Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New FBI Director Confirmed by Senate

The FBI web site offers a piece on the new FBI director's Senate confrmation yesterday:

On July 29, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm James B. Comey, Jr. as the next FBI Director.

“Jim’s experience, judgment, and strong sense of duty will benefit the Bureau and the country as a whole,” said current Director Robert S. Mueller. “He is excited about the prospect of leading an agency of individuals who are united by a fierce desire to do something good for their country.”

In his early career, Comey worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and later became the managing assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Richmond Division in the Eastern District of Virginia. In 2002, he returned to the Southern District of New York as the U.S. attorney.

In 2003, Comey became deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ). As second in command, he ran the day-to-day operations of the department. In 2005, he left DOJ to become general counsel and senior vice president at Lockheed Martin. Five years later, he joined Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut-based investment fund, as its general counsel. Last year, he became the senior research scholar and Hertog Fellow on national security law at Columbia Law School.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Jim at the Department of Justice,” said Director Mueller. “He is a man of honesty, dedication, and integrity. These core values make him the right person for this job.”

Comey will periodically visit FBI Headquarters over the next few weeks to ensure a smooth and efficient transition on September 4, Director Mueller’s last day in office. 

You can read Comey's bio via the below link:

Note: The above FBI photo shows Comey at the Senate confirmation.

Guilty Of 19 Charges, Including Espionage, Army PVC Bradley Manning's Sentencing Phase Begins

Gary Sheftick at the Army News Service offers a piece on PFC Bradley Manning.

FORT MEADE, Md., July 31, 2013 - The sentencing phase begins here today in the court-martial trial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was found not guilty yesterday of the most serious charge he faced -- knowingly aiding the enemy -- but was convicted on 19 other specifications related to the misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of intelligence documents he sent to the WikiLeaks organization.

Manning faces a possibility of 136 years of confinement in the sentencing phase, said David Coombs, Manning's defense attorney, speaking outside the courtroom minutes after presiding judge Army Col. Denise Lind read the verdict.

Bradley and his defense team were emotional at the first "not guilty" count, Coombs said, but he added that there would be "no celebrating."

"We won the battle, per se, but the war is going to be tomorrow," Coombs said after yesterday's verdict. "Sentencing is what really matters at the end of the day."

Aiding the enemy held a maximum penalty of life in prison, so Coombs said beating that specification was encouraging to the defense. Manning also was found not guilty of a charge involving the alleged unauthorized release of a video.

Manning pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial to 10 counts involving the unauthorized release of intelligence information, and was found guilty in his trial of nine other specifications. These include bypassing security mechanisms, adding unauthorized software to the classified network and wrongfully storing classified information.

Army PFC Bradley Manning Convicted Of Espionage And Theft, Acquited Of Aiding The Enemy Charge - Verdict Signals A Stern Warning Against Leaks


Kristina Wong at the Washington Times offers a piece on the conviction of Army PFC Bradley Manning.

A military court Tuesday convicted Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of violating the Espionage Act for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, a verdict that legal analysts say likely will have a chilling effect on others considering revealing government secrets.

While Manning, 25, was acquitted of the most serious charge — aiding the enemy, which carried a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole — he still faces up to 136 years in prison when he is sentenced at Fort George G. Meade, Md. The sentencing hearing, which starts Wednesday, is expected to last most of August.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, did not reveal her reasoning in her ruling, but David Schanzer, a former Justice Department official, said the verdict makes clear that the leakers’ intent does not matter in prosecuting them for revealing state secrets.

“If you receive a security clearance, you don’t get the right to decide when, or when it’s not, OK to leak information. The reasons that you leak are irrelevant,” said Mr. Schanzer, associate professor and director of the Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University. “No individual employee, especially lower-level employees like Bradley Manning, has a really complete picture of what the national security interest is.” 

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cal Thomas On Jefferson And Ho Chi Minh


Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas offers his take on President Obama's comment that the late Communist leader of North Vietnam was influenced by Thomas Jefferson.

When it comes to Vietnam, I’m all for moving on, putting the past behind us, looking forward, letting bygones be bygones, but doing so requires honesty about the past, lest history be forgotten and the memory and honor tarnished of the 60,000 Americans who died in that war.
On his visit to Washington last week, President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam told President Obama the late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. In an ad in the Washington Post, President Sang even claimed Jefferson’s vision of liberty was the same as Ho’s.
Not exactly.
According to the U.S. State Department’s Vietnam 2012 Human Rights Report: “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam. … The most recent National Assembly elections, held in May 2011, were neither free nor fair. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police.”
Does that sound Jeffersonian? 
You can read the rest of the column via the below link:
You can also read an earlier post on Ho Chi Minh via the below link:

Howie Carr On The Whitey Bulger Trial: Gump-Like Testimony Says Run, Whitey, Run

Author and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr is covering the Whitey Bulger trial.

Whitey Bulger got a glimpse yesterday of what awaits him if he takes the witness stand in his own defense later this week.

His taxpayer-funded legal team called their first witness, Robert Fitzpatrick, an ex-FBI agent turned private eye turned author. And maybe it’s a good thing these federal trials aren’t on television, because you wouldn’t want an impressionable young child to watch what happened to the 73-year-old fed.

Not that Fitzie’s performance was exactly stellar when he was testifying for Bulger. He kept referring to him as an “informant,” which is exactly what King Rat claims not to be. But then prosecutor Brian Kelly got up for the cross-examination, and this was his first question:“Mr. Fitzpatrick, is it fair to say you’re a man who likes to make up stories?”

“I beg your pardon,” Fitzpatrick responded.Then Kelly asked him if it was “fair to say” that he claimed to have arrested Mafia underboss Jerry Angiulo way back when?Fitzpatrick: “I put the arrest on Angiulo.”Kelly: “That is a bold-faced lie.”It went downhill from there.

Not only did Fitzpatrick claim to have “arrested” Angiulo, he also found the rifle that killed Martin Luther King Jr. He’s a veritable federal Forrest Gump.

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Prosecution, Defense In U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning WikiLeaks Case Make Closing Arguments

David Vergun at the Army News Service offers the below piece:

FORT MEADE, Md., July 29, 2013 - Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's release of classified material did immeasurable harm to national security and put lives at risk, the prosecutor in the soldier's court-martial here said during his closing arguments July 25.

The next day though, Manning's defense attorney argued the accused was a young, naïve but well-intentioned soldier who wanted to make a difference for the better by bringing to light wrongs that were done during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Manning, now 25, was an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, working in a tactical-sensitive compartmented information facility, or T-SCIF, at Forward Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad. A SCIF is a restricted facility where secret materials are transmitted, collected and analyzed.

The prosecutor, Army Maj. Ashden Fein, stated that the facts clearly pointed to Manning's culpability, while the defense, led by David Coombs, argued that the prosecution's charges amounted to "diatribes not based in facts."

At the start of the trial on June 3, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 21 original charges regarding having leaked classified information to the WikiLeaks organization, which then made the documents accessible to the public on the Internet and through media outlets such as the New York Times, the United Kingdom-based The Guardian and the Germany-based Der Spiegel.

Even the term "media" was argued, with the prosecution saying the WikiLeaks organization was not a legitimate news outlet and the defense arguing that it was.

Despite Manning's guilty plea to 10 of the charges, prosecutors went forward with the other 11 charges against him. Those charges stated that he leaked secret documents that he clearly knew from his intelligence training to be harmful to the United States and would result in putting lives at risk.

The charges to which Manning pleaded guilty could result in a maximum possible prison sentence of 20 years. The most serious of the 11 other contested charges, "aiding the enemy," could result in a life sentence if the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, finds him guilty and gives him the maximum penalty. Even if she finds Manning guilty, his sentence will be reviewed by the Military District of Washington commander, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan.

Manning chose to have a trial by the judge alone, rather than a trial by a panel, which is the military's version of a jury.

Manning's rigorous and thorough training as an intelligence analyst instilled in him the importance significant activities, or SIGACTS, have on whether soldiers succeed in battle, fail or are killed, said Fein, the prosecutor.

Yet despite this knowledge, Manning downloaded some 470,000 SIGACTS from the SIPRNET to a memory card, which he later transferred to his home computer. Some 380,000 documents were from Iraq, and 90,000 were from Afghanistan.

The SIPRNET is the military's classified section of the Internet.

In addition to SIGACTS, Manning released Apache attack helicopter videos and thousands of State Department cables, Fein said. A SIGACT, he explained, could include anything from where an attack or improvised explosives device detonated to how an attack helicopter engages the enemy and numbers of casualties resulting from an ambush or IED.

He said commanders decide their main supply routes, plan their battles and base other tactical decisions on SIGACTS, which are even plotted on maps to provide a clear picture of where dangers, as well as where opportunities lie.

If the enemy gets these SIGACTS, they will have access to the Army's "playbook" and can then deduce the tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP, used and can devise effective countermeasures or adjust fires, Fein said.

A number of foreign governments would gladly pay millions of dollars to have this sort of information, Fein added.

Having released the information soon after deploying to Iraq, Manning "basked in the amount of press he was receiving" and even posed and smiled in a photo he had taken of himself, holding his memory card containing the data, Fein said.

He clearly was on an ego trip and knew the information he'd released would harm U.S. national security, Fein said, adding that Manning even wiped his machine seven times during a three-hour period to ensure his tracks were covered. Wiping a machine means deleting everything on it. Traces of information often remain so multiple wipes are preferred as a more effective scrub.

In short, Fein said, Manning "wanted to be hailed as famous" without regard for the lives of his fellow soldiers. "The flag meant nothing to him," he added.

Coombs, Manning's attorney, said Manning had access to the entire SIPRNET, which contains millions of documents, and that he probably could have downloaded and released the entire SIPRNET. Yet, he selectively chose to download and pass on only those secret documents that he felt would show how U.S. policy exploited third-world countries and harmed a lot of innocent lives, he said.

If Americans learned about what their government was doing, Manning truly believed they'd see the light and demand changes, Coombs said.

Coombs argued as well that classified documents were arbitrarily labeled "secret," and that most released by Manning could arguably be deemed appropriate for declassification by any reasonable person.

Far from being a traitor, Manning was acting in a way he thought was patriotic, Coombs said, citing recorded conversations Manning had with his friend Lauren McNamara, and with Adrian Lamo, the man who ultimately turned him in to the FBI.

Wiping his computer seven times was normal procedure, Coombs said, as the software often got corrupted and had to be reinstalled. Additionally, Manning continued to use his computer to gain classified materials for several months and never subsequently wiped it, the defense attorney said.

As to TTPs, playbook and SIGACTS, Coombs said those and other terms are "buzzwords" designed to cast aspersions on Manning. In fact, the enemy already was adjusting fires and adapting based on their own observations, and doing so effectively, he said.

Coombs said WikiLeaks was a legitimate news organization, having been recognized with journalistic awards, vetting its sources and publishing information that turned out to be highly accurate. The press, including WikiLeaks, has a responsibility to provide government oversight as part of its Constitutional 1st Amendment rights, he added.

The Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon's 1974 resignation never would have been brought to light had it not been for intrepid journalists, the defense attorney told the judge.

Coombs concluded that there is absolutely zero proof Manning ever even hinted that he was knowingly aiding the enemy. "He really did care what happened to people and hoped to spark a worldwide debate with discussions and reforms," he said.

In addition to the charge of "aiding the enemy," which carries a life sentence, the 20 other charges Manning faces could result in a combined maximum sentence of 154 years in prison. 

FBI National Sweep Recovers 105 Sexually Exploited Children

The FBI web site offers the below piece on "Operation Cross Country."

Operation Cross Country—a three-day nationwide enforcement action focusing on underage victims of prostitution—has concluded with the recovery of 105 sexually exploited children and the arrests of 150 pimps and other individuals.
The sweep took place in 76 cities and was carried out by the FBI in partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as part of the Bureau’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. It is the seventh and largest such enforcement action to date.

Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”

You can read the rest of the piece and view video clips via the below link: 

In The Age Of Terrorism, Curtailing NSA Is Madness

Betsy Woodruf at National Review offers a piece on Peter King's criticism of Republicans who supported curtailing the National Security Agency (NSA).

On CNN’s State of the Union this morning, Representative Peter King (R., N.Y.) wasn’t shy about criticizing his Republican colleagues. He told host Candy Crowley that he found it “absolutely disgraceful” that so many House Republicans voted last week to curtail the NSA’s surveillance powers. 

“This is an isolationist streak that’s in our party, it goes totally against the party of Eisenhower and Reagan, Bush,” he said. “I mean, we are a party of national defense. We are a party that did so much to protect the country over the last twelve years.”

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

Note: Unlike Senator Rand Paul, I think Edward Snowden is a little creep who has given our secrets to the Russians and the Chinese. He ought to be in jail. He would be, if President Obama had the courage to stand up to former KGB agent Vladimir Putin.

Snowden says he is concerned about U.S. government abuse and secrecy and talks about openness and freedom.And he then runs to the Communist Chinese and Russians.

Of course, both the Chinese and Russians are well known for openness and freedom, right? And the Chinese and Russians are not secretive and they don't abuse their citizens, right?

Snowden, like WikiLeaks leaker Army PVC Bradley Manning, is no hero in my view. They both are all about fame, politics and ego.

NSA, along with the rest of the intelligence community, law enforcement and the military, are responsible for thwarting most of the planned terrorism attacks since 9/11.

As a conservative, I'm against government interference in our lives, but we must have government agencies like NSA take security measures to protect us.

In my more than 37 years in the Navy and at the Defense Department, I worked with NSA, visited NSA headquarters, and over the years I received regular briefings and security training by NSA.

Although I'm suspicious of Obama's political appointees, I can attest that the military and civilian workers at NSA are dedicated, hard-working, law-abiding and patriotic.

NSA listens in to phone conversations and reads terrorists' email and also checks out the American citizens who contact them.

Don't want the NSA to read your email?

Then don't correspond with a terrorist in Afghanistan and don't use key security words that light up the NSA computers like "jihad," "death to Americans," "bombing," "shooting" and other fun words.

The NSA surveillance program should be given a once over by Congressional Committees, but to cut the NSA while we are at war with a regrouping al Qaeda is, like Peter King states, madness.  

The American public should be thankful we have them protecting us.        

You can also read a previous post on the NSA via the below link: 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

'Manson: The Life And Times Of Charles Manson' Draws Portrait Of Psychopath As A Young Man

Sherryl Connelly at the New York Daily News offers a look at a new book about Charles Manson.

In “Manson: The Life and Times of Charlie Manson,” former investigative journalist and author Jeff Guinn tells the story of one of the most notorious psychopaths of the 20th century with such quiet authority that Manson’s horrific acts seem even more chilling, if that’s possible.

Among other interviews Guinn was able to obtain exclusively, he spoke at length with Pat Krenwinkel, one of the four Manson Family members to carry out the slaughter of Sharon Tate and her friends that night in the mansion on Cielo Drive. The book goes on sale Aug. 6, two days before the 44th anniversary of the carnage.

Guinn draws a masterly portrait of the psychopath as a young man, “graduating” from reform school to prison then to parole when he flirted with the straight life by marrying waitress Rosalie Jean Willis in 1955.

She gave birth to his son, Charles Manson Jr., while he was back in prison on parole violation. Willis deserted him shortly afterward in 1957. Though there would be another marriage to a prostitute, it seems Manson’s growing evil was unchecked after that.

The book is most harrowing as Guinn details the prelude to slaughter as Manson, desperate for the money and fame he felt was his due, relocates with his slavish followers, the Family, to Los Angeles in 1967 trolling for the connection to bring his music, and his genius, to the world.

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

Note: Manson sounds interesting, but one should also read, or reread, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. This is a fasinating account of the arrest and prosecution of Manson.

A Little Night Music: Dianne Reeves' 'Better Days'

I've been listening to Dianne Reeves' spiritual song Better Days.

Beautiful lyrics, beautiful song.  

You can listen to the song via the below link:

Kim Philby, The Observer Connection And The Establishment World Of Spies

Robert McCrum looks back on the notorious British traitor and spy Kim Philby and the old boys club.

One of the darkest and most enthralling British espionage stories of the 20th century turns 50 this month, still resonant with sinister meaning. It was on 1 July 1963 that the British government finally admitted what it had known for some time: that Harold Adrian Russell Philby – "Kim" to friends and family – was not merely living in the Soviet Union as a defector and a Russian spy, but was actually the fabled "third man". Later this archetype of treachery would become known, in the words of his biographer, as "the spy who betrayed a generation".

Philby was perhaps the most lethal double agent in the annals of British espionage. As a member of the Cambridge Five spy ring and a secret servant of the Soviet intelligence services, Philby was responsible for the betrayal of countless national secrets as well as the brutal elimination of many British agents.

At the same time he was a member of the British establishment, with a distinguished literary father and friendships with prominent English literati, such as Graham Greene, as well as with high-flying US spooks such as James Angleton, later to become head of the CIA. If ever there was a member of the club – two, as it turned out – it was Kim Philby, OBE.

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

Note: James Angleton rose to become the head of Counterintelligence in the CIA, but he did not serve as the director. Also, although Ian Fleming was a young journalist for Reuters prior to World War II, he was working as a stockbroker when he was recruited to serve in British naval intelligence. He was not, like Graham Greene, a "prominent English literati."    

National Geographic Channel Tackles The American Mob

William Bender at the Philadelphia Daily News offers a piece on tonight's National Geographic special Inside the American Mob.

Sure, the South Philly mob ain't what it used to be, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still stories to be told about La Cosa Nostra.

And National Geographic has got the goods. Six hours' worth. "Inside the American Mob," a six-part series, premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.

"It's the small, personal stories on both sides of the coin, from the Mafia and the prosecutors that chased them," said Michael Welsh, the series' executive producer. "You're getting multiple points of view on the same events over the course of the mob history."

The series kicks off with two hourlong episodes covering the 1970s in New York City and the new generation of Italian-American agents that entered the FBI, including Joe Pistone, a/k/a Donnie Brasco.
Philadelphia mob watchers will want to tune in at 10 p.m. Aug. 4 for the episode on the New York-Philly war, which will cover Atlantic City and the Angelo Bruno assassination. Philip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti, the reformed hit man and nephew of ex-boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, is a major interview in that episode.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my interview with former Philadelphia underboss Philip Leonetti, via the below link:

And you can also read my Crime Beat column on former FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone via the below link:

Note: The above photo of former Philadelphia mob boss Nicky Scarfo was provided by Philip Leonetti, the former underboss of the Philly mob. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Military Judge Deliberates Army PVC Bradley Manning's WikiLeaks Trial

David Dishneau at the Associated Press offers a piece on Army PVC Bradley Manning's trial.

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - A military judge is deliberating the fate of an Army private accused of aiding the enemy by engineering a high-volume leak of U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors argue that Pfc. Bradley Manning is a glory-seeking traitor. His lawyers say Manning is a naive whistleblower who was horrified by wartime atrocities but didn't know that the material he leaked would end up in the hands of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

Army Col. Denise Lind began deliberating Friday after nearly two months of conflicting evidence and arguments about the 25-year-old intelligence analyst. A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning's request.

Lind said she will give a day's public notice before reconvening the court-martial to announce her findings. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence in prison.

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

Uh Ho: Obama Says Vietnamese Dictator Inspired By American Founding Fathers

It was an insult to American Viet Nam War veterans, American-Vietnamese who fled Communist Viet Nam and those who wish for freedom under the Communist gun still living in Viet Nam, when President Obama noted that Communist dictator Ho Chi Minh was inspired by Thomas Jefferson.

We've heard this nonsense before - but never from a serving U.S. president - along with the silly idea that a hard-core Communist allied with Communist China and the Soviet Union might have actually become an American ally had only we reached out to him during the 1950s.

Chris Stirewalt at offers a piece on Obama's silly and false words.

“...we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.”

-- President Obama talking to reporters alongside Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.

It may come as some unwelcome news to the families of the nearly 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding.

That was the impression President Obama gave on Thursday when he spoke to the press after his meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. Sang brought Obama a copy of a letter sent to President Harry Truman from Ho Chi Minh in which the communist dictator spoke hopefully of cooperation with the United States.

Obama, striking a wistful tone, observed that it may have taken 67 years, but the United States and Vietnam were finally enjoying the relationship that Ho once wrote of. After all, Obama said, Ho had been “inspired by the words of Thomas Jefferson.”

The message here was that if only we might have bridged our differences then – if only Ho and Truman could have done what Obama and Sang did this week, so much unpleasantness might have been avoided.

While Jefferson did get pretty fired up about “the blood of tyrants,” it’s hard to see how the Sage of Monticello inspired the murderous career of the Vietnamese dictator. Ho famously slaughtered his opponents, including the infamous butchery of peasant farmers who resisted his brutal taxation in the early days of Ho’s regime. Not particularly Jeffersonian.

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

U.S. Defense Department Honors Korean War Veterans, Those Still Serving In The Republic

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

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Navy Adm. James Winnefeld remembered the Korean War as the first time the world united under the banner of the United Nations to stand up to aggression and support the rule of law.

The men spoke today at the ceremony here marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice ending active combat on the Korean peninsula.

More than 1.7 million Americans served in Korea during the 1950-1953 war. A total of 36,574 Americans were killed.

"We stood with our fellow citizens of the world, even though they lived on the other side of it," Hagel said during the ceremony. "And we did not do it alone."

Today, one of America's closest allies is the Republic of Korea. All told, 22 countries fought aggression under the banner of the United Nations.

"The Korean War teaches us an important lesson – that alliances and international institutions are extensions of our influence, not constraints on our power," Hagel said. "And they are critical to our long-term vision of peace and stability, especially in the Asia-Pacific."

The American, Korean and allied sacrifices were not in vain. The war in Korea began an unprecedented era of growth, security and prosperity in Asia, and that was made possible by America's leadership, Hagel said.

"To sustain this security and prosperity in the 21st century, the United States is strengthening its economic, diplomatic, cultural, and security ties with countries throughout Asia," Hagel said.

But the bedrock alliance remains Korea. The United States still maintains 28,500 U.S. service members in South Korea. "Just as veterans of the Korean War held the line from Pusan to Panmunjom, so too do these current-day defenders stand ready to help guard freedom – and to promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout East Asia," the secretary said.

Winnefeld said the anniversary honors the legacy of the millions of American service members who served in the Korean War.

"For many of us it's personal – a parent, a brother, a relative, a friend who served far from our shores," the admiral said. "And I'm no exception – my own father, as a young Navy ensign, served with honor alongside the more than 36,000 heroic Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion to this war."

The sacrifice of those Americans cemented the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, and serves as an inspiration to the newest generation to defend the peninsula. All allied forces in South Korea know the motto Katchi Kapshida, or "We Go Together," Winnefeld said. "For them, for every warrior who served before them, and for those who are serving today in harm's way, we will always remember," he said.

A Little Night Music: Tom Grant's 'Language Of Our Our'

Tom Grant's Language of Our Own is a nice piece I've been listening to on the smooth jazz station.

The piece appears on Tom Grant's Delicioso.

You can listen to the song via the below link: 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Michael Connelly's Novel Approach To Crime In LA

Los Angeles magazine offers an interview with crime writer Michael Connelly.

When I first started writing him, I was a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, and I made it my business to visit one police station a day. So I was seeing a high number of detectives as I was formulating this character. I would say about half of them rubbed off on me.

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

You can also read my interview with Michael Connelly from a few years back via the below link:

And you can read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Michael Connelly's Nine Dragons via the below link:   

Cruise Lines Agree To Report More Crime Statistics reports on cruise ship crimes.
The three largest cruise lines, Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, have pledged to voluntarily publish more data about crimes on their cruises.

This comes as a Senate committee report, released Wednesday, showed that hundreds of alleged crimes on cruise ships in the past two years have been have not been publicly reported.

According to the report, of the 959 incidents reported to the FBI by cruise companies since 2011, only 31 alleged crimes have been disclosed publicly on a website maintained by the Coast Guard.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said it was troubling and called for stricter reporting guidelines for alleged criminal incidents that occur on cruise ships.
"Consumers have no way to find out what their real risks are before they book a cruise," he told the committee and witnesses, which included executives from Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International.
You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

Note: The above photo is of the Explorer of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that I, my wife and my friends sailed on to Bermuda last year. Thankfully, it was a crime-free cruise.    

Thursday, July 25, 2013

United Nations Organization Honors Communist Guerrilla Leader Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon offers a piece on the United Nations honoring Communist guerrilla leader and leftist cultural icon Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.

The United Nations’ cultural body is facing a backlash after it decided to honor the “life and works” of the Marxist Argentinian militant Che Guevara, a controversial figure long viewed as a hero of the left.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced earlier this week that it would include Guevara’s “life and works” in its 2013 “Memory of the World Register," which codifies historical material that has a “world significance and outstanding universal value.”

Guevara’s works were submitted to the register by Bolivia and Cuba in 2012. They were accepted earlier this week and endorsed by the director-general of UNESCO.

The announcement sparked an outcry from Cuban-American members of Congress and former U.S. officials who said the United Nations is sullying its reputation by honoring a revolutionary figure who murdered many innocent civilians.

“This cretin described himself as a ‘killing machine,’ and he worked in the service of a totalitarian regime,” Roger Noriega, a former State Department official and U.S. ambassador to the Organization for American States, told the Washington Free Beacon.  

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

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

'Inside The American Mob': Familiar Story, Endlessly Fascinating

David Hiltbrand at the Philadelphia Inquirer reviews the upcoming National Geographic Channel's new series on American organized crime.

A gritty six-part series, Inside the American Mob chronicles the decline and fall of the Mafia from its apex of power and influence in the '70s to its virtual dismantlement two decades later.

As the rub-out begins (with back-to-back episodes), the New York-based Five Families - Gambino, Colombo, Genovese, Lucchese and Bonanno - have a vise-grip on their far-flung criminal enterprises.

They use an organizational template devised by Mob architect Lucky Luciano back in 1931. A strict tradition of ethnicity (all "made men" must be 100 percent Italian) and vicious intimidation has kept them impermeable to infiltration by law enforcement agents.

Inside the American Mob, which debuts 9 p.m. Sunday on National Geographic Channel, maintains that a variety of factors altered the blood-soaked playing field in the '70s, beginning with a generational shift on both sides of the fence.

... The Inquirer's veteran crime reporter George Anastasia assumes a primary presence in next week's episode, "New York-Philly War," detailing the reign of terror that subsumed the Philadelphia Mafia after the seismic assassination of the city's "Docile Don," Angelo Bruno, in 1980.

With rival factions eager to claim the corrupt boomtown that was Atlantic City, Nicodemo Scarfo ascended to Boss, unleashing a brutal string of murders (18 in four years). Scarfo's rule was so ruthless that two of his closest associates, including his nephew Crazy Phil Leonetti, flipped, becoming extremely productive witnesses for the government.

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

'Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming' Out On DVD

With a new film based on thriller writer Ian Fleming in the works, Lee Pfeiffer at looks back on an earlier TV movie about James Bond's creator..
What do you do when you want to make a James  Bond movie but lack the legal rights to do so as well as the budget and the current leading man?
Simple. Just turn the life of 007's literary creator, Ian Fleming, into a pseudo Bond story, dispense with most of the facts, add some opulent locations and then cast the son of Sean Connery in the lead role. Shake (but don't stir!) and - presto!- you have Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, a 1990 TV movie made by Turner.
The Warner Archive has recently released this 1990 title as a burn to order DVD (it had previously only been available on VHS). The screenplay should have included a disclaimer explaining that most of the occurrences in the story are the stuff of pure fiction.
As it stands, the millions of people who have seen this comic book version of Fleming's life probably believe he was an action hero in the mold of 007.
There is do doubt that Fleming led a colorful and exotic life that included world travel, interaction with larger-than-life people and bedding numerous women of high pedigree. There is also no doubt that the creation of James Bond and the supporting characters in his novels was based on elements of various individuals Fleming knew over a period of decades. However, all of this is boiled down to the most simplistic formulas in this film which is otherwise competently directed by Ferdinand Fairfax.  
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: I thought 1989's Goldeneye: The Secret Life Of Ian Fleming, starring Charles Dance, was a much more historically accurate and better film. I hope this film soon comes out on DVD as well.

Howie Carr: Stevie Flemmi, Whitey Bulger's Former Partner In Crime, Takes Bubba Cue

Author and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr is covering the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston.

Stevie Flemmi, meet Bill Clinton.Turns out, the cold-blooded serial killer claims he never had “intercourse” with his common-law stepdaughter before his partner Whitey Bulger strangled her to death at the age of 26.

“She was a very fragile woman,” Flemmi said, wistfully, almost as tenderly as he’d earlier described Whitey’s double-edged knife, and the gang’s old grease gun that the cops found in Whitey’s Santa Monica lair.

But now it was the cross-examination, and Flemmi admitted, yet again, to having oral sex with Deborah Hussey. Bill Clinton claimed that wasn’t real sex. He read it in the Bible, he claimed. Apparently so did “The Rifleman.”

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

Note: Howie Carr wrote Rifleman: The Untold Story of Stevie Flemmi, Whitey Bulger's Partner.

Down Philly's Mean Streets: One Dead In Philadelphia Shooting Involving Murder and Robbery Suspects, the FBI and The Philadelphia Police

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday on the shooting in Philadelphia that involved murder and robbery suspects, the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department.

The men were apparently related, but they shared more than a family tie.

Police said they were a tag-team of crime and violence, responsible for murder and robberies across the city. And they had vowed to resist arrest.

As officers and FBI agents swarmed their East Mount Airy hangout early Monday afternoon, the suspects stormed from a back door with weapons drawn, police said. The ensuing gunfight near Musgrave Street seemed to last 10 minutes, a neighbor said.

When it ended, 21-year-old Tevin Hammond was dead and 19-year-old Justin Mackie was severely wounded.

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Elmore Leonard Remembers Actor Dennis Farina, Crook In 'Get Shorty'


Kurt Anthony King at the Oakland Press offers a piece on crime novelist Elmore Leonard's thoughts on actor and former Chicago police officer Dennis Farina, who passed away at age 69.

Dennis Farina, a former policeman who had a long career playing tough guys in movies and on TV, was a natural for the casts of two films based on Elmore Leonard’s novels.

New York Times best-selling author Elmore “Dutch” Leonard, who lives in Bloomfield Hills, remembered Farina as “easygoing.”

Farina performed in 1995’s “Get Shorty,” starring John Travolta, and 1998’s “Out of Sight,” with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. Both big-budget films were adapted from Leonard’s popular crime novels.

... “I thought he was great,” said the novelist. “He had this way about him that I recognized instantly from police, since he was a cop himself."

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

Flemmi: Whitey Bulger Was A Pedophile

Laurel J. Sweet is covering the Whitey Bulger trial for the Boston Herald.

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi accused former Winter Hill Gang partner James “Whitey” Bulger of being a pedophile this morning on his third day of testimony, charging his fellow aging mobster once spirited a 16-year-old girl away to Mexico.

“You want to talk about pedophilia, right over there at that table,” Flemmi, 79, angrily gestured at Bulger, 83, from the witness stand as the accused killer of 19 shot him a cold glare.

Flemmi’s frustrated outburst came as Bulger’s defense attorney Hank Brennan hammered Flemmi for a second day about his sexual relationship with and subsequent murder of his common-law stepdaughter Deborah Hussey.

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

Note: You can read more about Flemmi and Bulger in Howie Carr's book Rifleman: The Untold Story of Stevie Felmmi, Whitey Bulger's partner.

Raymond Chandler: Master Crime Writer

On Raymond Chandler's birthday, Jake Kerridge at the British newspaper the Telegraph looks back at the late great crime writer.

When Raymond Chandler began to write for pulp magazines in the Thirties, he planned from the first to smuggle something like literature into them.

Most of these magazines hooked their readers with a mixture of sex and violence – “they have juxtaposed the steely automatic and the frilly panty and found that it pays off”, wrote SJ Perelman. But Chandler wanted to do more than titillate: he had designs on his audience’s subconscious. He planned to sneak into his stories a quality which readers “would not shy off from, perhaps not even know was there … but which would somehow distil through their minds and leave an afterglow”.

When he embarked on full-length novels he was still essentially writing pulp stories with a subversive twist. His hero, Philip Marlowe, may have been as tough as any other Shamus, Dick or Peeper who appeared in Black Mask magazine, but he was also a sensitive soul, the kind of man who would knock out a thug with ease and then start musing about why the guy turned crooked and whether he had a wife and kids. And he was even known to refuse sex: “It’s great stuff, like chocolate sundaes. But there comes a time when you would rather cut your throat.”

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

Note: To learn more about Raymond Chandler, I recommend Tom Hiney's Raymond Chandler: A Biography.

Happy Birthday To Raymond Chandler

Happy birthday to the late great crime novelist Raymond Chandler.

As notes, Chandler was born on this day in 1888 in Chicago, Illinois.

Raymond Chandler went on to become a highly successful and influential crime novelist known for such works as The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely and The Long Goodbye, all of which were made into films. Chandler was also a Hollywood screenwriter, receiving Academy Award nominations for his work on Double Indemnity and The Blue Dahlia. He died in La Jolla, California, on March 26, 1959.

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

And you can read my column on Raymond Chandler's influence on crime novels and crime films via the below link:

Real Life 'Sopranos' Exposed In Mike Russell's New Book 'Undercover Cop'

Sherryl Connelly at the New Daily News offers a piece on Mike Russell, the undercover police officer who has written a new book.

Mike Russell has quite a story to tell in “Undercover Cop: How I Brought Down the Real-Life Sopranos.” The former New Jersey state trooper unleashed hell on the mob in the form of 200 cops who took down 45 wiseguys on Sept. 26, 1986.

They all pleaded guilty.

Along the way he took a bullet to the head, passed on info about a plan to whack Rudy Giuliani and had to strip down to his underwear in front of a gang of riled mobsters.

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Actor And Former Police Officer Dennis Farina Dies at 69

Dennis Farina, the former Chicago police officer who became an actor, has died. He was 69.

Farina appeared as a detective in the TV series Law & Order and Crime Story and he portrayed crooks in the films Thief, Get Shorty and Midnight Run.

You can read more about Farino at via the below below link:   

Krauthammer: Justice Defined By The Zimmerman Verdict


Charles Krauthammer writes about the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict in his latest column in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"No justice, no peace" chants the telegenic mob. In a civilized society, however, where the mob doesn't rule, justice is defined by the verdict that follows a fair trial. It's the best that humans can do.

And in the case of George Zimmerman, we have a verdict. It followed a trial, every minute of which was seen by the world. Nothing secret, nothing hidden. Where in the trial was there racial bias? What evidence of the case being tilted toward the defendant because the victim was black? What sign of any racial animus in the jury?

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Little Night Music: Laura Nyro's 'Eli and the Thirteenth Confession'

I came across an album from the talented songwriter and singer Laura Nyro on

Laura Nyro is better known for her songs being performed by others, such as the 5th Dimension and Blood, Sweat & Tears, but I was fond of this album back in the 1968.

You can listen to the full album via the below link:

You can also listen to Laura Nyro belt out He's a Runner on TV via the below link:

And you can hear her sing And When I Die  via the below link:   

Lastly, you can watch Sara Bareilles perform Laura Nyro's Stoney End at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame via the below link:

Charges Filed In Federal Court Against Mokhtar Belmokhtar For His Role In Terror Attack In Algeria And Other Crimes

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on July 19th:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; John Carlin, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Raymond W. Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (NYPD), today announced the filing of charges against Mokhtar Belmokhtar for, among other things, his alleged participation in the January 2013 terrorist attack on a Western-owned gas processing facility near In Amenas, Algeria, that killed three Americans and scores of Algerian and foreign nationals. Belmokhtar is charged in an eight-count criminal amended complaint with various offenses, including conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), hostage-taking conspiracy, kidnapping of internationally protected persons, and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Belmokhtar remains at large.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, Mokhtar Belmokhtar unleashed a reign of terror years ago, in furtherance of his self-proclaimed goal of waging bloody jihad against the West. His efforts culminated in a five-day siege that left dozens dead, including three Americans, and hundreds of others fearing for their lives, as the amended complaint describes. For the victims, their families, and their friends, who hail from all over the world, five days must have seemed like an eternity. Belmokhtar brought terror and blood to these innocent people, and now we intend to bring Belmokhtar to justice, as charged.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said, “The charges announced today underscore the department’s commitment to bring to justice those responsible for attacks on Americans and American interests, no matter where they occur. I want to thank all of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who helped bring about today’s result.”

FBI Assistant Director inCharge George Venizelos said, “The charges against Mokhtar Belmokhtar describe a fanatical jihadist leading an extremist vanguard of an extremist ideology. As alleged, he kidnapped diplomats, formed his own terrorist organization that pledged fealty to al Qaeda, and masterminded the murderous siege of a civilian plant in Algeria that resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages, including three Americans. Belmokhtar, in furtherance of his ‘cause,’ has shown a commitment to kidnapping and murdering Western diplomats and other civilians. The cause of justice will be served by his apprehension and prosecution.”

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, “The attack in Algeria underscores the fact that American lives remain at risk from al Qaeda and its affiliates. The NYPD remains committed to the interdiction of terrorists here and abroad and to the prevention of another terrorist attack in New York City.”

A complaint against Belmokhtar initially was filed under seal in Manhattan federal court, on February 26, 2013. As alleged in the amended complaint:

Belmokhtar was designated as a foreign terrorist by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2003. As a key leader of al Qaeda’s efforts in North Africa, from 2008 through early 2013, Belmokhtar has orchestrated terror attacks involving the kidnapping and murder of numerous individuals. In support of al Qaeda, Belmokhtar has operated under the auspices of two groups: AQIM and the Al-Mulathamin Brigade and its recently formed battalion, “The Signers in Blood” (the “Battalion”).

In December 2008, Belmokhtar, and others acting at his direction, kidnapped two Western diplomats working in Niger as part of a United Nations mission. The victims were held for approximately four months and then released in Mali.

In early December 2012, Belmokhtar issued a video-taped statement in which he announced the formation of “The Signers in Blood” Battalion, identified the “emir” of the group as Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, and called for fighting in Algeria and elsewhere to oppose Western influence. Several weeks later, Belmokhtar issued another video-taped statement in which he confirmed that the Battalion was “in [the] al Qaeda organization.”

On January 16, 2013, terrorists who were part of Belmokhtar’s Battalion attacked a Western-owned gas processing facility in Algeria, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The terrorists took numerous workers inside the facility hostage by force, including Algerian nationals and citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, Colombia, Romania, and other nations, while other workers fled or hid inside the facility. The terrorists attached explosives to some of the hostages, wound detonation cord around their necks, and threatened to kill them. During the siege of the facility, numerous hostages, including three U.S. citizens, were killed.
On January 21, 2013, approximately one day after the siege ended, Belmokhtar appeared in an online video in which he claimed responsibility for the Battalion’s attack on the facility, on behalf of al Qaeda.

Three of the hostage-takers involved in the siege were arrested and detained by foreign authorities and later separately interviewed by U.S. law enforcement officers. The hostage-takers each acknowledged their membership in an al Qaeda group, of which Belmokhtar was the “emir,” and further stated that they had received military training in another country prior to traveling to Algeria to conduct the attack in the name of al Qaeda.
* * *
The amended complaint charges Belmokhtar in eight counts:
  • Count one charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda and AQIM and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison;
  • Count two charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to take hostages and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison or death;
  • Count three charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to discharge a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison;
  • Count four charges Belmokhtar with discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison or death;
  • Count five charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to use and carry an explosive during the commission of a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison;
  • Count six charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to kidnap internationally protected persons and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison;
  • Count seven charges Belmokhtar with kidnapping of internationally protected persons and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison; and
  • Count eight charges Belmokhtar with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The investigation of Belmokhtar was the result of the close cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the New York-based Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI, which is composed of FBI agents and members of the NYPD. Mr. Bharara thanked the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the FBI’s International Operations Division, and the U.S. Department of State for their assistance, as well as the international law enforcement partners involved in this investigation.

The United States Department of State, through the Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the location of Belmokhtar. The Rewards for Justice website has further details:

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glen Kopp, Anna Skotko and Shane Stansbury are in charge of the prosecutions, with assistance from Trial Attorney Stephen Ponticiello of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The charges contained in the amended complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Note: The above photo of Belmokhtar was released by the FBI.

Happy Birthday To Ernest Hemingway

Happy birthday to the late great writer Ernest Hemingway. notes that Hemingway was born on July July 21, 1899, in Cicero (now in Oak Park), Illinois.

Ernest Hemingway served in World War I and worked in journalism before publishing his story collection In Our Time. He was renowned for novels like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, which won the 1953 Pulitzer. In 1954, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize. He committed suicide on July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho.

You can read the rest of the piece about Hemingway's life and work and watch a bio clip via the below link:

Hemingway is one of my favorite writers and you can read my column about Hemingway and crime via the below link:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

His American Characters Are Cartoons: James Srodes On John le Carre's 'A Delicate Truth

James Srodes reviewed John le Carre's A Delicate Truth for the Washington Times.

I confess to being a fan of John le Carre, both for his skill at storytelling and for the razor-sharp characters he creates. Laser portraits of even secondary characters make the reader believe he actually knows people like that.

I also like and admire David Cornwell, the man behind the nom de plume. Unlike many writers of crime and espionage literature, Mr. Cornwell has walked the walk. He worked for both Britain’s MI-5 (domestic counter-intelligence) and MI-6 (foreign intelligence) cracking safes, tapping telephones, running agents and other covert ops. Indeed, he was so employed when he wrote his first two books, “Call for the Dead” (1961) and “A Murder of Quality” (1962), both of them worth a read, by the way.

... The one flaw is one that is common to all of Mr. le Carre’s books. David Cornwell positively despises Americans and particularly those connected with the U.S. intelligence services. His indictment at base is one shared by many Britons of the left and is fueled in part by the newspapers they read (the Guardian) and it lies mainly in the undeniable fact that we are definitely not British. Not only are we far too polyethnic but we just refuse to order our society along proper British lines.

The result is that while Mr. Cornwell is unsurpassed in drawing acute portraits of his own national characters, his Americans are cartoons. One of the main villains in the story here is a wealthy woman who bankrolls Ethical Outcomes. She is a Texan (of course), coarse and bumptious (what else?), a Tea Party loony (sigh) and, most damning of all, a born-again Christian. His treatment of U.S. spy services is equally cliche-ridden.

I am sure Mr. Cornwell despises Americans because he told me so. Once, back in the early 1980s, I was introduced to him in a smoky Fleet Street pub frequented by journalists by an Australian newsman who had served as one of Mr. le Carre’s stock characters in several books. While he was cordial enough to me at the start, as the night wore on he became ever more bitter about America and its clumsy, self-indulgent national character which had given the world the Vietnam War, race riots, Richard Nixon and a host of other plagues.

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

You can also read my column Spy Writer Vs. Spy Writer about John le Carre and Ian Fleming via the below link: 

Six Colombian Nationals Charged With Murder Of DEA Agent

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on July 18th:

Six Colombian nationals were indicted today by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent James Terry Watson.

“Special Agent Watson was a brave public servant who dedicated his life to protecting the country he loved.  He was a hero, in every sense of the word, who was taken from us far too suddenly and far too soon," said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “With today's arrests, we take an important step towards ensuring that those allegedly responsible for his senseless murder are brought to justice.  We also send an unmistakable message to all who commit acts of violence against America's law enforcement professionals:  no matter who you are or where you live, we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 38; Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 27; Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 26; Hector Leonardo Lopez, 23; Julio Estiven Gracia Ramierez, 30; and Andrés Alvaro Oviedo-Garcia, 21, were each charged with two counts of second degree murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap.  Oviedo-Garcia was also charged with two counts of assault.
Additionally, the grand jury indicted Wilson Daniel Peralta-Bocachica, 30, also a Colombian national, for his alleged efforts to destroy evidence associated with the murder of Special Agent Watson.

According to the indictment, Figueroa, Valdes, Bello, Lopez, Gracia and Oviedo-Garcia were part of a kidnapping and robbery conspiracy that utilized taxi cabs in Bogota, Colombia, to lure victims into a position where they could be attacked and robbed.  Once an intended victim entered a taxi cab, the driver of the taxi cab would signal other conspirators to commence the robbery and kidnapping operation.

The indictment alleges that on June 20, 2013, while he was working for the U.S. Mission in Colombia, Special Agent Watson entered a taxi cab operated by one of the defendants.  Special Agent Watson was then allegedly attacked by two other defendants – one who stunned Special Agent Watson with a stun gun and another who stabbed Special Agent Watson with a knife, resulting in his death.

The charges were announced by Attorney General Holder; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Derek S. Maltz of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division; and Director Gregory B. Starr of the Diplomatic Security Service for the U.S. Department of State.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, DEA and Diplomatic Security Service, in close cooperation with Colombian authorities, and with assistance from INTERPOL and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Counsel Stacey Luck and Trial Attorney Christine Duey from the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.  The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, Colombian National Police, Colombian Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), DIJIN Special Investigative Unit, Bogota Metropolitan Police and Colombian Technical Investigation Team for their extraordinary efforts, support and professionalism in responding to this incident.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Massachusetts Man Charged With Selling Counterfeit Semiconductors Intended For Use On Nuclear Submarines

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on July 15th:

Peter Picone, 40, of Methuen, Mass., has been charged with importing counterfeit semiconductors from China for sale in the United States.

The charges were announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly; Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston; Acting Special Agent in Charge of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Northeast Field Office Craig W. Rupert; and Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Northeast Field Office Cheryl A. DiPrizio.  

The eight-count indictment charges Picone with conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, conspiring to traffic in counterfeit military goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering.  The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in New Haven on June 25, 2013, and was unsealed today.

The indictment charges that from February 2007 through April 2012, Picone, through two companies he owned and operated, Tytronix Inc. and Epic International Electronics, purchased counterfeit semiconductors from sources in Hong Kong and China.  According to the indictment, Picone made false representations about the semiconductors and sold them to customers throughout the United States, including companies believed by Picone to be defense contractors in Connecticut and Florida.  Certain semiconductors sold by Picone were intended for use on nuclear submarines.

“By allegedly purchasing and reselling counterfeit semiconductors for military applications, Peter Picone put personal gain above the safety and well-being of dedicated U.S. servicemen and women,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “As charged in the indictment, Picone went to great lengths to conceal the true origin of counterfeit semiconductors in order to sell the devices as seemingly legitimate and reliable components for use in nuclear submarines and other complex machinery.  The charges unsealed today demonstrate our steadfast commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to prosecute counterfeiters and others who risk the security of the men and women of the U.S. military.”

“Counterfeit semiconductors pose a serious health and safety risk to consumers and end-users, and an even greater threat to the safety of the men and women of our armed services when they are sold for use in the military,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daly.  “We will prosecute these types of cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Today’s charges demonstrate the continued commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our peer agencies to protect the Department of Defense’s supply chain from being infiltrated and compromised with inferior components,” said DCIS Northeast Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Rupert.  “Safeguarding our warfighters and ensuring their equipment functions at the absolute highest levels is vital to our nation’s defense and readiness.  Detecting and dismantling the operations of suppliers who choose to make a profit by supplying counterfeit or inferior products is a DCIS priority.  I applaud the agents and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about this result.”

“Trafficking in counterfeit sensitive technologies is an extremely dangerous practice on several fronts. Not only are there significant risks associated with the transportation of this faulty equipment, but our own American servicemembers are also put in harm’s way when they encounter substandard equipment,” said ICE-HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart.  “One of HSI's top enforcement priorities is protecting the integrity of U.S. military products and other sensitive technology.” 

“Counterfeit semiconductors represent a serious threat to the safety of our military service members and raise national security concerns,” said NCIS Special Agent in Charge DiPrizio.  “The introduction of defective equipment into the military supply chain can result in product failure, property damage and even serious bodily injury, including death.  Some of these counterfeit devices can also be preprogrammed with malicious code and enable computer network intrusion.  NCIS has worked closely with our law enforcement partners at DCIS and ICE-HSI in identifying unscrupulous suppliers and bringing them to justice.”

Picone was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez of the District of Connecticut in Hartford, Conn., and was released on bond.  Trial is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford.

If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.  If convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, or wire fraud, Picone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison. 

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of proceeds from illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods and wire fraud as well as the seizure of the goods and any property involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was jointly investigated by HSI, DCIS and NCIS.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorneys Kendra Ervin and Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.  Trial Attorney Kristen M. Warden of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section is assisting with the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The enforcement action announced today is one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation, and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to