Monday, October 23, 2017

Michael Vickers Honored By The OSS Society

Dan Boylan at the Washington Times offers a piece on Michael Vickers (seen in the above photo), former U.S. Army Special Forces enlisted man and officer, CIA officer and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, receiving the OSS Society’s Donovan Award

At the height of the Cold War, CIA agent Michael Vickers’ guerrilla war training included preparing to parachute into enemy territory with a small nuclear weapon strapped to his leg.

In the 1980s, he equipped rebel fighters in the Afghan mountains with stinger missiles to shoot down Russian helicopters. A decade later he helped dismantle al Qaeda and played a major role in the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

On Saturday night, all Mr. Vickers had to do was raise a martini glass.

He also held back a few tears, as the nation’s most prestigious association of clandestine services — The OSS Society — gathered to honor his distinguished career in addition to remembering thousands of their comrades who died in service to America.

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a World War II espionage unit, gave birth to America’s modern intelligence community and in its heyday deployed more than 13,000 operatives, a third of them women, including Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich and chef Julia Child — in addition to four future CIA directors.

Considered Washington’s most secretive black tie affair, Saturday night’s OSS gala blended survivors of the unit sharing living history about death-defying missions, sobering moments about sacrifice at war and a raucous celebration of triumph and survival — replete with accompanying toasts.

Mr. Vickers won the society’s highest honor, the Donovan Award, named for OSS founder Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan (seen in the above photo) — joining past recipients, including the Earl Mountbatten of Myanmar, the astronauts of Apollo 11, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President George H.W. Bush and multiple CIA directors.

The brains behind launching the OSS, Gen. Donovan is a legendary figure not only to the American intelligence community but among spies the world around. He nicknamed the unit “the glorious amateurs” and often described OSS personnel as performing “some of the bravest acts of the war.”

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Gives Key Department Of Justice Task Force New Tools To Dismantle MS-13

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

Taking another step toward fulfilling President Trump’s goal of stamping out the brutal transnational criminal organization MS-13, Attorney General Jeff Sessions today formally designated the gang as a priority for the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“OCDETF”).

Addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Attorney General explained that the formal priority designation of MS-13 allows OCDETF to utilize an expanded toolkit in its efforts to dismantle the organization. This means that OCDETF should look to all laws in its investigative and prosecutorial efforts, including drug laws, gun laws, tax laws, RICO, and anything else that will cripple the gang. In his speech, the Attorney General said:

“But this work is not finished.  I am announcing today that I have designated MS-13 as a priority for our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.  These task forces bring together a broad coalition of our federal prosecutors, DEA, FBI, ATF, ICE, HSI, the IRS, the Department of Labor Inspector General, the Postal Service Inspectors, the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the Coast Guard.  And they all have one mission: to go after drug criminals and traffickers at the highest levels.

"Now they will go after MS-13 with a renewed vigor and a sharpened focus.  I am announcing that I have authorized them to use every lawful tool to investigate MS-13—not just our drug laws, but everything from RICO to our tax laws to our firearms laws.  Just like we took Al Capone off the streets with our tax laws, we will use whatever laws we have to get MS-13 off of our streets.”

Note: I wrote a piece on MS-13 for Counterterrorism magazine. I’ll post it here when it comes out.

Defense Secretary Mattis In Philippines To Strengthen Ties With ASEAN, Discuss North Korea

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2017 — Strengthening ties with allies, increasing defense capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and discussions about the threat of North Korea are among the topics Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will contend with on his trip to the region, he told reporters traveling with him yesterday.

The secretary arrived in the Philippines this morning Washington time. He laid out his agenda for the trip during an in-flight news conference.

Mattis will meet with Philippine officials before taking part in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministerial set for Oct. 23-25. That meeting is at the former Clark Air Base.

“One of the first things I’m going to do when I get there is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists,” he told reporters. It was a very tough fight, as you know, in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines battled forces allied under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Marawi. Coalition forces helped the Philippine troops with intelligence, advice and logistic support. While small pockets of terrorists remain, the government declared the city liberated Oct. 17.


The association has been in existence for almost 50 years and is a force promoting peace and stability in the region. It is a forum for the nations to discuss issues among themselves and hash out ways to cooperate that brings prosperity to the region, Mattis said. The meeting also marks 40 years of friendship and cooperation between ASEAN and the United States.

“ASEAN provides an international venue, giving voice to those who want relations between states to be based on respect, not on predatory economics or on the size of militaries,” he said. “ASEAN nations have demonstrated that they can listen to one another, they identify opportunities to increase defense cooperation for their own security and seek shared solutions to shared concerns. The U.S. remains unambiguously committed to supporting ASEAN.”

The secretary will take advantage of his time at the meeting to visit with his regional counterparts, he said. In addition to meeting Philippine counterparts, Mattis is scheduled to meet with representatives of Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

He will also hold trilateral talks with Japanese and South Korean defense officials.

North Korea

Mattis said the regional distubances created by North Korea will be on the agenda at ASEAN. He said will also emphasize the shared values the nations of the alliance have, the territorial sovereignty of the nations and the need for “freedom of navigation through historically international waters and fair and reciprocal trade.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mattis will lead the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016. The royal cremation rite ends the period of mourning for the country -- one of America’s treaty allies in the region. “He was understandably beloved by his people and a proponent of our strong Thailand-United States relationship,” the defense secretary said.

After the ASEAN meeting ends, Mattis will move on to Seoul, where he and South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young-moo will co-chair the 49th annual Security Consultative Meeting. “There, we will underscore our ironclad commitment to each other,” Mattis said.

North Korea is a threat to the region and globally, defense officials have said. Two unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions have isolated the state from the rest of the world. The U.N. acted after North Korea detonated nuclear devices and flew an intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan. During his meetings in South Korea, the secretary said he will discuss reinforcing diplomatic efforts to return to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

The defense leaders will also discuss “how we are going to maintain peace by keeping our militaries alert while our diplomats -- Japanese, South Korean and U.S. -- work with all nations to denuclearize the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said.

'Lost Kingdom: The Quest For Empire And The Making Of The Russian Nation' & 'Red Famine: Stalin's War On Ukraine'

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a review of Serhii Plokhy's Lost Kingdom and Anne Applebaum's Red Famine in the Washington Times.

In a European continent torn by incessant warfare over the centuries, Ukraine deserves sympathy for its most-abused-state status. As the real estate adage holds, “Location is everything.” And Ukraine has the misfortune to be snuggled against the southeast corner of Russia, historically its prime tormentor.

Two complementary books trace Ukraine’s travails, climaxing with Russia’s brutal seizure of a Ukraine that sought to become an independent nation after the 1991 collapse of communism and the USSR. Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decreed otherwise, and the Red Army crushed Ukrainian hopes for independence.

The Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy, the leading Western scholar on Ukraine, details Moscow’s historic insistence that Russia and its East Slavic neighbors occupy a joint historical space, and essentially comprise a single nation — despite strong language, cultural and religious differences.
Ukraine attempts to retain its independent, medieval Kyvian state over the centuries had off-again/on-again successes. At one point it was amalgamated into Poland.

In the 19th century Russian imperial authorities compromised (in a sense) by creating a tripartite nation composed of three tribes: Great Russian, Little Russian (Ukraine) and Belarusian. Russian revolutions in 1905 and 1917 destroyed the forced alliance, and Ukraine was independent again until the communists seized power after World War I. The “Lost Kingdom” of Mr. Plokhy’s title refers to its involuntary incorporation into the USSR.

Although the reborn-state received swift recognition from many European countries (plus the United States) Lenin moved to reclaim it for the new USSR in January 1918. But would the mostly-peasant regime mesh with the new communist regime? Karl Marx considered peasants “at best an ambivalent asset.” In an 1852 essay he had claimed they were not a class and hence had “no class consciousness”

Lenin was more pragmatic — and even more so because Ukraine had agricultural resources needed by the rest of the USSR. The area’s fertile land and mild climate permitted two grain crops annually, far more than the rest of Russia.

The first scheme was to convert private farms into collective agriculture, run by the state. Lenin put it directly in a 1922 message to colleague Vyascheslav Molotov: “We must teach these people a lesson right now, so that they will not even dare to think of resistance in coming decades.” The dreaded Cheka, the secret police, aided by the Red Army, slaughtered resistant rural leaders by the hundreds. But grain production was not enough to alleviate national shortages.

Thus Stalin and the ruling hierarchy in the early 1930s moved to a more draconian plan: to destroy what remained of Ukrainian culture and to seize the land for the state.

Segue here to Anne Applebaum’s gripping account of the grim years during which Moscow deliberately sought to starve Ukraine into submission. Ms. Applebaum won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier book, “Gulag”, on the Soviet prison system. “Red Famine” relates a story that is perhaps more cruel, an account of the misery the Communists inflicted on an innocent populace.

The state-evoked famine that stretched over two decades is well-known in USSR history. The consensus of previous historians was that the primary reason for starvation was Stalin’s campaign for collective farms. But having gained access to Ukraine archives, Ms. Appelbaum relates an even more chilling story: that in its latter stages, the motive driving “land reform” was in fact the deliberate obliteration of the Ukrainian people.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks At The Major Cities Chiefs Association 2017 Fall Meeting About Project Safe Neighborhoods And Other Initiatives To Reduce Violent Crime

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

Philadelphia, PA ~ Saturday, October 21, 2017:  Thank you Chief Manger, for that kind introduction.  And thank you for your 40 years of service in law enforcement. I know that the people of Montgomery and Fairfax Counties appreciate all that you’ve done for them.

Before I say anything else, I want to say thank you to Darrel Stephens, who is retiring as your Executive Director.  I’m told this is his last meeting.  Everyone please join me in a salute to Darrel for his lifetime of service to law enforcement.

On behalf of President Trump and the Department of Justice, I’m honored to be here with you all today—to be with the selfless and courageous men and women of law enforcement.  The President recognizes the importance of your work, and he is your strongest supporter.  He knows that your work is both noble, difficult and essential.

In many of your cities today, it’s getting even harder.

I want to talk about our situation today.

After 20 years of declining crime, the FBI’s annual crime report released three weeks ago reveals that for the last two years, the declines have been replaced by increases in violent crime.  These increases are the largest since 1991.  Even more troubling, the 2015 homicide rate increased 12 percent and in 2016 it went up another eight percent.  The 2015 increase was the highest since 1968 – a 20% increase in two years.

I strongly believe these trends are not a blip, and that if we do not act now and smartly, this nation could see a reversal of 40 years of  hard-won gains. The crime rate a few years ago had fallen to one half of 1980.

President Trump recognizes these threats to American families.  He ran for office—and he won—as a law-and-order candidate.  Now he is governing as a law-and-order president.

As soon as I was sworn in as Attorney General, he sent me an executive order to “reduce crime” in America.  We at the Department of Justice—and our state and local law enforcement partners—embrace that goal.

And, we in law enforcement know from experience that it can be done.  

That’s why, at the beginning of this month, after discussions with law enforcement across this country and our experts, I am pleased to discuss with you today – this group of law enforcement leaders – the Major Cities Chiefs Association –  something extremely important—a foundational strategy to reduce crime in America.  The Department of Justice is re-establishing a new and modernized Project Safe Neighborhoods—or PSN—program as our priority.  It will not be static but flexible and subject to change as experience and research dictates.

PSN is not just one policy idea among many.  This is the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy.  There is great support for it among our experienced agents and prosecutors throughout the country—and importantly, our local partners.

As many of you know, this program began in 2001.  Based around a set of core principles, PSN encouraged U.S. Attorneys’ offices to work with the communities they serve to develop customized crime reduction strategies.

And it is a proven model.  One study showed that, in its first seven years, PSN reduced violent crime overall by 4.1 percent, with case studies showing reductions in certain areas of up to 42 percent.  That’s a remarkable achievement.  There are Americans who are alive and well today because this program made a difference.

Now, I know that there are other ideas out there.  But what we are talking about today is not just some theory.  We know that it works. Just like we know a well run community policing program works.

But why does it work?  I believe it works because of its emphasis on partnership with local communities, and because it has arisen from experience and sound research.

PSN is not a Washington-centered program.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  PSN simply provides a flexible framework that can be adapted to the situation on the ground in local communities like yours across the country.

Every city, and every district is facing a different set of circumstances and challenges.  For example, increases in violent crime are occurring disproportionately in certain areas.  According to one study, half of all homicides in this country occur in just two percent of our counties.

That’s why I have directed our U.S. Attorneys to do two things.  First of all, to target and prioritize prosecutions on the most violent people in the most violent areas.  And second, to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders—from the police chiefs in this room to mayors to community groups and victims’ advocates—in order to identify the needs specific to their communities and develop a violent crime reduction plan.  U.S. Attorneys can help ensure that all the right people are at the table, and coordinate our efforts so that we are working together toward the same goals.  And our U.S. Attorneys know that I am going to hold them accountable for that.

Forging new relationships with local prosecutors and building on existing relationships will ensure that the most violent offenders are prosecuted in the most appropriate jurisdiction.  But our goal is not to fill up the courts or fill up the prisons.  Our goal is not to manage crime or merely to punish crime.  Our goal is to reduce crime, just as President Trump directed us to do.  Our goal is to make every community safer—especially the most vulnerable.  PSN recognizes that we must partner with locally-based crime prevention and re-entry programs to do that.

While there is no quick fix, we must be open to policies that prevent crime and reduce recidivism.

Partnering with community leaders, and taking the time to listen to the people we serve really works.  I remember, when I was a U.S. Attorney, my office prosecuted a gang in Mobile.  When the case was over, community leaders asked for a community meeting to talk about how we could further improve the neighborhood.  At the meeting we split up into 10 subgroups.   State, county, and local officials listened to the people and we developed a practical plan based on the requests of the people living in the neighborhood.  It was a city, county, state, and federal partnership using existing resources, to fix the community.

And it worked.  I have never forgotten that work.  The result was a transformed community in a surprisingly short period of time.  Crime went down; home values went up; new houses were built; a police precinct was established.  I’ve been back to that neighborhood many times to see the progress.

I will say, however, that we have even more research, experience, and information to be effective today than we did back then.  The technologies and data available to us now far surpass what we’ve used in the past. Our police officers and police leaders are more professional and trained than ever before.

With these advantages we can make PSN even better than ever.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein—a proud son of this city, by the way—will oversee implementation of these policy changes, and I could not be more confident in his leadership.  As the U.S. Attorney for the state of Maryland, he led the PSN program during its entire existence.  He knows it works and how to make it better.

An enhanced and expanded PSN will make better use of our resources. For example, we will be extending grant funding to implement the Crime Gun Intelligence Center model – which detects gunshots – to two new cities.  So far the Department has provided grant funding for it in Denver, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C..  Some of the people in this room—Chief Ed Flynn and Chief Charlie Beck—can tell you that it works.

Earlier this month I announced that we will extend funding to Kansas City and Phoenix.  Their police chiefs are here today: Chief Rick Smith and Chief Jeri Williams.  This grant funding will help you do your jobs—and you help us do our jobs.

And in the coming months, the Department will award more than $100 million in grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire more police officers.  We also intend to hire 230 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys in 2018 as a step toward our goal of eventually hiring a total of 300 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys.  These exceptional and talented prosecutors are key leaders in our crime fighting partnership.

With all of that in mind, the Department is asking Congress to invest in PSN.  The President’s fiscal year 2018 budget requested $70 million in locally-controlled grant funding to build on and expand the PSN initiative.

Our success, your success, in bringing down the crime rate for over two decades, and the promising success of PSN show us that there is hope.  Law enforcement officers—you and I—can make a difference.  With the right tactics and the right resources, we can reduce crime in this country.

And that’s what, together, we are determined to do so.

The Department of Justice will heed the President’s call. We will not concede a single block or street corner in the United States to lawlessness or crime.  The criminals, the gang members, and the drug traffickers should know:  we are coming after you—and we have better tools and are better coordinated than ever.

And so to everyone in this room, our friends and partners: thank you for your hard work to serve and protect this country.  It is truly a noble and high calling to work every day to ensure the safety and security of the people of this nation. You are on the front lines.

We are proud to stand with you.  God bless you all.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Fat Rat: George Anastasia Looks Back At The Life Of Criminal Ron Previte

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia looks back at the life of criminal Ron Previte for

They called him the Fat Rat, but he didn’t really care.

Ron Previte always knew who he was and what he had done. And he was okay with that, which made him unique in the underworld and immune to the slurs and epithets other wiseguys threw at him.

For him, it was a game and he always thought he knew how to play it better than they did.

It wasn’t about right or wrong, about morals or ethics. When it came to crime, he was totally amoral. He would smile and say he was a “general practitioner.” He did it all.

And becoming an informant, first for the New Jersey State Police, and then for the FBI, was part of his practice.

Previte died two months ago. He had been sick for over a year, battling various ailments that eventually led to a fatal heart attack. He was 73.

“What would you have bet that it would have been a heart attack that took him out?” an FBI agent asked at Previte’s memorial service. A dozen other law enforcement officials standing in the back of the funeral parlor down in Hammonton, NJ, that night nodded and smiled.

Nobody figured he would die of natural causes.

Ronnie Previte lived life on the edge and most people figured that he would die out there taking another chance, trying to make one more score.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia’s book on Ron Previte, The Last Gangster, below:


Friday, October 20, 2017

Justice Department Announces First Ever Indictments Against Designated Chinese Manufacturers Of Deadly Fentanyl And Other Opiate Substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration released the below information:

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota returned indictments, unsealed yesterday, against two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States.  

The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.

On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances.  

Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country.  Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.  Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. 

Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks.  Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network.  In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.

On Sept. 20, Jian Zhang, 38, of China, five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey were indicted in the District of North Dakota for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the United States, conspiracy to import the drugs from Canada and China, a money laundering conspiracy, an international money laundering conspiracy, and operation of a continuing criminal enterprise.  Zhang ran an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl to U.S. customers over the Internet.  Zhang’s organization would send orders of fentanyl or other illicit drugs, or pill presses, stamps, or dies used to shape fentanyl into pills, to customers in the United States through the mail or international parcel delivery services.  Federal law enforcement agents determined that Zhang sent many thousands of these packages since January of 2013.

On Oct. 11, Elizabeth Ton, 26, and Anthony Gomes, 33, both of Davie, Florida were arrested. On Oct. 12, Darius Ghahary, 48, of Ramsey, New Jersey was arrested. Ton, Gomes, and Ghahary are charged with drug trafficking conspiracy in the Zhang indictment.

The investigations of Yan and Zhang revealed a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America:  fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the United States in numerous ways, including highly pure shipments of fentanyl from factories in China directly to U.S. customers who purchase it on the Internet.  Unwary or inexperienced users often have no idea that they are ingesting fentanyl until it is too late.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2016, and the number is rising at an exponential rate.

Zhang was charged with conduct resulting in the deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon in 2014 and 2015 and the serious bodily injuries related to five additional individuals.

These recent law enforcement efforts to keep fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from entering the United States were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Acting Deputy Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Assistant Commissioner Joanne Crampton of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

“Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs),” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.  “CPOTs are among the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. The defendants allegedly shipped massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the Internet and sent through the mail.  The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states, and surely caused misery to many thousands of people.  Under the leadership of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we are taking back our communities by pursuing suppliers of deadly drugs wherever they are located.”

“Xiaobing Yan, Jian Zhang and their respective associates represent one of the most significant drug threats facing the country – overseas organized crime groups capable of producing nearly any synthetic drug imaginable, including fentanyl, and who attempt to hide their tracks with web-based sales, international shipments and cryptocurrency transactions,” said DEA Acting Administrator Patterson.  “At a time when overdose deaths are at catastrophic levels, one of DEA’s top priorities is the pursuit of criminal organizations distributing their poison to American neighborhoods. These indictments are a first step; our investigators remain relentless in their pursuit to dismantle these organizations and bring those responsible to justice. DEA, along with our global network of law enforcement partners, will go after these types of criminals wherever they operate.”

“This case began when local police officers responded to what has become an all-too familiar tragedy in the United States: the heroin and fentanyl overdose of two young adults, one who survived and another who did not,” said ICE Acting Deputy Director Edge. “Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Drug trafficking organizations that deal in such a deadly game will have to face the combined resources of federal law enforcement agencies and our international partners. ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to helping combat this new and growing epidemic.”

“We live in an increasingly global and interconnected world – crime has no borders,” said Assistant Commissioner Crampton. “Law enforcement must respond accordingly by working beyond our borders together to detect and disrupt criminal activity. By fostering a solid integrated and coordinated law enforcement approach, we will continue to disrupt international drug trafficking networks.”

The cases against Yan and Zhang are being investigated by the DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the RCMP.  Valuable investigative assistance has also been provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Ministry of Public Security of China.  The case against Yan is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie in the Southern District of Mississippi.  The case against Zhang is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Chris Myers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin in the District of North Dakota, along with Trial Attorney Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  Substantial prosecutorial assistance has been provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon and the Quebec office of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Both of the indictments announced today are the result of coordinated, multi-agency, multi-national investigations conducted by agents and investigators of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), and were further supported with national and international coordination led by the multi-agency Special Operations Division (SOD).  The OCDETF Program is a partnership between federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to target the most serious transnational organized crime threats facing the United States, including drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.  Prior to the announcement of these indictments, Jian Zhang and Xiaobing Yan were designated as OCDETF Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs), and are considered by the United States as some of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.

If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release. Zhang faces up to life in prison and $12.5 million in fines. Any sentences will be determined at the discretion of the district courts after considering any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Twenty-one individuals in total have been indicted on federal drug charges in both North Dakota and Oregon as part of the investigation. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Truth About The Vietnam War

Bruce Herschensohn offers a concise history of the Vietnam War and the aftermath in a six-minute video.

You can watch the video via the below link:

And /or you can read transcript below:

Decades back, in late 1972, South Vietnam and the United States were winning the Vietnam War decisively by every conceivable measure. That's not just my view. That was the view of our enemy, the North Vietnamese government officials.  Victory was apparent when President Nixon ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb industrial and military targets in Hanoi, North Viet Nam's capital city, and in Haiphong, its major port city, and we would stop the bombing if the North Vietnamese would attend the Paris Peace Talks that they had left earlier. The North Vietnamese did go back to the Paris Peace talks, and we did stop the bombing as promised.

On January the 23rd, 1973, President Nixon gave a speech to the nation on primetime television announcing that the Paris Peace Accords had been initialed by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the Accords would be signed on the 27th. What the United States and South Vietnam received in those accords was victory.  At the White House, it was called "VV Day," "Victory in Vietnam Day."

The U.S. backed up that victory with a simple pledge within the Paris Peace Accords saying: should the South require any military hardware to defend itself against any North Vietnam aggression we would provide replacement aid to the South on a piece-by-piece, one-to-one replacement, meaning a bullet for a bullet; a helicopter for a helicopter, for all things lost -- replacement.  The advance of communist tyranny had been halted by those accords.
Then it all came apart.  And It happened this way: In August of the following year, 1974, President Nixon resigned his office as a result of what became known as "Watergate." Three months after his resignation came the November congressional elections and within them the Democrats won a landslide victory for the new Congress and many of the members used their new majority to de-fund the military aid the U.S. had promised, piece for piece, breaking the commitment that we made to the South Vietnamese in Paris to provide whatever military hardware the South Vietnamese needed in case of aggression from the North. Put simply and accurately, a majority of Democrats of the 94th Congress did not keep the word of the United States.

On April the 10th of 1975, President Gerald Ford appealed directly to those members of the congress in an evening Joint Session, televised to the nation.  In that speech he literally begged the Congress to keep the word of the United States.  But as President Ford delivered his speech, many of the members of the Congress walked out of the chamber. Many of them had an investment in America's failure in Vietnam. They had participated in demonstrations against the war for many years.  They wouldn't give the aid.

On April the 30th South Vietnam surrendered and Re-education Camps were constructed, and the phenomenon of the Boat People began.  If the South Vietnamese had received the arms that the United States promised them would the result have been different? It already had been different. The North Vietnamese leaders admitted that they were testing the new President, Gerald Ford, and they took one village after another, then cities, then provinces and our only response was to go back on our word. The U.S. did not re-supply the South Vietnamese as we had promised. It was then that the North Vietnamese knew they were on the road to South Vietnam's capital city, Saigon, that would soon be renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Former Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, who had been the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a public statement about the surrender of South Vietnam.  He said this, "I am no more distressed than I would be about Arkansas losing a football game to Texas."  The U.S. knew that North Vietnam would violate the accords and so we planned for it. What we did not know was that our own Congress would violate the accords. And violate them, of all things, on behalf of the North Vietnamese. That's what happened.

I'm Bruce Herschensohn.

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Vietnam War and the lessons learned for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism via the below link:


Attorney General Applauds FBI's Massive Sex Trafficking Crackdown

The U.S Justice Department released the below information:

On Oct. 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12 to 15. 

The Attorney General made the following statement on this crackdown:

“Every American has the right to be safe from violence and exploitation, and it is the mission of this Department to help secure that right.  Today we take the next step toward that mission with the arrest of more than 120 alleged sex traffickers and the recovery of more than 80 trafficking survivors.

“I want to thank and commend the dedicated men and women of the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and our local, state and international law enforcement partners who made these arrests and rescues possible.  They have delivered results that make this country safer and show clearly that collaboration makes us more effective in combating child exploitation.

“The Justice Department will continue to pursue our mission and, to that end, we will remain tireless in our efforts to rescue victims and put those who victimize children behind bars.”
From the FBI Release:

This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm.  Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit

Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:

On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.

Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.  

Note: You can watch an FBI video clip via the below link: 

On This Day In History Spy Novelist John le Carre Was Born

As notes, John le Carre, author of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, was born on this day in 1931.

You can read about John le Carre via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre’s latest novel, A Legacy of Spies via the below link:

And you can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre: The Biography via the below link:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why The United States Needs A 355-Ship Navy Now

Robert O’Brien and Jerry Hendrix state their case for a 350-ship Navy in National Review.

One of President Trump’s signature campaign promises to the American people was a 350-ship Navy. The Navy itself has stated unequivocally that it needs a bare minimum of 355 ships to meet the missions with which it has been tasked by our regional combatant commanders. Yet, sadly, it is becoming clear that no real budgetary steps have been or will be taken to fund this promise. Further, there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that anything will change on this front.

The failure to rebuild America’s fleet could not have come at a worse time. The world has grown increasingly dangerous, with a nuclear madman in North Korea testing an ICBM a month, mullahs in Tehran plotting the takeover of the Middle East, Russia engaging in “frozen conflicts” in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, a very hot civil war in Syria, and China appropriating a vast swath of the Pacific to itself. The forgoing list does not even take into account the United States’ continuing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and dozens of other remote locales where we are in daily combat with al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their assorted jihadi fellow travelers.

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

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo is of the USS Chung-Hoon and the USS Nimitz.  

You can click on the photo to enlarge. 

The U.S. Navy Ready Off Korea

The U.S. Navy released the above photo and the below caption:

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (Oct. 18, 2017) The Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) steam alongside ships from the Republic of Korea navy. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is conducting a bilateral training exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy designed to increase the readiness of U.S. and ROK forces and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The above U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate 

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

Joseph C. Goulden: How Russians Meddled In The 1938 Election

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden (seen in the below photo), a noted authority on intelligence matters, offers a piece in the Washington Times on how the Russians have a history of meddling in U.S. politics.

Did Russia meddle in the 2016 presidential election?

President Donald Trump emphatically says “no.” But the hierarchy of the U. S. intelligence community is equally firm in saying “yes.” With three probes in progress — two by Congress, another by an independent counsel — an answer perhaps will eventually be found.

But such Moscow meddling would not be without precedent Documents from the archives of the Russian spy agency NKVD — later the KGB — detail a communist attempt in 1938 to unseat U.S. Rep. Howard W. Smith, who represented the 8th Congressional District in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Smith was one of many conservative congressmen who opposed President Roosevelt’s New Deal measures. As a result, the White House targeted them for replacement by reliable liberals.
But Moscow went against Mr. Smith for another reason. He wrote the so-called “Smith Act,” which made it a crime to advocate overthrow of the government by violent means, or to be a member of any group advocating such actions. The primary targets of Mr. Smith and other sponsors were worrisome to Nazi-oriented groups as war loomed in Europe.

But the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) was also on their minds. Hence Moscow’s alarm. (More than 100 CPUSA members would be convicted before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the act. But the party was decimated.)

As their candidate against Mr. Smith in the Democratic primary, the NKVD station in New York chose William Dodd, Jr., son of the U. S. ambassador in Berlin. NKVD files show that journalist I.F. Stone did the recruiting. Mr. Dodd was a sometime-journalist who wrote for several Communist publications, although he would always deny CPUSA membership.

At the insistence of the New York station, Moscow gave Mr. Dodd $1,500 — equivalent to $26,000 today. A receipt was obtained, which meant Mr. Dodd was now in Russia’s hands.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Joseph C. Goulden via the below link:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Oliver North: A Faulty Retelling Of ‘The Vietnam War’ - Richard Nixon Kept His Promises, Ken Burns Did Not

Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Lt Colonel Oliver North offers his take on Ken Burns' PBS documentary The Vietnam War in the Washington Times. 

When Richard Nixon was in the White House, I was in Vietnam and he was my commander in chief. When I was on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff, I had the opportunity to brief former President Nixon on numerous occasions and came to admire his analysis of current events, insights on world affairs and compassion for our troops. His preparation for any meeting or discussion was exhaustive. His thirst for information was unquenchable and his tolerance for fools was nonexistent.

Mr. Nixon’s prosecution of the war in Southeast Asia is poorly told by Ken Burns in his new Public Broadcasting Service documentary “The Vietnam War.” That is but one of many reasons Mr. Burns‘ latest work is such a disappointment and a tragic lost opportunity.

It’s sad, but I’ve come to accept that the real story of the heroic American GIs in Vietnam may never be told. Like too many others, Ken Burns portrays the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the Vietnam War as pot-smoking, drug-addicted, hippie marauders.

Those with whom I served were anything but. They did not commit the atrocities alleged in the unforgivable lies John Kerry described to a congressional committee so prominently featured by Mr. Burns. The troops my brother and I were blessed to lead were honorable, heroic and tenacious. They were patriotic, proud of their service, and true to their God and our country.
To depict them otherwise, as Mr. Burns does, is an egregious disservice to them, the families of the fallen and to history. But his treatment of my fellow Vietnam War veterans is just the start. Some of the most blatant travesties in the film are reserved for President Nixon.

Because of endless fairy tales told by Ken Burns and others, many Americans associate Richard Nixon with the totality and the worst events of Vietnam. It’s hardly evident in the Burns “documentary,” but important to note: When Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he inherited a nation — and a world — engulfed in discord and teetering on the brink of widespread chaos. His predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, was forced from office with a half-million U.S. troops mired in combat and fierce anti-American government demonstrations across the country and in our nation’s capital.

Ken Burns may not recall — but my family remembers: It was Lyndon Johnson who sent my brother and me to war. It was Richard Nixon who brought us home. It is very likely we are alive today because Mr. Nixon kept his word.

… President Nixon pressed on to all but finish the war. As promised, he brought our combat units home, returned 591 prisoners of war to their wives and families, ended the draft, leveraged the conflict to open ties with China and improved relations with the Soviet Union. He pushed both Communist giants in Beijing and Moscow to force their North Vietnamese puppet into a negotiated settlement. Yet he is portrayed in the Burns documentary as a cold-blooded, calculating politician more interested in re-election than the lives of U.S. troops in combat.
Contrary to the film’s portrayal, Mr. Nixon had a complicated strategy to achieve “peace with honor.” His goal was to train and equip the South Vietnamese military to defend their own country in a process he called “Vietnamization,” and thereby withdraw American troops.

President Nixon succeeded in isolating the North Vietnamese diplomatically and negotiated a peace agreement that preserved the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own political future. Imperfect as the Saigon government was, by 1973 the South Vietnamese had many well-trained troops and units that fought well and were proud to be our allies. This intricate and sophisticated approach took shape over four wartime years but receives only superficial mention in Mr. Burns‘ production.

… By the time President Nixon resigned office on Aug. 9, 1974, the Vietnam War was all but won and the South Vietnamese were confident of securing a permanent victory. But in December 1974 — three months after Mr. Nixon departed the White House — a vengeful, Democrat-dominated Congress cut off all aid to South Vietnam.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Oliver North via the below link:

On This Day In History Al Capone, The Most Notorious Gangster In America, Went To Prison

As notes, on this in history Al Capone went to prison.

On this day in 1931, gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname “Scarface” after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio’s illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization.

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Al Capone via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero via the below link:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Issues Statement On FBI Statistics Showing Staggering Rise In Law Enforcement Officers Killed And Assaulted In The Line of Duty In 2016

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today issued the following statement on the FBI's 2016 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, which show an unacceptable rise in law enforcement officers assaulted and killed in the line of duty:

"Every law enforcement officer goes to work knowing that today might be his or her last.  But last year, we saw a staggering 61 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty because of a felony, and on average, more than 150 officers were assaulted in the line of duty every single day. These numbers are as shocking as they are unacceptable.

“Our law enforcement deserves the support of the people they serve. Fortunately we have a President who understands this.  President Trump ran for office as a law-and-order candidate; now he is governing as a law-and-order President.

“In one of his first Executive Orders to this Department, President Trump directed us to prevent violence against law enforcement officers.  He stands with our law enforcement 100 percent—and so does this Department of Justice. That's one more reason why we're focused on the President's goal of reducing violent crime and united with local, state, and federal law enforcement in our shared mission to protect law-abiding people in every community."

According to statistics collected by the FBI, 118 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2016 – this is a 37 percent increase from 2015, when 86 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents.

Additionally, in 2016 there were 66 law enforcement officers killed in line-of-duty incidents as a result of felonious acts – this is a staggering 61 percent increase from 2015, when 41 law enforcement officer were killed in line-of-duty incidents.

Moreover, 57,180 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults – this is a 14 percent rise from the 50,212 officer that were victims of line-of-duty assaults in 2015.

For the full comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks and selected assaults resulting in injury, please see  the 2016 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, released today.