Monday, September 30, 2019

FBI released 2018 Crime Statistics: Violent Crime, Property Crime Decreased Between 2017 and 2018

The FBI released crime statistics for 2018.
Both violent crime and property crime fell in 2018 from the previous year, according to the FBI’s annual crime statistics released today.
Violent crime declined 3.3 percent between 2017 and 2018. Property crime decreased 6.3 percent during the same time period, according to Crime in the United States, 2018, the annual crime statistics report produced by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
The crime data was voluntarily reported to the FBI by more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.
In 2018, there were about 1.2 million violent crimes, according to the report. Nearly every category of violent crime decreased between 2017 and 2018, with the exception of rape offenses, which increased 2.7 percent.
In the property crime category, there were nearly 7.2 million offenses reported in 2018. Burglaries, larceny-thefts, and motor vehicle thefts all declined in 2018 compared to 2017 data. 

You can read the full report via the below link:

Former MI6 Boss Sir Richard Dearlove Hits Out At Author John Le Carré Over His 'Corrosive' Spy Books And Accuses Him Of Being 'Obsessed' With His Life In The Secret Service

Jake Hurfurt offers a piece at the Daily Mail on the former head of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, who said that SIS intelligence officers are not fans of spy novelist John le Carre. Le Carre was a British intelligence officer for three years.

Spooks are not fans of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré because his novels portray them as untrustworthy, according to the former head of MI6.

Sir Richard Dearlove (seen in the below photo), 74, said Mr le Carré's espionage thrillers portrayed Britain's intelligence services in a negative light.

Mr le Carré, 87, worked for both MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and 1960s before leaving and becoming an author.

The writer was 'obsessed' with his time as a spy, said Sir Richard.

Spooks are not fans of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré (right) because his novels portray them as untrustworthy, according to the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove.

Speaking at the Cliveden Literary Festival, the former spymaster said: 'We've all enjoyed enormously reading the Smiley books... and he does capture some of the essence of what it was like in the Cold War.

'However, he is so corrosive in his view of MI6 that most professional SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) officers are pretty angry with him.'

Trust between co-workers is at the heart of Britain's intelligence agencies but Mr le Carré's books are 'exclusively about betrayal', said Sir Richard.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of a biography of John le Carre via the below link:

And you can read my Crime Beat column, Spy Writer vs Spy Writer, which covers John le Carre’s other obsession – the late Ian Fleming (seen in the above photo) and James Bond – via the below link: 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

My Washington Times Review of 'The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across The Last Untamed Frontier'

The Washington Times published my review of The Outlaw Ocean. 

“Life on the ocean has long been romanticized as the ultimate expression of freedom — an escape from landlocked life, a chance to explore, to reinvent,” Ian Urbina writes in “The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier.”

Adventurous and romantic tales of going to sea have been told by sailors for centuries, and there are many novels and films that dramatize the excitement and wonder of sailing the seas. And like so many sailors before me, those notions made me enlist in the U.S. Navy when I was just 17 years old.

Unlike the mostly good experiences I encountered at sea, many modern-day sailors suffer the hardships of hunger, disease and brutality while working on fishing boats and other craft around the world. Some are virtual prisoners on boats and ships, and some have been murdered. Ian Urbina, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, offers a collection of fascinating and often lamentable stories that chronicle how life on the vast oceans of the world is largely ungoverned.

Mr. Urbina offers stories of traffickers, smugglers, pirates and other criminals who take to the sea and ply their criminal trades often beyond the reach of international and national laws.

Often placing himself often in harm’s way, Mr. Urbina for five years gained access to many ships and boats that operated way out to sea off foreign shores. He also embedded with the U.S. Coast Guard.

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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Little Humor: Different Worlds

An arrogant, loud mouth college student challenged a senior citizen he was sitting next to on a bus. 

He claimed it was impossible for the older generation to understand his world.

“You grew up in a different world,” the student said. “Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers, the Internet…”

Taking advantage of a pause in the student’s litany, the senior said, “You’re right sonny. We didn’t have those things when we were young… so we invented them!”

Note: The above photo is of the late, great comedic actor Ed Wynn. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

U.S. Attorney McSwain Announces Charges As Part Of Federal Health Care Fraud Takedown In Northeastern United States

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain joined fellow Justice Department officials today at a press conference to announce a coordinated health care fraud enforcement action across seven federal districts involving more than $800 million in loss and the distribution of over 3.25 million opioid pills in “pill mill” clinics. The takedown includes new charges against 48 defendants for their roles in submitting over $160 million in fraudulent claims. Of those 48 defendants, 15 are doctors or medical professionals, and at least 24 defendants were charged for their roles in diverting opioids. In the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 17 defendants (five of whom are doctors or medical professionals) were arrested, and the conduct involved submission of more than $4 million in fraudulent claims and distribution of approximately 738,000 oxycodone pills to the streets of this District.
Today’s announcement comes one year after the Department of Justice announced the formation of the Newark/Philadelphia Regional Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint law enforcement effort that brings together the resources and expertise of the Health Care Fraud Unit in the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey. The Strike Force focuses its efforts on aggressively investigating and prosecuting complex cases involving patient harm, large financial loss, and the illegal prescribing and distribution of opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
“As today’s takedown demonstrates, this Strike Force has produced precisely what we hoped it would – and by that I mean tangible results,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “We have brought together a wealth of resources, knowledge, and subject-matter expertise – that of health care fraud prosecutors, civil enforcement attorneys, data analysts, and law enforcement agencies – all working to stop fraud, waste, and abuse within our federal health care programs and to stem the tide of illegal opioid distribution. These are top priorities of the Department of Justice and of my Office, and our focus in this area continues to pay off.”
At the press conference, U.S. Attorney McSwain announced details about the following cases charged in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:
Timothy F. Shawl, M.D., 60, of Garnet Valley, PA, a medical doctor, was charged with five counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances. He allegedly wrote prescriptions for controlled substances that were outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. As alleged in the indictment, Shawl wrote prescriptions for controlled substances for patients without seeing, treating, or examining them. Shawl allegedly prescribed hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone to approximately 16 patients, amounting to over 29,000 oxycodone tablets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Debra Jaroslawicz of the DOJ Fraud Section.
The second case involves defendants Neil K. Anand, M.D., 42, of Bensalem, PA, and Asif Kundi, 31, Atif Mahmood Malik, 34, and Viktoriya Makarova, 33, all of Philadelphia, PA. Anand, a medical doctor, Kundi and Malik, unlicensed foreign medical school graduates, and Makarova, a nurse practitioner, were each indicted on one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The charges stem from the defendants’ alleged submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, health plans provided by the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Independence Blue Cross (IBC). The claims allegedly were for “Goody Bags,” which were stuffed with medically unnecessary prescription medications that were dispensed by non-pharmacy dispensing sites owned by Anand. In total, Medicare, OPM, and IBC allegedly paid over $4 million for the Goody Bags. Patients were allegedly required to take the Goody Bags in order to receive prescriptions for controlled substances.
According to the indictment, Malik and Kundi wrote prescriptions for controlled substances using blank prescriptions that were pre-signed by Anand or Makarova. Anand and Makarova provided over 10,000 prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, of which over 7,000 were for oxycodone, for a staggering total of over 634,000 oxycodone tablets distributed from this scheme. The investigation was conducted by the following agencies: FBI, Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG), the Office of Personnel Management, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and the Philadelphia Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by DOJ Trial Attorney Jaroslawicz.
Additionally, 12 indictments were unsealed yesterday involving charges against 12 people for allegedly possessing oxycodone with intent to distribute. The indictments charge that, from September 2016 through June 2019, the 12 defendants all presented forged prescriptions for oxycodone to various pharmacies outside of Philadelphia, in order to obtain oxycodone to distribute to others. The defendants, all from Philadelphia, allegedly drove to Pennsylvania pharmacies in Marcus Hook, Drexel Hill, and Kennett Square, and a New Jersey pharmacy in Mount Laurel, to fill these forged prescriptions. The defendants are charged with at least two, and up to 32, counts of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. The defendants are charged with having received anywhere from 6,300 milligrams to 135,000 milligrams of oxycodone, which is approximately 75,000 oxycodone pills.
Charged were: Lamar Dillard, 37; Jermaine Grant, 29; Katrina Tucker, 32; Maurice Bertrand, 31; Courtney Brockenborough, 34; Alan Alexander Harrison, 29; Abdullah Howard, 23; Jonathan Metellus, 32; Clinton Monte Bullock, 29; Crystal Coleman, 31; Marques Russell, 35; and Joseph Michael Simmons. One defendant, Metellus, is also charged with one count of health care fraud, for allegedly using his Medicaid card to purchase prescription drugs with a forged prescription. These cases were investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, HHS-OIG, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigations, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, and the Easttown Township Police Department. They are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Troyer, Elizabeth Abrams, Joan Burnes, and Mary Kay Costello, all of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Today’s enforcement actions were led and coordinated by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, in conjunction with its Medicare Fraud Strike Force, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District of New Jersey, Western District of Pennsylvania, Eastern District of New York, Western District of New York, District of Connecticut, and District of Columbia.
“Physicians and other medical professionals who fraudulently bill our federal health care programs are stealing from taxpayers and robbing vulnerable patients of necessary medical care. The medical professionals and others engaging in criminal behavior by peddling opioids for profit continue to fuel our nation’s drug crisis,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to use every tool at our disposal, including data analytics and traditional law enforcement techniques, to investigate, prosecute, and punish this reprehensible behavior and protect federal programs from abuse.”
“Today's indictments confirm the FBI's commitment to hunting down doctors and other healthcare professionals who act like drug dealers. The opioid crisis is devastating families here in Philadelphia and across the country. The FBI and its law enforcement partners will continue to focus on corrupt physicians and others driving the epidemic,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI.
“Today’s law enforcement actions show we are holding alleged bad actors accountable and working to prevent further harm to beneficiaries and taxpayers,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Regional Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to combat health care fraud and drug diversion in the Philadelphia Region.”
“The DEA’s Diversion Investigators and Tactical Diversion Squads are missioned with the identification, investigation, and arrest of rogue DEA Registrants and drug trafficking organizations involved in the illegal distribution of controlled substances such as oxycodone and other prescription painkillers,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Working with our partner agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the DEA will continue to pursue federal criminal cases and parallel civil proceedings against the registrants and organizations that seek to divert these powerful painkillers that have contributed to the opioid epidemic.”
U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Cleevely, Eastern Area Field Office, stated: “The Postal Service spends billions of dollars per year on health care related costs for postal employees, the majority of which is for legitimate purposes. However, a few medical providers try to take advantage of the system. USPS – OIG special agents will vigorously investigate health care fraud allegations that touch the Postal Service and will work with our law enforcement partners to bring fraudsters to justice.”
“The opioid, heroin, and fentanyl epidemic is devastating Pennsylvania communities, and it is fueled in part by prescription drug abuse,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The defendants had a responsibility to help their patients, but instead they are charged with giving them dangerous opioids that they did not need. They also allegedly committed millions of dollars in insurance fraud, which causes rates for all consumers to increase. I’m proud to work with our law enforcement partners to put a stop to this criminal enterprise and protect the people of Pennsylvania.”
A complaint, information or indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Little Humor: Johnny Answers Teacher's Question On Raw Material

A teacher asked her students about different materials. 

Standing at the front of the class, she asked, “Children, if you were able to have one raw material in the world, what would it be?”

Raising his hand, little Timmy said, “I would choose gold. It’s worth lots of money and I could buy a Porsche.”

Next, little Allie raised her hand and said, “I would want platinum because it’s worth more than gold and I could by a Corvette.”

“Very good, both of you,” said the teacher. “Johnny, what would you want?”

Little Johnny stood up and said, “Oh, I would want silicon.”

“Why would you want silicon, Johnny?” asked the teacher.

“My mom has two bags of it and you wouldn’t believe all the sports cars outside our house!” he replied.

Defense Secretary Esper Describes DOD's Increased Cyber Offensive Strategy

Jim Garamone at the Defense Department offers the below piece on Defense Secretary Esper (seen in the above photo) speaking about cybersecurity:

 Cyberspace is a warfighting domain, and the U.S. military must take an active role in defending the country and its allies from threats in that realm, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said.

Speaking at the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's second annual Cybersecurity Summit near Washington, Esper said the National Defense Strategy sets the tone for the military's aggressive stance in the cyberworld.

Cyber is the domain of choice for states and groups that wish to attack the United States, its interests and its allies. ''Strategic competitors such as Russia and China are asserting their military power and challenging the rules-based international order,'' he said. 

Esper said the U.S. military has been waging war on land and sea for more than 200 years and in the air for 100 years, and that it remains dominant in those domains. But only in the past decade have officials been figuring out what fighting in cyberspace entails, he said. 

Just as we do on land, at sea, and in the air, we must posture our forces in cyberspace where we can most effectively accomplish our mission.'' 

The world is quickly becoming dependent on the capabilities that run through the cyber domain, from navigation to targeting to reconnaissance, the secretary noted. 

''While we are having success deterring conventional aggression against the United States, our adversaries are increasingly resorting to malign activity in less traditional areas to undermine our security,'' he said. ''There is perhaps no area where this is more true than in the cyber domain.'' 

Cyber has been part and parcel of what many call hybrid war – a blurring of the lines between peace and war, Esper said. ''For nation-states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, engaging America and our allies below the threshold of armed conflict is a logical choice.''

Cyber allows adversaries to take on the United States and impose costs without confronting its traditional strengths, Esper said. 

Tracking down the perpetrators of a cyberattack is difficult, and attributing them is sometimes impossible, the secretary said, and opponents may conduct campaigns to steal sensitive DOD information in an effort to undermine military advantages. 

''When successful, this coordinated, malicious cyber activity puts us at risk by eroding our capabilities and disrupting our ability to operate once conflict ensues,'' he said.

DOD must respond to these challenges and is hardening networks and systems to continue to execute missions even while under cyberattack. 

''Training to operate in a degraded environment is now regularly built into our exercises, and our service members are quickly becoming aware of our cyber vulnerabilities,'' the secretary said.

But winning in cyberspace requires an offensive strategy, Esper told the summit audience. ''We need to do more than just play goal line defense,'' he said. ''As such, the department's 2018 Cyber Strategy articulates a proactive and assertive approach to defend forward of our own virtual boundaries.

''Just as we do on land, at sea, and in the air, we must posture our forces in cyberspace where we can most effectively accomplish our mission,'' he continued. ''Defending forward allows us to disrupt threats at the initial source before they reach our networks and systems. To do this, we must be in a position to continuously compete with the ongoing campaigns being waged against the United States. Not only does this protect us day-to-day, but enacting this strategy builds the readiness of our cyber warriors so they have the tools, skills and experience needed to succeed in conflict.''

The department is also working with other U.S. agencies to protect American prosperity and democratic institutions as foreign governments conduct operations aimed at 'influencing the American public at a scope and scale never before imagined,' Esper said. 

''The Department of Defense has an important role in defending the American people from this misinformation,'' he said, ''particularly as it pertains to preserving the integrity of our democratic elections.''

DOD demonstrated that capability during last year's midterm elections, the secretary said, with U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency forming an interagency group that shared information, expertise and resources to protect the elections from foreign interference.

''We also expanded our cooperation to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and were prepared to provide direct support, if necessary,'' he said. 

DOD also developed capabilities and increased military capacity to detect, locate and exploit threats in the cyber domain with the same focus and energy as in the physical domains.

Finally, DOD had the authorities needed to more fully employ cyber capabilities in an offensive manner, Esper said. ''This policy reflects a shared understanding across the government of the need to maximize the effectiveness of the department’s cyber warriors,'' he added.

The department will take the lessons learned from the 2018 experiences and apply them moving into 2020. ''I consider election security an enduring mission for the Department of Defense,'' the secretary said. 

DOD officials for years have spoken of using a network to defeat a network, and the U.S. military is reaching out to allies and partners around the world to take on the challenge of cyberattacks. 

''Our ability to share information and operate on common communications networks serves as a force multiplier – but, it also comes with increased risk,'' he said. ''To guard against this, we must help our allies develop their own cyber resiliency.''

China is the greatest threat, Esper said, and the Chinese government is ''perpetrating the greatest intellectual property theft in human history.'' Chinese businesses are in thrall to the government, and any nation that partners with Chinese firms to build 5G networks put their own networks at risk. 

''This not only jeopardizes military interoperability and intelligence sharing, but can also compromise commercial institutions such as banks, hospitals and media outlets,'' Esper said. ''This is why it is so important that we work together from the very start to preserve the integrity of our cyber networks.''

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Confession of British Spy And Traitor Kim Philby Made Public For First Time

Haroon Siddique at the Guardian offers a piece on the release of British spy and traitor Kim Philby’s confession.

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

You can also read a review of Ben Macintyre’s outstanding book on Kim Philby via the below link: 

Former Intelligence Officer Convicted Of Attempted Espionage Sentenced To 10 Years In Federal Prison

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer, who pleaded guilty in March to attempting to communicate, deliver, or transmit information involving the national defense of the United States to the People’s Republic of China, will serve 10 years in federal prison.  U.S. District Judge Dee Benson imposed the sentence Tuesday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
Ron Rockwell Hansen, 60, of Syracuse, Utah, was arrested June 2, 2018, on his way to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, as he was preparing to board a flight to China while in possession of SECRET military information. 
“One of three ex-US intelligence officers recently convicted of acting on behalf of the People’s Republic of China, Ron Rockwell Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars for betraying his country and former colleagues,” said Assistant Attorney General of National Security John C. Demers.  “These cases show the breadth of the Chinese government’s espionage efforts and the threat they pose to our national security.  Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath.”
“The Chinese government continues to attempt to identify and recruit current and former members of the United States intelligence community.  This is a very troubling trend. These individuals must remain vigilant and immediately report any suspicious activity. The Hansen case is an example of what will happen to those who violate the public’s trust and risk our national security by disclosing classified information,” said U.S. Attorney John W. Huber for the District of Utah.
“Ron Hansen was willing to betray his oath and his country for financial gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office.  "This case brings to light that not all spies are foreign adversaries.  Insider threats pose a significant national security risk, and the FBI will continue to aggressively investigate those who put our country and citizens at risk.”
Hansen retired from the U.S. Army as a Warrant Officer with a background in signals intelligence and human intelligence.  He speaks fluent Mandarin-Chinese and Russian, according to court documents. Upon retiring from active duty, DIA hired Hansen as a civilian intelligence case officer in 2006. Hansen held a Top Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor. 
As Hansen admitted in the plea agreement, in early 2014, agents of a Chinese intelligence service targeted him for recruitment, and he began meeting with them regularly in China.  During these meetings, the agents described to Hansen the type of information that would interest Chinese intelligence.  Hansen stipulated that during the course of his relationship with Chinese intelligence, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for information he provided them.
Between May 24, 2016, and June 2, 2018, Hansen admitted he solicited national security information from an intelligence case officer working for the DIA.  Hansen admitted knowing that the Chinese intelligence services would find the information valuable, and he agreed to act as a conduit to sell that information to the Chinese.  He advised the DIA case officer how to record and transmit classified information without detection, and how to hide and launder any funds received as payment for classified information.  He admitted he now understands that the DIA case officer reported his conduct to the DIA and subsequently acted as a confidential human source for the FBI.
Hansen admitted meeting with the DIA case officer on June 2, 2018, and receiving individual documents containing national defense information that he had previously solicited.  The documents he received were classified. The documents included national security information related to U.S. military readiness in a particular region -- information closely held by the federal government. Hansen did not possess a security clearance nor did he possess a need to know the information contained in the materials. 
As a part of his plea agreement, Hansen admitted he reviewed the documents, queried the case officer about their contents, and took written notes which contained information determined to be classified.  He advised the DIA case officer that he would remember most of the details about the documents he received that day and would conceal notes about the material in the text of an electronic document he would prepare at the airport before leaving for China.  He admitted he intended to provide the information he received to the agents of the Chinese Intelligence Service with whom he had been meeting.  He also admitted knowing that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.
As a part of the plea agreement, Hansen has agreed to forfeit property acquired from or traceable to his offense, including property used to facilitate the crime.
The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Lund, Karin Fojtik, Mark K. Vincent and Alicia Cook of the District of Utah, and Trial Attorneys Patrick T. Murphy, Matthew J. McKenzie and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington assisted with this case.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by special agents of the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Spy Is An Eye: My Washington Times Piece On Suspected Terrorist Spy Who Scouted New York City Targets

The Washington Times published my piece on a suspected terrorist spy who was scouting targets in New York City.

The Department of Justice announced on Sept. 19 that Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, aka Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab and Rachid, was charged in a nine-count indictment for offenses related to his surveillance of possible targets for Hezbollah

“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hezballah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement. “Such covert activities conducted on U.S. soil are a clear threat to our national security and I applaud the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution.”

This indictment is the latest case of a terrorist spy performing reconnaissance of American bridges, power plants, shopping malls, military bases and other potential future targets.

An old al Qaeda manual discovered by the Manchester Police in the United Kingdom back in 2000 revealed the terrorist groups’ guidance to terrorists, as well as to terrorist spies. The 180-page training manual’s 11th and 12th chapters dealt with espionage.

“The spy is called an eye because his work is through his eyes or because of his excessive preoccupation with observation, as if all his being is an eye,” the manual noted.

As a terrorist “Eye,” Saab surveilled dozens of locations in New York City, including the United Nations headquarters, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and the Empire State Building. According to the indictment, he provided detailed information and photographs on these locations to the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO), a component of Hezbollah responsible for the planning and coordination of intelligence, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of Hezbollah outside of Lebanon. 

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

China Poses Largest Long-Term Threat To U.S., Defense Department Policy Chief Says

Terri Moon Cronk at the Department of Defense offers the below piece:

It is not an exaggeration to say China is the greatest long-term threat to the U.S. way of life, but China also poses the greatest challenge to the Defense Department, DOD's policy chief said.

John C. Rood (seen in the below photo), undersecretary of defense for policy, made the assertion during a panel discussion today at the Center for European Policy Analysis Forum in Washington.

"The National Defense Strategy very clearly lays out a blueprint for America's role in the world and how we see it," the undersecretary said. "It starts with recognition that in this highly complex, dynamic security environment, the great power competition has returned," he said.

In the last 10 years, the United States has witnessed a 750% growth in China’s defense spending, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood said during a panel discussion at the Center for European Policy Analysis Forum in Washington, Sept. 23, 2019. 

The United States doesn't seek a confrontational approach, nor is it destined to be adversaries with China, Rood noted. 

"We want to trade. We want to have interactions. But on the other hand, we want to protect our intellectual property," he said. "We want to protect the rules-based international order that we've both worked so hard to create since World War II. And we want respect for the sovereignty of others. We want respect for the role of individual in society."

We have to be serious about protecting this international rules-based order ..." 

Rood said it's important to recognize the scale of China's ambitions. China wants not only to become the world's largest and most influential economy, but also to be the world's largest and most influential nation in all spheres of life.

The undersecretary talked about China's ambitions to have a world-class military.

"[But] it's the way in which China is challenging this international rules-based order, challenging the individual freedoms that we support, challenging the free movement of ideas, and people, trade," Rood said. "And promoting an authoritarian model, one that doesn't respect the sovereignty of others, [is] what challenges our way of life."

If it were simply an economic competition, Rood said, America rather likes competition. "And so I wouldn't fear that at all," he added.

The U.S. innovation model would beat China's innovation model 10 times out of 10 times, Rood told the panel. "I really have tremendous confidence in it, he said, "and the best proof I can give you that China's leaders recognize that is that they are determined to steal from it."

The Chinese know they can't win a head-to-head competition, the undersecretary said; they know they can’t compete with that kind of entrepreneurship and innovation, so the state has to exercise that level of control. 

"You're starting to see China develop overseas military bases, overseas intelligence collection locations, and this is one of the areas in which to challenge sovereignty," Rood said. In the last 10 years, the United States has witnessed a 750% growth in China's defense spending, he noted.

"We have to be serious about protecting this international rules-based order, protecting free trade, protecting the free movement of ideas and the role of individual society," Rood said.

My Washington Times Review Of 'Deceiving The Sky: Inside Communist China's Drive For Global Supremacy'

The Washington Times published my review of Bill Gertz’s Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy.

Back in 1971, when I was a teenage sailor serving on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, I recall when a Communist Chinese minesweeper came dangerously close to the carrier as we sailed from “Yankee Station” off the coast of North Vietnam to the Philippines.

The Chinese warship was adorned with oversized white propaganda banners in Chinese, so most of the American sailors couldn’t read them, but our captain had an intelligence officer translate the banners. The captain announced over the ship’s public address system that the banners read, “Down with U.S. Imperialism,” “Down with Nixon” and “Down with U.S. Navy war criminals.”

The captain informed us that he had sent the Chinese a message in response to the banners, “Since you are so down with everything, up yours!”

The Chinese made no secret that America was their avowed enemy in 1971, and according to Bill Gertz’s “Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy,” we remain their avowed enemy today.

Mr. Gertz, a Washington Times national security columnist and author of several books on intelligence, the military and national security threats, offers a sobering look at the growing threat from Communist China and its ambition to replace the United States as the world’s No. 1 military and economic power in the world.

In “Deceiving the Sky,” a follow-up to Mr. Gertz’s “The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America,” which was published in 2000, Mr. Gertz notes that for more than 20 years, a willful blindness had descended over both Democratic and Republican administrations that operated on a false assumption: They believed that by simply conducting business with China, the Communist Chinese would eventually evolve into a free market and democratic system.

“Today, however, the failure of that decades-long policy has resulted in an expansive hard-line Communist regime headed by a supreme leader with unchecked powers matching those of Mao — General Secretary Xi Jinping,” Mr. Gertz writes. “The new leader who took power in 2012 has ruled with an iron fist and made Communist ideology the centerpiece of a Chinese drive for world domination, not just China.”

How that failure came about is the subject of “Deceiving the Sky.”

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Lenanese Man Arrested Over 1985 TWA Hijacking During Which A U.S. Navy Diver Was Murdered

As a U.S. Navy veteran, I recall being angry over the murder of Robert Stethem, a 23-year-old Navy diver, who was beaten and shot during the hijacking of a TWA airliner in 1985. 

I was later told by a naval intelligence officer that the terrorists murdered Robert Stethem because they believed that he was a Navy SEAL. But he was in fact a construction diver, and not a terrorist-fighting SEAL. 

So I was glad to read that a suspect in the hijacking was finally arrested after all this time. 

You can read Lee Brown’s piece on the arrest at the New York Post via the below link:  

Note: The photo above is of the late Robert Stethem.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Mob Talk 33: A Look At Organized Crime In South Philly And Beyond

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss Cosa Nostra's indoctrination ceremonies and other organized crime news in their latest Mob Talk video.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Swift And Certain Punishment: My Washington Times Piece On The Return Of The Federal Death Penalty

The Washington Times published my piece on the return of the federal death penalty.

What kind of man rapes and murders a 16-year-old girl and then dismembers, burns and disposes of her body in a septic pond?

The kind of man, in my view, who ought to be executed.

Thankfully, President Trump and his attorney general agree.

On July 25, 2019, Attorney General William M. Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt a proposed Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol, which clears the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment after nearly two decades. The order will deliver final justice to the victims of the most horrific crimes and their families. 

According to a Justice Department statement, “the Attorney General also directed the Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” noted Mr. Barr in the statement. “Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding. The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Conservative Satire Magazine The Babylon Bee: SNL Fires Comedian Accused Of Telling Funny Joke

I learned of an online conservative satire magazine in today's Washington Times.

The Babylon Bee, the right's answer to the Onion, offers a funny take on the comedian that Saturday Night Live hired and then fired for telling offensive jokes (which SNL, when it was funny years ago, used to do every week).

Fake News You Can Trust!

You can read the piece via the below:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

United States Files Civil Lawsuit Against Edward Snowden For Publishing A Book In Violation Of CIA And NSA Non-Disclosure Agreements

The United States Justice Department released the below information:
The United States today filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), who published a book entitled Permanent Record in violation of the non-disclosure agreements he signed with both CIA and NSA.
The lawsuit alleges that Snowden published his book without submitting it to the agencies for pre-publication review, in violation of his express obligations under the agreements he signed. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Snowden has given public speeches on intelligence-related matters, also in violation of his non-disclosure agreements.
The United States’ lawsuit does not seek to stop or restrict the publication or distribution of Permanent Record. Rather, under well-established Supreme Court precedent, Snepp v. United States, the government seeks to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of his failure to submit his publication for pre-publication review in violation of his alleged contractual and fiduciary obligations. 
The lawsuit also names as nominal defendants the corporate entities involved in publishing Snowden’s book. The United States is suing the publisher solely to ensure that no funds are transferred to Snowden, or at his direction, while the court resolves the United States’ claims. Snowden is currently living outside of the United States. 
“Edward Snowden has violated an obligation he undertook to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his employment by the CIA and as an NSA contractor,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The United States’ ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees’ and contractors’ compliance with their non-disclosure agreements, including their pre-publication review obligations. This lawsuit demonstrates that the Department of Justice does not tolerate these breaches of the public’s trust.  We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of the United States, without complying with their pre-publication review obligations.”
“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him.”
This lawsuit is separate from the criminal charges brought against Snowden for his alleged disclosures of classified information. This lawsuit is a civil action, and based solely on Snowden’s failure to comply with the clear pre-publication review obligations included in his signed non-disclosure agreements. 
This matter is being handled by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. 
The claims asserted by the United States are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Cop Writer: At 82, Joseph Wambaugh, Author Of ‘The New Centurions,’ ‘The Onion Field,’ 'The Choirboys' And Other Classics, May Be Done Writing, But His Influence Endures

John Wilkens at the San Diego Union-Tribune offers a good piece on Joseph Wambaugh, one of my favorite writers.

Joseph Wambaugh laughed at the question.

“Am I done writing?” he said. “Hell, I’m almost done living. I’m 82.”

His last book, “Harbor Nocturne,” came out in 2012. It was the fifth of his Hollywood Station novels, full of the bawdy insider cop talk that first made him famous and populated with memorably quirky characters like the badge-wearing surfers Flotsam and Jetsam. A couple of TV studios are looking at turning the books into a series.

“I’d be thrilled to see that happen before I kick the bucket,” he said.

This is not the first time Wambaugh has seemingly stopped writing. He went six years in between “Floaters,” a 1996 novel set in San Diego during the America’s Cup, and “Fire Lover,” a 2002 non-fiction account of a serial arsonist. And then it was another four years before he published “Hollywood Station.” But then he wrote four more novels, all in a period of six years.

So it seems like a fair question: Maybe some story will come along that moves him to add to his catalog?

“Not this geezer,” he said.

Even if he is done, his influence will continue. Legions of crime novelists in San Diego and elsewhere cite Wambaugh among their earliest influences. That’s because he broke the mold, moved police officers from the “Dragnet” realm of clean-cut heroes into the real world of complicated, flawed human beings.

"All I did was turn things around,” he said. “Instead of writing about how cops worked the job, I wrote about how the job worked on the cops.”

Wambaugh came to that approach naturally. His dad was a policeman, and then he became one, too, after a stint in the Marines. He rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department to detective sergeant. In his off-hours, he pursued English degrees in college and nurtured a passion for writing.

His first novel, “The New Centurions,” came out in 1971 and follows police newbies as the idealism they had in the academy evolves into a street-wise cynicism. 

… Ask him how he’d like to be remembered, though, and he has a quick answer. Short, too.

“Cop writer,” he said. “That will work.” 

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Joseph Wambaugh’s last novel, Harbor Nocturne, via the below link:

And you can read my Q&A with Joseph Wambaugh - Semper Cop - via the below link: 

Note: Joseph Wambaugh inspired me. Not to be a cop, like so many others, but rather he inspired me to be a writer who covers the cops fairly and accurately. 

I’m thankful that I was able to interview him several times and occasionally correspond with him.

Let’s hope he doesn’t, as he put it in the piece, “kick the bucket” any time too soon. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Netflix's 'Unbelievable' Is A Dramatic Story About Rape, The Aftermath And the Police Investigation

My wife and I recently watched the eight-part Netflix series Unbelievable.

The series, based on a true story, is a serious study of rape and aftermath, as well as a fascinating and dramatic police investigation, was outstanding. 

Kaitlyn Dever portrays “Marie,” an 18-year-old woman raised in the foster care system in Washington State, who was raped in her apartment. Confused and traumatized, she offers conflicting statements about the rape and she is disbelieved by the detectives investigating the rape. 

The detectives have her recant her story and later charge her for false reporting the rape to the police. 

Dever, whose performance was excellent, shows Marie’s subsequent spiral downfall.

The series also depicts the two women detectives, portrayed by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, who investigate other rapes that they tie to a serial rapist in Colorado.

Dever, Collette, Wever and the other cast members are first-class, as are the direction and writing of this initially sad and depressing, but ultimately uplifting series. 

If one is looking for a fine drama series to watch, I recommend Unbelievable

You can read the article that the series was based on via the below link:

You can read my Crime Beat column on the Philadelphia Police's Sex Crimes Unit via the below link:

Note: The top photo is of Kaitlyn Dever. The next photo is of Toni Collette and Merritt Wever.

Friday, September 13, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Lincoln's Spies: Their Secret War To Save A Nation'

The Washington Times published my review of Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War To Save a Nation:

Much has been written about the Civil War and students of military history know much about the great battles and the generals who led and fought those bloody battles.

But perhaps less well known are the Civil War spies who fed those generals the intelligence they required to engage their enemy. Douglas Waller, a former reporter for Time magazine and Newsweek, and the author of “The Commandos: The Inside Story of America’s Secret Soldiers,” “Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage” and other books on intelligence and the military, offers a comprehensive look back at the men and women who risked their lives to provide vital intelligence to the Union Army during the Civil War.      

In Mr. Waller’s “Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation,” readers learn about the Civil War’s military intelligence officers, counter-intelligence officers, secret agents and informants. Although there are numerous historical characters portrayed in the book, Mr. Waller stated he wanted to write an ensemble biography of four Union spies during the Civil War. According to Mr. Waller, two of the spies were heroes, one was a failure and one was a scoundrel.

Lincoln’s Spies” is the story of Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe and Elizabeth Van Lew — important Union agents who operated mainly in the Civil War’s Eastern Theater, which included Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The U.S. government, of course, ran intelligence operations elsewhere — against Confederates in the Deep South and the western campaigns, for example, and to root out pro-Confederate subversives in the northeastern and northwestern states. To cover all the spying that went on in the Civil War would consume several volumes,” Mr. Waller writes in his note to readers.

“This book focuses on the espionage and counter-espionage of these four operatives in what became a crucial region for the war. The Eastern Theater, in which these agents fought in secret and the Union Army of the Potomac battled the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the open, included the capitals for the two belligerents, Washington and Richmond. On its fields and in its towns and cities were waged many of the largest, costliest, and most consequential battles, which helped determine the outcome of this tragic conflict and the fate of a nation.”

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