Monday, February 29, 2016

George Kennedy, Oscar Winner For 'Cool Hand Luke,' Dies at 91

The Hollywood Reporter offers a piece on the death of actor George Kennedy.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Analyze This: OPSEC Is Key In The War On Terrorism

As a Defense Department civilian administrative officer for a DoD command in Philadelphia, I oversaw our various security programs, which included OPSEC. I was an OPSEC instructor as well.

I later wrote a piece on OPSEC for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the piece below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Inside Government: The FBI Warns Against "Friendly Spies" And Other Threats Of Espionage

Back in 1995 I was a Defense Department civilian administrative officer for a DoD command in Philadelphia. I oversaw security, public affairs and other support programs for the command.

I also served as a producer and on air host of a public affairs radio program in the Philadelphia area called Inside Government.

One of my guests was FBI Special Agent Barbara A. Verica, the Philadelphia area coordinator for the FBI's Development And Counterintelligence Awareness (DECA) Program.

I later wrote a piece on my interview with the FBI official for the Nor' easter, a Defense Department magazine for the Northeast region of the U.S.

You can read the piece below:


Note: The top photo of spy John Walker was provided by the FBI. You can click on all of the above to enlarge. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Crime Beat Column: A Look Back At The Depression-Era Public Enemies Vs. The FBI

I happened to come across photos on the Internet of Johnny Depp portraying bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis, the FBI special agent who pursued Dillinger and the other bank robbers during the 1930s. The two fine actors lead the cast in an upcoming film called Public Enemies.

The film, directed by veteran crime film director Michael Mann, is based on Bryan Burrrough's excellent book, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-1934. I read the book with some relish a few years ago, as I've long been interested in the Depression-era criminals and the early history of the FBI.

Like Truman Capote, who once said that if he had studied medicine with the same intensity that he had studied crime, he could have been a brain surgeon, I've long been a student of crime. I grew up watching cops and robbers on TV and in the movies, and I became an avid reader of crime fiction as well as crime history. As a writer, I've covered crime for newspapers, magazines and Internet publications for a good number of years.

The names of criminals like John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie & Clyde are better known than most presidents. Unfortunately, what most people know about these criminals they've learned primarily from the movies. While movies can be entertaining, most of them are historically inaccurate. The movies have also glamorized the criminals.

The movies also gave us a somewhat whitewashed version of the early FBI's role in capturing and killing the Depression-era gangsters. In films such as Jimmy Cagney's G-Men and James Stewart's The FBI Story we see a sanitized FBI and the stories that the late J. Edgar Hoover, the first and longest serving director of the FBI, wanted the public to see. (I love the two films anyway, as they are good dramas).

Burrough's book gives us the true story of the early FBI and the sordid tale of the rural bank robbers and kidnappers that captured the public's imagination in the 1930s, and to some extent, still does today.

After four years of research and access to FBI records made available only in the 1980s, Burrough was able to give readers a thorough, unsanitized account of the FBI's "war on crime" against the famous, or rather, infamous criminals

As Burrough explains in the book, bank robbers were known as "Yeggmen," or "Yeggs." One influential Yegg, although not as well known as Dillinger, was Herman K. Lamm, A former German army officer known as "The Baron." Burrough offers a brief history of Lamm, who devised the bank robbery system later used by the Dillinger gang.

Lamm pioneered the "casing" of banks by observing bank guards, alarms and tellers. He also gave specific roles to gang members, such as the lookout, the getaway driver, the lobby man and the vault man. Lamm also devised the first "gits," or getaway maps and plans.

Lamm was killed in a shoot-out in 1930, but two of his men taught John Dillinger his system in an Indiana prison.

Burrough states that three innovations of the age aided the bank robbers in the 1930s. One was the Thompson sub machine gun, introduced after WWI, which outgunned the local lawmen. Two was the new automobile models with reliable, powerful V-8 engines, which allowed the outlaws to outrun the local lawmen. And the third innovation was the interstate highway, which lawmen could not use beyond their local jurisdiction. Bank robbery was not yet a federal crime.

Burrough makes the point that after the crime surge in the 1920s, symbolized by Chicago gangster Al Capone, there began a public debate over the need for a federal police force. The rise of kidnappings and bank robberies fueled the debate, as did the "Kansas City Massacre," where, in an attempt to free a criminal cohort in federal custody in front of the Union Railway Station, gang members opened up on FBI agents and local lawmen.

An FBI agent was killed, along with two Kansas City detectives and an Oklahoma police chief, as well as the prisoner they were trying to rescue. The hunt for the Kansas City killers, the Dillinger manhunt, Machine Gun Kelly's kidnapping of Charles Urschel and the Barker-Karpis gang's kidnapping of Edward Bremer and William Hamm, are all well-covered in Burrough's book.

Burrough also recounts the many failings of Melvin Purvis, whom the press of the day loved, and he writes about FBI Inspector Samuel P. Cowley, who although not as well known as Purvis, was placed over Purvis by J. Edgar Hoover. Cowley, a desk man who failed to qualify on the pistol range, would go on to shoot it out with Baby Face Nelson, both of whom later dying from the gunfire exchange.

The hunt for the public enemies of the 1930s made a star out of Hoover, and although he later greatly abused his authority, I believe he should be credited for creating one of the world's most efficient law enforcement agencies. He also helped to diminish the "Robin Hood" image of vicious, murdering criminals.

But having said that, I'm thankful that Bryan Burrough has written a fact-based book that shatters the many myths about this fascinating period in history. I hope the upcoming film will be equally as good as the book.

Note: The above column originally appeared at in 2009.                                                  

Bill Maher Interviews Former CIA, NSA Director General Michael Hayden

Comedian Bill Maher interviewed former CIA and NSA director, retired Air Force General Michael V. Hayden on HBO.

General Hayden was promoting his new book, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror.

You can watch a video clip of the interview via the below link:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Haven, Frederick Forsyth: The Bestselling Novelist, 77, In The Study At His Home In Buckinghamshire

Brian Claridge at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers an inside look at the study of Frederick Forsyth, the author of the classic thriller The Day of the Jackal and The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

My wife Sandy and I have lived here for five years now and my study is the most peaceful place to work. It overlooks the garden and all the wildlife and I’m surrounded by family photos and mementoes. 

Like this silver flying helmet, called a ‘bone dome’ by RAF pilots in the 50s, when we flew the single-seat Vampire jet. In those days the RAF was less stuffy and I got in when I was 17 by lying about my age. I flew a Vampire on my own at 18, which I think was a first, and got my wings at 19. 

You can read the rest of the piece and view the photos of Frederick Forsyth's study via the below link:

Find Out What Boxing, Charles Dickens, Experimental Parachutes And Desilu Have To Do With The Face Of "The Twilight Zone'

I'm a huge fan of The Twilight Zone, a classic TV show I grew up watching.

I'm thankful that the MeTV network is once again airing the clever and intelligent old shows. The Twilight Zone offered a mixture of suspense, fantasy and science fiction about crime, war, morality, and humanity.

The network's web site,, offers a piece on the face and soul of The Twilight Zone, the late Rod Serling.

Although I don't subscribe entirely to his worldview, I though he was a brilliant and creative writer and television producer, as well as a very good host and presenter.

One of television's brightest, most literate pioneers and a true believer in the medium, Rod Serling was known as the "angry young man" of Hollywood early on in his career, clashing with studios and sponsors in his quest to loosen the corporate grip of censorship and write freely on controversial topics.
The man would maintain that outspokenness as an artist and a thinker throughout his career. Today, the acclaimed writer is most revered for having had the ability to produce works of drama that probe the human psyche in an imaginative and thoroughly unique way, many demonstrating a deep love for humanity and the belief in the possibility of a better tomorrow.
From The Twilight Zone to Night Gallery and everything before and after, here are 15 fascinating facts about Rod Serling.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below:

FBI: Putting the Brakes on Crime - Getaway Driver Sentenced to 121 Years

The FBI released the below information:

Sesley Williams was a ringleader and getaway driver for a string of robberies involving multiple banks and commercial establishments in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, Nevada. Today she’s in a federal prison after being sentenced last month by a U.S. district judge.
It all started on a winter afternoon in 2012. While Williams sat in her car outside an outlet mall clothing store in Las Vegas, her accomplice, Anthony Jordan, was inside checking out merchandise. Jordan already had a sweater and a bottle of cologne in his possession when he asked an employee to bring out two watches from a locked glass container.
With the items in hand, Jordan made his way to the registers to check out. As the cashier began ringing him up, Jordan brandished a semi-automatic handgun and demanded everything from the drawer.
In all, Jordan walked out of the store with hundreds of dollars worth of stolen merchandise and cash. He found Williams waiting in the car nearby, and the two fled the scene.
Following the successful outlet store heist, Williams and Jordan continued to carry out a flurry of robberies between December 2012 and March 2013. In a span of just a few short months, Williams, Jordan, and a third accomplice led an intense crime spree, lifting merchandise and emptying cash registers at businesses and banks in the region.
Anything from clothing stores and fast food chains to banks inside grocery stores were consistently targeted by Williams and her group. Although she never stepped inside the businesses that were robbed, Williams supplied disguises and a handgun while fulfilling the role as getaway driver for every crime.
The unprecedented number of robberies committed by the group left frightened store employees and empty cash registers in their wake. But the spree ended after a tip made to the FBI’s Las Vegas office spurred the Bureau’s Las Vegas Criminal Apprehension Team and Safe Streets Gang Task Force to action. The task force combines FBI special agents with detectives from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and Henderson Police Department to pool expertise in targeting violent criminals, fugitives, and gangs in the region. Williams and crew were now in their crosshairs.
Agents from the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office reviewed hours of surveillance video, conducted interviews, and used other investigative techniques that ultimately led to the arrest of Williams and Jordan in June 2013.
Following the joint investigation, a week long trial, and 18 convictions on 18 counts, Williams was sentenced to 121 years in a federal prison for supplying a handgun and assisting as getaway driver during the rash of robberies. Jordan was dealt a similar fate after his trial and is now serving 60 years for his involvement in the crimes.
“Merely displaying a weapon during a robbery carries significant prison time—that’s exactly what Williams and her crew did during these robberies,” said the FBI Las Vegas agent who led the investigation. “A federal offense like this for a single robbery will land you a lengthy prison sentence. The fact that Williams was convicted of five counts of brandishing a firearm during the robberies puts her in jail for a lifetime.”
While Williams’ getaway-driving days are over, the FBI continues to apprehend dangerous criminals like her and Jordan by coordinating with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and citizens in the community. Solving violent crimes in cities like Las Vegas is also made possible through public leads and tips submitted on

Friday, February 26, 2016

FBI Director Briefs Congressional Subcommittee On Key Threats And Challenges

The FBI released the below information:

FBI Director James Comey, appearing today before the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, provided members an overview of the FBI’s fiscal year 2017 budget request and explained how the requested resources are critical to the Bureau’s ability to address existing and emerging national security and criminal threats.
Some of those threats, according to the Director’s statement, are terrorism—in particular, the threats posed by foreign fighters, including those recruited from the U.S., traveling to join ISIL—and homegrown violent extremists; foreign intelligence and espionage activities, especially the growing problem of the insider threat; the most dangerous and malicious cyber threats from state-sponsored hackers, hackers for hire, organized cyber syndicates, and terrorists; and serious criminal threats such as public corruption, Internet-facilitated sexual exploitation of children, violent gangs, corporate fraud, and international criminal enterprises.
Comey also said that resources are needed to close gaps in operational capabilities, including enhancements to cyber investigative capabilities, the mitigation of threats from foreign intelligence services and insiders, investments related to the Going Dark initiative, improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and operation and maintenance costs of the new Biometrics Technology Center.
Note: You can read his full statement via the below link:

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service Is Sewing up The Seams In Antiterrorism Force Protection

A while back I wrote a piece for Counterterrorism magazine on NCIS and antiterrorism force protection.

You can read the piece below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Conan O'Brien On O.J. Simpson Murder Trial TV Series

My wife and I have been watching the O.J. Simpson murder trial series on the FX channel.

The program is surprisingly accurate (for the most part) and well done.

But not all of the real people are happy with the actors portraying them on TV.

Conan O'Brien reports on his TBS late night comedy show that O.J. Simpson, currently in prison for armed robbery, is not happy with the actor portraying him.

When asked about Cuba Gooding Jr.’s portrayal of him, O.J. Simpson said he’s "not tall enough and his head is too small." Simpson then said, "Also, he didn't kill my wife." 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kanye West Offered Job By Philadelphia Police To Get Out Of Debt

The Hollywood Reporter has a piece on the Philadelphia Police offering Kanye West a job on the force to get himself out of debt.

You have the right to remain fresh. 
Kanye West has been jokingly offered a job by Philadelphia police to help him get out of debt. 
On Thursday, Philadelphia police tweeted to West that the department was hiring, and at base salary, $47,920, the rap star and clothing designer could be out of self-described $53 million debt by 3122. 
Police also tweeted a Photoshopped image of West in a uniform. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

FBI: Prolific Washington State Bank Robber Caught In the Act Sent to Prison

The FBI released the below report:

The masked criminal known as the Cyborg Bandit and, later, the Elephant Man Bandit was robbing Seattle-area banks at an average of more than two per month for an entire year before he was caught—in the act of robbing a bank he had already robbed.
For investigators who routinely work bank robberies, the story of 46-year-old Anthony Hathaway, sentenced last month to nearly nine years in prison, is surprising in some ways but all too familiar in others.
“In this particular case and in general, bank robbery is a crime of last resort,” said Len Carver, a detective with the Seattle Police Department and member of the FBI’s Seattle Safe Streets Task Force. “Occasionally you get a thrill seeker or a truly violent individual, but most people who rob banks are supporting an addiction of some kind—drugs or gambling—and they are desperate.”
Hathaway’s addiction was to prescription painkillers and then to heroin. According to court records, he suffered an injury and became addicted to the opiate Oxycontin. After losing his job, he turned to crime to feed his addiction, and between February 2013 and February 2014, Hathaway admitted to 30 bank robberies. He sometimes hit the same bank multiple times.
“Seattle has had many serial bandits over the years,” Carver said, “but Hathaway was prolific. He might top the list for sheer number of robberies in a one-year period.”
During the holdups, which usually occurred late in the afternoon, Hathaway wore a mask and gloves. In the early crimes, he wore textured metallic fabric over his face and was nicknamed the Cyborg Bandit because the disguise was similar to that of cyborgs in science fiction productions. After that disguise began receiving too much media attention, he covered his head with a shirt and cut out two eye holes. That earned him the nickname the Elephant Man Bandit because of the similarity to a movie character of the same name.
In several robberies, Hathaway threatened tellers, saying he had a weapon, although no weapon was ever displayed. On February 4, 2014, after a robbery in Lynwood, Washington, surveillance video showed what might have been the robber’s getaway vehicle: a light blue minivan with a Seattle Seahawks football decal on the back window and an unusual, after-market exterior mirror.
A bulletin with the vehicle’s description went out to area law enforcement, and an Everett Police Department officer spotted it several days later and notified investigators. “An officer on patrol was being observant,” Carver said. “It was a key moment in the investigation.”
At that point, however, the bank robber’s identity was still unknown. The vehicle was not registered to Hathaway, and several people had access to it. FBI agents began surveillance, and on February 11, 2014 they observed a man drive away in the vehicle.
The driver spent several hours circling a Seattle bank that had been previously robbed. “It seemed clear he was going to rob the bank,” Carver said, “and we had a high confidence that whoever was driving the van and about to rob that bank was going to be good for the other robberies.”
Finally, Hathaway parked and pulled a mask over his face as he entered the bank. FBI agents and task force officers were there to arrest him moments later. Hathaway was identified and later admitted to the 30 robberies. In a plea arrangement concluded last month, he was sentenced to 106 months in prison.
“We are grateful that the Safe Streets Task Force was able to close all these robberies,” Carver said. “And we are pleased that Hathaway is no longer a threat to the community.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Great Scot: A Look Back At Seven Of Sir Sean Connery’s Greatest Performances

I was a kid sitting in a South Philly movie theater in 1963 when a beautiful woman appeared on screen and asked the man sitting across from her at a gambling casino for his name.

"Bond," a young man in a tux said as he lit a cigarette. "James Bond."

That was my introduction to one of my favorite actors, Sir Sean Connery in Dr No.

Matthew Dunne-Miles at the Scotsman offers a look back at seven great performances of Sir Sean Connery.

Sir Sean Connery made his name as the dashing leading man in his early years, but in his post-007 period he moved into seniority with aplomb, often stealing scenes with a salty charisma. Here, we chart some of his most memorable roles through the years.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch video clips of the selected films via the below link: 

You can also watch Sir Sean Connery's introduction in Dr No via the below link:   

Note: I'd round out the list of Sir Sean Connery's greatest performances to 10 and add From Russia With Love (my favorite Bond film), The Hill and The Offense

A Look Back At The NRA Convention In Philly

I wrote a piece for the Philadelphia Daily News when the National Rifle Association visited Philadelphia in 1998.

You can read the piece below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

On This Day In History: U.S. flag Raised on Iwo Jima

As notes, on this day in 1945 Marines raised the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima.

You can read the piece and watch a video clip via the below link:

Eleven Years On, FBI Seeks Information In Disappearance Of Danielle Imbo And Richard Petrone, Jr.

The Philadelphia FBI Office released the below information:

The FBI, Burlington County (New Jersey) Prosecutor’s Office, and Philadelphia Police Department Homicide Division are seeking the public’s assistance as they continue to investigate the disappearance—11 years ago today—of Danielle Imbo (née Ottobre) and Richard Petrone, Jr.
Imbo and Petrone were last seen in the late evening hours of Saturday, February 19, 2005, leaving a bar on South Street in Philadelphia. They were riding in Petrone’s black 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup truck. An extensive investigation to date has generated some promising leads; however, neither the victims nor Petrone’s vehicle have ever been located.
The Imbo-Petrone investigation remains open and active, and there is a $50,000 reward for information about the couple’s whereabouts or for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for their disappearance. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to call the Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission tip line at 215-546-TIPS (215-546-8477).

Monday, February 22, 2016

A look Back At The Sword And The Shield Of The Dreaded KGB

I wrote a piece for the Philadelphia Daily News about The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB in 1999.  

You can read the piece below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

A look Back At Urban Bomb Threats: Real, Imagined And Hoaxed

I wrote a piece on the Philadelphia Police Department's bomb squad for Counterterrorism magazine back in 1986.

You can read the piece above and below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

FBI Director Comments On San Bernardino Matter

The below letter from FBI Director James Comey was posted on Lawfare and released by the FBI:
The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice. Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That’s what this is. The American people should expect nothing less from the FBI.
The particular legal issue is actually quite narrow. The relief we seek is limited and its value increasingly obsolete because the technology continues to evolve. We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land. I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that. Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.
Reflecting the context of this heart-breaking case, I hope folks will take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other. Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure—privacy and safety. That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before. We shouldn’t drift to a place—or be pushed to a place by the loudest voices—because finding the right place, the right balance, will matter to every American for a very long time.
So I hope folks will remember what terrorists did to innocent Americans at a San Bernardino office gathering and why the FBI simply must do all we can under the law to investigate that. And in that sober spirit, I also hope all Americans will participate in the long conversation we must have about how to both embrace the technology we love and get the safety we need.

Why The Long Held View Of Kipling Is Just So Wrong

Harry Mount at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on a BBC 2 program on author Rudyard Kipling.

George Orwell called Rudyard Kipling a “jingo imperialist”, attacking him for racism, snobbery and his Empire obsession.
So Kipling's not quite the kind of man you’d expect the BBC to defend. But that’s exactly what Kipling’s Indian Adventure, which aired last night on BBC Two, did. This grown-up programme explained how Kipling’s literary career was forged in India, where he was a reporter from the age of 16 to 23.
As a journalist for the Civil and Military Gazette, Kipling was a clear-eyed observer, often affectionate towards his Indian subjects, and caustically funny about his British ones.
The programme's presenter, Patrick Hennessey, may seem Establishment (public school, Oxford and a bestseller about his service in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Grenadier Guards) but this was no tub-thumping, red-faced defence of Kipling. Instead, in a diffident, measured way, Hennessey put forward a convincing argument in Kipling’s favour, largely rooted in a close reading of his journalism and books.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Crime Beat Column: Vietnam Era Spy Sentenced In Philadelphia

The below column originally appeared in the South Philadelphia American in October of 1997:

Spy stories traditionally unfold in Berlin, Hong Kong or some other exotic locale, but a 30-year espionage drama ended right here in Philadelphia last week when Robert Stephen Lipka was sentenced to 18 years in prison for spying for the Soviet Union.

Lipka, 51, a coin collector from Lancaster, PA, admitted to spying from 1965 to 1974, the years of the Vietnam War, while serving as a young soldier attached to the National Security Agency (NSA).

A series of FBI investigations originating in the 1960's led to Lipka's sentencing day in the federal court at 6th and Market Streets. U.S. District Judge Charles r. Weiner, a WWII Navy veteran, admonished Lipka by saying that the parents of military servicemen might feel his crimes caused their children's deaths or maiming during the Vietnam War. Weiner also imposed a fine of $10,000 to repay the $10,000 the FBI paid him during the undercover "sting" operation that ultimately netted him.

Lipka, who resembles the actor who plays the despicable character Newman on TV's Seinfeld, no doubt shares some of Newman's more unsavory characteristics. Lipka aided the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese while I, my brother and thousands of other soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen were fighting over there. Lipka sold out his brothers-in-arms for a paltry $27,000.

Lipka's spy story began when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1963. He was assigned to NSA at Fort Meade in Maryland, a cushy headquarters job far from the combat zone. NSA, the super secret organization we called "No Such Agency" when I was in the Navy, intercepts foreign electromagnetic, radio, radar and other transmissions for the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Lipka's clerical job was to simply make distribution of NSA's highly classified reports. We now know that Lipka took it upon himself to add the Soviet Union to his mailing list.

According to the FBI, Lipka used special spy cameras to clandestinely photograph sensitive documents. He also hid classified documents inside his shirt and wrapped around his legs to slip past NSA security. Using common "tradecraft" such as a prearranged "dead drop," he passed the documents to the Komitet Gosudarstevennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB), the Soviet Committee of  State security. He later retrieved payment at another prearranged site.

Lipka left the Army and NSA and moved to Lancaster in 1967 and attended college. Lipka took some "souvenirs" when he left NSA and was still meeting with the KGB as late as 1974.

It was an independent FBI investigation of a couple who lived near Philadelphia that lead to FBI to Lipka. Peter Fischer, whom the FBI suspected was a KGB agent, Ingeborg Fischer, whom the FBI suspected of assisting her husband in his KGB activities, made contact with Lipka in 1968. Evidence suggests the Fischers passed NSA documents from Lipka to a Soviet citizen, Artem Shokin, who worked at the United Nations in New York. The Fischers and Shokin subsequently flew the coup and returned to Mother Russia.

An FBI undercover agent posing as an official Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye (GRU), the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet General Staff, met with Lipka several times in Lancaster and Baltimore in 1993. Lipka insisted that the undercover FBI special agent provide Lipka's code word or he would end their contact. The undercover agent mentioned Lipka's code word "Rook," which the FBI discovered during the Fischer investigation. Lipka, ever the greedy little spy, told the undercover agent that the Soviets had not paid him enough money. He would complain again and again about money and even wrote the undercover agent letters demanding more money.

The undercover agent mailed Lipka a copy of a book called The First Directorate, which was written by former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin. The book implicates Lipka in its detailed description of espionage committed by a "young soldier at NSA," who provided "reams of top secret material to the KGB in the mid-1960's.

According to the FBI, an unnamed "cooperating witness" who was granted immunity told the FBI that Lipka said he took NSA documents and sold them to the KGB. Lipka told the witness he gave them to a Russian contact named "Ivan" for money. Lipka said he would contact "Ivan" and have face-to-face meetings over a chess game in a park, hence the code name "Rook."

The witness was shown the three cameras, one of which was only an inch in height. Lipka told the witness that the Russian had sent him a postcard and Lipka, accompanied by the witness, met in Maryland with the Russian.

Faced with overwhelming evidence of the cooperating witness and the FBI undercover agent, Lipka had no choice but to plead guilty. He thought he had gotten away with espionage, but the long arm of the FBI and justice finally caught up with him.

Note: You can also read my later Counterterrorism magazine interview with one of the FBI special agents involved with the Lipka investigation via the below link:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Umberto Eco's Last Interview

Gaby Wood at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers the last interview with the late Umberto Eco, author of The Name of the Rose and Numero Zero.  

When Dan Brown published The Da Vinci Code in 2003, Umberto Eco didn’t think, as others did, that Brown had ripped off his own earlier bestsellers. Eco went one step further: he took credit for inventing Brown altogether.
Fascinated by arcane mysteries and secret societies, Brown shared all the concerns of Eco’s characters. When the two writers finally met, “I told him,” Eco says grumpily, “he should give me royalties!”
At 83, Eco has the physical appearance of a long-term armchair detective. When I arrive at the London hotel bar where we have arranged to meet, he already looks well settled. Eco orders steak tartare and a couple of glasses of Chablis.
... Our conversation takes in, through no plan of mine, subjects ranging from Agatha
Christie to sex with animals, and a comparison of Mussolini with Beyoncé.
Later, I realise that its faintly absurdist quality must have been partly due to the fact that Eco, tired of asking me to repeat my question, had occasionally decided to answer a different one.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read Umberto Eco's obituary in the Telegraph via the below link"

Visit The Mark Twain Room When in Buffalo, New York

Mary Kunz Goldman at the Buffalo News offers a piece on the Mark Twain Room at the city's Central Library.

The Mark Twain Room is free. It’s open to all. It is a glassed-in space right off the main drag in the downtown Central Library. Yet most will walk on by, and never the Twain shall meet.
That’s a shame, and I’m not just talking about the pun.
You do not have to be a Twainiac to know that the great man lived in Buffalo for a couple of years, from 1869 to 1871, when he was involved with the Buffalo Express. He resided on Delaware Avenue, in a big old Victorian house demolished long ago. And Buffalo has an enviable Twain souvenir, the handwritten manuscript to his legendary novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
So what are you waiting for? Why should adventures belong only to Huckleberry Finn? That was what I asked myself that the other day. And instead of walking past the Twain Room as I had always done, I stopped, and I went in.
You can read the rest of the piece and view some good photos via the below link:

FBI: A New Home for the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center

The FBI released the above photo and below report;

The Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), a multi-agency organization that performs a critical function in the fight against terrorism, was officially welcomed to its new home today at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, as FBI Director James Comey and other officials took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.
Before TEDAC’s creation in 2003, no single government entity was responsible for analyzing and exploiting intelligence gleaned from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since then, TEDAC has examined more than 105,000 IEDs from around the world, providing intelligence to the military, law enforcement, and the intelligence community at home and abroad.
“TEDAC links IEDs to the bomb makers, recognizes trends in how those bombs are being constructed and with what materials,” Comey said during ceremonies attended by officials including Alabama Senator Richard Shelby.
Composed of 30 partner agencies including the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, TEDAC was formerly located at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. The move to Alabama centralizes the government’s efforts regarding IEDs and terrorism. Redstone Arsenal is also home to the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, the ATF’s National Center for Explosives Training and Research, and other operations.

The Terrorist Watch: Inside The Desperate Race To Stop The Next Attack

I interviewed veteran journalist and author Ronald Kessler about his book The Terrorist Watch: Inside The Desperate Race To Stop The Next Attack for Counterterrorism magazine.

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