Thursday, May 31, 2018

My Washington Times Review of 'Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story Of Che Guevara, War In The Congo, And The Communist Threat In Africa'

The Washington Times published my review of Cold War Navy SEAL.

The Cold War, that period following World War II in 1947 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, saw the attempted expansion of communism by the Soviet Union and other communist countries, and the attempted containment of communism by the U.S. and other Western democracies.

As both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons, all-out war was mostly out of the question, so proxy wars were fought with surrogates backed by the superpowers.

Today, when one thinks of the Cold War, perhaps one thinks of the hot spots of the era, such as Berlin, Korea and Vietnam, but the Cold War was waged nearly all over the world, including Africa.

As former Navy SEAL and CIA operator James M. Hawes notes in his book, “Cold War Navy SEAL: My Story of Che Guevara, War in the Congo, and the Communist Threat in Africa,” Africa was clearly on the Soviet Union and Communist China’s radar in 1965, and the Soviet Union’s client state, Communist Cuba, sent troops and renowned revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara to the Congo to arm and train the Simba Rebels.

The CIA sent a 26-year-old Navy SEAL.

“This is a first-hand, ‘names and places’ account of what really happened inside a Cold War CIA program that’s been kept out of the history books. It’s the story of an American Navy SEAL who fought to aid a fledgling democracy in the Congo and stem the tide of communism in Africa,” writes “Cold War Navy SEAL” co-author Mary Ann Koenig in her introduction to the book.

“James M. Hawes built and commanded the Force Navale Congolaise, a clandestine mercenary navy at the very tip of the spear, and was point man for a successful little-known paramilitary operation.

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

International Hacker-For-Hire Who Conspired With And Aided Russian FSB Officers Sentenced To 60 Months in Prison

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

Karim Baratov, aka Kay, aka Karim Taloverov, aka Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov, 23, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine, which encompasses all of his remaining assets.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse for the Northern District of California, and Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.  The sentence was handed down today by U.S. District Judge the Honorable Vince Chhabria.

“Criminal hackers and the countries that sponsor them make a grave mistake when they target American companies and citizens.  We will identify them wherever they are and bring them to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “I would like to thank Canadian law enforcement authorities for their tremendous assistance in bringing Baratov to justice.  We will continue to work with our foreign partners to find and prosecute those who would violate our laws.”

“The sentence imposed reflects the seriousness of hacking for hire,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tse.  “Hackers such as Baratov ply their trade without regard for the criminal objectives of the people who hire and pay them.  These hackers are not minor players; they are a critical tool used by criminals to obtain and exploit personal information illegally.  In sentencing Baratov to five years in prison, the Court sent a clear message to hackers that participating in cyber attacks sponsored by nation states will result in significant consequences.”

“It's difficult to overstate the unprecedented nature of this conspiracy, in which members of a foreign intelligence service directed and empowered criminal hackers to conduct a massive cyber-attack against 500 million victim user accounts,” said Special Agent in Charge Bennett.  “Today's sentencing demonstrates the FBI's unwavering commitment to disrupt and prosecute malicious cyber actors despite their attempts to conceal their identities and hide from justice.”

Baratov, a Canadian national and resident, and three other defendants, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s domestic law enforcement and intelligence service, were charged with a number of offenses relating to the hacking of webmail accounts at Yahoo and other service providers.  In particular, the defendants were charged in a computer hacking conspiracy in which the two Russian FSB officers hired criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and abroad, which resulted in the unauthorized access of Yahoo’s network and the spear phishing of webmail accounts at other service providers between January 2014 and December 2016.

Baratov’s role in the charged conspiracy was to hack webmail accounts of individuals of interest to his coconspirator who was working for the FSB and send those accounts’ passwords to Dokuchaev in exchange for money.

The Indictment is available here, and its allegations are summarized in greater detail in the press release that attended the unsealing of the Indictment on March 15, 2017.

Baratov has been detained since his arrest in Canada in March 2017.  Baratov waived extradition to the United States and was transferred to the Northern District of California in August 2017.  In November 2017, Baratov pleaded guilty to Count One and Counts Forty through Forty-Seven of the Indictment.  Count One charged Baratov, Dokuchaev, Sushchin and Belan with conspiring to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by stealing information from protected computers and causing damage to protected computers.  Counts Forty through Forty-Seven charged Baratov and Dokuchaev with aggravated identity theft.  As part of his plea agreement, Baratov not only admitted to agreeing and attempting to hack at least 80 webmail accounts on behalf of one of his FSB co-conspirators, but also to hacking more than 11,000 webmail accounts in total from in or around 2010 until his March 2017 arrest by Canadian authorities.  In addition to any prison sentence, Baratov agreed to pay restitution to his victims, and to pay a fine up to $2,250,000, at $250,000 per count, with any assets he has remaining after satisfying a restitution award.

The FBI, led by the San Francisco Field Office, conducted the investigation that resulted in the charges in the Indictment.  The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with support from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. 

Liberals Gone Wild: Starbucks Opens Door To Homeless, Drug Problems With Anti-Discrimination Recipe

As I noted in my Washington Times piece on the Philadelphia Starbucks incident, an open door policy on restrooms will attract the homeless, drug addicts and the mentally ill, which will put off paying customers.

Valerie Richardson at the Washington Times offers a piece on Starbuck’s new liberal restroom policy.

With its decision to allow the non-paying public unlimited access to its cafes, Starbucks may have traded one grande problem for another.

The Seattle-based coffee giant closed more than 8,000 shops for a half-day Tuesday to conduct racial-bias training with 175,000 partners, or employees, absorbing an estimated $12 million hit in response to the high-profile arrests of two black men last month at a Philadelphia café.

While the workshop drew skepticism — liberals noted that such one-day diversity exercises rarely change behavior, and conservatives called the event a “reeducation camp” — the long-term dilemma for Starbucks lies with how much leeway it’s willing to give its non-paying customers.

The come-one, come-all policy announced earlier this month arrived even as fast-food joints, libraries and other public establishments have increasingly cut back access in order to avoid becoming homeless havens and drug dens amid the opioid and heroin crisis.

“Do you really want to deal with a mass of homeless people or whoever is in there — could be drug-addicted, you don’t know — when you’re there with your kids?” asked NBC host Megyn Kelly on her show Tuesday.

In reality, many Starbucks stores, particularly those in suburban, residential and rural areas, have long allowed non-paying customers to loiter and take advantage of the facilities, but the other outlets often had a reason for their tighter policies — problems with a disruptive clientele.

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

You can also read my Washington Times piece on Starbucks via the below link: 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

United States Settles Lawsuit Alleging That Contractor Falsely Overcharged The U.S. Navy For Ship Husbanding Services

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

Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited and certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, Inchcape) have agreed to pay $20,000,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly overbilling the U.S. Navy under contracts for ship husbanding services, the Department of Justice announced today.  Inchcape is a marine services contractor headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Inchcape provided goods and services to Navy ships at ports in several regions throughout the world, including southwest Asia, Africa, Panama, North America, South America and Mexico.  Inchcape provided ships with food and other subsistence items, waste removal, telephone services, ship-to-shore transportation, force protection services and local transportation.  The lawsuit alleged that from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape knowingly overbilled the Navy for these services by submitting invoices that overstated the quantity of goods and services provided, billing at rates in excess of applicable contract rates, and double-billing for some goods and services.

“Federal contractors may only charge the government for costs allowed by their federal contracts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will take action against contractors that knowingly submit inflated claims to the armed forces—or any other agency of the United States—as those inflated claims wrongfully divert taxpayer dollars.”

“We trust contractors supporting our warfighters to act with the utmost integrity and expect them to comply with their obligations to bill the government as called for by their contracts,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu.  “This settlement reflects our Office’s strong commitment to holding accountable those who violate these fundamental principles, no matter where they may be located.”

"This settlement demonstrates that the Department of the Navy will continue to hold contractors accountable for the agreements they make to supply our fleet,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “The Department expects strict adherence to higher standards within the Department and expects the same from its contractors."

“Fraud is an abuse of the system that siphons resources away from the American warfighter,” said Jeremy Gauthier, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Washington D.C. field office.  “NCIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold responsible those who would put personal gain above corporate integrity.”

The lawsuit was brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by three former employees of Inchcape, Noah Rudolph, Andrea Ford and Lawrence Cosgriff.  Under the act, a private citizen may bring suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery.  The government may intervene in the case, as it did here.  The False Claims Act allows the government to recover treble damages and penalties from those who violate it.  As part of today’s resolution, the whistleblowers will receive approximately $4.4 million.

The case was handled jointly by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, with assistance from the Department of the Navy and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The case is captioned United States ex rel. Rudolph v. Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited, et al., No. 1:10-cv-01109 (D.D.C).  The claims alleged in the case are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Monday, May 28, 2018

We Few. We Happy Few. We Band Of Brothers: Shakespeare's Lesson For Memorial Day

The New York Post Editorial Board offers a look back at Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day inspires mixed emotions: pride in the valor of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom; sorrow that such self-sacrifice should have been necessary. Pride in past valor may be best expressed in the St. Crispin’s Day speech from “Henry V” (Act IV, Scene iii), delivered by the young king on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.

St. Crispin’s Day

By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:       

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

You can also watch Sir Laurence Olivier perform the speech via the below link:

Note: The above photo is of actor Sir Laurence Olivier in Henry V.   

Memorial Day 2018

On This Day In History Ian Fleming, Creator Of James Bond, Was Born

On this day in 1908 Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and author of From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Dr No and other classic thrillers, was born.

You can read my Crime Beat columns about Ian Fleming’s life and work via the below links:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Ian Fleming’s WWII experience as a naval intelligence officer via the below link:

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

From Street To Paper: On This Day In History Crime Writer Dashiell Hammett Was Born

On this day in 1894 Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man and other crime classics, was born.

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

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Dashiell Hammett’s The Big Book of the Continental Op via the below link:

And you can read my Crime Beat column on Dashiell Hammett via the below link:

The Wounded Printed Page Strikes Back

Wesley Pruden at the Washington Times offers his take on print newspapers.

Fake news is everywhere, cluttering desktops, iPads, laptops, iPhones and all the other manifestations of the post-literate era when it’s just too much trouble to find a reliable read.

Who needs to read when there’s such an abundance of twits clogging up Twitterworld with the trivia, the trifling and the picayune — misinformation, usually the work of innocents, and disinformation, always the work of rogues spreading deliberate lies, exaggerations and confusion.

Farhad Manjoo, a technology correspondent for The New York Times, was tired of it all. Six months ago, he turned off all his digital news notifications, unplugged social networks, said goodbye to the cacophony and other noise of the news feed and took the radical step of subscribing to, of all things, three ink-on-paper newspapers and a weekly magazine.

He wanted to “slow-jam the news” but still wanted to know what was going on in the world. He was determined to find sources that furnished depth and prized accuracy over speed. It was an experiment, relying on print for news and not on “social media.” He learned several interesting things.

What he learned first was that the traditional formula taught to generations of cub reporters — the opening paragraph must answer the five W’s, who, what, why, when and where, and sometimes the how — is no longer in the curriculum. It’s now, he discovered, “more like a never-ending stream of commentary, one that does more to distort your understanding of the world than illuminate it.”

Commentary precedes and overpowers facts. The point of the story is often submerged in the 12th paragraph, sometimes deliberately so, where a reader may never see it because he gave up after the third paragraph. Relying on social media for the news, Mr. Manjoo learned, “is what other people are saying about the news rather than the news [itself] and that makes us susceptible to misinformation.”

Perhaps the most important thing he learned is that it takes time, and experience and willingness, to sort fact from fiction and a lot of “news” on the Internet has never been sorted out. “Smartphones and social networks are giving us facts about the news much faster than we can make sense of them, letting speculation and misinformation fill the gap.” He might have included disinformation, too, because disinformation, the deliberate fuzzing and invention of facts, is worst of all.

The sorting of fiction from facts, he discovered, “was the surprise blessing of the newspaper. I was getting the news a day old, but in the delay between when the news happened and when it showed up on my front door hundreds of professionals had done the hard work for me.”

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

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Birthday To The Duke: On This Day In History Actor John Wayne Was Born

On this day in 1907 the late, great American actor John Wayne was born.

John Wayne in one of my favorite actors. I love his westerns with director John Ford, such as The Searchers, Fort Apache, The Horse Soldiers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. And I also love John Wayne's war films with John Ford, such as They Were Expendable and The Wings of Eagles.

I also love The Alamo, which John Wayne directed as well as starred in. And I love The Green Berets, which the Duke also directed and starred in. 

Only the Duke had the courage to make a pro-Vietnam War and pro-military film in 1968 when most of the media and a portion of the public was against the war. The media by and large hated the film, but the most of the public loved it.

I also love True Grit and The Shootist, John Wayne's last film.

Like millions of his fans, I can watch John Wayne films over and over. He was a great actor and a great American.  

You can read about John Wayne's life and work via the below link:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Defense Department Honors Fallen Service Members For Memorial Day

Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2018 — The Defense Department is paying tribute to fallen members for the Memorial Day holiday, honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation.

“For many, Memorial Day weekend signifies the start of summer,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said today at a news briefing with the director of the Joint Staff, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.

“It can be easy to overlook the significance of Memorial Day and what it means to our nation, especially the service members who continue to defend our freedoms every day,” she said.

White continued, “We celebrate Memorial Day in honor of the brave men and women who died while serving in the military.”

Moment of Silence

She invited reporters to pause with her in reverence for the fallen: “As we head into the holiday weekend, please join me in a moment of silence for those we have lost in service to our great nation.”

More than 1,000 Old Guard soldiers today were placing flags at Arlington National Cemetery at each headstone and at every column in the Columbarium and niche walls as a part of the annual “Flags In” ceremony ahead of Memorial Day.

On May 28, the federal holiday, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington conducts a presidential armed forces full honor wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to be followed by an observance program hosted by the Defense Department in Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater.

Note: In the above U.S. Army photo Army Sgt. Armando Miller, with 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, places a U.S. flag on a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. on May 24, 2018. Old Guard soldiers place flags at the graves each year for the “Flags In” event ahead of Memorial Day 

Explore James Bond's Real-Life Origins at Bletchley Park: This Exhibition Is Licensed To Spill About Bond's Creator Ian Fleming And His Real-Life Spy Work.

Richard Trenholm at offers a piece on an exhibition on James Bond author Ian Fleming (seen in the above and below photos) and the code-breaking center Bletchley Park.

The name's Bletchley. Bletchley Park.

The real-life espionage roots of the world's most famous fictional spy are revealed in a new exhibition exploring James Bond 007's origins in the wartime work of his creator, Ian Fleming.

Fleming created Bond in 1953 and the deadly spy's adventures have been entertaining us in print and on film ever since. But Bond's history goes back to Fleming's own experience as an intelligence officer during World War II. Fleming visited the then-secret but now legendary codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and other scientists and engineers laid the groundwork for modern computing with their pioneering cryptography work.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Ian Fleming’s wartime experiences and the commando unit he created via the below link:

Navy SEAL Receives Medal Of Honor For Afghanistan Actions In 2002

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below information:

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2018 — Sitting in the White House reading the citation for the Medal of Honor doesn’t give the real flavor of why retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer and special warfare operator Britt K. Slabinski (seen in the above and below photos) is receiving the award.

The nicely air conditioned room with comfortable chairs, impeccable floors, historic artwork and gilt on many surfaces isn’t right, somehow.

The dispassionate words on the award talk of Slabinski’s heroism in assaulting bunkers, rallying his men, and going back into the center of the firefight.

The White House is literally half a world away from a mountain in Afghanistan in 2002, where Slabinski -- and America -- lost seven good men.

When the master chief talks of the action, you realize he is reliving his time atop Takur Ghar -- a 10,000-foot mountain near Ghazni, on March 4, 2002. He is remembering his decisions. He is remembering what he felt. And he is remembering his brothers who were killed.

He speaks in present tense, because in his mind’s eye. It is still happening.

‘I Was Just Doing My Job’

He believes he did nothing special. “I was just doing my job that day,” Slabinski said during an interview.

Slabinski -- then a senior chief petty officer -- and his men were just supposed to set up an overwatch position on the mountain to support the conventional forces in the valley below. “Now the enemy gets a vote,” he said. “We plan, we train, we rehearse and we rehearse some more for every possible contingency, but sometimes the fog and friction of war is just out of your control and a leader has to adapt.”

The team was aboard an Army MH-47 helicopter and as it was landing, well dug-in al-Qaida fighters opened up. “When we land, the ramp goes down,” he said. “I’m standing on the very back of the helicopter … and almost immediately take an RPG rocket to the side of the aircraft. It goes off, fills the aircraft full of smoke and we are getting shot up right away. There’s bullets flying through the aircraft the size of your finger [from] 12.7 machine guns that were up there.”

The pilot was able to take off, but the bird was wounded and experienced what Slabinski called “the worst turbulence you could imagine.”

Those gyrations caused Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts to fall off the ramp. The crew chief grabbed Roberts’ pack, and the weight of the SEAL pulled him off the ramp, too. But the crew chief was tethered into the aircraft and was able to get back in. Roberts fell 10 feet into the meter-deep snow.

“It happens that fast,” Slabinski said as he snapped his fingers.

He told the pilot that he had lost a man, but with the chopper’s hydraulics shot out, there was no way the bird could circle and retrieve him. “[The pilot] was flying a brick,” Slabinski said. “It was basically a controlled crash into the enemy-held valley.”

The master chief assessed the situation. “Now my mission originally was to support the overwatch, then my teammate Neil fell out, and now I have a downed helicopter I have to deal with,” he said.

Calling For Support

The first problem he dealt with was the helicopter, and he called in a second aircraft to take the crew and team to a safe place. Once there, Slabinski was able to focus his attention on Neil.

The information he received was Roberts was alive. “I knew there was a superior enemy force up there and they had heavier weapons than I had,” he said.

The enemy, the cold, the altitude -- “Everything that could be stacked against us, was stacked against us going back, and I had the feeling that this was a one-way trip,” he said. “I knew though, that if I go now, there’s a chance I could rescue Neil. I knew if I tried to develop a battle plan more on my terms, it would certainly be better, but I knew Neil didn’t have that time.”

The weight was on Slabinski’s shoulders. “I remember sitting in the helicopter,” he said. “The [rotors are] turning, it’s cold, trying to sort through the tactical piece of it … and this thought keeps coming back to me: If I go now what’s the cost going to be versus the cost if I wait. If you are the leader and you have peoples’ lives that you are responsible for, the decisions don’t come easy.”

This was Slabinski’s loneliest moment. He was sitting in the chopper with a headset on and people are talking to him. He was thinking of all the tactical problems and the lives. “And this thought kept coming back to me, and it’s the first line of the Boy Scout Oath … ‘On my honor, I will do my best,’” said Slabinski, who attained the rank of Eagle Scout at his hometown troop in Northampton, Massachusetts “The only thing that is in the back of my mind is, ‘On my honor I will do my best, On my honor I will do my best, On my honor I will do my best.’

“That’s when I said, ‘I’m gonna go do this.’”

The master chief assigned his men jobs, and the pilot of the first aircraft, Army Chief Warrant Officer Al Mack, went up to Slabinski and told him he would be flying them back in the new MH-47, even though he had just survived a harrowing experience with the first helicopter.

There was no other place to land, so the team had to go right back to the place the first bird took the fire. As the chopper took off, it got quiet for Slabinski and he thought of his son, who was 6 years old at the time. “I remember saying, ‘I love you. Sorry for what’s to come. Be great,’” he said. “Then I put it in another room in my brain and went on with my duties.”

Enemy Fire

This Chinook also took fire coming in to the landing area, and as soon as the ramp went down, the team went off the back of the ramp. Two men went to the right, two to the left and the master chief and Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, an Air Force combat controller, went out together.

Slabinski and Chapman were hit by a burst of automatic weapons fire. “The burst hit John and he went down,” Slabinski said. “The bullets from the same burst went through my clothes on each side, and I jumped behind a rock.”

The belt-fed weapon kept firing at them. “I looked for John and he is lying in a very odd position, and I look to my other guys and they are engaged with another dug-in position and the two to my left are engaged there. There are enemy muzzle flashes on three sides.”

There is no cover, and Slabinski tosses two grenades at the bunker, but the position is too well dug in. He looks to his men and sees Chapman still in the same odd position and the others engaging the enemy. His M60 gunner is next to me. “I have a 40mm grenade launcher … and I have six grenades,” he said. “I’m too close to the big bunker because they won’t go off. They have to spin to arm.”

Firefight Continues

He fired at the farther bunkers and silenced those, but the big bunker remains a deadly problem. He has the M60-gunner fire on the bunker and he wants to charge to the bunker to clear it under the cover of that automatic fire. Before he could do that, a grenade flies out of the bunker and explodes right in front of the barrel of the M60, wounding the gunner.

Slabinski again assesses the situation. “The gunner is down. John hasn’t moved and my other two guys are still engaged in contact,” he said. “The plan in my head isn’t working so I have to do something different.”

He decided to get his small band out of direct fire. As he is doing that another SEAL was hit in the leg from the same machine gun Slabinski was trying to take out. “I sent the wounded over first and I crawled over to John, looking for some sign of life from John and didn’t get anything,” he said.
The place he chose to seek shelter from the fire was just about 30 feet away over the side of the mountain.

Mortar Fire

Slabinski called for support from an AC-130 gunship to hit the bunkers. At the same time as the aircraft was hitting the mountain he noticed shell fragments were landing around the team. Slabinski thinks at first it is the AC-130, but it is from an enemy mortar that is ranging his position.

He moves again to a more protected area and now the U.S. Army Ranger quick reaction force is coming in. The first chopper is hit and crashes on the top of the mountain. Slabinski contacted the second bird and it lands on another spit of land and the Rangers work their way to the SEAL position and attack up the mountain to secure the top.

The master chief can’t move his wounded to the top of the mountain, so he moved to a place he could secure and await medevac, which came that night.

Estimates of the number of al-Qaida fighters on the top of that mountain range between 40 and 100. They had heavy weapons galore with automatic machine guns, mortars, RPGs and recoilless rifles. It was the headquarters for al-Qaida operating against U.S. forces engaged in Operation Anaconda. The SEAL team went in to try to rescue Roberts with six men.

Footage taken by a remotely piloted vehicle and examined later showed that Chapman was not dead. The technical sergeant regained consciousness and engaged the enemy killing two of them -- one in hand-to-hand combat. “I was 100 percent convinced that John was dead,” Slabinski said. “I never lost track of John.”

He never would have left the airman on that mountain, he said, if he thought for an instant that Chapman was alive.

For his actions that day, Slabinski received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor. As part of then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s directive to the services to re-examine all of the valor awards beginning in 2001, the Navy recommended upgrading that award to the Medal of Honor. The master chief -- who retired from the Navy in 2014 -- received a call from President Donald J. Trump in March telling him of the decision.

The master chief is conflicted about the award. He believes he was just doing his job and still feels the loss of the seven men -- Navy, Army and Air Force -- he served with that day. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about them,” he said. “If I could give up this medal to have them back, I would.” 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

One Year After Sir Roger Moore Died, Volvo Pays Tribute

I was not a fan of the late actor Sir Roger Moore's lighthearted portrayal of Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond, but I was a huge fan of his earlier portrayal on TV of Leslie Charteris' cool character Simon Templar in The Saint when I was a teenager in the 1960s.

James Gilboy at offers a piece on Sir Roger Moore and his Volvo P1800 from The Saint on the one year anniversary of the actor's death.

Sir Roger Moore died a year ago today, May 23, 2017. The actor was best known for his role as a certain martini-swilling, suave secret agent, James Bond aka 007. Prior to playing the Bond character, he had the role of Simon Templar in The Saint. As one of the most successful British spy shows of the 1960s, Moore brought fame to the car of the show, the Volvo P1800 sports car, as much as the title role.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Sir Roger Moore's last book via the below link:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Justice Department Recognizes Maryland Detective For Capturing Pedophile, Identifying 42 Victims

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

The Department of Justice today honored Detective George R. Higgs of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office in La Plata, Maryland, for his investigation that resulted in the arrest of a sexual predator and the identification of 42 adolescent victims.

Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio presented Higgs with the Missing Children’s Child Protection Award during the Justice Department’s National Missing Children’s Day ceremony. The award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement officers who make a significant investigative or program contribution to protect children from abuse or victimization.

“Investigative and preventive law enforcement efforts are critical in the fight to stop child exploitation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “The Justice Department proudly commends Detective Higgs for his dedication to preventing child victimization and bringing this sex offender to justice.”

Higgs began to investigate in November 2016 after a 16-year-old student complained about receiving sexually suggestive text messages. Higgs determined the messages were coming from an employee for the Charles County Board of Education. A search of the suspect’s home led to the discovery of computers and cell phones containing photos and videos of the suspect sexually assaulting local children in both his residence and at local schools. Interviews with students identified 42 victims—including the original complainant—between the ages of 13 and 17. Higgs’ work with prosecutors resulted in 219 charges of sexual assault, production of child pornography and other charges against the suspect, who was sentenced in federal court in March and in the Circuit Court of Charles County, Maryland, in April.

In addition to Higgs, the Department also recognized other law enforcement officers for their investigative efforts in sexual exploitation of children cases and a private citizen who intervened to rescue an abducted baby. Panuccio also recognized Eden Hoffmann, a fifth grader at Huron Elementary School in Clinton Township, Michigan, as the 19th winner of the National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.   

Additional information about National Missing Children’s Day is available online.

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at

FBI: Latest Internet Crime Report Released: IC3 Says Victim Losses Exceeded $1.4 Billion in 2017

The FBI released the below information:

Beginning in 2015, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) forwarded multiple complaints to the FBI’s Houston Field Office regarding fraudulent offers of investment opportunities by perpetrators who impersonated U.S. bank officials and financial consultants over the Internet and telephone. Victims in various countries, including the U.S., were deceived into believing they would receive millions of dollars from joint ventures with certain U.S. banks if they paid up-front fees—ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars—to participate. According to court documents, victims lost more than $7 million collectively in this scam.

The complaints submitted by victims to the IC3 helped investigators uncover this elaborate international advance fee and money laundering scheme, and in February of this year, six individuals were federally charged in Houston in connection with the scam.

The IC3, which has received more than 4 million victim complaints from 2000 through 2017, routinely analyzes complaints like these and disseminates data to the appropriate law enforcement agencies at all levels for possible investigation. The IC3 also works to identify general trends related to current and emerging Internet-facilitated crimes, and it publicizes those findings through periodic alerts and an annual report.

And today, the IC3 is releasing its latest annual publication—the 2017 Internet Crime Report—which reveals that the center received more than 300,000 complaints last year with reported losses of more than $1.4 billion.

If you use the Internet, the 2017 Internet Crime Report is a document you should read carefully. You’ll learn a great deal, including:

What the most common crime types reported by victims were (the top three were non-payment and non-delivery, personal data breaches, and phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming scams);

What the most common crime types in terms of dollar loss were (top three were business e-mail compromise/e-mail account compromise, non-payment/non-delivery, and investment scams);

How the IC3 is monitoring trending scams such as business e-mail compromise, ransomware, tech support fraud, elder fraud, and extortion;

Which age groups are more likely to be victimized by Internet-facilitated criminal activity (people over 60 rank number one in terms of victimization and dollar losses);

What victims can do after reporting the crime to the IC3 (take steps to block or freeze bank or credit card accounts, dispute charges, attempt recovery of lost funds, etc.);

Where each U.S. state ranks in terms of the number of victims of Internet-facilitated frauds, dollar losses, and criminal subjects (California has the top spot on all three lists, while Texas and Florida take turns at the number two and number three slots on the lists); and

Which IC3 initiatives directly support law enforcement (remote search capability of its database available to all sworn officers, and the Operation Wellspring initiative, which helps build state and local law enforcement’s cyber investigative capabilities).

The success of the above-mentioned Houston investigation is just one example of the impact that the IC3 can have on Internet-facilitated criminal activity—and proof positive that the short amount of time it takes individuals who think they have been scammed to go the IC3 website and submit a complaint form is well worth it.

“We want to encourage everyone who suspects they have been victimized by online fraudsters to report it to us,” says IC3 chief Donna Gregory. “The more data we have, the more effective we can be in raising public awareness, reducing the number of victims who fall prey to these schemes, and increasing the number of criminals who are identified and brought to justice.”

In conjunction with today’s release of the IC3’s 2017 Internet Crime Report and in support of the center’s #StopCyberCrime campaign, the FBI is releasing a 30-second video public service announcement (PSA) featuring actress Kirsten Vangsness, who plays a tech-savvy FBI analyst on the current television program Criminal Minds.

The PSA is intended to promote awareness of Internet crimes and scams—like business e-mail compromise, ransomware, tech support fraud, non-payment/non-delivery, hacking, and phishing—and encourages the public to report suspected criminal cyber activity to the IC3.

You can read the report via the below link: