Friday, May 31, 2013

Cyber May Be Biggest Threat, Defense Secretary Tells Troops

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

HONOLULU, May 31, 2013 - The devastatingly destructive potential of cyberattacks has become the security challenge of our age, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told U.S. troops here yesterday.

Hagel stopped in Hawaii on the first leg of a trip that also will take him to Singapore and Brussels, Belgium. The secretary stood in a hangar at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam with an F-22 Raptor fighter jet behind him and about 200 service members in front, representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard.
Hagel thanked the troops for their service, offered a few remarks and took their questions, one of which centered on cybersecurity. The secretary noted cyber is "one of the very few items" pegged to receive more money in the current budget request now before Congress.

"Cyber warfare capabilities: we are increasing that part of the budget significantly," he said, noting that means the department can devote more people and more sophisticated approaches to defending U.S. networks and information.

Hagel said interconnected cyber efforts across government also will grow. U.S law enforcement agencies, the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command and the Department of Homeland Security all work together on the issue, he noted. He added that allied contributions also are key to the fight.

"We live in a world -- and you all know this -- where one country's just not big enough ... [or] wealthy enough to handle it all," he said. "Can't do it -- especially cyber."

Cyberattacks are a fundamentally different threat because, with no shots fired, they potentially can disrupt utilities, banking, business and military networks, yet remain essentially untraceable to a country or an agent of origin, the secretary noted.

"Cyber is one of those quiet, deadly, insidious unknowns you can't see," Hagel added. "It's in the ether -- it's not one big navy sailing into a port, or one big army crossing a border, or squadrons of fighter planes. ... This is a very difficult, but real and dangerous, threat. There is no higher priority for our country than this issue."

Note: The above DoD photo of Hagel addressing the troops was taken by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo.

North Philadelphia Drug Kingpin Kaboni Savage's Life In Jury Hands

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the federal murder-racketeering trial of North Philadelphia drug kingpin Kaboni Savage for

Will Kaboni Savage be the first defendant sentenced to death in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since the federal death sentence was reinstituted in 1988?

That's the question the anonymously chosen jury that convicted Savage of racketeering and murder two weeks ago began wrestling with today. The nine women and three men deliberated for about four hours after being instructed by Judge R. Barclay Surrick on the legal issues that apply in the capital murder case. They recessed around 4:30. Deliberations are set to resume tomorrow morning.

The only two options for the panel are death or life without parole. The jury, which heard arguments and testimony for five days during the penalty phase of the trial, must first unanimously decide that the death penalty is warranted. The panel must then vote unanimously to impose it.

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

Former Navy Engineer Pleads Guilty To Organizing And Managing Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme, Associate Admits To Stealing Government Funds

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

PROVIDENCE, RI—Ralph M. Mariano, of Warwick, Rhode Island, a former senior systems engineer with the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Newport, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, today to conspiracy and to defrauding the U.S. government of between $7 million and $20 million by directing co-conspirators to bill the navy for work that was never performed, announced Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island.

Mariano admitted to the court that from 1999 to 2011, he used his position at NAVSEA to direct Russell Spencer, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a computer software specialist, to submit millions of dollars in fraudulent invoices to navy contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT), a Georgia and Middletown, Rhode Island company. Mariano admitted to the court that he directed ASFT to pay Spencer the full amount of the false invoices with money ASFT received from the Navy. Mariano admitted that the total amount of government money falsely obtained and paid to Spencer was approximately $17,957,000. The invoices were processed by Patrick Nagle, chief financial officer of ASFT.

At the time of his guilty plea, Mariano admitted to the court that he used a system of codes to direct Spencer to distribute the government funds to Mariano and individuals close to Mariano. Mariano admitted that he himself received $3,081,671 of navy funds by checks from Spencer. In addition, Mariano admitted to receiving bi-weekly $3,500 cash payments of navy funds from Spencer from 2004 to January 2011.

Mariano admitted to the court that little or no work was ever performed by Spencer in exchange for the government funds Spencer received and distributed at his direction. According to information provided to the court, Spencer provided ASFT and its subcontractors with numerous documents that purported to be work product over the years. Spencer typically provided ASFT with documents that he had taken from his employer, Electric Boat, without its consent. Spencer made cosmetic changes to the documents before submitting them to ASFT. Despite the fact that Spencer spent very little time making cosmetic changes to these documents, he billed ASFT upwards of $200,000 per month.
Mariano admitted to the court that at his direction, $2,567,028 was paid to his father, Ralph Mariano, Jr., of North Providence, Rhode Island; $1,692,650 was paid to his brother, Joseph Mariano, and to his companies; $207,900 was paid to a veterinary laboratory company controlled by his sister, Michelle Mariano; $2,446,445 was paid to private entities controlled by Anjan Dutta-Gupta, of Roswell, Georgia, chief executive officer of now-defunct ASFT.

In addition, Mariano admitted to the court that $478,880 in government funds fraudulently obtained was paid to a company owned by Attorney Mary O’Rourke, of Warwick, Rhode Island. O’Rourke pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of theft of government property. O’Rourke admitted to the court that she submitted false invoices to Spencer from 2005 to 2011 and that she was paid with government funds for work that was never performed.

In addition to pleading guilty to conspiracy and theft of government funds, Ralph Mariano pleaded guilty today to one count of tax evasion. Mariano admitted to the court that from 2006 to 2009, he failed to report $1,864,910 in income he received from Russell Spencer. Mariano admitted that he owes the IRS $726,650.

Ralph Mariano and Mary O’Rourke are scheduled to be sentenced on September 5, 2013, by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi, who presided over today’s change-of-plea hearings.
Anjan Dutta-Gupta, who pleaded guilty on April 28, 2011, to one count of bribery, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2013, by U.S District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

Russell Spencer, who pleaded guilty on July 25, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and on April 19, 2012, to one count of lying to the FBI, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2013, by U.S District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

Patrick Nagle, who pleaded guilty on September 13, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 26, 2013, by U.S District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

Ralph Mariano, Jr., who pleaded guilty on May 15, 2013 to four counts of tax evasion, is scheduled to be sentenced on August 16, 2013, by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lee H. Vilker, Terrence P. Donnelly and Dulce Donovan.

This matter was investigated by agents from the Defense Criminal Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Service; FBI; and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The President established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.

The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

Happy Birthday To Clint Eastwood

Happy birthday to Clint Eastwood. The film director and actor turns 83 today.

I've been a fan of ole Clint since I watched him on TV as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide when I was a kid in the 1960's. Over the years I've also enjoyed watching him in crime films like Dirty Harry and in westerns like The Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood also directed such fine films as Mystic River and Gran Torino.

You can learn more about Clint Eastwood at via the below link:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Manssor Arbabsian Sentenced In New York City Federal Court To 25 Years In Prison For Conspiring With Iranian Military Officials To Assassinate The Saudi Arabian Ambassador To The United States

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information today:
 Manssor Arbabsiar, aka “Mansour Arbabsiar,” was sentenced today in New York City federal court to 25 years in prison for participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. while the Ambassador was in the U.S., announced John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division at the Department of Justice and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Arbabsiar, a 58 year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.  He pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, 2012, to one count of murder-for-hire, one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and one count of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan, who also imposed today’s sentence.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, Manssor Arbabsiar is today being held accountable for his role in this assassination plot,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.  “I applaud all those responsible for ensuring that Arbabsiar and his co-conspirators in Iran’s Qods Force failed in their efforts.  Today’s sentencing serves as a reminder of the evolving threat environment we face.”

“Manssor Arbabsiar was an enemy among us – the key conduit for, and facilitator of, a nefarious international plot concocted by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and as many innocent bystanders as necessary to get the job done,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “And but for the vigilance of our FBI and DEA partners, his plot, and the unspeakable harm it would have caused, may well have come to fruition, which is exactly why our commitment to using every resource we have to root out, prosecute and punish people like Arbabsiar, who act as emissaries for our enemies, remains unflagging.”
According to the complaint and indictment filed in federal court:

From the spring of 2011 to October 2011, Arbabsiar and his Iran-based co-conspirators, including members of Iran’s Qods Force, plotted the murder of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S.  In furtherance of this conspiracy, Arbabsiar met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source (CS-1) who posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel.  Arbabsiar arranged to hire CS-1 and CS-1’s purported accomplices to murder the Ambassador with the awareness and approval of his Iran-based co-conspirators.  Arbabsiar wired approximately $100,000 to a bank account in the U.S. as a down payment to CS-1 for the anticipated killing of the Ambassador, which was to take place in the U.S, also with the approval of his co-conspirators.

The Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations, and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.  In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force as a terrorist supporter for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

Arbabsiar met with CS-1 in Mexico on several occasions between May 2011 and July 2011.  During the course of these meetings, he inquired as to CS-1’s knowledge with respect to explosives and explained that he was interested in, among other things, attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia and the murder of the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.  In a July 14, 2011 meeting in Mexico, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that he would need to use at least four men to carry out the Ambassador’s murder and that his price for doing so was $1.5 million.  Arbabsiar agreed and stated that the murder of the Ambassador should be handled first, before the execution of other attacks that he had discussed with CS-1.  Arbabsiar also indicated that he and his associates had $100,000 in Iran to give CS-1 as a first payment toward the assassination.

During the same meeting, Arbabsiar also described to CS-1 his cousin in Iran, who he said had requested that Arbabsiar find someone to carry out the Ambassador’s assassination.  Arbabsiar indicated that his cousin was a “big general” in the Iranian military, that he focuses on matters outside of Iran, and that he had taken certain unspecified actions related to a bombing in Iraq.
In a July 17, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 noted to Arbabsiar that one of his workers had already traveled to Washington, D.C., to surveil the Ambassador. 

CS-1 also raised the possibility of innocent bystander casualties.  Arbabsiar made it clear that the assassination needed to go forward, despite mass casualties, telling CS-1, “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em.”  CS-1 and Arbabsiar discussed bombing a restaurant in the U.S. that the Ambassador frequented.  When CS-1 noted that others could be killed in the attack, including U.S. senators who dine at the restaurant, Arbabsiar dismissed these concerns as “no big deal.”

On Aug. 1 and Aug. 9, 2011, Arbabsiar caused two overseas wire transfers totaling approximately $100,000 to be sent to an FBI undercover account as a down payment for CS-1 to carry out the assassination.  Later, Arbabsiar explained to CS-1 that he would provide the remainder of the $1.5 million after the assassination.  On Sept. 20, 2011, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that the operation was ready and requested that he either pay one half the agreed upon price ($1.5 million) for the murder or that Arbabsiar personally travel to Mexico as collateral for the final payment of the fee.  Arbabsiar agreed to travel to Mexico to guarantee final payment for the murder.

On Sept. 28, 2011, Arbabsiar flew to Mexico, and he was refused entry into the country and placed on a return flight destined for his last point of departure.  The following day, Arbabsiar was arrested by federal agents during a flight layover at JFK International Airport in New York.  Several hours after his arrest, Arbabsiar was advised of his Miranda rights and he agreed to waive those rights and speak with law enforcement agents.  During a series of Mirandized interviews, Arbabsiar confessed to his participation in the murder plot.

In addition, Arbabsiar admitted to agents that, in connection with this plot, he was recruited, funded, and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force.  He said these Iranian officials were aware of, and approved of, the use of CS-1 in connection with the plot, as well as payments to CS-1, the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the U.S., and the casualties that would likely result.

Arbabsiar also told agents that his cousin, whom he had long understood to be a senior member of the Qods Force, had approached him in the early spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap the Ambassador.  He told agents that he then met with CS-1 in Mexico and discussed assassinating the Ambassador.  Arbabsiar said that afterwards, he met several times in Iran with Gholam Shakuri, aka “Ali Gholam Shakuri,” a co-conspirator and Iran-based member of the Qods Force, and another senior Qods Force official, where Arbabsiar explained that the plan was to blow up a restaurant in the U.S. frequented by the Ambassador and that numerous bystanders would be killed.  According to Arbabsiar, the plan was approved by these officials.

In October 2011, after his arrest, Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to Shakuri in Iran that were monitored.  During these calls, Shakuri confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, “[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late…”  Shakuri also told Arbabsiar that he would consult with his superiors about whether they would be willing to pay CS-1 additional money.  Shakuri, who was also charged in the plot, remains at large.
*                *                *
In addition to the prison term, Arbabsiar was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $125,000.
This case was investigated by the FBI Houston Division, the DEA Houston Division, and the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the assistance of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, its National Security Division, and the Department of State.  The Government of Mexico also cooperated with the investigation.

This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glen Kopp, Edward Kim, and Stephen Ritchin are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Al Qaeda Remains A Threat To U.S. Via Its Franchises

Rowan Scarborough at the Washington Times offers a piece on the continuing threat from al Qaeda.

In the months before President Obama declared al Qaeda was “on a path to defeat,” his aides were telling Congress that the terrorist network was expanding and was capable of inflicting mass casualties in the U.S.

While perhaps not a direct contradiction of the president’s near-claim of victory last week, their testimony painted the picture of a robust collection of al Qaeda franchises causing death and destruction in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Terrorism analysts say that as the U.S. conducted a concentrated air war via armed Predators against al Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan’s tribal areas for more than a decade, the group’s Islamic chieftains decided to diversify.

“I totally disagree with the premise that al Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” said retired Army Gen. Jack Keane (seen in the above U.S. Army photo), who has advised U.S. commanders in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “Quite the contrary, al Qaeda in Pakistan has deliberately decentralized its operations, not because of the relentless attacks we have had on its national leadership in Pakistan, but because its strategic objective is to dominate and control Muslim countries in the region. As such, al Qaeda must extend its geographic reach, which is not only successful but is expanding.”

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

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Calls In Feds To Review Deadly Force By Philly Cops

Sam Wood at offers a piece on the Philadelphia Police Commissioner request that the federal government review the shootings by Philadelphia cops.

With shootings by Philadelphia police rising to the highest level in over a decade, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has asked the Department of Justice to review the department's use of deadly force.

The request follows a story published May 14 documenting a 50-percent increase in the number of police shootings in 2012.

Police in Philadelphia shot 52 suspects last year. Of those, 15 people died. In 2011, police wounded or killed 35 people.

"When you have as many as we've had, it gets people wondering if they were all justified," Ramsey said. "We've been looking at this issue since December. The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ knows and agrees this is a good course of action."

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

North Philadelphia Drug Kingpin And Convicted Murderer Kaboni Savage's Tape No. 6

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia has been covering the federal murder-racketeering trial of drug kingpin Kaboni Savage for

As George Anastasia reported previously, the feds recorded Savage. You can listen to tape No. 6 via the below link:

You can listen to the earlier tapes via the below link:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Piece On The Philadelphia Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau

My piece on the Philadelphia Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau was published in Counterterrorism magazine yesterday.


In my piece I interviewed Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (seen in the above photo) and Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan, the Commanding Officer of the Homeland Security Bureau (seen in the below photo).

You can read about the Philadelphia Police Department's efforts to keep America's birthplace safe and secure from criminals and terrorists below:

Note: You can click on the above and enlarge.

My Q&A With Michael Sulick, Former Director Of The CIA's National Clandestine Service & Author Of 'Spying In America'

My Q&A with Michael Sulick, who served as the director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service and wrote Spying in America, was published in Counterterrorism magazine yesterday.

You can read the Q&A below:

Below are photos of some of the spies in American history that Michael Sulick wrote about in his book and discussed in the Q&A:

Benedict Arnold

Alger Hiss

 George Koval

Elizebeth Van Lew

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday To The Late Great Thriller Writer Ian Fleming

Happy birthday to Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond thrillers, who was born on this day in 1908.
You can read about Ian Fleming's life at via the below link:
You can also read my Crime Beat column on Ian Fleming via the below link:
And you can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Commander Ian Fleming's World War II experiences as a British Royal Navy Intelligence Officer via the below links:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stupid: P.J. O'Rourke On President Obama's War On Terror Speech

P.J. O'Rourke at the Weekly Standard does not think much of President Obama's war on terror speech.

“You’re stupid,” is not something even his most severe critics usually say to President Barack Obama. But on Friday morning I picked up the Wall Street Journal and learned that the president had given a speech about the war on terror saying, “This war, like all wars, must end.”

That story was at the top of the front page. Immediately below was a photograph of flowers being laid at a makeshift memorial near the Woolwich Royal Arsenal where machine gunner Lee Rigby was hacked to death by terrorists.

This war, like all wars, must end when someone wins it.

The president—speaking at the National Defense University, of all places—said, “the core of al Qaeda . . . is on the path to defeat.” And so it may be. But meanwhile, the core of al Qaeda, its aims and its beliefs, is also on the path to Boston and London and any number of other places.

Pope Francis Urges Mafia To Stop Exploitation Of Others

Frances D'Emilio at the Associated Press offers a piece on Pope Francis's call for Italian organized crime to reform.

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis paid tribute to a courageous priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia as a martyr and urged mobsters on Sunday to abandon their evil ways, particularly the exploitation of people in trafficking rackets such as prostitution.

Francis issued his call to organized crime members to convert their hearts, a day after the beatification of the Rev. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglisi in Palermo. The Vatican honored Puglisi as a martyr in the ceremony, 20 years after he was slain in the city by mobsters for defiantly preaching against the Mafia in a neighborhood where Cosa Nostra held sway.

You can read the rest of the story the below link to

General Dempsey: Service Members' Courage Renews Nation's Strength

Amaani Lyle at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2013 - The sacrifices of the men and women who have served the United States in uniform are the source of the nation's strength, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here last night.

In remarks at the National Memorial Day Concert held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and televised nationally on PBS, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey highlighted the bravery and dedication of military members and their loved ones.

"On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect on their courage," the nation's top military officer said. "We renew our strength -- the strength of our nation -- from their devotion."

Dempsey noted that since the dawn of the republic, Americans have placed great trust in the men and women who are willing to fight or die in any region of world in defense of the nation's ideals.

"We rededicate ourselves to our national purpose to secure the blessings of liberty," the general said. "We decorate our homes and our hearts in the colors of America, and we honor those who have so honored us: men and women from every corner of our country in every branch of service who gave their lives so that we can live free."

And while it is the American people's responsibility look back, the chairman said, it also is incumbent on them to look forward and note the sacrifices of those now serving in Afghanistan and around the world.

"So they are out there today -- America's sons and daughters ... lacing up their boots for another day on the front lines for our common defense," Dempsey said. "In the footsteps of the generation before, they'll marshal the day with courage and with commitment to make a difference for each other and for people they've never even met."

Dempsey also recognized the communities and family members who provide critical foundations to those who wear the uniform.

"Behind every one of them are the pillars of strength at home: a parent, a spouse, a son, daughter, a community -- all doing their part to take care of America," he said.

Memorial Day 2013

You can watch a brief Defense Department video on the history of Memorial Day via the below link:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

FBI Investigates Crimes Against Children

In my view, there is no nothing more heinous than a crime against a child.

The FBI web page details their fight against crimes involving childen.

It’s nearly unthinkable, but every year thousands of children become victims of crime—whether it’s through kidnappings, violent attacks, or sexual abuse, or online predators.

You can read about the FBI's efforts via the below links:

Happy Birthday To Film Legend John Wayne

Happy Birthday to the one and only Duke. Actor John Wayne was born on this day in 1907.

John Wayne is one of my favorite actors. I love his westerns with director John Ford, such as The Searchers, Fort Apache and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. And I love John Wayne's war films with John Ford, such as They Were Expendable and The Wings of Eagles.

I also love The Alamo, which John Wayne directed as well as starred in, and I love The Shootist, John Wayne's last film.

Like many of his fans, I can watch John Wayne films over and over. He was a great actor and a great American.    

You can read about John Wayne and watch a video clip on his life via the below link:

Memorial Day Is A Time To Pause And Reflect

Roger Moore Admits That Sean Connery Was Better James Bond

Sir Roger Moore tells the Scottish newspaper the Herald that Scottish son Sir Sean Connery offered the better film portrayal of Ian Fleming iconic character James Bond. (Ian Fleming was also a Scot, although he was raised in London).

James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore has described Sir Sean Connery as "the best warm-up act in the business".
Sir Roger, 85, who stepped into the role made famous by Edinburgh's greatest son in 1971, also confirmed what every Scot already knows – that Sir Sean was the better Bond.    

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

Note: I agree that Connery was the better Bond, but perhaps if Moore had played Bond less for laughs and was a bit tougher - like he was in the TV series The Saint - he would rank a bit higher in the eyes of Fleming/Bond aficionados. Still, Sir Roger Moore is an amusing, likable, intelligent man. He is also a fine writer, having written Bond On Bond and other books about his life and his films and TV shows.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Remember Those Who Gave The Ultimate Sacrifice For Their Country This Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

Mission Acomplished?: Experts Contradict Obama On Islamic Terror Threat

Rowan Scarborough at the Washington Times offers a piece on the experts who disagree with President Obama's views on Islamic terrorism threats.

Terrorism analysts are rebutting President Obama’s assertion that the “scale of the threat” from Islamic terrorists has reverted to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels.

“This is a total fabrication,” said Steve Emerson, whose Investigative Project on Terrorism tracks radical Islam. “The ‘scale of this threat’ in the 1990s never closely resembled the terrorist attacks post 9/11. This is an outright lie.”

The Heritage Foundation has been cataloguing foiled terror attacks post-9/11 by Islamic groups. The number: 54. James Carafano, a military analyst at Heritage, said the 1990s’ numbers “were a fraction of that.”

Mr. Obama on Thursday delivered a speech at the National Defense University that came close to declaring victory over al Qaeda saying it is now operating franchise groups.

He also declared an end to the global campaign against terrorism, saying the U.S. would focus on individual cells.

“As we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11,” the president said.

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

Identity Of Double Agent Killed By MI6 in WWII Revealed: How Ian Fleming Helped Cover Up Secret That Stayed Buried For 70 years


Kerry McDermott at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece that reveals a secret from War World II.

Foreign Office files kept secret for more than 70 years have revealed details of how Mi6 kidnapped and killed a French double agent during World War Two - and ordered the creator of James Bond to help them cover it up.

In July 1941 British Intelligence learned that 'deeply trusted' Captain Pierre Lablache-Combier - a Royal Navy commander recruited by MI6 and posted to Spain - had divulged secrets to the Nazi-backed French Vichy government. 

James Bond writer Ian Fleming (seen in the above photo) - then a Naval Intelligence officer - issued an official report stating the officer was 'missing believed drowned'. In fact, the 'complete double-crosser' was killed as Secret Service operatives scrambled to smuggle him out of Spain.  

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

Crime And Scotland: Scotland's Master Of Crime Is Also Its Camus

As a crime aficionado and having lived in Scotland in 1974 and 1975 while stationed on a Navy tugboat at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland, I'm interested in what is called "Tartan noir.'

So I was interested in Allan Massie's piece on the author of Laidlaw that appeared in the British newspaper the Telegraph.

Crime and Scotland go together, fictionally at least. Set aside Alexander McCall Smith and J K Rowling, and the most-read Scottish novelists today are crime-writers. “Tartan noir” is the name of the game; Ian Rankin and Denise Mina are two of those who most successfully show us criminal activity permeating Scottish society. Most crime writers are prolific, a novel a year, or every 18 months, being normal. There is one notable exception, the man who is widely regarded as “the father of tartan noir”. This is William McIlvanney, and he has written only three crime novels, Laidlaw in 1978, followed by The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties.

If three novels seem a narrow base for such a reputation, we might remember that Raymond Chandler wrote only half a dozen. Now Canongate is bringing out new editions – first Laidlaw, and then the others in the autumn – while Ian Rankin, who has said that without McIlvanney he might not have turned to crime, will be interviewing him at the Harrogate Crime Fiction festival on July 20. It should be an interesting session.

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

Jay Leno On The Obama Administration Scandals

Jay Leno laid into the Obama scandals again on The Tonight Show.

Time magazine found a picture of President Obama at his high school prom back in 1979. Let me tell you how long ago that was. Back then, Obama had to ask a girl for her phone number. He couldn't illegally obtain it through the Justice Department. 

It is not looking good for President Obama. Today, his teleprompter took the Fifth. In fact, the White House has changed its slogan from "Yes, we can" to "No, I can't remember."

The latest scandal in Washington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service? 

A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Defendants Plead Guilty To Participating In Ambush Murder And Attempted Murder Of ICE Special Agents In Mexico

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

Julian Zapata Espinoza, also known as “Piolin,” 32, pleaded guilty today to the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila in Mexico. 

The court also unsealed today the guilty pleas of three other defendants on related murder, attempted murder, racketeering and accessory charges.

The guilty pleas, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr.; Assistant Director Ronald T. Hosko of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division; and ICE Director John Morton.
As set forth in court filings, on Feb. 15, 2011, Espinoza, a commander in Los Zetas Cartel, a heavily armed Mexican narco-trafficking cartel and transnational criminal organization, attempted to hijack Special Agent Zapata’s and Special Agent Avila’s armored government vehicle as the agents were driving on Highway 57 in San Luis Potosi. 

Two armed Zetas hit squads, or “estacas,” forced the agents off the road and surrounded their vehicle.  Espinoza, the leader of the attack, ordered the agents to exit their vehicle.  When the agents refused and attempted to identify themselves as American diplomats from the U.S. Embassy, the hit squad members fired weapons near and into the vehicle, striking both agents.  Estaca members continued to fire at the vehicle as the agents attempted to escape by driving away.  Special Agent Zapata died as a result of the gunshot wounds he suffered during the attack, and Special Agent Avila was seriously injured.

On April 19, 2011, Espinoza was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on multiple counts pertaining to the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Avila and, on Dec. 20, 2011, was extradited from Mexico to the United States.  This morning, the defendant entered a guilty plea before Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth to the murder of Special Agent Zapata, an officer and employee of the United States, and the attempted murder of Special Agent Avila, an officer and employee of the United States.

In addition to the announcing the guilty plea of Espinoza, prosecutors also announced related guilty pleas by three other defendants.  Ruben Dario Venegas Rivera, also known as “Catracho,” 25, pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2011, to federal charges concerning the murder of Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Avila.  Jose Ismael Nava Villagran, also known as “Cacho,” 30, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2012, also to federal charges concerning the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.  Francisco Carbajal Flores, also known as “Dalmata,” 38, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10, 2012, to conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.

As part of their guilty pleas, Espinoza, Rivera and Villagran admitted to being members of a Los Zetas hit squad and to participating directly in the Feb. 15, 2011, ambush of the two Special Agents.  The fourth defendant, Flores, acknowledged assisting Zetas members after the Feb. 15 attack.
  All four defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison.  No sentencing date has been set for the defendants.

“Special Agent Zapata died for his country in a senseless and brutal attack, and Special Agent Avila was grievously wounded in the same ambush by members of Los Zetas Cartel,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Both men are American heroes who dedicated themselves to protecting the United States, only to be attacked by vicious thugs.  I hope that today’s announcement of guilty pleas by the Cartel members directly responsible for the attack brings some measure of justice to the victims and their families.  A team of dedicated prosecutors and investigators has worked day and night to identify and hold these defendants accountable.  Our work is far from over, and we will continue to devote our full resources and work with our law enforcement partners here and abroad to investigate and prosecute those responsible.”

“The deadly ambush of two highly dedicated and courageous American law enforcement officers by the Los Zetas drug cartel demanded an intense, dedicated and forceful response,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “The message to any criminal who dares to commit an act of violence against a U.S. law enforcement officer serving in a foreign land is unmistakable - if you commit such a heinous crime, we will not forget, we will not falter, and we will not rest until you are brought to justice.  Our work in this critical case will continue until all of those who participated in the murder of Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Avila are held accountable.”

“With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, assailants responsible for murdering Agent Zapata and wounding Agent Avila have been brought to justice,” said FBI Assistant Director Hosko.  “While there is nothing we can do to change what happened that fateful day in Mexico, let it be known that an attack against any federal agent serving his or her country is an attack on all federal agents and as such remains a priority for the FBI until those responsible are brought to justice.”
“Today’s announcement is a very important milestone in the effort to see that justice is served in the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila,” said ICE Director Morton. “Both men were trying to make the world a safer place, and today’s result is a very welcome step to honor their service and sacrifice.”

This case is being investigated by the FBI, with substantial assistance from ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Customs and Border Protection, the Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime and Gang Section and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  The Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division provided substantial assistance.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Birthday To Arthur Conan Doyle, The Creator Of Sherlock Holmes

Happy Birthday to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who was born on this day in 1859.

You can read about Arthur Conan Doyle via the below link:

Most Heinous Crimes: Life Or Death In Kaboni Savage Murder-Racketeering Trail

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the Kaboni Savage federal trial in Philadelphia for

Death by lethal injection or life in a "concrete box."

That's what the future holds for Kaboni Savage, his lawyer told a federal jury today at the start of the capital punishment phase of Savage's racketeering-murder trial.

In a low-key, but pointed opening statement, the lawyer, William Purpura, asked the jury to choose the box -- the concrete prison cell where Savage will spend the rest of his life.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, on the other hand, asked the jury to sentence Savage, 38, to death for orchestrating a series of murders, including one of the "most heinous crimes" ever committed in the Philadelphia underworld, a firebombing in which six innocent people -- two women and four children -- were killed.

Capital punishment in federal cases, Troyer told the jury, is reserved for the most heinous crimes and the worst offenders.

"This is that case," the prosecutor said.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Hop-Frog': 'Game Of Thrones' Actor Peter Dinklage To Appear In Film Based On Edgar Allan Poe's Short Story

As May as been designated Short Story Month, it was good to read and discover that Game of Thrones standout actor Peter Dinkage will appear in a film based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story Hop-Frog.

Peter Dinklage, riding high on the global success of Game Of Thrones, has signed on to star in Hop Frog.

The film is based on the Edgar Allan Poe revenge story about a puppeteer who poses as a court jester to exact revenge on the knights who murdered his uncle and kidnapped the woman he loves.

Mark Palansky, who last directed Penelope, will direct from a screenplay by newcomer Brian Alan Carr.

“Hop Frog is beautiful and vicious,” said Dinklage. “It has haunted me ever since I read Poe’s original tale of revenge years ago. I can think of no other director than Mark Palansky to bring this new imagining of it vibrantly to life.”

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

You can read Poe's short story Hop-Frog online via the below link: 

You can also read an earlier post on Short Story Month via the below link:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Was The Arrest Of A CIA Officer In Moscow Meant To Conceal What The Russians Know About The Boston Marathon Bombing?

David Satter at the National Review offers a piece on the Russian takedown of a CIA spy.

The comic-opera arrest of an American CIA agent in Moscow this week is less of a joke than it seems. The timing, nature, and public character of the arrest all point to the possibility that the Russian authorities, far from being concerned about the arrest, are using it to conceal what they know about the Boston Marathon bombers.

The arrest of Ryan Fogle for supposedly trying to recruit an agent of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) who was working on the North Caucasus — and therefore might have been able to tell U.S. authorities more about the attack on American civilians than they have gained officially — has been the occasion for an enormous amount of ridicule of the American intelligence services in the Russian media.

A video of the arrest was shown on Russian television, and Russian officials took the almost unprecedented step of publicly naming the American CIA resident in Moscow. The head of U.S. and Soviet intelligence operations was not named publicly even during the Cold War.

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

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Philadelphia Sicko Gary Heidnik Inspired Role of Buffalo Bill In 'Silence Of The Lambs'

Mary Bovsun at the New York Daily News looks back at the Gary Heidnik case.

Among the most terrifying places in movie history is the pit from Silence of the Lambs, where serial killer Buffalo Bill imprisoned women before he murdered and skinned them.

Unbelievably horrific it may have seemed, but it was no figment of a writer’s imagination. The prison was drawn from life and a person whose crimes were front-page headlines shortly before Thomas Harris wrote the novel that would become the classic film.

On March 24, 1987, Philadelphia police received a cry for help from a drug-infested area of North Philadelphia that had been dubbed the O.K. Corral because of the frequency of street shootouts.
Josefina Rivera, a 25-year-old streetwalker, blurted out a nightmare tale of kidnapping, rape, murder and cannibalism.

She told them she had just escaped from Gary Heidnik, who had kept her captive in his home since about November. Three women, Rivera said, were still tied up in the basement. Two others, she said, had died, one starved, one electrocuted.

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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Armed Forces Day 2013

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has marked Armed Forces day by expressing gratitude to service members, military families, and veterans who keep this nation strong and safe.

Here is the text of his proclamation:

Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for all Americans to express their gratitude to service members, military families, and veterans who keep this nation strong and safe.  In 2013, we mark the twelfth consecutive Armed Forces Day with our nation at war – the longest period of sustained combat in our history, fought entirely by volunteers who made the courageous choice to answer the nation’s call. 

President Harry Truman, who proclaimed the nation’s first Armed Forces Day, once said:  “America was not built on fear.  America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

That courage, imagination, and determination comes from ordinary citizens like you who have stepped forward to do extraordinary things throughout our nation’s history.

To all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen: take pride – not only on Armed Forces Day but every day – in the uniform that you wear and the patriotic duty you perform.  You are striving to make a difference and leading purposeful lives.  You are part of a force that is admired and respected both at home and abroad.  Remember that there is no challenge that cannot be met through the shared determination of the world’s greatest military.

To the husbands, wives, sons, daughters and loved ones of our service members: Armed Forces Day is also a day to recognize the considerable sacrifices you make every day, and for this nation to reaffirm its commitments to you.  You too have made our nation stronger and safer.

To our nation’s veterans: thank you for the service you gave to this country and for the support that you give our men and women carrying on your legacy today.  As Americans take this Armed Forces Day to reflect on what the military has meant for this country, I hope they also find new ways to show their admiration and respect for all those in our military family.  Words of thanks and support will never be enough to repay the debt that this nation owes its patriots. 

An Audible Feast: The Ernest Hemingway Audiobook Library

Paul Hendrickson, the author of Hemingway's Boat, a good book on Hemingway's life, offers a review of Hemigway's audiobook library for the New York Times.

In a foreshortened life that didn’t make 62, Ernest Hemingway got a lot down on paper. If, by his middle and later years, enough of it seemed self-­parodying and sometimes even mawkish, great swaths of it remain immortal — and not just the early work, as some critics would claim. Hemingway changed the look and sound of American speech on the printed page. But how did he get so much work done, the stories, the novels, the nonfiction (not to mention the thousands of letters he wrote), amid all that wasteful boozing and boasting, the depressions, the freakish accidents, the bouts of soaring blood pressure, the stark-awake and Seconal-stoked nights?

And this is not even to dwell on all the time he devoted to indulging his passions for fishing and hunting. That is how we think of him when we squint and say his name: mythic life of action in the natural world. While that part of Hemingway is not untrue, it’s also the case that he was a far more tormented and sickly soul, both physically and emotionally, than we ever really guessed. In a way, he was a far more indoor soul as well. A man “wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it,” George Orwell wrote.
One answer to the riddle of how so many words were set down, in spite of everything, is that Hemingway kept struggling — I’d call it heroically — no matter where he was or what ailed him, to find his way to his writing table. The movable space could be on his fishing cruiser in the Gulf Stream, or in a hotel room in Spain while bombardments were going on outside the window, or under the mosquito netting of a sleeping tent in Africa.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:
You can also read an earlier post on Paul Hendrickson's Hemingway's Boat via the below link:

Frederick Forsyth's 'The Day Of The Jackal' - With Annotations

The British newspaper the Guardian offers Frederick Forsyth's personal annotations of his classic thriller, The Day of the Jackal.

‘I wrote this book in the first two months of 1970 and it was launched in June 1971. But it describes purported events in the summer of 1963, some fifty years ago. I had not read it since, until this winter at PEN’s request.

What strikes me immediately is the complete revolution in all our lives caused simply by technology. Some things do not change. A rifle is still a rifle, a bullet is still a bullet, and a human still a target for an assassin. And there are still assassins. But for the rest, it is all different now.

Three differences between then and now emerge from the pages and prove quite clearly that the Jackal operating in 2013 and not 1963, would be caught.'

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

North Philadelphia Drug Kingpin Kaboni Savage And Sister Kidada Convicted Of Arson Murders

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on May 13th:

PHILADELPHIA—A federal jury today found drug kingpin Kaboni Savage, 38, and his sister Kidada, 30, guilty of orchestrating the murders of a federal witness’ family and of conspiring to participate in a long-term, large-scale violent drug trafficking enterprise (RICO conspiracy).

The Savages’ co-defendants, Robert Merritt, 32, and Steven Northington, 41, were also convicted in the racketeering (RICO) conspiracy. Savage was convicted of 12 counts of murder in aid of racketeering. Kidada Savage was convicted of six counts of murder in aid of racketeering, all related to the firebombing murders of the Coleman family home on October 9, 2004.

Kaboni and Kidada Savage were also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, retaliating against a witness by murder, and of using fire to commit a felony (the Coleman murders).

Steven Northington was convicted of two counts of murder in aid of racketeering. Both he and Kaboni Savage are eligible for the death penalty. The penalty phase is scheduled to begin May 20, 2013.

Savage’s drug enterprise operated primarily in the North Philadelphia area from at least late 1997 to 2010. After Savage was indicted on drug charges in 2004, he ordered the murders of the family of government witness Eugene Coleman. Lamont Lewis, who has pleaded guilty, firebombed the Coleman family home on Savage’s orders which Kidada Savage relayed to Lewis.

In addition to the murders of the six people inside the Coleman home, Savage was convicted of:
  • the March 19, 1998 murder of Kenneth Lassiter, age 44, of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, near the corner of 8th and Butler Streets in Philadelphia;
  • the September 6, 2000 murder of Mansur “Shafiq” Abdullah, age 22, of 11th Street, Philadelphia. Abdullah was shot and his burned body was later recovered in the 4200 block of North Park Avenue in Philadelphia;
  • the September 13, 2001 murder of Carlton “Mohammed” Brown, age 27, of Darien Street, Philadelphia;
  • the February 26, 2003 murder of Barry Parker, age 32, of Susquehanna Avenue, Philadelphia, by Kaboni Savage and Steven Northington, in the 3900 block of North Franklin Street in Philadelphia;
  • the March 14, 2003 murder of Tyrone Toliver, age 26, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in the 3500 block of North Palmetto Street in Philadelphia;
  • the March 1, 2004 murder of Tybius Flowers, age 32, of K Street, by Kaboni Savage and Steven Northington, in the 3700 block of N. 8th Street in Philadelphia;
The RICO conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Kidada Savage faces a mandatory life term for the murder charges.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Maple Shade, New Jersey Police Department. The United States Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, and HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) also assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David E. Troyer and John M. Gallagher and Trial Attorney Steve Mellin of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Making Aviation History: Unmanned X-47B Launched Off Of U.S. Aircraft Carrier

The U.S. Navy announced that aviation history was made on May 14th when the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator (UCAS-D) made its first carrier-based catapult launch from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia.

You can read more about the launch, view photos and watch video clips via the below link:

Below are more photos of the X-47B launch:


Note: You can click on the photos to enlarge.