Monday, April 30, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Vietnam War: An Intimate History'

The Washington Times published my review of The Vietnam War: An Intimate History, the companion book to the PBS TV series.

With the anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam to the Communist North on April 30, 1975, veterans of that war, those who lived through the era and those interested in history, may want to read Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns’ coffee-table companion book to the PBS series “The Vietnam War.”

“America’s involvement in Vietnam began in secrecy. It ended, thiry years later, in failure, witnessed by the entire world,” the book begins. “It was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American over-confidence, and Cold War miscalculation.”

The book also reminds us that 58,000 Americans died in the war, and at least 250,000 South Vietnamese also died. More than a million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Communists died in the war, as well as an estimated 2 million North and South Vietnamese civilians.

“For those Americans who fought in it, and for those who merely glimpsed it on the nightly news — the Vietnam War was a decade of agony, the most divisive period since the Civil War.”

… “The Vietnam War: An Intimate History” is an impressive-looking book, with a vast array of photos that accompanies a look back at the long and complicated war. Unfortunately, the companion book suffers from the same bias we saw in the television series.

… Many veterans believed in the war, many volunteered to serve in Vietnam, and many Vietnam veterans are proud of their service. Many Americans, then and now, believe we should have gone all out to win the war. Certainly, the many South Vietnamese murdered and imprisoned by the Communists after the fall of the South, and the many Vietnamese “boat people” who endured hardships and sacrifices to escape the Communists, wish we had stayed the course.

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

As I noted in my review, readers may want to read Lt. Gen. Philip Davidson’s Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975 for a bit of balance.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

'Skinny Joey' Merlino, Reputed Philly Mob Boss Who Moved To Boca Raton, Pleads Guilty, Avoids Retrial

The Sun-Sentinel offers a piece on reputed Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Joseph Merlino's guilty plea in New York.

Manhattan federal prosecutors angered a judge Friday by giving up their pursuit of Philadelphia's reputed top mob boss.

Prosecutors let Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino -- who has a home in Boca Raton -- plead to a gambling charge, abandoning their effort to convict him of racketeering, health care fraud, loan sharking and other counts.

Merlino beat those raps in February when a jury deadlocked, leading to a mistrial. Manhattan federal prosecutors decided not to try Merlino again.

Judge Richard Sullivan asked why the government agreed to let Merlino plea to a charge that carries a maximum two-year sentence.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the federal case against Merlino and the history of Cosa Nostra via the below link:

Frederick Forsyth: Putin Is Full Of Bluff But Russia Is Weak

Frederick Forsyth, the author of the classic thriller, The Day of the Jackal and The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, offers his take on Putin and Russia’s military and intelligence capabilities in his column in the British newspaper, the Express.

Research into my new novel reveals that the globe-wide expulsions of Russian spies after the Skripal affair has damaged Moscow’s espionage network far more seriously than we at first thought.

Our counter-spooks chose well when they advised the Prime Minister whom to chuck out. Entire networks have been crippled and will not be easily or quickly reestablished.

And this has not been just in the UK. We also advised foreign governments pretty shrewdly as well.

With our usual self-deprecation we tend to prevent the British people knowing just how good our own services really are and how they are respected by our friends and allies.

… Vladimir Putin postures and threatens but the real state of his armed forces is a fraction of what he claims. Much is run down, out of date, obsolescent.

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

You can also read my Washington Times piece on the history of Russian assassinations via the below link:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Talking To James Hawes, Former Navy SEAL, CIA Operative And Author Of 'Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story Of Che Guevara, War In The Congo, And The Communist Threat In Africa'

I had a long and interesting talk today with James Hawes, a former Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam and later served in the Congo as a CIA operative.

In Africa, James Hawes engaged no less a figure than Che Guevara. James Hawes' interdiction efforts drove the infamous revolutionary out of Africa.

Mr. Hawes (seen in the above photo on the left) is the author of Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story of Che Guevara, War in the Congo, and the Communist Threat in Africa.    

My interview with James Hawes will appear in the upcoming issue of Counterterrorism magazine and my review of Cold War Navy SEAL will appear in the Washington Times.

I’ll post both pieces here when they come out.    

Maureen Faulkner's Plea to Philly DA Larry Krasner: Help Keep Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal In Jail |

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of a slain Philadelphia police officer and the author of Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice, asks that the Philadelphia District Attorney and other politicians keep her husband's killer in prison in a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer 

Like thousands of others in America, my family and I are political prisoners trapped by our legal system. We committed no crime, yet we received life sentences with no possibility of parole or reprieve.

Thirty-seven years ago, Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered my husband, Officer Daniel Faulkner, by shooting him point-blank in the forehead as he lay unarmed and wounded on the sidewalk. Today we hear so many stories about innocent cops being murdered; they seem as common as reports of bad traffic accidents. Most law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty receive the tears, concern, honor, and thanks they deserve, only to fade away in the public’s consciousness to become sociology statistics.

On Monday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will have to fight to keep Danny’s guilty killer in prison. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s attorneys will argue that past Philadelphia District Attorney Ron Castille violated Abu-Jamal’s constitutional rights when, as a state Supreme Court justice, Castille chose not to recuse himself from involvement in the state Supreme Court’s reviews of Abu-Jamal’s many appeals in the 1990s.  Because the appeals process can be skewed in favor of convicted killers, Abu-Jamal and dozens of other guilty criminals have been given a new tool with which to retroactively attempt to pick the lock on the courtroom door that leads to freedom.

Gov. Wolf and Krasner have politicized the use of capital punishment and life sentences in Pennsylvania, so for all practical purposes, each of us who has lost a loved one to murder is a political prisoner. Politicians have taken away the hope we once had that our suffering might finally end when the person who murdered our loved one was put to death. Today, thousands of survivors in Pennsylvania endure endless cruel and unusual punishment in silence.

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

How To Drink Like Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming, And Other Literary Greats

Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, offers a piece at the Daily Beast on Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming, two writers who drank and wrote about Campari and other drinks.  

 European watering holes have been seducing writers for decades. A long afternoon spent writing (or supposedly writing) at a sidewalk café, usually accompanied by an apéritif, has a certain allure and draw. Ernest Hemingway wrote of his “good café” and extolled the virtues of “a clean, well-lighted place.” Malcolm Cowley pined for those days on the café terrace, “with a good long drink and nothing to do but drink it.”

And often, from the research I’ve done for my books, those writers enjoyed the bitter apéritif Campari and, naturally, included it in their novels, memoirs and poems.

The liqueur was invented by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s at the Bass Bar in Turin, Italy, where he worked as a maitre licoriste, or master bartender. Campari is a secret blend of natural ingredients, mostly herbs, spices, bark, fruits and fruit peels. Its distinctive carmine hue originally derived from dye extracted from the cochineal, a beetle-like insect native to Latin America.

… Coincidentally, it was in Milan where Ernest Hemingway discovered Campari, just two years after Lawrence released Twilight. At age 18, Hemingway served in the International Red Cross Ambulance Corps, and was severely wounded during an Austrian mortar attack on the Italian lines near Venice. Evacuated to a hospital in Milan, he spent the summer and fall of 1918 recovering from 227 shrapnel and bullet wounds to his legs. Friends would bring him wine and spirits to help him deal with his pain (and boredom). As he recalled in his memoir A Moveable Feast, one of these friends was an “old man with beautiful manners and a great name who came to the hospital in Italy and brought me a bottle of Marsala or Campari and behaved perfectly, and then one day I would have to tell the nurse never to let that man into the room again.” When he later recounted this tale to Gertrude Stein, she brusquely replied, “those people are sick and cannot help themselves and you should pity them.” Hmmm, but the old guy did have good taste in booze, no?

Another famous novelist and imbiber, Ian Fleming, was also a Campari fan. In fact, the first drink ever enjoyed by his signature character, James Bond, who is, of course, known for ordering a Vesper and his “shaken, not stirred” Martini, was actually the Americano. It makes an appearance in Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953:

“Bond ordered an Americano and examined the sprinkling of overdressed customers, mostly from Paris he guessed, who sat talking with focus and vivacity, creating that theatrically clubbable atmosphere of l’heure de l’apéritif. The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of Champagne, the women Dry Martinis.”

Speaking of Paris, Fleming reveals his disdain for the City of Light’s cocktail scene in his 1960 short story “From a View to a Kill.”

“James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés…No, in cafés you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing—an Americano—Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always specified Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.”

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Marshall Center, Law Enforcement Leaders Discuss Counter-Crime Strategies

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

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, April 25, 2018 -- Almost 100 mid- to top-level law enforcement specialists and parliamentarians from 52 nations have a better understanding of the strategic-level approaches needed to counter transnational criminal organizations when they return home April 28.

They are heading home after completing the three-plus week Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here. The Marshall Center is a German-American partnership that has produced generations of global security professionals for the past 25 years.

‘Make a Difference’

Held twice a year, CTOC is designed for government officials and practitioners who are engaged in policy development, law enforcement, intelligence and interdiction activities aimed at countering narcotics trafficking, terrorist involvement in criminal activity and the associated elements of transnational crime and corruption.

“We focus on strategy and policy development because we are preparing participants for their future jobs,” said Professor Joe Vann, CTOC director. “We want them to think about their ‘job after next,’ and not their current position.

Vann added, “We want them to go home, be good at their jobs and get promoted -- not just to the next step but to the higher step, because we want them to be leaders in their countries and make a positive difference in the fight against transnational organized crime.”

Globalized Response

In 2014, the Marshall Center was designated by the Defense Department as a Center of Excellence for Transnational Security Studies, due to its countering organized crime program, as well as its courses on countering terrorism and cybersecurity.

“Unlike national or regional studies of crime, we hope to take our participants to a higher level of international cooperation,” Vann said. “An increasingly globalized problem requires a more precise and comprehensive globalized response.”

He added, “We need to enable our participants to think ‘out of the box,’ develop their critical thinking skills that evolve, and apply new concepts and best practices. We need to appreciate the value of incorporating local and international knowledge and expertise to our broader strategies and policies.”

Khatia Dekanoidze, an adjunct professor for this iteration of CTOC, said the Marshall Center is the place to build global partnerships. Dekanoidze served as the first female chief of the Ukrainian National Police, where until November 2016 she directed more than 100,000 officers. During her tenure as chief of police, she was a guest lecturer at CTOC, and this is her second time as an adjunct professor for this program.

“You see so many people here who are part of the law enforcement services all around the world, and who tackle problems every day just like you,” she said. “They share their experiences, knowledge, concerns and problems with each other, and that’s how law enforcement and global partnerships start with ordinary people who really have to tackle the problems that are so familiar for us.”

‘Work for Your Country’

Participants represented military and civilian sectors of their governments a wide spectrum in seniority and experience.

“This is something that we strive for at the Marshall Center,” Vann said. “With the right mix of professions and experiences, we can create an environment where they can share their knowledge and experiences with their colleagues. They can think hard and discuss innovative ways to solve challenges through collaboration and cooperation.”

Course participants heard from faculty and invited subject-matter experts experienced in different areas of combatting transnational organized crime. In-depth discussions focused on a range of topics, including narcotics trafficking, human smuggling, weapons trafficking, cybercrime and money laundering.

“We learned a lot from these professionals because they talked about how to go about doing things,” said Judge Gillian Lucky, from the Supreme Court in Trinidad and Tobago. “This course not only gives you the theory, but also helps you to put it into practice. You learn what is working in other agencies and countries, and how you can make it work for your country.”

Discussing Strategy, Policy Development

Each of these topics touched on strategy and policy development, Vann said.

“Strategy is one of the most important things I learned here,” said Kylly Fernandes, a prosecutor with the Ministry of State for Reforms and Public Administration in Cabo Verde. “I had some information about strategy before I came here, but I have since learned it was not enough and not good enough. I am not an expert now, but I can tell you that I am more prepared to do a strategy, and I know exactly what a strategy is supposed to do.”

Lucky and Fernandes said they have ideas for strategies regarding transnational organized crime and how to implement a more of a whole-of-government approach in their countries. The judge and prosecutor said that they will share their ideas with their supervisors.

“Now we are challenged to do it,” said Fernandes, who has 17years’ experience as a prosecutor. “I will make a report, and one of my recommendations will be a strategy for terrorism and transnational crime. We need to work on that, and I will really try to convince them that we need this strategy for Cabo Verde and to add all the agencies to work on it and be a part of it.”

Creating Positive Changes

Lucky is not only a judge, but she is also a lecturer at the police academy in Trinidad and Tobago. She said the knowledge of strategy she learned in CTOC will help her when she is presiding over cases and when she is lecturing to law enforcement officers on topics from intelligent investigations to successful prosecutions.

“I will go back to Trinidad and Tobago very hopeful that I can create positive changes in the areas in which I operate,” Lucky said. “And in the areas that I don’t operate, I can motivate others with the knowledge I now have so they can use my knowledge in their particular fields of operation.”

She added, “We will work together to move Trinidad and Tobago forward.”

Note: In the above Marshall Center photo taken by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn Khatia Dekanoidze, adjunct professor of the Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, discusses anticorruption reforms and state building before 92 participants from 52 countries attending the center’s CTOC course in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany on April 17 2018. Dekanoidze served as the first female chief of the Ukrainian National Police, where she directed more than 100,000 officers until November 2016.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Trouble Brewing Over Starbucks Arrests: My Washington Times Piece On The Philly Starbucks Incident

The Washington Times published my piece on the Philly Starbucks incident:

Tensions are stirring and trouble is brewing in Philadelphia after two black men were arrested at a Starbucks on April 12.

The manager of a local Starbucks refused to allow the two men to use the rest room as they had not purchased anything. The manager then asked the men to leave the store and when they refused, stating they were waiting for a friend, the manager called the police and reported that the men were trespassing.

When the police arrived they too asked the two men to leave the store and when they refused the police arrested the men without incident, other than a store customer recording the arrest for social media and a chorus of irate customers shouting at the police officers. The two men were belligerent. They reportedly cursed the store manager and they insulted the responding police officers, telling them they didn’t know the law and scoffed at their salaries

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, helmed by Larry Krasner, a notorious anti-cop and radical DA, refused to charge the men and they were released some hours later. By then the video of the arrest went viral, as they say. Millions have viewed the short video of the arrest and the two men have now been proclaimed as racial victims.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross quickly put out his own live Facebook video in which he explained the incident. He originally stated emphatically that his officers did nothing wrong.

“They did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen and instead, they got the opposite back,” Commissioner Ross said in his video. “I will say that as an African American man, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”

But Commissioner Ross soon caved and the two men later received an apology from him. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong.” He said he failed miserably in addressing the arrests and the department was working on a new policy to address these kinds of situations.

He joined the chorus of other politically correct Philadelphia politicians who decried the arrests, such as liberal Mayor Jim Kenney, who wrote that he was “heartbroken” over the incident.

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

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Modern Take On The 'Cowboy Mythos': My Washington Times Review of 'The Western Star'

The Washington Times published my review of Craig Johnson’s latest Longmire novel, The Western Star.

I first became acquainted with Craig Johnson’s fictional modern-day Western sheriff by watching the TV series “Longmire,” which is based on Mr. Johnson’s novels. (The show first appeared on A&E; and is now on Netflix). I liked the Walt Longmire character and the rural crime stories, so I began reading the books. With most crime dramas set in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities, it is refreshing that Mr. Johnson’s novels are set in the fictitious Absarka County of Wyoming.

Walt Longmire is a big man who is taciturn and possesses a dry sense of humor. Mr. Johnson describes him as overage, overweight and overly depressed, but he still gets up in the morning and tries to do his job. Like his previous novels, “The Western Star” offers a modern take on what Mr. Johnson calls the cowboy mythos and the romance of the epic West.

The novel opens in the present time with Sheriff Longmire having a beer with Iron Cloud, an Arapaho sheriff, after completing a weapons certification course with his sidearm, a Colt 1911A1 .45, at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Cheyenne.

Sheriff Longmire requalified at the academy every four years, which coincided with the scheduled four-year parole hearing of one of the most dangerous men he has ever arrested. This year the criminal is using medical reasons for his parole and Longmire is dead set against him being released from his life sentence.

...Longmire, carrying his trusty Colt and a paperback copy of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” said goodbye to his wife at the station. Pondering his young and troubled marriage, he boarded the Western Star. In store for Longmire on this train journey with 24 sheriffs and other characters was a murder mystery that would haunt him for years.

“The Western Star” offers the series’ regular supporting characters, such as Longmire’s undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, a tough and tough-talking former South Philly cop. Also appearing is Henry Standing Bear, Longmire’s lifelong Cheyenne friend, and Longmire’s daughter Cady.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

'Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade' Offers Lost Anthony Burgess Essays

I first began reading Anthony Burgess after seeing Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange, which was based on Burgess’ unforgettable satiric novel.  

I went on to read Inside Mr. Enderby, Man of Nazareth, The Kingdom of the Wicked, Earthly Powers and his other novels. I also read his 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939, Ernest Hemingway and His World, and other non-fiction. And I read Andrew Biswell's The Real Life of Anthony Burgess.

Anthony Burgess, who died in 1993, was an odd man, a clever and amusing man, and a brilliant writer.   

Dalya Alberge offers a piece at the Observer on his lost essays, which are included in Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade.  

Previously unpublished essays by Anthony Burgess have been discovered almost 25 years after his death.

The writings cover a range of subjects, including Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film, and fellow writers Ernest Hemingway and JB Priestley. They also include an unpublished 1991 lecture on censorship.

Some of the material was discovered in the archives of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, an educational charity in Manchester, the city in which the writer was born in 1917.

Will Carr, the foundation’s deputy director, told the Observer: “Some of the approaches [within the unpublished writings] … may have been considered too personal and reflective, but in retrospect I believe offer fascinating new insights into Burgess’s work.”

Carr has included the essays in a forthcoming book, titled Anthony Burgess, The Ink Trade: Selected Journalism 1961-1993, which will be published next month.

Burgess made his name as a satirical novelist with the 1962 publication of A Clockwork Orange, a savage social satire that inspired Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 screen adaptation, known for its violent and sexually explicit scenes. Burgess was a prolific journalist, writing in the Observer for more than 30 years. In the introduction to The Ink Trade, Carr writes that Burgess’s “greatest loyalty was perhaps to the Observer – ‘my paper’, as he called it”. As the book’s editor, Carr notes the “astonishing” breadth of subjects treated by Burgess – from anthropology to the evils of taxation – and observes that this “vast storehouse” of journalism is “as rewarding as the best of his novels”.

... The essays span Burgess’s journalistic career, including the Yorkshire Post, from which he was sacked after reviewing one of his own books – Inside Mister Enderby, published under the pseudonym Joseph Kell. Apparently assuming that the paper had sent it to him as a joke, he gave it an unflattering review, writing: “It turns sex, religion, the state into a series of laughing stocks. The book itself is a laughing stock.” The review, dated 1963, is included in The Ink Trade. The Yorkshire Post’s humourless response prompted writer Gore Vidal to quip at the time: “At least, he is the first novelist in England to know that a reviewer has actually read the book under review.”

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

You can also read about his life and work via the below link:

Friday, April 20, 2018

When The 'Bomb' Prevented A War: 1983: Reagan, Andropov, And A World On The Brink

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Taylor Downing's 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink. 
Will historians ever acknowledge that the atomic bomb, despite its horrors, stands as the most effective anti-war weapon in history?

The last worldwide conflict ended in 1945. The ensuing years, to be sure, were marred by conflicts of varying intensity — Korea and Vietnam, to name two. But for 73 years, the world has avoided a major-powers conflict of the magnitude that bloodied Europe for centuries.

The most significant stand-off of the era was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, with a mutual antipathy and exchange of threats that could have resulted in nuclear disaster.

One particularly frightening flash point came in 1983, when events on both sides caused the adversaries to veer toward a showdown that author Taylor Downing, a veteran British TV producer, likens to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

But there was a significant difference. The showdown over Cuba was carried out publicly, with detailed media attention as American forces were mobilized because of Soviet installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba.

But the severity of the 1983 confrontation, with several exceptions, was known only to a handful of military and intelligence officials.

Both adversaries realized that any conflict carried serious consequence. President Eisenhower’s declared policy was “massive retaliation.” Under Ronald Reagan, the catch words were “mutual assured destruction” — MAD, in defense lingo. Mr. Reagan came into office in 198l as a hard-line anti-communist. He began strengthening U.S. weapons systems. Nonetheless, he sent friendly handwritten notes to Leonid Brezhnev, who then ruled the USSR, urging the relaxation of tensions beginning with the release of political prisoners. Mr. Brezhnev sent back “an icy reply.”

Yuri Andropov, Mr. Brezhnev’s successor, had established his own tough credentials as head of the KGB. The Reagan build-up caused fears that the U.S. would use its superiority to wipe out the Soviet political leadership.

The Soviets began developing powerful new missiles. They also strongly backed proxy “revolutionaries” in locales ranging from Central America to Angola.

Yet despite his rhetoric, one of Mr. Reagan’s first overtures was a proposal to cut nuclear arsenals by 33 percent — a move Moscow rejected. (In retirement, Mr. Reagan would call MAD “the craziest thing I ever heard of.”)

But relations were uneasy from the start. 

Communication glitches resulted in both the U.S. and the USSR receiving false (and quickly discounted) reports of incoming missiles — errors that contributed to mutual jitters. In both instances, preemptive counterstrikes were barely avoided.

Then the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner that had strayed off course on a flight from Alaska to Seoul, killing 269 persons. The Soviets claimed to have mistaken the commercial aircraft for an American reconnaissance plane. Mr. Reagan denounced the attack as a “crime against humanity.”

As they watched Mr. Reagan’s military buildup, Soviet officers became convinced that what they called “the correlation of world forces” was turning against them. As a psychological warfare tactic, U.S. air and naval probes tested Soviet borders.

Mr. Downing contends that officials in the Reagan administration did not understand the depth of Soviet fears. He ignores a CIA analysis at the time describing Soviet leaders as “pedestrian, isolated and self-absorbed paranoid and fearful of their own people and of a world they believed [was] relentlessly hostile and threatening.” They feared a repetition of the June 1941 German invasion that almost destroyed the USSR.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Former FBI Special Agent Pleads Guilty To Leaking Classified National Defense Information

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

Terry J. Albury, a former Special Agent of the FBI, pleaded guilty today in the District of Minnesota in connection with his unauthorized disclosure and retention of classified national defense information.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division announced the plea.  The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright.

“Today, Terry Albury admitted to violating his oath to protect our country by disclosing to a reporter classified information that, as an FBI agent, he was entrusted to protect,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Albury admitted that his actions put America at risk.  As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets and break the laws they have sworn to uphold.”

“Terry Albury betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick.  “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder to those who are entrusted with classified information that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

“Mr. Albury was entrusted by the FBI with a security clearance, which included a responsibility to protect classified national defense information. Instead, he knowingly disclosed that material to someone not authorized to receive it,” said Assistant Director Priestap.  “The FBI will work tirelessly to bring to justice those who would expose America’s secrets.  Today, as the result of the hard work of dedicated special agents, analysts, and prosecutors, Mr. Albury has taken responsibility for his illegal action.”

“In violating his oath of office Terry Albury not only betrayed the American people, but also his fellow FBI employees who work to safeguard sensitive information on a daily basis," said Special Agent in Charge Laycock.  “No one is above the law and the FBI will continue to investigate individuals who disclose classified material to those who are not authorized to receive it.”

Albury, 39, worked as an FBI Special Agent in the Minneapolis field office at the time of the disclosures.  At the time, Albury also worked as a liaison with Customs and Border Protection at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.   In connection with his FBI employment, Albury held a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, and his daily duties provided him access to sensitive and classified FBI and other U.S. government information.  According to court documents, beginning in 2016 and continuing through August 2017, Albury knowingly and willfully disclosed national defense information, classified at the Secret level, to a reporter.  Albury employed methods to avoid detection, including printing documents that he created by cutting and pasting portions of an original document into a new document so as to avoid leaving a record of having printed the original, classified document.  Albury also accessed documents on a classified computer and took pictures of the computer screen in order to photograph certain classified documents.   Those additional classified documents were recovered on an electronic storage device found during a search of his home.

As set forth in the plea agreement, Albury was never authorized to retain the documents at issue at his residence or to transmit them to any person not entitled to receive them.  Albury knew that he was not authorized to remove documents containing National Defense Information and classified information from secure locations, and further knew that he was not authorized to retain them at his residence or to transmit them to any person not authorized to receive them.

Albury pleaded guilty to one count of making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unlawful retention of national defense information.  Albury faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison per count.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Danya E. Atiyeh of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Patrick T. Murphy and David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. 

ISIS Contained In Syria, Changing Tactics, OIR Spokesman Says

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2018 — Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces continue to contain Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters in areas of the middle Euphrates River valley, an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said yesterday.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon briefed reporters at the Pentagon from Baghdad and said that SDF forces, with coalition support, “continue to look for opportunities to exploit ISIS weaknesses and conduct strikes and attacks against these remaining terrorists.”

Syrian forces are continuing to secure areas they have liberated, especially in and around Raqqa, which was the capital of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate. Syrian internal security forces are removing thousands of improvised explosive devices and weapons caches the terror group planted, Dillon said.

Some Territory Under ISIS Control

ISIS does continue to control some territory, the colonel said. “These are near Hajin, which is along the Euphrates River north of Al Bukamal, and in Dashisha, near the Syria-Iraq border,” he said.

In Iraq, security and stability operations continue, and Iraqi security forces continue to search for ISIS terrorists. While ISIS has gone underground in an attempt to regroup, it is still a threat in the country, Dillon said.

“The ISF know their enemy. They know that they are a threat,” he said. “And they are planning and implementing security measures with coalition support in this critical period leading up to parliamentary elections in May.”

More Work Remains

More work remains to be done in Iraq, Dillon said, noting that ISIS is an adaptive and determined enemy. “The coalition remains focused on enhancing our Iraqi partners' capacity to sustain their operations and protect their citizens against these terrorists,” he added.

While ISIS has been expelled from most areas in eastern Syria, the terror group is changing and attacking pro-regime forces in the West.

“ISIS is starting to conduct more attacks on the west side of the Euphrates River outside of Abu Kamal against pro-regime forces,” the colonel said. “And then we've also seen … the retaking of neighborhoods in southern Damascus.

ISIS has been defeated militarily, Dillon said, but the group hasn’t given up. “Many have run … back into the desert areas and into these vast rural areas to hide and attempt to regroup,” he told reporters. “But that doesn't mean that they're exclusively just in these desert areas. Others have attempted to go back into and blend back in with population centers as well.”

This is why there is still a residual presence of the group in northern Syria, and Iraqi security forces continue to search for and arrest ISIS operatives on their territory, the colonel said.

Note: In the above U.S. Army photo taken by PFC Anthony Zendejas IV a soldier scans a sector of fire from a military fighting vehicle while escorting the United Kingdom Bridge Training Team to a bridge being built in Mosul, Iraq on March 21, 2018. The soldier, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, is assigned to the 4th Infantry regiment’s 2nd Battalion.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The NYPD Must Let Out The Truth About An Unsolved Cop-Killing

I've interviewed Randy Jurgensen (seen in the above photo), a legendary New York City detective, actor, film maker and author of Circle of Six: The True Story of New York's Most Notorious Cop Killer and the Cop Who Risked Everything to Catch Him, and I've read his interesting and informative book. 

So I was most interested in reading his piece in the New York Daily News on the unsolved murder of an NYPD officer, the subject of Circle of Six.

Forty-six years ago today, an NYPD cop named Phillip Cardillo (seen in the below photo) was gunned down inside a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. No one ever served a day in jail for the crime. And for 46 years, the NYPD has been withholding evidence in his murder case from the public. It’s time they come clean.

I’m not the only one leveling that charge. Decades ago, a special prosecutor found that there had been “a concerted and orchestrated effort” by members of the NYPD to impede the Cardillo murder investigation, including withholding a secret report on the case — the so-called Blue Book — from the department’s own investigators.

In March, the watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the NYPD in a New York courtroom for failing to produce records in the case. The NYPD won’t release investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape, preposterously claiming an investigation is still “active and ongoing.”

Why would the NYPD cover up evidence in a cop killing?

It pains me to criticize law enforcement. I’ve been a loyal member of the NYPD, active and retired, for almost 60 years. I was a pretty good detective. I helped send five cop- killers to jail — a record, I think. But it’s the one that got away that haunts me.

The climate in the early 1970s, when this terrible crime happened, was awful. Terrorists with groups like the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers were killing cops and bombing civilians. Illegal drugs and murders were through the roof.

The day Cardillo was gunned down, on April 14, 1972, I was at the mosque where it happened . Cardillo and his partner had responded to an emergency “10-13” call. A 10-13 is every cop’s worst nightmare: officer in distress. The 10-13 caller said he was “Detective Thomas” and he was trapped on the second floor of an address that turned out to be the mosque.

It turned out “Detective Thomas” was a fake.

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

You can purchase Randy Jurgensen's Circle of Six via the below link:

Comey’s Actions Are ‘Unworthy’ Of The FBI, Says former Assistant Director And 24-Year Veteran Agent

Chris E. Swecker (seen in the below photo), a former assistant director of the FBI, offers his take on James Comey’s actions, book and TV interview for

Through his actions during his relatively brief tenure as FBI Director and now in penning and promoting a salacious “tell all” book, it is now quite evident that James Comey’s higher loyalty is to James Comey, and James Comey alone. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, to the FBI, where I served for 24 years, or to the selfless men and women who work there – all of whom he has tossed, once again, into the middle of a political firestorm.

The ancient Greeks had a word for the excessive vanity that would cause someone to place his interests before those of his country and those of the dedicated public servants he was called to lead – it’s called hubris.

There is no other plausible explanation for his series of ill-advised actions, beginning with the then-director’s now-infamous press conference in July 2016, when he acted contrary to 28 US Code Section 547, Section 9 of the United States Attorneys Manual and over 100 years of established practice between the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). He did this in declaring, without ever consulting with a DOJ prosecutor, that Hillary Clinton was un-prosecutable in the wake of a kid gloves investigation.

His actions are unworthy of the storied law enforcement agency I served for close to a quarter of a century, and they shocked many of us who worked with and around him during his years serving in the Department of Justice.

...The American system was designed by our founding fathers to interject an objective party with legal training between those who are investigating and those who decide whether to invoke the legal process to deprive someone of his or her life, liberty or property.

This brilliant system, which Comey trashed, was designed to keep the FBI and other law enforcement agencies out of politics. Now his book renews the controversy to the detriment of nearly everyone but Jim Comey, who is clearly out to repair his tarnished reputation and mete out some payback for his dismissal by President Trump.

Sunday’s interview on ABC – and every action he has taken since usurping the role of the Justice Department – has only thrust the FBI deeper into the political crucible. It has also apparently reinforced Comey’s misplaced belief that he, and he alone, is better equipped than anyone else in the criminal justice system to make important decisions.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

DoD, DHS Outline National Guard Role In Securing Border

Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2018 — National Guard troops are deploying to the U.S. border with Mexico to work in support functions for the Department of Homeland Security, including in aviation, operational and infrastructure missions, officials from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security told reporters here today.

The Defense Department will provide DHS with up to 4,000 National Guard troops to support the April 4 presidential memorandum authorizing the enhanced presence along the southwest border, said Robert G. Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration and defense support of civil authorities.

The troops will work only in operational support missions, he said, explaining their mission will not include roles in which they would interact with migrants or other people detained by DHS.

"They will not perform law enforcement functions, and they will not be placed in direct contact with personnel coming to the border," Salesses explained.

He spoke at a news conference at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, alongside Army Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Hundreds of Troops Currently Supporting Mission

President Donald J. Trump authorized the National Guard, with the affected governors’ approval, to enhance its support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the southern U.S. border. In the presidential memorandum April 4, he said a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border” is threatening national security.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis authorized up to 4,000 National Guard troops for the mission. Troops began deploying immediately.

While noting that the number changes daily, Hokanson said his latest figures show more than 900 troops have deployed for the mission: 250 in Arizona, just over 60 in New Mexico, and around 650 in Texas.

Enhanced Presence is Welcome

Vitiello welcomed the enhanced presence to aid in securing the border.

"The National Guard will perform many operational support functions, including monitoring cameras and senor feeds to assist with the overall situational awareness,” he said. “They will provide much-needed aerial support, and [we] anticipate they will help with repairing roads and vehicles, among other duties.”

In addition, National Guard members will provide surveillance, engineering, administrative and mechanical support to border agents, he said.

“Most importantly, the Guard will immediately expand our capabilities on the border, which will increase the effectiveness of our law enforcement operations,” he said.

Mattis authorized the use of Title 32 duty status and DoD funds for up to 4,000 National Guard personnel to support DHS’s southern border security mission while under the command and control of their respective governors through Sept. 30.

Title 32 status is full-time duty other than inactive duty performed by a member of the National Guard. It allows the governor, with the approval of the president or the secretary of defense, to order a member to duty for operational homeland defense activities. Arming the troops will be limited to circumstances that might require self-defense, the DoD memo says. 

NoteIn the above Texas National Guard photo taken by Sgt. Mark Otte a Texas National Guardsman and a Customs and a Border Protection agent discuss the border security mission on the shores of the Rio Grande River in Starr County, Texas on April 10, 2018.

Semper Fi, Gunny: R. Lee Ermey, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Drill Instructor, Dies

Victor Morton at the Washington Times offers a piece on the passing of R. Lee Ermey.

The Marine who became immortalized by playing a brutal drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” has died.

R. Lee Ermey was 74.

“It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia,” his manager Bill Rogin said in a statement posted to Mr. Ermey’s official Twitter account.

“He will be greatly missed by all of us,” Mr. Rogin wrote. “Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”

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

Note: Although not mentioned in the piece, Mr. Ermey first played a Marine drill instructor in  The Boys in Company C.