Sunday, January 31, 2016

On This Day in History; Viet Cong Attack U.S. Embassy In Saigon During Tet Offensive in 1968

As notes, on this day in history the Viet Cong attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

On this day in 1968, as part of the Tet Offensive, a squad of Viet Cong guerrillas attacks the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The soldiers seized the embassy and held it for six hours until an assault force of U.S. paratroopers landed by helicopter on the building's roof and routed the Viet Cong.

The Tet Offensive was planned as a massive, simultaneous attack on the major cities and provincial capitals of South Vietnam. It was scheduled to take place during Tet, the Vietnamese lunar New Year celebration, which was traditionally a time of decreased fighting.  

...The Timing and magnitude of the attacks caught the South Vietnamese and Americans forces off guard, although they quickly recovered and recaptured the occupied areas. Militarily, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the Communist, who suffered devastating losses. However, while the offensive was a crushing military defeat, the Communists scored a huge psychological victory that would ultimately help them win the war. 

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

You can also read my piece on the Vietnam War via the below link:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Iraq Vet: It’s Infuriating To See Donald Trump Use Veterans

William Treseder, a former Marine and Iraq veteran unloads on Donald Trump's use of veterans to win the election for TIME.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about veterans or the military. He might not even understand the difference between them.
Thursday night’s rally, which the Republican presidential candidate timed to coincide with the Republican debate, reminded us of just one fact: Donald Trump cares about winning. Veterans are a convenient means to help him, nothing more.
The event was designed for the sole purpose of reinforcing Trump’s frontrunner status. The majority of his remarks were focused on how far ahead he is in the polls, or congratulating his wealthy friends for their outsized donations.
Trump barely mentioned veterans. What he wanted was the best possible excuse to avoid the debate. Veterans, especially wounded veterans, were the perfect excuse. Who doesn’t want to support veterans? That was the key to claiming the moral high ground. Without fundraising for such a popular cause, Trump would have been just another candidate whining about unfair treatment by moderators.
But despite his best efforts, Trump can’t fake a history of caring about veterans. Last year we learned how little his foundation has actually contributed to veteran causes—only $57,000 of $5.5 million in donations between 2009 and 2013.
Despite a lack of any demonstrated interest or connection to veterans, Trump relished the chance to draw comparisons between his checkered career in business and the battlefield exploits of others. He said he “has a different sort of guts” and is “financially courageous,” two phrases that must have prompted winces among some veterans watching the event—myself included.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Note:  What I also find infuriating is Trump's stating that his attending a preppy military high school is the equivalent to military service. Every veteran I know finds that laughable.

Al-Shabaab Member Sentenced To Nine Years For Conspiring To Provide Material Support To The Terrorist Organization

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

Mahdi Hashi, 26, a Somali national, was sentenced to nine years in prison by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.  The defendant traveled from the United Kingdom to Somalia to join the terrorist group.  While in Somalia, the defendant was affiliated with the American jihadist Omar Hamami and his band of American fighters, as well as individuals associated with al-Shabaab’s suicide bomber program. 
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
As stated in court today and according to court documents, between approximately December 2009 and August 2012, the defendant served as a member of al-Shabaab in Somalia where he conspired to support al-Shabaab and its violent extremist agenda.   In August 2012, the defendant was apprehended with others by local authorities in East Africa after he left Somalia, and then lawfully deported to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution in November 2012.
On Nov. 14, 2012, the FBI took custody of the defendant and brought him to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution.  He, along with two codefendants, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2015.
“Hashi travelled to Somalia to join and fight on behalf of al-Shabaab in their foreign terrorist fighter ranks,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “The National Security Division remains committed to detecting, thwarting and bringing to justice those who seek to provide material support to and fight on behalf of designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
“This defendant left his family and his adopted home in the United Kingdom behind so he could offer himself in support of al-Shabaab, a violent terrorist organization that has demonstrated its capabilities and motives in numerous terrorist attacks and that has publicly called for attacks against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Capers.  “Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to others who offer support to terrorist groups that pose a threat to the United States and our allies around the world.”
“Mahdi Hashi joined a foreign terrorist organization to be part of a group utilizing violence to fulfill their agenda,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez.  “He now finds himself isolated behind bars due to the criminality of his activities.  Through today’s sentence, we hope he can no longer be in a position to inflict, or support those who inflict, harm on others.  The FBI, in cooperation with our JTTF partners, will continue to work to identify and interrupt those engaged in terrorist activities globally, and bring them to justice in the U.S.”
During the time of the charged conspiracy and thereafter, al-Shabaab successfully recruited individuals from around the world, including Hashi, to come to Somalia and join the organization.  These individuals, known within al-Shabaab as “foreign fighters,” lived, trained and often fought alongside native Somali fighters.  Al-Shabaab frequently made Western foreign fighters the face of its fundraising and propaganda efforts as part of a broader strategy emphasizing that the conflict in Somalia was part of a global jihad aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate.  In addition, al-Shabaab assesses that Westerners have the potential to more easily cross certain international borders.  Because al-Shabaab frequently employs suicide bombings, as it did in the Kampala, Uganda, attacks in 2010 resulting in 74 deaths, freedom of travel was and is particularly crucial to al-Shabaab’s external terror operations.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in thanking the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.
The government’s case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth D. DuCharme and Richard M. Tucker of the Eastern District of New York, along with Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided invaluable assistance. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

U.S. Navy Officer Sentenced To 40 Months In Prison For Selling Classified Ship Schedules As Part Of Navy Bribery Probe

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

A U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander was sentenced today to 40 months in prison for accepting cash, hotel expenses and the services of a prostitute from foreign defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in exchange for classified U.S. Navy ship and submarine schedules and other internal Navy information.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.
In April 2015, Todd Dale Malaki, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and admitted that in 2006, while he was working as a supply officer for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, he began a corrupt relationship with Leonard Glenn Francis, the former president and CEO of GDMA, a company that provided port services to U.S. Navy ships and submarines throughout the Pacific.  In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California ordered Malaki to pay a $15,000 fine and $15,000 in restitution to the Navy.
As part of the scheme, Malaki provided Francis with classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and proprietary invoicing information about GDMA’s competitors in exchange for luxury hotel stays in Singapore, Hong Kong and the island of Tonga, as well as envelopes of cash, entertainment expenses and the services of a prostitute.  Malaki admitted that the total value of the benefits he received from Francis was approximately $15,000. 
To date, 10 individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, nine have pleaded guilty, including Malaki, Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, Captain Daniel Dusek, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug.  Former Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employee Paul Simpkins awaits trial.  On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; the others await sentencing. 
The NCIS, the DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are conducting the ongoing investigation.  Assistant Chief Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert S. Huie of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at or the DoD Hotline at, or call (800) 424-9098.

South Philly Wiseguys And Wannabes Back In Business

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the above photo) offers a piece at on the resurgence of organized crime in South Philly.

Ron Galati won't be taking part in the underworld renaissance currently unfolding in South Philadelphia.

Instead, the wannabe wiseguy and auto body shop owner, who is already serving a 23-year federal sentence for a murder conspiracy conviction, is due in Common Pleas in September to answer fraud and murder-for-hire charges.

A trial date of Sept. 7 was set this morning at a status conference hearing before Judge Jeffrey Minehart. Galati, his wife Vicki and his son, Ron Jr., are slated to be at the defense table along with several other defendants if that trial goes off as planned.

Galati has been off the streets for the past two years and has missed out on what law enforcement sources are describing as the resurgence of the local crime family. At his bail hearing two years ago, Galati, now 65, was described by Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz as having a "close personal relationship" with then mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and Ligambi's nephew, mobster George Borgesi.

Both Ligambi and Borgesi were back in the news this week. On Monday, reporter Dave Schratwieser on a Fox 29 television special report, offered an update on the local mob, noting that Ligambi, Borgesi and others are frequently spotted at a recently opened clubhouse at 11th and Jackson Streets and that Borgesi and others have branched out into the construction and home rehab business with an office on Passyunk Avenue.

"It's all legit," said one source familiar with the new business ventures. "They're not doing anything wrong."

The television report said as much, but that hasn't stopped some of the wiseguys, wannabes and sycophants now hanging out at the clubhouse from complaining about media coverage. 

"You have to admire their resilience," said one state investigator who, like several others, has been surprised at how quickly and easily the mobsters have fallen back into their old routines, hanging with the same individuals, congregating at a clubhouse to socialize and branching out into the business world. 

Both the FBI and investigators with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and State Police have been tracking the activities. 

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia's latest book Gotti's Rules below:

New FBI Academy Program Integrates Agents And Intelligence Analysts

The FBI released the below report:

Today’s special agents and intelligence analysts graduating from the FBI Academy are beginning their first assignments fully prepared for collaborative work in the field thanks to an innovative training program launched in 2015.
Dubbed the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC), the new program offers an integrated curriculum that places new agent and intelligence analyst trainees together in a squad-like environment—the way agents and analysts work in actual FBI field offices. During the course, trainees learn skills like conducting investigations, interviewing, and providing briefings. Their academic training culminates with criminal and counterterrorism exercises modeled after real-world scenarios.
“The BFTC serves as an important element of our continued efforts to improve collaboration throughout the organization,” said Mark Morgan, assistant director of the Bureau’s Training Division. “From their first days in the FBI, special agents and intelligence analysts sit side-by-side, wear the same uniforms, and learn the necessity of working as a single, integrated, cohesive team. This is an exciting shift in the way we do things.”
Prior to launching the BFTC, agents and intelligence analysts historically trained under separate programs. While the new program integrates trainees where appropriate, specialized courses are still provided to students based on what their roles will be in the field. For example, special agents are instructed on the fundamentals of operating firearms and tactical driving, while intelligence analysts are taught how to analyze emerging threats and provide intelligence reports.
“We changed the way our students learn by integrating special agent and intelligence analyst instructors in the classroom—the lessons are presented by a team,” said Zachary Lowe, chief of the Training Division’s Instruction Section. “Having great instructors with current field experience integrating intelligence and operations has been critical to the success of the BFTC.”
The first group of graduates to complete the new training course walked across the stage at the FBI Academy this past fall to receive their credentials. One of those graduates was Alexandra, who now serves in the field as an intelligence analyst. Like other students in her class, Alexandra felt the program provided her with an invaluable experience.
“There was a great deal of cohesion within our group. We didn’t see each other as agents and analysts—we were just one class,” she said. “Having this type of integrated training, I believe, is the right step for the future of the FBI. Since we’re going to be working together in the field, it only makes sense to start us off so that collaboration is the only thing we know.”
The BFTC was developed in response to a key recommendation made in the 9/11 Commission Report, which called for the FBI to integrate its workforce and implement a dedicated team approach to national security operations. The curriculum of the new program answers this call by providing trainees with the necessary building blocks to further the FBI’s dual law enforcement and intelligence mission.
“Students completing the course now have a broader knowledge base to help them acclimate to the workforce,” said Catherine Fletcher, chief of the Training Division’s Curriculum Management Section.
Fletcher’s group played an integral role in developing the program’s learning components. Numerous subject matter experts as well as Headquarters and field office personnel were enlisted to provide input on the fundamental aspects of the program. Once the course’s curriculum was produced, it was thoroughly reviewed to ensure the content was relevant, current, and met the needs of the FBI’s mission. In all, the program was built from the ground up over the span of three years.
“During the BFTC development process, we focused on areas that would deliver the foundational skills needed for agents and analysts to understand each other’s roles,” said Fletcher. “By bringing in specialists from the field, holding focus groups, and connecting to the FBI’s current policies and procedures, we believe that this new curriculum achieves the end goal of instilling a team culture.”
Now in its 10th month at the FBI Academy, the BFTC is providing hundreds of new agents and intelligence analysts with the tools to succeed in the field as a seamless unit. Over time, the program will continue to evolve as new investigative and intelligence-gathering techniques emerge.
“We all have a stake in this new holistic approach to training, and we’ll need to stretch and learn accordingly,” said Fletcher. “In the end, we’re working as equal partners to support the FBI and the intelligence community as a whole.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty To Accepting Cash And Prostitutes In International Bribery Scheme

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

A U.S. Navy Commander pleaded guilty today to bribery charges, admitting that he accepted cash, gifts, travel expenses, entertainment and the services of prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in exchange for classified U.S. Navy information, including ship schedules that contained information related to the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile defense operations in the Pacific.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.
Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 48, of San Diego, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Adler of the Southern District of California to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 29, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California.
“In exchange for luxury vacations, gifts and other expenses, Commander Misiewicz betrayed his oath, the men and women of the U.S. Navy, and American taxpayers by directing lucrative government contracts to his financial patron,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Working with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division is committed to prosecuting corrupt officials who abuse positions of public trust.”
“Commander Misiewicz provided information to a foreign contractor that, in the wrong hands, could’ve had a devastating impact on national security,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy.  “By giving in to greed, he put his Navy shipmates and fellow Americans in harm’s way.  This guilty plea is an important step in ensuring that all those who violated their duty of trust to the United States in this affair are held accountable.” 
“Today's guilty plea of Commander Misiewicz is yet another example of a U.S. Navy officer who sought to enrich himself at the expense of U.S. taxpayers,” said Director Burch.  “This type of reprehensible behavior will not be tolerated.  Those who serve in the U.S. Navy have an obligation to uphold the public's trust or suffer the consequences.  DCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Department of Justice will vigorously pursue this investigation wherever it may lead us.”
“Commander Misiewicz chose personal gain and gratification over sacrifice and service to our country," said Director Traver.  “His actions are antithetical to the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment.  Along with DCIS, we will continue vigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation.”
According to admissions in his plea agreement, from January 2011 until September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to the defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, CEO and owner of Singapore-based GDMA.  GDMA provided port services to U.S. Navy ships and submarines when they arrived at ports throughout the Pacific.
Misiewicz admitted that when he was stationed in Japan, on the USS Mustin and in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to advance the interests of GDMA, including by providing Francis with classified ship schedules and other proprietary U.S. Navy information.  In return, Misiewicz admitted that Francis gave him cash, paid for luxury travel on at least eight occasions for Misiewicz and his family, provided his wife with a designer handbag and provided Misiewicz with the services of prostitutes on multiple occasions.  Throughout the conspiracy, Misiewicz admitted that he and his conspirators took steps to avoid detection by law enforcement by, among other means, using clandestine email accounts, which they periodically deleted.  
To date, nine individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, eight have pleaded guilty, including Misiewicz, Captain Daniel Dusek, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug.  Former Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employee Paul Simpkins awaits trial.  On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; the others await sentencing.
The NCIS, the DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are conducting the ongoing investigation.  Assistant Chief Brian R. Young and Trial Attorney Lawrence Atkinson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case. 
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at or the DoD Hotline at, or call (800) 424-9098.

Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Sentenced To Prison For Disclosing Confidential Bid Information For Government Contracts And Tax Fraud

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

A retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 18 months in prison following his guilty plea to unlawfully disclosing confidential procurement information and filing a false tax return, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to court documents, Trevor Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force in December 2012 at the rank of Master Sergeant.  From February 2009 through February 2010, Smith was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as Supply Non-Commissioned Officer-In-Charge for the Operation Enduring Freedom/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan NATO Training Mission.  In that capacity, Smith met a Fort Lauderdale-based government contractor.  As part of his plea, Smith admitted that he agreed to disclose confidential bid information on government contracts to the contractor in exchange for bribe payments.  Smith and the contractor agreed that Smith would receive two percent of all revenues on contracts that the contractor received as a result of Smith’s assistance.
In January 2010, the contractor wired $42,853.29 to Smith.  The two agreed to wait until Smith returned to the United States for more payments.  After returning to the United States, Smith set up a shell corporation called T Star Air Inc. to receive 23 additional payments totaling $220,600.  Smith also created and submitted phony invoices to conceal the scheme.  For tax years 2010 through 2012, Smith filed corporate tax returns for T Star Air that falsely claimed inflated expenses and deductions.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom for the Southern District of Florida ordered Smith to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $6,501.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, who investigated this case and Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Jason H. Poole of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida for their substantial assistance. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Little Night Music: Diana Krall's 'I Can't Tell You Why"

You can hear jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall's cover of The Eagles' I Can't Tell You Why and her other cover songs in her album Wallflower via the below link: 

The Admiral In Charge Of Navy intelligence Has Not Been Allowed To See Military Secrets For Years

Craig Whitlock at the Washington Post offers a piece the Navy admiral who is in charge of naval intelligence, but can't access classified information due to his possible involvement with a bribery scandal and investigation .

For more than two years, the Navy’s intelligence chief has been stuck with a major handicap: He’s not allowed to know any secrets.
Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch has been barred from reading, seeing or hearing classified information since November 2013, when the Navy learned from the Justice Department that his name had surfaced in a giant corruption investigation involving a foreign defense contractor and scores of Navy personnel.
Worried that Branch was on the verge of being indicted, Navy leaders suspended his access to classified materials. They did the same to one of his deputies, Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations.
More than 800 days later, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged. But neither has been cleared, either. Their access to classified information remains blocked.
Although the Navy transferred Loveless to a slightly less sensitive post, it kept Branch in charge of its intelligence division. That has resulted in an awkward arrangement, akin to sending a warship into battle with its skipper stuck onshore.
Some critics have questioned how smart it is for the Navy to retain an intelligence chief with such limitations, for so long, especially at a time when the Pentagon is confronted by crises in the Middle East, the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and other hot spots.
“I have never heard of anything as asinine, bizarre or stupid in all my years,” Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and historian, said in an interview.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

ISIL-Linked Hacker Arrives In United States To Face Terrorism Charges

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

Ardit Ferizi, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia on charges alleging that he provided material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and committed computer hacking and identity theft violations in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information (PII) of U.S. service members and federal employees.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Michelle S. Klimt of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division made the announcement.
Ferizi, who was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the United States, was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015.  The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015.  Ferizi subsequently waived extradition.
If convicted, Ferizi faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Jacksonville Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  The Malaysian authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.

The Lost Mandate Of Heaven: The American Betrayal Of Ngo Dinh Diem, President Of Vietnam

John R. Coyle Jr. offers a review of Geoffrey Shaw's The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam in the Washington Times.

Camelot was with us for only a bit more than three years, before it went shimmering off into legend. But during its brief existence, the Kennedy administration managed to do disproportionate damage to our foreign policy and reputation in the world.
There was the Bay of Pigs fiasco, characterized by historian Theodore Draper as “one of those rare events in history — a perfect failure.”
And according to Geoffrey Shaw, our role in Vietnam represented another near-perfect failure with much broader consequences. Among the missteps: sharp military escalation and the deepening involvement in the country’s government, in the process overturning the carefully balanced Indo-China policy established by the Eisenhower administration, and ultimately leading to the sanctioned assassination ofNgo Dinh Diem, the first president of the Republic of South Vietnam.
It’s the thesis of Mr. Shaw, a respected authority on U.S. diplomatic and military history in Southeast Asia, that President Diem, possessing the Confucian “Mandate of Heaven,” a moral and political authority that was widely recognized and accepted by the Vietnamese, was a man of great personal integrity who was successfully defending his country from Communism while fighting off Western attempts to usurp his governing authority.
On Nov. 1, 1963, Gen. Duong Van (‘Big”) Minh, with Washington’s tacit approval, led an attack on the presidential palace. Diem surrendered a day later, and on Nov. 3, he and his brother were murdered in the back of an American personnel carrier.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

A Little Night Music: The Rippington's 'The Waterfalls Of Bequia'

You can listen to the smooth jazz sound of the Rippington's The Waterfalls of Bequia via the below link:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

'Diabolical' Inmate Who Escaped Prison Likened To Fictional Evil Character Hannibal Lecter

The New York Post offers a piece on the escaped con who is as violent and evil a criminal as Thomas Harris'  fictional Hannibal Lector.

A prosecutor pursuing a case against one of the three men who broke out of a Southern California prison Friday reacted: “Oh, my God, they let Hannibal Lecter out.”
Hossein Nayeri, a former Marine who had escaped to his native Iran in 2012, faces charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary. Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown told the Orange County Register the man is “diabolical … sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning.”
Brown says Nayeri helped kidnap a marijuana dealer in 2012, burned him with a blowtorch and forced another suspect to cut off the dealer’s penis because Nayeri thought the man had buried money in the desert. Soon afterward, investigators say he left for Iran, but they caught him while he was on his way to Spain to visit family.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Abe Vigoda, Who Played Tessio in The Godfather films And Detective Fish On Barney Miller, Dies At 94

The Daily Mail offers a piece on the death of actor Abe Vigoda.

Character actor Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sunken-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series Barney Miller and the doomed Mafia soldier in The Godfather, died on Tuesday at age 94.

Vigoda's daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died on Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs' home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. 'This man was never sick,' Fuchs said.
Vigoda worked in relative obscurity as a supporting actor in the New York theater and in television until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the 1972 Oscar-winning The Godfather.

Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) who hopes to take over the family after Vito's death by killing his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But Michael anticipates that Sal's suggestion for a 'peace summit' among crime families is a setup and the escorts Sal thought were taking him to the meeting turn out to be his executioners. 

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why The Justice Department Won't Work With The FBI On Clinton's Email Case

Former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy offers a piece at National Review on the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email.

The latest shoe in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s scandalous mishandling of classified information dropped heavily this week. It had already been reported that, contrary to her denials, hundreds of secret intelligence communications were transmitted over the private, unsecured e-mail system on which the former secretary of state recklessly conducted government business. It is now clear that some of these contained “top secret/SAP” information. (SAP is “special access programs.”) This indicates defense secrets of the highest order, the compromise of which can destroy vital intelligence programs, get covert agents killed, and imperil national security.

... The FBI may not have a Justice Department prosecutor convening a grand jury, but it so happens that Director James Comey (whom I have known since we were pup prosecutors under Rudy Giuliani nearly 30 years ago) is a more accomplished government lawyer than anyone at the Justice Department. In fact, his own decorated DOJ career includes a term as deputy attorney general of the United States under President George W. Bush. Besides working under administrations of both parties, he has overseen prosecutions of both Republicans and Democrats. I’ve known no one in law enforcement more capable of navigating through a political maelstrom. Jim is tough, he is smart, and if there is a case to be made here, he will make it. And if he makes it, it will be bulletproof.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

FBI: Countering the Growing Intellectual Property Theft Threat And Enhancing Ties Between Law Enforcement and Business

The FBI offers a report on the growing theft of intellectual property.

In 2008, a new federal law creating stricter penalties for criminals who engaged in intellectual property theft was enacted to keep pace with globalization, e-commerce, and technology advances.
Fast forward to 2016: Technological advances continue at an even faster pace, dramatically increasing the threat posed by criminals who steal trade secrets, produce and/or traffic in counterfeit products, and infringe on copyrights. One important factor in this increase is the global expansion of online marketplaces, which aids international and domestic criminal organizations in trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a new strategy that involves partnering more closely with businesses in an effort to combat these types of crimes more effectively. Said Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “Through this new approach, we intend to provide information and resources to individuals and companies that will help them identify and disrupt attempts on their intellectual property, extend greater protection to American commerce as a whole, and safeguard the health and safety of individual Americans.”

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

On This Day In History: North Korea Seizes The USS Pueblo

As notes, on this day in history the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea.

You can read about the event via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of Jack Cheevers' Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo via the below link:

William F. Buckley On Donald Trump And Demagoguery

After the influential conservative magazine National Review published an entire issue dedicated to trashing Donald Trump -  - the magazine now reprints a 2000 Cigar Aficionado piece on Trump from the late, great founder of the magazine, William F. Buckley.

Many people are inflamed by the rampant demagoguery in the present scene. Demagoguery — demagogy — comes in two modes. Most conspicuous is that of the candidate who promises the voters what are best described as Nice Things. Why not health care for the uninsured? Or for children? Why not cheaper drugs? Free child delivery? (Free funerals?) Sharpshooters tracking down demagogy were out there waiting last summer, eyes trained, when Bill Bradley arrived in Iowa. Would he do it? Would he advocate an end to the subsidy of ethanol? Ethanol is the program, excogitated during the Carter Administration, which sought to augment the staying power of a gallon of gasoline by an infusion of ethanol. What happened is that the price of oil went down, and the potential economic value of an ethanol additive turned out to be less than the cost of producing ethanol, and that was many moons ago. . . .

What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? In some cases, the vision isn’t merely a program to be adopted. It is a program that includes the visionary’s serving as President. Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bookmonger Podcast: Bernard Cornwell Discusses 'Warriors Of The Storm' And His Other Works Of Historical Fiction

John J. Miller at National Review Online offers a podcast interview with historical fiction author Bernard Cornwell.

Author Bernard Cornwell talks about his new novel, Warriors of the Storm, the challenges of writing about England before the Norman Conquest, and how he wound up as an American citizen. 

You can listen to the interview via the below link:

You can also read my interview with Bernard Cornwell about his Sharpe novels via the below link:

Semper Cop: Happy Birthday To Former LAPD Detective Sergeant And Best-Selling Author Joseph Wambaugh

Happy birthday to Joseph Wambaugh, who was born on this date in 1937.

Joseph Wambaugh is the author of several classic police and crime novels, including The Onion Field and The Choirboys.

You can read my interview with Joesph Wambaugh via the below link:

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Joseph Wambaugh Hollywood Station below:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

National Review: Against Trump

The editors of the influential conservative magazine National Review came out against Donald Trump.

Donald Trump leads the polls nationally and in most states in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. There are understandable reasons for his eminence, and he has shown impressive gut-level skill as a campaigner. 

But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones. 

Trump’s political opinions have wobbled all over the lot. The real-estate mogul and reality-TV star has supported abortion, gun control, single-payer health care à la Canada, and punitive taxes on the wealthy. (He and Bernie Sanders have shared more than funky outer-borough accents.) Since declaring his candidacy he has taken a more conservative line, yet there are great gaping holes in it.

... On foreign policy, Trump is a nationalist at sea. Sometimes he wants to let Russia fight ISIS, and at others he wants to “bomb the sh**” out of it. He is fixated on stealing Iraq’s oil and casually suggested a few weeks ago a war crime — killing terrorists’ families — as a tactic in the war on terror. For someone who wants to project strength, he has an astonishing weakness for flattery, falling for Vladimir Putin after a few coquettish bats of the eyelashes from the Russian thug. All in all, Trump knows approximately as much about national security as he does about the nuclear triad — which is to say, almost nothing.

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

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Sentenced To 27 Months In Prison For Trading Classified Information In International Fraud and Bribery Scandal

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

A U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for accepting cash, consumer electronics and travel expenses from foreign defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in exchange for classified U.S. Navy information.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Special Agent in Charge Chris D. Hendrickson of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Western Field Office and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.
In May 2014, Dan Layug, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and is the first defendant to be sentenced in the bribery scheme involving Singapore-based GDMA, which provided port services to U.S. Navy ships in the Asia Pacific region and used bribery to obtain information to win and maintain contracts.
According to court documents, GDMA owner and CEO Leonard Francis and other GDMA employees enlisted the clandestine assistance of Layug and other U.S. Navy personnel to provide classified ship schedules and other sensitive Navy information.  GDMA allegedly overcharged the Navy under its contracts and submitted bogus invoices for tens of millions of dollars in port services.
In his plea agreement, Layug admitted that he accepted a $1,000 per month allowance from GDMA, plus luxury hotel stays for himself and others in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand.  Layug also admitted that he sought consumer electronics from GDMA, including an iPad 3.  According to the plea agreement, Layug used his position as a logistics specialist at a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, to gain access to classified U.S. Navy ship schedules, then provided this information to GDMA’s vice president of global operations.  Layug admitted that he also provided pricing information from one of GDMA’s competitors.
So far, nine individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, seven have pleaded guilty.  Captain Daniel Dusek and Commander Jose Luis Sanchez were charged with bribery conspiracies involving GDMA and have pleaded guilty.  Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and former Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employee Paul Simpkins currently await trial.  On Dec. 17, 2013, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges for regularly alerting Francis to the status of the government’s investigation into GDMA.
The NCIS, the DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are conducting the ongoing investigation.  Trial Attorneys Brian Young and Lawrence Atkinson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at or the DoD Hotline at, or call (800) 424-9098.

Ex-KGB Spy Was Killed Because He Claimed Putin Was A Pedophile

Yaron Steinbuch at the New York Post offers a piece on the murder of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinko in the United Kingdom.

The Russian government likely ordered Alexander Litvinenko’s assassination in part because he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being a pedophile, a British inquiry concluded Thursday.
In the 300-page report, retired High Court judge Sir Robert Owen said Putin “probably” ordered the hit against Alexander Litvinenko, and used his position as head of Russian intelligence to destroy video evidence of himself having sex with underage boys — which was “the climax” of a bitter feud between the two men.
Owen said the personal attacks were among the “powerful motives” for the assassination.
“I am satisfied that, in general terms, members of the Putin administration, including the president himself and the FSB [Russia’s Federal Security Service], had motives for taking action against Litvinenko, including killing him,” Owen wrote.
.. “The FSB operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr. Patrushev, then head of the FSB, and also by President Putin,” Owen said.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

After Putin Ordered MURDER On British Streets David Cameron Admits He Has To Deal With The Russians - But Only With A 'Very Cold Heart' In A Diplomatic Stand-Off As Moscow Refuses To Hand Over The Litvinenko Assassins

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece on a report that accuses Russian leader VladimirPutin of ordering the murder of Alexander Litvinko in the UK.

A public inquiry into the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko prompted a furious diplomatic row between Britain and Russia today after the independent probe said President Putin had 'probably' personally authorised the 2006 killing.

Mr Litvinenko - who had accused the Russian president on his death bed - was killed by two FSB spies who slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel in central London, Sir Robert Owen said today in a major report.

Prime Minister David Cameron today said the report outlined what happened was 'absolutely appalling' but he admitted the Syria crisis meant Britain had to have a relationship with Russia albeit one with 'clear eyes and a cold heart'.

You can read the rest of the piece, view photos and watch a video clip via the below link:

Atlantic City Man Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Conspiring With Alleged Members Of Organized Crime Family And Others In Fraud Scheme

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

CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic City, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for assisting members and associates of an organized crime family in a fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
John Parisi, 54, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to conspiring to defraud FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a Texas-based financial services company targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group led by Nicodemo S. Scarfo. Judge Kugler imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Parisi and 12 others – including his cousin, Scarfo, an alleged member of the Lucchese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family, and Salvatore Pelullo, an alleged associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families – were variously charged in a November 2011 indictment with a racketeering conspiracy, including acts of securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The indictment charged that FPFG was targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group of the conspirators. A substantial part of the enterprise’s activities occurred in New Jersey, including communications and the transfer of money into and out of the state. John Parisi admitted that he joined the conspiracy in April 2007.
Parisi managed a family trust and a limited liability company on behalf of Scarfo as part of the scheme to defraud FPFG.  Parisi said Scarfo directed him in the use of various bank accounts through which Scarfo received hundreds of thousands of dollars between July 2007 and April 2008 as part of the scheme. As alleged in the indictment, the money involved proceeds of the fraud that Scarfo allegedly received as part of a fraudulent “consulting” agreement between his shell company, Learned Associates, and one controlled by Pelullo. The money also involved proceeds received from the fraudulent sale of Scarfo and Pelullo’s worthless companies to FPFG in 2007. The receipt of the fraudulent proceeds often occurred in the form of wire transfers from accounts in Pennsylvania to accounts in New Jersey.
Parisi admitted that beginning in February 2008 he assisted Scarfo and his then-fiancée, Lisa Marie Scarfo, obtain a mortgage for a $715,000 house in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, that the Scarfos intended to purchase. Lisa Marie Scarfo pleaded guilty on Sept. 17, 2013, to a conspiracy to make a false mortgage loan application in connection with the purchase of the Egg Harbor Township house.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Parisi to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $14 million in restitution.
Scarfo, Pelullo, and William and John Maxwell were convicted in convicted in July 2014 of racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice, after a six-month trial before Judge Kugler.  Scarfo and Pelullo were previously sentenced to 30 years in prison.  William and John Maxwell were previously sentenced to 20 and 10 years in prison, respectively.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. They also thanked the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations New York Region, the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their roles in the case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D’Aguanno and Howard Wiener of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Camden Office.
Defense counsel:  Lisa Evans Lewis Esq., Camden