even those hidden in foreign accounts.”
According to the Complaint, the affidavit in support of the seizure warrants and other documents filed in the case:
From approximately January 2007 to early 2011, at least $329 million was transferred by wire from LCB and other financial institutions to the U.S for the purchase of used cars that were then shipped to West Africa. Cash from the sale of the cars, along with the proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were funneled to Lebanon through Hizballah-controlled money laundering channels. LCB played a key role in these money laundering channels and conducted business with a number of Hizballah-related entities. Hizballah is a U.S. Department of State designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, a Specially Designated Terrorist and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
On February 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a finding and proposed rule, pursuant to the USA Patriot Act, that LCB is a financial institution of primary money laundering concern, based on, among other things, FinCEN’s determination that there was reason to believe that LCB had been routinely used by drug traffickers and money launderers operating in various countries in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. FinCEN also determined that there was reason to believe that LCB managers were complicit in the network’s money laundering activities.
After the FinCEN action, another Lebanese financial institution, SGBL acquired the assets and liabilities of LCB for $580 million, $150 million of which is being held in an escrow account at BLF (the “LCB Escrow Funds”). Because the LCB Escrow Funds are traceable to the assets of LCB, they are also subject to forfeiture, but since they are in an account in Lebanon, the U.S. is unable to seize the LCB Escrow Funds directly. However, pursuant to U.S. law, the U.S. can seize funds located in a bank’s correspondent accounts in the U.S. if there is probable cause to believe that funds subject to forfeiture are on deposit with that bank overseas. Based on this provision and others, the seizure warrants were executed. A total of $150 million was seized from BLF’s correspondent account. These funds will be transferred to a seized asset account maintained by the United States Marshals Service pending resolution of the forfeiture action.
* * *
Mr. Bharara thanked the DEA for its leadership and praised the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement “Strike Force”, for its outstanding work on this investigation, which he noted is ongoing. The Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the New York State Police, the United States Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Marshal Service, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the United States Attorney’s Office. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative. Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New Jersey State Police for their assistance. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Obama 'Canceled Missions To Kill Bin Laden Three Times After Getting Cold Feet - Until Hillary Clinton Stepped In,' Claims Explosive New Book

Toby Harnden at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers excerpts from a new book by Richard Miniter that attacks the idea that President Obama was a decisive leader who "killed" Osama bin Laden.

Barrack Obama cancelled three operations to kill Osama bin Laden before finally going ahead with the mission at the insistence of Hillary Clinton, according to a new book. 

The explosive allegation is contained in an expose by journalist Rich Miniter, who argues that the White House's carefully-crafted narrative of Obama as a decisive leader who dispatched the al-Qaeda leader despite the doubts of advisers is a myth.

Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors who Decide for Him will be published on Tuesday.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Note: I interviewed Richard Miniter about the war on terrorism a while back for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the interview via the below links:

Philly Mob Scene: Gentleman Bookmaker Makes Illegal Gambling A Family Affair

George Anastasia, the Philadelphia Inquirer's veteran organized crime reporter offers a video report on the arrest of the Philadelphia area "Gentleman Bookmaker."

You can watch the Mob Scene video on via the below link:

You can also read about the case via an earlier post via the below link:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Film Producer Barbara Broccoli On New James Bond Film and Daniel Craig As Bond

Liz Haggard at the British newspaper the Evening Standard talks to film producer Barbara Broccoli about the new James Bond film Skyfall and her leading man, Daniel Craig, who portrays Ian Fleming's iconic character, Bond, James Bond.

As with The Dark Knight Rises, with its scenes of bloated bankers and a nascent Occupy movement, she believes Skyfall has a lot to say about contemporary evil.

“It’s extraordinary Ian Fleming wrote the books 60 years ago. It feels like we’re in the right groove now for what he had to say about how real villainy is coming from individuals — not just political states, but individuals who are wielding all sorts of treacherous plans on the earth.”

Of course Broccoli was instrumental in casting Craig in the first place. “One of the things about Daniel is he’s let us into Bond’s inner life, we see and feel him from a much more intimate place. In the books you get a look into his inner conflicts and fears and anxieties, but it’s very hard to put that on the screen without making him look neurotic as a leading man. A lot of the books focus on accidie — this revulsion he had for his profession; it’s not easy killing people. He fell completely in love with Vesper and she betrayed him, so he realises, from that point, he can never be susceptible to a relationship again.”

That loneliness fuels Bond’s hedonism. “He has this voracious appetite for life; he’s going to drink and eat and have sex because he doesn’t know in the next moment if he’s going to be killed. The black humour is his way of dealing with death, he laughs in its face.”

You can read the rest of the piece and watch the film's video trailer via the below link:

The Newsroom: Great Photos Of The New York Daily News' Newsroom Throughout The Years

As HBO is broadcasting a drama about a fictional TV newsroom (I don't watch it), the New York Daily News is offering a fine gallery of photos of their newsroom throughout the years.

You can view the photos via the below link:

You can also read an earier post on movies about newspapers via the below link:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Dark Secrets Of Noel Coward's Play 'Volcano'

Michael Thornton at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers the back story to Noel Coward's forgotten play Volcano.

This week, Volcano, a play he wrote in that very house but which was unproduced for 56 years, received its West End premiere at the Vaudeville Theatre. It is set on the island of Samolo (obviously Jamaica), to a background of native drums and the ominous rumble of the neighbouring volcano.
It features a saga of serial infidelity, adulterous betrayal and acrimonious marital conflict taken straight from Coward’s own Jamaican doorstep. The lead role of Adela Shelley, a handsome woman in her middle forties, played by Jenny Seagrove, is a thinly disguised depiction of Blanche Blackwell, still alive in her 100th year, Coward’s former neighbour in Jamaica.
The other two characters in this turbulent triangle – the island’s Lothario, Guy Littleton, and his bitchy and vengeful wife Melissa – are equally thinly disguised portrayals of Coward’s womanising friend, Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, who is alleged to have been Blackwell’s lover, and his wife, Ann, the former Viscountess Rothermere.

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

Note: The top photo is of Noel Coward and the above photo is of Ian Fleming at Goldeneye. 

I visited Noel Coward's Jamaican villa Firefly and my wife and I stayed a week at Goldeneye. Like Coward and Fleming, we love Jamaica and Goldeneye was truly magical.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Recorded mob Conversations Could Play A Role In Racketeering Trial

George Anastasia, the veteran organized crime reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, offers an interesting piece on the recording of a dinner attended by alleged organized crime figures that prosecutors want to use in the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra trial.

It was just a bunch of guys sitting around a table, eating, drinking, and talking about the old days. There were a few bottles of wine, some antipasto, several nice entrées, and then a little anisette.

And all the while there was lots of conversation.

The talk focused on business - murders, robberies, "making" ceremonies - but then, what else would nine mob guys talk about over drinks and dinner? 

... The question now is whether any of that talk - secretly recorded by a cooperating witness - is relevant to the pending racketeering case against Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and key associates Anthony Staino, Joseph "Scoops" Licata, and Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini, all of whom were at the meeting.

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

Bin-Laden-Like U.S. Navy SEAL Team Could Take Down mexican Drug Kingpin 'El Chapo'

Seth Cline at offers an interesting piece on the possibility that U.S. Navy SEALs might be used to capture an elusive Mexican drug lord named "El Chapo" Guzman.

Guzman, who presides over an estimated $1 billion drug empire as head of the Sinaloa cartel, has repeatedly escaped capture since breaking out of prison in 2001. His continued elusion of Mexican authorities has apparently frustrated the Pentagon enough that it has discussed a raid targeting El Chapo with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. 

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

Thank You For The Light: F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'New' Story Rounds Out Our View

Nicolaus Mills at Newsday offers an interesting piece on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story and posthumous publishing.

The New Yorker has just done a favor for all of us who are admirers of F. Scott Fitzgerald and "The Great Gatsby." Earlier this month, the magazine published a story of Fitzgerald's, "Thank You for the Light," that it rejected in 1936. In so doing, it opened up the whole question of what we should expect from posthumously published writing.

The New Yorker got its second chance at "Thank You for the Light" because Fitzgerald's grandchildren found it while going through his papers for an auction at Sotheby's. It wasn't the first Fitzgerald story to be discovered after his death. His uncompleted final novel, "The Last Tycoon," was edited by his friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941, a year after Fitzgerald died from a heart attack at the age of 44.

In the case of "Thank You for the Light," the good news is that the one-page story required no editing. It stands as Fitzgerald wrote it, so we don't have to wonder about his intentions.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today

Joseph C. Goulden, the noted journalist, author and authority on espionage, reviewed Edward Lucas' intersting book Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today for the Washington Times. 
Much of the media, both domestic and foreign, found considerable merriment in the June 2010 announcement of the arrest and expulsion of 10 Russian intelligence agents who were in the United States as “sleeper agents” — that is, spies who would be dormant while they posed as unremarkable civilians and wormed their ways into positions where they could obtain valuable information
... David Cornwell, who writes spy thrillers under the name John le Carre, went so far as to suggest that out-of-control “rightists” in American intelligence agencies were trying to derail the “improvement” (an odd choice of words, given reality) in Russian-American relations.
 ... But Edward Lucas, who is fast emerging as the most able nonfiction espionage writer of his generation, argues that Russia’s dispatch of the sleeper agents “is not a laughing matter.” For more than two decades, Mr. Lucas covered Russia and Eastern Europe for the Economist, and he has documented the descent of Vladimir Putin’s regime into a new authoritarianism and its increasing hostility toward the United States. He writes with authority.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Former Navy SEALs And Intelligence Officers 'Swift Boat' Obama Over Leaks And Taking Credit For Killing Bin Laden

Mark Hosenball at Reuters offers a 22-minute video and a short piece on the start of a media campaign by former intelligence officers and Special Operations veterans that aims to stop senior administration leaks for politcal gain.
A group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives is set to launch a media campaign, including TV ads, that scolds President Barack Obama for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and argues that high-level leaks are endangering American lives.
Leaders of the group, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, say it is nonpartisan and unconnected to any political party or presidential campaign. It is registered as a so-called social welfare group, which means its primary purpose is to further the common good and its political activities should be secondary.
In the past, military exploits have been turned against presidential candidates by outside groups, most famously the Swift Boat ads in 2004 that questioned Democratic nominee John Kerry's Vietnam War service.
The OPSEC group says it is not political and aims to save American lives. Its first public salvo is a 22-minute film that includes criticism of Obama and his administration. The film, to be released on Wednesday, was seen in advance by Reuters.
"Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not," Ben Smith, identified as a Navy SEAL, says in the film.
You can watch the 22-minute video via the below link to
Note: Mark Hosenball used the term "Special Forces," which is only the U.S. Army group, when I believe the correct term for all military Special Operators is "Special Operations." 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ernest Hemingway, Wartime Spy

Nicholas Reynolds wrote an interesting piece for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence on Ernest Hemingway's involvement with various intelligence agencies during World War II.

You can read the piece via the below link: 

Joseph Wambaugh On The Death Of The 'Onion Field' Killer

Joseph Wambaugh, the former LAPD Detective Sgt and best-selling author, was interviewed in a podcast about the death of Gregory Powell, the murderer of LAPD officer Ian Campbell in an onion field. Wambaugh wrote about the murder in his classic true crime book The Onion Field.

You can watch the podcast via the below link:

You can also read my earlier post on Powell's death via the below link:

Gregory Powell, 'Onion Field' Killer Dies In Prison At 79

Elaine Woo at the Los Angeles Times reports that Gregory Powell, one of two killers of an LAPD officer in an onion field in 1963, has died in a California prison. The crime was made famous by former LAPD Detective Sgt. Joseph Wambaugh's true crime book The Onion Field and the film later made from the book.

You can read the story via the below link:,0,6958401.story

You can also read an earlier post on a dedication ceremony in Los Angeles for the late Ian Campbell via the below link:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Marlowe's Ghost: John Banville To Revive Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's Classic Private Eye Character

David L. Ulin at the Los Angeles Times wrote a piece on the news that author John Banville plans to write a continuation novel about Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's great private detective character.

Call me dubious. When Henry Holt announced Tuesday that it would be reviving Raymond Chandler’s detective hero Philip Marlowe— 54 years after the author’s final Marlowe novel, “Playback” — I was (to put it mildly) underwhelmed.
Partly, that’s because the idea isn’t new: Robert B. Parker did it 20-some years ago, first with “Poodle Springs,” a novel Chandler started before his death in 1959, and then with “Perchance to Dream,” a sequel to “The Big Sleep.” If the notion of writing a sequel to the first novel in a series seems a bit redundant, then you’re beginning to see the source of my skepticism.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: The above photo shows actor James Garner as Philip Marlowe in the 1969 film Marlowe.   

Philadelphia Area Members Of Alleged Sports Betting Ring Charged With Racketeering

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on August 8th:

PHILADELPHIA—A 23-count indictment was unsealed today charging 16 defendants in a conspiracy case involving the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization, a multi-million-dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the U.S. At its peak, the alleged organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year. All but one defendant (Joanna Mastronardo) are charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise (RICO) and conducting an illegal gambling business.

The indictment alleges that between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2011, the organization utilized Internet websites and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place sports bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing, and other sporting events. Residents of Costa Rica staffed the Internet and telephone sites. The defendants allegedly hid more than $1 million in and around their homes, including in specially-built compartments and in PVC pipes that were buried in a yard.

Charged are Joseph Vito Mastronardo, Jr. (seen in the above photo) and John Mastronardo, the two alleged leaders; Joseph F. Mastronardo, Eric Woehlcke, Harry Murray, Joseph Vitelli, Anna Rose Vitelli, Patrick Tronoski, Edward Feighan, Kenneth Cohen, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick, Ronald Gendrachi; and Joanna Mastronardo, the wife of Joseph Mastronardo, Jr. All, with the exception of Twaddle, were arrested this morning.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, FBI Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.

The indictment alleges that the defendants ran the organization using telephone, Skype, e-mail, text messaging, and in-person communication. They allegedly met bettors in-person, often in public buildings and parking lots, to collect or deliver payments that ranged from $1,000 to more than $100,000. The organization also allegedly used a gas station on Norristown Road in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, as a mailing address and drop-off site to collect gambling payments.

According to the indictment, members of the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization laundered the gambling proceeds using check cashing agencies, private bank accounts, and international bank accounts and provided instructions so that a losing bettor could pay a gambling debt through a charitable donation.

According to the indictment, leader Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. supervised the agents, sub-agents, websites ( and, office employees; laundered some of the betting proceeds; collected debts; and instructed others to collect debts. Mastronardo’s brother, John, also a leader in the organization, supervised agents and sub-agents, laundered proceeds, and collected debts. John’s son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, worked as an office employee, collected debts, and performed other financial duties. Eric Woehlcke was initially a bookmaker and office employee, then worked as an office manager, and eventually became a leader supervising agents and sub-agents and laundering proceeds. Harry Murray was a bookmaker who resided in Florida and laundered proceeds in and outside the U.S. Joseph and Anna Rose Vitelli owned J&A Check Cashing where, in 2006, they allowed the organization to occupy an office for the illegal gambling business and which was also used to aid in the laundering of proceeds. Tronoski, Feighan, Cohen, Twaddle, Loftus, Squillante, Rounick, and Gendrachi were all bookmakers.

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr., in a conversation with bookmaker Harry Murray, commented, “Well, times like this I’m happy I’m a bookmaker,” to which Murray responded, “Me too.”

“Technology allowed the defendants to allegedly expand their gambling and money laundering operation far beyond the borders of Pennsylvania,” said Memeger. “Unfortunately for the defendants, however, we have the necessary statutory tools to investigate and prosecute those who openly flout our illegal gambling and financial reporting laws.”

“Illegal gambling and money laundering are the financial engines that help drive criminal enterprises like the one alleged today,” said Special Agent in Charge Venizelos. “The type of gambling activity charged here is illegal. These types of extensive and long-term joint investigative efforts, worked with our partners like the IRS and Montgomery County Detectives, are intended to dismantle criminal organizations that profit from illegal activities.”

“This alleged racketeering operation was anchored in Montgomery County but had tentacles spreading across the U.S. and beyond,” said D.A. Ferman. “Despite our attempt to shut it down in 2006-2007 with a Montgomery County prosecution, my office discovered that the defendants, as is alleged in the indictment, were back in business. We partnered with our federal counterparts to examine the full scope of the alleged illegal gambling operation. Today’s indictment reflects the work of many law enforcement agents across multiple agencies. These defendants tried to ‘game’ the system. Today, they crapped out.”

“The indictments announced today are the result of a significant and complex investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton. “With both law enforcement and financial expertise, our agents are uniquely qualified to assist with these types of cases by following the trail of money. Our office will continue to work aggressively to identify and target illegal financial gains.”

Joanna Mastronardo is charged with one count of structuring in which it is alleged that she participated in making approximately 72 deposits in amounts less than $10,000, totaling more than $500,000 in a 12-month period.

Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. is charged in all 23 counts of the indictment. The remaining 14 defendants are each charged with the RICO conspiracy and with prohibition of illegal gambling. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $6.3 million as alleged proceeds of the illegal enterprise.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P. Bologna.

An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Note: Joseph V. Mastronardo is the son-in-law of the late Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo (seen in the below photo). His daughter is Joanna Mastronardo.

You can read George Anastasia's piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the arrests via the below link:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

World War II Dieppe Raid Uncovered: James Bond Creator Commander Ian Fleming Helped Devise The 1942 Battle offers a report on the the Dieppe Raid in 1942.

The news site notes that Royal Navy Commander Ian Fleming, an assistant to the Director of British Naval Intelligence and the future author of the James Bond thrillers, had a hand in the planning of the battle.

Commander Ian Fleming, whose commando group, the 30 Assault Unit, was involved in the raid, observed the battle from a Royal Navy ship off the coast.

You can watch the news video via the below link:

Below is a brief explanation of the raid from the History Channel:

During World War II, an Allied force of 7,000 men carry out a large daytime raid against German positions at the French seaport of Dieppe. Aided by tanks and aircraft, the commando force--made up of approximately 5,000 Canadians, 2,000 British soldiers, and a handful of American and Free French troops--gained a foothold on the beach in the face of a furious German defense. During nine hours of fighting, the Allies failed to destroy more than a handful of their targets and suffered the death of 3,600 men. More than 100 aircraft, a destroyer, 33 landing craft, and 30 tanks were also lost. Despite its high costs, the Dieppe raid provided valuable logistical information later used in planning the successful 1944 Allied landing at Normandy.

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Ian Fleming and his 30 Assault Unit via the below links:

Ian Fleming died on August 11, 1964.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hollywood Intersection Dedicated To 'Onion Field' Murdered LAPD Officer

Corina Knoll at the Los Angeles Times offers a piece on the dedication to the late LAPD officer Ian Campbell.

The officer was murdered in an onion field and the story was told by former LAPD Detective Joseph Wambaugh in his classic true crime book The Onion Field.

Wambaugh later made a fine film from his book, also called The Onion Field, which starred Ted Danson in his first film role as Ian Campbell.

You can read the LA Times story via the below link:,0,6425894.story

You can also read the Associated Press' account of the dedication that appeared in the Union Democrat via the below link:


My Q & A With Commander Kirk S. Lippold, The Former Commanding Officer Of The USS Cole

My Q&A with Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret), the former commanding officer of the USS Cole and author of Front Burnerappears in the current issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

The USS Cole was attacked by al Qaeda terrorists on October 12, 2000.

You can read the piece below:

The Selling Of The Navy SEALs: My Piece On America's Newest Heroes

My piece on America's newest heroes, the U.S. Navy SEALs, appears in the latest issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the piece below:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Remembering The Alamo: A Review Of 'The Blood Of Heroes'

Journalist, author and native Texan Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of James Donovan's The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo - and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation in the Washington Times.

The bravery of the men who died defending the Alamo in 1836 was drummed into my head on an annual basis beginning in the third grade at Van Zandt Elementary School in Marshall, Texas. To me, the Alamo was a continuation of the American Revolution, with the Texians — as they were called in that era, and I will use the term, as does author James Donovan — fighting for freedom as an independent nation.
Mr. Donovan’s gripping book is history at its best — exactingly sourced and written with a vividness that challenges you to put it down. Even those familiar with an oft-told story will delight in the richness of his detail. And in my view, he demolishes contentions by revisionists that the defenders were frontier roughnecks trying to seize land that properly belonged to Mexico, which had just cast off Spanish domination.

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

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Philadelphia Cosa Nostra Capo Pleads Guilty To Racketeering Conspiracy

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information yesterday:
Martin Angelina, 50, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving loan sharking and illegal gambling, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and George C. Venizelos, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
At the plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Angelina pleaded guilty to conspiring to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra (LCN) Family through a pattern of racketeering activity. He admitted to the court that he attempted to collect payments related to usurious loans by using extortionate means and operated an illegal video poker machine business in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 3, 2012.
Angelina was among 14 members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN Family charged with crimes involving racketeering conspiracy, extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling, witness tampering and theft from an employee benefit plan in a third superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia on July 25, 2012. The other defendants charged in the 52-count third superseding indictment included Philadelphia LCN Family boss Joseph Ligambi, Philadelphia LCN Family underboss Joseph Massimino, George Borgesi, Gaeton Lucibello, Anthony Staino Jr., Damion Canalichio, Louis Barretta, Gary Battaglini, Robert Verrecchia, Eric Esposito, Robert Ranieri, Joseph Licata and Louis Fazzini.
Gaeton Lucibello pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges on Aug. 2, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26, 2012.
The trial for Ligambi, Massimino, Borgesi, Staino, Canalichio, Barretta, Battaglini, Licata and Fazzini is scheduled for Oct. 9, 2012. The trial for Verrecchia, Esposito and Ranieri has not yet been scheduled. Ligambi, Massimino, Borgesi, Canalichio, Licata and Fazzini are detained while awaiting trial. Staino, Barretta, Battaglini, Verrecchia, Esposito and Ranieri are free on bond while awaiting trial.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank A. Labor III and Suzanne B. Ercole of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Valuable prosecutorial assistance was provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.