Monday, September 30, 2013

Man Accused of National Navy Veterans Charity Scam Begins Trial

Brian Albrecht at the Cleveland Plain Dealer  Dealer offers a piece on the trial of "Bobby Thompson," who is accused of running a national veterans charity scam

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Selection of the people who will determine the fate of Bobby Thompson,  accused of running a national veterans charity scam, is scheduled to start today in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Authorities say that Thompson is a stolen identity used by John Cody, a fugitive from IRS fraud charges, when he was head of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) and swindled more than $100 million from donors nationwide from 2002-2010.

Thompson disappeared in 2010 after investigations revealed that the charity was largely a collection of hired telemarketers, bank accounts and rented mailboxes. He was tracked to Portland, Ore., where he was arrested in 2012, and has been jailed since then in Cuyahoga County.

Thompson faces charges including identity fraud, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and money laundering. 

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

Note: The above U.S. Justice Department photo shows the hunt for "Bobby Thompson."

You can read an earlier post on the accused crook via the below link: 

Pennsylania Man Admits Conspiring With Alleged Members Of Organized Crime Family And Others In Fraud Scheme

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

A Pennsylvania man today admitted he conspired to defraud FIRSTPLUS Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a Texas-based financial services company allegedly targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group led by alleged Lucchese organized crime family member Nicodemo S. Scarfo.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey made the announcement.

Cory Leshner, 30, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in a federal court in Camden, N.J., to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 17, 2014.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Leshner and 12 others – including Scarfo, an alleged member of the Lucchese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family, and Salvatore Pelullo, an alleged associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families – were variously charged in a November 2011 indictment with a racketeering conspiracy that included acts of securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.  The indictment charged that FPFG was targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group of the conspirators.  A substantial part of the enterprise’s activities occurred in New Jersey, including communications and the transfer of money into and out of the state.  Cory Leshner admitted that he joined the conspiracy in April 2007.

Leshner admitted that he assisted Scarfo and Pelullo in managing family trusts and limited liability companies as part of the scheme to defraud FPFG.  Pelullo directed Leshner in the use of various bank accounts through which Pelullo received hundreds of thousands of dollars between July 2007 and April 2008 as part of the scheme.  The money involved proceeds of the fraud that Pelullo allegedly received as part of a fraudulent “consulting” agreement between his shell company, Seven Hills Management, and codefendant William Maxwell, a Texas attorney who served as “special counsel” to FPFG as part of the scheme.  The money also involved proceeds received from the fraudulent sale of Scarfo and Pelullo’s worthless companies to FPFG in 2007.  The receipt of the fraudulent proceeds often occurred in the form of wire transfers from accounts in Pennsylvania to accounts in New Jersey.

According to his court statements, Leshner was a law student during the scheme.  Leshner graduated from law school in 2009 and became an attorney in Pennsylvania in 2011.  As part of his plea agreement, Leshner agreed to notify the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of his guilty plea and to accept any disciplinary action brought by disciplinary officials as a result of the guilty plea and sentence.  Leshner also agreed to not seek the reinstatement of his license to practice law while serving any sentence of imprisonment imposed in the case.

Scarfo, Pelullo, and five other defendants charged in November 2011 – including attorneys William Maxwell, David Adler, Gary McCarthy, and Donald Manno, as well as John Maxwell – are scheduled for trial beginning Oct. 28, 2013.  Todd Stark, also charged in the indictment, previously pleaded guilty to providing ammunition to Scarfo and Pelullo, convicted felons.

This case was investigated by the FBI; the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with the assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adam Small of the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D’Aguanno and Howard Wiener of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Criminal Division in Camden.

With respect to the defendants awaiting trial, the charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Happy Birthday To Truman Capote, Author Of 'In Cold Blood'

As notes, Truman Captote, author of In Cold Blood, was born on this day in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 30, 1924.

Truman Capote went on to become a professional writer, making waves with his debut novel Other Voices, Other Rooms. His novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) was adapted into a popular film, and his book In Cold Blood (1966) was a pioneering form of narrative non-fiction. Capote spent his later years pursuing celebrity and struggled with drug addiction. He died in 1984 in Los Angeles, California.

You can read the rest of the story and watch a short video of his life via the below link:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Of The World's Most Wanted Terrorists: An Average Girl Became The 'White Widow'

Maureen Callahan at the New York Post offers a piece on the suspected terrorist known as the "White Widow."

She grew up middle-class in suburban Buckinghamshire, England, and was considered an average girl in every way. Her father, Allen, was a former British Army soldier-turned-lorry driver; her mother, Christine, a homemaker. She has one older brother, Allen, and friends recall that as early as junior high, Samantha Laithwaite was a pretty and popular girl. When her parents broke up in 1994, she took it hard but seemingly no harder than most of her friends whose parents had divorced. She wasn’t particularly ambitious or studious, but she was a good girl who was shy around boys, considered by classmates to be exceptionally warm and decent.

Today, she is known as the White Widow, wanted in connection with last week’s attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya. But Laithwaite, 29, has been known to law enforcement since July 7, 2005, when her then-husband detonated a bomb in London’s subway system, killing himself and 26 civilians; back then, she was the weeping, 8-months-pregnant widow who became the subject of national sympathy.

So, how did this nice young girl grow up to become one of the world’s most wanted terrorists?

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

Islamic Terrorists Kill At Least 40 Students In Attack On Nigerian College reports on another Islamic terrorist attack in Africa.

Islamic terrorists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms assaulted a college inside the country Sunday, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in their dorms and shot others trying to flee, witnesses say.

"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," one surviving student, who would only give his first name of Idris, told Reuters.

As many as 50 students may have been killed in the attack, which began at about 1 a.m. in rural Gujba, Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.
"They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them," he said. The extremists also torched classrooms.

Nigeria State Police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai told Reuters that he suspected that the terrorist group Boko Haram was behind the attack, but declined to elaborate.

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

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deputy Nuke Commander Suspended Amid Casino Probe offers a report on a Navy admiral being implicated in a NCIS investigation into  counterfeit casino gambling chips.  

WASHINGTON (AP) - The No. 2 officer at the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces is suspected in a case involving counterfeit gambling chips at a western Iowa casino and has been suspended from his duties, officials said.

Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina has not been arrested or charged, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent David Dales said Saturday. The state investigation is ongoing.

Giardina, deputy commander at U.S. Strategic Command, was suspended on Sept. 3 and is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Strategic Command spokeswoman said.
The highly unusual action against a high-ranking officer at Strategic Command was made more than three weeks ago but not publicly announced at that time. The command is located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb.

Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who heads Strategic Command, suspended Giardina, according to the command's top spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze. Giardina is still assigned to the command but is prohibited from performing duties related to nuclear weapons and other issues requiring a security clearance, she said.

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

Note: The above photo of Admiral Giardina was released by the U.S. Navy.

William Boyd Interviews James Bond

William Boyd, the author of the new James Bond continuation novel, Solo, offers a mock interview with Ian Fleming's iconic character in the British newspaper the Guardian.

Time travel. 1969. Chelsea. There was an autumnal feel about the day as I emerged from the tube station at Sloane Square. Instinctively, I looked round over my right shoulder to see what was playing at the Royal Court. The Contractor by David Storey, directed by Lindsay Anderson. I hadn't seen that play – but then I had been a 17-year-old schoolboy in 1969, and my theatre-going life hadn't really started. It was strange being back in Chelsea in 1969, the year of the moon-landing, the year of my first summer in London. Stranger still to be going to interview James Bond. 

... Bond – now 45 years old – was wearing a dark-navy worsted suit, a pale-blue shirt and a black knitted silk tie. Lightly tanned, he was slim, about my height, six feet one inch, and had short dark hair with no trace of grey. I knew people would ask me to describe him with more precision. There was a scar on his right cheek. He was even-featured – though there was something "hard" about his looks.

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

You can also read Boyd's Q&A with James Bond via the below link:

Note: In 1969, I too was a 17-year-old Bond fan and Ian Fleming aficionado. I was a high-school drop waiting eagerly for the U.S. Navy to call me up.

Friday, September 27, 2013

DEA Announces Arrests Of Two Former U.S. Soldiers And One Former German Soldier For Conspiracy To Murder A DEA Agent

The DEA released the below information:

SEPT 27, 2013 New York – Michele M. Leonhart, the Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced the arrests of three defendants – JOSEPH MANUEL HUNTER and TIMOTHY VAMVAKIAS, both citizens of the United States, and DENNIS GOGEL, a citizen of Germany. HUNTER is expected to arrive in the Southern District of New York this evening and will be presented before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Manhattan federal court tomorrow. VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL arrived in the Southern District of New York yesterday and were presented in U.S. Magistrate Court yesterday afternoon. As part of the same case, SLAWOMIR SOBORSKI and MICHAEL FILTER, citizens of Poland and Germany, respectively, were arrested in Estonia at the request of the United States on September 25, 2013.

HUNTER, VAMVAKIAS, and GOGEL are charged in five separate counts with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States; conspiracy to murder a law enforcement agent and a person assisting a law enforcement agent; conspiracy to kill a person to prevent communications to law enforcement agents; conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and conspiracy to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft. SOBORSKI and FILTER are charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States and conspiracy to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft. On September 25, 2013, the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD), Bilateral Investigative Unit (BIU) Narco-Terrorism Group (NTG), concluded a long-standing undercover operation conducted in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and elsewhere. HUNTER was arrested in Thailand; VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL were arrested in Liberia and all three subsequently were expelled to the United States. SOBORSKI and FILTER were arrested in Estonia, where they remain, pending extradition to the United States.

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said: “The targets of this investigation were hardened global criminals involved in everything from drug and arms trafficking to contract assassinations. Besides being international cocaine traffickers, members of this criminal organization conspired in an elaborate scheme to murder a DEA Special Agent and an informant for a six figure payday. Their intent was to commit the most serious and ruthless crime that can be directed against any law enforcement officer, and one that has our highest investigative priority. I wish to thank our foreign law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts and partnership in completely dismantling this sophisticated and dangerous international criminal enterprise.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The bone-chilling allegations in today's Indictment read like they were ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel. The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends. Three of the defendants were ready, willing and eager to take cold hard cash to commit the cold-blooded murders of a DEA agent and an informant. Thanks to the determined, skillful and intrepid efforts of the DEA's Special Operations Division, an international hit team has been neutralized by agents working on four continents.”

According to the Indictment against HUNTER, VAMVAKIAS, GOGEL, SOBORSKI, and FILTER unsealed today:

All five defendants have previously served in the armed forces of their respective nations. HUNTER and VAMVAKIAS served in the U.S. Army until 2004; GOGEL and FILTER served in the German armed forces until 2010 and 2009, respectively, and SOBORSKI served in the Polish armed forces until 2011. HUNTER served as a sniper instructor and a senior drill sergeant, training other soldiers in marksmanship and tactics; VAMVAKIAS attained the rank of sergeant and served both as an infantryman and a military police officer; GOGEL, SOBORSKI and FILTER were trained as snipers.

Since leaving the U.S. Army in 2004, HUNTER has acted as a “contract killer” and successfully arranged for the murder of a number of people.

During meetings in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, beginning in January 2013 and continuing through late September 2013, HUNTER communicated with two confidential sources (the “CSs”) working with the DEA, who purported to be Colombian narcotics traffickers. HUNTER agreed to serve as the head of security for the CSs’ purported narcotics trafficking organization, and assembled a “security team” consisting of VAMVAKIAS, GOGEL, FILTER, and SOBORSKI. HUNTER also told the CSs that he had previously been involved in contract killings – referred to as “bonus jobs” – and that some team members wanted to do as much “bonus work” as possible.

HUNTER and his co-defendants thereafter agreed, in meetings and communications with the CSs, to provide security and surveillance services to the narcotics trafficking organization. Furthermore, HUNTER, VAMVAKIS, and GOGEL agreed to commit murder-for-hire in Liberia by assassinating both a Special Agent of the DEA and a person who purportedly was providing information to the DEA about the CSs’ narcotics trafficking organization. In exchange for themurders, HUNTER, VAMVAKIAS, and GOGEL were together to be paid approximately $700,000, and HUNTER was to receive an additional $100,000 for his leadership role. Communications between the defendants and the CSs occurred by telephone, over e-mail, and in a series of surreptitiously audio-recorded and videotaped meetings over an approximately nine-month period.

HUNTER and his four co-defendants provided a variety of services to the CSs’ purported narcotics organization. In late March 2013, in Thailand, at HUNTER’s direction, GOGEL, FILTER, and SOBORSKI surveilled a vessel on behalf of the CSs’ purported narcotics trafficking organization. In April 2013, in Mauritius, at the direction of the CSs, GOGEL, FILTER, and SOBORSKI provided security for a meeting at which the participants discussed the distribution of illegal narcotics to the United States. In late June 2013, in the Bahamas, VAMVAKIAS, GOGEL, FILTER, and SOBORSKI conducted surveillance of a purported U.S.-registered aircraft at the direction of a third CS (“CS-3”) working with the DEA, who posed as a member of the CSs’ narcotics trafficking organization. CS-3 informed the defendants that the aircraft was to be loaded with 300 kilograms of cocaine to be shipped to New York.

With respect to the murder-for-hire scheme, in mid-May 2013, at a meeting with the three CSs in Thailand, HUNTER, VAMVAKIAS, GOGEL, and SOBORSKI were told that a “bonus job” – that is, a contract killing – was in the offing, due to a leak within the CSs’ narcotics trafficking organization. In late May 2013, in e-mail communications, HUNTER confirmed that his team would be willing to murder both a U.S. law enforcement agent and a source (a boat captain) who was providing information to U.S. law enforcement authorities. HUNTER confirmed by e-mail that his team would kill both the DEA agent and the informant who was providing information to law enforcement about the CSs’ narcotics trafficking organization. At a meeting in late June 2013, in the Bahamas, CS-3 explained to VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL that “the job is to kill a U.S. DEA agent and a source with the DEA,” who would be located in Liberia. VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL discussed the weapons that could be used and masks to be worn for the murders, and VAMVAKIAS stated that it would be better to “hit the agent first” and then “the snitch.” In early July 2013, HUNTER sent via e-mail a list of the items needed for the murders, including “[t]wo Submachine Guns with silencers . . .[t]wo .22 pistols with Silencers.”

In mid-August 2013, at a meeting in Thailand, HUNTER told CS-3 that VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL would commit the murders. HUNTER, VAMVAKIS, and GOGEL discussed in detail the weapons that would be used and the possibility of entering Liberia without having their passports stamped. They suggested that CS-3 fly them out of the country via private plane following the murders. VAMVAKIAS stated that among other weapons, a sub-machine gun and two .22 caliber pistols would be needed for the murders, and CS-3 agreed to deliver the weapons to Liberia. The next day, at a meeting with GOGEL, CS-3 confirmed that an order for the requested weapons had been made. Later that same day, GOGEL met again with CS-3 and provided CS-3 with two highly sophisticated latex facemasks, which can make the wearer appear to be of another race, for CS-3 to transport to Liberia.

In late September 2013, GOGEL and VAMVAKIAS arrived in Liberia to commit the planned murders-for-hire.

HUNTER, 48, VAMVAKIAS, 42, GOGEL, 27, FILTER, 29, and SOBORSKI, 40, have each been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States (Count One). HUNTER, VAMVAKIAS, and GOGEL are also charged with conspiracy to murder a law enforcement agent and a person assisting a law enforcement agent (Count Two); conspiracy to kill a person to prevent communications to law enforcement agents (Count Three); and conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (Count Four). VAMVAKIAS, GOGEL, FILTER, and SOBORSKI are also charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft (Count Five). Each count carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

The arrests and transfers of the defendants were the result of the close cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; DEA’s SOD; DEA’s Bangkok, Ghana, Pretoria, Bucharest, Manila, Nassau and Copenhagen Offices; the Royal Thai Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau and Crime Suppression Division; Royal Thai Immigration; the Royal Thai Attorney General's Office; Republic of Liberia’s National Security Agency; the Republic of Liberia’s Attorney General's Office; the Estonian Police and Border Guard; the Estonian National Criminal Police, Investigative Bureau; the Estonian State Prosecutor’s Office; the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Drug Enforcement Unit; the Romanian National Police; Interpol; and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Lockard, Aimee Hector and Anna Skotko are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

O.J. Simpson, Cookie Monster

Fox Sports News reports that O.J. Simpson, serving time in prison for robbery and kidnapping, was caught stealing cookies in prison.

When O.J. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2008 for kidnapping and armed robbery, the assumption of many was that would effectively be the last we heard of perhaps the most notorious athlete in American history. 

Well, Simpson may have evaded tacklers as good as any running back in history, but he has struggled mightily to avoid trouble and headlines — and not even prison can change that.

The 66-year-old Simpson was reportedly caught by guards recently at Nevada's Love­lock Correctional Center trying to steal more than a dozen oatmeal cookies, a violation of prison rules. According to the Daily Mail, "Guards noticed the 66-year-old hiding something under his prison clothes as he walked back to his cell after lunch."

Simpson was reportedly let off with only a warning, but suffered humiliation at the hands of fellow inmates and was in strict violation of doctor's orders.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bond Is Back, In William Boyd's New Novel 'Solo'

ABC News offers a piece on the William Boyd's new continuation novel featuring Ian Fleming's iconic character, James Bond.

William Boyd has left James Bond stirred, if not shaken.

The British writer has taken on the fictional spy in "Solo," a new 007 novel that balances fidelity to Ian Fleming's iconic character with subtle changes.
Bond fans will find much they recognize, along with some surprises — one of which is that in Boyd's mind, James Bond looks like Daniel Day-Lewis.
Boyd says Fleming once described the spy as "looking like the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Daniel Day-Lewis looks like Hoagy Carmichael."
"Solo" is set in 1969, and takes the suave British spy from London's plush Dorchester Hotel to a war-ravaged West African country and on to Washington on a perilous lone mission.
Boyd steers Bond away from his big-screen action-hero image and back toward the complex and conflicted character of Fleming's novels.
"Even though he's this handsome superspy, when you read the books you realize that he's haunted," Boyd told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"He's not a cartoon character. Fleming gave him all his traits, his tastes, his likes and dislikes — and his complexes. Bond has a dark side. He's troubled sometimes. He weeps quite easily. And he makes mistakes. That's what's so interesting about him."  
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: I agree that a younger Daniel Day-Lewis fits Ian Fleming's description of the Bond character, certainly far better than Daniel Craig, but at 54, he is perhaps a bit too old to slap on the Walther PPK.

Still, he is a great actor and I'd like to see him portray Bond.
Also, Vesper Lynd in the novel Casino Royale tells Rene Mathis that Bond resembles Hoagy Carmichael, and he tells Bond. Bond later looks in the mirror and mutters to himself, "Not much Hoagy Carmichael there."  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Law Enforcement Shares Findings Of The Investigation Into The Washington Navy Yard Shootings

The FBI released video footage and photos of Washington Navy Yard Shooter today, as well as the findings of the investigation:

WASHINGTON—Today, law enforcement officials shared findings to date of the investigation into the shootings that occurred at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, September 16, 2013.

The developments were announced by Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department; Michael Monroe, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Carl Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Teresa Chambers, Chief of the U.S. Park Police.

Through information and evidence gathered in interviews, searches, and other investigative activity, investigators and analysts have gained a greater understanding of the recent movements and activities of deceased shooter Aaron Alexis, 34.

Alexis was employed as a contractor for a private information technology firm. Pursuant to his employment, Alexis was assigned to a project at the Washington Navy Yard and he arrived in the Washington, D.C., area on August 25, 2013. From August 25 to August 31, 2013, Alexis stayed at a hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. From August 31 to September 7, 2013, Alexis stayed at a hotel in the Pentagon City area of Arlington, Virginia. On September 7, Alexis moved to the Residence Inn in Southwest Washington, D.C., where he remained through September 16, 2013. Alexis began working at the Washington Navy Yard on September 9, 2013.

On Saturday, September 14, 2013, Alexis purchased a Remington 870 shotgun and ammunition at a gun shop in Northern Virginia. On the same day, Alexis also purchased a hacksaw, among other items, at a home improvement store in Northern Virginia.

On the morning of Monday, September 16, 2013, Alexis arrived at the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis had legitimate access to the Navy Yard as a result of his work as a contractor and he utilized a valid pass to gain entry to Building #197. Shortly after his arrival in the building and over the course of approximately one hour, Alexis used the Remington 870 shotgun and a Beretta handgun he obtained during the course of his shooting to kill 12 victims and wound four surviving victims before he was shot and killed by law enforcement officers. Investigation to date has determined that Alexis acted alone.

The following timeline details Alexis’ activity during the morning of September 16, 2013:
  • 7:53 a.m. - Alexis’ rental car, a blue Toyota Prius with New York plates, entered Parking Garage #28 at the Washington Navy Yard, located directly across from Building #197.
  • 8:08 a.m. - Alexis exited Parking Garage #28 on foot carrying a backpack. Alexis entered Building #197 and proceeded to the elevator.
  • 8:09 a.m. - Alexis exited the elevator on the fourth floor and entered the men’s bathroom carrying a backpack and a clipboard.
  • 8:15 a.m. - Alexis crossed the hallway into the 4 West area of Building #197 with shotgun, but without the backpack or a clipboard.
  • 8:16 a.m. - Alexis shot the first victim in the 4 West area of Building #197.
  • 8:17 a.m. - First 911 call is received from the fourth floor of Building #197.
  • 8:20 a.m. - Alexis left the fourth floor using the stairs and entered the third floor.
  • 8:28 a.m. - Alexis appeared on the first floor.
  • 8:57 a.m. - Alexis returned to the third floor.
  • 9:25 a.m. - Law enforcement shoot and kill Alexis on the third floor.
Both weapons used by Alexis were recovered at the scene and have been submitted to the FBI Laboratory for forensic analysis. The Remington 870 shotgun had been altered with a sawed-off barrel and stock. Purple duct tape covered the end of the stock and handwritten etchings were present on various parts of the shotgun. Etched into the barrel of the shotgun were the words “End to the torment!” Etched into the right side of the shotgun receiver were the words “Not what yall say!” and etched into the left side of the receiver were the phrases “Better off this way!” and “My ELF weapon!”

Alexis’ backpack was located in the fourth floor men’s bathroom, hanging on the back of a stall door. Contents of the backpack included a roll of purple duct tape and electronic media. Searches were conducted of Alexis’ blue Toyota Prius rental car, located in Parking Garage #28, and his hotel room in Southwest Washington, D.C. Additional electronic media was located in the hotel room.

Analysis of the electronic media recovered from Alexis’ belongings revealed several relevant communications. While analysis of these communications is ongoing in conjunction with other information and evidence determined through investigation, preliminary analysis has yielded clues to his intentions and issues of importance to him. There are indicators that Alexis was prepared to die during the attack and that he accepted death as the inevitable consequence of his actions. There is no indication to date that Alexis was targeting specific individuals.

There are multiple indicators that Alexis held a delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves. The etching of “My ELF weapon!” on the left side of the receiver of the Remington 870 shotgun is believed to reference these electromagnetic waves. In addition, a document retrieved from his electronic media stated, “Ultra low frequency attack is what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this.”

ELF technology was a legitimate program for naval sub-tonal submarine communications; however, conspiracy theories exist which misinterpret its application as the weaponization of remote neural frequencies for government monitoring and manipulation of unsuspecting citizens.

While announcing these developments in this ongoing joint investigation, Assistant Director Parlave, Chief Lanier, Special Agent in Charge Monroe, U.S. Attorney Machen, Special Agent in Charge Vasilko, and Chief Chambers commended the work of investigators and analysts who continue to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard.

Note: The above photo was released by the FBI. You can view additional photos and video from the Washington Navy Yard via the below link:

Gangland Mentality In Terror Recruiting: Philip Mudd, Former Deputy Director of CIA's Counterterrorism Center, On Terrorist Attack In Kenya

Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and former Deputy Director of the FBI's National Security Branch, offers his take on the terrorist attack in Kenya on Fox News.

You can watch the interview via the below link:

You can also read my Q&A with Philip Mudd, which appeared in Counterterrorism magazine, via the below link:

Long-Time Colombo Crime Family Associate Sentenced To 14 Years Imprisonment

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information yesterday:

Earlier today, Francis “BF” Guerra, a long-time associate of the Colombo organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Colombo crime family”), was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and distribute prescription drugs. The sentence was imposed by the Honorable Sandra L. Townes, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George C. Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office.

Today’s proceeding marks the culmination of a lengthy investigation and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Following a jury trial conducted in June and July 2011, Guerra was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and Oxycontin and one count of actually distributing those drugs in 2010 and 2011. In addition, he was convicted of four counts of wire fraud based on his fraudulently obtaining reimbursement for those drugs from his insurance provider.

During the sentencing proceeding, United States District Judge Sandra L. Townes found that, in addition to the crimes of conviction, the government proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant had committed numerous additional crimes, including the 1992 murder of Michael Devine and the 1993 murder of Joseph Scopo. Devine was murdered because he had a relationship with the wife of Alphonse Persico, then the acting boss of the Colombo crime family and son of the official boss, Carmine Persico, Jr. Scopo was murdered because he was the underboss of a faction of the Colombo crime family that sought to take control from the Persicos. By murdering Scopo, Guerra and his co-conspirators won the “Colombo family war”—one of the most violent feuds in mafia history—for the Persico faction.

“Years ago, the defendant Guerra chose a life of crime, with murder as his criminal stock in trade. Organized crime has always been about money rather than honor, and recent years saw Guerra move into the equally deadly business of illegal trafficking in prescription drugs,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.

“This sentence is a harsh warning to anyone considering introducing these addictive, deadly drugs into our community. This sentence also sends an important message to members and associates of organized crime. We will never stop investigating and prosecuting the murders and other violent crimes they commit, no matter how long ago they occurred, and we will hold those who commit such crimes accountable, regardless of how long they have avoided justice.”

Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI and the New York City Police Department for their assistance.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “The illegal traffic in prescription drugs poses as grave a danger to society as trafficking in illicit drugs. Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense. The sentence also closes a chapter in the bloody Colombo war from 20 years ago. Responsibility for two murders has been laid at the feet of this defendant. There is no statute of limitations on the resolve of the FBI to see justice done.”

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole M. Argentieri and Allon Lifshitz.

Ferguson Smith, Spycatcher Who Cracked Cold War Communist Spy Rings, Dies At 98

The British newspaper the Mirror offers a piece on former Chief Inspector Ferguson Smith, the U.K.'s supreme spycatcher.

With his neat military moustache, upright bearing, dapper dress and old-fashioned charm, Ferguson Smith seemed like any other ex-RAF gent enjoying his retirement.

The former Bomber Command flight lieutenant lived quietly in his home of more than 60 years, indulging his love of poetry and the countryside and doting on his wife, Margaret, until her death 10 years ago.

But few of his neighbours in Malden, Surrey, had any idea he was a decorated war hero, former personal bodyguard to ex-King the Duke of Windsor and, most remarkably, a supreme spycatcher.
Smith, who died at the age of 98 this month, hero died at the age of 98 this month, was instrumental in snaring the most notorious traitors and Russian spies of the 50s and 60s.

During a 36-year career in Special Branch, his quiet manner, obsession with detail and determination to go the extra mile saw him catch the infamous Portland spy ring – who were selling nuclear submarine secrets to Moscow – and arrest the most dangerous of all Red spies, George Blake.

Smith also helped jail naval attache-turned traitor John Vassall as well as Klaus Fuchs, the German physicist who sold details of Britain and America’s atomic bomb programme to the Soviets.

... Last night spy expert Neil Root said the nation owed a huge debt to spycatcher Smith – who must have been a master of mind games and tough James Bond 007-style counter-espionage techniques.
Neil, author of Twentieth Century Spies, said: “There was a real fear of Communist spies in the 50s and 60s.

“At the time espionage and counter espionage were about face to face contact, it was all meeting in dirty macs on park benches. It was much more psychological, you had to be able to read people.

“The things you see in James Bond now, that was the kind of stuff happening then. It was much more brutal, people were killed much more quickly.

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

U.S Navy Recommends Security Chnages In Wake Of Washington Navy Yard Shooting

Jim Garamone at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2013 - The Navy has recommended three changes to security procedures following the Washington Navy Yard shooting Sept. 16 in which a Navy contractor killed 12 people at the facility.

Juan M. Garcia, the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, studied the service record of the shooter – Aaron Alexis – to see how his conduct "did or did not meet the threshold for the sustainment of his security clearance and fitness for Naval duty."

One recommendation, which must go to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for approval, is that all Office of Personnel Management investigative reports include any available police documents related to the subject being backgrounded.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has already approved two other recommendations. The first will require command security manager responsibilities be assigned to executive officers or other senior members of commands. Currently, junior officers hold those responsibilities.

The second is to "require senior-level accountability on all detachment of individual evaluations/fitness reports."

A senior Navy official discussed the timeline of Alexis' service and what the Navy knew about security problems during a Pentagon background briefing. Alexis' service went from 2007 to 2011.

"Looking individually at the events, as we knew them at the time, it's very difficult to see a glaring indicator that there is any kind of potential for the events that took place last week, the senior Navy official said.

Many questions were raised about how Alexis, a former sailor and Navy contractor at the time of the shootings, received a secret security clearance. Three years prior to his enlistment, Alexis shot out the tires of a construction worker's vehicle in Seattle. No charges were filed.

Upon entering the Navy Reserve in 2007, OPM initiated an investigation. The check turned up Alexis' fingerprints in the FBI system and investigators became aware of the incident in Seattle. OPM sent investigators to speak to Alexis at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill. There was no mention of the incident involving firearms in the OPM report to the Navy.

The OPM report to the Department of the Navy Central Adjudication Facility determined Alexis was eligible for a secret clearance with one caveat – he had negative credit information.

During his Navy service, Alexis received a non-judicial punishment for an unauthorized absence during service with VF-46 in Atlanta, Ga. His unauthorized absence coincided with a brief stay in jail after being arrested for disorderly conduct outside a nightclub.

There were other incidents, but there were no further Article 15s. In one, Alexis discharged a firearm in his quarters. He stated he accidently discharged the weapon while cleaning it.

His commander initiated actions to administratively separate Alexis from the service, but once the charges were dropped, that process stopped.

On December 2, 2010, Alexis requested separation from the service in accordance with a reduction-in-force program. On Jan. 31, 2011, he received an honorable discharge with a reentry code of RE-1 – the most favorable code.
Note: The above photo of Aaaron Alexis was released by the FBI.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Birthday To F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy birthday to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

As notes, the author of The Great Gatsby was born on this date in 1896.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His first novel's success made him famous and let him marry the woman he loved, but he later descended into drinking and his wife had a mental breakdown. Following the unsuccessful Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and became a scriptwriter. He died of a heart attack in 1940, at age 44, his final novel only half completed.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a short video on the life of Fitzgerald via the below link:

Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers and I enjoyed his novels, especially The Great Gatsby, and I also enjoy his short stories. I especially love his Pat Hobby short stories, which are about a hack Hollywood writer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War

James Srodes at the Washington Times offers a good review of Max Hastings' Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War.

If you are as alarmed as I am over how the world’s political leadership — especially our own — seems to be a parade of imbeciles, then invest $35 and read about how the world slid into a similar global catastrophe almost exactly 99 years ago. While history does not repeat itself exactly, this book shows how close it can come.

The British editor and war correspondent Max Hastings over the past two decades has become the contemporary premier historian of 20th-century war. Most of his more than two-dozen books, such as his 2011 masterpiece, “Armageddon,” focus on World War II. But in this large and lavishly illustrated book, he examines just the final six months of a single year when the world descended from an idyllic, albeit unstable, age into the chasm of carnage and upheaval that is known as World War I.

The real strength of this story is how Mr. Hastings portrays the principal characters, not as stereotyped tyrants, greedy empire builders or mindless militarists, but rather as very real human beings with as many flaws as virtues. Most of all, they were prisoners of the times in which they lived and had to make decisions. In other words, a lot like the current crowd.

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Memorial Service Honors Washington Navy Yard Victims

Karen Parrish at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2013 - President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were among the national leaders who gathered today for a memorial service honoring those killed in the Sept. 16 shootings at the Washington Navy Yard.

Hagel offered his deepest sympathy to the families in attendance, "on behalf of the more than 3 million men and women of the Department of Defense serving across the nation and all over the world." The military family's thoughts and prayers are with their families, the secretary told them.

"Today we come together ... to begin a long road of healing and recovery," Hagel said. "It is a path we walk together. We walk with the families, all who loved the fallen, to help ease the pain, hoping that grief and sadness will one day end and cherished memories of those we loved so much will take their place."

The secretary said the department also walks beside "those injured and scarred by this senseless act of violence to help them regain their strength, hoping the horrors of last Monday will soon recede and together we will recover."

Every member of the department will remember the valor of the Navy Yard personnel, Hagel said, "and we will remember that in the face of tragedy, the United States Navy is once again responding with resolve."

The president told the families of the Navy Yard victims that the nation cannot begin to comprehend their loss.

"We know that no words we offer today are equal to the magnitude, to the depths, of that loss," Obama said. "But we come together as a grateful nation to honor your loved ones, to grieve with you, and to offer, as best we can, some solace and some comfort."

The 12 lives lost at the Navy Yard are not statistics, Obama said. "They are the lives that have been taken from us," he added.

Killed in the attack were:

-- Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va.

-- Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Md.

-- Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Va.

-- John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood, Md.

-- Frank Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers, Md.

-- Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, of Waldorf, Md.

-- Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit, 61, of North Potomac, Md.

-- Arthur Daniels, 51, of Washington.

-- Mary Francis Knight, 51, of Reston, Va.

-- Gerald L. Read, 58, of Alexandria, Va.

-- Martin Bodrog, 54, of Annandale, Va.

-- Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, of Westminster, Md.

Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist who is alleged to have been the shooter, was killed in a gun battle with police.

Note: Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, renders a hand salute at the Marine Barracks during a memorial service at the Marine Barracks for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. The U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Phillips.

'Dearest Kraut': Ernest Hemingway's Bizarre And Intense Sex Letter To Marlene Dietrich Up For Auction For $55, 000

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece on a Hemingway letter to Marlene Dietrich going up for auction.

An innuendo-filled letter sent from Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, in which the author imagines performing a surreal sex act onstage with the German-born actress and singer, is up for auction.

Hemingway's letter to the Hollywood star is dated August 28, 1955, and binds affectionately, 'Dearest Kraut.'  

The odd couple met while traveling accross the Atlantic on the Ile de France in 1934 and their friendship lasted until the Nobel Prize-winning author committed suicide in 1961. 

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

The Wrap-Up With The Anti-Che, Freedom Fighter And Patriot Felix Rodriguez

Jay Nordlinger at National Review offers his third and final piece in his series on Cuban-American Felix Rodriguez, the CIA agent who helped capture Communist revolutionay Che Guevara in Boliva in 1967.

In 1976, Felix Rodriguez left the CIA for several reasons. (Readers of my magazine piece will recall this.) One of those reasons was security. His cover was blown; he was receiving death threats.
The Agency offered to give Rodriguez and his family new identities and move them to a different state. Rodriguez decided against. It would be too disruptive, too upsetting to the family, he determined.

So, the Agency took some steps to afford him some security. They outfitted his home in various ways. They bullet-proofed his car, at Langley. They gave him a mobile phone — “something very rare at the time,” says Rodriguez. When he called a seller of such phones, he was told that the waiting list was ten years. Then Langley made a call. And Rodriguez got the phone in two days.

There were some other arrangements as well, and the Rodriguezes forged ahead.

Rodriguez is not very interested in money, and he has lived frugally. “I am very organized with my finances. I have never had a penny of interest on my credit card. If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy whatever it is.” He bought his house in 1969, for $29,800. “We borrowed 8,000 for the down payment.”

This seems a classic American story, old-school.

You can read the rest of the piece and link to part one and two of the series via th below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of Hunting Che: How a U.S. Special Forces Team Helped Capture The World's Most Famous Revoluntionary via the below link:   

Note: The above photo of Felix Rodriguez (on the left) with Che Guevara was provided by Felix Rodriguez.

Hostages Forced To Hide As Death Toll Rises To 68 In Terror Attack On Kenya Shopping Mall offers a piece on the terror attack in Kenya.

Dozens of hostages are holed up in an upscale shopping mall in Kenya's capital, forced to hide from gunmen following an attack by members of an Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group on Saturday that left at least 68 dead and 175 injured.

The Kenyan military remained in a tense standoff with Islamic extremists in Nairobi on Sunday, as barrage of gunfire between both sides were heard inside the mall, Reuters reports.

Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a national address that security forces had managed to isolate the “criminals” in one place inside the building, according to Reuters. Two helicopters were seen flying over the mall.

Associated Press reporters also said they heard a large explosion followed by silence.

There are between 50 to 200 hostages and most of them are hiding in various places inside the mall, Fox News confirms. They are not being held by the hostage-takers. There are between 10 to 15 militants currently inside the mall, with at least one being female.

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

Saturday, September 21, 2013

U.S. Navy Commander, Navy Contractor and Navy Criminal Investigator Arrested In International Bribery Scheme

The Washington Times offers a piece on a bribery scheme.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Navy contractor, a naval commander and a Navy criminal investigator were arrested and charged with conspiracy in a bribery scheme to reap millions of dollars in port contracts worldwide, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Leonard Francis, the contractor, was arrested Monday in San Diego; Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewcz was arrested in Colorado; and John Beliveau II, a supervisory special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was arrested in Virginia, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

An email seeking comment from an NCIS spokesman wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.
Mr. Francis,  a Malaysian national who lives in Singapore, is the president and CEO of
Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia LTD., which has had “husbanding” contracts for Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years. 

The contracts — one of which was worth up to $125 million — involve providing services for ships and submarines in port, such as providing tugboats, security and transportation; paying customs fees; supplying food, fuel and water; and removing trash.

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Francis conspired to bribe the other men with luxury travel, prostitutes and gifts in exchange for information that allowed him to overcharge on port contracts by millions of dollars.

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

Inside The Ring: Bill Gertz On Syria, Iraq And Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Bill Gertz (seen in the above photo), the veteran national security reporter for the Washington Times, offers a piece on chemical weapons in the Middle East..

The U.S.-Russia agreement to dismantle Syria's  chemical weapons is reigniting a controversy over the 2003 covert operation by Russian special operations forces to remove Iraqi weapons — including chemical arms — and move them to Syria and Lebanon prior to the Iraq War.

John A. Shaw, a former Pentagon official who first disclosed the Iraqi-Russian collaboration to The Washington Times, said the agreement brokered by Moscow could resolve unanswered questions about the arms transfers.

“The Russians were the principal — if not the sole — supplier of chemical weapons to both Iraq and Syria,” said Mr. Shaw, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security who tracked Iraqi weapons for the  Pentagon.

Mr. Shaw noted that U.N. inspectors who surveyed the site of the Aug. 21 Syrian chemical weapons attack near Damascus found an intact rocket motor inscribed with Cyrillic writing, indicating the delivery system was Russian in origin.
Mr. Shaw said  Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons — about 1,000 tons of nerve and blister agents — is estimated to be 50 percent larger than it was in 2003.

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Real Navy Yard Scandal: Charles Krauthammer On Gun Control And Mental Illness

In a previous post, I linked to a Charles Krauthammer's column from December of 2012 that covered gun control and mental illness -

In light of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Charles Krauthammer followed up and wrote another column on gun control and mental illness, which appeared in National Review.  

In the liberal remake of Casablanca, the police captain comes upon the scene of the shooting and orders his men to “round up the usual weapons.”

It’s always the weapon and never the shooter. Twelve people are murdered in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, and before sundown Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for yet another debate on gun violence. Major opprobrium is heaped on the AR-15, the semiautomatic used in the Newtown massacre.

Turns out no AR-15 was used at the Navy Yard. And the shotgun that was used was obtained legally in Virginia after the buyer, Aaron Alexis, had passed both a state and federal background check.

As was the case in the Tucson shooting — instantly politicized into a gun-control and (fabricated) tea-party-climate-of-violence issue — the origin of this crime lies not in any politically expedient externality but in the nature of the shooter.

On August 7, that same Alexis had called police from a Newport, R.I., Marriott. He was hearing voices. Three people were following him, he told the cops. They were sending microwaves through walls, making his skin vibrate and preventing him from sleeping. He had already twice changed hotels to escape the men, the radiation, the voices.

Delusions, paranoid ideation, auditory (and somatic) hallucinations: the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.

So here is this panic-stricken soul, psychotic and in terrible distress. And what does modern policing do for him? The cops tell him to “stay away from the individuals that are following him.” Then they leave.

But the three “individuals” were imaginary, for God’s sake. This is how a civilized society deals with a man in such a state of terror?

Had this happened 35 years ago in Boston, Alexis would have been brought to me as the psychiatrist on duty at the ER of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Were he as agitated and distressed as in the police report, I probably would have administered an immediate dose of Haldol, the most powerful fast-acting antipsychotic of the time.

This would generally relieve the hallucinations and delusions, a blessing not only in itself, but also for the lucidity it brings on that would allow him to give us important diagnostic details — psychiatric history, family history, social history, medical history, etc. If I thought he could be sufficiently cared for by family or friends to help him receive regular oral medication, therapy, and follow-up, I would have discharged him. Otherwise, I’d have admitted him. And if he refused, I’d have ordered a 14-day involuntary commitment.

Sounds cruel? On the contrary. For many people living on park benches, commitment means a warm bed, shelter, and three hot meals a day. For Alexis, it would have meant the beginning of a treatment regimen designed to bring him back to himself before discharging him to a world heretofore madly radioactive.

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

Defense Secretary, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs, Honor Missing, Captured Service Members, Families

Karen Parish at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 - The Defense Department will never stop working to bring captured and missing service members home, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged at a Pentagon ceremony today.

That commitment extends to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan more than four years ago, Hagel said.

"Our hearts today are with the Bergdahl family. Using our military, intelligence, and diplomatic tools, the United States is continuing its strong efforts to secure Sergeant Bergdahl's safe release," he said.

DOD's commitment to leave no service member behind also extends to the more than 80,000 Americans who remain missing in action, the secretary said.

Hagel noted this year marked the 40th anniversary of Operation Homecoming, when hundreds of American prisoners of war returned to freedom from captivity in Vietnam. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert H. Shumaker, in the audience for today's ceremony, was one of those prisoners, the secretary said.

"He, along with hundreds of other service members and civilians, endured unspeakable cruelty, attempts at political exploitation, and years of confinement," Hagel said. "But through courage, resilience, and determination, they survived to return home to a grateful nation."

The secretary said he admires the inner strength that enabled prisoners of war to survive harsh physical and mental abuse at the hands of their captors.

"Americans in uniform today are inspired by the fierce resolve of generations of American POWs," Hagel said. "We also draw inspiration from the bonds of camaraderie, compassion, and love that prompted our POWs to care for each other, and sustain each other, through terrible, terrible months and years of hardship."

Such bonds are fundamental to the American military and underpin "who we are and everything we do," he said. "We protect each other. And we vow to never leave a fellow service member behind."

Every day, Hagel said, hundreds of DOD staffers, including forensic anthropologists, underwater archeologists and other experts, scour the globe and work in laboratories to identify the missing.

"Since this time last year we have been able to account for 61 service members from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam," the secretary noted. "Each case represents years of effort -- meticulous work piecing together evidence and clues from across many continents."

Hagel said he's deeply aware that many thousands of families are still waiting for a breakthrough.

"Words and promises cannot make the lingering uncertainty and heartache go away," he said. "But I hope it provides comfort to know that as long as members of our armed forces remain unaccounted for, the Department of Defense will do whatever we can to find them and bring them home."

Hagel said that as the black-and-white flag honoring America's prisoners of war and missing in action is raised in communities across America today, "We pledge to live by its creed, 'You are Not Forgotten.' We as a country are committed to our former POWs, our missing, and their families, ... just as we are committed to those who wear the uniform today."

The POW/MIA flag is a symbol and a call to action, Dempsey said.

"For wherever our missing lie, wherever a prisoner waits, we will remain committed to freeing them," he said.

More families deserve closure, the chairman said. "More of those who've worn our nation's cloth deserve to come home," he added.

Dempsey said the department will not rest or "call our mission complete, until our family is whole again."

Note: In the above DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel greets former POWs following the ceremony on September 20, 2013.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More from The Anti-Che, Freedom Fighter And Patriot Felix Rodriguez,

Jay Nordlinger at National Review offers a follow-up to his piece on Cuban-American Felix Rodriguez, the CIA agent who helped hunt down Communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

A couple of months ago, I went to visit Felix Rodriguez in his Miami home. In the August 5 issue of National Review, we published a piece: “The Anti-Che: Felix Rodriguez, freedom fighter and patriot.” (A blunt and true title.) We also published the piece online at

I would like to give you a few more notes about Rodriguez, supplementary to the piece. I think you’ll find them worth your while.

But first, I should answer a question that some will have: Who is Felix Rodriguez?

He is a Cuban-born American. Former CIA agent. Was infiltrated into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs. Got out some months after that disaster. Was assigned to Bolivia, to help that country’s forces hunt down Che Guevara. Got him. Rodriguez was the last person to talk to him, really. And an interesting conversation they had.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Hunting Che via the below link: 

Note: The above with Felix Rodriguez (on the left) and Che Guevara was provided by Felix Rodriguez.

Monsters Shall Always Be With Us: Charles Krauthammer On Guns, Mass Murderers, Mental Illness And Culture

After every tragic mass murder incident like the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the knee-jerk reaction of some politicians is to call for greater gun control. But they ignore the mental illness issue.
The problem is not the gun, but rather the madman who fires the gun. 
We need stronger civil commitment laws, in my view, not stronger gun control laws.  
Charles Krauthammer, who is a psychiatrist as well as an insightful and intelligent syndicated columnist, wrote a column in December of 2012 on guns, mass murderers and mental illness that bears reading again. 
WASHINGTON - Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause with corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.
Let's be serious.

The weapon: Within hours of last week's Newtown, Conn., massacre, the focus was the weapon and the demand was for new gun laws.

I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn't work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry and repeal the Second Amendment, it's almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.

A new assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for example, would exempt 900 weapons. And that's the least of the loopholes. Even the guns that are banned can be made legal with simple, minor modifications.

Most fatal, however, is the grandfathering of existing weapons and magazines. That's one of the reasons the '94 law failed. At the time, there were 1.5 million assault weapons in circulation and 25 million large-capacity (i.e., more than 10 bullets) magazines. A reservoir that immense can take 100 years to draw down. 

The killer: Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free.

As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people -- often right out of the emergency room -- as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today.

Why do you think we have so many homeless? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on.

A tiny percentage of the mentally ill become mass killers. Just about everyone around Tucson shooter Jared Loughner sensed he was mentally ill and dangerous. But in effect, he had to kill before he could be put away -- and (forcibly) treated.

Random mass killings were three times more common in the 2000s than in the 1980s, when gun laws were actually weaker. Yet a 2011 University of California at Berkeley study found that states with strong civil commitment laws have about a one-third lower homicide rate.

You can read the rest of the column via the link to the Portland Press Herald  below: