Monday, May 21, 2018

Honduran Drug Kingpin Sentenced To Life In Prison

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

Honduran national Sergio Neftali Mejia-Duarte was sentenced today to life in prison for his involvement in a large-scale international narcotics transportation organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, made the announcement.

On Jan. 9, a Miami jury found Mejia-Duarte, 41, guilty of conspiring to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine with the knowledge that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States.  The evidence at trial, which included the testimony of multiple co-conspirators and pictures from a seizure of over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, showed that defendant Mejia-Duarte led a large-scale international narcotics transportation organization based in Honduras and Guatemala that was part of a distribution chain spanning from Colombia to Mexico and the United States.  In that role, Mejia-Duarte and his workers secretly received multi-hundred kilogram quantities of cocaine from Colombia and Panama, temporarily stored the narcotics in Honduras or Guatemala, and then transported the narcotics onward, typically northward, including into Mexico.

Mejia-Duarte used go-fast boats, helicopters, and airplanes to operate his shipping route and, as witnesses detailed at trial, much of the cocaine was supplied to the Sinaloa Cartel led by Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as “Chapo,” and Ismael Zambada, also known as “Mayo.”  Based on the witnesses’ trial testimony and documents submitted in the case, Mejia-Duarte is responsible for trafficking at least an estimated 20,000 kilograms of cocaine.  In operating his criminal network, the witnesses described how Mejia-Duarte carried guns, employed bodyguards and assassins, and engaged in a bloody war with a rival trafficker.  During Mejia-Duarte’s arrest, Honduran law enforcement officers found a Glock pistol and an automatic rifle in the closet of the bedroom where he was residing.

“Until his arrest, Sergio Neftali Mejia-Duarte was a violent and prolific drug trafficker whose criminal organization supplied cocaine to the Sinaloa Cartel, knowing full well that the poison would make its way to our streets,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Today’s sentence reflects the unwavering commitment of the Department of Justice to prosecute those who fuel our drug crisis by sending illegal narcotics across our borders.  I especially thank our law enforcement partners in Honduras and Colombia for their assistance in bringing Mejia-Duarte to justice.”

“The life sentence imposed upon Mejia-Duarte ends the reign of a ruthless drug trafficker,” said U.S. Attorney Greenberg.  “Backed by the united front of our international allies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida will continue to strip the drug traffickers of their power and dismantle the trafficking organizations that cross our borders and infect our communities with illicit narcotics.”

“The DEA Miami Field Division is very pleased with the deserving sentence given to Mejia-Duarte today,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Wright.  “This adjudication is evidence of the strong partnership with our international law enforcement partners who also sacrifice much to strike down and bring to justice all those who willingly engage in dangerous and criminal acts against the United States which threatens the welfare of its citizens.”

The prosecution was part of Operation Hollow Point, which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

Assistant Deputy Chief Michael Lang of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Walter M. Norkin and Joseph Schuster of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.

The governments of Honduras and Colombia, the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and DEA Division Offices in Honduras and Colombia assisted in obtaining the conviction against Mejia-Duarte. 

Longmire, Netflix's Modern Western Crime Drama, Wraps Up

I watched the final episode of the sixth and final season of Longmire, the modern Western crime drama, on Netflix last night. 

The outstanding series was based on Craig Johnson's crime novels about a Wyoming sheriff. 

As I noted in my Washington Times review of Craig Johnson's latest Longmire novel, The Western Star, Walt Longmire is a big man who is taciturn and possesses a dry sense of humor. Craig Johnson describes him as overage, overweight and overly depressed, but he still gets up in the morning and tries to do his job. Longmire offers a modern take on what Craig Johnson calls the cowboy mythos and the romance of the old West.

Australian actor Robert Taylor portrayed Walt Longmire, Katee Sackhoff portrayed his deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti, a South Philly girl and former Philadelphia cop, and Lou Diamond Philips portrayed Henry Standing Bear, Longmire's best friend. The series offers a good number of other fine cast members as well.

I enjoyed the series and I'll miss it.

You can read my Washington Times review of  The Western Star via the below link: 

Note: The above photo is of author Craig Johnson. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

DHS Honors Fallen Law Enforcement Officers During Police Week

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the below information and photos:

WASHINGTON— Throughout the 2018 National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored law enforcement officers and their families for their service and sacrifice. In Washington and around the country, DHS has been involved in memorializing these heroes throughout the week.

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen (seen in the below photo) attended memorials that focused on the important work that DHS law enforcement officers and agents do every day, and honored those killed in the line of duty:

“Every year, in honor of Police Week, we pay tribute to the law enforcement community,” said Secretary Nielsen. “We lay a wreath in memory of those who put on a badge, went to work, and never came home again. We take time —one week out of the year—to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘I miss you.’ We reflect on those who’ve gone before us. We remember their sacrifice, and we comfort those they’ve left behind.

“It is a remarkable privilege to lead the men and women of this Department, particularly the members of our law enforcement family. I am grateful for every one of you who has answered the call to stand up for our homeland.”

DHS is the largest employer of federal law enforcement agents. Approximately one-third of our employees serve as law enforcement officers, and nearly 70 percent perform law enforcement functions. The Department’s law enforcement family includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Protective Service (FPS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

DHS also plays an important role in training law enforcement across the country through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), which provides vital training to more than 90 federal partner organizations, as well as many state and local officers. Since its inception in 1970, FLETC has trained more than one million law enforcement professionals nationwide.

DHS is proud to participate in Police Week to pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and honor all law enforcement officers and their families for their service to our country.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Armed Forces Day 2018

Mob Talk 18: Legal Sports Betting And The Mob

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss legalized sports gambling and how this will impact mob bookmaking and loan sharking. 

So how will the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting across the country impact the Mob. Some say this is a crippling blow, others say not so much.  And where will the Mob find new revenue streams in the future? 

You can watch the rest of the video via the below link:  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Bombshell Breach Of Security Issues

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers an interesting piece in the Washington Times.

The admonition “do not brag” likely will not be found in any intelligence manual. But strictures on revealing “sources and methods,” as well as common sense, dictate that certain matters are not discussed in public.

The obvious drawback to such disclosures — be they deliberate or accident — is that adversaries will take advantage of such information to avoid future losses.

Thus, considerable concern and dismay were heard in the intelligence community in early May about what can only be described as a bombshell breach of security procedures.

In an article distributed worldwide, the Reuters news agency reported that what were described as “four very senior members” of the Islamic State terrorist group were captured near the Turkish border by American and Iraqi intelligence officers.

Reuters reported that the team used intelligence garnered from what was described by as “a popular messaging app, WhatsApp,” which was attached to the cell phone of another ISIS figure who was captured earlier.

The chain of events began in February, when Turkish counterterrorism officers captured a man named Ismail al-Eithawi, who was a close aide to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, described as the “Iraqi-born leader of the group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS).

The capture produced the “WhatsApp” device and a sizable amount of electronic gear and other documents. The captured man, al-Eithawi, was no flunky. According to Iraqi security officials, he was tasked with arranging the secret transfer of ISIS funds to bank accounts around the world.

…One can envision what happened when the Reuters report was circulated through Middle Eastern media: A mad scramble by ISIS figures to dispose of mobile phones that might be tapped, and to clean out the covert bank accounts before they were seized.

Who was responsible for the leak? Several retired American intelligence veterans — stressing that they had no first-hand knowledge of the episode — were hesitant to point a finger.

But these veterans stressed that any Americans with even basic training by the Central Intelligence Agency would have known instantly the necessity of keeping the seizure a secret.

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

My Crime Fiction: 'Skinny's Street Fight'

The below short story originally appeared in American Crime Magazine.

Skinny's Street Fight

By Paul Davis

While vacationing with my wife and family in the Pocono Mountains, I met a retired Pennsylvania state trooper named Bob Barnes.

Over a couple of drinks at the bar, I told Barnes that I was a writer who covered crime. I mentioned that I was curious to know if the opioid crisis was as bad in the small Pennsylvania towns as it was in the cities.

Barnes told me that he was driving to Thorn, a small town a few miles away, to met a friend. He offered to introduce me to the Thorn police chief.

Thorn, Pennsylvania was a typical small town with perhaps untypical grand mountain scenery surrounding it. We entered the Thorn police station and Barnes introduced me to the police chief, Harry Keene, a short and solid man with short-cropped brown hair.    

Barnes left and Keene took me into his private office.

Growing up in South Philly in the early 1960s I watched The Andy Griffith Show, the situation comedy centered on a small town sheriff. Sitting in the police chief's office, I felt like I was in the TV sheriff's old office, although outside of the chief's office were several officers and two civilian clerks working the phones and computers.

I asked Keene about his town's drug problems and just as we started the interview, he was called outside by one of his officers. Keene soon came back in, apologized, and said he had to leave.

He introduced me to an elderly, tall, lanky man in casual civilian attire. The chief said the man was Rocky Philips, a retired officer.

I was initially disappointed in not getting to interview the chief of police, but Rocky, I soon discovered, was a good storyteller.

"You're from Philadelphia? I knew another fella from Philly," Philips said. "But I don't think you're like him." 

He then launched into a story about this other man from Philadelphia.

John Toby was a former Philly cop who married a Thorn girl, moved to the town and became a Thorn police officer in the early 1980s. When the chief retired, Toby took over, as Philips had no interest in becoming the chief and the other officers all lacked experience.

Toby wanted to be chief. A proud army Vietnam veteran who often spoke of his harrowing experiences in the war, as well as his harrowing experiences as a Philly cop, Toby was a muscular man who was loud, rude and aggressive. To Philips, it seemed like Toby had something to prove. Philips did not like the way Toby treated people and he often cautioned the chief in private about it. Toby ignored his older, more experienced officer.

Despite Toby's brusk style, most of the town's residents liked him. Some admired him. Some were amused by him. And some thought he was the worst thing to ever come to town.   

Toby's wife was in the latter group. She soon tired of his abuse and left town.

Philips spoke to me of the time Toby and him broke up an argument between two high school students in the town's diner. Toby told the two boys to go outside and settle the argument by squaring off against each other.

"This is how we do it in the army and this is how we do it in Philly," Toby said.

Philips objected when he saw the face of the smaller boy, a quiet, sensitive, thin boy who was called called "Skinny" for obvious reasons. He didn't look like he wanted to fight, while the bigger boy was all for it.

Philips grabbed Toby's arm and told what he thought.

"I was a boxer in the army and the best way to settle a score is to fight it out," Toby said.

"Yeah,' Philips replied. "Maybe in a ring with boxing gloves and head gear, but not bare knuckles in a street fight."

"You work with what you got," Toby responded.

Philips thought of calling Skinny's widowed mother, but instead he walked up to the visibly shaken boy.

"You don't have to do this," Philips told the boy. "He doesn't have the authority to make you fight."

"I'd rather be beaten up than run away," Skinny said in a shaky voice. "I have to live in this town."

Skinny met Toby and the bigger boy in the street behind the diner. A crowd of students and some older town residents had gathered to watch the kids fight.

Philips walked over to Toby and pulled him aside. "Stop this now. That boy has 40 pounds on Skinny and he's taller and has a longer reach."

But Toby was adamant. He walked away from Philips without comment and grabbed the two boys. He pushed them together.

The fight did not last long.

The bigger boy punched Skinny square in the face and the slight boy fell to his knees. He did not get up.

Philips went to him and saw the boy was not truly hurt. The boy, who had never been struck in the face before, was dazed.

Philips, usually a mild and easy-going man, stood up in anger and shouted out Toby's name.

"Toby, you asshole! You pushed this poor boy into this humiliating scene with your phony tough guy bullshit."

Toby stood his ground, hands on his hips, and just smiled at Philip's outburst.   

"You told everybody you were a boxer in the army," Philips said. "Well, you know what? So was I. So let's see what you got."

Although he was at least ten years older than Toby and 25 pounds lighter, Philips took off his gun holster and belt and handed them to another officer. He took off his watch and wedding ring and rolled up his sleeves.  

"You're too old and scrawny for me to fight," Toby told Philips, but he looked around and saw the faces in the crowd. He didn't want to be humiliated in front of the town people, so he too removed his gun holster and belt and handled them to an officer standing near him.

Without another word Toby charged in, threw his left arm around Philips head, pulled him down and hit him in the face with an uppercut. Philips broke free and pushed Toby away.

"Are we boxing or wrestling, chief?" Philips asked. Some in the crowd laughed

Philips then stepped in and connected with a solid left jab and straight right combination that shook Toby.

Toby stepped back, but he recovered quickly. He laughed for the crowd's sake. He then moved in towards Philips and walked directly into a straight right hand that dropped him to the ground.

Like Skinny, Toby sat there dazed.

"I know all about you, Toby. I investigated you," Philips said as he stood over the fallen police chief. "Yeah, you served in the army, but you were nowhere near Vietnam. You served stateside. And yeah, you were a Philadelphia police officer, but not for long. You resigned just as they were gonna fire ya."

Philips blew out some air.

"By the way, I quit," Philips said.

The crowd shifted and spoke quietly among themselves as Toby slowly and silently lifted himself up, took his gear from the officer and walked slowly to the police station.

Without a word to anyone, John Toby resigned that afternoon and moved out of town the following morning. Philips was made the acting chief until a new chief was hired.

"So what happened to Skinny?" I asked.

"Well, he turned out OK, I guess," Philips said. "He became like another son to me. I suggested he join the army when he turned 18. He did."

"Did he come back here?"

"Yeah, he did," Philips said with a smile. "You were just talking to him."

"Harry Keene, the chief?"

"Sure was." 

© Paul Davis 2018 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gunman Who Pledged Allegiance To ISIS After Shooting Philly Cop Sentenced To Almost 50 Years In Prison

Edward Archer, the gunman who ambushed and shot Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett in the name of ISIS received a maximum sentence of nearly 50 years in prison. 

The above Philadelphia Police photo shows Archer shooting at Officer Hartnett's patrol car and the below photo is of P/O Hartnett. 

You can read Chris Palmer’s piece on the sentence and trial in the Philadelphia Inquirer via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine on the shooting via the below link:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Gritty, Early Stories Of An Incomparable Crime Writer: My Washington Times Review Of Dashiell Hammett's 'The Big Book Of The Continental Op'

The Washington Times published my review of Dashiell Hammett's The Big Book of the Continental Op.

Some months ago I visited my daughter and her Air Force husband in California. We visited San Francisco and saw Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and other well-known attractions. Although I had never been there before, I had a sense of familiarity. This was Dashiell Hammett’s town. I grew up reading Mr. Hammett’s crime stories and San Francisco appeared prominently in many of the stories.

The late Dashiell Hammett, the author of “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Thin Man” and other classic crime novels, began his writing career punching out short stories for Black Mask magazine.

Before he wrote about his more well-known detectives Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles, he created a nameless detective who narrated his early short stories. The detective, also called an operative, or Op, worked for the Continental Detective Agency. The Op was a short, fat fellow, unlike Mr. Hammett, who was tall, lean and in his youth looked like a “blonde Satan,” which is how he described Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon.”

In “The Big Book of the Continental Op,” fans of crime fiction can read a collection of all of Mr. Hammett’s Op stories. The book was edited by Richard Layman, the president of Bruccoli Clark Layman, producers of the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” and Julie M. Rivett, Mr. Hammett’s granddaughter, who is a Dashiell Hammett scholar and spokesperson for the Hammett estate.

“The long awaited volume you hold in your hands is the first and only collection to assemble every one of Dashiell Hammett’s pioneering Continental Op adventures — twenty-eight stand-alone stories, two novels, and Hammett’s only known unfinished Continental tale.” writes Ms. Rivett in her introduction. “It is truly definitive. And it has been many decades in the making.

“At the time of this writing, the first Op story is ninety-four years old and the last one is seventy-nine, not including ‘Three Dimes,’ an undated draft fragment conserved in Hammett’s archives, first published in 2016.

“The gritty sleuth Hammett described as ‘a little man going forward day after day through mud and blood and death and deceit’ has weathered gunshots, grifters, criminal conspiracies, class struggles, temptations, neglect, and more. This volume is testament to his tenacity. He is a survivor, a working-class hero, and a landmark literary creation.”

As Ms. Rivett notes, Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton detective and the Continental agency was modeled on Pinkerton. Mr. Hammett worked on cases involving forgeries, bank swindles and safe burglaries, which Ms. Rivett’s states was a solid factual basis for the Op’s fictional stories.

... Despite Dashiell Hammett’s foolish sympathy for the American Communist Party and other character flaws, he was a patriot who served in the U.S. Army in both world wars. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Dashiell Hammett via the below link:

A Monster Unmasked: Ben Macintyre's Look Back At Kim Philby's 'My Silent War: The Autobiography of a Spy'

Ben Macintyre, the London Times columnist and author of Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal, and A Spy Among Us: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, offers a look back at British traitor Kim Philby's My Silent War: The Autobiography of a Spy on the 50th anniversary of the book's original publication.  

For many years after the publication of My Silent War, it was rumoured that the autobiography of Kim Philby had been ghostwritten by the KGB, and that the last published words of Britain’s most notorious spy were not his at all. The rumour was not true. No one but an upper-class, public school-educated, waspish and embittered English spook could have achieved the level of eloquent vitriol packed into the pages of this delightful book.

Written in 1968, five years after Philby boarded a Soviet freighter in Beirut and fled to Moscow, My Silent War is a blend of fact and fiction, part history and part propaganda, at times devastatingly honest and in others wholly mendacious. It tells the story of Philby’s recruitment by Soviet intelligence in the 1930s, his meteoric rise through the ranks of MI6 and a 30-year career as a spy inside the British establishment, betraying his colleagues, friends, wives and family, and sending hundreds, perhaps thousands to their deaths.

He evinces a chilling insouciance over the anti-communist agents slaughtered in Albania as a direct consequence of his betrayal. “They knew the risk they were running. I was serving the interests of the Soviet Union . . . I have no regrets.”

… Philby began his espionage career as a true communist believer, but over time his motivations evolved: he became addicted to the adventure, the romance, the lying, the drug of infidelity; he insisted he was right because he could not bear to imagine he might have been wrong. Unlike many other British communist converts, he never admitted the brutal reality of the Stalinist state he served, even though, as a senior MI6 officer, he was uniquely placed to know the truth. He chose to ignore it. This is the credo of a fundamentalist, sublimely indifferent to the suffering and death he had caused.

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

ISIS Knifeman 'Shouting Allahu Akbar' Kills One And Leaves Four Injured In Stabbing Rampage In Paris Before Being Shot Dead By Police As Macron Says 'France Has Once Again Paid The Price Of Blood'

As Stewart Paterson at the Daily Mail offers a piece on an ISIS knife attack in Paris.

An ISIS knifeman who was shot dead by police shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as he rampaged through a central Paris district, killing one and injuring four others.

The attack unfolded near the city's main opera house in an area full of bars, restaurants and theatres which were brimming on a weekend night.

The man attacked five people with a knife, one of whom died, while shouting 'Allah Akbar', according to witnesses.

Two were in serious condition and all the victims are in hospital.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: 'France once again pays the price of blood.'You can read the rest of the piece and view photos and videos via the below link:

Next Up, 007 Sniffs The Undertaker’s Wind

Ben Macintyre, a London Times columnist and author of For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, and A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, offers a clever and amusing column on what title the James Bond film producers will use for the next Bond film.

Daniel  Craig is to be paid $25 million for playing James Bond in the forthcoming film, which raises the 64,000-dollar question: what title to choose for 007’s next outing, his 25th?

The selection of a new Bond film title has become a familiar ritual of world culture that comes around every three or four years, surrounded by artificial mystery, simultaneously silly and commercially significant. It is also very tricky, because the titles are running out.

Ian Fleming wrote 12 Bond novels and nine short stories. There are just four short stories left that have not been made into films, all of which came from arcane corners of the novelist’s brain.

Risico, a story in the 1960 collection For Your Eyes Only, is Italian for risk, or a Dutch word meaning peril as in “Je loopt het risico te vallen”: You run the risk of falling. It doesn’t quite have the ring of Skyfall.

The Hildebrand Rarity was first published in Playboy, and refers to a fictional species of fish hunted by the criminal tax dodger Milton Krest: “A unique member of the squirrelfish family . . . caught by Professor Hildebrand of the University of Witwatersrand off Chagrin Island in the Seychelles, April 1925.” As a film title, The Hildebrand Rarity might cause as much bafflement among Bond fans as Quantum of Solace.

… The film-makers will probably have to fall back on the newer species of fabricated Bond titles (nine of the last 12), which sound pithy, glamorous, dramatic, often contain a reference to death and usually mean nothing at all.

In the Piers Brosnan era, the titles veered close to self-parody, by eliding a death reference with a familiar catchphrase. After Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day, and A View to a Kill, the possibilities seemed endless: Once Bitten Twice Dead? You Only Die Twice, Tomorrow? Shaken, Not Dead?

The title of A View to a Kill was so odd (and grammatically dubious) that scriptwriters felt obliged to make some sense of it during an exchange between the villain Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his henchwoman May Day (Grace Jones). Her: “What a View!” Him: “To a Kill.”

The philosophical-sounding and essentially meaningless Bond film title reached its finest expression with The World is Not Enough (the Bond family motto, apparently derived from Alexander the Great’s epitaph). With Skyfall, the franchise returned to the blunt, compound-word titles of Thunderball and Goldfinger.

Fleming himself struggled with titles. His second novel, Live and Let Die, was originally entitled The Undertaker’s Wind, a reference to the wind that blows across Jamaica (where Fleming wrote). He thought it sounded romantic and eerie. It actually sounds like a mortician with flatulence. If he had stuck to his guns, the book would probably have bombed, and there would be no James Bond as we know him.

Dr No was originally The Wound Man. Goldfinger started out as The Richest Man in the World. From a View to a Kill was first entitled The Rough with the Smooth. The working title of For Your Eyes Only was Man’s Work, which definitely would not go down well in Hollywood today. He also toyed with calling it Death Leaves an Echo, which is rather good.

Fleming found it particularly hard to settle on a title for his third novel, about an evil financier who threatens to destroy London with a £10 million rocket. He rejected Wide of the Mark, Mondays are Hell, Out of the Clear Sky, and The Inhuman Element, before finally settling on Moonraker.

The character of James Bond was a mixture of the various adventurers Fleming had encountered while working in naval intelligence: “a compound of the secret agents and commando types I met during the war”. In the same way, his titles were gathered, magpie-like, from whatever came to hand. Diamonds are Forever was a direct lift from the De Beers advertising campaign slogan dreamed up by copywriter Frances Gerety in 1947. “You only live twice” was a phrase coined by the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho.

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

You can also read my Crime Beat interview with Ben Macintyre via the below link::

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gina Haspel Is Too Qualified To Pass Up As CIA Director

Marc Thiessen's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer offers his take on the qualification of Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director.

It was one of the Clinton administration’s biggest counterterrorism successes. Just weeks after al-Qaeda terrorists trained by Iran blew up U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Gina Haspel’s phone rang in the middle of the night. She was in her final weeks as station chief in what the CIA describes as an “exotic and tumultuous capital” in central Eurasia, and intelligence had just emerged that two senior al-Qaeda associates linked to the embassy bombings were on their way to the country where she was stationed.

Haspel swung into action, devising an operation to capture the terrorists. She worked around the clock, sleeping on the floor of her office, as agents tracked the terrorists to a local hotel, where the men were apprehended after a firefight. According to the CIA, “The successful operation not only led to the terrorists’ arrest and subsequent imprisonment, but to the seizure of computers that contained details of a terrorist plot.” For her efforts during the operation, which ultimately disrupted a terrorist cell, Haspel in 1999 received the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism .

This is as much as the CIA has revealed, but according to press accounts,several senior al-Qaeda associates were captured in Baku, Azerbaijan, just weeks after the embassy bombings. They included Ihab Saqr, a top lieutenant of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Essam Marzouk, who also worked for Zawahiri and had trained two of the embassy bombers. Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, had reportedly intercepted signals indicating that Saqr was headed to Baku to meet an Iranian intelligence operative.

We should be thrilled that the woman behind this major counterterrorism success has been nominated to become the first female director of the CIA — and only the second person ever to rise to the agency’s top post after spending her entire career in clandestine operations. But instead of being grateful that a seasoned, experienced intelligence operative has been chosen, Senate Democrats are threatening to kill her nomination.

This is insane. Gina Haspel is quite possibly the most qualified person ever nominated to lead the CIA. She has experience in virtually every agency discipline, from counterterrorism to counterintelligence and offensive intelligence operations — including personally recruiting spies and directing covert operations.

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

Niger Report Highlights Bravery Of U.S. Troops, Notes Training, Planning Deficiencies

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

American special operations forces fought valiantly against overwhelming odds in the battle against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists outside Tongo Tongo, Niger, and while a number of factors contributed to the clash, no single factor within the control of U.S. forces caused the deaths of four U.S. Army soldiers and four Nigeriens, a military investigation has concluded.

The investigation, conducted under Army Regulation 15-6, looked into an Oct. 4 incident that resulted in the deaths of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis concurs with its conclusions and has directed the appropriate commands to change doctrine, training and procedures, Pentagon officials said.
Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, and Army Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr. Africom’s chief of staff and the investigating officer, briefed Pentagon reporters on the results here today.

The American Special Forces soldiers accompanied a Nigerien unit as part of the partnered operation strategy to help local forces learn and develop. The mission was within the parameters of their orders in the West African country, the investigation determined.

Tactical Surprise

The report stressed that the immediate cause of the deaths of the U.S. soldiers was tactical surprise by a far larger enemy force. All four were killed taking the fight to the enemy, and none was ever captured. The soldiers faced small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and mortars.

“All four soldiers killed in action sustained wounds that were either immediately fatal or rapidly fatal, and were deceased by the time the initial site was accessible to personnel recovery assets,” the report says. “All four soldiers were killed in action before French or Nigerien responding forces arrived in Tongo Tongo.”

Support from French aircraft and a Nigerien quick-reaction force was prompt, and the French aviation effort, specifically, “likely saved the lives of the surviving members” of the U.S. Special Operations Force team,” according to the investigation summary.

The American soldiers called for air support 53 minutes after the action started. The French aircraft arrived over the battlefield 47 minutes after that notification. The Mirage jets were not able to drop ordnance due to the confusion on the ground, but low-level passes over the fight caused the ISIS terrorists to break action and retreat. French helicopters arrived later and evacuated the surviving U.S. soldiers.

The Nigerien army’s quick-reaction force left its base eight minutes after being notified and arrived in Tongo Tongo about four and a half hours later due to the lack of roads and rough terrain in the area, according to the report.

Contributing Deficiencies

There were deficiencies that contributed to the result, the report says, noting that personnel turnover in the U.S. unit prevented the team from conducting “key pre-deployment collective training as a complete team.”

Further, the report found the team did not conduct pre-mission rehearsals or battle drills with their Nigerien partner force.

Another departure from norms was that the initial concept of operations for the mission was not approved at the proper level of command, according to the summary. “Rather the U.S. Special Operations Force Team commander and the next higher level commander at the Advanced Operations Base … inaccurately characterized the nature of the mission in the concept of operations,” the report says. That commander was under the mistaken belief that he could approve the mission, when it really required approval at the next higher level.
The defense secretary is addressing the institutional and organization issues the report unveiled. “He has directed a number of specific actions to examine, evaluate and make recommendations of DoD personnel practices to improve units’ readiness and lethality,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a written statement.

Mattis also has directed U.S. Special Operations Command to review training, operating procedures, operational-level planning and other relevant factors, and he has directed the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness to review DoD policies that adversely affect units’ cohesion and lethality.

All those involved have 120 days to report back with their findings.

Attorney General Sessions Recognizes Law Enforcement Service And Sacrifice During National Police Week

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information: 
Attorney General Sessions recognized the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local, and tribal police officers on the occasion of National Police Week, and commented on the FBI's 2017 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report.
“One officer death is too many,” Attorney General Sessions said.  “While we are inexpressibly grateful to have had a decrease in the number of officers killed in the line-of-duty last year, the number is still far too high.  At the Department of Justice, we honor the memories of the fallen and we pray for their families.  We are also following President Trump's Executive Orders to back the women and men in blue, to enhance law enforcement safety, and to reduce violent crime in America. Those priorities will help keep every American safe, including those who risk their lives for us.  As always, we have their backs and they have our thanks.”
According to statistics collected by the FBI, 93 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2017 – a 21 percent decrease from 2016 when 118 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents.
Additionally, in 2017 there were 46 law enforcement officers killed in line-of-duty incidents as a result of felonious acts – this is a 30 percent decrease from 2016, when 66 law enforcement officer were killed in line-of-duty incidents as a result of felonious acts.
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 2017 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, released today at
In October 1962, Congress passed and President Kennedy signed a joint resolution declaring May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.  The resolution also created National Police Week as an annual tribute to law enforcement service and sacrifice.  
During Police Week, which is observed from Sunday, May 13 to Saturday, May 19, 2018, our nation celebrates the contributions of police officers from around the country, recognizing their hard work, dedication, loyalty and commitment in keeping our communities safe.
The names of all 93 fallen officers nationwide will be formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, during the 30th Annual Candlelight Vigil on the evening of May 13, 2018.  So that people across the country can experience this unique and powerful ceremony, the vigil will be livestreamed beginning at 8:00 PM (EDT) on May 13th. To register for this free online event, visit is external).
The Candlelight Vigil is one of many commemorative events taking place in the nation’s capital during National Police Week 2018.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Former CIA Case Officer Charged With Conspiracy To Commit Espionage And Retention Of National Defense Information

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

The Justice Department announced today that Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, of Hong Kong, was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia with one count of conspiracy to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government, and two counts of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office announced the charges.       

“When government officials violate their oath to defend our nation and protect its secrets, the National Security Division will hold them accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Lee, a former CIA case officer, allegedly conspired to provide information to the Chinese government about the national defense of the United States.  Lee’s alleged actions betrayed the American people and his former colleagues at the CIA.  We will not tolerate such threats to our country or its national security.”

“The allegations in this case are troubling,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick.  “Conspiring with foreign agents poses a real and serious threat toward our national security.  The United States will hold accountable those who conspire to compromise our national security.”

“Espionage is a serious crime that can expose our country to grave danger” said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara.  “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue all allegations of espionage.”

Lee is a U.S. citizen who speaks fluent Chinese.  According to the indictment, Lee was a case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until 2007.  After leaving the CIA, Lee resided in Hong Kong.  The indictment alleges that in April 2010, two Chinese intelligence officers (IOs) approached Lee and offered to pay him for information.  The indictment alleges that Lee received taskings from the IOs until at least 2011.  The taskings allegedly requested that Lee provide documents and information relating to the national defense of the United States.  According to the indictment, the IOs provided Lee with a series of email addresses so that he could communicate covertly with them.  The indictment further alleges that Lee prepared documents responsive to the taskings, made numerous unexplained cash deposits, and repeatedly lied to the U.S. government during voluntary interviews when asked about travel to China and his actions overseas.

In August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia.  While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia.  During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to the national defense.  Specifically, agents found two books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.  Agents also found a thumb drive on which was stored a document later determined to contain information classified at the Secret level.  During voluntary interviews with the FBI, Lee admitted preparing the document in response to taskings from the IO.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  If convicted, Lee 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.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Adam L. Small and Patrick T. Murphy of National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Hammerstrom of the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Former Military Sealift Command Contractor Sentenced To 87 Months For Bribery and Fraud

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

A former contractor at the Military Sealift Command was sentenced to 87 months for his role in a bribery and fraud conspiracy through which he received nearly $3 million in bribes from approximately 1999 to approximately 2014.  

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting United States Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick for the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig, Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Clifton J. Everton, III of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement.

Scott B. Miserendino, Sr., 59, formerly of Stafford, Virginia, pled guilty on January 24, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, one count of bribery, and three counts of honest services mail fraud.   

Miserendino was a government contractor at MSC, an entity of the U.S. Department of the Navy that provides support and specialized services to the Navy and other U.S. military forces.  According to the plea agreement, Miserendino and Joseph P. Allen, the owner of a government contracting company, conspired to use Miserendino’s position at MSC to enrich themselves through bribery.  

Specifically, beginning in or around 1999, Miserendino used his position and influence at MSC to help Allen and his company obtain and expand a commission agreement with a telecommunications company that sold maritime satellite services to MSC.  With that agreement in place, for more than a decade, Miserendino used his influence at MSC to take official acts to benefit the telecommunications company, which, through the commission agreement, also benefited Allen and his company.  

Unknown to MSC or the telecommunications company, Allen then paid half of the commission payments from the telecommunications company to Miserendino as bribes.  In total, between approximately 1999 and approximately 2014, Allen received more than $6 million from the telecommunications company, and in turn paid more than $2.8 million to Miserendino in bribes.

For his role in the scheme, Allen, 57, formerly of Panama City, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in April 2017, and was sentenced on July 28, 2017, to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Arena L. Wright Allen, in Norfolk.

The FBI, DCIS, and NCIS are investigating the case.  Trial Attorneys Sean Mulryne and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Haynie for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

USS Theodore Roosevelt Celebrates 107 Years Of Naval Aviation On Tiger Cruise

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Alex Corona, stationed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, offers the below piece:

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Pacific Ocean, May 7, 2018 — Sailors, Marines and their guests marked the importance of naval aviation here May 3, remembering more than 107 years of innovation and achievement.

The ship is on its way to its home port at Naval Air Station North Island, California, after a seven-month deployment. More than 600 family members and friends embarked aboard the Theodore Roosevelt for a "Tiger Cruise" during a port call to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 27-May 1.

Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and Navy Capt. Gus Ford, the commander of Carrier Air Wing 17, spoke of how naval aviation relates to navies, both past and present, during the celebration hosted by the ship's Naval Heritage Committee in the hangar bay.

"Aircraft carriers have come a long way," Sardiello said. "The USS Pennsylvania started with a wooden deck with sandbags for arresting gear. Here we are a little over a century later with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier."

The captain emphasized the necessity of today's aircraft and aircraft carriers in operations around the world.

"The importance of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to our nation's defense lies in the fact that it is the only platform that can deliver air power from the sea in a sustainable fashion," he said.
Family Support

It’s important for the Navy that embarked families and guests of the sailors and Marines understand life aboard an aircraft carrier, Ford said.

"It's really hard to understand what it's like to be in the Navy unless you come out here and experience it for yourself," he said. "When the family members and friends go home they will talk about this experience, and what we have accomplished on this deployment will add to the legacy of the Navy."

"Our Navy and the aviation aspect, together, is an essential part of our military," Ford said. "We keep the waters open for trade, have a strong projection of power throughout the world, and protect the interests of countries throughout the world."

CVW-17 hosted an airpower demonstration for the ship’s guests, which displayed skills such as low-altitude passes and turns, high-speed fly-bys, combat maneuvers, and the detonation of live ordnance. The demonstration ended with 15 aircraft flying in formation over the flight deck.
Sailors, Marines and their guests watched as F/A-18F and F/A-18E Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18C Hornets, MH-60S and MH-60R Sea Hawks and an E-2C Hawkeye performed in the skies above the carrier.

Carrier Air Wing 17

While embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt, CVW-17 flew 1,164 combat sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Additionally, CVW-17 flew more than 8,319 hours and operated approximately 70 aircraft during its 2017-2018 deployment.
The legacy of Navy aviation continues to grow, said Tiger Cruise attendee Jim Kooyer, a former petty officer who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock.

"The same can be said about today's Navy as the Navy back during the Vietnam War," he said. "An immediate line of defense and the ability to be any place at any time is critical to accomplish any mission. This carrier, other naval vessels and the air wing all make that possible."

Naval aviation has played an integral part in supporting America's maritime strategy, from the wooden decks of the USS Pennsylvania to the unforgiving non-skid surface aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

CVW-17 is comprised of Lemoore, California-based Strike Fighter Squadron 22, Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113; Beaufort, South Carolina-based Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron 312; Whidbey Island, Washington-based Electronic Attack Squadron 139; Point Mugu, California-based Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116; San Diego-based Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6; and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.

Theodore Roosevelt left its home port of San Diego, Oct. 6, 2017, for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.

Note: In the above U.S. Navy photo sailors, Marines and guests watch as aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17 fly in formation alongside the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, at sea in the Pacific Ocean, on May 2, 2018. The photo was taken by Seaman Michael A. Colemanberry