Friday, January 18, 2019

Social Security Administration: Beware Of Scammers Pretending To Be Social Security

Jim Boland, the Social Security Administration's acting deputy commissioner for communications, offers the below warning.
In the digital age, frauds and scams are an unfortunate part of doing business online. During the holiday season, Social Security has traditionally seen a spike in phishing scams, and we want to protect you as best we can.
We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.
Please take note; there’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display the 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.
Callers sometimes state that your Social Security number is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to provide a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.
Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, a Social Security employee may request the person confirm personal information over the phone.
Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.
Remember, only call official phone numbers and use secured websites of the agencies and businesses you know are correct. Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission to secure today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chinese Spies, Thieves And Hackers: My Piece On Two Cases That Expose China's Campaign To Steal America's Trade Secrets

Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on two cases that expose and illustrate China’s campaign to steal America’s trade secrets.

One case involves the arrest of a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) intelligence officer named Yanjun Xu (seen in the above photo). He was charged with economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

The second case involves Chinese intelligence officers and hackers intrusions into American companies’ computer systems in order to steal trade secrets.   

You can read the piece below:

Homeland Security Investigation's MS-13 Takedown In San Francisco: My Q&A With Christopher Merendino

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with Christopher Merendino, currently the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office, but from 2004 to 2008, he was the case agent of Operation Devil Horns. 

This law enforcement operation took down an MS-13 clique in San Francisco.

You can read the interview below:

Monday, January 14, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Handsome Johnny: The Life And Death Of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin'

The Washington Times published my review of Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin.

From the Prohibition era to the mid-1970s, Johnny Rosselli traveled first class through the nexus of Hollywood movies, Las Vegas gambling, shady business deals, secret government assassination plots and organized crime.

He always had money and tipped generously. He was always groomed perfectly. He was always with a beautiful actress. He was always seated at the best spot in a nightclub or restaurant. He was always in the company of wealthy and powerful men on the golf course and tennis court and at a card table. He was the intimate friend of movie studio bosses, casino bosses, major entertainers and notorious mobsters. He was called “Gentleman Johnny” or “Handsome Johnny.”

Johnny Rosselli lived a charmed life right up until he ended up dead in a 55-gallon oil drum floating in the Atlantic. 

Lee Server’s “Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin” offers a complete picture of a smooth operator who began life as Filippo Sacco in Frosinone, Italy, on July 4, 1905. Raised in Boston, his early travels took him across the country to Chicago, where he changed his name and then changed his life.

In the 1950s, the FBI noticed that Rosselli spelled his name differently at times. Sometimes with double “s” and sometimes with only one “s.” The FBI thought that when a man spells his name differently in different years, something is definitely wrong.

“He covered his tracks well — his origins, his early years. The FBI was sure he was not who he said he was. But who was he? What was he hiding?” Mr. Server writes. “For a guy whom everybody in law enforcement knew about for decades — one of Al Capone’s boy wonders, the Mob’s man in Hollywood, big wheel in Las Vegas, the hundreds of pages of police reports in which he figured, numerous arrests and trials, headline convictions — he was a mystery.”

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Great Scot: James Bond – The World’s Favourite Scottish Spy

As regular readers of my website are aware, I’m an Ian Fleming aficionado and I love the early James Bond films starring Sean Connery.
Being part Scot on my father’s side, and having spent two years in Scotland while serving on a U.S. Navy tugboat at the American nuclear submarine base in Holy Loch, Scotland, I’m interested in Scotland and all things Scottish. 
So, I was interested in reading Kenny Smith’s piece on Ian Fleming and James Bond’s links in Scottish Field.  
Since first appearing on the big screen in 1961’s Dr No – and before that in Ian Fleming’s novels, beginning with Casino Royale in 1953 – 007 has been at the forefront of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with a gadget, a knowing wink and a wry quip.
Over the years, we’ve learned several things about Bond – not ideal for a secret agent – including his Scots ancestry.
Here, we present 10 fantastic Scottish facts about James Bond.
1. 007’s creator Ian Fleming (seen in below photo with Sean Connery on set of Dr. No) was of Scots descent. His father, Valentine, was born in Newport-on-Tay in north-east Fife in 1882, the son of successful banker Robert Fleming, who moved his family to London. Given that Fleming borrowed so many of Bond’s personality traits from himself, it’s no wonder that he chose to make his famous creation Scottish. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Border Patrol Agents Overwhelmingly Support Trump's Wall In New Survey

Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times offers a piece on Border Patrol agents who support the need for a wall on the border.

Border Patrol agents say they can’t be much clearer: They want more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a survey conducted by the National Border Patrol Council, the agents’ union, they overwhelmingly supported adding a “wall system” in strategic locations, embracing President Trump’s argument that it will boost their ability to nab or deter would-be illegal immigrants. 

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

Stephen Dinan also offers a piece in the Washington Times on why Border Patrol agents think a steel fence may not be impenetrable, but still is needed. 

You can read the piece via the below link:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Look Back At The Classic TV Crime Series 'The Sopranos'

Although I think The Sopranos perhaps should have ended a season or two earlier, and I disliked the finale, I was a huge fan of the classic crime series. 
Michael Starr at the New York Post offers a piece on The Sopranos.
On Jan. 10, 1999, a little-publicized drama series called “The Sopranos” premiered on HBO, chronicling the domestic and professional life of a ruthless North Jersey mob boss living in suburbia with his wife and two teenage kids — and seeing a shrink for his anxiety.
Its large ensemble cast, including James Gandolfini as titular mob boss Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as his wife, Carmela, was largely unknown — as was series creator David Chase, whose TV résumé included “The Rockford Files,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Northern Exposure.”
“The Sopranos” changed the landscape of cable television and won a slew of Emmys (including three apiece for Gandolfini and Falco) during its six-season run. It ended with an ambiguous, WTF? cut-to-black series finale in June 2007 — panicking 12 million viewers who thought their cable crapped out and leaving Tony Soprano’s fate forever open to interpretation.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

This Map Shows Where In The World The U.S. Military Is Combatting Terrorism offers a map of the places in the world where the U.S. Military is engaging in counterterrorism operations.

Less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, U.S. troops—with support from British, Canadian, French, German and Australian forces—invaded Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. More than 17 years later, the Global War on Terrorism initiated by President George W. Bush is truly global, with Americans actively engaged in countering terrorism in 80 nations on six continents.

This map is the most comprehensive depiction in civilian circles of U.S. military and government antiterrorist actions overseas in the past two years. To develop it, my colleagues and I at Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, along with Smithsonian magazine, combed through U.S. and foreign government sources, published and unpublished reports, military websites and geographical databases; we contacted foreign embassies in the U.S. and the military’s United States Africa Command; and we conducted interviews with journalists, academics and others. We found that, contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.

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

Note: You can click on the map to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2019 National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Philadelphia Police: Be On The Lookout For DeJuan Robinson In South Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Police released the above photo of Dejuan Robinson and the below warning:

*URGENT* This male is a person of interest for multiple homicides in the state of Delaware. 5'6" 160lbs.. Medium complexion with light beard. Male was wearing a white thermal shirt which he may have discarded and blue jeans. **He is believed to be in South Philadelphia in the area of Broad and Oregon, he and is armed and dangerous**DO NOT APPROACH - call 9-11 immediately!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Why A Border Wall Matters

Republican Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs offers a piece on why we need a border wall in the Washington Times.

I was recently expressing my conviction that America needs a border wall to a friend and colleague from across the political aisle. He was convinced that we don’t need a wall, but rather that we need “border security.” Everyone has a pretty good idea what a border wall might be, but we’re all a bit fuzzy on what “border security” looks like.

Last week, I spent several hours talking to ranchers and residents who live along the border. Each one forcefully argued in favor of a border wall.

On one of my trips to the border, I asked my escorts, a couple of border patrol agents, if they thought we needed a border wall. They emphasized to me their support for a wall. I mentioned using more drones, manned aerial vehicles, cameras and ground sensors. They informed me, in no uncertain terms, that the Border Patrol has plenty of technology — lots of drones, cameras, sensors, etc. — and that a wall is necessary if we really want “border security.”

Remember, President Trump didn’t run on “border security.” He ran on building a wall and enforcing our laws.

Drones, cameras, sensors and other technology do not provide an impediment to illegal entry into the United States. Where we have these tools available, our agents can often spot the illegal crossers but do little about interdicting them. On the other hand, one must plan on how to cope with the physical barricade of a wall. 

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

Monday, January 7, 2019

The U.S. Central Command Statement On Death Of USS Cole Bombing Operative

The U.S. Navy News Service reports that Jamal al-Badawi, a terrorist involved in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, was killed in Yemen.

(NNS) -- U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban released the following statement Jan. 6 on the death of Jamal al-Badawi:

“U.S. Central Command has confirmed that Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a precision strike in Marib governate [Yemen] on Jan. 1.

“Jamal al-Badawi was a legacy al Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing. U.S. forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment process.

“Jamal al-Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003, charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of U.S. nationals and murder of U.S. military personnel; was wanted by the U.S. for his role in the Oct. 12, 2000, terrorist attack against USS Cole; and was also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a U.S. Navy vessel in January 2000.”

USS Cole (DDG 67) was attacked during a brief refueling stop in the harbor of Aden, Yemen. The suicide terrorist attack killed 17 members of the ship's crew, wounded 39 others and seriously damaged the ship. 

After 14 months of upgrades and repairs, the Arleigh Burke-class – "Determined Warrior” – returned to the fleet, departing Pascagoula, Mississippi, April 19, 2002. 

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with the commanding officer of the USS Cole during the attack via the below link:

Friday, January 4, 2019

Driver Charged In Head-On Crash That Killed 3 In South Philadelphia

Jeff Cole at Fox 29 in Philadelphia reports that the driver who killed three people and injured one is being charged with homicide.

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The driver involved in a crash that left three people dead and another critically injured in South Philadelphia on Wednesday is now facing charges.

Keith Campbell, 29, has been charged with three counts of homicide by vehicle along with other related charges. Sources tell FOX 29’s Jeff Cole more charges could be filed.

FOX 29 has learned the police force of tiny Newport, Delaware—South of Wilmington—is investigating the events leading up to the fatal crash. Delaware State Police tell FOX 29 it “assisted Newport with an attempted vehicle stop” in the hours before the collision.

Three people are dead and two people are critically injured following a head-on crash in South Philadelphia.

State Police directed FOX 29 to Newport police where Corporal John Mitchell said there is “an on-going investigation” and it is working with Philadelphia police accident investigators on the case.

"There was no one else in the vehicle, so supposition is he stabbed himself," Philadelphia Police

 Captain Mark Overwise said.

Police say Campbell was suffering from multiple stab wounds as he drove down the 600 block of Packer Avenue just before 2 a.m. Wednesday morning when he struck an Acura SUV head on.

Three of the Acura's four passengers — identified as 36-year-old Joseph Ferry of South Philadelphia, 35-year-old Kelly Wiseley of Glenolden, and 31-year-old Dennis Palandro of Morton — were killed.  Ferry and Wiseley just got engaged over the holidays.

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

Note: The father of the survivor of the crash is my sister-in-law’s cousin. I’ve known the family for most of my life. My heart goes out to them.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Presidents Of War

Joseph C. Goulden, a veteran journalist and author of Korea: The Untold Story of the War and Truth Is the First Casualty, on the Tonkin resolution, offers a good review in the Washington Times of Michael Beschloss’ Presidents Of War.

A distinguished historian who has written 10 outstanding books perhaps can be excused for a single outrageous sentence that leaves a reader shaking his head in disbelief.

Michael Beschloss makes just such a misstep in his otherwise magnificent account of how American presidents went to war over the centuries. He writes that the way the nation entered World War II “did so much to elevate [President] Roosevelt’s standing that it increased the temptation for later Presidents to elevate their reputation by seeking foreign conflict.”

Pardon my dissenting blink. As Washington correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer 1967-68, I witnessed Lyndon Johnson’s open agony on a daily basis as he fought a war that essentially destroyed his presidency. And I thought of the frustrations endured by President Truman by waging the Korean conflict into which he was abruptly thrust. Neither man felt that war “elevated” their reputations, to be sure.

That quibble aside, Mr. Beschloss offers fascinating insight about how presidents have dealt with what is surely their most demanding responsibility: That of asking Congress to put the nation into war.

The men who created the United States wisely decided that such a decision should not be left to the president alone. Memories of European wars commenced by unrestricted monarchs haunted the Founding Fathers. In their view, “war would be a last resort under the political system they had invented.”

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