Saturday, July 21, 2018

CIA Offfical: China Waging 'Quiet' Cold War Against US


The New York Post offers a piece on intelligence officials naming Communist China as a threat to the US.

ASPEN, Colo. — China is waging a “quiet kind of cold war” against the United States, using all its resources to try to replace America as the leading power in the world, a top CIA expert on Asia said Friday.
Beijing doesn’t want to go to war, he said, but the current communist government, under President Xi Jingping, is subtly working on multiple fronts to undermine the U.S. in ways that are different than the more well-publicized activities being employed by Russia.
“I would argue … that what they’re waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War (between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) but a cold war by definition,” Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s East Asia mission center, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Rising U.S.-China tension goes beyond the trade dispute playing out in a tariff tit-for-tat between the two nations.
There is concern over China’s pervasive efforts to steal business secrets and details about high-tech research being conducted in the U.S. The Chinese military is expanding and being modernized and the U.S., as well as other nations, have complained about China’s construction of military outposts on islands in the South China Sea.
“I would argue that it’s the Crimea of the East,” Collins said, referring to Russia’s brash annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which was condemned throughout the West.
… On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said China, from a counterintelligence perspective, represents the broadest and most significant threat America faces. He said the FBI has economic espionage investigations in all 50 states that can be traced back to China.
“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said.
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats also warned of rising Chinese aggression. In particular, he said, the U.S. must stand strong against China’s effort to steal business secrets and academic research.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, July 20, 2018

24 Defendants Sentenced In Multimillion Dollar India-Based Call Center Scam Targeting U.S. Victims


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

Twenty-one members of a massive India-based fraud and money laundering conspiracy that defrauded thousands of U.S. residents of hundreds of millions of dollars were sentenced this week to terms of imprisonment up to 20 years.  Three other conspirators were sentenced earlier this year for laundering proceeds for the conspiracy, which was operated out of India-based call centers that targeted U.S. residents in various telephone fraud schemes.  This week’s sentencing hearings took place in Houston, Texas, before the Honorable David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas.       
Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Acting Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Inspector General J. Russell George of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and Special Agent in Charge David Green of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Houston, Texas made the announcement today.

“The stiff sentences imposed this week represent the culmination of the first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “This case represents one of the most significant victories to date in our continuing efforts to combat elder fraud and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. public.  The transnational criminal ring of fraudsters and money launderers who conspired to bilk older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings through their lies, threats and financial schemes must recognize that all resources at the Department’s disposal will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail, and bring a measure of justice to the victims.”
“This type of fraud is sickening,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick.  “However, after years of investigation and incredible hard work by multiple agents and attorneys, these con artists are finally headed to prison. Their cruel tactics preyed on some very vulnerable people, thereby stealing millions from them. These sentences should send a strong message that we will follow the trail no matter how difficult and seek justice for those victimized by these types of transnational schemes. We will simply not stand by and allow criminals to use the names of legitimate government agencies to enrich themselves by victimizing others.”
“Today’s sentences should serve as a strong deterrent to anyone considering taking part in similar scams, and I hope that they provide a sense of justice to the victims, as well,” said HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner.  “There is no safe haven from U.S. law enforcement. HSI will continue to utilize our unique investigative mandate, in conjunction with our local, state, and federal partners, to attack and dismantle the criminal enterprises who would seek to manipulate U.S. institutions and taxpayers.”
“The sentences imposed on these defendants validate our efforts to bring to justice scammers who defraud taxpayers by impersonating employees of the Internal Revenue Service,” said Inspector General J. Russell George.  “I wish to thank the Department of Justice, the multiple federal agencies involved, and most importantly, my own investigators who continue to devote countless hours to these cases.  Taxpayers must remain wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees.  If any taxpayer believes they or someone they know is a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, they should report it to TIGTA at www.tigta.gov or by calling 1-800-366-4484.”
“The sentences imposed this week provide a clear deterrent to those who would seek to enrich themselves by extorting the most vulnerable in our society,” said DHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Green.  “These scammers should know that their actions carry real consequences, both for their victims and for themselves, and that there are dedicated agents and prosecutors who will go above and beyond to find them, identify them and hold them accountable for their crimes.”
Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of money laundering conspiracy.  According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel served as the manager of a Chicago-based crew of “runners” that liquidated and laundered fraud proceeds generated by callers at India-based call centers.  Those callers used call scripts and lead lists to target victims throughout the United States with telefraud schemes in which the callers impersonated U.S. government employees from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The callers duped victims into believing that they owed money to the U.S. government and would be arrested or deported if they did not pay immediately.  After the victims transferred money to the callers, a network of U.S.-based runners moved expeditiously to liquidate and launder fraud proceeds through the use of anonymous stored value cards.  In addition to recruiting, training, and tasking runners in his crew, Patel also coordinated directly with the Indian side of the conspiracy about the operation of the scheme.  Patel was held accountable for laundering between $9.5 and $25 million for the scheme.    
Hardik Patel, 31, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 188 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of wire fraud conspiracy.  Hardik consented to removal to India upon completion of his prison term.  According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel was a co-owner and manager of an India-based call center involved in the conspiracy.  In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of a call center, Patel also processed payments and did bookkeeping for the various call centers involved in the fraud scheme.  One of the India-based co-defendants with whom Patel communicated about the scheme was Sagar “Shaggy” Thakar, a payment processor that Indian authorities arrested in April 2017 in connection with call center fraud.  After moving to the United States in 2015, Patel continued to promote the conspiracy by recruiting runners to liquidate fraud proceeds.  Patel was held accountable for laundering between $3.5 and $9.5 million dollars for the scheme. 
Sunny Joshi, aka Sharad Ishwarlal Joshi and Sunny Mahashanker Joshi, 47, of Texas, was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison on the charge of money laundering conspiracy, and 120 months in prison on the charge of naturalization fraud to run concurrent followed by three years of supervised release.  According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Joshi was a member of a Houston-based crew of runners that he co-managed with his brother, co-defendant Mike Joshi, aka Rajesh Bhatt.  Sunny Joshi communicated extensively with India-based co-defendants about the operations of the scheme, and was held accountable for laundering between $3.5 and $9.5 million.  Additionally, in connection with his sentence on the immigration charge, Judge Hittner entered an order revoking Joshi’s U.S. citizenship and requiring him to surrender his certificate of naturalization.  
Twenty-two of the defendants sentenced before Judge Hittner were held jointly and severally liable for restitution of $8,970,396 payable to identified victims of their crimes.  Additionally, the court entered individual preliminary orders of forfeiture against 21 defendants for assets that were seized in the case, and money judgments totaling over $72,942,300.

Eighteen other defendants were also sentenced in Houston before Judge Hittner this week:
  • Fahad Ali, 25, of Indiana, was sentenced to serve 108 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner also recommended deportation upon completion of his sentence.
  • Montu Barot, 30, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a stipulated judicial order to remove Barot to India at the conclusion of his sentence.
  • Rajesh Bhatt, aka Mike Joshi, 53, of Texas, was sentenced to serve 145 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a stipulated judicial order to remove Bhatt to India at the conclusion of his sentence.
  • Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, 28, of Texas, was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy. 
  • Jagdish Chaudhari, 39, of Alabama, was sentenced to serve 108 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a stipulated judicial order to remove Chaudhari to India at the conclusion of his sentence.
  • Rajesh Kumar, 39, of Arizona, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.  Judge Hittner recommended deportation to India following his prison sentence.   
  • Jerry Norris, 47, of California, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy. 
  • Nilesh Pandya, 54, of Texas, was sentenced to serve three years probation on one count of conspiracy. 
  • Nilam Parikh, 46, of Alabama, was sentenced to serve 48 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy. 
  • Bharatkumar Patel, 43, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 50 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a judicial order to remove Patel to India at the conclusion of his sentence.
  • Bhavesh Patel, 47, of Alabama, was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy. 
  • Dilipkumar A. Patel, 53, of California, was sentenced to serve 108 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a stipulated judicial order to remove Patel to India at the conclusion of his sentence.
  • Dilipkumar R. Patel, 39, of Florida, was sentenced to serve 52 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.
  • Harsh Patel, 28, of New Jersey, was sentenced to serve 82 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner also recommended deportation upon completion of his sentence.
  • Nisarg Patel, 26, of New Jersey, was sentenced to serve 48 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.  Judge Hittner recommended deportation to India following his prison sentence.     
  • Praful Patel, 50, of Florida, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy. 
  • Rajubhai Patel, 32, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy. 
  • Viraj Patel, 33, of California, was sentenced to serve 165 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Judge Hittner entered a stipulated judicial order to remove Patel to India at the conclusion of his sentence.   
In addition to these 21 defendants, three others were previously sentenced for their involvement in the same fraud and money laundering scheme:
  • Asmitaben Patel, 34, of Illinois, was sentenced before Judge Hittner in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, on March 23.  She was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison on the charge of conspiracy.
  • Dipakkumar Patel, 38, of Illinois, was sentenced before Judge Eleanor L. Ross in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, on Feb. 14.  Patel, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and passport fraud, was sentenced to serve a prison term of 51 months, to run concurrently.  He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $128,006.26.
  • Raman Patel, 82, of Arizona, was sentenced before Judge John Tuchi in the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, on Jan. 29.  In connection with his plea agreement, Raman Patel received a probationary sentence for his plea to conspiracy.  He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $76,314.38.  
According to various admissions made in connection with the defendants’ guilty pleas, between 2012 and 2016, the defendants and their conspirators perpetrated a complex fraud and money laundering scheme in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad, India, frequently impersonated officials from the IRS or USCIS in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout the United States.  Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center operators targeted U.S. victims who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.  Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money.  Once a victim provided payment, the call centers turned to a network of runners based in the United States to liquidate and launder the extorted funds as quickly as possible by purchasing reloadable cards or retrieving wire transfers.  In a typical scenario, call centers directed runners to purchase these stored value reloadable cards and transmit the unique card number to India-based co-conspirators who registered the cards using the misappropriated personal identifying information (PII) of U.S. citizens.  The India-based co-conspirators then loaded these cards with scam funds obtained from victims.  The runners used the stored value cards to purchase money orders that they deposited into the bank account of another person.  For their services, the runners would earn a specific fee or a percentage of the funds.  Runners also received victims’ funds via wire transfers, which were retrieved under fake names and through the use of using false identification documents, direct bank deposits by victims, and Apple iTunes or other gift cards that victims purchased. 
The indictment in this case also charged 32 India-based conspirators and five India-based call centers with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.  These defendants have yet to be arraigned in this case.  An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
HSI, DHS-OIG, and TIGTA led the investigation of this case.  Also providing significant support were: the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; the Ft. Bend, Texas, County Sheriff’s Department; the Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Police Department; the Leonia, New Jersey, Police Department; the Naperville, Illinois, Police Department; the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Family Protection/Elder Abuse Unit; the U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General; IOC-2; INTERPOL Washington; USCIS; U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service; and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices of the Northern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Central District of California, Northern District of California, District of Colorado, Northern District of Florida, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Northern District of Illinois, Northern District of Indiana, Eastern District of Louisiana, District of Nevada, and the District of New Jersey.  The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau provided assistance in TIGTA’s investigation.  Additionally, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), Legal and Victim Programs, provided significant support to the prosecution. 
Senior Trial Attorney Michael Sheckels and Trial Attorney Mona Sahaf of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), Trial Attorney Amanda S. Wick of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark McIntyre and Craig Feazel of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.  Kaitlin Gonzalez of HRSP was the paralegal for this case.    
A Department of Justice website has been established to provide information about the case to already identified and potential victims, and the public.  Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud or identity theft in relation to this investigation or other telefraud scam phone calls may contact the FTC via this website.

Anyone who wants additional information about telefraud scams generally, or preventing identity theft or fraudulent use of their identity information, may obtain helpful information on the IRS tax scams website, the FTC phone scam website and the FTC identity theft website.  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Adrian Cronauer, The Airman Who Inspired ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ Film Has Died


Ben Finley at apnews.com reports on the death of Adrian Cronauer.

RFOLK, Va. (AP) — Adrian Cronauer, the man whose military radio antics inspired a character played by Robin Williams in the film “Good Morning, Vietnam,” has died. He was 79.

Mary Muse, the wife of his stepson Michael Muse, said Thursday that Cronauer died Wednesday from an age-related illness. He had lived in Troutville, Virginia, and died at a local nursing home, she said.

During his service as a U.S. Air Force sergeant in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966, Cronauer opened his Armed Forces Radio show with the phrase, “Goooooood morning, Vietnam!” Williams made the refrain famous in the 1987 film, loosely based on Cronauer’s time in Saigon.

The film was a departure from other Vietnam war movies that focused on bloody realism, such as the Academy Award-winning “Platoon.” Instead, it was about irreverent youth in the 1960s fighting the military establishment.

“We were the only game in town, and you had to play by our rules,” Cronauer told The Associated Press in 1987. “But I wanted to serve the listeners.”

… Cronauer said he loved the movie but much of it was Hollywood make-believe. Robin Williams’ portrayal as a fast- talking, nonconformist, yuk-it-up disc jockey sometimes gave people the wrong impression of the man who inspired the film.

“Yes, I did try to make it sound more like a stateside station,” he told The AP in 1989. “Yes, I did have problems with news censorship. Yes, I was in a restaurant shortly before the Viet Cong hit it. And yes, I did start each program by yelling, ‘Good Morning, Vietnam!’”

The rest is what he delicately called “good script crafting.”

… “I always was a bit of an iconoclast, as Robin (Williams) was in the film,” Cronauer told the AP in 1999. “But I was not anti-military, or anti-establishment. I was anti-stupidity. And you certainly do run into a lot of stupidity in the military.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



Inspector General Warns Public About Social Security Administration Impersonation Schemes


The Social Security Administration released the below information:

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about ongoing Social Security Administration (SSA) impersonation schemes. SSA and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have recently received several reports of suspicious phone calls claiming to be from SSA.

In one case, an automated recording states the person’s Social Security number (SSN) “has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity,” and the person should contact a provided phone number immediately to resolve the issue.  The call concludes by stating if the person does not contact the provided phone number, the person’s assets will be frozen until the alleged issue is resolved.  In another case, a caller claims to be from “SSA headquarters” and waits for the person to provide personal information, such as an SSN, address, and date of birth.  In January, the OIG shared similar information from the Federal Trade Commission, which reported an increase in reports of suspicious phone calls from people claiming to be SSA employees.

SSA employees occasionally contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes.  In only a few limited special situations, usually already known to the citizen, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone.  

If a person receives a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, citizens should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

Acting Inspector General Stone continues to warn citizens to be cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it.  “Be aware of suspicious calls from unknown sources, and when in doubt, contact the official entity to verify the legitimacy of the call,” Stone said.
If a person has questions about any communication—email, letter, text or phone call—that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, please contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify its legitimacy.  (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.) 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Charles Hurt On Trump's One Bad Day In Russia


Charles Hurt (seen in the below photo) offers his take on President Trump’s one bad day in Russia (and the many bad days of the previous administration) in his column in the Washington Times.

Well, that certainly was not The Art of the Deal. And that was not the tough guy from Queens we so enthusiastically elected.

President Trump is the most courageous, imaginative, and dynamic American political leader in more than a quarter-century. He is willing to tackle huge problems and fiercely pursue bold and inventive courses in search of solutions to problems that cowardly politicians have ignored for decades.

None of that was on display Monday in Helsinki.

Mr. Trump was defensive, short-sighted and small-minded in answering reporters’ questions.

He equivocated between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American intelligence officials on whether Russia tried interfering with the 2016 election. (Of course they did. They always do. And Mr. Putin is a murderous thug who’d belong in prison in a country that had the rule of law … Spoiler: Russia doesn’t.)

Instead of seeing the big picture of a hostile adversary attacking our country, President Trump was focused on defending himself from these absurd accusations he “colluded” with Russia. When he was not doing that, he used the global stage to defend the legitimacy of his 2016 victory.

No serious person cares about any of this nonsense. Nobody but the worst partisan hacks think Mr. Trump “colluded” with Russia. Nor do any serious people think his victory was somehow not legitimate.

For a guy who normally does majestic whale breaches in the open water, these were guppy flips in a tiny fish bowl. It was embarrassing and totally unworthy of the Donald Trump we know and love.

Mr. Trump is at his very best when he is standing toe-to-toe telling friends and foes alike the hard truths they don’t want to hear. That is the Art of the Deal that Americans love and that is what got him legitimately elected president.

Mr. Trump’s fearlessness in standing up to all of the worst, most weaselly politicians in both parties — kicking their teeth in when necessary — is what we love about Mr. Trump.

Still, as bad as Mr. Trump’s performance in Helsinki was, it is not nearly as bad as the performance of the entire political machine over the past decade.

For instance, it was not nearly as bad as allowing Russia to invade Ukraine.

It was not nearly as bad as, say, reneging on U.S. assurances to protect Eastern European allies with anti-missile systems.

It was not anywhere in the same galaxy as ignoring your own “red line” laid down in Syria after Syrian butcher and Putin-puppet Bashar Assad gassed his own people.

And, finally, it was no where near as bad as whispering to Russia that you will have more “flexibility” after re-election to surrender everything to Russian power.

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



Russian National Charged In Conspiracy To Act As An Agent Of The Russian Federation Within The United States


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

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in the District of Columbia charging a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Maria Butina, 29, a Russian citizen residing in Washington D.C., was arrested on July 15, 2018, in Washington, D.C., and made her initial appearance this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was ordered held pending a hearing set for July 18, 2018.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank.  This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.

The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law.

The charges in criminal complaints are merely allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fox’s Trish Regan And Retired General Jack Keane Shred Trump Over Putin Presser: ‘He Should Have Defended Us!’


Josh Feldman at Mediaite.com offers a piece on Fox Business commentator Trish Regan and retired General Jack Keane (seen in the above photo) views on President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Putin.

Fox Business’ Trish Regan emphasized today she really, really wanted to be able to open her show by saying the media was all wrong about the Trump-Putin summit.

But she couldn’t.

“[Trump] basically said he didn’t buy what his own intelligence community was telling him,” Regan said. “This was clearly not his best performance… He should have defended us! He should have defended his own intelligence community. Or just don’t take the meeting! Don’t go to Helsinki if you can’t look the guy in the eye and tell him what’s what!”

She said the President should be able to separate Russian meddling from the collusion issue and his inability to do so is stunning.

Retired General Jack Keane, a Fox News senior strategic analyst, told Regan what happened today is “stunning and disappointing.”

He said whatever happened in private, the press conference was Trump’s opportunity to “knock the ball out of the park” and instead he “walked away from his intelligence community and did not stand behind them when they absolutely have the goods on Putin’s meddling in our election.”

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

The World Of Raymond Chandler And 'The Big Sleep'


Crimereads.com offers an excerpt and adaptation from the editor’s introduction to The Annotated Big Sleep, a book about the late, great writer Raymond Chandler’s first crime novel.

Raymond Chandler once wrote that “some literary antiquarian of a rather special type may one day think it worthwhile to run through the files of the pulp detective magazines” to watch as “the popular mystery story shed its refined good manners and went native.” He might have said, as the genre of detective fiction kicked out the Britishisms and became American. A chief agent of this transformation was Raymond Chandler himself. The Big Sleep was Chandler’s first novel, and it introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the archetypal wisecracking, world-weary private detective that now occupies a permanent place in the American imagination. If Superman or John Wayne is the Zeus of American myth, and Marilyn Monroe is Aphrodite, then Marlowe is Prometheus: the noble outsider, sacrificing and enduring for a code he alone upholds.

But The Big Sleep does more than even Chandler intended it to do. Partially by design and partly by happy contingency, the novel dramatizes a cluster of profound subjects and themes, including human mortality; ethical inquiry; the sordid history of Los Angeles in the early twentieth century; the politics of class, gender, and sexuality; the explosion of Americanisms, colloquialisms, slang, and genre jargon; and a knowing playfulness with the mystery formula—all set against a backdrop of a post-Prohibition, Depression-era America teetering on the edge of World War II. For all this, The Big Sleep reads easy. And it’s a ripping good story.

In this annotated edition, we will trace the many veins of meaning folded into Chandler’s intricate novel. He didn’t think of himself as primarily a “mystery” writer—he called his stories only “ostensibly” mysteries—but consideration of his work was confined within the limitations of genre fiction during his lifetime and for decades thereafter. Chandler hated being restricted by such notions. In a late letter to publisher Hamish Hamilton he wrote: “In this country the mystery writer is looked down on as sub-literary merely because he is a mystery writer. . . . When people ask me, as occasionally they do, why I don’t try my hand at a serious novel, I don’t argue with them; I don’t even ask them what they mean by a serious novel. It would be useless. They wouldn’t know.”

Nowadays we don’t tend to be constrained by the same distinctions between “high” and “low art” that haunted Chandler. He is taught in university courses. He’s been canonized by the Library of America. Le Monde voted The Big Sleep one of the “100 Books of the Century” in 1999, and in 2005 TIME Magazine included it in its list of 100 best English-language novels since the magazine began in 1923. Before his death he would be lauded by authors as eminent W. H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, T. S. Eliot, Graham Greene, and Christopher Isherwood. And The Big Sleep’s success moved from text to screen, with film adaptations eliciting iconic performances from two of Hollywood’s greatest leading men, Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum.

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



You can also read my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler via the below link:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

FBI Helps Marshall Center Counterterrorism Network Stop Future Attacks


Christine June at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies offers the below piece:

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, July 13, 2018 — For the past five years, Special Agents Tom and Jean O’Connor, both with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, have shared their experiences collecting evidence at terrorism sites with international participants attending the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies held twice a year at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.

“The practical, real-life information provided by Tom and Jean on how to collect evidence can help our participants find out who the terrorists are and how they did it,” said retired Marine Corps Col. James Howcroft, Marshall Center’s PTSS director. “Then, you can figure out who are their friends, contacts and even, other members of the cell and this can help you stop a terrorist attack before it happens.”

Together, the husband-wife team has more than 40 years of experience investigating and collecting evidence at terrorist attack sites around the world. They have investigated large-scale terrorism sites such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, as well as bombings on the USS Cole and at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and U.S. Consulate in Pakistan.

“The way we have done our training for PTSS participants is that we give a personal perspective on how to work these scenes and what investigative steps to take to locate the evidence that will help with the overall investigation,” Tom O’Connor said.

Evidence and Prosecution

The presentation they give for each PTSS program is a special evening class on evidence and prosecution. On July 9 here, they presented case studies on the incidents they have investigated or for which they collected evidence to illustrate the evidence response team’s 12-step process, from preparation to releasing the scene.

“I think PTSS has the internationally reach that I have not seen anywhere else. Case in point, we just hit up 68 potential investigators from 44 countries in one classroom,” Tom O’Connor said.  “We have been doing this twice a year since 2013. That’s a lot of countries and individuals who have been receiving this information, and a lot of potential terrorist attacks and criminal acts that are going to be able to be solved or prevented through investigative efforts.”

He added that the information provided in their presentation not only helps when the bomb goes off, but also can help before it goes off.

“When someone is doing an investigation and they come across some of the things Jean and I have talked about, they are able to put the case together and arrest individuals before the bad stuff happens,” he said.

Functionally Focused Program

The O’Connors are PTSS alumni. Tom attended in 2011, and Jean followed the next year in 2012.

“I think it’s really important to have alumni come back and share their experiences with other members of the PTSS,” Howcroft said.  “My team and I strive to make sure that PTSS is a course for practitioners, and we select speakers who offer experience and practical knowledge, and there is nobody better than Tom and Jean.”

Marshall Center’s PTSS is a functionally focused program that draws in civilian, law enforcement and military counterterrorism professionals from around the world and improves their capacity to counter terrorism's regional and transnational implications. It aims to combat terrorism in all of its manifestations nationally, regionally and globally.

The first PTSS course was in 2004, and this iteration is the Marshall Center’s 28th. It began June 27 and will finish July 26.

Real, Practical, Useful Takeaway’

“Through our teaching here at PTSS and talking to participants, we are also letting them know the capability of the FBI and that we have legal attaches based in U.S. Embassies throughout the world,” Jean O’Connor said. “This is important for them to know, because they all have evidence collection teams, and depending on what that level is in terms of training and capability, they could possibly use our assistance to collect evidence or have access to the FBI Laboratory.”

That is a real, practical and useful takeaway from the PTSS course, Howcroft said.

“The FBI has people like Tom and Jean who respond to events around the world, and they are there to help our partners to improve their capabilities to collect evidence in order to prosecute terrorists and discover their networks,” he added. “This is really important and, in fact, crucial for our participants to know that in their countries or regions, there are FBI agents who can help them.”

Marshall Center Alumni Network

The Marshall Center is a 25-year-old, German-American security partnership that has produced generations of global security professionals schooled in American and German security policies. Its alumni network has more than 12,500 security professionals from 154 nations. From the Marshall Center’s alumni network, close to 2,000 from 127 countries are PTSS alumni.
The O’Connors have contacted Marshall Center alumni when they have traveled overseas conducting investigations or participating in training.

“They do work internationally, and they have met up with alumni in many of the places they have gone to work like Kenya, Ukraine, Pakistan and Yemen,” Howcroft said. “They are really living this idea of the value of the alumni network here at the Marshall Center.”

Note: In the above DoD photo by Christine June Special Agents Tom and Jean O’Connor, both with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, talk about evidence and prosecution to 68 security professionals from 44 countries attending the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany on  July 9, 2018.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

U.S. National Pleads Guilty To The Attempted Murder Of U.S. Consulate Official In Mexico


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

A U.S. national and former medical student pleaded guilty today to shooting a U.S. diplomat stationed at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Robert F. Lasky of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Director Christian J. Schurman of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) made the announcement.

Zia Zafar, 33, of Chino Hills, California, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person and one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.  Zafar entered his guilty plea before U.S District Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Judge Trenga scheduled Zafar’s sentencing hearing for November, 7, 2018. 

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, on Jan. 6, 2017, Zafar armed himself with a firearm, donned a wig and sunglasses to disguise his appearance, and waited in a parking garage for a Vice Consul, who worked at the U.S Consulate in Guadalajara.  Although Zafar initially was following the Vice Consul as he walked towards his vehicle, Zafar noticed a security guard nearby, and instead moved to the vehicle exit ramp, where he waited for the Vice Consul to exit.  As the Vice Consul approached the exit in his car, Zafar fired a single shot into the vehicle, striking the Vice Consul in his chest and leaving him in serious condition.  Zafar admitted that he targeted the Vice Consul because he knew from earlier surveillance that the victim worked at the U.S. Consulate. 

“Zia Zafar surveilled and targeted a U.S. official serving in Mexico, lying in wait before shooting him in the chest in a heinous act of premeditated violence,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message that the Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute those who seek to harm U.S. officials serving overseas.  The Department of Justice will continue work with our domestic and international partners to ensure that anyone who targets U.S. officials abroad will be brought to justice.”

“The Vice Consul was targeted and shot because he represented the United States,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “No one should doubt the resolve of law enforcement to steadfastly investigate and apprehend those who attack us. I wish to express our sincere thanks to the many United States and Mexican law enforcement agencies involved in the apprehension and return of this defendant to the United States to face justice.”

“Crime doesn’t stop at international borders, as such, the FBI works closely with international partners and security services in order to conduct complex investigations and acquire evidence from abroad for criminal prosecutions in the United States,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lasky of the Miami Field Office.  “I want to thank the Mexican government for their full support and cooperation throughout this investigation.”

"This guilty plea makes a strong statement to those who would attempt to commit such a heinous crime. The Diplomatic Security Service is dedicated to ensuring those who commit these crimes are brought to justice,” said DSS Director Schurman. “Our global presence allows DSS to work with both U.S. and foreign law enforcement to stop criminals who would attempt to murder a U.S. citizen."

FBI and DSS investigated the case in close cooperation with Mexican authorities and with valuable assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  Trial Attorney Jamie Perry of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes Jr. of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. 

The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the government of Mexico, to include the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Procuraduria General de la Republica, Fiscalia del Estado de Jalisco and Instituto Nacional de Migracion for their extraordinary efforts, support and professionalism in responding to this incident. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Grand Jury Indicts 12 Russian Intelligence Officers For Hacking Offenses Related To The 2016 Election


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

The Department of Justice today announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges twelve Russian nationals for committing federal crimes that were intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. All twelve defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of  the Russian military. These GRU officers, in their official capacities, engaged in a sustained effort to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and released that information on the internet under the names "DCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0" and through another entity.

“The Internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice is resolute in its commitment to locate, identify and seek to bring to justice anyone who interferes with American elections. Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”

According to the allegations in the indictment, Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev,  Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev were officials in Unit 26165 and Unit 74455 of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate.

In 2016, officials in Unit 26165 began spearphishing volunteers and employees of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including the campaign’s chairman. Through that process, officials in this unit were able to steal the usernames and passwords for numerous individuals and use those credentials to steal email content and hack into other computers. They also were able to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through these spearphishing techniques to steal emails and documents, covertly monitor the computer activity of dozens of employees, and implant hundreds of files of malicious computer code to steal passwords and maintain access to these networks.

The officials in Unit 26165 coordinated with officials in Unit 74455 to plan the release of the stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 presidential election. Defendants registered the domain DCLeaks.com and later staged the release of thousands of stolen emails and documents through that website. On the website, defendants claimed to be “American hacktivists” and used Facebook accounts with fictitious names and Twitter accounts to promote the website.  After public accusations that the Russian government was behind the hacking of DNC and DCCC computers, defendants created the fictitious persona Guccifer 2.0. On the evening of June 15, 2016 between 4:19PM and 4:56PM, defendants used their Moscow-based server to search for a series of English words and phrases that later appeared in Guccifer 2.0’s first blog post falsely claiming to be a lone Romanian hacker responsible for the hacks in the hopes of undermining the allegations of Russian involvement.

Members of Unit 74455 also conspired to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and US companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections to steal voter data stored on those computers.

To avoid detection, defendants used false identities while using a network of computers located around the world, including the United States, paid for with cryptocurrency through mining bitcoin and other means intended to obscure the origin of the funds. This funding structure supported their efforts to buy key accounts, servers, and domains. For example, the same bitcoin mining operation that funded the registration payment for DCLeaks.com also funded the servers and domains used in the spearphishing campaign.

The indictment includes 11 criminal counts:

Count One alleges a criminal conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States through cyber operations by the GRU that involved the staged release of stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 president election;

Counts Two through Nine charge aggravated identity theft for using identification belonging to eight victims to further their computer fraud scheme; Count Ten alleges a conspiracy to launder money in which the defendants laundered the equivalent of more than $95,000 by transferring the money that they used to purchase servers and to fund other costs related to their hacking activities through crypto currencies such as bitcoin; and Count Eleven charges conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States by attempting to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and US companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections.

There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity or knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the vote count or changed the outcome of the 2016 election.

Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court. At trial, prosecutors must introduce credible evidence that is sufficient to prove each defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to the unanimous satisfaction of a jury of twelve citizens.

This case was investigated with the help of the FBI’s cyber teams in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and San Francisco and the National Security Division. The Special Counsel's investigation is ongoing. There will be no comments from the Special Counsel at this time.

Cold War Navy SEAL And Che Guevara In Africa: My Q&A With Former Navy SEAL And CIA Operative James M. Hawes


Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with former Navy SEAL and CIA operative James M. Hawes, author of Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story of Che Guevara, War in the Congo, and the Communist Threat in Africa.

You can read the piece below:






A Look Back At Carlos The Jackal: Once The World's Most Wanted Man


Counterterrorism magazine published my look back at "Carlos the Jackal," a terrorist who was once the world’s most wanted man.

You can read the piece below:




Thursday, July 12, 2018

FBI: Schooled in Fraud - Education Bait-And-Switch Scheme Cheated Veterans Of Tuition Benefits


The FBI released the below information:

The GI Bill provides the country’s service members and veterans a free or reduced-cost college education to those who qualify, offering them a head start on their return to civilian life. But one group of fraudsters used the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other U.S. Department of Defense educational programs for veterans as a piggy bank to line their own pockets while cheating more than 2,500 service members out of an education they were entitled to under the law.

“This was straight up stealing. Stealing money for veterans that was supposed to help them advance their careers and make themselves more marketable to employers after coming out of the military,” said FBI Special Agent James Eagleeye, who investigated the case out of the FBI’s Newark Division along with investigators from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense, and Department of Education.

The scheme was a basic bait-and-switch. A company called Ed4Mil worked with two schools: one, the private liberal arts Caldwell University in New Jersey; the other, an online correspondence school hired by Ed4Mil to develop and administer courses. Ed4Mil aggressively recruited service members and veterans, offering them free computers and gift cards to sign up for what they thought were classes taught by Caldwell University. Yet when Ed4Mil enrolled the students, they would put them in and pay for unaccredited correspondence school classes—but then charge the government the university tuition rates and pocket the difference.

At the center of the scheme was Ed4Mil founder and president David Alvey. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania resident saw a business opportunity in educating veterans with government funds but learned that when the government provides tuition and other educational benefits directly to a school, certain requirements must be met that his startup could not satisfy.

To get around the law, Alvey conspired with a Caldwell University official to use the university’s name on coursework that the VA would not have approved. The official—then an associate dean at the school—falsely certified that students were taking the same courses from the same instructors who taught on campus at Caldwell.

But the veterans were instead enrolled in online courses like archery and heavy diesel mechanics that were actually taught by the correspondence school. Students sometimes received a housing allowance for the online school, in violation of the rules governing educational benefits.

Caldwell University has publicly said that current university officials had no knowledge of the fraud, and the university cooperated fully in the investigation.

In some cases, Ed4Mil would take a one-semester correspondence course that cost less than $1,000, break the course up over several semesters, and charge the government $20,000 for the classes to make it seem as if they had been taken at a university.

Ed4Mil also failed to notify service members that they would need to pay their tuition money back to the VA if they didn’t complete a course. In the case of the fraudulent courses, Ed4Mil officials would simply fabricate a grade to make it appear as though the coursework was being completed, as they did not want the service members to complain about owing back tuition.

“This was straight up stealing. Stealing money for veterans that was supposed to help them advance their careers and make themselves more marketable to employers after coming out of the military.”

The scheme went on for about four years, until a student became suspicious of the course content. The student looked up the actual cost of the course he was taking online through the correspondence school and alerted the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG). The VA OIG approached the FBI to partner on an investigation.

As the scheme began to unravel, Ed4Mil scrambled to hide their subcontracting relationship with the correspondence school from their students and attempted to develop their own curriculum—although this curriculum still likely would not have met VA requirements for reimbursement.

Alvey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced last month to five years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $24 million in restitution. His two co-conspirators—one of his employees as well as the associate dean—each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and were sentenced to probation.

Alvey collected most of the profits himself—more than $20 million. He bought a mansion, artwork, and high-end cars and also started other businesses. Under his plea agreement, any ill-gotten gains will have to be forfeited as part of the asset forfeiture process.

Eagleeye saw the fraudsters’ actions as a flagrant abuse of veterans’—and the public’s—trust.

“The military members were presented with this pitch from somebody they thought was from an accredited university. These salespeople were allowed on the reservist post or military base by their military superiors,” Eagleeye said. “To the soldiers, everything appeared to be legitimate.”

The FBI’s partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs was crucial to rooting out and stopping the corruption.

“This was egregious on so many fronts. The courses were overpriced, they were not high-quality classes, and they spread them out over more months than needed. They wasted the limited monthly entitlements of these veterans,” said VA OIG Special Agent Jenny Walenta. “This was a very well-run case because we worked it collaboratively. Everyone had their own expertise, but we worked together and did our part to help each other stop this fraud that was hurting veterans.” 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Spy Called Orphan: The Enigma Of Donald Maclean


Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Roland Phillips’ A Spy Named Orphan: The Enigma of Donald Maclean.

Even after the passage of more than half a century, anyone even vaguely familiar with national security clearances must blink at British handling of the coterie of Soviet spies known as “The Cambridge Five.”

Consider the rogue at hand, Donald Maclean. Although a blithering drunk for much of his career in the Foreign Office, he seemed on a path to be foreign minister while in his mid-30s.

Roland Phillips, who had a long career in London publishing, uses newly-released British archives to add fresh details on the oft-told story of the five Cambridge students recruited as Soviet agents the 1930s.

He also gained access to Maclean family papers.

Aside from H.R. “Kim” Philby who culminated his career as counterintelligence chief for British intelligence, Maclean was the most effective agent.

Campus communists inevitably drew the attention of Soviet recruiters. Maclean possessed four desirable qualities of a secret agent: “an inherent class resentfulness, a predilection for secretiveness, a yearning to belong, and an infantile appetite for praise and reassurance.” He was given the code name “Waise” in German, meaning “Orphan.”

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