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. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pentagon Officials Describe Syria Strikes, Hope Assad Gets Message

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2018 — The Syrian regime killed at least 45 people and sickened hundreds of others in a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria, April 7, and on April 13, U.S., British and French service members launched attacks that severely degraded the Syrian chemical arsenal and sent a message to Syrian leader Bashir Assad to stop using chemical weapons against his own people.

Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the Joint Staff director, briefed the press today from the Pentagon on the operation saying it was successful and that there were no allied casualties.

White said the attack on innocent civilians in Douma “demanded a response,” and the allies targeted the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure. “We launched these strikes to limit Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons in the future,” she said.

Operation Carefully Planned

The operation was carefully orchestrated and methodically planned to lessen chances of civilian casualties, the spokesperson said. The missiles hit targets during the Syrian pre-dawn hours, and planners, weaponeers and aircrew were careful to ensure little collateral damage. “We successfully hit every target,” White said.

Missiles hit three distinct military chemical weapons targets. “The three facilities are – or more appropriately, were – the fundamental components of the regime’s chemical weapons warfare infrastructure,” McKenzie said.

One target, the Barzah center, housed the regime’s research, development and production center for chemical and biological weapons. Photos taken after the strike show that where once three buildings stood, there is now nothing but rubble.

Strikes also hit a chemical weapons storage facility and a chemical bunker facility. “We selected these targets carefully to minimize the risk to innocent civilians,” the general said.

“We are still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference. I would use three words to describe the operation: Precise, overwhelming and effective,” he said.

Allies Fired 105 Weapons

The allies fired 105 weapons at these targets. The missiles came from British, French and American platforms in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, McKenzie said.

“All weapons hit their targets close to the designated time on target,” he said. The American ships were: the USS Monterrey, the USS Laboon, the USS Higgins and the submarine USS John Warner. Two B-1 Lancer bombers launched joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles. Support aircraft – tankers, fighters, electronic warfare aircraft and more – also participated.

“None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses,” McKenzie said. “We have no indication that Russian air defenses were employed.”

Syrian response was ineffectual as the Syrians launched surface-to-air missiles on a ballistic trajectory. “Most of the launches occurred after our strike was over,” the general said. “When you shoot iron into the air without guidance, it has to come down somewhere.”

Since the strike, U.S. officials have not seen any military response from actors within Syria. “We remain postured to protect our forces and those of the coalition should anything occur,” the general said. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

U.S., Allies Launch Missile Attack On Syria In Retaliation For Using Chemical Weapons On Civilians

Dave Boyer and Dan Boylan at the Washington Times offers a piece on the American and allies’ attack on Syria.

The U.S. launched missile strikes on Syria Friday night in coordination with Britain and France in retaliation for Syria’s chemical-weapons attack on civilians last weekend.

President Trump announced the attack in a live televised statement from the White House, saying he had ordered “precision strikes.”

“A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway,” Mr. Trump said.

The strikes came around 9 p.m. in Washington, 4 a.m. Saturday in Damascus, and targeted three Syrian military installations involved with the use of chemical weapons.

It was the second strike ordered by Mr. Trump in the past year against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad to deter his regime’s use of chemical weapons.

Mr. Trump said the military strikes are a response to Syria’s “significant escalation in a pattern of chemical-weapons use” culminating in last weekend’s atrocity in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, that killed dozens of civilians. He suggested the allied military action is open-ended.

 “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong determent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” the president said. “Establishing a deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at 10 p.m. that the first wave of attacks had ended, and no further strikes were contemplated for the moment.

“Right now this is a one-time shot,” Mr. Mattis said. “Right now, we have no additional attacks planned.”

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

Statement by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis on Strikes On Syria

Below is a statement from Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis on strikes in Syria.

Good evening. As the world knows, the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime.

On April 7th, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilized people, showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents. We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable.

As our commander in chief, the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important U.S. national interests. The United States has an important national interest in averting a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.

Last year, in response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians and to signal the regime to cease chemical weapons use, we targeted the military base from which the weapons were delivered.

Earlier today, President Trump directed the U.S. military to conduct operations, in consonance with our allies, to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities.

Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.

Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year. This time, our allies and we have struck harder. Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad, and his murderous lieutenants, that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable.
The 70 nations in the defeat ISIS coalition remain committed to defeating ISIS in Syria. The strike tonight separately demonstrates international resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used on anyone, under any circumstance, in contravention of international law.

I want to emphasize that these strikes are directed at the Syrian regime. In conducting these strikes, we have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties.

But it is time for all civilized nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process.

In accordance with the chemical weapons convention prohibiting the use of such weapons, we urge responsible nations to condemn the Assad regime and join us in our firm resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used again.

General Dunford will provide a military update.

Based on recent experience, we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime. In an effort to maintain transparency and accuracy, my assistant for public affairs, Dana White, and Lt. Gen. McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, will provide a brief of known details tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

Operation Booster Club: Mob Talk 16 On Pawn Shops, Thieves And Opioid Addiction

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser report on pawn shops and professional thieves who are fueling the opioid crisis in America in Mob Talk 16 in their video series. 

They note that investigators with the Pennsylvania's Attorney General's Office and local law enforcement are targeting pawn shops and professional thieves in "Operation Booster Club.

You can watch the video via the below link:

On This Day In History 'Casino Royale,' Ian Fleming's First James Bond Thriller, Was Published

On this date in 1953 Casino Royale, Ian Fleming's first James Bond thriller, was published.

Fleming, a British journalist and former naval intelligence officer, wrote the gripping thriller while on holiday at his Jamaican villa, Goldeneye. Raymond Chandler, a friend and fellow thriller writer, believed that Casino Royale was Fleming's best novel.  

You can read about Casino Royale via the below link:

Ian Fleming would go on to write more Bond novels and short stories and millions of copies of his books have been sold around the world. The film series based on Fleming's Bond novels, which began with Dr No in 1963, is one of the most successful film series in cinematic history. 

Ian Fleming died in 1964 at the age of 56. 

You can also read my Crime Beat columns on Ian Fleming and James Bond via the below links:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fugitive Wanted For The Kidnapping And Murder Of A Federal Agent Is Added To The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” List

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

Federal Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director David L. Bowdich, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson, U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary James Walsh, and U.S. Marshals Service Acting Associate Director Derrick Driscoll today announced the addition of fugitive Rafael Caro-Quintero to the FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.”

Fugitive Rafael Caro-Quintero marks the 518th addition to the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. Caro-Quintero is wanted for his alleged involvement in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar aka “Kiki.” This is the first time a DEA fugitive has been listed on the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.

In addition, DEA and U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York today announced the unsealing of an additional indictment against Quintero, alleging his role as leader of a continuing criminal enterprise and the individual responsible for the brutal murder of Camarena. The indictment also details his leadership role in trafficking methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the United States and elsewhere and reflects his criminal activities from 1980 to 2017. (EDNY Docket No. 15-CO-208(S-2) 

On July 30, 1992, a federal arrest warrant was issued by the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, charging Caro-Quintero with violent crimes in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to kidnap a federal agent; kidnapping of a federal agent; felony murder of a federal agent; aiding and abetting; and accessory after the fact.

“Together with our federal partners at the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Department of State, we are committed to bring to justice this dangerous criminal and cartel leader responsible for the brutal murder of a DEA Agent,” said FBI Deputy Director Bowdich. “Special Agent Camarena was devoted to stopping drug trafficking and breaking the cycle of drug-related crime. He showed tremendous courage to pursue the most violent drug traffickers, and it is because of his courage, and his selflessness, that we're not going to stop looking for Caro-Quintero until we find him and put him back behind bars where he belongs.”

“The DEA is grateful for all of the federal law enforcement agencies that have committed to pursuing Rafael Caro-Quintero until the moment he is captured and returned to his rightful place in prison,” said DEA Acting Administrator Patterson. ‘Kiki’ Camarena holds a special place in our hearts and his sacrifice will always be remembered by the men and women of DEA who carry out our mission every day.”

“Our $20 million Narcotics Reward Program offer reflects the State Department’s commitment to the government-wide effort to track down Caro-Quintero,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Walsh. “We’re pleased to be using the Reward Program to support this reinvigorated law enforcement effort, and at long last bring this criminal to justice.”

“The U.S. Marshals remain steadfast in the pursuit of justice for our brother, DEA Special Agent “Kiki” Camarena,” said U.S. Marshals Associate Director for Operations Derrick Driscoll. “We will continue to leverage all resources and work with our law enforcement partners here and in Mexico to develop the information that will lead to the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero.” 

Caro-Quintero is widely regarded as one of the Mexican “godfathers” of drug trafficking, and helped to form the Guadalajara Cartel in the late 1970s. Allegedly, he became one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the United States, and was in charge of the cartel in Costa Rica and the U.S./Mexico border.

In November of 1984, Mexican authorities raided a 2,500 acre marijuana plantation owned by Caro-Quintero. The Guadalajara Cartel blamed Special Agent Camarena for the takedown, and decided to retaliate.

Special Agent Camarena – a former Marine, fireman, police officer, and deputy sheriff – was extremely close to unlocking a million-dollar drug pipeline from Mexico to the United States in 1985. Before he was able to expose the drug-trafficking operations, he was kidnapped en route to lunch with his wife on Feb. 7, 1985, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Allegedly, the direct orders for the kidnapping came from Caro-Quintero. Camarena was surrounded by five armed men who threw him into a car, then sped away. It is believed that Camarena died within two to three days of his kidnapping, but his body was not found until March 5, 1985. Special Agent Camarena is survived by his wife and three sons.

The Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Rafael Caro-Quintero. Anyone with information concerning Caro-Quintero should take no action themselves, but should immediately contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Caro-Quintero is described as follows:

Name: Rafael Caro-Quintero, aka “Rafa”
Dates of Birth Used: Oct. 24, 1952; October 2, 1952; Nov. 24, 1952; Oct. 24, 1955; Nov. 24, 1955; March 9, 1963
Height: 6’0”
Weight: Approximately 159 to 170 pounds
Place of Birth: Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico

Rafael Caro-Quintero replaces Jesus Roberto Munguia on the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list.

The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list was established in March of 1950. Since then, 484 fugitives have been apprehended or located – 162 of them as a result of citizen cooperation.

Tips may also be directed 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), or can be submitted online at 

U.S. Special Operations Leaders Update Senators on Efforts

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2018 — U.S. special operations forces are relevant against all the nation’s security priorities, the vice commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told a Senate Armed Services Committee panel today.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott A. Howell (seen in the above photo), representing Socom commander Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, told the committee’s emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee that the nearly 3,000 special operations forces members are deployed in more than 90 countries, and are postured, ready and relentlessly focused on winning today’s fights.

Also testifying on efforts to transform the force for future security challenges were Air Force Lt. Gen. Marshall B. Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; Army Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, commanding general of Army Special Operations Command; Navy Rear Adm. Timothy G. Szymanski, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command; and Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III, commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

Rapidly Changing Environment

“From countering violent extremism to countering weapons of mass destruction from rogue regimes and near-peer adversaries, special operations forces continue to provide the geographic combatant commanders options to protect our nation, our allies and our interests worldwide,” Howell said. “However, as the National Defense Strategy outlines, the global security environment is rapidly changing,” he added.

Correspondingly, Socom is transforming at an ever increasing pace, Howell noted.

“Comprising just 2 percent of the defense budget and 3 percent of the manpower, special operations forces play a critical role in addressing the nation's priorities, security challenges and provide an extraordinary return on investment,” he said.

Air Force

“As the United States Special Operations Command’s air component, we continuously strive to hone capabilities and evolve our force to remain ready, relevant and resilient,” Webb told the panel. He also expressed gratitude for the resources projected in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which he said will fully fund existing requirements and help the service “turn a strategic corner as we engage in great powers competition.”

For 17 years, AFSOC has been laser-focused on counterterrorism operations, he noted, adding it has accelerated the operations tempo and “drawn reference toward the low end” of the conflict spectrum. “We realize these efforts are predominately long-term engagements, in which cumulative tactical effects lead to long term strategic impact,” he said, “[and] to make such engagements successful, [we] must lower the resource and opportunity costs of conducting persistent counterterrorism operations.”

Conversely, AFSOC operations on the high end predominantly deliver strategic impact in a short amount of time, he said, adding the command must be capable and flexible to confront competitors across a range of potential conflicts and area.

“We must develop a force that is more lethal and resilient in contested environments,” Webb said. “This brings me to [the command’s] first priority, readiness: AFSOC must build full-spectrum readiness while ensuring that we are postured the fight tonight.”

Air Force special operations forces remain postured to deter, compete and win against strategic competitors, Webb said. “Our second priority, relevance, [is] to meet the challenges enumerated in the National Defense Strategy, [and] AFSOC must cultivate a balanced force for high-end and low-end conflict by investing in new capabilities while leveraging current capabilities in innovative ways,” he told the Senate panel. That strategy aims to balance and expand the command’s relevance across the spectrum of conflict to deter, and if necessary, defeat America's adversaries, he said.

AFSOC embraces the process of innovation from within its formation, striving toward a balance of incremental and transformational efforts that are cost-effective and extend strategic purpose, Webb emphasized.

The third priority is resilience. “What defines AFSOC is not technology or platforms,” the Air Force commander said. “Rather, we are defined by our people -- active duty, Guard, reserves and civilians alike -- and their relentless application of our ethos and strategic values.”


Tovo addressed the existing and emerging range of threats the nation faces, telling the senators that from macro levels, the nation’s threats can be put into two categories.

“First, violent extremist organizations that threaten the homeland and other strategic interests, and second, those peer-and-near adversaries who seek to undermine our global influence and overturn the current international order that preserves our prosperity,” he explained.

“The counter-VEO fight has monopolized our global efforts for over 16 years; however, it is clear that competing nations such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran will continue to challenge the current international security order to see greater regional -- and in some cases, global -- influence,” Tovo said.

Army Special Operations Command is sustaining the fight to counter violent extremist organizations while building readiness for peer-and-near threats by investing in three major efforts, the general said.

“First, we are in the midst of a multiyear effort to restore balance to the force with the aim of improving the health of the force, and providing additional time to train against a broader set of tasks that must be mastered to address peer adversaries,” he said.

“Second, we have made significant investments in the intellectual space to ensure that we understand the implications of changes in the security environment, and that we find ways to maintain an enduring competitive advantage over our nation’s adversaries,” Tovo noted.

“Third, the command published strategic guidance using [required to move ASOC from the force of today to the force that the nation will need in the future,” he said.


Szymanski told the senators that the first special operations forces truth -- that humans are more important than hardware -- remains their guiding principle.

“We have the best weapons and technology, but our primary weapon systems are now, and always have been, our operators,” he said. “We select and train to sustain men and women of character who are mature, highly skilled, culturally attuned and entrusted to execute our nation's most sensitive missions. It’s precisely because of what we ask our people to do, operation after operation, that we never lose focus on their long-term health.”

Following nearly 17 years of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the admiral said, the United States is focused on strengthening Naval Special Warfare Command capabilities as the maritime component to special operations. “We are making progress modernizing our maritime mobility platforms that can operate effectively in contested environments,” he added.

Marine Corps

While the Marine Corps’ special operations tempo is high, it is manageable, Mundy told the panel. “We continue to benefit from [the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s] Preservation of Force and Families Program as a critical tool to maintain the health of our force.”

People, not technology or any other particular capability, represent the Marine Corps’ special operations force’s most precious resource, he said, and that is something the Corps must preserve and cultivate as its forces look to the future.

Mundy said his four priorities reflect commitment to the command’s people and to the requirement to develop for the future; to provide an integrated full-spectrum special operations force, to better integrate the special operations capabilities with the Marine Corps’ air-ground teams, to develop the command’s future force, and to preserve the force and their families

Note: In the top Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman John Linzmeier four Air Force MC-130J Commando IIs from the 17th Special Operations Squadron execute a simultaneous 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

‘Bosch’s’ Jamie Hector and Titus Welliver Talk Season 4, Character Inspiration And More

I’ve been reading Michael Connelly’s crime thrillers that feature an LAPD detective named Harry Bosch for a good number of years and I’ve reviewed several of the crime novels for the Washington Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I’ve also enjoyed watching Bosch, the Amazon series based on Connelly’s novels. 

Verne Gay at Newsday offers an interview with Titus Welliver, who portrays Bosch, and Jamie Hector, who portrays Bosch's partner, Jerry Edgar. 

“Bosch” may possibly be the best show on TV at the moment that you’re not watching. Literary and propulsive, it’s a brainy cop thriller that gets no Emmy love and little critical notice for the simple reason that there’s too much else on TV. My own amends begin now: In separate interviews, I spoke with series stars Titus Welliver — LAPD Det. Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch himself — and Jamie Hector, who plays his partner and friend, Det. Jerry Edgar.

“Bosch,” about a cop’s obsessive search for the killer who murdered his mother decades earlier, is based on the bestselling novel series by Michael Connelly that launched in 1992 with “The Black Echo.” The fourth season of “Bosch” drops on Amazon Friday (and season 5 has already been ordered).

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

You can also read my interview with Michael Connelly via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of Michael Connelly’s latest Bosch crime thriller, Two Kinds of Truth, via the below link: