Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Former CIA Officer Arrested For Retaining Classified Information

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

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka Zhen Cheng Li, 53, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, was arrested last night on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information.

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

Lee was arrested after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York.  Lee is a naturalized U.S. citizen, currently residing in Hong Kong, China.  According to court documents, Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA.

According to court documents, 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 small 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.

Lee made his initial appearance this afternoon in the Eastern District of New York.  He is charged with unlawful retention of national defense information and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.  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 after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Hammerstrom of the Eastern District of Virginia and Deputy Chief Elizabeth Cannon of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

Monday, January 15, 2018

FBI Releases Age-Progressed Photos Of Four Most Wanted Terrorists From Pan Am Flight 73 Hijacking

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

The FBI Washington Field Office announced today the release of age-progressed photographs of four alleged hijackers charged in the United States with the September 5, 1986 attack of Pan American World Airways Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan: Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al-Turki, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar-Rahayyal, and Muhammad Ahmed al-Munawar. These images were created by the FBI Laboratory using age-progression technology and original photographs obtained by the FBI in the year 2000.

The attack on Pan Am Flight 73 resulted in the murder of 20 passengers and crew, including two Americans, the attempted murder of 379 passengers and crew, and the wounding of more than 100 individuals on board.

This announcement is in coordination with the U.S. Department of State Rewards for Justice Program, which is offering a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the alleged hijackers. Each of these individuals is believed to have been a member of the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), previously on the U.S. Department of State’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.  Each suspect is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.

Anyone with information regarding these terrorists is asked to contact the FBI, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or submit a tip on https://tips.fbi.gov, which can remain anonymous.

Individuals on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List have been indicted by sitting Federal Grand Juries in various jurisdictions in the United States for the crimes reflected on their wanted posters. The indictments currently listed on the posters allow them to be arrested and brought to justice. Additional information regarding the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists program can be found at: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Health Issue Delays Trial For 'Skinny Joey,' Reputed Philly Mob Boss Who Moved To Boca Raton

The Sun-Sentinel offers a piece on Joseph Merlino's racketeering trail bring postponed.
A reputed Philadelphia mobster’s racketeering trial has been postponed at least a week because of a medical issue, according to court documents.
Accused mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino — whose trial was slated to start on Jan. 16 in Manhattan Federal Court — remains in South Florida recuperating from a heart ailment.
Merlino went to a Boca Raton hospital emergency room on Tuesday, suffering from “chest pains and coronary spasms and shortness of breath,” one of his lawyers said Thursday.
Merlino, 55, has reportedly survived more than 25 attempted hits and beat three murder raps.

Hospital tests had “abnormal” results and “revealed two ‘significant’ blockages,” said Merlino’s attorney Edwin Jacobs.
The alleged gangster’s doctor said Merlino is on medication and needs to be under “close observation for adjustment of medication,” according to a letter submitted to the court. As a result, the note explains, Merlino can't fly or travel for at least two weeks.
The trial has been postponed until Jan. 22. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

‘Terabyte Of Death’ Cyberattack Against DoD Looms, DISA Director Warns

Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below piece:

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 11, 2018 — The vast, global networks of the Defense Department are under constant attack, with the sophistication of the cyber assaults increasing, the director of Defense Information Systems Agency said here today.

Army Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, who is also the commander of the Joint Force Headquarters, Department of Defense Information Networks, described some of the surprises of being in his post, which he has held since 2105.

Lynn spoke at a luncheon of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Washington Chapter.

“We do an excellent job of defending the [Department of Defense Information Networks], but the level of attacks that we’ve seen actually was really truly surprising and it still continues to surprise me just how robust the attacks have become,” he said.

‘Terabyte of Death’ Attack: A Matter of When, Not If

A few years ago, getting a 1-gigabyte or 2-gigabyte attack at the internet access point was a big deal, he said. “Now, we get 600-gig attacks on the internet access points and unique, different ways of attacking that we hadn’t thought of before,” he added.

The Defense Department is fortified against even larger attacks, he said.

“There’s now, we would call it the ‘terabyte of death’ – there is a terabyte of death that is looming outside the door,” he said. “We’re prepared for it, so we know it’s coming.”
He noted, “It’s just a matter of time before it hits us.”

Scale of DoD Networks ‘Massive’

Lynn, who retires next month, said the size of the DoD network is something else that surprised him. He described it as a “massive,” 3.2 million-person network that he has to defend or help support in some way.

“There’s something happening every second of every minute globally that you can’t take your eye off of,” he said. 

The department needs agile systems for the warfighter to stay ahead of an adversary that is evolving and moving, he pointed out.

There are challenges to finding solutions that scale to the DoD Information Networks, he said. A commercial solution that works for a smaller operation might not translate into something that is effective for the worldwide DoD networks, he explained.

DISA, he pointed out, is a combat support agency responsible for a multitude of networks. He cited as examples the networks between the drones and the drone pilots, or the F-35 “flying mega-computer” that needs a lot of data and intelligence, or the “big pipes” that connect various entities to missile defense.

He explained how commercial mobile platforms have been modified for warfighters to accommodate secret or top secret communications.

“Anywhere they are globally, if they’ve got to make a serious decision right now and it means seconds, that’s there and available to them,” he said, adding that mobile platforms are becoming “more and more capable as we go.” 

Warfighting, which now includes streaming drone video feeds, is happening on mobile devices, he said. “It’s pretty cool to watch,” he remarked.

While acknowledging DISA does do “a lot of cool IT stuff,” Lynn said all of the efforts support a singular focus. “At the end of the day, it’s about lethality,” he said.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My Washington Times Piece On Blue Lives Matter

The Washington Times published my piece on Philadelphia police cars getting getting bulletproof windows.

The good news is that Philadelphia police officers will soon be patrolling the city’s mean streets in 150 new patrol cars that have been equipped with bulletproof windows.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, the patrol cars will have ballistic shields affixed to the front door panels and “‘transparent armor” in the front windows.

The bulletproof windows were ordered in light of two separate incidents in which two Philadelphia police officers were ambushed and shot while sitting in their patrol cars. Both were seriously wounded, but thankfully both survived.

In 2016 Philadelphia police officer Jesse Hartnett was shot while stopped at an intersection. A surveillance camera captured the moment that the gunman, wearing a long white tunic and shouting “Allah Akbar,” ran up to Officer Harnett’s patrol car and fired into the driver’s side window. Officer Harnett was shot three times in his left arm.

Incredibly, Officer Harnett got out of his car and returned fire, wounding the suspect, who was later captured by other officers.

Sgt. Sylvia Young, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was also sitting in her patrol car when a gunman opened fire on her, hitting her in her left shoulder, arm and torso. The shooter, who also that night fired on a 25-year-old woman, killing her, and wounded a University of Pennsylvania police officer, was later shot and killed by other officers.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, the bulletproof windows will cost around $1,300 dollars per patrol car. For those who believe “Blue Lives” matter, the cost is well worth it.

... Adding to the concerns of Philly cops is the belief that the newly elected District Attorney does not truly have their back. Larry Krasner, a lifelong civil rights lawyer who has sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times, was elected DA and recently took office. The new DA has represented pro-bono anti-police organizations such as Black Lives Matter, ACT-Up and Occupy Philly over the years. What he has never done is prosecute a criminal.

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

The Future Of War: A History

Joshua Sinai offers a review of Lawrence Freedman’s The Future of War: A History at the Washington Times.

The nature of warfare is constantly changing and evolving. New technologies such as unmanned systems, whether militarized aerial drones, remote-controlled robotic tanks or sophisticated cyber weapons that can remotely destroy an adversary’s critical nodes in their infrastructure, directed-energy (e.g., laser) weapons, as well as anti-ballistic defensive systems that can intercept in mid-air an adversary’s offensive missiles, are all changing the tactics of warfare for the countries that possess them.

In a parallel development, if some non-state adversaries, such as terrorist groups, achieve the capability to employ miniaturized tactical nuclear weapons or cyberwarfare weapons, they could inflict catastrophic casualties on their more powerful adversaries.

With today’s state and non-state adversaries seeking to exploit these and other new military technologies, military planners are aware that new concepts of warfare policies, doctrine, operation and organizational structures are required to address the challenges presented by the constantly evolving revolution in military affairs.

It is not only in the current era that military thinkers are forecasting the future of warfare; they have done this throughout history. As Lawrence Freedman writes, the future of warfare has always been a matter of concern along with “the causes of war and their likely conduct and cause.” Mr. Freedman is emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College, London.

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

Attorney General Sessions Celebrates Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the below statement on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a day set aside to show support for the brave men and women who have dedicated themselves to protecting our communities:

“Serving as a law enforcement officer is an honorable profession that is demanding, dangerous, and all too often unappreciated. Those who have chosen law enforcement as a profession and who work selflessly day and night through the harshest of conditions are a special breed.  We owe them our undying gratitude.  And, while our gratitude should not be limited to a single day of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my deep and sincere appreciation to all serving in tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement across the country for the daily sacrifices they make to serve and protect our communities.”

Today Attorney General Sessions also visited the Washington, D.C. Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge with Metropolitan Police Department Auxiliary Police Officers to express his gratitude and support for them and their work.

CIA Director Seeks Stronger Counterintelligence Against Spies And Leakers

Veteran national security reporter Bill Gertz offers a piece at the freebeacon.com on CIA Director Mike Pompeo (seen in the above photo) and his reform of CIA counterintelligence.

British spy novelist John le Carre elegantly called it the oldest question of all: Who can spy on the spies? He was talking about counterintelligence—the often arcane business of finding foreign spies who try to penetrate intelligence services.

Counterintelligence at CIA today is a far cry from its Cold War world of Soviet moles or penetration agents and neutralizing them or turning them into double agents.

Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo is working to change all that. Pompeo has elevated the status of CIA's counterintelligence center, a dedicated unit within the agency's Langley, Va., headquarters that is devoted to identifying and countering foreign intelligence agents and their activities.

CIA counterintelligence efforts, however, remain limited by a lack of both qualified personnel and strategic vision needed to deal with a growing spy threat that today includes both cyber operations and influence activities, in addition to traditional spying by nations such as China and Russia. The foreign spying threat is increasing in both scale and sophistication, according to intelligence experts.

As part of the reform, Pompeo is stepping up internal security at CIA in a bid to better identify leakers—employees who may be politically motivated to conduct more non-traditional digital-age crimes—such as exposing secrets in a bid to undermine American intelligence, or overall U.S. national security.

"The director has made counterintelligence a priority at CIA because if we don’t achieve perfection in this realm, all our other efforts at the agency are at risk," said Dean Boyd, CIA director of public affairs. "The last thing CIA can tolerate is to have a secret we’ve stolen re-stolen."

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Look Back At Mass Murderer Stalin

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden reviewed Stephen Kotkin's Stalin for the Washington Times. 

What caused Joseph Stalin to become one of history’s most notorious mass murders? Unlike Adolph Hitler, whose victims were anonymous Jews and other “undesirables” whom he did not know, Stalin’s victims included persons from his inner circle, fellow leaders of the Soviet Communist party.

Such is the grisly story related by Stephen Kotkin, a Princeton University professor, in the second volume of a planned trilogy on the Soviet tyrant. Even readers acquainted with Stalin’s blood-stained career will find sickening details that Mr. Kotkin gleaned from previously secret files. His academic work at times is more terrifying than a Stephen King novel.

“Confessions” that the innocent were forced to sign with their own blood. High officials of Stalin’s “inner circle” watching their wives hauled into captivity for non-existent “crimes against the state.” Stalin scrawling “execute” on a list of thousands of “traitors” which he would review (supposedly) in several hours.

Insecurity apparently ruled Stalin’s psyche. The crown of Vladimir Lenin, who brought communism to Russia, rested uneasily on Stalin’s head. Lenin left a written legacy proclaiming Stalin to be his successor, then waffled somewhat in a later oral statement

Thus Stalin spent his first years as dictator with a slippery grasp on power. His solution: destroy contemporaries (even those who were close friends) who might challenge his right to authority.

Once a few thousand murders established his rule, continuation of the terror was reflexive. As Mr. Kotkin writes, “Tyranny has a circular logic: once a dictator has achieved supreme power, he becomes keener still to hold it, driving him to weed his own ranks of even potential challengers.”

Of the 1.58 million persons arrested 1936-1938, 683,000 were victims of extrajudicial killings. To Stalin, “murder was an administrative tool,” Mr. Kotkin writes. He viewed close associates as comprising a “nest of spies.”

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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Photo Of Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson Sailing Out Of San Diego For WESTPAC

The U.S. Navy released a photo of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) manning the rails as the ship departs its homeport of San Diego.

Carl Vinson departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

The above photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Omar A. Dominquez.

Note: The photo brings back memories from 1970, when I too manned the rails as we departed San Diego on board an aircraft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk, headed for the Western Pacific, or WESTPAC, as we called it.  

You can click on the photo to enlarge.

David Ignatius' 'The Quantum Spy' Is About Quantum Computing, The Chinese/American Technology Race And Espionage

I interviewed Washington Post columnist and best-selling spy novelist David Ignatius (seen in the above photo) yesterday morning. 

We discussed his latest thriller, The Quantum Spy, and quantum computing, espionage and the technology race between China and America.

My Q&A with David Ignatius will appear in the upcoming Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International, a quarterly magazine for government, law enforcement and military people worldwide. 

I’ll post the piece here when it comes out. (I’m also reviewing The Quantum Spy for the Washington Times).  

In addition to covering quantum computing, The Quantum Spy also takes the reader into the headquarters of Communist China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), an adversarial intelligence agency mush less known than the Russian SVR and the old Soviet KGB. 

His realistic, well-researched and well-written novel is informative, suspenseful and entertaining.      

Below is a description of the novel from www.davidignatius.com:  

From the best-selling author of The Director and Body of Lies comes a thrilling tale of global espionage, state-of-the-art technology, and unthinkable betrayal.

The Quantum Spy is a hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb; whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption and break any code in existence. The winner of the race to build the world’s first quantum machine will attain global dominance for generations to come. The question is, who will cross the finish line first: the U.S. or China?

In this gripping cyber thriller, the United States’ top-secret quantum research labs are compromised by a suspected Chinese informant, inciting a mole hunt of history-altering proportions. CIA officer Harris Chang leads the charge, pursuing his target from the towering cityscape of Singapore to the lush hills of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of Mexico, and beyond. The investigation is obsessive, destructive, and—above all—uncertain. Do the leaks expose real secrets, or are they false trails meant to deceive the Chinese? The answer forces Chang to question everything he thought he knew about loyalty, morality, and the primacy of truth.

Grounded in the real-world technological arms race, The Quantum Spy presents a sophisticated game of cat and mouse cloaked in an exhilarating and visionary thriller.

You can also read David Ignatius’ review of John le Carre’s spy novel, A Legacy of Spies, in the Atlantic via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of A Legacy of Spies via the below link:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Michael Wolff’s Spotty Record Raises Questions About Trump Tell-All, 'Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House'

Bradford Richardson at the Washington Times offers a piece on the "spotty" reputation of journalist Michael Wolf, the author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

This isn’t the first time author/journalist Michael Wolff has been accused of fabricating quotes.

A caustic gossip columnist more accustomed to taking down New York media moguls than Washington politicians, Mr. Wolff trained his fire on President Trump and his inner circle in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” an incendiary tell-all that has the president and his supporters fuming.

In excerpts from the book given to outlets where Mr. Wolff’s byline regularly appears — The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, New York magazine and the British version of GQ — the White House is portrayed as full of disorder, backbiting and infighting.

The book, which will be published Friday after its release date was sped up to meet heightened demand, relies on what Mr. Wolff, 64, describes as “extensive access to the White House and more than 200 interviews with Trump and senior staff over a period of 18 months.”

Mr. Wolff’s witty, provocative style has earned him accolades over the years — as well as criticism and controversy.

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

Don't Mess With An Italian Dad's Daughter: 'Goodfellas' Actor Paul Sorvino Threatens To Kill Harvey Weinstein For Blacklisting Daughter Mira

Sasha Savitsky at Fox News offers a piece on Paul Sorvino discovering that  Harvey Weinstein blacklisted his actress daughter Mira.

Paul Sorvino threatened disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, saying he'll whack the accused sexual predator for blacklisting his daughter.

"If I meet him on the street, he ought to hope he goes to jail because if we come across, I think he'll be lying on the floor somehow magically," Sorvino told TMZ on Wednesday. "I will kill the motherf---er."

Sorvino was reacting to the news from last month that Harvey and Bob Weinstein discouraged director Terry Zwigoff from casting actress Mira Sorvino in his movie.

The "Goodfellas" actor told the gossip site he "did not know the extent" of Weinstein's alleged behavior.

"Bad Santa" director Terry Zwigoff revealed in December he was strongly discouraged from casting Mira Sorvino in his movie.  (Reuters)

"If I had known it, he would not...be walking. He'd be in a wheelchair," he said adding his was "absolutely furious" when he heard the news about Weinstein.

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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

On This Day In History Samuel Colt Sold His First Revolvers To The U.S. Government: 'God Made Some Men Big And Others Small, But Sam Colt Made Them All Equal'

As History.com notes, on this day in 1847 Samuel Colt first sold his revolvers to the U.S. government.

Samuel Colt rescues the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers.

Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole. Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife.

That began to change when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver in 1836. The heart of Colt’s invention was a mechanism that combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots. When the weapon was cocked for firing, the chamber revolved automatically to bring the next shot into line with the barrel.

… Yet most cowboys, gamblers, and gunslingers could never have afforded such a revolver if not for the de facto subsidy the federal government provided to Colt by purchasing his revolvers in such great quantities. After the first batch of revolvers proved popular with soldiers, the federal government became one of Colt’s biggest customers, providing him with the much-needed capital to improve his production facilities.

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

Bada Bing! Philadelphia 'Mafia King' Skinny Joey Merlino Is Released On $5m Bail, Ordered To Wear An Ankle Bracelet And Confined To His Mansion And The Italian Restaurant He Owns

The Daily Mail offers a piece on reputed Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family boss Joseph Merlino (seen in the above photo) being released on bail

Joseph Merlino, also known as 'Skinny Joey', may soon have to get used to a steady diet of prison food.

The man who is widely believed to be the head of Philadelphia's largest organized crime ring was likely to be released on Friday after a federal judge granted him $5million bail, according to the Associated Press.

Merlino, 54, has been ordered to stay at his home in Boca Raton, Florida, where he will be required to wear an ankle monitor so that authorities can monitor his movements.

US Magistrate Judge William Matthewson said Merlino can work from 7am to 7pm at the local restaurant that bears his name, Merlino's, which he says will reopen in October, and travel to New York City, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, including to attend a family day at his two daughters' university. Merlino is expected to be released from Palm Beach County jail later Friday.

Merlino - one of the more flamboyant figures in the American underworld - has already spent nearly half of his life - 20 years - in prison for various criminal offenses, including armed robbery, fraud, and racketeering.

Matthewson asked Merlino for assurances that he will obey the conditions of his release, saying he didn't want to issue a warrant for his arrest.

'Don't worry your honor, you won't,' replied the unshaven Merlino, who was dressed in dark blue jail overalls and shackled at the wrists and ankles. Merlino faces up to 20 years in prison on charges that he was part of a health care fraud scheme where conspirators got corrupt doctors to bill insurers for unnecessary and excessive prescriptions for expensive compound creams in exchange for kickbacks.

He was one of nearly four dozen reputed members of an East Coast crime syndicate who were charged last week with racketeering and various crimes including extortion, loansharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, credit card fraud and health care fraud.

Federal prosecutors say the syndicate operated in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey.

Prosecutors agreed to Merlino's release, a 180-degree turn from documents filed last week that called him a 'danger to the community' and requested that he be held without bail.

… The massive syndicate - known as the 'East Coast La Cosa Nostra Enterprise' - was formed from a rare pact between the powerful families.

The mob bust saw 46 people - including alleged members of some of New York's biggest Mafia families - indicted on charges including extortion, gun-running and assault, federal officials say.

The FBI and local police swooped on suspected organized crime members last week in a states-spanning bust that sees each suspect facing at least one racketeering charge with a maximum 20-year sentence.

In addition to Merlino, alleged members of the Genoveses, Gambinos, Lucheses and Bonannos - four of the New York mob's infamous 'five families' - were arrested.

You can read the rest of the piece, watch a video clip and view photos, via the below link: 

U.S. Special Operations Command HEROs Combat Human Trafficking To Save Children Around The Globe

Shannon Collins at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2018 — January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the Defense Department has teams who work year-round to combat these crimes worldwide.

The Human Exploitation Rescue Operative, or HERO, Child-Rescue Corps is a program developed by U.S. Special Operations Command, Warrior Care Program-Career Transition, the National Association to Protect Children and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Army Col. Kimberly Moros, chief of Socom's career transition initiatives.

“The HERO Child-Rescue Corps Program is designed for wounded, injured and ill transitioning service members and veterans who receive training in high-tech computer forensics and law enforcement skills to assist federal agents in the fight against online child sexual exploitation,” she said. “Upon successful completion of the program, HERO interns will have the knowledge, skills and experience to apply for careers with federal, state and local police agencies and other organizations in the field of computer forensics.”

Since 2013, more than 130 veterans and transitioning service members have entered the HERO program. Of the successful graduates, 74 have been offered careers in federal law enforcement and another 31 are in internships, Moros said.

“HEROs and HERO interns now make up over 25 percent of the Homeland Security computer forensics workforce,” said Robert Kurtz, unit chief for HERO at Homeland Security Investigations.

Human Trafficking

“Human trafficking includes using force, fraud or coercion to compel a person to provide labor, services or sex. It’s a violation of basic human rights,” said Linda Dixon, DoD Combating Trafficking in Persons Office Program Manager. “Combating trafficking in persons is a duty that DoD takes seriously as we do in other situations that bring harm to our nation. It is a global concern, and our goal is to educate every member of DoD on how to recognize and report human trafficking in the U.S. as well as around the world.”

The three most common forms of trafficking, according to DoD's Combating Trafficking in Persons office, are forced labor, sex trafficking, and child soldiering.

Moros said the idea behind the HERO Corps is a simple one.

“When it comes to hunting those who prey on the innocent, who better than our nation’s most highly trained military veterans?” she said. “Much of today’s human trafficking and child sexual exploitation is technology facilitated. Offenders utilize the internet and digital technologies to coordinate their activity, advertise, share information and hide evidence. HEROs receive training in counter-child exploitation as well as digital forensics and victim identification. And they are then embedded with federal law enforcement.”

She said the HERO Child-Rescue Corps save children in several ways. “As law enforcement first responders, they are at every crime scene, searching for critical clues that might provide evidence for an arrest or to find a victim,” Moros said.

Back at the forensic lab, the HERO is the lead digital investigator, searching out clues that can lead to organized criminal rings, evidence of sexual assault or production of child abuse imagery, she said.

“In many cases, it has been the relentless focus and military mindset that has allowed HEROs to go beyond the digging that might be done in traditional law enforcement to find a victim,” she added.

Kurtz said federal law enforcement is just beginning to track rescues. In 2016, Homeland Security Investigations identified and rescued 820 known child victims from sexual exploitation.

“But the real number is undoubtedly many times greater,” Moros said. “As a major segment of the digital forensic workforce, and one especially dedicated to combatting child sexual exploitation and trafficking, they have been instrumental in working hundreds of those cases.” 

‘First Navy Jack’ Flies In Hawaii To Honor 17 Sailors Lost In Collisions

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Corwin Colbert offers the below piece:

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, Jan. 3, 2018 — As sailors hoisted the colors here Jan. 1 to start out the new year, the “First Navy Jack” rose under Old Glory, as it will throughout 2018 in honor of the 17 sailors lost when the guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain collided with merchant ships in separate incidents last year.

The First Navy Jack is a flag consisting of a rattlesnake superimposed across 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with the motto, “Don't Tread On Me.” Commodore Esek Hopkins first employed it in 1775 as he readied the Continental Navy in the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.

In recent years, the Navy has used the flag during difficult times to signify resolve.

Navy Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said the First Navy Jack is a reminder that the Navy’s warfighting edge not only is back, but also is renewed and forged with purpose.

“Here in Pearl Harbor, we rose to the challenge 76 years ago, as ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ sharpened our warfighting culture,” he said. “In the wake of 9/11, when our culture was tested, we rose to the challenge once more. At the direction of the Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, we returned to our First Navy Jack, ‘Don’t Tread on Me,’ on the jack staffs of all Navy warships as a historic reminder of the nation’s and Navy’s origins and our will to persevere and triumph.”

Symbol of Resolve

Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer Allen Keller, the base’s command master chief, said flying of the First Navy Jack is a symbol of resolve. He challenged the joint base family, service members and civilians alike, to move forward and build on the history and legacy of the country and the Navy.

“2017 was a challenging year for the Navy,” Keller said. “We as an installation will fly the Navy First Jack as a reminder to every airman, sailor, civilian and family member to get back to basics, honor our country and remember our history.” 

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Washington Times Piece On Crime And Safety In New York City

The Washington Times published my piece on crime and safety in New York City.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” Mark Twain reportedly said.

While most of the major felonies, including murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and felony assault, have decreased in New York City according to the latest reported crime statistics, many people there don’t feel safe.

And many, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former mayoral opponents and many police officers, dispute the veracity of the crime statistics.

Former mayoral candidate and retired NYPD detective Richard “Bo” Dietl, one of the most highly decorated detectives in NYPD history and the former co-chairman of the National Crime Commission, doesn’t buy the rosy crime stats.

“A man is mugged at knifepoint in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue at 10 a.m. This is de Blasio’s New York,” Mr. Dietl said during the mayoral race. “The mayor fudges police statistics so he can tell people the city its safer but anyone with eyes and ears can tell New York is sliding back to the ‘bad old days,’ where crime was king and disarray ruled the day.” 

... Legendary former NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen, the author of “Circle of Six,” noted that the recent crime stats did not tell the entire story. “Police today don’t arrest or even issue court summonses to people for public urination and other quality of life crimes.” 

... Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (seen in the above photo), who oversaw a historic decrease in crime during his time as commissioner, stated on a New York radio program in 2015 that the NYPD was manipulating crime statistics. He disputed Mayor de Blasio’s claim that New York City remained the safest big city in America.

“You have to take a hard look at those numbers, and I can tell you, people don’t feel safer in this city,” Mr. Kelly told the radio host. “People say this to me all the time. And perception is reality in many instances”

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with Ray Kelly via the below link: