Wednesday, September 30, 2015

And They Called The Film Truth?: Wacko Dan Rather Movie Still Insists Forged Bush-National Guard Documents Were Real

Kyle Smith at the New York Post pans the film Truth.

The classic definition of chutzpah — the guy who murders his parents and then begs for mercy because he’s an orphan — is getting a rewrite with the Oct. 16 release of “Truth,” a movie that insists forged documents are real. 

Robert Redford, who makes no effort whatsoever to look or sound like Dan Rather, plays the CBS newsman undone after he presented to the public obviously forged documents about then-President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service in the early 1970s.

It was September 2004, two months before Bush was to be re-elected in a tight race against Vietnam veteran John Kerry, and Rather’s “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett with her usual brittle intensity) is desperate for a scoop.

Mapes found a squirrely retired National Guard colonel named Bill Burkett, who gave her photocopied memos that purported to show Bush had been AWOL for a significant portion of his National Guard tenure. The font and spacing on the memos perfectly matched the default settings on a 21st-century Microsoft Word program, Burkett kept changing his story about how he got the documents until he sounded completely insane (and Blanchett is shown making the “cuckoo” sign as she listens to him), two of CBS’s own document experts raised doubts about them — and Burkett was a Bush hater who agreed to hand over the documents in the first place on the condition that Mapes put him in touch with the John Kerry campaign, which he wanted to assist. Mapes and Rather ran with the story anyway, defending it for days — even after other media organizations began casting doubt on them.
You Can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Joseph Coffey, Decorated 'Son Of Sam' NYPD Detective, Dies At 77

DavidK. Li at the New York Post reports on the death of former NYPD detective Joseph Coffey.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Papa’s Got A Brand New Museum Exhibit

Nicolas Mills at the Daily Beast offers a piece on the museum exhibition on one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway.

It has been more than 60 years since Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and 90 years since the appearance of his breakthrough collection of short stories, In Our Time. Yet, in all that time there has been no major museum exhibition devoted to Hemingway and his work.
Now all that has changed with the new landmark show, “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars,” that the Morgan Library and Museum in New York has organized in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
The exhibition, which opened at the Morgan on September 25 and remains there until January 31, is far more expansive than its title indicates. It starts with Hemingway as a high school student in Oak Park, Illinois, and continues past his World War II years.
...  “I felt that the Hemingway myth, or at least the popular perception of Hemingway, had come to overshadow and obscure the prose,” Declan Kiely, the show’s curator as well as the head of the Morgan’s literary and historical manuscripts, has said.
... In his famous account of the D-Day landing, “Voyage to Victory,” Hemingway’s ego is on display, but as he heads toward the Fox Green sector of Omaha Beach on a small landing craft with the troops who will go ashore, he is risking his own life as he records their and his anxiety in the face of the heavy fire coming from German shore batteries.
For most other writers, a war story like “Voyage to Victory” would have been the high point of their careers. For Hemingway, the story, with its focus on doing your job while facing your fears, was, as the Morgan’s exhibition reminds us, just one more episode in a life rich with intensely felt, brilliantly described episodes.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Russian Developer Of The Notorious Citadel Malware Sentenced To Prison

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

ATLANTA—Dimitry Belorossov, a/k/a Rainerfox, has been sentenced to four years, six months in prison following his guilty plea for conspiring to commit computer fraud. Belorossov distributed and installed Citadel, a sophisticated malware that infected over 11 million computers worldwide, onto victim computers using a variety of infection methods.
“Global cyber-crime requires a global response, and this case is a perfect example,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “This defendant committed computer hacking offenses on victims in the United States from the relative safety of his home country of Russia, but he was arrested by our law enforcement partners in Spain. As malware and hacking toolkits continue to victimize computer users around the world, we will step up our efforts to focus internationally on the criminals who develop these programs.”
“The FBI, in working with its international partners, continues to demonstrate that international boundaries no longer provide a safe haven for cybercriminals targeting U.S. individuals or interests domestically. Successful investigation and prosecution of cases such as this are directly attributable to the increased capabilities and determination of our cyber trained investigators and our foreign based legal attachés working collectively to not only disrupt and dismantle these foreign based hacking efforts, but also to bring those individuals responsible to justice,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: In late 2011, a malicious software toolkit named “Citadel” began appearing for sale on invite-only Internet website forums frequented by cybercriminals. Citadel was a sophisticated form of malware known as a “banking Trojan” designed to steal online banking credentials, credit card information, personally identifiable information, and, ultimately, funds through unauthorized electronic transfers. Citadel electronically infected the computers of unsuspecting individuals and financial institutions, creating “bots,” which cybercriminals, such as Belorossov, then remotely accessed and controlled.
Cybercriminals, including Belorossov, distributed and installed Citadel onto victim computers through a variety of infection methods, including malicious attachments to spam e-mails and commercial Internet ads containing malware or links to malware. Since 2011, multiple versions of Citadel have been distributed and operated throughout the world. Citadel became one of the most advanced crimeware tools available in the underground market, as it had the capability, among other things, to block antivirus sites on infected computers. According to industry estimates, Citadel, and other botnets like it, infected approximately 11 million computers worldwide and are responsible for over $500 million in losses.
In 2012, Belorossov downloaded a version of Citadel, which he then used to operate a Citadel botnet primarily from Russia. Belorossov remotely controlled over 7,000 victim bots, including at least one infected computer system with an IP address resolving to the Northern District of Georgia. Belorossov’s Citadel botnet contained personal information from the infected victim computers, including online banking credentials for U.S.-based financial institutions with federally insured deposits, credit card information, and other personally identifying information.
In addition to operating a Citadel botnet, Belorossov also provided online assistance with the goal of developing suggested improvements to Citadel, including posting comments on criminal forums on the Internet and electronically communicating with other cybercriminals via e-mail and instant messaging.
For example, in 2012 Belorossov made numerous postings to, an online forum in which Belorossov discussed his Citadel botnet and recommended improvements to the Citadel malware. In those postings, which were in Russian, Belorossov shared his concurrence with the improvements to Citadel recommended by others and commented on the efficacy of additional criminal functions other customers had recommended as enhancements to the Citadel malware.
Belorossov, 22, of St. Petersburg, Russia, has been sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr., to four years, six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $322,409.09. Belorossov was convicted on July 18, 2014, after he pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D. Grimberg and Scott Ferber prosecuted the case.

Spoofed: FBI Warns Of College Students Being Targeted In Phone Scam

The FBI released the below information:

The FBI is warning consumers to be on alert for a phone scam that primarily targets college students while displaying the FBI’s telephone number on the recipient’s caller ID.
The FBI has received multiple calls from college students at various universities complaining of a phone scam involving someone claiming to represent the U.S. government or even claiming to be FBI agents. In those cases, the caller advised the students of delinquent student loans or dues, delinquent taxes, or even overdue parking tickets. On occasion, the caller even threatens the students with arrest and not graduating from school if these fees were not immediately satisfied via MoneyGram.
During each attempt to gain personally identifiable information from the students, the caller claims to have specific student information. In addition, the originating telephone number used by the scammer is displayed or “spoofed” as that of the telephone number of an FBI field office.
The public is reminded that the FBI does not call private citizens requesting money and to never give out unsolicited requests for personal information to callers that you don’t know.
Individuals receiving such calls can file a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at 

Defense, Intel Leaders: Cybersecurity Priorities Are Defense, Deterrence

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON September 29, 2015 — Defense and deterrence are two of the highest priorities for bolstering the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities, top officials from the Defense Department and the intelligence community told a Senate panel here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work testified on cybersecurity policy and threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Joining him were Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.
In his remarks to the panel, Clapper said that for the third year in a row, cyberthreats headed the list of threats reported in the annual National Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment.
“Although we must be prepared for a large Armageddon-scale strike that would debilitate the entire U.S. infrastructure, that is not … the most likely scenario,” Clapper added.
Integrating Intelligence
The primary concern is low- to moderate-level cyberattacks from a growing range of sources that will continue and probably expand, he said, adding that in the future he expects to see more cyber operations that manipulate electronic information to compromise its integrity, as opposed to deleting or disrupting access to it.
Clapper said President Barack Obama has directed him to form a small center that will integrate cyberthreat intelligence from across federal agencies, as do centers established over the years for counterterrorism, counterproliferation and counterintelligence.
In his remarks to the panel, Work said recent cyber intrusions involving the Office of Personnel Management, the Joint Staff and Sony by three separate state actors are “not just espionage of convenience, but a threat to our national security.”
Earlier this year, the department released a new strategy to guide the development of its cyber forces and strengthen its cybersecurity and cyber deterrence postures. The previous cyber strategy was released in 2011.
DoD Core Missions
As laid out in the new strategy, DoD’s core missions are to defend DoD network systems and information, defend the nation against cyber events of significant consequence, and provide cyber support to operational and contingency plans.
“In this regard, U.S. Cyber Command may be directed to conduct cyber operations in coordination with other government agencies … to deter and defeat strategic threats in other domains,” Work said.
On cyber deterrence, Work acknowledged that he and Defense Secretary Ash Carter “recognize that we are not where we need to be in our deterrent posture,” and the revised strategy is designed to help improve cyber deterrence.
Deterrence works by convincing any potential adversary that the costs of conducting an attack far outweigh potential benefits, Work said, describing the three pillars of the cyber deterrence strategy as denial, resilience and cost imposition.
Cyber Deterrence
“Denial means preventing the cyber adversary from achieving his objectives; resilience is ensuring that our systems will perform their essential military tasks even when they are contested in the cyber environment; and cost imposition is our ability to make our adversaries pay a much higher price for malicious activities than they [expected],” the deputy secretary explained.
Work said that because nearly every successful network exploitation involving the Defense Department can be traced to one or more human errors that allowed entry into the network, raising the level of individual cybersecurity awareness and performance is critical.
“As part of this effort, we recently published a cybersecurity discipline implementation plan and a scorecard that is brought before the secretary and me every month,” he said.
The scorecard holds commanders accountable for hardening and protecting their critical systems, and allows them to hold their personnel accountable, Work said, noting that the first scorecard was published in August.
“Denial also means defending the nation against cyberthreats of significant consequence,” Work said, “and the president has directed DoD, working in partnership with other agencies, to be prepared to blunt and stop the most dangerous cyber events.”
Fighting Through Cyberattacks
On resilience, Work explained that adversaries view DoD's cyber dependence as a potential wartime vulnerability, so the department views its ability to fight through cyberattacks as a critical mission function.
“That means normalizing cybersecurity as part of our mission-assurance efforts, building redundancy whenever our systems are vulnerable, and training constantly to operate in a contested environment. Our adversaries have to see that these cyberattacks will not provide them a significant operational advantage,” Work said.
The third aspect of deterrence means demonstrating the ability to respond through cyber and non-cyber means to impose costs on a potential adversary.
“The administration has made clear that we respond to cyberattacks in the time, manner and place of our choosing, and the department has developed cyber options to hold an aggressor at risk in cyberspace if required,” Work said.
Measurable Progress
During his testimony, Rogers said the military is in constant contact with agile, learning adversaries in cyberspace who have shown the capacity and willingness to take action against soft targets in the United States.
Some countries are integrating cyber operations into a total strategic concept for advancing their regional ambitions, he said, “to use cyber operations to influence the perceptions and actions of states around them and shape what we see as our options for supporting allies and friends in a crisis.”
“We need to deter these activities by showing that they are unacceptable, unprofitable and risky for the instigators,” he added.
U.S. Cyber Command is building capabilities that contribute to deterrence, the admiral told the panel.
“We are hardening our networks and showing an opponent that cyber aggression won't be easy,” Rogers said. “We are creating the mission force -- trained and ready like any other maneuver element that is defending DoD networks -- supporting joint force commanders and helping defend critical infrastructure within our nation.”

U.S. Cyber Command has made measurable progress, he added. “We are achieving significant operational outcomes and we have a clear path ahead."

Sexpionage: A Review of 'Palace Of Treason'

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Jason Mattews' spy thriller Palace of Treason in the Washington Times.

Given the superb credentials of the author — a top CIA operative for 33 years — one is tempted (and with justification) to read this novel as a roman a clef, and especially in its depiction of the Russian criminal state assembled by President Vladimir Putin. One minor disappointment: Putin is on the verge of seducing a beautiful Russian counterintelligence officer who is also a CIA penetration agent, but must desist at the very last minute.
No matter. Enough insider information is contained about the corrupt court of Putin — is it heresy to term him Vlad the Terrible? — to make one suspect that much of the material is based on reports from the agency’s Moscow station. One little secret about Langley is that our spies love trafficking in salacious gossip about foreign leaders that would not be out of place in the New York Post’s Page Six column. Jason Matthews was CIA chief in Moscow during a career spent mainly in the so-called “denied areas” subservient to the old Soviet Union. And his book has an authenticity seldom encountered in spy fiction.
At the outset, cast aside uninformed Washington chatter about a “detente” among spies. Mr. Matthews depicts an intelligence battle in which the CIA and the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR), the Russian foreign intelligence service, successor to the late KGB, compete with Cold War fervor.
“Palace of Treason” features two central characters who Mr. Matthews introduced in his best-selling first novel, “Red Sparrow.” The luscious Capt. Dominika Egorova, is an SVR counterintelligence officer turned into a penetration agent by the CIA. (To start her career, she underwent “sparrow” training in the art of sexpionage, which is exactly what the name implies.) Her chief CIA handler — and lover — is Nate Nash. That they are lovers breaks the rules, of course, but such is Eros.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ten Puerto Rico Police Officers Indicted For Allegedly Running Criminal Organization Out Of Police Department

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

Ten Puerto Rico police officers have been indicted for their alleged participation in a criminal organization, run out of the police department, that used their affiliation with law enforcement to make money through robbery, extortion, manipulating court records and selling illegal narcotics, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.
“The criminal action today dismantles a network of officers who, we allege, used their badges and their guns not to uphold the law, but to break it,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez.  “The indictment portrays a classic criminal shakedown; but the people wielding the guns and stealing the drugs here weren’t mob goodfellas or mafia soldiers – these were police officers violating their oaths to enforce the law, making a mockery of the police’s sacred responsibility to protect the public.”
“Corruption is at the root of all evil,” said Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division.  “These police officers violated the trust of the people of Puerto Rico and not only dishonored the police department, but also their fellow, honest, and hardworking officers.  The FBI, along with the United States Attorney's Office, will continue to attack corruption at all levels.”
The indictment, returned on Sept. 24, 2015, by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico, includes 11 charges against the following police officers: Shylene López-García aka “Plinia;” Ángel Hernández-Nieves, aka “Doble;” Xavier Jiménez-Martínez, aka “Negro;” Alvin Montes-Cintrón, aka “Vinillo;” Ramón Muñiz-Robledo, aka “Marmota;” Guillermo Santos-Castro, aka “Caco Biftec;” Luis Flores-Ortiz, aka “Piquito;” José Neris-Serrano; Manuel Grego-López; and David Centeno-Faría, aka “David Bisbal”.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  Other charges against certain defendants include extortion under color of official right, narcotics trafficking, civil rights violations and false statements to federal agents.
According to the indictment, the officers charged with RICO conspiracy were members of a criminal organization who sought to enrich themselves through a pattern of illegal conduct.  The officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter homes or buildings used by persons suspected of being engaged in criminal activity to steal money, property and narcotics.  The officers planted evidence to make false arrests, extorted narcotics and firearms from individuals in exchange for their release.  The members of the enterprise gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that cases would be dismissed.  The officers also sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics. 
For example, in January 2012, defendants Hernández-Nieves, Muñiz-Robledo and Grego-López, in their capacity as police officers, released a federal fugitive from custody in exchange for firearms.
In another example, the indictment alleges that in February 2013, defendants López-García and Montes-Cintrón, in their capacity as police officers, stole at least 500 grams of cocaine during the course of a police intervention, which Jiménez-Martínez sold afterward in furtherance of the goal of the enterprise.  
The indictment charges that the defendants frequently shared the proceeds they illegally obtained and that they used their power, authority and official positions as police officers to promote and protect their illegal activity.  Among other things, the indictment charges that they used the Police of Puerto of Rico’s (POPR) firearms, badges, patrol cars, tools, uniforms and other equipment to commit the crimes and concealed their illegal activity with fraudulently obtained court documents and falsified POPR paperwork to make it appear that they were engaged in legitimate police work.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mariana Bauzá-Almonte and Teresa Zapata-Valladares of the District of Puerto Rico.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Citizens of Puerto Rico with allegations of law enforcement corruption are encouraged to contact the FBI’s San Juan Division at (787) 754-6000.

FBI Releases 2014 Crime Statistics

The FBI released the below information:

The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased 0.2 percent in 2014 when compared with 2013 data, according to FBI figures released today. Property crimes decreased by 4.3 percent, marking the 12th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.
The 2014 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 365.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,596.1 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate declined 1.0 percent compared to the 2013 rate, and the property crime rate declined 5.0 percent.
These and additional data are presented in the 2014 edition of the FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States. This publication, which is a statistical compilation of offense, arrest, and police employee data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, also includes limited federal crime reporting and human trafficking data.
The UCR Program collects information on crimes reported by law enforcement agencies regarding the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault as well as the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. (Although the FBI classifies arson as a property crime, it does not estimate arson data because of variations in the level of participation by the reporting agencies. Consequently, arson is not included in the property crime estimate.) The program also collects arrest data for the offenses listed above plus 20 offenses that include all other crimes except traffic violations.
Prior to 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program collected rape data in the Summary Reporting System under the category “forcible rape.” In 2013, the Program removed the term “forcible” from the title, and revised the definition. The legacy UCR definition of rape is “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The revised UCR definition of rape is “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
A total of 18,498 city, county, state, university and college, tribal, and federal agencies participated in the UCR Program in 2014. A high-level summary of the statistics reported by these agencies, which are included in Crime in the United States, 2014, follows:
  • In 2014, there were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter decreased 0.5 percent and robbery decreased 5.6 percent when compared with estimates from 2013. Rape (legacy definition) and aggravated assault, however, increased 2.4 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.
  • Nationwide, there were an estimated 8,277,829 property crimes. The estimated numbers of each of the property crimes show declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 10.5 percent, larceny-thefts declined 2.7 percent, and motor vehicle thefts were down 1.5 percent.
  • Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses calculated at an estimated $14.3 billion in 2014.
  • The FBI estimated that agencies nationwide made 11.2 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2014.
  • The arrest rate for violent crime was 156.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the arrest rate for property crime was 490.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • By violent crime offense, the arrest rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was 3.3 per 100,000 inhabitants; rape (aggregate total of revised and legacy), 6.6; robbery, 29.7; and aggravated assault, 117.1 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • By property crime offense, the arrest rate for burglary was 74.9 per 100,000 inhabitants; larceny-theft, 390.9; and motor vehicle theft, 21.5. The arrest rate for arson was 2.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • In 2014, there were 12,656 law enforcement agencies that reported their staffing levels to the FBI. These agencies reported that, as of October 31, 2014, they collectively employed 627,949 sworn officers and 271,263 civilians, a rate of 3.4 employees per 1,000 inhabitants.
Caution against ranking: Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

A Little Night Music: Elmer Bernstein's "The Magnificent Seven" Theme

"We deal in lead."

One of my favorite films is The Magnificent Seven. In addition to a stellar cast, the film is greatly enhanced by Elmer Bernstein's rousing theme song.

You can listen to the great theme song from the film via the below link:

And you can listen to the longer The Magnificent Seven Suite via the below link: 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Defense Contractor L-3 Agrees To Pay $4.63 Million To Settle Overcharging Allegations

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

L-3 Communications Corporation, Vertex Aerospace LLC and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP (collectively L-3) have agreed to pay $4.63 million to resolve allegations that they inflated labor hours for time spent by independent contractors at the military’s Continental U.S. Replacement Centers (CRC) in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bliss, Texas, preparing to deploy to overseas posts to support U.S. military operations abroad.  The CRCs prepare individuals for deployment by providing orientation briefings, training, health screenings, payroll processing and addressing other administrative matters.   
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously pursuing all those who knowingly submit false claims under government contracts,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Contractors that seek taxpayer funds must be scrupulous in their billing, and invoice only for work and amounts permitted by their contracts.” 
L-3 performed rotary aviation maintenance and support services for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait under contracts with the U.S. Air Force.  The United States alleges that from 2006 through November 2011, L-3 knowingly overcharged the government for time their independent contractors spent at the CRCs by billing for each individual not based on the actual time that individual spent at the CRC, but based instead on the earliest arrival or latest departure time of any other individual who also processed through the center that same day. 
“Contractors owe a duty to the taxpayers to accurately bill the United States for the actual work performed,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.  “This settlement demonstrates our commitment to hold contractors accountable for false billing and restore wrongfully taken funds to the military.”
“This collaborative investigative effort reflects the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s commitment to protecting American taxpayers’ interests by ensuring integrity and accountability throughout the Defense contracting system,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southeast Field Office.
“Today’s settlement is a testament to the hard work of our special agents and also highlights the importance of the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act,” said Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  “In this particular case, a concerned citizen wasn’t afraid to speak up, alerted the proper authorities, and helped save the U.S. government millions of dollars.”
The allegations settled today arose from a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower, Robert A. Martin, a former L-3 independent contractor, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery.  Mr. Martin will receive $798,675 from the recovery announced today.
This case was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, with the assistance of DCIS, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Martin v. L-3 Communications al., 1:10-CV-1622-CAP (N.D. Ga.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. 

Meet The Real-Life DEA Special Agent Who Helped Bring Down Pablo Escobar, The World's Worst Criminal

With Narcos, a dramatic series about the take down of Pablo Escobar, who is perhaps the world's worst criminal, airing on Netflix, Robert Rorke at the New York Post offers a piece on former DEA Special Agent Steve Murphy, who helped bring down Escobar.

It’s no accident that Boyd Holbrook is playing DEA agent Steve Murphy on “Narcos.” Their paths had crossed before, genealogically, when Holbrook played William “Cap” Hatfield — Murphy’s great-uncle.
“I’ve never told anyone that,” says Murphy, who’s recuperating from shoulder surgery.
Now that he’s famous, he gets stopped in restaurants in the Washington, DC, area where he lives, and requests for speaking engagements through the National Law Enforcement Speakers Bureau have increased.
But he wants to stress that even though he and his partner Javier Pena (portrayed by Pedro Pascal) dismantled the Medellin cartel — and brought down Pablo Escobar — he does not consider himself a hero.
“The real heroes were the Colombian national police,” he says. “Javier and I were just lucky to be there. We’ve probably done a couple thousand interviews and one of the questions we’ve been asked is, ‘Do you think your actions had a positive effect?’ And I say, ‘Only for a week or two.’ The cocaine trade continued. There are so many people waiting to step up. People with no conscience driven by greed and ruthlessness.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: Yes, the drug trade continued after the death of Pablo Escobar, but this drug lord went to extremes in murdering police officers and innocent people. He even blew up a plane and murdered the Colombian Minister of Justice. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Frank Wilson: Pope Francis And His Words Of Reaffirmation

Frank Wilson, my friend and former editor at the  Philadelphia Inquirer, offers his take on Pope Francis and his visit to Philadelphia, Washington and New York at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The media like it when Pope Francis says something that can be construed as "progressive," even when what he says, taken in context, turns out to be pretty unexceptional.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill," the pontiff said in July 2013 on a flight back from Brazil, "who am I to judge?"

It is true that this pronouncement differs sharply from the position of Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict called homosexuality "a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil," and suggested that any man with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should not enter the priesthood. This latter view seems peculiar, given that every man who enters the priesthood, whether straight or gay, must remain celibate.

But Francis' remark echoes Jesus' own advice to "judge not, lest ye be judged." Likewise, his recent call for Christians to resist the temptation of the "God of money" is paralleled by Jesus' own observation that "you cannot serve God and mammon."

Even the business about extending the right to forgive what Catholics regard as the sin of abortion to all priests is not as innovative as it has been made out to be. To begin with, bishops already had discretion in this matter, and many had already done as the pope has (and his extension is only for the Year of Mercy that begins in December).

The bottom line, though, is that if the Catholic Church is about anything, it is about the forgiveness of sins, and any steps taken to make the path to forgiveness easier can only be regarded as strictly orthodox.

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

Pilot, Journo, Writer, Spy: Frederick Forsyth's Life In Intrigue

Frederick Forsyth, author of the classic thriller, The Day of the Jackal, and The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, was interviewed by Corrie Bond-French at GL magazine.

Pilot, journo, writer, spy. Four words, a line filched from Le Carre, and there you have it; a neat summation of nigh on eight decades of an extraordinary life and career, with an incendiary revelation fizzing away between the covers.

Except Frederick Forsyth, the novelist who lit thriller tinder when he first penned The Day of the Jackal back in the 1970s, doesn't consider his endeavours in subterfuge to be quite so dangerously revelatory anymore.

It is fascinating stuff, and the irony is not lost that he is visiting Cheltenham next Friday for an extremely rare foray into the Literature Festival landscape to talk about his memoirs in The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, as GCHQ looms large in the background. "I don't do many," he tells me. "I'm notorious for it, but the reason for it is that I am naturally reclusive."

Frederick Forsyth needs little introduction. One of the world's best-known and best- selling writers, he has written some of the most instantly recognisable titles of recent times, and it's quite an oeuvre, including The Day of The Jackal, The Odessa File, Dogs of War and The Fourth Protocol for starters. Many have been made into hit films (Day of The Jackal launched Edward Fox's career and Michael Caine and other such acting luminaries have been happily available for roles). In short, Frederick's contribution to the world's bookshelves set the standard for meticulous research and plausible, realistic plot-lines.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

'Sean Connery Is A Real Charmer – Fairly Unknown But A Good Actor With The Right Looks And Physique': Unseen Ian Fleming Letters Reveals What Drove Him To Write His First James Bond Novel

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers excerpts from The Man With the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's Bond Letters, edited by Ian Fleming's nephew, Fergus Fleming.

This cache of Ian Fleming’s correspondence – published in a brilliant new book – reveals how a gun-crazy fan became his most trusted adviser and why sex and violence played an important role in his protagonist's life

... The man they have chosen for Bond, Sean Connery, is a real charmer – fairly unknown but a good actor with the right looks and physique...  

Admiral Rogers Discusses NSA Reorganization, National Security Threats

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON September 25, 2015 — Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, previewed an upcoming NSA reorganization and discussed a range of national security threats with members of a Senate panel here yesterday.

Rogers, also commander of U.S. Cyber Command, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Rogers began his testimony by describing the work of “the nation’s cryptologic arm” and its 40,000 civilian and military employees in 31 states and worldwide.
“NSA now plays a key role in cyberspace, assisting U.S. government efforts to see, mitigate and deter cyber security threats. In concert with public, private and foreign partners, our work helps to ensure that users, operators and administrators maintain control of their systems and data,” Rogers said.
“NSA also gives our leaders unique insights into the hostile activities of foreign powers and their agents,” he added.
Reorganizing NSA
The agency does its work in accordance with the law and within strict guidelines, Rogers said, and only by collecting foreign intelligence in response to specific requirements from U.S. policymakers and senior U.S. commanders.
Rogers has been in the job at NSA and Cybercom for 18 months, the first part of that time spent focused on the aftermath of the Edward Snowden media leaks and ensuring that NSA’s collected data was secure, he told the panel.
Over many months, Rogers and the NSA workforce have been crafting a strategy for reorganizing the agency for a changing world.
“Our structure reflects a series of changes and choices that have been made over the last 20 years. The last major organizational change at NSA on a wide swath was 1999 or 1998 … and I want to make sure we're optimized to meet the future,” the admiral said.
Optimized for the Future
Rogers posed questions to the workforce about NSA capabilities and its evolving mission, and received more than 200 recommendations. From those, Rogers said he chose three areas on which he asked them to spend more time.
These included the military part of the workforce, a more far-reaching view of cyber, and the NSA organizational structure, he explained, adding that he would receive final input back on those areas by Oct. 1.
In his testimony on national security challenges for NSA and the nation, Rogers mentioned the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and similar groups, their technology capabilities and an issue known as “going dark,” and the potential Oct. 1 government shutdown.
On the shutdown, Rogers answered yes to a question from the panel: Would a shutdown of the federal government next week compromise national security?
Retaining the Workforce
“And if I could just go beyond that -- in the last five days or so, as we now are publicly talking about this possibility,” Rogers said, the reaction of the workforce at NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, who could easily get jobs on the outside and earn significantly more money there, is one of real concern.
“This instability [is a] message to the workforce that … you are a secondary consideration in a much larger game,” Rogers added, noting that he spoke this week to the leadership about how to “figure out how we're going to keep these men and women.”
On another national security issue, without going into the details of NSA’s work, Rogers said the agency broadly uses its ability to work communications in the foreign space to generate insights [about] what ISIL and other groups are doing largely through NSA’s cyber and signals intelligence expertise.
In the counterterrorism mission set, whether it's ISIL, al-Qaida or al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Rogers said, “I've seen more changes in their behavior in the last two years probably than any other target.”
They actively reference some of the data compromises that have occurred over the past couple of years, he added, “and we know that they have achieved a level of insight as to what we do, how we do it, and the capabilities we have that … they didn't have in the past.”
Going Dark
Rogers said that, as a result, combined with broader changes in technology, it has become harder to achieve insight into what such groups are doing.
“The nation's networks, communications and data are increasingly at risk from diverse and persistent threats,” he said.
“These include rogue states, organized criminal enterprises and terrorists who are showing a willingness and an aptitude to employ sophisticated capabilities against us, our allies and indeed anyone who they perceive as a threat or lucrative target,” the admiral added.
Such capabilities include going dark, or the use of encrypted communications by terrorists and criminals, the use of apps that offer end-to-end encryption, and more complicated attempts to hide in the “broader set of noise out there,” Rogers said, adding that the motivated men and women of NSA are the nation’s edge.
Working Together
This also poses a national security threat, Rogers told the panel.
“I am concerned that the direction we're going -- if we make no changes -- effectively represents a significant challenge for us in terms of our ability to generate insight that the nation is counting on,” the admiral said.

He added, “We have got to collectively get together among the private sector, government, industry, policy, and the technical side, and sit down and figure out how we're going to work our way through this.”

Note: In the top photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Bunkley Navy Admiral Michael S. Rogers, the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, speaks to cadets and faculty at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. on Jan. 9, 2015. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

FBI: Con Man Sentenced in Luxury Car Fraud Case

The FBI website offers a report on the case of a con man and his luxury car fraud scheme.

It’s a cautionary consumer tale that’s been around forever: In an attempt to get a deal on something that sounds too good to be true, the customer gets the shaft instead.
That’s just what happened in the case of a luxury car salesman in Tennessee who used a website to advertise below-market prices on a variety of expensive vehicles. Not only did he not deliver the vehicles ordered by many of his customers, he also kept all or part of the fees they paid him in advance.
The perpetrator’s scam, however, eventually caught up with him—as did law enforcement—and this summer, Memphis resident Michael Brown was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to mail and wire fraud.
Brown was the sole owner and chief executive officer of Valkry Corporation, a company incorporated in the state of Georgia in 2009 that maintained a website selling luxury cars—it had no showroom. The FBI began looking into Brown’s operation in 2011 on the heels of a more than $1 million civil lawsuit filed by one of his customers—an international luxury car seller based in China—for failing to deliver 16 vehicles the company had paid for by transferring funds into Valkry bank accounts in the U.S.
A significant portion of the investigation, which was conducted by the FBI’s Memphis Field Office, was spent analyzing Brown’s personal and business financial records. And by reviewing these records, investigators were able to identify some of Brown’s victims, conduct interviews with them, and collect additional evidence. For example:
  • In late 2012, a luxury car dealership in the United Kingdom placed an order with Valkry for multiple vehicles, with the understanding that the cars would be delivered to them. The company wired more than half a million dollars to a U.S. bank account in Maine under Brown’s control. He transferred the funds to his company account in Memphis and then used the money for personal expenses and to buy and trade vehicles which he sold or leased to other customers. Not a dime was spent on behalf of the U.K. company that ordered the vehicles.
  • In the summer of 2013, a Tennessee man who had seen Valkry’s website negotiated with Brown about the price of a luxury car. The man financed a loan through a credit union and paid Brown for the full amount of the car. Needless to say, the customer never got the car. And Brown used the check for personal and business expenses.
How was Brown able to carry on the scam for several years? According to the Memphis FBI agent who investigated the case, he was a likeable con man and very smart. To make a money trail harder to follow, he set up a number of bank accounts in different parts of the country, using third parties to open the accounts and to purchase some of his vehicles for him. Said the agent, “He was extremely clever in his movement of funds and assets. I often didn’t find out about new accounts he opened until the money was gone.”
But eventually, investigators were able to piece together what Brown was doing, which our agent likened to a Ponzi scheme: Brown used money from newer customers to issue partial or full refunds to previous customers, or to purchase cars to sell to other customers, all while using a large portion of his customers’ money to support his own lavish lifestyle.
Even the possibility of going to jail didn’t slow Brown’s criminal activities down: Advised that he was the focus of a federal investigation in July 2012, he continued to ply his trade. For his last criminal act, committed shortly after his guilty plea in February 2015, Brown managed to swindle a quarter of a million dollars from a well-known former National Basketball Association player who was looking for a deal on a luxury car.