Friday, June 30, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Announces Chicago Gun Strike Force: 'We Cannot Accept These Levels Of Violence In Chicago'

The U. Justice Department released the below information:

Today Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the following statement on the unacceptable violence plaguing the City of Chicago and outlined steps that the Department of Justice is taking to increase public safety:

"No child in America should have to walk the streets of their neighborhood in fear of violent criminals, and yet in Chicago, thousands of children do every day. Last year, more than 4,300 Chicagoans were shot, and more than 700 were killed—the deadliest year in two decades.”

“The Trump Administration will not let the bloodshed go on; we cannot accept these levels of violence. That's why, under President Trump's strong leadership, we have created the Chicago Gun Strike Force and are sending 20 more permanent ATF agents to Chicago, reallocating federal prosecutors and prioritizing prosecutions to reduce gun violence, and working with our law enforcement partners to stop the lawlessness.”

“The Trump administration will also continue to pursue every avenue available to ensure that states and cities comply with federal immigration law and protect our citizens—rather than protecting the criminal illegal aliens who prey upon them. So-called "sanctuary" policies tie the hands of law enforcement by rejecting common sense and undermining federal laws that would remove criminal, illegal aliens from the streets and remove them from this country. These policies are opposed by some 80 percent of the American people because they endanger us all by letting dangerous criminals stay in this country that are due to be removed.”

“I want to commend the President for his commitment to enforcing our laws and keeping our communities safe.”

“The most critical factor to our success is the strength, training, and morale of the Chicago Police Department and all of our law enforcement partners. This administration is anxious to work toward this goal.”

“And I am confident in Celinez Nunez, the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of ATF, who has experienced the tragic consequences of gang violence firsthand. With these new resources, she will help us make Chicago safe again."


The Crime Gun Strike Force, a permanent team of special agents, task force officers, intelligence research specialists, and ATF Industry Operations investigators who are focused on the most violent offenders, in the areas of the city with the highest concentration of firearm violence.

The Strike Force became operational June 1, 2017, and consists of 20 additional permanent ATF special agents, 6 intelligence research specialists, 12 task force officers from the Chicago Police Department (CPD), 2 task force officers from the Illinois State Police, and 4 NIBIN specialists (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Don Winslow: By the Book

Don Winslow, author of the new crime novel The Force, answers the New York Times' questions about books.

Whom do you consider the best crime writers working today? And among classic writers of the genre?

I’m always reluctant to answer this question for fear of leaving someone out. There are so many, and I think that the genre is producing some of the best writing we have today. But O.K., here goes: Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Val McDermid, Steve Hamilton, T. Jefferson Parker, Joe Wambaugh, Lou Berney, Denise Mina, James Ellroy, Reed Farrel Coleman, Adrian McKinty, Lee Child, Meg Gardiner, Lawrence Block.…

Among the classic writers? I never stop learning from Raymond Chandler and Mr. Elmore Leonard. (The half-hour I spent with him on the phone shortly before he passed were 30 of the best minutes of my life.) John MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, James Crumley, Charles Willeford, Chester Himes, Robert B. Parker. Those guys turned crime writing into music.

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

Note: My review of Don Winslow's The Force will appear shortly in the Washington Times. 

FBI 'Reopening' Probe Of DoD-Funded School With Suspected Chinese Military Ties, Rep Says

Fox News is reporting that the FBI is reopening its investigation of the University of Management and Technology (UMT).

The FBI is “reopening” its probe of a taxpayer-funded online school for military service members after a six-month Fox News investigation exposed its alleged Chinese military ties, according to a senior Republican lawmaker.

"They've told us they're looking more seriously at it, that they're quote, unquote, reopening that investigation, and I hope to get some answers," retiring Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Fox News.

Reached by phone, an attorney claiming to represent the university told Fox News he’s unaware of any current criminal justice probe implicating his client. Separately, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) confirmed in a statement to Fox News that the investigation into the University of Management and Technology (UMT) "is still an active multi-agency investigation so there's nothing we can say at this point."

In 2012, the FBI raided the Rosslyn, Va.-based UMT and the home of its president, Yanping Chen Frame, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, and her husband J. Davidson Frame, the school's academic dean.

Documents reviewed by Fox News, as well as  recently unsealed court records, show the FBI focused on whether UMT's military personnel records could be remotely accessed from China, potentially compromising  military histories of U.S. service members, as well as Chen's alleged false statements on immigration documents that eventually allowed her to gain U.S. citizenship.

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

DA's Guilty Plea Changes Little In Philly's Corruption Climate

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board offers an editorial on the city’s corruption and lack of voter interest.

Philadelphia’s highest law enforcement officer pleaded guilty this morning to taking a bribe and the city shrugged — again.

Former District Attorney Seth Williams was accused of selling his office for lavish vacations, cash and back slaps. But his plea and resignation won’t end the city’s corruption crisis because Philadelphia seems just fine with it … and we show that in so many ways:

Turnout in DA races is notoriously low even though the consequences are literally life and death. If the district attorney is doing his job, he can reduce neighborhood violence and save lives. He can make the difference between whether a person is charged with a crime that carries a life-ruining sentence or is given a chance at redemption.

Voters say there are too few good choices, and they’re right about that. Philadelphia tolerates being a one-party town. Enough Democratic officeholders have been convicted in recent years to fill a cell block.

…Republicans don’t escape blame either. The city GOP is so weak, it’s just about DOA. The party doesn’t finance strong candidates. It may be too content with the GOP patronage jobs at the Philadelphia Parking Authority to rock the boat.
Besides accepting criminal politicians, Philadelphia has an uncanny comfort level with little thefts; the ones pols say are legal, or arrogantly proclaim are well-deserved rewards for jobs they decide are well done.

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on past Philadelphia corruption scandals via the below link:

Note: Seth Williams is seen in the top photo, which reminds me of the Esquire magazine's old satiric caption, "Why is this man smiling?" 

Statement By U.S. Attorney John W. Huber On Kate’s Law And The No Sanctuary For Criminals Act

The U.S. Justice Department released the below statement by the Utah U.S. Attorney John W. Huber (seen in the below photo), which was delivered at the White House press briefing on June 28, 2017:

“Just last month, a Utah federal judge issued a sentence of life plus 80 years to Roberto Roman, a criminal alien who had been removed from our country three times prior to 2010. Those three deportations, and even time in state prison, were not enough to dissuade Roman from returning to rural Utah where he trafficked methamphetamine to addicted residents.

“In 2010, Millard County Utah's first female deputy sheriff, Josie Greathouse Fox was working with her partners to curtail drug dealing in the wide open spaces of rural Utah. She intercepted Roman on dark, lonely highway in his big Cadillac. Roman is an amoral criminal, and he had no intention of complying with U.S. Law. Without warning or remorse, he gunned down Deputy Fox with an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle and left her to die in the middle of the road on a frigid January night.

“In 2011, in a different case, another Utah federal judge sentenced three MS-13 gang members to 15 years each for their role in a Mexican cartel marijuana farm in the pristine Dixie National Forest of Southern Utah. These thugs had been recruited to provide operational security for the illegal farm and were in possession of multiple firearms in connection with the drug operation. Although Utah has not suffered violence at the hands of MS-13 like California and states here in the east, we see its influence creeping ever closer. Even still, other transnational gangs (Nortenos and Surenos) and drug trafficking organizations do have an outsized impact on public safety in Utah and the mountain west.

“I am a career prosecutor and I am beginning my third year as a United States Attorney -- which makes me one of the longest tenured US Attorneys presently serving. Both as a line prosecutor and as a lead prosecutor, I have dutifully served under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Utah perennially leads interior districts in criminal alien prosecutions where we charge and convict hundreds of criminal aliens each year (average 300 in 2015, 2016, and projected 2017) who ignore our laws and re-enter our country unlawfully over and over again. To be clear, these are criminals with Rap sheets as long as their arms in many cases: violent criminals, drug traffickers, gang members, domestic violence abusers, child exploiters and human traffickers.

“From my perspective in the presumptively safe mountain enclave of Utah, criminal aliens significantly impact our quality of life by exposing our nation to an unwarranted risk of violent crime. If it’s a problem in Utah (40% of Utah's cases), it’s a problem nation wide. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors need more tools and unfettered coordination to address the challenge.

“This pending legislation -- "Kate's Law" and the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act" -- advance the ball for law enforcement in keeping our communities safe. The laws, if passed, would give officers and prosecutors more tools to protect the law-abiding public.

“Stiffer penalties for re-entry offenders make sense. The status quo is just not deterring the criminals from returning. (As an example --- Just today, in Salt Lake City, my office initiated one more prosecution in what is projected to be over 300 federal felony cases by year end against criminal aliens. This defendant's record indicates that he has been convicted 4 times for drug trafficking and 2 times for unlawfully re-entering the United States after deportation. Well, he's back in Utah and this year he was arrested once again for drug trafficking). "Kate's Law" enhances our ability to stem the tide of criminals who seem to almost always return to victimize us.

“Removing unnatural impediments between local and federal law enforcement will enable the coordination we need in this country to keep our neighborhoods safe. The priority for public safety overrides so-called sanctuary policies when those two are matched against one another. The "No Sanctuary for Criminals" bill will help law enforcement partners work together for our safety, as we expect them to do. Criminal aliens don't need encouragement to reside in any of our beautiful cities. Rather, these drug trafficker and gang member aliens need handcuffs and removal. Law enforcement professionals are very good at what they do -- we should not impede them from doing their excellent work in keeping us safe.” 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

'Goodfellas' Mobster Admits Arson, Insists He's No Rat

The New York Post offers a piece on Bonanno Cosa Nostra crime family capo Vincent Asaro.

Bonanno crime ​family capo Vincent Asaro assured a judge he’s no rat Tuesday, as he ​copped to charges that he ordered henchmen ​– including the namesake grandson of the late Gambino boss John Gotti — ​to torch the car of a driver who cut him off in 2012.

As Asaro took a plea deal, Judge Allyne Ross suggested he ditch defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio, who is ​also ​representing his loan shark nephew Ronald Giallanzo, because it would be ​dangerous ​for Asaro to ​potentially ​turn ​government ​witness while his lawyer reps other ​wiseguys.

But the 82-year-old Asaro, who dodged prison for his role in the 1978 Lufthansa heist​ immortalized in the film “Goodfellas​,​” and ​who ​has previously threatened the life of the prosecutor in the arson case, told the judge in no uncertain terms that he’s no rat.

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

You can also read an earlier post on the arson case via the below link: 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

North Carolina Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Attempting To Commit An Act Of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries

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

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 21, of Morganton, North Carolina, was sentenced today to life in prison for attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charge on Nov. 29, 2016.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte, North Carolina Division, made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the sentencing.

“Sullivan is a convicted terrorist who plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of ISIS,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders. I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

“Sullivan was actively planning the mass killing of innocent people with an attack designed to inflict maximum casualties and maximum pain in the name of ISIS, a sworn enemy of our nation. Sullivan’s allegiance to ISIS did not stop there. He also planned to film and send a video of his deadly attack to now-deceased Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIS member based in Syria, and further expressed his wish to create a new branch of the so-called Islamic State in the United States. The life sentence imposed on Sullivan reflects the seriousness of his crimes, protects the public from the danger he poses, and serves as a deterrent to others who wish to harm civilians within our borders. Our fight against terrorism continues whether against those who commit crimes on behalf of ISIS or any other foreign terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

“Identifying a terrorist before an attack happens is one of the most difficult tasks we face in the FBI. We compare it to finding a needle in a stack of needles. But that is exactly what we did to stop Justin Sullivan (link is external) from carrying out his murderous plot in the name of ISIL. It took an incredible level of cooperation and collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Today’s life in prison sentence is the result of the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working around the clock to protect this country from those who seek to do us harm,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.

Federal Terrorism Charges

According to information contained in court documents, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan sought out and downloaded violent ISIS attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, and collected them on his laptop computer. Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIS in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.

As Sullivan previously admitted in plea related documents filed with the court and at his plea hearing, beginning no later than June 7, 2015, Sullivan conspired with Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries, to plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia. Sullivan discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.

Court documents indicate that Sullivan told the UCE via social media that it was better to remain in the U.S. to support ISIS than to travel. Sullivan suggested that the UCE obtain weapons and told the UCE that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina. On or about June 20, 2015, Sullivan attempted to purchase hollow point ammunition to be used with the weapon(s) he intended to purchase.

According to court records, Sullivan had researched on the Internet how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks. Court records show that Sullivan told the UCE he planned to carry out his attack in the following few days at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed using the assault rifle and silencer.

Filed documents indicate that over the course of Sullivan’s communications with Junaid Hussain, Hussain had asked Sullivan to make a video of his planned terrorist attack, to which Sullivan had agreed.

On or about June 19, 2015, the silencer, which was built according to Sullivan’s instructions, was delivered to him at his home in North Carolina, where Sullivan’s mother opened the package. Sullivan took the silencer from his mother and hid it in a crawl space under his house. When Sullivan’s parents questioned him about the silencer, Sullivan, believing that his parents would interfere with his plans to carry out an attack, offered to compensate the UCE to kill them. 

Sullivan previously admitted that he took substantial steps towards carrying out terrorist attacks in North Carolina and Virginia by: (1) recruiting the UCE; (2) obtaining a silencer from the UCE; (3) procuring the money that would have enabled him to purchase the AR-15; (4) trying to obtain a specific type of ammunition that he believed would be the most “deadly”; (5) identifying separate gun shows where he and the UCE could purchase AR-15s; and (6) obtained a coupon for the gun shows he planned for himself and the UCE to attend on June 20 or 21, 2015.

The Court’s Findings

The Court announced its reasons for accepting the agreed life sentence. The Court noted that Sullivan’s plan to murder innocent civilians at a social gathering was similar to the Orlando nightclub attack in 2016. According to the Court, Sullivan’s plan, however, was more sinister because he planned to use stealth – including a mask to hide his identity and a silencer to kill as many as possible, with the hope to escape and kill again. The Court found that Sullivan’s offense was cold and calculating.

In making today’s announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Charlotte, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Hickory Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Gregory R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. 

Navy Officer Facing Military Charges In Fat Leonard Bribery Scandal Is Former F-18 pilot

Brock Vergakis at the Virginian-Pilot offers a piece on a U.S. Navy officer who is the first officer charged by the military in connection to the “Fat Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal.

A former fighter pilot charged with accepting bribes and gifts that included prostitutes, four suckling pigs and tickets to a Julio Iglesias concert as part of the expansive “Fat Leonard” scandal appeared at the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing Monday.

Cmdr. David Alexander Morales is the first Navy official to be charged by the military in connection with the “Fat Leonard” case, which until now has been prosecuted in civilian federal court in San Diego. Monday’s hearing will help determine whether there’s probable cause to take the case to court-martial.

“Fat Leonard” is the nickname given to Leonard Francis (seen in the above photo), the owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to presiding over a decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts, according to the Justice Department.

The massive scheme involved awarding Glenn Defense Marine Asia lucrative contracts to provide services to U.S. ships while in southeast Asia.

At least 20 current or former U.S. Navy officials have been charged in the fraud and bribery investigation.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism piece about the Fat Leonard bribery and fraud scandal via the below link:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Been There, Done That: Sailors Manning The Rails As Aircraft Carrier Returns To San Diego Homeport

The U.S. Navy released the above photo of sailors manming the rails of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as it returns to its homeport at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. 

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group successfully completed a five-month deployment to the western Pacific. 

I recall manning the rails as a young sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk as we returned to San Diego from a WESTPAC deployment in 1971. 

Note: The above photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elton Charles Wheeler.

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

Crime Columnist Revered And Feared in the Book Review

Daniel Fromson at the New York Times offers a piece on Marilyn Stasio, who writes a crime round-up column for the New York Times. 

On a recent morning, Marilyn Stasio’s Upper West Side living room contained at least two dozen piles of books — arranged on shelves, peeking from bags and boxes, heaped in precarious leaning towers. “Books to the right of me, books to the left of me, books in front of me, books behind me,” she declared. “It’s terrible!”

Ms. Stasio entered her equally book-filled office and sat before a desk on a red stool that belonged to her grandmother. Outside, a soft rain fell and a blue jay sang. It did not seem like the sort of place where she might write about, say, a serial killer who tears out his victims’ throats with metal teeth and drinks their blood.

But for Ms. Stasio, who has written The Times Book Review’s Crime column since 1988, the tales of atrocity and mystery in every corner fuel an everyday labor of love. A good murder novel, she once wrote, can be “a portal to a wider world.” Here she is literally at home among them, windows into alternate realities as familiar and vital to her as they can be strange and sinister to others.

Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights from The New York Times. Visit us at Times Insider and follow us on Twitter. Questions or feedback? Email us.

Ms. Stasio has always gravitated to darkness. As a student growing up in Revere, Mass., she liked the morbid and horrible: “Dracula,” for instance. She came to New York for graduate school and never left, reviewing theater for Cue magazine in the 1970s. (In addition to writing for The Times, she is now the chief theater critic for Variety.) A devourer of mystery novels, she began reviewing them in a syndicated column, which eventually led to her position at The Times.

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

Patriots Day: A Film That Dramatizes The Boston Marathon Bombing

My wife and I watched Patriots Day on Comcast Demand TV tonight.

The film, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, who was also the film's producer, is about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Patriots Day is a powerful film with a fine cast that includes John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.

The film does a good job of showing us the horror of the bombing, the suffering of the victims and the bravery of the police and the medical people who quickly responded. They didn't know if there were more bombs set to explode after the two bombs went off, but they charged in and did their jobs anyway.

Peter Berg is a good director of action films about military people and he handles the police action well in this film.

The film makes one angry at the heartless terrorists, who killed an eight-year-old boy and others, and the film makes one proud to be an American.

You can read a Hollywood Reporter piece on the film, the real people involved in the bombing and aftermath, and the actors who portrayed them via the below link:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hue 1968: Urban Warfare, Then And Now

Bing West, an author and Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, offers an interesting and enlightening piece in National Review on Mark Bowden’s new book Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam and the comparisons of Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 1968, more than 500,000 Americans and 800,000 South Vietnamese troops were fighting 400,000 Viet Cong guerrillas and North Vietnamese (NVA) soldiers. In early February, the enemy launched a surprise attack against dozens of cities and bases throughout the 400-mile length of South Vietnam. While most of the offensive was beaten back within days, it received enormous press coverage and badly shook the confidence of the military and political leadership in both Saigon and Washington.

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, the new book from Mark Bowden of The Atlantic, tells the tactical narrative of these events splendidly — albeit with a dubious epilogue focused on broader questions of strategy and foreign policy.

The most savage battle occurred inside the historic city of Hue in the northern part of the country. Ten thousand NVA seized the heart of the city, including the ancient citadel enclosed by stone walls 20 feet thick. For 25 days a confused, chaotic battle raged up and down the city’s streets. When it ended, most of the city was destroyed, and the death toll included approximately 250 Americans, 500 South Vietnamese and 5,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, plus 6,000 civilians killed in the fighting and another 2,000 executed by the NVA.

Bowden has stitched together dozens of riveting squad-level firefights, writing from individual points of view collected via dozens of extended interviews over four years of research. Via this accumulation of short stories depicting love, sacrifice, gore, madness, valor, blood, and horror, the reader follows the battle down the deadly streets day by day.

… In the book’s epilogue, Bowden writes, “the battle of Hue and the entire Vietnam War seem a tragic and meaningless waste. . . . As some of the nation’s more recent wars have helped to illustrate, ‘victory’ in Vietnam would have been neither possible nor desirable.” This exculpation by blanket denial is both mystical and bewildering. It does not fit with the focus (one significant 25-day urban battle) or the deep research of the book.

Yes, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are comparable to Vietnam in two particulars. First, in all three cases America insisted upon democratic nation-building that was resisted by the indigenous cultures and eventually exceeded politically sustainable resources. Second, in Vietnam, we conceded a vast sanctuary to our enemy; in Afghanistan, we similarly allowed Pakistan to provide aid and refuge to the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

However, unlike North Vietnam, the Islamist terrorists pose a continuing danger to America. Defeating them cannot be dismissed as “neither possible nor desirable.” There must be “victory,” narrowly defined as an end state that is tolerable to our security interests. Tell me where we are in three years if I follow your strategy should be the directive the commander-in-chief issues to his generals. And most certainly Bowden’s aversion to nation-building should be heeded in regards to our future role in Syria.

… Bowden has written a classic narrative about the role of grit and the individual soldier in urban battle.

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

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

Note: On one point I disagree with Mr. West. The North Vietnamese were in fact a threat to America. They were a communist client state of the Soviet Union, a nation that had dreams of communist world domination. This is a fact - the Soviet leaders said so, many times. The Vietnam War was but a battle in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. And America won the Cold War.   

The Doddering Don: 100-Year-Old Crime Boss Bears The Odds, Is Released From Prison

Michael Hechtman at the New York Post offers a piece on a 100-year-old mobster released from prison.

Geriatric gangster John “Sonny’’ Franzese — the oldest guest of the federal prison system — is a free man at the age of 100.

The Colombo family underboss was rolled out of the Federal Medical Center in Massachusetts in a wheelchair Friday and headed to the home of his daughter in Brooklyn, Newsday reported.

At the age of 93, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for shaking d own the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan.

Authorities said at the time the doddering don — whom they believed responsible for the murders of between 50 and 100 people — could be released at the age of 100 if he behaved himself in the lockup.

Assistant US Attorney Cristina Posa doubted Franzese would live that long. She told Judge Brian Cogan, who sentenced him, that “for him to die now as a criminal in jail is not an inappropriate response to the lifestyle he lived.”

Posa added, “He is largely responsible for the glamorization of the Mafia over the past century.’’

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

Coalition Forces Kill ISIS Financial Facilitator

The Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve released the below information:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 23, 2017 — Coalition forces killed a key Islamic State of Iraq and Syria financial facilitator with an airstrike in Abu Kamal, Syria, June 16, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials announced today.

Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi, a Syrian native and an experienced terrorist financial facilitator, moved millions of dollars for the terror organization's attack and logistics network. He owned the Hanifa Currency Exchange in Abu-Kamal, which he used along with a network of global financial contacts to move money into and out of ISIS-controlled territory and across borders on behalf of the group.

The Treasury Department, pursuant to U.S. Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism, imposed sanctions on al-Rawi and his company, Hanifa Currency Exchange’s branch in Abu Kamal, Dec. 13, 2016. This was the first U.S. action specifically targeting ISIS-affiliated money-services businesses.

The Treasury Department designated al-Rawi for providing financial and material support to ISIS. Al-Rawi pledged loyalty to ISIS in 2014 and used his network of global financial contacts to help ISIS conduct weapons and ammunition deals at a time when the terrorist group was seizing land and committing atrocities across Syria and Iraq. In 2015, he facilitated ISIS financial transactions and money storage, including payments to ISIS foreign terrorist fighters; his property was also used by senior ISIS leaders for weekly meetings. As of May 2016, he was considered an ISIS finance emir, whose money exchange business was used for ISIS-related transactions.

Financial Network Disrupted

The coalition's efforts to disrupt and attack ISIS's financial networks have restricted the terror group's ability to move resources and export terrorism. Several of al-Rawi's close terrorist associates have also been targeted and killed by the coalition:

-- Samir Idris, a key ISIS financial facilitator for external terror attacks and an international money launderer, was killed June 7, 2017, near Mayadin, Syria. He was trusted by senior ISIS leadership to move funds across borders to pay for external terror attacks.

-- Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, a foreign fighter and external terror attack facilitator, was killed April 6, 2017, near Mayadin, Syria. He was a close associate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and helped facilitate the high profile attack that murdered 39 people on New Year's Eve at the Reina night club in Istanbul. U.S. Central Command announced his death on April 21, 2017.

-- Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi, a senior external terror attack facilitator, was killed Nov. 12, 2016, in Raqqa, Syria. He was responsible for attacks across the Middle East, including against American, Turkish, and other European targets of interest, and was also involved in assassination plots, hostage situations and convoy reconnaissance and helped arm, fund and move terrorist fighters. U.S. Central Command announced his death Jan. 6, 2017. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Virginia Man Arrested And Charged With Espionage

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

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, of Leesburg, Virginia, made his initial appearance in federal court today on charges that he transmitted Top Secret and Secret documents to an agent of the People’s Republic of China. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Mallory, travelled to Shanghai in March and April 2017 and met with an individual (PRC1), who he believed was working for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service (PRCIS).

The announcement was made by Dana J. Boente, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, and these charges should send a message to anyone who would consider violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information,” said Mr. Boente.

“Kevin Mallory was previously entrusted with Top Secret clearance and therefore had access to classified information, which he allegedly shared and planned to continue sharing with representatives of a foreign government,” said Mr. Vale. “Furthermore, he allegedly misled investigators in a voluntary interview about sharing of this classified information. The FBI will continue to investigate those individuals who put our national security at risk through unauthorized disclosures of information.”

During a voluntary interview with FBI agents on May 24, Mallory stated that PRC1 represented himself as working for a People’s Republic of China think tank, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS). Since at least 2014, the FBI has assessed that Chinese intelligence officers have used SASS affiliation as cover identities.

Mallory told FBI agents he travelled to Shanghai separately in March and April to meet with PRC1 and PRC1’s boss. After Mallory consented to a review of a device he had been using to communicate with PRC1, FBI viewed a message from Mallory to PRC1 in which Mallory stated that he had blacked out security classification markings on documents transmitted to PRC1. Analysis of the device also revealed a handwritten index describing eight different documents. Four of the eight documents listed in the index were found stored on the device, with three containing classified information pertaining to the same U.S. government agency. One of those documents was classified TOP SECRET, while the remaining two documents were classified SECRET.

Mallory, a self-employed consultant with GlobalEx LLC, is a U.S. citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. He has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defense contractors. As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career. Mallory’s security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.

Mallory was arrested this morning  and is charged with gathering or delivering defense information to aid a foreign government, and making material false statements. If convicted, Mallory faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Trial Attorney Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Gibbs for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. 

Trump And His Generals

Victor Davis Hanson offers his take on President Trump and his generals in a piece in the Washington Times.

Donald Trump earned respect from the Washington establishment for appointing three of the nation’s most accomplished generals to direct his national security policy: James Mattis (secretary of defense), H.R. McMaster (national security adviser) and John Kelly (secretary of homeland security).

In the first five months of the Trump administration, the three generals — along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO — have already recalibrated America’s defenses.

At home, illegal immigration is down by some 70 percent. Abroad, a new policy of principled realism seeks to re-establish deterrence through credible threats of retaliation. The generals are repairing old friendships with allies and neutrals while warning traditional enemies not to press their luck.

President Trump has turned over most of the details of military operations to his generals. According to his critics, Mr. Trump is improperly outsourcing to his generals both strategic decision-making and its tactical implementation.

But is Mr. Trump really doing that?

In his campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to avoid new ground wars while not losing those he inherited. He pledged to wipe out ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism without invading Middle Eastern countries to turn them into democracies.

Those are wide but nonetheless unmistakable parameters.

 Within them, the U.S. military can drop a huge bomb on the Taliban, strike the chemical weapons depots of Syria’s Bashar Assad, or choose the sort of ships it will use to deter North Korean aggression — without Mr. Trump poring over a map, or hectoring Gen. Mattis or Gen. McMaster about what particular move is politically appropriate or might poll well.

Other presidents have done the same.

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

Note: The top photo is of General McMasters. The middle photo is of General Mattis and the above photo is of General Kelly.   

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of Stephen Hunter's 'G-Man'

The Washington Times published my review of Stephen Hunter’s G-Man.

“Don’t shoot, G-Man,” Machine Gun Kelly cried out to the federal agents who were moving in to arrest him in 1933. The term later came to be synonymous with FBI special agents.

As Bryan Burrough noted in his excellent true crime book “Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34,” J. Edgar Hoover publicly mandated that all agents have a law degree, but he quietly, and wisely, also hired Southwestern lawmen to compliment his lawyer-agents. These “Cowboys,” as they were known, were knowledgeable about firearms and had considerable experience with gunfights against armed and desperate criminals. As the federal agents were going up against violent bank robbers such as Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger, the Cowboys were needed to back up the inexperienced agents with law degrees.

In Stephen Hunter’s thriller “G-Man” Charles Swagger, a World War I hero and sheriff of Polk County, Arkansas, is one of the Cowboys. The Justice Department’s Division of Investigation, later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, needed men in like Charles Swagger to go toe-to-toe with the violent bank robbers and gunmen of the 1930s.

In Mr. Hunter’s series of thrillers about the fictional Swagger family, Charles Swagger is the grandfather of Bob Lee Swagger, a former Vietnam War Marine sniper, and father of Earl Swagger, a former World War II Marine Medal of Honor winner and Arkansas state trooper. All of the Swaggers are gunmen and Mr. Hunter, a gun enthusiast, writes knowledgeably about guns.

“G-Man,” the 10th in the series, alternates between Charles Swagger’s story in 1934 and Bob Lee Swagger’s present day story. Bob Lee Swagger is an elderly, tall, and lanky man, looking more like Clint Eastwood than Mark Wahlberg, who portrayed the former sniper in the film “Shooter,” or Ryan Phillippe, who plays Bob Lee Swagger in the TV series “Shooter.”

… All of the infamous criminals and famous lawmen from the Depression-era make an appearance in the novel and Mr. Hunter places Charles Swagger at the center of every famous gunfight.

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

Yuri Drozdov, Soviet spymaster Who Planted Agents Across The West, Dies At 91

Harrison Smith offers an obituary of a former KGB spymaster in the Washington Post.

They were known as the illegals, men and women who adopted the identities of the dead, worked as priests, poets, actors and inventors, and quietly gathered intelligence for the Soviet Union during the long years of the Cold War. 

Based in nondescript American suburbs and bustling European capitals, they spent up to two decades developing the trust of their neighbors and employers while stealing secret information about nuclear weapons, missile systems, Western intelligence efforts and political intrigue.

At the helm of their organization, a secretive wing of the KGB known as Directorate S, was a balding man with the rank of major general and the name of Yuri Drozdov (seen in the above photo). A square-jawed World War II veteran who led assaults in Afghanistan and helped arrange a high-profile spy exchange in 1960s Berlin, he died June 21 at 91.

The Foreign Intelligence Service, a KGB successor agency known as the SVR, announced his death but did not provide additional details.

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

A Brief History Of U.S. Navy Ship Collisions

Kyle Mizokami at Popular Mechanics offers a list of U.S. Navy collisions at sea (which includes my old ship, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk).

U.S. Navy ships operate in close proximity to other ships all the time, from steaming in formation with supply ships to sailing in busy sea lanes. Inadvertent contact between ships, no matter how thorough the precautions, is inevitable.

Today's New York Times includes a list of collisions involving U.S. Navy vessels at sea. The list includes the famous USS John F. Kennedy/USS Belknap collision, which resulted in the guided missile cruiser's superstructure being virtually sheared off. It also lists the sinking of the Spanish fishing boat Barcona, which accidentally snagged the attack submarine USS Houston and was dragged underwater.

The Times' list is by no means complete, however. Here's a few more collision events you may or may not have heard of. Many took place during the Cold War between U.S. Navy and Soviet Navy ships, as the two fleets stalked one another in one cat and mouse game after another.

You can read the list via the below link:

Statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions On The Bishop International Airport Attack in Flint, Michigan

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (seen in the below photo) today issued the following statement on the attack at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan:

“I’ve just spoken with officials at the FBI about the attack on a police officer in Flint, Michigan that is being investigated as an act of terrorism. President Trump has prioritized the safety of all law enforcement officers, and this Department of Justice is committed to that goal. I want to assure all our law enforcement across the nation, any attack on someone who serves and protects our citizens will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am proud of the swift response from the FBI and our federal prosecutors and their partnership with local police and the Canadian authorities. Our prayers are with the officer and his family for a full recovery.” 

Note: The top photo is of the victim, Lt Jeff Neville, 

Miracle At Philadelphia: On This Day In History The U.S. Constitution Was Ratified

As notes, on this day in 1788 the United States Constitution was ratified.

You can read about the historical event via the below link:

And you can learn more about the Constitution by reading Catherine Drinker Bowen's Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Accused Mobster Joseph Merlino Wants Trial Moved To Philly

Kaja Whitehouse at the New York Post offers a piece on accused Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Joseph Merlino, who will soon stand trial on racketeering charges.

Accused Philly mob boss Joey "Skinny Joey" Merlino wants to stay close to the cheesesteaks.

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

Cartel Wives: Women Whose Husbands Worked For, Then Brought Down El Chapo Tell Their Story

Pamela K. Browne and Cyd Upson and offers a piece on a pair of Cartel wives whose drug trafficking husbands have become informants and will soon testify against their former boss, Joaguin “El Chapo” Guzman.   

They once enjoyed a life of ill-gotten luxury, married to identical twins who climbed to the top of the world’s most profitable – and deadly – drug cartel. But these days, Mia and Olivia Flores live in the shadows, wearing disguises and shuttling their children from home to home, always wary someone is coming for them.

Daughters of Chicago police officers, Mia and Olivia married Pedro and Margarito Flores Jr. as the brothers rose from street-level dealers to running Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán's Sinaloa drug cartel in the United States.

"They made a lot of money," Mia said in an exclusive, on-camera interview with Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge. "My husband and brother-in-law were a big asset to him. They knew the U.S. inside and out, they knew the roads, they knew how to maneuver in the U.S. And that's something Chapo and his team didn't know how to do."

The lavish lifestyle came crashing down in 2012, when the twins were each sentenced to 14 years in prison for smuggling 71 tons of cocaine and heroin and $2 billion in cash into the United States. The Flores brothers were the highest level American drug traffickers to be flipped by the Drug Enforcement Agency--DEA, and key to bringing El Chapo to U.S. justice. Key to the prosecution's case, they are expected to testify at his 2018 trial in New York City.

"I would say that they're probably the strongest witnesses in this case," Olivia said in the interview, at which she, like her sister-in-law, wore dark glasses and a wig. "They were the first to ever get El Chapo Guzmán on a recorded conversation. They're U.S. citizens. They speak English. They've trafficked drugs across the U.S."

In the meantime, Olivia and Mia are telling their own story in “CARTEL WIVES: A True Story of Deadly Decisions, Steadfast Love and Bringing Down El Chapo.” The book, which hits stores this week, is Mia and Olivia’s effort to detail the role their husbands played in bringing El Chapo to justice and to tell their own story of survival in the aftermath.

"We do not share our real names,” Olivia told Fox News. “We have to constantly hide. We have to constantly remember our lies. We don't mingle with neighbors. We try to just fly under the radar and try not to get noticed. We're soccer moms. We're on the PTA. We're in car line. We're dressed in sneakers every day. And we're just trying to give our children a normal life."

Although El Chapo, who was captured in his Mexican mountain hideout in January of 2016, after repeated escapes from prison, is now held at the maximum-security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, Olivia and Mia fear they are "being hunted" by his loyalists.

Their fear is real, according to recently retired Drug Enforcement Administration Deputy Administrator Jack Riley (seen in the above photo in front of a wanted poster of Guzman), who spent more than a decade hunting El Chapo. He said El Chapo is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

"Look, I hate the guy,” Riley said. “When I was on the border some 10 years ago, sluggin' it out with what was going on in Juarez, he put a bounty on my head. I was a little upset about it, because it was only $100,000, but he put a bounty to have someone cut my head off.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: