Sunday, May 31, 2020

Perhaps Frank Rizzo Was Right: "Scappo il Capo"

After last night’s violence in Philadelphia, where businesses were burned, looted and vandalized and police officers were injured, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney felt the need to inform us that he plans to accelerate the move of the stature of the late Frank Rizzo, which was defaced in the orgy of unchecked violence. As if the statute was at fault rather than the happy rioters.

Perhaps Rizzo, Philly’s former mayor and top cop, was right when he told an Italian diplomat that the way to treat criminals was scappo il capo, an Italian phrase translated roughly to “crack their heads.”

Many citizens are outraged and sickened not only the violence, but also by the weak response to the violence by liberal mayors and their appointed police chiefs, who appear almost sympathetic and apologetic to the rioters. 

When unchecked violence and lawlessness occurs, citizens often look to a strong populist leader who champions law and order and traditional values, like Frank Rizzo, or Donald Trump. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lock 'Em Up: Violent Protestors in Philadelphia And Elsewhere Should Be Arrested Now

A criminal suspect died while being restrained by a Minnesota police officer. A video shows the officer with his knees on the suspect’s neck. The suspect later died.

The police officer was fired. The police officer was arrested. 

End of a tragic story, right? 


Rioting, burning and looting have occurred around the country, including Philadelphia.  

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that crowds of protesters gathered outside City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art early Saturday afternoon to protest the death of the Minnesota suspect, and later a mob “morphed into chaos” in Center City. 

“As the tumult unfolded — with people setting cars on fire, trying to topple the statue of Frank L. Rizzo, breaking windows at City Hall, and ransacking stores across Center City — it was difficult for police to contain the fallout, having to respond to a new incident as soon as they managed to get another one under control,” the Inquirer reported. “The protests posed an unenviable challenge for police. Philadelphia’s force — which for decades had a reputation for relying on brutality and coercive tactics — in recent years has consistently sought to avoid confrontation and escalation at protests. The city in 2016 also decriminalized most nuisance offenses to avoid heavy-handed enforcement ahead of the Democratic National Convention.”

Do you feel the need to protest racial politics and police actions? Fine. But there is no excuse for violence, theft and vandalism.   

In my view, the timid and passive mayors of Philadelphia and other cities should allow the police, and the National Guard if needed, to take the gloves off and crack down on the violent protestors. 

It is time for law & order. 

Lock ‘em all up.

Hemingway And Me Are Cat Lovers

Some years ago, I visited Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Key West, Florida. The home is now a museum and as a Hemingway aficionado, I enjoyed seeing the home and the mementos of the late, great writer.

Roaming and lounging around the Hemingway home were numerous cats, many of them 6-toed cats, the descendants of Hemingway’s cats when he lived there. The cats were interesting, but at the time I was a dog lover and not fond of cats. 

But about 12 years ago a feral cat litter of kittens who made a home under my neighbors’ deck were poisoned, we suspect, by another neighbor that did not like cats. I was not a cat lover at the time, but I thought the kittens were cute and it pained me to watch them suffer and die one by one. 

The runt of the litter survived and my wife and I took her in. We named her Kit and she is a clever and amusing addition to our household. 

Although I remain a dog lover, and I still mourn my late dog Duchess (who hated cats), I’ve come to appreciate cats, just as Hemingway once did.

You can read my Crime Beat column on the kitten killers and how we took in Kit via the below link: 

Note: The above photos are of Hemingway's Key West home, a cat who lived in the home, and our cat Kit. The below photo is of me and my infant daughter Brittany and Duchess.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Secret Mission of Commander Ian Fleming, The Creator Of James Bond, To Save Britain From Losing World War 2

Edward Abel Smith, the author of Ian Fleming’s Inspiration: The Truth Behind the Books, tells the British newspaper the Express about Commander Ian Fleming WWII Gibraltar plan.

Mr Fleming’s ‘From A View to a Kill’, James Bond is sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a dispatch rider carrying top-secret documents through Versailles, but soon discovers there is a hostile enemy base hidden in the rocks along the road. But, Edward Abel Smith, the author behind 'Ian Fleming's Inspiration,' has revealed this fantastical story was in fact born out of an idea Mr Fleming came up with during the war, when he was a naval intelligence officer. 

In his book, set to be released on May 30, Mr Smith casts light on the precarious situation the UK still found itself in, even after the Battle of Britain at the end of 1940.

Nazi Germany’s plan for an invasion of the south coast had been thwarted with the defeat of Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe at the hands of the RAF – but Britain was very much alone as European states fell like dominoes to the advancing Wehrmacht, the US remained neutral and the Soviet Union sat back watching.

With Operation Sea Lion – Hitler’s codename for Nazi Germany’s planned invasion of Britain – all but abandoned, Berlin investigated alternative ways of waging war against the British, most notably with the Blitz, but also with campaigns in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The latter is where Mr Fleming came in, as Gibraltar was a hugely significant strategic outpost for the Royal Navy and extremely vulnerable given its close proximity to fascist Spain – a state which, under General Francisco Franco’s rule, was officially neutral but certainly sympathetic to the Axis Powers.

Amid fears that Franco’s sympathies to Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini could be solidified in a formal alliance, the British came up with Operation Tracer – a covert mission created by Mr Fleming to send six Britons to hide in the Rock of Gibraltar for a year. 

Mr Smith told “Fleming came up with these concepts, one of which was Operation Tracer, and it brings out quite a dark side in him.

“He’s very ruthless because he effectively knows if he puts these six men into the Rock of Gibraltar and cements them in and the Nazis were to invade or Spain were to join the Axis, immediately they would get left there and forgotten about.

“He knew very well that they had 12 months’ supply and the likelihood of being able to take Gibraltar back within 12 months was impossible.

“He was willing to train these men up and they would go in there and perish, but it’s fascinating the detail he went into, the books they should read, the exercises to do each day to survive, which was unheard of at the time.”

In an extract of the book seen by, Mr Smith reveals how Mr Fleming earmarked the Gibraltar Straight as a key asset to the Allies for resupplying ships in Europe.

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

But Are They Wearing Face Masks And Practicing Safe Social Distancing In Minneapolis While Looting And Burning?

FBI: Billion-Dollar Secrets Stolen - Scientist Sentenced For Theft of Trade Secrets

The FBI released the below information:
When scientist Hongjin Tan resigned from the Oklahoma petroleum company he’d worked at for 18 months, he told his superiors that he planned to return to China to care for his aging parents. He also reported that he hadn’t arranged his next job, so the company agreed to let him to stay in his role until his departure date in December 2018.
But Tan told a colleague a different story over dinner.
That conversation prompted Tan’s employer to ask him to leave the firm immediately—and then his employer made a call to the FBI tip line to report a possible crime. The resulting investigation led to Tan’s guilty plea and 24-month prison sentence for stealing proprietary information that belonged to his company.
Tan’s theft of a trade secret—one worth an estimated $1 billion—is an example of what the FBI says is a systematic campaign by the Chinese government to gain economic advantage by stealing the innovative work of U.S. companies and facilities.
Tan had lived in the United States since 2012 and was a legal permanent resident. He earned his Ph.D. at an American university and had worked for a number of firms in California before making his way to the energy company in Oklahoma.
One of that firm’s most innovative products was a battery technology that employees had spent decades researching and developing. The technology also has a secondary, and perhaps even more valuable, use in melting metal.
When Tan revealed to his colleague that he actually did have a job waiting for him in China with Xiamen Tungsten, Tan’s dinner companion reported the conversation to his supervisor—who grew alarmed after researching the company. Xiamen Tungsten is a Chinese firm that smelts, processes, and distributes metal products and also supplies battery materials.
With this new information, the company immediately dismissed Tan from his responsibilities. Because they were now concerned about his motives, the company also began to look back at the documents and systems he had accessed while employed there.
While this review was going on, Tan called his supervisor to tell them he had a thumb drive with company documents on it. “He said he was hoping to read them to continue his research work,” said FBI Special Agent Jeremy Sykes, who worked on the case out of our Oklahoma City Field Office. “The company told him he needed to return the thumb drive.”
The company had already found Tan had been accessing sensitive documents that dealt with this innovative technology but did not directly relate to Tan’s work for the firm.
FBI agents said he began accessing these sensitive files around the time he applied to China’s Thousand Talents Program. U.S. intelligence agencies have found that, through this program, China provides financial incentives and other privileges to participants who are willing to send back the research and technology knowledge they can access while working in the United States. Tan also called up the documents around the times he made trips to China, and he accessed them for a final time on the day before he resigned.
“When he brought back the thumb drive, the firm looked at the slack space on the drive and found several files had been erased,” said Sykes. “The deleted files were the files the company was most concerned about.” 
The company worked closely with the FBI to help them investigate the case and identify the company files Tan had stored at his home. Gaining this information allowed agents to get an arrest warrant for Tan.
“If you got your hands on this information, you would be decades ahead of where you would have started out on this technology,” said Special Agent Rebecca Day of FBI Oklahoma City’s Tulsa Resident Agency. “We won’t tolerate people who come into the United States to steal for the betterment of a foreign government or foreign company.”
At a recent conference in Boston, FBI Director Christopher Wray addressed this disquieting threat: “We see Chinese companies stealing American intellectual property to avoid the hard slog of innovation and then using it to compete against the very American companies they victimized—in effect, cheating twice over.”
FBI Oklahoma City Special Agent Quincy Barnett said that there are a number of things companies can do to protect their products, research, and innovations, and that the FBI is eager to develop relationships with firms. “If we reach out,” he said, “it’s not a negative. We may have identified opportunities to engage.”
The Bureau can provide briefings to executives and employees on insider threats, share precautions workers should take when they travel to certain countries, help IT staff assess how to compartmentalize system and file access, and remind firms to put nondisclosure agreements in place to ensure employees agree not to share certain information.
In this case, the firm’s willingness to report the suspected crime so quickly made the difference in being able to hold Tan accountable. “We were on the phone with the company on December 13,” Sykes said. “We knew Tan was flying out of the country on December 29.”
Barnett said the FBI has seen that some companies resist reporting because they fear it will harm their stock price or be seen as a negative among shareholders.
“Companies can bring this information to the FBI, and we can work through those fears and hesitations,” said Barnett. “We are trying to send a message that this won’t be tolerated, but we have to find out about it first.”
The case against Tan not only resulted in two years of prison time but also, with support from Homeland Security Investigations, the loss of his residency status. Tan will be deported when he is released, which is a strong indicator of just how seriously the U.S. is taking these types of criminal violations.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

On This Day In History Ian Fleming, The Author Of The James Bond Thrillers, Was Born

On this day in 1908 the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming was born in London.

Ian Fleming, a naval intelligence officer in WWII and the foreign manager of the British Sunday Times after the war, wrote Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Dr. No and other classic James Bond thrillers. 

He died in 1964 at the age of 56. 

You can read about his life and the Bond books in my Crime Beat columns via the below links:

You can also read about his WWII experiences in my Counterterrorism magazine piece via the below link:

And to learn more you visit 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Alexandria Man On FBI Most Wanted List Indicted On Terrorism Charges

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging an Alexandria man with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization operating in Somalia.
According to court documents, Liban Haji Mohamed, 34, a Somali-born naturalized United States citizen, allegedly left the United States in July 2012 with the intent to join al-Shabaab in East Africa. Al-Shabaab is a Somali-based insurgent and terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for many bombings in Somalia and Uganda and is known to have recruited Westerners. According to court documents, Mohamed allegedly attempted to recruit an undercover agent to travel to Somalia to provide combat training to al-Shabaab fighters.  Mohamed also allegedly planned to use his own media skills to improve al-Shabaab’s propaganda machine, which it has used to recruit Westerners.  Mohamed was a close associate of convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab.
In July 2012, Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, issued a red notice seeking Mohamed as a wanted fugitive.  In January 2015, the FBI announced the addition of Mohamed to the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, and is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mohamed.
Mohamed is charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Individuals with information concerning Mohamed are asked to contact the FBI or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. Tips can be submitted anonymously at Additional information regarding Mohamed, including a poster with his picture, and the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list can be found at:
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Larissa L. Knapp, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Counterterrorism Division, made the announcement.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Gillis and John T. Gibbs, and Trial Attorney Rebecca A. Magnone for the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Babylon Bee: China Issues Stay-At-Home Order To Hong Kong To Prevent Spread Of Democracy

The Babylon Bee takes a satirical shot at Communist China’s crackdown on Hong Kong.

HONG KONG—Sensing the possibility of a dangerous contagion spreading, China has issued a stay-at-home order for Hong Kong so that ideas of democracy might not spread.

“There is a virus out there,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping. “One that could destabilize all of China. That’s why we are requiring all people in Hong Kong to stay home so they don’t infect each other with the idea they get to vote for their own leadership, say whatever they want, or tell each other I look like Winnie the Pooh when I don’t because I look like Brad Pitt.” 

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

Monday, May 25, 2020

No Sadder Song: 'Taps' Played To Honor Those Who Died For Our Country

As notes, the origins of “Taps,” the distinctive bugle melody played at U.S. military funerals and memorials and as a lights-out signal to soldiers at night, date back to the American Civil War. 

In July 1862, U.S. General Daniel Butterfield and his brigade were camped at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, recuperating after the Seven Days Battles near Richmond. Dissatisfied with the standard bugle call employed by the Army to indicate to troops it was time to go to sleep, and thinking the call should sound more melodious, Butterfield reworked an existing bugle call used to signal the end of the day. After he had his brigade bugler, Private Oliver Wilcox Norton, play it for the men, buglers from other units became interested in the 24-note tune and it quickly spread throughout the Army, and even caught on with the Confederates. 

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

You can also watch and listen to an American sailor play “Taps” via the below link:

Memorial Day 2020: A Day To Honor And Remember Those Who Gave Their Lives For Our Country

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Richard Hughes, The Foreign Correspondent Who Inspired Ian Fleming And John le Carre

The Washington Times published my On Crime column on the late Richard Hughes (seen in the above photo), a foreign correspondent and the author of Foreign Devil: Thirty Years of Reporting in the Far East. Both Ian Fleming and John le Carre based fictional characters on him in their novels. 

Later this year Casemate will publish Edward Abel Smith’s “Ian Fleming’s Inspiration: The Truth Behind the Books.”

“James Bond is possibly the most well-known fictional character in history,” Casemate Publishing notes. “What most people don’t know is that almost all of the characters, plots and gadgets come from the real-life experiences of Bond’s creator — Commander Ian Fleming.

“In this book, we go through the plots of Fleming’s novels explaining the real-life experiences that inspired them. The reader is taken on a journey through Fleming’s direct involvement in World War II intelligence and how this translated through his typewriter into James Bond’s world, as well as the many other factors of Fleming’s life which were also taken as inspiration.”

One friend who inspired Fleming was the late Richard Hughes, who was a foreign correspondent for the British Sunday Times. He was the inspiration for the fictional character Dikko Henderson in Ian Fleming’s 1964 James Bond novel “You Only Live Twice.” 

“He is a giant Australian with a European mind and a quixotic view of the world,” the late Ian Fleming said of Richard Hughes

In 1959, Fleming, then the foreign manager of the Sunday Times, was asked by the newspaper’s editor to travel to foreign cities and write about them, as Fleming notes, “through a thriller-writer’s eye.” The newspaper articles were compiled into a book called “Thrilling Cities” in 1963. 

While visiting Hong Kong and Tokyo, Fleming’s guide was Richard Hughes, whom Fleming called “Our Man in the Orient.”   

Ian Fleming later wrote “You Only Live Twice,” which featured a character named Richard Lovelace Henderson. Henderson, based on Hughes, was the British intelligence chief in Japan. He was a big, boisterous and profane Australian who understood the way of the Japanese. Fleming described him as looking like a middle-aged prize-fighter who retired and had taken to the bottle.

In the late 1970s, John le Carre visited Hong Kong while doing research for his novel “The Honorable Schoolboy,” the sequel to his novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Mr. le Carre met Richard Hughes, and like Ian Fleming, he based a character on him.

In the novel, the assembled journalists at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong were discussing the closing of the local branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Mr. le Carre wrote that William Craw, like Hughes, was the doyen of Asia’s foreign press corps.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story Of The Capture & Killing Of America's Most Wanted Crime Boss

The New York Post offers an excerpt from a new book on the capture and death of the notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger.

The leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang and No. 1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, Whitey Bulger was indicted for 19 counts of murder, racketeering, narcotics distribution and extortion. But it was his 16-year flight from justice on the eve of his arrest that made him a legend. In this exclusive excerpt from the new book “Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture & Killing of America’s Most Wanted Crime Boss,” authors Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge reveal how the notorious Bulger finally got caught . . . 

On the night of May 1, 2011, people around the world heard the news about the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Then-President Barack Obama made the announcement, interrupting a nationally televised baseball game between the Mets and the Phillies:

“Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” he declared.

In Santa Monica, at Barney’s Beanery on the Third Street Promenade, bar patrons broke into cheer; “USA, USA,” they shouted. At the popular Santa Monica pub Britannia, one grizzled barfly hoisted his mug in the air. “The bastard’s dead. I’ll drink to that!”

Inside apartment 303 at the Princess Eugenia Apartments, James “Whitey” Bulger sat in his living room with his girlfriend Catherine Greig, watching the announcement with a mixture of pride and dread. The patriotic side of Bulger was elated to learn that members of SEAL Team 6 had sent the terror mastermind back to his maker with a bullet above his left eye. But bin Laden’s death also meant that Bulger, 81, was now number one on the FBI’s list of most-wanted criminals. He knew the pressure to find him would intensify. 

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


You can also read my Crime Beat column Q&A with Dick Lehr, the co-author of Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss via the below link: 

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Little Night Music: Daryl Hall's 'I'm In A Philly Mood'

Daryl Hall met John Oates when the two budding singers and musicians were attending Temple University in Philadelphia in the 1960s.

They were influenced by the rhythm & blues of the "Philadelphia Sound."

They went on to record and perform many fine songs as Hall & Oates.

"I'm in a Philly Mood" was Daryl Hall's toast to his former home.

You can listen to the song via the below link:

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Gunman Identified In 'Terrorism-Related' Naval Base Shooting

The Washington Times offers a report on the shooting at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

A shooting at a Texas naval air station that wounded a sailor and left the gunman dead early Thursday was being investigated as “terrorism-related,” the FBI said, but divulged few details as to why.

The suspect was identified as Adam Alsahli of Corpus Christi, according to three officials familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

At about 6:15 a.m., the gunman tried to speed through a security gate at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, opening fire and wounding the sailor, a member of base security, U.S. officials told the AP. But she was able to roll over and hit the switch that raised a barrier, preventing the man from getting onto the base, the officials said.

Other security personnel shot and killed the man. 

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

Even During Worldwide Pandemic, The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Is Underway Serving As America’s Strongest Symbol Of Resolve

The U.S. Navy released the above photo and the below piece by MCSN Askia J. Collins:

PHILIPPINE SEA - The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is underway serving as America’s strongest symbol of resolve, navigating the global pandemic as its mission endures, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

This deployment marks USS Ronald Reagan’s (CVN 76) fifth year of service as part of U.S. forward-deployed naval forces. Reagan, along with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, represents the cornerstone of the strike group's capability to sustain presence, project power, fight and win decisively from the sea.

“In a testament to our namesake’s slogan, the Reagan crew has proven time and again that whatever challenge we face, It CAN Be Done,” said Capt. Pat Hannifin, Reagan’s commanding officer. “Our team has embraced this motto, completing in port maintenance ahead of schedule, doing our part for the health protection and warfighting readiness of the Navy, and continuing to stand the watch as America’s away team.”

To protect the health of the strike group amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Sailors completed a phased restriction of movement (ROM) with the support of several U.S. military facilities in Japan, and embarked the ship following required medical testing in compliance with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Navy and Marine Corps Public Health.

“These extraordinary measures of precaution were implemented because the health and safety of our Sailors is front and center to our warfighting readiness,” said Rear Adm. George Wikoff, commander, Carrier Strike Group 5. “I cannot overstate my appreciation for the hard work of our Sailors to protect the health of our force, and to all those who support us and enable our enduring mission.”

The ROM period allowed fleet leadership the ability to monitor the health of the force in a controlled facility, and build a safe environment for Sailors to accomplish assigned missions at sea. While participating in ROM, Sailors used their time constructively by taking online college courses, studying for advancement exams and military qualifications, catching up on hobbies and personal projects, as well as participating in services and activities provided by organizations including Fleet and Family Services, the USO and MWR.

One officer proved that you can take the Sailor out of the aircraft carrier, but you can’t take the aircraft carrier out of the Sailor.

“I cannot get enough of aircraft carriers,” said Lt Matthew Chiong of aircraft intermediate maintenance department. “Using my time in ROM, I built a 1:800 scale model of USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).”

While underway, Sailors continue to practice proper mitigation procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, to include social distancing, high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

To kick off deployment, Reagan onloaded more than 1,000 tons of ordnance – enough combat power to cause the ship to sit five-inches lower on the waterline – in addition to personnel and aircraft from aviation squadrons within CVW-5. With more than 5,000 crew embarked, and 60-plus aircraft, Reagan is capable of sustaining around-the-clock maritime operations.

“We are committed to the defense agreements with our allies and partner nations,” said Hannifin. “We provide regional security and stability, deter aggression from those who challenge a free and open Indo-Pacific, and maintain warfighting readiness to respond to any contingency.”

While underway, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will work alongside allies and partners to strengthen regional capabilities, further develop warfighting concepts, and improve distributed maritime operations that provide layered defense options to protect shared interests. Together, the U.S. and its allies promote peace and prosperity by supporting international norms.

The United States remains committed to protecting the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea, and the ability of all countries to exercise those rights.

The crew and support staff of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continue to demonstrate that no challenge is beyond reach and that together “it CAN be done.”

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict. 

Note: The above photo was taken by MC2 Kaila V. Peters.

Former Senior U.S. Navy Employee Charged For Role In Bribery Conspiracy And Lying To Investigators

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
The former Director of Operations of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command Office in Busan, Republic of Korea (ROK) was charged in a complaint filed today in connection with his alleged participation in a bribery conspiracy and alleged lying to federal investigators.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge David Bell of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Far East Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Stanley A. Newell of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Transnational Operations Field Office made the announcement.
Xavier Fernando Monroy, 62, a U.S. citizen, was charged in a complaint filed in the District of Columbia with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of bribery, one count of false statements, and one count of obstruction of justice. 
The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that Monroy engaged in a conspiracy to commit bribery with Sung Yol “David” Kim, the owner of DK Marine, a ROK-based company that provided ship husbanding services to the U.S. Navy, and James Russell Driver III, a former civilian U.S. Navy cargo ship captain, in connection with the provision of husbanding services for Driver’s ship during a December 2013 port visit in Chinhae, ROK.  In order to steer the ship’s husbanding services business to DK Marine, Driver sought, and Kim conveyed, Monroy’s directions on how to circumvent appropriate Navy procedures.
According to the affidavit, Monroy also provided Kim with confidential and other proprietary, internal U.S. Navy information.  In exchange for the steering of business and the provision of such information, Kim paid bribes to Monroy, including cash, personal travel expenses, meals and alcoholic beverages, and the services of prostitutes.  The affidavit further alleges that in July 2019, Monroy repeatedly lied to DCIS and NCIS during a voluntary interview. 
Driver pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery for his role in March 2019 before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Kim pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery for his role on May 1, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan.
A complaint is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 
NCIS and DCIS investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Jessee Alexander-Hoeppner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case. 

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain Announces Charges And Guilty Plea Of Former Philadelphia Judge Of Elections Who Committed Election Fraud

The U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of PA released the below:
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Domenick J. DeMuro, 73, of Philadelphia, PA, a former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division in South Philadelphia, has been charged and has pled guilty to a two-count Information charging (1) conspiracy to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, and (2) a violation of the Travel Act, which forbids the use of any facility in interstate commerce (here, a cell phone) with the intent to promote certain illegal activity (here, bribery). U.S. Attorney McSwain’s video statement providing additional details about this case is available on the Office website here:

The Judge of Elections is an elective office and a paid position. In that role, DeMuro was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and voter activities of his Division. The Judge of Elections is charged with overseeing the Division’s polling place in accordance with federal and state election laws and is required to attend Election Board Training conducted by the Philadelphia City Commissioners.

The voting machines at each polling station, including DeMuro’s station, generate records in the form of a printed receipt documenting the use of each voting machine. The printed receipt, also known as the “results receipt,” shows the vote totals, and the Judge of Elections and other Election Board Officials at each polling place attest to the accuracy of machine results.

During his guilty plea hearing, DeMuro admitted that an unnamed political consultant gave DeMuro directions and paid him money to illegally add votes for certain Democratic candidates. These candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired the consultant, as well as other candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices who were preferred by this consultant for a variety of reasons.

The political consultant would solicit monetary payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as “consulting fees,” and then use portions of these funds to pay Election Board Officials, including DeMuro, in return for tampering with the election results. After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, DeMuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting and distorting the ballots cast by actual voters. DeMuro would add these fraudulent votes to the totals during Election Day, and then would later falsely certify that the voting machine results were accurate.

“DeMuro fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear. This is utterly reprehensible conduct. The charges announced today do not erase what he did, but they do ensure that he is held to account for those actions,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote is fraudulently rung up, the integrity of that election is compromised. I want the public to know that this investigation is active and ongoing, and my Office is taking every possible step that we can to ensure the integrity of the upcoming primary and general elections in the nine counties of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”

“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s conviction makes it clear that the Department of Justice will do all in its power to protect the integrity of elections and maintain public confidence in all levels of elected government.”

“Domenick DeMuro put a thumb on the scale for certain candidates, in exchange for bribes,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “As public trust in the electoral process is vital, the FBI’s message today is clear: election interference of any kind, by hostile foreign actors or dishonest local officials, won’t be tolerated. This is an active, ongoing investigation and we're asking anyone with information on election fraud to contact the FBI.”

“The citizenry of the City of Philadelphia, as well as this Commonwealth and these United States, needs to be confident in the integrity of our elections,” said Captain Leo Hannon, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police, Special Investigations Division. As this investigation clearly illustrates, the Pennsylvania State Police will relentlessly pursue any breach of the sacred trust bestowed upon our public officials. Our agency is proud to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Department of Justice as a whole to root out corruption at any level of our government. Matters of public corruption and public integrity have been, and shall remain, a top priority of the Pennsylvania State Police.”

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric L. Gibson and Richard C. Pilger, U.S. Department of Justice, Director of Elections Crimes Branch, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Puglia Crimewave Points To Emergence Of 'Fifth' Italian Mafia

Lorenzo Tondo at the Guardian offers a piece on an emerging fifth organized crime group in Italy.

Alongside Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the ’Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Naples and the Sacra Corona Unita, investigators have identified an emerging Puglia-based crime organisation that has remained under their radar for several years.

Judicial investigations had suggested mafia activity in northern Puglia, but confirmation from government authorities came after three car bombings in Foggia in January and the year’s first murder, when gunmen on a scooter shot a 50-year-old man in his car. The violence in Foggia prompted the interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, to send a team of anti-mafia investigators to Puglia.

Signs of the criminal clan’s activities predated these incidents. There was an average of one murder a week, one robbery a day and an extortion attempt every 48 hours in Foggia province in 2017 and 2018.

“The Foggia mafia is relatively young,” the head prosecutor for the city, Ludovico Vaccaro, said. “The clans that make up this organisation have been embedded in this territory for at least 30 years. We cannot compare them to the historical Italian mafia groups like Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta, but it is a mafia characterised by a high degree of aggression and violence. It is what I call a primitive mafia, one that feeds cadavers to pigs so as not to leave a trace. An unrefined mafia in its actions, and for this reason dangerous.” 

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr Announces Updates To The Findings Of The Investigation Into The December 2019 Shooting At Pensacola Naval Air Station

Good morning.  I am joined today by FBI Director Chris Wray, and we are here to discuss significant developments in the FBI’s investigation of the December 6 shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station that killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans.

Four months ago, I announced that this shooting was an act of terrorism.  I also publicly asked Apple to help us access the locked contents of the two iPhones belonging to the deceased terrorist Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.  It was clear at that time that the phones were likely to contain valuable information.  Indeed, Alshamrani attempted to destroy both phones, even going so far as to disengage from the gunfight long enough to fire a bullet into one. 

Within one day of the shootings, the FBI sought and obtained court orders, supported by probable cause, authorizing the FBI to search the contents of both phones as part of its investigation.  The problem was that the phones were locked and the FBI did not have the passwords, so they needed help to get in.  We asked Apple for assistance and so did the President.  Unfortunately, Apple would not help us unlock the phones.  Apple had deliberately designed them so that only the user — in this case, the terrorist — could gain access to their contents.      
Today, I am pleased to announce that, thanks to the relentless efforts and ingenuity of FBI technicians, the FBI finally succeeded in unlocking Alshamrani’s phones.  The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani’s significant ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States.  We now have a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months, and days leading up to the attack.

Indeed, the information from the phones has already proven invaluable in protecting the American people.  A counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen.  We will not hesitate to act against those who harm Americans.     

I would now like to turn the podium over to Director Wray, who will provide further information and an update on the FBI’s investigation.

* * *

Thank you, Director Wray.  Thank you for the outstanding work of the men and women of the FBI who stand on the ramparts protecting the American people.   

While the FBI’s hard work has led to an important breakthrough in this case that should be celebrated, I must also express my great disappointment that it took over four months and large sums of taxpayer dollars to obtain evidence that should be easily and quickly accessible with a court order. 

Apple made a business and marketing decision to design its phones in such a way that only the user can unlock the contents no matter the circumstances.  In cases like this, where the user is a terrorist, or in other cases, where the user is a violent criminal, human trafficker, or child predator, Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security and is, in my judgment, unacceptable. 

Apple’s desire to provide privacy for its customers is understandable, but not at all costs.  Under our nation’s long-established constitutional principles, where a court authorizes a search for evidence of a crime, an individual’s privacy interests must yield to the broader needs of public safety.  There is no reason why companies like Apple cannot design their consumer products and apps to allow for court-authorized access by law enforcement while maintaining very high standards of data security.  Striking this balance should not be left to corporate boardrooms.  It is a decision to be made by the American people through their representatives.

Privacy and public safety are not mutually exclusive.  We are confident that technology companies are capable of building secure products that protect user information and, at the same time, allow for law enforcement access when permitted by a judge — as Apple had done willingly for many years, and others still do today.

Many of the technology companies that advocate most loudly for warrant-proof encryption in the name of privacy rights are, at the same time, willing to accommodate authoritarian regimes when it serves their business interests.  For example, it has been widely reported that Apple has worked with both the Communist Party of China and the Russian regime to relocate data centers to enable bulk surveillance by those governments.  Apple also has reportedly disabled features and applications on iPhones used by pro-democracy advocates, thereby facilitating censorship and oppression.  If technology companies like Apple are willing to oblige the demands of authoritarian regimes, they certainly have no excuse for failing to cooperate with rule-of-law nations that respect civil liberties and privacy rights, and have judicial safeguards.

The developments in this case demonstrate the need for a legislative solution.  The truth is that we needed luck, in addition to ingenuity, to get into the phones this time.  There is no guarantee that we will be successful again or that a delay of four months (or longer) will not have significant consequences for the safety of Americans.  In addition, the costs in time and money of devising alternative methods of accessing encrypted information can be enormous.  This is not a scalable solution.  Right now, across the nation, there are many phones, both at the federal and state level, that law enforcement still cannot unlock despite having court authorization.  As commercial encryption becomes even more sophisticated, our odds of success diminish with each passing year.  We cannot do our jobs when companies put the ability to defeat court-authorized searches in the hands of terrorists and criminals.

When combating threats to our homeland, we need American tech leaders to work with us, not against us.  Over the past year, I have repeatedly asked tech companies to work with us to provide better solutions.  Unfortunately, no progress has been made.  For the safety and security of our citizens, we cannot afford to wait any longer.