Sunday, September 30, 2018

The New Mob Is Wising Up And Keeping Quiet

Brad Hamilton at the New York Post looks at the new, quiet lowkey Cosa Nostra.                         

Meet the new mob — same as the old mob.

Thirty-three years after John Gotti carried out his audacious hit on crime boss Paul Castellano, which flouted Mafia rules and brought a wave of devastating prosecutions under the Dapper Don’s brash reign, New York’s five crime families have reverted to their old-guard ways.
They’re keeping quiet.
No more press conferences or TV appearances. No more weekly meetings with capos at favorite restaurants or social clubs. No more shootouts between warring factions. No more wire rooms for taking wagers.
Instead, gangsters try to keep their heads down and earn as they’ve done for decades, with drug dealing, loan-sharking, running strip clubs and protection rackets and skimming from union construction jobs, cops and prosecutors say. Bookmaking is still a lively trade, but most of it is done online using offshore accounts, not at smoke-filled gambling dens.
Crimefighters say the new old way is aimed at avoiding police scrutiny and preventing turncoats from selling out their fellow wiseguys.

"Everybody’s a rat,” said an ex-NYPD detective who continues to track mob business. “You can’t trust anybody anymore.” 

Lieutenants and soldiers avoid gathering in groups so as to be less vulnerable to the wiretap or surveillance photo. And with suspicion permeating all activity, families have turned to veteran, low-profile leaders, including geezer gangsters Carmine Persico, 85, and John “Sonny” Franzese, 101, who hated Gotti’s gabby flamboyance. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mob Talk 22: The Wild West In South Philly - A Look Back At The Most Violent Mob War In Philadelphia

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser offer their latest Mob Talk video.

The two crime reporters look back at the most violent mob war in South Philadelphia history.
You can watch the video via the below link:
You can also watch Mob Talk 21, the previous video that dealt with the South Philadelphia neighborhood of Packer Park (I lived in the Packer Park Apartments for three years in the late 1970s) and an upcoming Grand Jury, via the below link:

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Evolution Of The Police Procedural: 50 Years And 2 Golden Ages Of Cops On Screen

Bruce K. Riordon at looks back at how police procedurals have evolved and he highlights 12 movies and TV series.

All such lists are subjective, and I concur with Mr. Riordon’s pick of The French Connection, Bullitt, Serpico, The Wire and others. But I would knocked off a couple and added The Prince of the City, a truly great film that was based on a true story. I would have also added Fuzz, which was perhaps the best film adaptation of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct police procedural series.  

Once cannot talk about police procedurals, it seems to me, without mentioning the late, great crime writer Ed McBain. (And Fuzz started Burt Reynolds, who recently passed). 
Since 1968, when Bullitt first shot into theaters turning Steve McQueen and his Ford Mustang Fastback into global icons, the “police procedural” has been a staple of crime stories on screens big and small.  Bullitt’s smashing success, both commercially and artistically, ushered in the first “Golden Age” of the police procedural. The genre’s mainstream popularity has ebbed and flowed since those heady days, but for crime aficionados, it has never faded. Towards the end of the ‘Aughts, the procedural was disappearing from the big screen, as Hollywood became increasingly preoccupied with cartoon super-heroes. Movie studios had little interest in the gritty social realism and visceral excitement that a great cop story provides.

HBO resurrected the genre. When the first season of The Wire debuted on HBO in 2002, the minds of police procedural fans everywhere were blown. The Wire was every bit as compelling, and every bit as badass, as Bullitt. But it felt completely new. Thanks to the long-form television series, the police procedural is experiencing a second “Golden Age.”

Over the past five decades, the genre has evolved with the times. But certain core elements have remained constant. We watch police procedurals to get up close and personal with detectives at work. What we see is not always—not even often—pretty.  But we can’t stop watching.  The detectives at the heart of the best procedurals believe that the they are the last best hope for justice in a compromised world and they won’t stop until they take its full measure. No matter what the cost.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Frederick Forsyth: The One Lesson I've From Life: If You Want An Interesting Life, Go Out And Get One

My Patricia Nicol at the Daily Mail offers an interview with one of my favorite writers, Frederick Forsyth, author of the classic thriller, The Day of the Jackal, a memoir, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, and his new thriller, The Fox.

My days of dodging bullets are well and truly over. Still, I’ve had an exciting life. I’ve seen around 70 countries, scuba-dived, gone game-fishing and been in a few firefights.

I’ve had exceptional luck to emerge without a scratch from some places. Bullets have missed me, bombs have fallen too far away to hurt me and mortars have landed almost at my feet.

Former RAF pilot and foreign correspondent Frederick Forsyth, 80, revealed how advice from his father to go out and get an interesting life influenced his decisions 

I believe a young man or woman is dye-stamped with their character between the ages of four and 18. In my case, the primordial influence in my boyhood was my father. He taught me his standards and they’ve never left me.

He told me: ‘Look, lad, you’ve only got one life. It’s not a rehearsal. Not one hour will ever be repeated. Make up your mind, young, what kind of life you want to have, then go for it. Basically, there are two choices: interesting or dull.’ 

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Frederick Forsyth via the below link:

Revealed: Smirking Salisbury 'Hitman' Is Unmasked As Decorated GRU Colonel Who Was Awarded Russian Military's Highest Honour By Vladimir Putin After His Service In Chechnya And Ukraine

The Daily Mail offers a piece that identifies the Russian hitman in London as a GRU colonel.

The smirking Salisbury hitman wanted for poisoning Sergei Skripal has been unmasked as a decorated GRU colonel who was awarded Russian military's highest honour by Vladimir Putin after his service in Chechnya and Ukraine

The real identity of one of the two assassins, identified by police as Ruslan Boshirov, is reportedly Colonel Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga, 39. He was made a Hero of the Russian Federation by decree of the president during a secret ceremony in 2014.

The disclosure, uncovered by investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat in conjunction with The Telegraph, exposes as lies Putin's claims that the Skripals' would-be killers were innocent 'civilians'. 

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bill Cosby Gets 3 To 10 Years For 2004 Sex Assault

The Washington Times reports that Bill Cosby received a sentence of 3 to 10 years in prison for his 2004 sex assault conviction.

You can read the piece and watch a video via the below link:

Newly-Released FBI Crime Data Shows Violent Crime Decline In 2017

The FBI released the below information:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released the 2017 edition of its Crime in the United States (CIUS) report, a part of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The report, which covers January-December 2017, reflects that after two consecutive, historic increases in violent crime, in the first year of the Trump Administration the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline.  The report estimates that the nationwide violent crime rate decreased by approximately one percent in 2017, while the nationwide homicide rate decreased by nearly one and a half percent.  
“After historic increases in violent crime in 2015 and 2016, we are beginning to see encouraging signs,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “But our work is not done. While we have made progress, violent crime and drug trafficking continue to plague our communities and destroy the lives of innocent, law-abiding Americans. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice has restored common sense criminal charging and sentencing policies, surged resources to jurisdictions facing some of the highest levels of violence and drug abuse, targeted enforcement efforts against the most violent offenders, and developed innovative approaches to address pervasive crime problems. And we are continuing our steadfast commitment to work with our state, local, and tribal partners across the country to confront the lawlessness, deter violent crime, dismantle criminal organizations and gangs, eradicate the scourge of drug trafficking, and restore the rule of law. The American people deserve no less.” 
The report released today also adjusts and corrects numbers for 2016, showing that the nationwide homicide rate actually increased by 8.8 percent (as opposed to 7.9 percent, as previously reported) in 2016. In 2017, the rate of rapes increased by 2.2 percent, while the aggravated assault rate increased by 0.3 percent and the robbery rate decreased by 4.7 percent. Aggravated assaults were 65 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2017, while robberies and rapes were 25.6 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Murder accounted for 1.4 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2017.

For the full report click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Annotated Big Sleep'

The Washington Times published my review of The Annotated Big Sleep.

“Raymond Chandler once wrote that ‘some literary antiquarian of a rather special type may one day think it worthwhile to run through the files of the pulp detective magazines’ to watch as ‘the popular mystery story shed its refined good manners and went native,’” the editors of “The Annotated Big Sleep” write in their introduction of the late, great Raymond Chandler’s classic crime novel.

“He might have said, as the genre of detective fiction kicked out the Britishism and became American. A chief agent of this transformation was Raymond Chandler himself. ‘The Big Sleep’ was Chandler’s first novel, and it introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the archetypal wisecracking, world-weary private detective who now occupies a permanent place in the American imagination.”

The editors note that in their annotated edition of “The Big Sleep” they trace the many veins of meaning into the intricate novel, which they call “a ripping good story.” The editors inform us that  Raymond Chandler (July 23, 1888 March 26, 1959) did not think of himself as primarily a “mystery” writer, calling his novels and stories only “ostensibly” mysteries. But his work was confined within the limitations of genre fiction during his lifetime and many years after, even though he was lauded while he was alive by W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, T.S. Eliot, Graham Greene and Christopher Isherwood.

But today, as the editors point out, Chandler is taught in university courses and Le Monde voted “The Big Sleep” one of the “100 Books of the Century.” The novel was also made into two films, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in the 1946 film, and Robert Mitchum portraying Philip Marlowe in the 1978 film. (Dick Powell, Robert Montgomery, James Garner and many other actors have portrayed Philip Marlowe in films based on Raymond Chandler’s other novels).

… “I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.” So begins the well-known and celebrated opening that introduces the reader to Philip Marlowe, the first-person narrator of “The Big Sleep.”

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler (seen in the above photo) via the below link: 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Look Back At Eric Ambler, The Father Of The Modern Thriller

As a teenager in the 1960s I devoured crime and spy thrillers. I especially loved the British spy thriller writers, such as Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Len Deighton, Frederick Forsyth and John le Carre.
And I’ve read, and reread, nearly all of Eric Ambler’s fine thrillers, especially The Mask of Dimitrios, one of my favorite thrillers.
Neil Nyren at offers a look back at this late, great thriller writer.
Eric Ambler was the father of the modern thriller. That’s a big statement, but you don’t need to take my word for it.  John Le CarrĂ© called him “the source on which we all draw,” and Len Deighton, “the man who lit the way for us all.”  Frederick Forsyth said he was the man “who took the spy thriller out of the gentility of the drawing room and into the back streets where it all really happened,” and Graham Greene declared him simply “unquestionably our best thriller writer.” He won many Edgar and CWA Dagger awards, including lifetime achievement honors from both, and in 1981, was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Before Ambler, international thrillers tended to be dominated by such writers as John Buchan, Herman Cyril McNeile (known as “Sapper”), and their many imitators. These books were often rousing adventures, but filled with improbabilities, both of plot and character, plus a hearty jingoism and a well of right-wing, Old World prejudice that would curl your hair today.
Ambler was having none of it. The villains were totally implausible, he wrote in his memoir, titled with typical Amblerian double-meaning, Here Lies, and the hero “could be a tweedy fellow with steel-grey eyes and gun pads on both shoulders or a moneyed dandy with a taste for adventure. He could also be a xenophobic ex-officer with a nasty anti-Semitic streak. None of that really mattered. All he really needed to function as hero was abysmal stupidity combined with superhuman resourcefulness and unbreakable knuckle bones.”
Ambler’s heroes, especially in his brilliant run of between-wars novels published between 1936 and 1940, are very unexceptional sorts, the quintessence of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. They are often engineers or journalists or writers who stumble unexpectedly into danger through a combination of bad judgment and bad luck, and then have no choice but to try to dig themselves out of it on their own, because no one is likely to help them. They are often solidly middle class, raised in a world of black-and-white certainties that they discover has been completely obliterated by an infinite variety of grays.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Secret World: A History Of Intelligence

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Christopher Andrew's The Secret World: A History of Intelligence. 

At hand is a truly magisterial work, a sweeping history that stretches from the biblical era to the present. Christopher Andrew is the leading academic intelligence historian of our time. A professor at the University of Cambridge, he has written a veritable shelf of books on intelligence.

“The Secret World” is a must-read for any person with a serious interest in intelligence. But be forewarned. The more than 800 pages of text require more than a casual scan, but are well worth the investment of serious time.

His evidence, buttressed in 111 pages of documentation sources, is rich with anecdotes and opinions of world leaders who relied on — or ignored — intelligence as a tool of office.

Despite his overall admiration of the intel trade, Mr. Andrew is coldly objective about instances where matters were flubbed. Consider, for instance, Israeli spies who scouted Canaan as the Promised Land centuries ago. The Canaanites, they claimed, “included giants who made them feel no bigger than grasshoppers.” He also notes that some glitches are timeless, citing a biblical operation where spies ended up in a brothel, thus melding “the two oldest professions.”

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Charles Manson At The Whisky: The Bizarre Night When Manson Partied With Hollywood Royalty offers an interesting excerpt from Jeff Guinn’s outstanding biography, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson.

The excerpt deals with the time in 1968 when Charles Manson partied with the Beach Boys' drummer and other music industry celebrities at the Whisky on Sunset Boulevard, known as "the Strip,' in Los Angeles.  

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of Jeff Guinn's Manson via the below link:

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Frederick Forsyth: The Strange Case Of the Russian Spies

Frederick Forsyth, author of the classic thriller The Day of the Jackal and the memoir The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, in his column in the British newspaper the Express offers his take on the suspected GRU agents who allegedly attempted to murder a former Russian GRU officer in London

We all believe in giving credit where it is due and there are two officers in the London Met who deserve a lot of it. It seems this duo have a very special talent: the capacity to recognize a face if they have ever seen it once before. 

Novichok suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have admitted that they were in Salisbury because their friends had been telling them for a long time to go and visit the 'wonderful town'.

Since the Moscow-directed attacks with novichok nerve agent in Salisbury these four eyes have been scanning thousands of hours of CCTV tapes going back months. Mostly they concentrated on the weeks before the attacks and the days immediately after. And finally they got ’em. 

I mean of course the two GRU agents whose faces and passport details have been exposed far and wide, along with the details of their journeys from Moscow to Salisbury and back.

Frederick Forsyth in his column also weighs in on one aspect of Bob Woodward’s new book on President Trump.

One suspects we have all noticed the news from Washington about the devastating book, Fear, by ace investigative journo Bob Woodward – he of Watergate fame – about what he calls the Crazytown in the White House. One of his revelations is that Donald Trump allegedly called for the targeted “termination” of Syrian tyrant Bashar al Assad. This is held up as a terrible thing to suggest.

Just hold the phone a second. The US does actually have a “kill list” of names of those who may be “whacked” without arrest or trial. These terminations are usually of terrorist chiefs in isolated buildings by a drone overhead and make a short paragraph on the inside pages of our papers. But occasionally the US gets up close and personal.

Osama bin Laden received the attention of a team of US Navy Seals in the bedroom of his villa deep inside Pakistan which just happens to be a sovereign state. And for the record, Assad with his chemical bomb attacks on women and children has killed more innocent humans than Osama bin Laden. So..?

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Frederick Forsyth via the below link:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Look Back At Samuel Fuller's Classic Crime Film. 'Underworld USA'

Lee Pfeiffer at offers a review of a crime film I loved as a kid, Samuel Fuller’s Underworld USA. The crime classic is now out on DVD.
Samuel Fuller (seen in the below photo) is today regarded as a revered name among directors. Unlike his peers- John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Howard Hawks, to name but a few- Fuller didn't get much respect when he needed it, at least from critics and studio heads who regarded his talents as workmanlike. 

Consequently, this talented director, screenwriter and occasional novelist and actor, toiled under meager budgets and scant support from studio executives. Fuller was typical of directors of his generation who had come of age during the Great Depression and World War II. 
He had a tough guy persona and had learned to survive on the mean streets of Manhattan where he worked as a crime reporter in the 1930s. Fuller could have landed a cushy job in the military during the war but eschewed the opportunity in favor of volunteering for combat duty in the European campaign. His scripts were tightly-written, no-nonsense affairs and his direction was direct and to-the-point. 

Fuller cut a larger-than-life figure with an out-sized personality and his penchant for indulging in cigars that were so large they looked as though they were inspired by cartoons. Despite the budgetary limitations on his films and the fact that he never enjoyed a career-defining breakaway hit, Fuller's movies have stood the test of time and before he died in 1997, he had witnessed his work being favorably reassessed by a new generation of directors and critics.
"Underworld U.S.A." is one of Fuller's true gems. A 1961 film noir crime story, the movie gave an early career boost to Cliff Robertson but its significance goes much deeper. Although viewed as a typical low budget crime thriller back in the day, the movie is a a true classic of the genre.
The film opens with 14 year-old Tolly Davlin (David Kent), a street-wise product of a crime-infested unnamed big city, witnessing the beating death of the father he idolized by a pack of enforcers from a mob syndicate that he had crossed. Tolly's dad, himself a low-life who was teaching his son how to survive in the urban jungle by being more cunning and ruthless than the competition. Tolly, now orphaned, finds the only friend he has is Sandy (Beatrice Kay), a tough-as-nails saloon owner who takes a maternal interest in Tolly, though he rarely heeds her advice. Tolly is consumed with avenging his father's death. He arranges intentionally builds up a criminal record leading to him being criminal record leading to him being incarcerated in a juvenile detention center- but all the while he is painstakingly following leads about who his father's murderers were and who employed them. 
The story jumps ahead and we find Tolly now a young man in his late twenties (played by Robertson) having been incarcerated in a prison that houses one of the killers, a man who is literally on his death bed in the hospital ward. That doesn't stop Tolly from smothering him with a pillow and making it look like natural causes. When Tolly is released from jail, he reunites with Sandy and has a chance encounter with  a sexy gun moll who is nicknamed Cuddles (Dolores Dorn) who has been marked for death for having failed to carry out a mission for the mob. Tolly saves her life and secretes her in Sandy's apartment while he begins his pursuit of two other men who killed his father that fateful night. Having succeeded in getting his street justice, he goes for bigger game: the syndicate bosses.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:
Note: I’d also recommend Samuel Fuller’s other great films, such as House of Bamboo, Merrill's Marauders, and The Big Red One 

Shaken: Drinking With James Bond And Ian Fleming

The website looks at Shaken, the new book on Ian Fleming’s iconic character James Bond and his drinking pleasures.

Shaken explores James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s writings on the pleasures of drinking, the stories behind the Bond phenomenon and drinks inspired by 007 and his creator.

From the first Ian Fleming James Bond novel Casino Royale (1953) in which agent 007 invents the now famous Vesper Martini, to the immortal lines, ‘shaken and not stirred’, which first appeared in print in Diamonds Are Forever (1956) strong, carefully crafted cocktails are at the glamorous heart of every Bond story. Shaken explores James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s writings on the pleasures of drinking, the stories behind the Bond phenomenon and drinks inspired by 007 and his creator.

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

You can also go to to read about the book. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Corrupt Retired Master Chief Pleads Guilty In ‘Fat Leonard’ Navy Scandal

Geoff Ziezulewicz at the Navy Times offers a piece on the latest case in the U.S. Navy’s ‘Fat Leonard’s bribery and fraud scandal.
A retired master chief pleaded guilty in San Diego last week to taking kickbacks and became the latest casualty in the Navy’s ongoing “Fat Leonard” public corruption scandal. 
Ricarte I. David, 61, copped to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud on Sept. 5, less than a month after prosecutors unveiled a grand jury indictment against him, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
As part of his plea deal, David confessed to receiving luxury hotel stays and envelopes stuffed with cash from the ship servicing contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its portly Malaysian magnate, Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, between 2005 and 2009.
In exchange, David signed off on inflated invoices for water, trash and other port services for vessels in the Japan-based 7th Fleet.
David held key logistics positions in the west Pacific between 2001 and 2010, including stints on the amphibious warship Essex and the aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk and George Washington.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Fat Leonard scandal via the below link:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Former New England Mob Boss 'Cadillac Frank' Salemme Sentenced To Life In Prison reports that the former New England Cosa Nostra crime family boss, “Cadillac Frank” Salemme (seen in the above FBI mugshot), has been sentenced to life in prison.

BOSTON –  Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was unrepentant Thursday as he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 killing of a nightclub owner, declaring that the "real story" will come out one day.

Salemme, the 85-year-old onetime head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra, looked down at the table in front of him and read a document while the children of the man he's convicted of killing described the pain of losing their father and not knowing his whereabouts for more than two decades.

"While there is closure in this case, for me the healing is just beginning," Steven DiSarro's daughter, Colby, told the court. "This is not a movie. This is and has been our life: the story of a family who was robbed of the love and affection of their father."

Salemme and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, were found guilty in June in the slaying of DiSarro, whose remains were discovered in 2016. Weadick also received a mandatory life sentence on Thursday.

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

Secretive Russian GRU Tests Trump With Brazen Tactics

Morgan Chalfant at The Hill offers a piece on the Russian GRU.
 Russia’s secretive military intelligence agency, the GRU, is testing the limits of Western countries with its aggressive tactics and bold operations, prompting action from the Trump administration and some European allies as they seek to counter its behavior.
The Trump administration has sanctioned several GRU officers for launching cyberattacks and has expelled dozens of suspected Russian intelligence officers operating in the U.S. in response to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in England this year. The Effort to thwart the GRU is part of a broader push by the U.S. government to take a firm stance against Russian aggression, one that has at times been overshadowed by President Trump's contradictory statements about Russian interference in the 2016 election and his overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
The operations of the shadowy military intelligence directorate, the modern version of which was founded in the early 1990s, exceed traditional espionage and span a spectrum of aggressive activity. The GRU conducted one of its most brazen operations in 2016 by breaching servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and, according to U.S. intelligence officials and prosecutors, orchestrated the release of hacked emails as part of a broader, coordinated plot by Moscow to interfere in the presidential election.  
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on the GRU via the below link:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Vice President, DoD Leaders Honor Pentagon’s 9/11 Sacrifices

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

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2018 — The terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, sought not just to take the lives of U.S. citizens and crumble buildings; they hoped to break America’s spirit, Vice President Mike Pence said at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial observance here today. They failed, he said. 

“The American people showed on that day and every day since, we will not be intimidated,” the vice president said. “Our spirit cannot be broken.”

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva hosted Pence for the annual remembrance for families and friends of those who fell at the Pentagon. 

Seventeen years ago, terrorists flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. One hundred eighty-nine people perished -- 125 service members and civilians working in the building, and 59 men and women and children aboard the flight.

The losses at the Pentagon, combined with those at New York City’s World Trade Center and in a field crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, totaled 2,977 men, women and children.

A Special Burden

“To the families of the fallen gathered here and all those looking on, the cherished final moments you shared with your loved ones no doubt seem like just yesterday: a goodbye kiss, a tender embrace, or one last wave,” Pence said.

“Just know that your nation understands that, while we all suffered loss that day, we know you bear a special burden,” he added. “But we gather here in the shadow of the building where your loved ones departed this life to say that you do not bear that burden alone. The American people stand with you and we always will.”

The vice president said that even before the smoke cleared and the fires were put out, Americans began to answer the call and step forward to serve the nation. 

“It's amazing to think in the 17 years since that day, nearly 5.5 million Americans volunteered to serve in the armed forces of the United States,” he added. “Those courageous men and women turned a day of tragedy into a triumph of freedom.” 

Hatred Will Not Prevail

Mattis told the families and friends of victims that, “[In] the shadow of our rebuilt Pentagon, we are all part of your larger family. We stand with you every day in honored tribute of the fallen, of your loved ones.”

In that spirit, the secretary added, “this morning we commit ourselves to remembering and honoring the lives that might have been. We keep faith with the innocent who perished. We take solace in their deaths were not in vain, for in their passing they empowered us forever with our enduring sense of purpose. And we remember that hatred disguised in false religious garb to murder innocents will not prevail.”

We remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who fell here in America, and then on far-flung battlefields, he said.

“We salute the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines who nailed our colors to the mast, giving their last full measure of devotion, declaring proudly that Americans do not scare,” Mattis said. 

Strength and Resilience

Together with the families of the fallen, we remember all that is good, true, and beautiful about those we have lost, “And if we remember them, if we honor them by living as they would have us live, if we in the Department of Defense do our best every day to protect America's promise to the world, then we keep our promise to them and to ourselves and to future generations,” the secretary said.

Selva told the audience today’s ceremonies across the country, “inspire us to reflect not only on the nation's strength and resolve after those brutal attacks, but also on the strength and resilience of individual people who continue to carry on, even to thrive, in spite of the pain of losing a loved one.”

The vice chairman said all should take comfort in knowing that those who died imparted a legacy of selfless service, courage and patriotism, and a belief in the high ideals, all of which continue to inspire a new generation of grateful Americans who have answered the call to serve. 

“So today, let us reaffirm the commitment that as long as we have breath to breathe, our military members will defend this nation,” the vice chairman said. “We will ensure that future generations of America are able to enjoy the same freedoms and liberties that we inherited.”

Sunday, September 9, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of 'Inspector Oldfield And The Black Hand Society: America's Original Gangsters And The U.S. Postal Detective That Brought Them To Justice'

The Washington Times published my review of Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society: America’s Original Gangsters and the Postal Detective That Brought Them to Justice.

 “On the night of April 18, 1908, in the railroad town Bellefontaine, Ohio, eighteen-year-old Charles Demar walked into the fruit shop he owned with his uncle, Salvatore Cira, and put a bullet into his uncle’s head,” opens the story of a Post Office inspector who investigated Black Hand criminals — with a suitable bang.

When the police arrived, the victim appeared not to speak English, which was not uncommon among the roughly six million Italian immigrants across the United States at the time. Although the Italians were preyed upon by the violent extortionists who called themselves “La Mano Nera,” the Black Hand, the victims also feared and mistrusted the police.

The Bellefontaine police were glad to find two letters written in Italian in the victim’s pocket, as they could now hand off the murder case to the local Post Office Inspector, who had jurisdiction due to the letters.

The police brought the letters to the U.S. Post Office in Columbus and handed them to Inspector Frank Oldfield, a diminutive man in a well-fitting suit, who was chomping on a cigar.

Oldfield pushed some papers and files aside and opened the letters. He made a quick visual scan of the documents with his magnifying glass. A satisfied smile appeared on his face.”

So begins “Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society: America’s Original Gangsters and the U.S. Postal Detective That Brought Them to Justice.” The book was written by William Oldfield, the great-grandson of the late Post Office inspector, and journalist Victoria Bruce.

Mr. Oldfield discovered a trunk of his great-grandfather’s, which offered documents, letters and photos about his major Black Hand case. Victoria Bruce mined modern digital tools and came up with additional information about the case and the time.

The authors tell us that since arriving in Columbus in 1901, 40-year-old Inspector Frank Oldfield had become one of the most aggressive and successful Post Office inspectors in the service, According to the authors, “he’d run down safecrackers, exposed a corruption ring between a U.S. Congressman and a New York City assistant district attorney, and busted crooks on the railroads for robbing the mail.”

But there was nothing Oldfield wanted more than to “run to earth” what he believed was an international organized crime ring spanning America all the way to Palermo, Sicily: Truly bad guys whose members called themselves The Black Hand Society.’

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