Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Barely Anyone Watched The Best Spy Show Of 2014

Armin Rosen at offers a piece on the TV series The Assets, a show that I enjoyed.

From 1985 to 1987, the spy war between the US and the Soviet Union reached a bizarre fever pitch.

CIA assets inside the KGB were rounded up and executed, and no one could figure out why. A disgruntled ex-CIA agent evaded an FBI surveillance dragnet and fled to Moscow, partly by using a human-sized dummy to throw off his trackers. A US Marine guard fell for a KBG honeypot and allowed a Soviet operative into the American embassy in Moscow. To top it all off, a KBG colonel defected to the US and then re-defected to the Soviets after fleeing his CIA handler while they were eating at a French restaurant in Washington, DC's posh Georgetown neighborhood.

Events that could shift the balance of Cold War were coming hard and fast, and one man was in some way connected to all of them: Aldrich Ames, a CIA veteran currently serving a federal life sentence for espionage (seen below in the photo with his wife).

The hunt for Ames — who was perhaps the most damaging mole in the agency's history — and the events surrounding his betrayal of the United States was the subject of "The Assets," an 8-part miniseries that ran on ABC in early 2014. The show's pilot was the lowest-rated premier for a primetime drama in history. No matter: the whole thing's on Netflix Instant Watch. And if you have any interest in the Cold War, intelligence, or the darker regions of human nature the show belongs on your to-do list.

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

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

I interviewed Sandy Grimes (seen in the above photo), the real CIA officer who helped bring down CIA traitor and spy Aldrich Ames, and co-wrote the book Circle of Treason, the book the TV series was based on.

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine Q & A with Sandy Grimes via the below link:

The above photo shows Sandy Grimes and the CIA team that uncovered Aldrich Ames.

Philadelphia Area Serial Bank Robber Hits Eighth Bank

The FBI released the below photos and information regarding a suspected serial bank robber in the Philadelphia area on December 29th.

The FBI, Philadelphia Police Department, Cheltenham Township Police Department, and Lower Merion Township Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance to identify and locate the subject believed to be responsible for six bank robberies and two attempted robberies in the Philadelphia area over the past three weeks.

The latest incident occurred at approximately 10:35 this morning at the Wells Fargo Bank branch located at 1200 East Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

The same subject is believed also to be responsible for the following robberies:
  • December 26, 2014—PNC Bank, 101 South Easton Road, Glenside, Pennsylvania
  • December 26, 2014—Wells Fargo Bank, 1575 North 52nd Street, Philadelphia (attempted robbery)
  • December 23, 2014—PNC Bank, 5900 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
  • December 22, 2014—Prudential Savings Bank, 1722 South Broad Street, Philadelphia
  • December 18, 2014—Valley Green Bank, 7226 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
  • December 15, 2014—PNC Bank, 230 South Broad Street, Philadelphia
  • December 11, 2014—Beneficial Bank, 1600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia (attempted robbery)
On each occasion, the subject entered the bank and handed a teller a threatening demand note. After obtaining cash, the subject fled the area of the bank on foot. There have been no physical injuries as a result of any of these robberies, and no weapons have been displayed or used.

The subject is described as a black male in his 30s, approximately 5’10” tall, medium build, medium complexion, with eyeglasses. In one of the robberies, the subject was not wearing the glasses.

This subject is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about these robberies or this subject is urged to call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or the Philadelphia Police Department. There may be a reward for information leading to this subject’s capture; tipsters can remain anonymous.

Police Deaths Soar 24% In 2014 With Ambush Attacks Leading Cause

David Sherfinski at the Washington Times reports on the increased number of police deaths in 2014.

Law enforcement fatalities in the United States increased 24 percent in 2014 to 126, and ambush-style attacks were the No. 1 cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth straight year, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The memorial fund report said 126 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 last year. The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 — 50 — is up 56 percent from the 32 killed last year.

... Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, a figure that matched 2012 for the highest since 1995. Among those recorded this year were the recent shooting deaths of New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, which attracted national attention and contributed to tension between police and the city’s elected leaders.

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

'Hong Kong's First Spy' John Tsang, Dies In Guangzhou, Aged 91

Lai Ying-kit at the South China Morning Post offers a piece on the death of a man known as "Hong Kong's First Spy."

John Tsang Chao-ko, a former Hong Kong police assistant superintendent before being expelled on suspicion of spying for China during the cold war, has died in Guangzhou, according to media reports.

Dubbed "Hong Kong's first spy", Tsang was the highest-ranking ethnic Chinese officer within the colonial Hong Kong police force until his deportation in 1961 following accusations of espionage.
Describing him as a "comrade", the state-run Guangzhou Daily reported last week that Tsang died in Guangzhou on December 18 due to "illness". He was aged 91. The report did not specify the illness Tsang suffered.

Mystery still surrounds Tsang's alleged spying activities. His deportation took place without a trial in Hong Kong and the mainland has not confirmed or denied the spying allegations.

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

Giuliani: Obama Backing The Police With Al Sharpton Next To Him Like Promising To Fight Mafia Alongside Joe Colombo

Peter Brennan at National Review offers a piece on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's views of President Obama's support of the police.

President Obama might offer plenty of praise for American police at some times, but his friendly associations with Al Sharpton and comments at other times add up to contempt for police officers, Rudy Giuliani says.

Asked by CBS whether he’d recant some claims about President Obama’s anti-police rhetoric because the president has praised police often, Giuliani declined, and pointed first to the president’s frequent meetings with Sharpton.  

... “You put Al Sharpton sitting next to you,” Giuliani said, “you just said you’re against the police.”

“If I talked to you about fighting the Mafia . . . as I did in the 1980s, and I had [Mafia boss] Joe Colombo sitting next to me,” Giuliani said, “you would say I was a big hypocrite. It wouldn’t matter what my rhetoric is: ‘Oh, I’m fighting the Mafia.’ There’s Joe Colombo. ‘I’m for the police?’ There’s Al Sharpton. Every cop in America’s going to say, give me a break.”

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Douglas Culbreth, Retired Philadelphia Detective Who Investigated Abu-Jamal's Murder Of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, Has Died at 73

Robert Moran at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers an obituary of retired Philadelphia Detective  Douglas Culbreth.

Douglas Culbreth, 73, of Upper Roxborough, a retired Philadelphia police detective who investigated the 1981 fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal and remained a firm believer in Abu-Jamal's guilt, died Friday, Dec. 26.

He suffered an apparent heart attack, said Aisha Perry, a family friend. He had fallen ill at home and was taken to Roxborough Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mr. Culbreth, a Vietnam War veteran, also served as an investigator for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where he worked for 18 years until his death.

Morris Tolbert, a longtime friend, said Mr. Culbreth was a "straitlaced, straightforward" man who was "really frustrated" by the advocacy of people contending that Abu-Jamal was innocent.

"He would get upset when people said [Abu-Jamal] didn't do it," Perry said. "He said there was no doubt Wesley Cook - Mumia Abu-Jamal - killed that officer."

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on convicted cop killer Abu-Jamal via the below link:

And you can read my American Crime column at on Officer Faulkner's widow's book via the below link:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Outing Former CIA Officer Valerie Plame

A New York Post  editorial rightfully points out the hypocrisy of former CIA officer Valerie Plame (seen in the above photo).

Remember the outrage when CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to newspaperman Robert Novak?

Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, accused the Bush White House of doing it in retaliation, because her husband was a critic of its war policy. Wilson said it would be “fun to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs.”

Only one problem: Rove didn’t do it. The State Department’s Richard Armitage did.

Now the worm has turned.

Last week, Glenn Greenwald, the man who helped Edward Snowden get stolen American secrets published, wrote an article naming the woman — a career CIA officer — who worked at the unit tracking Osama bin Laden and who was also involved in the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

... At a time when we remain at war with radical Islamists, there are many who would like this woman killed. But instead of denouncing Greenwald for publicizing the name of this CIA officer, Plame has happily retweeted Greenwald’s article to the world.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Card From The U.S. Navy

Christmas Lessons From Mom - And Bob Hope

Joel L.A. Peterson offers a piece at the Philadelphia Inquirer on his Christmas memories of his mother - and Bob Hope.

It has been 15 Christmases since my mother passed, but I remember all the lessons she taught me - especially one on the meaning of Christmas.

It was Christmas Eve, 1987. I was a young naval officer, and I had been at sea nearly 100 days straight, escorting U.S.-flagged tankers through the Persian Gulf. On this particular Christmas, my ship, the aircraft carrier USS Midway, was just outside the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran.

On that Dec. 24, Bob Hope flew aboard, with singers and actors and beauty contest winners.

Waiting for the show, I thought of previous Christmases. It was my mother's favorite holiday, and she always pulled out all the stops. Her Hummel figurines were paraded and displayed, depicting nativity scenes and Christmas characters, like Santa and Rudolph. I could remember so many of my mother's perfectly orchestrated Christmases, when it was white and cold on the outside but warm and glowing in our home. As I waited for Hope's show to start, I felt so distant from the wonder of the season seen through the eyes that I had back then.

Hope turned out to be much better than I had expected. He was a very funny man who made everyone laugh at his own worst weaknesses and gaffes. But when the laughs were done, the reality of Christmas far away from any in my past hit me - and crushed my soul.

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

Note: The above three photos show Bob Hope on the USS Kitty Hawk when the aircraft carrier was in Subic Bay in 1962. Thanks to Richard Gross for the use of his photos.

I served on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1970 and 1971 and we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas 1970 off the coast of Vietnam. We were scheduled to get the great Bob Hope show, but the Navy had to decline, as we were conducting air combat operations against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.

I regret not seeing Bob Hope. He was a great comedian, a great actor, and a great American.

A Look Back At The Beaton Marionettes' 'The Nativity' And 'Twas The Night Before Christmas'

Growing up in the 1950s and the 1960s, I was one of millions of television viewers who watched The Nativity and Twas the Night Before Christmas with the Beaton Marionettes every Christmas.

The program was narrated by the late, great actor, Alexander Scourby.

The TV program brings back fond memories of Christmas as a child. My parents did not have a lot of money, but they always provided a great Christmas holiday for our family.

You can watch the two short programs via the below links:

Twas the Night Before Christmas
Part One of The Nativity
Part Two of the Nativity
Merry Christmas. 

Looking For A Good Book?

Received an Amazon gift card or some other gift card for Christmas? Looking for a good book to purchase?

Well, you can search here for my book reviews and posts on a good number of books.

Or, the Philadelphia Inquirer - where I've been a contributor since 1999 - offers their staff's choice of a good book to read this Christmas season. 

Avid readers are always happy to tell you about the good things they've been reading, and we at The Inquirer are no different. Here's a roundup of the best new books that Inquirer staff members have read this year. Enjoy!
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre (Crown, $27). A Spy Among Friends is a spellbinding tale of the personal relationship between Nicholas Elliott, a leader of MI6, and his close friend, Kim Philby, the British spymaster who became a Soviet mole. McIntyre's meticulous research helps the reader understand how Elliott, trained to be skeptical and circumspect, could fail to detect the ever-more-obvious signs of Philby's disloyalty. Reads like a John LeCarré spy novel. - Bill Marimow, editor
Bagmen, by William Lashner (Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 paperback). If they gave a Pulitzer Prize for snappy dialogue, William Lashner would be a betting favorite every time. Bagmen is a murder mystery set in the altogether too convincingly rendered demimonde of Philly's bagmen, the political fixers. - Michael D. Schaffer.
You can read the rest of the staff picks via the below link:

Note: Today is the last day on the job for my Inquirer editor, Michael D. Schaffer. I wish him well in his retirement.

Cyber Command Investment Ensures Hackers Targeting U.S. Face Retribution

Maggie Ybarra at the Washington Times offers a piece on the U.S. Cyber Command's ability to fight back against hackers like the group that attacked Sony.

In the shadows of the Sony hacking incident and North Korea’s massive Internet outage, the Pentagon has quietly built a multibillion-dollar cyberwarfare capability and trained its commanders to integrate these weapons into their battlefield plans.

U.S. Cyber Command was officially stood up in 2010, based at Fort Meade in the Maryland suburbs of the nation’s capital, consolidating intelligence and cyberwarfare capabilities of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines under one house. Soon, billions of dollars were being invested in the concept that cyberattackers targeting America should be prepared to sustain their own damage.

Little has been discussed in public about U.S. Cyber Command’s specific capabilities since, though budget documents detail a growing commitment to this form of warfare. The Pentagon’s cyberwarfare budget has grown from $3.9 billion in 2013 to $4.7 billion in 2014 and an estimated $5.1 billion in 2015.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FBI Releases 2013 Crime Statistics From The National Incident-Based Reporting System

The FBI released the below information:

Today, the FBI released details on more than 5.6 million criminal offenses reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2013. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest report, NIBRS 2013, provides a diverse scope of information about victims, known offenders, and relationships for 23 offense categories (including sex offenses). It also presents arrest data for those offense categories plus 11 more.

Unlike data reported via the Summary Reporting System in Crime in the United States, data in NIBRS 2013 include all offenses within an incident, as well as additional aspects about each event such as location, time of day, and clearances. NIBRS 2013 also provides agency-level offense data by state; however, there are no estimates for agencies that did not submit NIBRS data to the UCR Program.
In 2013, 6,328 law enforcement agencies, representing coverage for more than 92 million U.S. inhabitants, submitted NIBRS data.

While not yet nationally representative, this coverage represents 34.4 percent of all law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program.

NIBRS agencies reported 4,927,535 incidents that involved 5,665,902 offenses, 5,980,569 victims, and 4,517,902 known offenders. In addition, these agencies reported 1,533,671 arrestees.
Of the reported offenses, 64.7 percent involved crimes against property (i.e., those crimes in which the object is property), 22.8 percent involved crimes against persons, (i.e., crimes whose victims are always individuals), and 12.6 percent included crimes against society (i.e., typically “victimless crimes” that represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity, such as gambling).

NIBRS victim types, collected for all reported offenses, may be an individual, a business, an institution, or society as a whole. Of the 4,224,061 individual victims reported in 2013, 24.2 percent were between the ages of 21 and 30 years of age. Half (50.9 percent) were female, 48.3 percent were male, and sex was unknown for 0.8 percent. The majority (72.3 percent) were white, 21.1 percent were black or African-American, 1.2 percent were Asian, 0.5 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, and less than 0.1 percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Race was unknown for 4.8 percent of victims.

In 2013, there were 4,517,902 known offenders, meaning that some aspect of the suspect—such as the age, sex, or race—was identified and reported. Of these, nearly a third (33.1 percent) were between 16 and 25 years of age. By gender, 63.9 percent were male, and 25.0 percent were female; gender was unknown for 11.1 percent. By race, the majority (56.5 percent) of known offenders were white, 28.1 percent were black or African-American, and 1.6 percent were of other races. The race was unknown for 13.8 percent of reported known offenders.

Concerning the relationship of victims to offenders, there were 1,305,497 victims of known offenders of crimes against persons (e.g., murders, sex offenses, assault offenses) and robbery offenses from the crimes against property category. Of these, 52.8 percent of victims knew their offenders (or at least one offender where more than one was present) but did not have a familial relationship to them. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) of victims were related to their offenders (or at least one offender where more than one was present).

Monday, December 22, 2014

We Have The Watch: NORAD Tracks Santa's Christmas Eve Journey

Terri Moon Cronk at DoD News, offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2014 - Now a 59-year tradition, the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will follow Santa Claus's Christmas Eve travels using radar, satellites, jet fighters and special cameras, said Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Marsh, spokesman for the NORAD Tracks Santa program.

First, the northern warning radar system covers nearly 50 installations across northern Canada and Alaska to closely monitor signs of when Santa leaves the North Pole in his flying-reindeer-powered sleigh, Marsh explained.

Next, the geosynchronous orbit satellite system begins tracking Santa's route, 22,000 miles above earth, using infrared systems that detect heat to pick up the warmth generated by Rudolph the reindeer's red nose, he said.

Finally, Canadian NORAD CF-18 fighter pilots take off from Newfoundland and welcome Santa and his reindeer to North America, where American NORAD jet pilots escort him in F-15s, -16s or -22s, Marsh said.

Santa Cams Keep Kids on Course

That's when the high-speed, digital Santa cameras positioned around the world pick up St. Nick at about 3 a.m., MST and 5 a.m., EST Christmas Eve, Marsh said. Pictures and videos from the cams are loaded onto the Santa tracker at

That's when the fun begins.

Volunteers take their positions at 4 a.m., MST, and 6 a.m., EST at the NORAD operations center to field children's phone calls at 1-877-446-6723 or 1-877-HI-NORAD in eight languages -- English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.

Children can then watch as Santa starts his trek from the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean, travels west, and moves up and down the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Weather conditions may cause Santa to vary his course.

Volunteers Get Caught in Excitement

The volunteers work two-hour shifts but usually stay longer out of excitement, said Marsh, adding, "We couldn't do this without them."

Volunteers also talk to children all around the world from NORAD all around the world by email at, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google-Plus and even via OnStar operators.

"We're expecting more than 1,250 American and Canadian uniformed personnel, [Defense Department] civilians, family members and members of the local community to volunteer their time Dec. 24 to answer the thousands of phone calls and emails that flood in," Marsh said.

Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa operations center had nearly 20 million website visits from people in 234 countries, 1.45 million Facebook "likes," and more than 146,000 Twitter followers, Marsh said.

Volunteers received more than 117,000 phone calls during the 23-hour timeframe, he said, and responded to more than 9,606 emails and some 800 inquiries through OnStar.

Kids Ask Everything

Children ask volunteers lots of questions about Santa's whereabouts, whether he goes to every house in the world, and how he gets all the presents delivered in one night.

"NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa doesn't experience time the way we do ... but in his own space-time continuum," Marsh said. "It seems like 24 hours to us, but it's days, weeks and even months to Santa, because he wouldn't want to rush the important job of delivering gifts and spreading joy."

Some children want to know Santa's age, Marsh said.

"It's hard to know for sure," he said. "But he's at least 16 centuries old."

The volunteers also advise children that Santa delivers presents between 9 p.m. and midnight, so it's important for them to be asleep when he arrives, Marsh said.

No Need to Wait for the Fun

As Christmas nears, children and their families can take part in new age-appropriate games every day on the website, watch movies, listen to holiday tunes by the Air Force Academy Band and read about Santa, the history of his ancient sleigh and the holiday traditions of other countries.

NORAD's Track Santa program is DoD's largest community outreach program, and this year about 60 organizations' contributions will make the program possible, Marsh said.

"We're very proud of our mission [at NORAD and NORTHCOM] and we're good at it all -year long," Marsh said. "But we love the opportunity this time of year to be able to say to everyone, 'Sleep tight. We have the watch.'"

Note: In the above U.S. Air Force photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Marsh volunteers monitor phones and computers to talk with children while tracking Santa Claus at the North American Aerospace Defense Command Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force in Colorado.  

My Name Is Drake, John Drake: A Review Of Patrick McGoohan's Secret Agent AKA Danger Man

Kyle Mills at offers a review of the Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Series DVD.

"Every government has it's secret service branch. America, the CIA; France, Deuxieme Bureau; England, MI5; Even NATO has it's own. A messy job? Well that's when they usually call on me or someone like me. Oh yes, my name is Drake. John Drake." Starring Patrick McGoohan from the fan favorite series, The Prisoner, in the titular role of John Drake, comes Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Series, a less edgy, James Bond/Roger Moore-esque take on the spy genre. 

For those who don't know much about this series, I will give you a brief backstory. Before Patrick McGoohan assumed his most identified role as Number Six in the groundbreaking series, The Prisoner, a role that many fans assume is a continuation of this series, he starred on a British television as a secret agent named John Drake in Danger Man (also known as Secret Agent, the title that it was broadcast under in North America).

The first installment ran in half-hour installments on British television from 1960 through 1962 before McGoohan tired of the role after 39 episodes. Eventually 2 years later, the show was brought back in an hour long format clearly to cash in on the success of the cinematic adventures of James Bond, in 1964 and it ran until 1966, until McGoohan once again wanted to leave the role.

This was assumed to be the end of John Drake's escapades, but McGoohan decided to return once more which only lasted for two episodes in 1968. This is the last we'd see of Drake and his espionage tales. After several releases over the years, After A&E had released the series multiple times, Timeless Video once again brings together the entire anthology of Secret Agent: AKA Danger Man to offer it in one deluxe, compact, slick looking box set. Secret Agent: Danger Man revolves around the espionage exploits of Bond, James Bond Drake, John Drake. A smooth talking, charismatic agent that would rather talk you down than force you to cooperate, never carrying a gun but relying on his quick wit and brain to resolve intense situations. But don't let that deter you, this is an action show, fists fly and people do get shot, and for a show nearly 55 years old, it all looks great.

Each of these 86 episodes, it follows the exact same formula; John Drake is assigned a mission, he goes to some beautiful/exotic locale, follows the target, plot twist! and he wraps it up nice and neat. We follow the exact same formula through these 86 adventures, and while most shows would get tedious after doing the same thing that long, Secret Agent somehow kept it fresh thanks to it's great locales, phenomenal production designs, tight writing and of course it's star.

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

You can also watch the opening of Secret Agent via the below link:

Note: When I was a teenager in the 1960s I enjoyed spy thrillers. I was a huge fan of Sean Connery as James Bond in the movies and I was a huge fan of Ian Fleming's darker and more complex James Bond novels.

I was also a huge fan of Patrick McGoohan's brilliant and surreal 1960s TV series The Prisoner and his previous 1960s TV series, the clever, intelligent and realistic Danger Man (called Secret Agent in the U.S).

Secret Agent has similarities with Ian Fleming's James Bond - exotic locations, beautiful women, action, suspense and danger - but I don't think the series was, as Kyle Mills notes above, "Roger Moore-esque." Roger Moore's Bond was campy and comedic. Secret Agent was a serious show, with very little humor. 

I bought the complete series a while back and over the course of many months I watched every episode. Good stuff.

FBI: The Fraudster Who Faked His Own Death

The FBI web site offers a piece on an interesting case:

When a federal judge recently sentenced Aubrey Lee Price to 30 years in prison for bank fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes, it closed a chapter on the once successful businessman’s sensational criminal saga.

Price went from a devout Christian minister and trusted financial adviser to a schemer who wiped out many of his clients’ life savings and then faked his own death to avoid taking responsibility for what he had done. When a routine traffic stop in Georgia resulted in his arrest on New Year’s Eve in 2013—nearly 18 months after his disappearance—Price acknowledged that he had become a drug dealer.

His well-publicized rise and fall makes for a fascinating tale, but our agents who investigated the case and who specialize in white-collar crime are quick to point out that the real focus of this story should not be on Price but rather on his victims.

“It’s unbelievably sad,” said Special Agent Ed Sutcliff in our Atlanta Field Office. “Most of Price’s victims had worked 30 or 40 years to save for retirement. They were living off those funds,” said Sutcliff, who interviewed many of the victims while investigating the case. “They had to learn from us that Price—their friend and adviser—was missing, and all their money was gone.”

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

You can read an earlier post on Aubrey Lee Price via the below link:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Americans Side With the CIA

The New York Post offers an editorial that points out that most Americans support the CIA's enhanced interrogation program.

To the likely astonishment of Senate Democrats, it turns out the American people aren’t as horrified by the CIA’s interrogations of terrorist suspects as they were supposed to be.

To the contrary, two recent polls confirm that Americans overwhelmingly endorse interrogation methods Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Dianne Feinstein, denounced as torture in their recent report.

It’s not even close.

Two recent polls — one by The Washington Post/ABC News and one by the Pew Research Center — report Americans overwhelmingly support what the CIA did to keep us safe.

In the Pew survey, slightly more than half of Americans say the CIA’s methods were justified, against only 29 percent who said they were unjustified.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll found Americans endorsing the tactics by a two-to-one ratio.

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

Note: Over the course of my more than 37 years doing security work in the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department, I received numerous CIA briefngs and I received CIA training. As a writer, I've covered the CIA and I've interviewed a good number of current and former CIA officers.

I found CIA people to be as patriotic and dedicated as the military and civilian employees I worked with in the Defense Department.

While under normal circumstances I would not approve of the enhanced interrogation methods - called "Torture-Lite" by one CIA wit. But one must remember that the days and months following the horrific 9/11 terrorists attacks were a time of uncertainty and there was a realistic fear that the terrorists would follow up with an even greater attack on America.

Like most Americans, I thank the CIA, along with the U.S. military, other goverment agencies and law enforcement, with keeping us safe both then and now.

A Look Back At 'A Christmas Carol' With The Late Great George C. Scott As Scrooge

One of my favorite Christmas films is A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as Scrooge. I watch it every year during the holiday season.

I believe Scott's portrayal of the Dicken's character Scrooge is the most powerful on film.

Lee Pfeiffer at offers his view of the 1984 film.

At the risk of being drawn and quartered, I have to say that, with all due respect to the magnificent Alastair Sim, my favorite version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the wonderful 1984 TV production starring George C. Scott in a magnificent, Emmy-nominated performance as Scrooge.

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

And you can watch the entire film via the below link:

10 Things You Might Not Know About 'A Christmas Carol'

Molly Oldfield at offers 10 things you might not know about Charles Dicken's classic story A Christmas Carol.

1. Dickens was inspired to write A Christmas Carol in 1843 after he spoke at a charity night to raise money for the Manchester Athenaeum in England—an institution dedicated to "advancement and diffusion of knowledge." The 31-year-old spoke alongside the young Benjamin Disraeli, who would later become prime minister of Great Britain. After their talk, Dickens went on a long nocturnal walk later and had the idea for his "little Christmas book." 

2. He started the story in October 1843 and wrote obsessively for six weeks. As Dickens wrote, he wept, laughed, and wandered around London at night "when all sober folks had gone to bed." He finished the novella at the end of November so it could be published in time for Christmas. A Christmas Carol hit the shops on December 17, 1843, and sold out in three days.

3. Dickens was the first famous writer to give public readings of his work—and his first reading was A Christmas Carol. The reading took place in front of a crowd of 2000 people in the town hall of Birmingham, England, 10 years after the book was published. Dickens opened the reading by saying, “Ladies and gentleman—I have said that I bear an old love towards Birmingham and Birmingham men; let me amend a small omission, and add Birmingham women too. This ring I wear on my finger now is an old Birmingham gift, and if by rubbing it I could raise the spirit that was obedient to Aladdin’s ring, I heartily assure you that my first instruction to that genius on the spot should be to place himself at Birmingham’s disposal in the best of causes. I now have the pleasure of reading to you tonight A Christmas Carol in four staves.”

4. Rather than simply read extracts from his stories, Dickens loved to perform them—so he created a special version of A Christmas Carol for exactly that purpose. He tore the pages out of an original book, and stuck them into a new, large leafed, blank paged book. Then he filleted the text, cutting out descriptive scenes to create a performance script. He added stage directions for himself all over the text. Such an annotated copy is called a prompt copy.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

83 Philadelphia Police Officers Honored For Acts of Unsung Bravery

Mike Newell at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on the ceremony honoring 83 Philadelphia police officers for acts of bravery.

Patrolman Michael Minor was driving solo. It was a slow, rainy morning. The radio was quiet. When the call came - a domestic disturbance on Old York Road - Minor, then a seven-year veteran assigned to the 35th District, jumped on it, even though another officer had originally been sent. He was just a few blocks away. And bored.

Pulling up, he saw a man pacing on the porch. It was the father, he'd later find out. Walking up the steps, the front door of the house swung open, and a man stood in the doorway. His eyes wide, his hands concealed, it was the son, Keenan McIntosh.

Minor did not know that McIntosh's mother, Patrice, 50, lay dead in her bedroom, shot once in the side of the head by her son, police say.

Seeing his son in the doorway, the father dropped to the ground, yelling for McIntosh to "drop it, drop it."

Minor grabbed for his weapon, and a quiet morning suddenly became a life-and-death struggle - one that would end with Minor shaken, but alive, and McIntosh in custody on murder charges.

For his actions that Sunday last December, the 41-year-old Minor was one of 83 officers awarded commendations during an awards ceremony Wednesday at the Fraternal Order of Police hall in Northeast Philadelphia. Rows and rows of stiff-backed men and women in dress blues honored for overlooked acts of valor and bravery.

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

Genovese Organized Crime Family Soldier And Two Crime Family Associates Admit Racketeering Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, NJ—Three North Jersey men today admitted conspiring to conduct or participate in the affairs of the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”) through a pattern of racketeering activity, including a conspiracy to extort members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.

Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey, a Genovese family soldier, and two other Genovese family associates – Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, former president of ILA Local 1235 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 64, of Florham Park, New Jersey, former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and ILA representative – pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. All three pleaded guilty to Count One of the second superseding indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy. Depiro admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and bookmaking. Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and multiple extortions.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235 and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235 and vice president of ILA Local 1478. Depiro also controlled a sports betting package that was managed by several others, through the use of an overseas sports betting operation.

During their guilty plea proceedings, Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted their involvement in the Genovese family, including conspiring to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to carrying out multiple extortions of dockworkers. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation.

The racketeering charge to which Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled as follows: Cernadas, Jan. 16, 2015; LaGrasso, March 9, 2015; and Depiro, March 10, 2015.

U.S. Attorneys Fishman and Lynch credited the FBI in New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and in New York, under the direction of Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.

They also thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.

From Poisoned Cigars To Exploding Seashells: How Half A Century Of Crackpot CIA Plans To Overthrow Fidel Castro Were Born When JFK Invited James Bond Author Ian Fleming To Dinner

In a LIFE magazine piece in the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy listed his favorite 10 books. One of the ten listed was Ian Fleming's James Bond thriller From Russia With Love.  
Darren Boyle at the Daily Mail writes about the 1960 meeting between presidential hopeful and then-Senator Kennedy and Ian Fleming.
According to the piece, the dinner conversation about Fidel Castro led the Kennedy administration to order the CIA to kill Castro and overthrow his communist government.
At the dinner Kennedy asked Fleming, a former British naval intelligence officer who came up with daring and offbeat intelligence plots in WWII, how to deal with Castro. Fleming told Kennedy that Castro had to be humiliated as well as killed.
Although the Daily Mail piece does not mention this, the Fleming suggestions were made partly in jest.
According to Christopher Moran in the Journal of Cold War Studies: 'Fleming suggested flooding the streets of Havana with pamphlets explaining that radioactive fallout from nuclear testing caused impotence and was known to be drawn to men who had beards.
'As a result, Cuban men would shave off their facial hair, thus severing a symbolic link to Castro and the revolution. If this did not work, the CIA should build a religious manifestation, ideally a cross of sorts, and fly it over the Havana skyline in order to induce the Cubans to look skyward.'
Between 1960 and 1965 the CIA considered at least eight plots to assassinate Castro.
On July 25, 1962, a Top Secret document was prepared for the White House outlining Operation Mongoose, which considered the overthrow of Castro.  
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: In my view, if Castro had been killed the Cuban people would have been spared decades of living under his murderous communist dictatorship, and the world would have been a far better place. I believe the Devil has a nice hot spot in Hell waiting for Castro when he finally dies.

Crimes and Detectives, Inc: A New Crime Fiction Blog

R.T., a frequent commentator here, has begun a new crime fiction blog called Crimes and Detectives, Inc.  

R.T., who describes himself as a U.S. Navy retiree (25 years in military justice) and a part-time teacher (15 years in university classrooms), states that reading (and rereading) classic crime fiction has been his guilty pleasure for more than 50 years.

You can check out the crime fiction blog via the below link:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Release The Kracken!: Sony Should Put 'The Interview' On The Internet For Free, To 'Screw Over' North Korea, Krauthammer Says

Matt Wilstein at offers a piece on columnist Charles Krauthammer's view that Sony should place The Internet on the Internet and allow Internet users to view the film for free.

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer thinks Sony Pictures made “exactly the wrong decision” when they decided to pull The Interview from theaters after receiving terror threats from the North Korea-affiliated hackers that committed a massive cyber-attack on the company last month.

Echoing Mitt Romney (of all people), Krauthammer said he believes Sony should put the film online for free so it is seen be as many people as possible.

Since they are already guaranteed to lose money on the project now that major theater chains have said they will not show it, Krauthammer said they should “write it off” and post it on the internet for free. “It’s a gesture” to the fans, he said. “But also, it doubly screws over Pyongyang.”

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video of Charles Krauthammer via the below link:

FBI Update in Sony Investigation

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

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).  In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. 

A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.

The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications.  The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.

After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI’s assistance.  Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation.  Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack.  Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.

As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.  While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:
  • Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.  For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.
  • The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea.  For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack. 
  • Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.
We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there.  Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. 

Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart.  North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves.  Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.  The FBI takes seriously any attempt – whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise – to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.

The FBI stands ready to assist any U.S. company that is the victim of a destructive cyber attack or breach of confidential business information.  Further, the FBI will continue to work closely with multiple departments and agencies as well as with domestic, foreign, and private sector partners who have played a critical role in our ability to trace this and other cyber threats to their source.  Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Little Night Music: 'Sarabande' From The Film 'Barry Lyndon'

I'm very fond of Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon and I'm very fond of the film's music, especially Handel's Sarabande.

Thanks to we can listen to the classic music and watch images from the great film via the below link:

Hunting The Worst-Of-The-Worst Criminals: My Q & A With Mike Earp, Former Associate Director, U.S.Marshals Service, And Author Of 'U.S. Marshals: Inside America's Most Storied Law Enforcement Agency

My Q&A with Mike Earp appears in the current issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

Mike Earp is a former associate director of the U.S. Marshals Service, a descendant of legendary U.S. Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp, and the author of U.S. Marshals: Inside America's Most Storied Law Enforcement Agency.

You can read the interview below:

My Piece On The Threat Of Transnational Crime

My piece on the threat of transnational crime appears in the current issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

I interviewed Geoffrey Shank (seen in the above photo), the Deputy Director of Interpol Washington, for the piece on transnational crime.   

Note: You can click on the above photos to enlarge.