Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our Presidential Candidates Are Bond Villains

Auric "Donald Trump" Goldfinger.

He loves gold. Businessman and criminal megalomaniac. Plotting to take over Fort Knox and the rest of America to increase his already large personal wealth and already large ego.

Rosa "Hillary Clinton" Klebb.

KGB Colonel (and former Secretary of State). Likes women, torture and pointy shoes. Has plans to enslave America with taxes and endless regulations.

Although not truly a villain because he thankfully has no chance to be president, one should know that Major "Bernie Sanders" Boothroyd, otherwise known as "Q," has some tricks up his sleeve and pant leg.

And thankfully we will soon say goodbye to Bond villain President Barrack "Mayday" Obama, who has caused more than enough damage to the country.

My Crime Beat Column: An Open Letter To Barbara Broccoli, Producer of the James Bond Films - Remake 'Moonraker' & Hire Aidan Turner As Bond

Dear Barbara Broccoli,

Your late father, Albert R. Broccoli, was a great man and film maker. He gave the world a wonderful cinematic portrayal of Ian Fleming's iconic character, James Bond. His films have entertained millions around the world for many years. And you and your brother have continued that fine tradition.

I became a Bond fan when I saw the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1963 when I was a young boy growing up in South Philadelphia. The early Bond films led me to Fleming's novels and I've been a Fleming aficionado ever since. I've reviewed Bond novels and written extensively about Ian Fleming and James Bond.

With press reports that actor Daniel Craig is giving up the Bond role, may I make three suggestions regarding the next Bond film?

First, hire Aidan Turner for the role of James Bond.

If you reread the novels, you'll note that Turner fits the physical description of Bond that Fleming gives the character.

Having watched And Then There Were None, I and many others saw Turner play a Bond-like role. The cool, tough and tuxedo-clad character was almost an audition for James Bond. And Turner nailed it, in my view.      

Second, remake Fleming's Moonraker.

Moonraker was one of the worst Bond movies. Although it was a profitable, well-made, amusing and light-hearted film starring an amusing and light-hearted Roger Moore as Bond, it was not a true James Bond thriller in my view.

A new Moonraker film should be more faithful to Fleming's great thriller than the 1979 film, although I understand that you would want the film to be set in contemporary times.

Sir Hugo Drax, a rich, crooked megalomaniac with wild hair, is a villain for our times.

And as there are still some World War II veterans alive these days, you could portray the villain as an elderly man and keep intact the WWII background Fleming gave the character (which I won't divulge here and spoil the plot).

I'd like to see Drax portrayed on the screen with the hair style, huge mustache, scarred face and circus ringmaster look that Fleming described in the novel.

Drax, if you recall, was a wealthy Englishman who wanted to "give back" to the United Kingdom by personally financing a rocket - the "Moonraker" - that would make the Brits equal to the superpowers.

The country loved the guy. His rags to riches story was dramatic and inspiring.

But there is a problem, M tells Bond.

Drax cheats at cards.

Looking to avoid a scandal and curious to know what this Drax fellow was all about, M assigns Bond to investigate him.

And the trouble begins.

Lastly, the next film should go back to portraying Bond as the British government's "blunt instrument" who goes on assignment, meets girls, eats and drinks well, kills guys, and saves the world.

I'd like to get past the back stories of Bond's life in recent films and just move on with the action, characters and the thrilling plot from Ian Fleming's Moonraker novel.

I hope my suggestions are helpful.


Paul Davis

Note: You can read two earlier Crime Beat columns on Ian Fleming and James Bond and my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Fleming's WWII service via the below links:




The Nazi Titanic

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Robert P. Watson's The Nazi Titanic.

Surely the phrase “friendly fire” ranks among the most sobering words in the military lexicon. In the fog of battle, an artillery spotter plots the wrong target. A rifleman mistakes a friend for an enemy. A fast-flying plane drops bombs prematurely. The result is that a comrade dies unnecessarily.
Military history teems with such horrors. In July 1944 alone, during the battle of Normandy, errant bombs killed not only a three-star general, Leslie J. McNair, but 111 other American soldiers.
But perhaps the most tragic of such episodes was the accidental sinking, by British Royal Air Force bombers, of a ship off the coast of Northern Germany carrying 4,500 persons who the Nazis had evacuated from a concentration camp. Only 350 of them survived. The deaths were all the more horrific because those killed had undergone years of brutal captivity, truly “innocent victims.”
Why these persons died is the subject of a gripping — and disturbing — book by Robert P. Watson, a historian who has authored 36 books. History has pretty much overlooked the tragedy, Mr. Watson writes, because it was “sandwiched halfway between Hitler’s suicide and victory in Europe.” He drew heavily on archives in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
What turned out to be the death ship was a one-time luxury German passenger liner, the Cap Ancona, which in the pre-war years carried 1,325 affluent passengers to South America per voyage. Owners called it “The German Titanic.” When the war began, it was converted into a “floating military barracks” and naval training platform.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Monday, May 30, 2016

Honor, Pride And Sorrow: Shakespeare For Memorial Day

The New York Post editorial board offers a bit of William Shakespeare on to commemorate Memorial Day.

Memorial Day inspires mixed emotions: pride in the valor of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom; sorrow that such self-sacrifice should have been necessary. Pride in past valor may be best expressed in the St. Crispin’s Day speech from “Henry V” (Act IV, Scene iii), delivered by the young king on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.
St. Crispin’s Day
By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


On Memorial Day, 2016, Johnny's Cash's Song, "Ragged Old Flag"

I thought an old Johnny Cash song, Ragged Old Flag, was appropriate on Memorial Day.

You can listen to the song via the below link:


Saturday, May 28, 2016

How British Spy And Traitor Guy Burgess Charmed The Observer’s Man In Moscow

Robert McCrum at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on British spy and traitor Guy Burgess and his meetings with a British newspaperman.

Ever since two members of the Foreign Office, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, both Cambridge graduates, screeched their Austin saloon to a halt in Southampton docks and scrambled aboard the midnight ferry to Saint-Malo in the closing minutes of 25 May 1951, their dramatic flight has sponsored a minor genre.
Now, with the release by MI5 of secret documents dealing with the Burgess and Maclean scandal, there is a new perspective on the betrayal that enthralled a generation. Two biographies of Burgess and a forthcoming account of Maclean (Orphan: The Lives of Donald Maclean by Roland Philipps) are just the latest manifestations of 1950s spy-mania. From thrillers and biographies to Alan Bennett’s television drama An Englishman Abroad, the “missing diplomats” (it was several weeks before their treachery as Soviet spies was confirmed) have inspired thousands of column inches.
The awesome scale of Russian penetration became a national obsession. In government, there was disbelief; among the reading public, fascination. Throughout the 1950s, the top newspaper story from Moscow was less to do with Stalin or Khrushchev than Burgess and Maclean, who became a strange kind of national brand as familiar to British readers as Fortnum & Mason or Gilbert and Sullivan.
For the defectors, their new life in the Soviet Union was both Yeomen of the Guardand Pirates of Penzance. Burgess was as worldly, reckless and compelling as his co-conspirator was stiff, ideological and forbidding. Where Maclean made a new career as “Mark Frazer”, instructing Soviet diplomats and avoiding British journalists, Burgess remained himself, a charming and erratic high-living homosexual, who continued to cruise and booze with Rabelaisian joie de vivre.
The sensational irruption of Guy Burgess, either on the telephone or in person, became a bizarre rite of passage for the English visitor to Soviet Moscow. On his first meeting with Michael Redgrave, who was playing in Hamlet with a touring Shakespeare company, Burgess was so drunk he threw up in the star’s dressing room, a story that would eventually attract Bennett’s attention.
Not everyone was enchanted by Burgess: Edward Crankshaw, for instance, was typical of the 1950s Observer. Like David Astor, his editor, he had done secret work in the second world war, serving in Moscow and then at Bletchley Park. Astor, who often hired journalists with wartime intelligence connections, brought Crankshaw on to his staff in 1947 to specialise in Soviet Russia.
As an Observer recruit, Crankshaw had even been summoned by Burgess, in his Foreign Office guise, for a dressing-down for being “too soft towards Russia”. It was Crankshaw’s first meeting with Burgess and he was not impressed. But he was no ordinary journalist. Steeped in Russia, Crankshaw seems always to have mixed reportage with espionage, attracting the attention of both the CIA and the KGB.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


A Surreal Day In America's War Against ISIS

Richard Whittle at the New York Post offers a piece on a surreal day in America's war against ISIS.

One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1866, the town of Waterloo, NY, celebrated the first Memorial Day, remembering the fallen of the Civil War. Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson honored Waterloo and reaffirmed the Memorial Day celebration, then centered around the heroes of World War II.
This Memorial Day, we’re fighting a different kind of war — one that would be unrecognizable to our forefathers.
Though it involves thousands of Americans, and a good chunk of our economy, the war against the Islamic State is fought mostly in front of computer screens, in places like Langley, Va., and upstate Syracuse.

It is, in many ways, a surreal conflict, one where some combatants can get a latte after the battle.
For that reason, it can be easy for Americans to forget we’re even fighting a war. Though our airmen and women fly hundreds of missions a day, it’s not uncommon for the conflict to go unmentioned on the news for weeks.
But the stakes are just as high, as ISIS brutalizes the people of Iraq and Syria and preaches global jihad. Also, while the United States mostly conducts airstrikes at a remove, there are still 4,000 US troops in Iraq. Three have lost their lives in this war that we don’t call a war. It’s called Operation Inherent Resolve.
You can read the rest of the piece and view photos and videos via the below link:


Remembering 'James Bond' Author Ian Fleming On His 108th birth anniversary: Famous Quotes By The Renowned Writer

The International Business Times offers a piece about Ian Fleming on the great thriller writer's' birthday.

As the world celebrates the 108th birth anniversary of the legendary author, here are some of his most popular quotes:
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."
"Never say 'no' to adventures. Always say 'yes', otherwise you'll lead a very dull life."
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Happy Birthday To Ian Fleming, The Creator Of James Bond

Happy birthday to the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, who was born on this date in 1908.

You can read read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Fleming's WWII experience as a naval intelligence officer and the founder of an intelligence-commando group called the 30 Assault Unit via the below link:


You can also read one of my Crime Beat columns on Ian Fleming and his iconic character, James Bond, via the below link:


And you can learn more about Ian Fleming at http://www.ianfleming.com/ian-fleming/

"Fat Leonard" Francis: The Man Who Seduced The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet

Craig Whitlock offers a good, in-depth story at the Washington Post on "Fat Leonard" Glenn Francis, the U.S. Navy contractor behind the Navy's ongoing bribery and fraud scandal.

You can read the piece via the below link:


Note: The top photo shows the USS Decatur in Hong Kong Harbor. The above photo shows Leonard with Admiral Mike Mullen.

Three Navy Officers Charged In Expanding Bribery And Fraud Scheme

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

Three current and former Navy officers were charged in documents unsealed today for their roles in a massive bribery and fraud scheme involving a Navy contractor. 
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Acting Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Director Anita Bales of Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) made the announcement.
Retired Navy Captain Michael Brooks, 57, of Fairfax Station, Virginia; Commander Bobby Pitts, 47, of Chesapeake, Virginia; and Lieutenant Commander Gentry Debord, 47, who is based in Singapore, were charged on May 25, 2016, in the Southern District of California.  Brooks and Debord were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and Pitts was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of justice.  All of the charges relate to the defendants’ interactions with Leonard Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contracting firm based in Singapore.  Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearances today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; Debord appeared in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.  Brooks was allowed to post a $50,000 bond; Pitts was granted a $5,000 bond, ordered to be subject to electronic monitoring and to appear in the Southern District of California on June 10; and Debord was granted a $40,000 bond secured by real property.  Debord is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bartick of the Southern District of California on June 9, 2016.
According to the indictment, from June 2006 to July 2008, Brooks served as the U.S. Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.  The indictment alleges that in exchange for travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes, Brooks used his office to benefit GDMA and Francis, including securinge the quarterly diplomatic clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic clearance of the U.S. Embassy; limited the amount of custom fees and taxes that GDMA was required to pay in the Philippines; and enabled GDMA to avoid inspection of any quantity or type of cargo that it transported.  The indictment also alleges that Brooks provided Francis with sensitive Navy information, including billing information belonging to a GDMA competitor and Navy ship schedules.   
According to the indictment, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts was the Officer in Charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC), which was charged with meeting the logistical needs of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.  The indictment alleges that in exchange for entertainment, meals and the services of a prostitute, Pitts used his position with FISC to interfere with NCIS investigations into GDMA.  Pitts allegedly provided Francis with a  hard copy of an NCIS report detailing an investigation into GDMA for contract fraud marked “for official use only.”  According to the indictment, the report detailed NCIS’ investigative steps and witnesses that NCIS had interviewed.  The indictment further alleges that in November 2010, Pitts forwarded to a GDMA employee an internal Navy email discussing details of FISC’s efforts to oversee GDMA’s contracts with the U.S. Navy. 
According to the criminal complaint, from November 2007 to August 2013, Debord served in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific.  In exchange for cash, hotel stays and the services of prostitutes, Debord allegedly provided Francis with inside Navy information and documents, including information about competitors’ bids and information about an investigation into GDMA billing practices.  In an attempt to conceal the true nature of his relationship with Francis, Debord allegedly referred to prostitutes as “cheesecake” or “bodyguards.”  The complaint also alleges that Debord schemed with Francis to defraud the Navy through the submission and approval of inflated invoices.
Including those charged yesterday, 13 individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, nine have pleaded guilty, including U.S. Navy Captain (Select) Michael Misiewicz, U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug.  Former Department of Defense Senior Executive Paul Simpkins awaits trial.  On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; on Jan. 29, 2016, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine; on March 18, 2016, Alex Wisidagama, a former GDMA employee, was sentenced to 63 months and to pay $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy; on March 25, 2016, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine; and on April 29, 2016, Misiewicz was sentenced to 78 months in prison and to pay a fine of $100,000 and to forfeit $95,000 in proceeds for the scheme.
The NCIS, DCIS and DCAA are conducting the ongoing investigation.  Assistant Chief Brian R. Young 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. 
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

Friday, May 27, 2016

My Crime Beat Column: From Street To Paper: A Look Back At Dashiell Hammett, Crime Writer & Detective

Happy birthday to one of my favorite writers, the late, great Dashiell Hammett, who was born on this date in 1894.

"Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare and tropical fish," wrote Raymond Chandler, another late, great crime writer, and another one of my favorite writers. "He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before."

I've been reading and rereading Hammett's crime novels and short stories since I was a teenager. Despite his foolish admiration of the communist dictator and mass murderer Stalin and his naive attachment to the American Communist Party, I've come to admire him as a man and writer.

One has to admit he had the courage of his convictions, and he served honorably in the U.S. Army in both world wars. But it was his time as a Pinkerton detective that provided Hammett with the material for an original body of work that draws each new generation of crime fiction aficionados to him.  

I've read a couple of biographies of Hammett over the years and a short while back I read Nathan Ward's excellent book on Hammett, The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett.

I enjoyed the book and I liked his idea of covering his life before his fame as a writer, before his relationship to writer Lillian Hellman (an awful person, in my view), before his six-months in prison, and before his IRS difficulties and testimony before the McCarthy hearings on American communists.

Ward's book informs us that Hammett left school at 14 and joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency as an operative in 1915. He left in 1918 to serve in the U.S. Army during WWI, where he contacted tuberculosis, and he returned to the Pinkertons the following year and stayed as a detective until 1922.

"A good detective has to be brave, vigorous, damnably clever, tireless - altogether a real person! His is an extraordinarily complicated mechanism" - Dashiell Hammett.

As Ward notes in his book, his tuberculosis forced him to give up being a detective, but it may well have prompted him to become a literary legend. The journey on that hard road is what Ward's The Lost Detective is all about.

"While Hammett's life on center stage has been well-documented, the question of how he got there has not," Bloomsbury, Ward's publisher, writes. "That largely overlooked phase is the subject of Nathan Ward's The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett. Hammett's childhood, his life in San Francisco, and especially his experience as a detective deeply informed his writing and his characters, from the nameless Continental Op, hero of his stories and early novels, to Sam Spade and Nick Charles. The success of his many stories in the pulp magazine Black Mask following his departure from the Pinketons led him to novels; he would write five between 1929 and 1934, two of them, The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, are now American classics."

Ward researched the Pinkerton archive at the Library of Congress, which holds sixty thousand documents and several hundred boxes of operative reports, along with agency employee records and other papers. Unfortunately, Ward was unable to discover any of Hammett's reports.

"But even after an hour spent reading through the reports of other operatives gives a good idea of the experiences and format that formed Hammett as a writer," Ward writes in his book.

"I decided to become a writer. It was a good idea. Having had no experience whatever in writing, except letters and reports, I wasn't handicapped by exaggerated notions of the difficulties ahead" - Dashiell Hammett.

If you've read and enjoyed Hammett's stories over the years, as I have, you might enjoy reading Ward's insightful and informative book.

"The contemporary novelist's job is to take pieces of life and arrange them on paper. And the more direct their passage from street to paper, the more lifelike they should be" - Dashiell Hammett.

U.S. Servicemember Admits To Illegally Retaining Photos Taken Inside Nuclear Submarine And Impeding Investigation

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

Kristian Saucier, 29, of Arlington, Vermont, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the District of Connecticut to one count of unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information.
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly of the District of Connecticut.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from September 2007 to March 2012, Saucier served as a machinist’s mate aboard the USS Alexandria (seen in the above U.S. Navy-released photo), which is a U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine based at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.  On at least three separate dates in 2009, Saucier used the camera on his personal cellphone to take photographs of classified spaces, instruments and equipment of the USS Alexandria, documenting the major technical components of the submarine’s propulsion system.
On Jan. 19, 2009, Saucier took two photos, one of the auxiliary steam plant panel and the other of the reactor compartment viewed through a portal.  On March 22, 2009, Saucier took two photos that, when placed side by side, provided a panoramic array of the maneuvering compartment, the room from which the propulsion system of the boat is operated.  On July 15, 2009, Saucier took two photos documenting the reactor head configuration of the nuclear reactor and a view of the reactor compartment from within that compartment.
Saucier had a secret clearance and knew that the photos depicted classified material and that he was not authorized to take them.  He retained these photos and failed to deliver them to any officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.
The investigation began in March 2012 when Saucier’s cellphone was found at a waste transfer station in Hampton, Connecticut.  Saucier was interviewed by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in July 2012 and was confronted with the classified images from his phone.  Following that interview and in an effort to impede the federal investigation, Saucier returned to his home and immediately destroyed a laptop computer, a personal camera and the camera’s memory card.  Pieces of a laptop computer were subsequently found in the woods on a property in Connecticut owned by a member of Saucier’s family.   
Saucier was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 28, 2015, and was subsequently indicted.
Judge Underhill scheduled sentencing for Aug. 19, 2016, at which time Saucier faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  He is released on a $100,000 bond.
Saucier is currently enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Petty Officer First Class assigned to the Naval Support Activity Base, Saratoga Springs, New York.  He is awaiting an administrative separation board proceeding.
This matter has been investigated by the FBI and NCIS.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vanessa Richards and Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorney Will Mackie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of New York.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

President Obama Is Visiting Hiroshima. Why Not Pearl Harbor?

Victor Davis Hanson offers a piece at National Review Online that asks why the president is visiting Hiroshima and not Pearl Harbor.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,400 Americans. 

President Obama is visiting Hiroshima this week, the site of the August 6, 1945, dropping of the atomic bomb that helped end World War II in the Pacific Theater. But strangely, he has so far announced no plans to visit Pearl Harbor on the anniversary of the attack. The president, who spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, should do so — given that many Americans have forgotten why the Japanese attacked the United States and why they falsely assumed that they could defeat the world’s largest economic power.

Imperial Japan was not, as often claimed, forced into a corner by a U.S. oil embargo, which came only after years of horrific Japanese atrocities in China and Southeast Asia. Instead, an opportunistic and aggressive fascist Japan gambled that the geostrategy of late 1941 had made America uniquely vulnerable to a surprise attack.

... The road to Hiroshima and the massive loss of life in the Pacific was paved by unprovoked Japanese aggression at Pearl Harbor. Americans and their president should remember the lessons of that surprise attack 75 years ago this year.

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


You can also read an earlier post on Obama's visit to Hiroshima via the below link:


Note: The above photo is of the USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  

The War On Cops: How The New Attack On Law And Order Makes Everyone Less Safe

Jeffrey G. Gahler offers a review of Heather Mac Donald's The War on Cops: How The New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe for the Washington Times.

In “The War on Cops,” Heather Mac Donald provides overwhelming and compelling data to discount the misguided, misplaced and too often malice-based attacks on the law enforcement profession taking place in our country every day. The proven and effective tactic of focusing police efforts on analytically identified high crime areas has improved the quality of life for countless honest, law-abiding citizens living in challenged neighborhoods throughout this country. More importantly, proactive and targeted enforcement have saved countless lives, many of whom are from urban areas and minority communities.
These same communities have seen the positive impact that purposed policing can offer. They have also seen the damage from false messaging and rhetoric. The assault on law enforcement has brought with it a reduced quality of life for those who desperately deserve a chance, and increased crime and unacceptable homicide rates to these same communities. The degradation of these communities is a direct byproduct of the war on cops. De-policing — a phenomenon of police not engaging or refusing to take proactive enforcement actions based on crime patterns and data — has led to a dramatic increase in violent crime and lives lost all over this country. You need to look no further than Baltimore or Chicago to see the impact of de-policing, which is well documented within these pages.
The attacks on law enforcement, attacks based on false information or outright lies crafted to discredit an entire profession, are undeserved. As outlined in the data provided by Ms. Mac Donald, the police profession is the one aspect of government that has had a meaningful impact in many of the communities in need. Over the past several decades, program upon program, dollar upon dollar, have been “invested” in struggling communities trying to make them better. While most have failed, it is our police who have not. It is our police who have held the line for the people the programs have failed.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Outlaw Biker Rants About Philadelphia Doctor's Alleged Pill Mill

Veteran journalist and author George Anastasia (seen in the above photo) is covering the federal trial of a Philadelphia doctor accused of selling narcotics to outlaw bikers and others for Bigtrial.net.

Sam Nocille was angry.

A leader of the outlaw motorcycle club known as the Pagans, Nocille was in prison in 2013 while associates continued to profit from a pill mill operation authorities say he helped set in motion.

The problem was that those associates had stopped kicking up to Nocille who had been receiving about $2,000-week, his share from the illegal street sales of oxycodone, methadone, Xanax and Percocet.

"All of a sudden he's changing the whole fuckin' thing," Nocille said in a phone call to his wife in which he complained about Peter Marradino, an associate who was part of the scheme. "It's not gonna happen...The door was opened for him due to me."

In another call, Nocille said of Marradino, "I'm gonna split his fuckin' head."

The Nocille tapes (all prison phone calls are recorded)  were played along with several others today in the trial of Dr. William O'Brien 3d whose medical offices, authorities allege, were the nerve center of a multi-million dollar pill mill operation set up by Nocille.

"Even that fat motherfucker Bill in Levitttown is gonna get it," Nocille said in another rant recorded in January 2014. One of O'Brien's office was in Levittown.

The tapes were introduced as evidence as the prosecution tried to establish the connection between the Pagans and O'Brien, a connection O'Brien, who is representing himself, has denied. In his opening statement to the jury on Monday O'Brien said he had patients who were Pagans, but said he was not part of the drug conspiracy that is the basis for a 140-count criminal indictment against him.

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


Another Cooperating Witness Implicates Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah At Federal Trial

Veteran reporter Ralph Cipriano is covering the federal trial of Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah for Bigtial.net.

Mark M. Lee, a lawyer for Congressman Chaka Fattah, asked Greg Naylor about his negotiations with the government. And what Naylor was told he could expect to gain from his guilty plea, cooperation with the feds, and his testimony against the congressman.

"I don't believe they [the feds] had any interest in what I had to gain," Naylor bluntly replied. His discussions with the government prior to his guilty plea, he said, was "not a negotiation."

Naylor, a retired political operative who was once close to Fattah, testified in federal court today about how he wrote more than $20,000 in checks to cover the tuition bill of Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. The payments came from Naylor's political consulting firm, Sydney Lei & Associates Inc., and were usually made on a monthly basis to Drexel University and Sallie Mae, the student loan corporation, Naylor said.

"The congressman asked if I would help out," Naylor explained in direct testimony under the questioning of Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray. Naylor said he kept writing checks for four years until the congressman told him, "We're done, we're good."

"Anybody ever tell you Chip had a gambling problem," the prosecutor asked.

"No," Naylor replied. He had something else to confess. As part of the scam, "I made false 1099 forms" and sent them to "Chip," Naylor said. Even though Naylor testified that Chip Fattah had done no work for Sydney Lei & Associates.

After the prosecutor got throughout questioning Naylor, his story held up under cross-examination from four defense lawyers, which was more bad news for the congressman formerly known as Arthur Davenport.

On cross-examination, Mark M. Lee, on behalf of Congressman Fattah, tried to get Naylor to talk about the central fraud in the case. The plot to have Albert Lord, former Sallie Mae CEO, make a phony loan of $1 million to Thomas Lindenfeld, another political consultant close to Fattah. So that the Lord money could be used to pay the campaign expenses of Fattah's unsuccessful 2007 run for mayor.

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


Russian Banker Sentenced In Connection With Conspiracy To Work For Russian Intelligence

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

Evgeny Buryakov, aka Zhenya, 41, was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for conspiring to act in the United States as an agent of the Russian Federation without providing prior notice to the Attorney General.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York.
“Evgeny Buryakov is being held accountable for his efforts to secretly operate as a Russian foreign intelligence officer in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Foreign intelligence officers attempting to illegally collect information pose a direct threat to our national security.  Working with our law enforcement and intelligence partners at tracking down and disrupting these clandestine operations against our country will continue to remain one of the National Security Division’s highest priorities.”
“Evgeny Buryakov, in the guise of being a legitimate banker, gathered intelligence as an agent of the Russian Federation in New York,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “He traded coded messages with one of his Russian spy co-defendants, who sent the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow.  So long as this type of Cold War-style spy intrigue continues to go on in present-day New York City, the FBI and the prosecutors in my office will continue to investigate and prosecute it.”
According to the complaint, indictment, other court filings and statements made during court proceedings:
Beginning in at least 2012, Buryakov worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the SVR.  Buryakov operated under non-official cover, meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the New York office of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB).  SVR agents operating under such non-official cover (NOCs) are typically subject to less scrutiny by the host government and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government.  As a result, an NOC is an extremely valuable intelligence asset for the SVR.
Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General.  Department of Justice records indicate that Buryakov never notified the Attorney General that he was, in fact, an agent of the Russian Federation.
Buryakov worked in New York with at least two other SVR agents, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy.  From on or about Nov. 22, 2010, to on or about Nov. 21, 2014, Sporyshev officially served as a trade representative of the Russian Federation in New York.  From on or about Dec. 13, 2012, to on or about Sept. 12, 2013, Podobnyy officially served as an attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations.  The investigation, however, showed that Sporyshev and Podobnyy also worked as officers of the SVR. 
The directives from the SVR to Buryakov, Sporyshev and Podobnyy, as well as to other covert SVR agents acting within the United States, included requests to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and the United States’ efforts to develop alternative energy resources. 
During the course of their work as covert SVR agents in the United States, Buryakov, Sporyshev and Podobnyy regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents. 
In the summer of 2014, Buryakov met multiple times with a confidential source working for the FBI and an FBI undercover employee, both of whom purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia.  During these meetings, Buryakov accepted documents that were purportedly obtained from a U.S. government agency and which supposedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about U.S. sanctions against Russia.
For their alleged roles in the conspiracy, Sporyshev and Podobnyy are charged with conspiracy to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  They are also charged with aiding and abetting Buryakov’s actions in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  These maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.  The charges against Sporyshev and Podobnyy are merely accusations, and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  Sporyshev and Podobnyy no longer live in the United States and have not been arrested.  By virtue of their prior positions in the United States on behalf of Russia, both of them were afforded diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution while in the United States. 
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Bharara in praising the investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen J. Ritchin, Emil J. Bove III, Brendan F. Quigley, Anna M. Skotko and Ian McGinley of the Southern District of New York, with assistance provided by Senior Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. 

International Arms Trafficker Found Guilty For Conspiring To Kill Americans And Provide Material Support To A Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization

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

Virgil Flaviu Georgescu, 43, of Romania, was convicted by a federal jury today of conspiring to sell large quantities of military-grade weaponry to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the FARC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, to be used to kill Americans in Colombia.  Georgescu’s conviction followed a 10-day trial before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams of the Southern District of New York.
The conviction was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York.
“As the jury swiftly found, Virgil Flaviu Georgescu conspired to kill American officers and provide material support to the FARC,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “In concert with his co-defendants, Georgescu conspired to obtain and sell to the FARC military weapons, including anti-aircraft cannons and rocket propelled grenades, to be used against American personnel and aircraft in Colombia.  Having sought to profit from the murder of U.S. officers abroad, Georgescu has now been convicted in the U.S. by a unanimous jury.”
According to the allegations in the indictment, other documents publicly filed in federal court and the evidence introduced at trial:
Between May 2014 and December 2014, Georgescu, a Romania-based weapons broker, conspired with his co-defendants, a former Romanian government official and a former member of the Italian Parliament, to sell an arsenal of weapons, including machine guns and anti-aircraft cannons, to the FARC, with the understanding that the FARC would use the weapons against U.S. personnel in Colombia.  During a series of recorded telephone calls and in-person meetings, Georgescu and his co-conspirators agreed to sell the weapons to three confidential sources (CSs), who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC but were, in fact, working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Georgescu and his co-conspirators agreed to provide these weapons to the CSs with the specific understanding that the weapons would be used to kill Americans and, in particular, to shoot down American helicopters and airplanes.
Georgescu first spoke with a CS in May 2014.  Thereafter, Georgescu recruited both of his co-conspirators to help obtain the weapons for the CSs, with the understanding that the former Romanian government official would provide weapons expertise and the former Italian Parliament member would help secure fraudulent end-user certificates, in order to make the illegal sale of weapons look legitimate.  Georgescu instructed his co-conspirators and others involved in the deal to use encrypted applications when communicating about the weapons deal to avoid detection by U.S. authorities.
Over the course of five consensually-recorded meetings with the CSs in Romania and Montenegro, Georgescu and his co-conspirators provided the CSs with catalogues of weapons that included anti-aircraft cannons, rocket propelled and thermobaric grenades and other high-powered weapons, as well as military-grade optical equipment.  During these meetings, the CSs explained that the arms would be used to kill Americans and Georgescu offered his thoughts on what weapons would best suit the FARC’s needs.
Between September 2014 and December 2014, Georgescu and his co-conspirators traveled to Romania, Montenegro, Italy, Germany, Albania, Poland and Bulgaria to advance the weapons deal.  During this period, the co-conspirators met with weapons suppliers, obtained sample fraudulent end-user certificates and test-fired military-grade rifles.  In December 2014, Georgescu and his co-conspirators secured a signed contract from a European weapons supplier to provide more than $17 million worth of weapons to a straw purchaser.  On Dec. 15, 2014, Georgescu met with the CSs, showed them the signed contract and discussed means of payment and transportation of the weapons to Colombia. 
Georgescu was arrested by Montenegrin authorities on the charges in the indictment on Dec. 15, 2014, and extradited to the United States on Feb. 25, 2015.
Georgescu was convicted of one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.  Georgescu is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Abrams on Sept. 16, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Bharara in praising the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, the DEA’s Bucharest Country Office, the DEA’s Rome Country Office, the Montenegrin National Police and the Romanian Authorities.  Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Surratt and Ilan Graff of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from Trial Attorney Josh Parecki of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FBI Releases New Version Of Child ID App

The FBI released the below information:

The FBI today is announcing a reboot of its popular Child ID App, which provides parents with an easy way to electronically store their children’s pictures and vital information to have on hand in case their kids go missing.
The application, which works on most Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, allows users to store up-to-date images and physical descriptions—like height, weight, birthmarks, etc.—that could help responders in the event of an emergency. The information is stored only on your device—not with your mobile provider or the FBI.
The latest version of the Child ID App contains updated features, including high-resolution image capability, a default recipient field (where you can enter your local police department’s e-mail address, for example), and optional automatic reminders to update your children’s profiles.
Current users of the Child ID App are encouraged to download the latest version for improved performance and capabilities. Please note that if you had been using an older version of the app (prior to 2.0), you will need to re-enter all relevant information after installing the update.
The app has been downloaded more than 250,000 times since it was released, first on iTunes in 2011 and then for the Android operating system in 2012. The current version, released in April, has been downloaded more than 50,000 times onto devices around the world.
The Child ID App also includes tips on keeping children safe as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.
For more information and to download: