Sunday, November 29, 2020

CIA: A Look Back At The Alger Hiss Case

I have no doubt that the late Alger Hiss was a spy for the Soviet GRU, but even today, after all of the evidence, many on the left believe he was innocent of espionage against the United States. 

John Ehrman at the CIA offers an unclassified look back at the Alger Hiss Case. 

It has been 50 years since Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury for denying that he had been a Soviet spy, but his case continues to fascinate and stir controversy. The reasons for this are not surprising. The case had all the elements of a fine drama: compelling characters, accusations of treason, unusual evidence, the launching of a presidential career, and enough inconsistencies and ambiguities to leave the issue of guilt or innocence in doubt for decades. Indeed, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, one of the first goals of historians was to gain access to Moscow's archives and settle the question. Although no specific file on Hiss has been released from the KGB or GRU archives, enough material has been found in other files--in Moscow, Eastern Europe, and Washington--to enable historians to write several new works that leave almost no room for doubt about Hiss's guilt. These developments also have significant implications for the intelligence professional today. 

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

 The Alger Hiss Case — Central Intelligence Agency ( 

More Than 700 Members Of Transnational Organized Crime Groups Arrested In Central America In U.S. Assisted Operation

Senior law enforcement officials from the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras announced criminal charges in Central America against more than 700 members of transnational criminal organizations, primarily MS-13 and 18th Street gangs, which resulted from a one-week coordinated law enforcement action under Operation Regional Shield (ORS). 

ORS began in 2017 and is a Justice Department-led initiative to combat transnational organized crime that brings together gang prosecutors and investigators from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.  Through quarterly meetings, this group has coordinated multi-country investigations and simultaneous takedowns throughout the region.  

Authorities also announced the arrest of 36 individuals in El Salvador and Honduras involved in human smuggling networks that span Central America and the United States.  Among those arrested in Honduras, include one police commissioner, one police deputy inspector, and three law enforcement agents.  

All arrestees were charged with human smuggling, money laundering and illegal association to commit a crime.  The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, Attorney General Raul Melara of El Salvador, Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta of Guatemala, and the Attorney General of Honduras, Oscar Fernando Chinchilla, through the Public Ministry’s Press Office.  

“The U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in Central America are committed to continued collaboration in locating and arresting gang members and associates engaged in transnational crimes,” said U.S. Attorney General Barr.  “Our countries are made safer by working together to protect national security and to ensure public safety in our neighborhoods.” 

In 2017, the U.S. Attorney General, together with the Attorneys General of the three Central American countries, committed to combatting transnational organized crime and reducing illegal migration to the United States through increased cooperation and capacity building of law enforcement partners. 

These efforts have led to the following results this week: 

Prosecutors in El Salvador filed criminal charges against 1,152 members of organized crime groups in the country, primarily MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs.  Within hours, the National  Civil Police had captured 572 of the defendants for charges involving terrorism, murder, extortion, kidnapping, vehicle theft, robbery, conspiracy, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, weapons violations, human trafficking and human smuggling.  Prosecutors and the Police also seized assets from these organized crime groups for forfeiture purposes.  

In Guatemala, the Anti-Extortions Prosecution Office, the Prosecutor’s Office against Transnational Crimes, the Special Unit against Transnational Gangs, and police officers executed 80 search warrants, arrested 40 individuals, and served 29 arrest warrants against individuals already in custody, all of who are members of the 18th Street gang and MS-13.  Authorities seized drugs and a firearm, and filed charges for extortion, illicit association, conspiracy to commit murder, and extortive obstruction.  This investigation involves four transportation companies as victims of extortion in the amount of $54,523. 

In Honduras, ORS joint operation took place in different phases during a one-week period resulted in the arrest of over 75 MS-13 and 18th Street gang members and five police officers and the execution of over 10 search warrants. Illegal firearms, cellular phones, drugs and money were seized.  The arrestees were charged with illicit association, murder and conspiracy to commit murder, extortion and drug trafficking.   

On February 9, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking to dismantle and eradicate transnational criminal organizations threatening the safety of our communities. Pursuant to that order, the U.S. Department of Justice has made dismantling transnational human smuggling networks and gangs, including MS-13, a top priority. 

Regional Shield anti-gang efforts have led to charges against more than 11,000 gang members since 2017, including gang leaders nationwide.  Many of these indictments included the seizure of gang assets including firearms and money.  Also, during that time, more than a dozen smuggling/trafficking structures were dismantled.  The capacity-building efforts in Central America of the Justice Department’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) have played a key role in bringing together the Attorneys General from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to form the regional operations targeting MS-13, 18th Street, and other gangs, as well as human smuggling transnational organizations. 

Additionally, as a result of OPDAT’s capacity building efforts, the Justice Department’s partners in Central America have strengthened cooperation and developed the skills, tools, and techniques to maximize results against all forms of transnational organized crime impacting the region and the United States.  

“Since 2017, we have taken a joint and coordinated approach as northern triangle countries with our strategic partner, the United States of America,” said Attorney General Raul Melara of El Salvador.  “To give our Salvadoran people a response and ensure that criminals face justice, we have strengthened the work of our Specialized Prosecution Units to be more effective in combating organized crime and terrorist organizations.  I am committed as Attorney General to continuing this coordinated effort.  We will only eradicate transnational organized crime by combining efforts as a region and by continuing to work together.”    

“As Attorney General of the Republic and Chief of the Public Ministry, I reaffirm my commitment to the fight against transnational organized crime, one of the main goals of my administration,” said Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta of Guatemala.  “To this end, we have increased efforts to provide an effective response to the population through the creation of the Prosecutor’s Office against Transnational Crimes, the Special Unit against Transnational Gangs, the Special Unit against Crimes in Airports and Airfields, the signing of the statement of the Advisory Group of General Prosecutors of the Northern Triangle, which I have the honor to preside; among other strategic actions to combat transnational organized crime with frontal actions against drug trafficking, gangs, organized crime and smuggling of migrants.” 

“I consider that, due to the regional threat posed by these transnational crimes, equal interagency and regional efforts should come into effect,” said Attorney General Oscar Fernando Chinchilla of Honduras.  “Only by joining forces, the damaging consequences produced by these criminal organizations could be neutralized.” 

In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the investigations into transnational criminal organizations is being handled by regional gang prosecutors who receive State Department-funded training and mentoring from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and OPDAT. 

With support from State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, prosecutors from OPDAT helped establish task forces in the region and work with FBI’s local Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) units, as well as HSI’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIUs). These efforts have helped Central American partners convict thousands of criminals, seize over $1 billion in illicit assets, and coordinate dozens of transnational investigations with their U.S. counterparts. 

Law enforcement agencies involved in this latest sixth ORS operation included El Salvador’s Fiscalia General de la Republica (FGR) and the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC); Honduras Policía Nacional, la Dirección Nacional de Servicios Especiales de Investigación (DNSEI), Agencia Técnica de Investigaciones Criminales (ATIC), and Fuerza Nacional Anti Maras y Pandillas (FNAMP) and Guatemala’s Prosecutor’s Office against Transnational Crimes, National Civil Police, Special National Division of Criminal Investigation, National Civil Police’s Anti-Gang Unit, Public Ministry, Anti-Extortions Prosecution Office, and the Special Unit against Transnational Gangs.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Look Back At Nelson DeMille's Vietnam War Novel 'Word of Honor'

Back in 2003 I watched a good film on TV called Word of Honor, which was based on Nelson DeMille’s novel. Don Johnson, Arliss Howard and other actors delivered fine performances in the film. 

Although I had previously read Nelson DeMille’s fine thrillers, I had not read Word of Honor, so I went out and bought the book and read it. I’m glad I did, as Word of Honor is perhaps Nelson DeMille’s finest novel. 

Nelson DeMille (seen in the above photos) served as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War and his experiences in the war made the novel and film gripping, insightful and realistic.  

I served as a teenage sailor on an aircraft carrier on “Yankee Station” off the coast of Vietnam in 1970-1971, but my late older brother Ed Davis, like Nelson DeMille, served as a soldier "in country" in Vietnam. 

I’ve maintained an interest in the war and I’ve read and reviewed many history books, personal accounts and novels on the war. I’ve also interviewed a good number of military men, including Nelson DeMille, CIA officers and journalists who were there.   

Word of Honor is described below on Nelson DeMille’s website: 

He is a good man, a brilliant corporate executive, an honest, handsome family man admired by men and desired by women. But a lifetime ago Ben Tyson was a lieutenant in Vietnam. There the men under his command committed a murderous atrocity - and together swore never to tell the world what they had done. Now the press, army justice, and the events he tried to forget have caught up with Ben Tyson. His family, his career, and his personal sense of honor hang in the balance. And only one woman can reveal the truth of his past - and set him free. 

You can purchase Word of Honor via the below link:

Word of Honor: DeMille, Nelson: 9780446301589: Books

 And you can watch the film via the below link:

Word Of Honor | Full Movie | Don Johnson - Bing video       

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Nelson DeMille via the below link: 

Paul Davis On Crime: My Q&A With Nelson DeMille, Author Of 'The Lion's Game' And 'The Panther'

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving Message From President Dwight D. Eisenhower

 Jennifer Harper at the Washington Times offers the below message from Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, issued 66 years ago: 

“Early in our history the Pilgrim fathers inaugurated the custom of dedicating one day at harvest time to rendering thanks to Almighty God for the bounties of the soil and for His mercies throughout the year. At this autumnal season tradition suggests and our hearts require that we follow that hallowed custom and bow in reverent thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us individually and as a Nation,” said President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Nov. 25, 1954, in his official Thanksgiving Day proclamation. “We are grateful that our beloved country, settled by those forebears in their quest for religious freedom, remains free and strong, and that each of us can worship God in his own way, according to the dictates of his conscience,” the president said. 

“We are grateful for the innumerable daily manifestations of Divine goodness in aff airs both public and private, for equal opportunities for all to labor and to serve, and for the continuance of those homely joys and satisfactions which enrich our lives. With gratitude in our hearts for all our blessings, may we be ever mindful of the obligations inherent in our strength, and may we rededicate ourselves to unselfish striving for the common betterment of mankind.” 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Feed-the-Troops Tradition Continues Despite COVID-19

Katie Lange at the DOD News offer a piece on feeding the troops on Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different for just about everyone this year thanks to the global pandemic. Unfortunately, that includes our service members stationed overseas.  

Large group gatherings in dining facilities used to be the standard for our deployed men and women when it came to celebrating Thanksgiving. This year, that setup will likely look more like grab-and-go style takeout instead.  

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

Thanksgiving Feed-the-Troops Tradition Continues Despite COVID-19 > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Story 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Babylon Bee: Democrats Warn That Excess Thankfulness May Lead To Conservatism

 The Babylon Bee takes a satirical shot at liberal Democrats.

U.S.—Democrat experts are warning the public to avoid excess amounts of thankfulness this year after studies showed that feelings of gratefulness often lead to conservatism.  

"I cannot overstate how dangerous this is," said DNC Chair Tom Perez. "If people start forgetting their many grievances and injustices, they may begin to think of living in America as a profound blessing from some non-existent deity and start voting for Republicans. This is unacceptable." 

According to recently published studies, people who are filled with lasting gratefulness to God for the blessings of living in 21st century America -- the freest, most prosperous, country that has ever existed on Earth -- are approximately infinity times more likely to become conservatives. 

You can read the rest of the piece and other humor pieces via the below link:

Democrats Warn That Excess Thankfulness May Lead To Conservatism | The Babylon Bee 

FBI: Five Things To Know About NIBRS Transitioning To The National Incident-Based Reporting System Will Offer More Robust Crime Statistics Data To Police, Public

The FBI offers information on the new national crime collection program.

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) will become the national crime data collection program. The result will be more robust and complete data for law enforcement, researchers, and the public.

And while the transition to NIBRS is new, publishing reliable, informative crime statistics has been part of the FBI’s role since its earliest days. This transition is the latest in a more than 90-year effort to ensure police and communities have accurate crime data. 

You can read about the new program via the below link

Five Things to Know About NIBRS — FBI 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

On This Day In History Conservative Author, Newspaper Columnist, TV Host And Magazine Editor William F. Buckley Was Born

On this day in 1925 conservative newspaper columnist, magazine editor, TV talk show host and author William F. Buckley was born. 

He died in 2008 at the age of 82. 

I began reading William F. Buckley's books, newspaper columns and his magazine National Review when I was 12-years old. I also began watching his TV show Firing Line at that time.  

As he was for so many others, William F. Buckley was a huge influence in my life.   

I’m thankful that I was able to review favorably two of his books for the Philadelphia Inquirer – one was a political book on President Reagan and the other was his last spy thriller.  

He died before my review of his The Reagan I Knew appeared in the Inquirer, but as he was alive and still an avid reader when my review of Last Call for Blackford Oakes appeared in the Inquirer, I hope he read my review.

William F. Buckley may have passed, but his influence lives on. 

You can read my two reviews of his books below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Dry Runs Taking Place Across U.S., General Says

David Vergun at the DoD News offers a piece on a press conference held by U.S. Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine dry runs

You can read the piece via the below link:

COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Dry Runs Taking Place Across U.S., General Says > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Defense Department News 


Monday, November 23, 2020

The Babylon Bee: Philly Bans All Indoor Gatherings Unless You're Still Counting Biden Votes

 The Babylon Bee offers a satirical shot at the Democrats in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

PHILADELPHIA, PA—With New COVID cases on the rise, and after reports that there are a few Americans left whose spirits are not fully broken yet, states are cracking down on social gatherings during the holidays. Philadelphia is leading the way with a citywide curfew and strict bans on gatherings that include eating, drinking, fellowship, or merriment. The only exception will be for vote counters who are still counting Biden mail-in ballots at counting centers.

"We must flatten the curve and whatever," said Pennsylvania's Health Secretary Rachel Levine, "but we also must protect our democracy from the evil tyranny of Donald Trump. This is why we have chosen to make an exception on our indoor gathering restriction for anyone who is still doing the hard work of counting as many Biden ballots as possible in Philly."

You can read the rest of the piece and other humor pieces via the below link:

Philly Bans All Indoor Gatherings Unless You're Still Counting Biden Votes | The Babylon Bee 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

‘Casino’ Movie’s Anniversary Celebrated In Las Vegas, Recalling City’s Mafia History

Larry Henry at offers a piece on the celebration of Martin Scosese’s classic crime film Casino in Las Vegas. 

The movie Casino’s 25th anniversary took center stage in Las Vegas this week. The movie recalls an era when mobsters operated casinos in Sin City. 

The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas celebrated the anniversary with a sold-out presentation on Thursday, featuring author/screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, appearing virtually, and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. 

Goodman’s wife, Carolyn, is the current mayor. A restaurant at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas is named after him. In special dinner events at Oscar’s Steakhouse, he discusses Las Vegas history and his work as a lawyer representing accused underworld figures. Memorabilia at the restaurant and menu items also reflect his experiences. 

The 87-year-old Pileggi co-wrote the screenplay with director Martin Scorsese. Pileggi is a former Associated Press reporter living in New York City. The movie is based on Pileggi’s 1995 nonfiction book, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. 

Pileggi and Scorsese also co-wrote the Mafia movie Goodfellas, which premiered in 1990. It is based on Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, about New York gangster Henry Hill. 

The 1995 movie Casino is a fictionalized account of Mafia associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s troubled marriage to Geri Rosenthal, a former topless dancer at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. During their marriage, Geri Rosenthal became romantically involved with mobster Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. 

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

'Casino' Movie's Anniversary Celebrated in Las Vegas, Recalling City’s Mafia History - 'Casino' Movie's Anniversary Celebrated in Las Vegas, Recalling City’s Mafia History 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Theodore Roosevelt And The Frontier Lawman: Long Before Heading To The White House, Teddy Roosevelt Hung Out With The Wildest Badge-Wearers Of The Old West.

Erin Lindsey at offers a piece on Teddy Roosevelt and his friendship with frontier lawmen. 


The word calls a specific image to mind. Rugged features, weathered skin, bushy moustache. He’s got a hat on his head, a gun at his waist, and a tin badge on his chest, and he’s a one-man embodiment of the American Old West.

In an era populated with colorful characters—the gunfighter and the gambler, the outlaw and the prospector—no one loomed larger than the lawman. Some of the most notorious figures of the day, including Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, and Bat Masterson, wore a badge. Not that this stopped them from pursuing other endeavors, not all of them strictly legal. Lawmen of the Old West were gunslingers, gamblers, prospectors, prize fighters, buffalo hunters, and even outlaws. Small wonder they so captured the imagination of the American public—and of her 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. 

TR was himself a lawman, having served as deputy sheriff of Billings County, Dakota Territory in 1885-1886, and as police commissioner of New York City ten years later. He had a deep and abiding respect for the law and those who upheld it, and maintained lifelong friendships with a number of famous frontier lawmen. He even appointed several of them to positions in federal law enforcement—prompting the press of the era to refer to them collectively as “the White House Gunfighters.” 

I first became acquainted with this fascinating facet of Rooseveltian history while doing research for The Silver Shooter, a Wild West mystery featuring Theodore Roosevelt as a character. One of my favorite television shows of all time was HBO’s Deadwood, so imagine my delight upon discovering that one of TR’s closest confederates from his Dakota days was Seth Bullock, onetime Sheriff of Deadwood. 

According to TR’s autobiography, their first meeting was less than cordial, with Bullock inquiring after a horse thief Roosevelt had arrested “with a little of the air of one sportsman when another has shot a quail that either might have claimed—‘My bird, I believe?’” TR seems to have smoothed it over, however, and Bullock became one of his “staunchest, most valued” friends. The legendary lawman even presided over a posse of 50 Dakota cowpunchers as part of TR’s inaugural parade in 1905, an event described with breathless delight by the newspapers of the day. 

Interestingly, Bullock wasn’t officially considered one of the White House Gunfighters, perhaps because his reputation was too squeaky-clean. The same could not be said of ‘official’ members Pat Garrett (famous for gunning down Billy the Kid) or Ben Daniels, a former assistant marshal of Dodge City whose stint as a lawman ended when he was tried and acquitted for a murder he almost certainly committed. When TR appointed these men to federal positions—Garrett as Collector of Customs in El Paso (1901) and Daniels as US Marshal of Arizona Territory (1902), the outcry was swift and furious. In the case of Daniels, he was forced to resign barely a month after accepting the post (though he was reappointed three years later). 

The most famous of Roosevelt’s White House Gunfighters was William Barclay “Bat” Masterson, former Sheriff of Dodge City and acquaintance of many of the era’s most famous figures, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Buffalo Bill Cody. 

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

Babylon Bee: California Gov Newsom Announces Curfew So He Won't Have To Wait In Long Line At Fancy Restaurants

 The Babylon Bee takes a satirical shot at California Governor Newsom, who ordered a shutdown in his state and then was captured in a photo dining out in Hawaii.

SACRAMENTO, CA—Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a curfew, telling Californians not to go out at night, so that he can reduce the wait time at fancy, expensive restaurants when he goes out to dine with his rich friends.

Newsom announced the "Stay at Home, Stay Safe, Stay Out of the Lines at my Fancy Napa Restaurants" order in a press conference Thursday evening. Newsom says the science shows that staying home helps defeat the coronavirus and also ensures that there won't be any lines at the restaurants he frequents with his buddies. As an added benefit, no one will be out to take pictures of him violating his own restrictions.

You can read the rest of the piece and other humor pieces via the below link: 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column: Crime, Contention And COVID-19

Philadelphia Weekly ran my Crime Beat column. You can read the column above or via the below link:

 Note: You can click on the above to enlarge. 

Pres. Trump, Joe Biden…And The Philadelphia Mafia Voter Fraud Claim

Eric Shawn and Bradford Bett at offer a piece on the story floating that the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family committed voter fraud to benefit Joe Biden. 

No, the Philadelphia mob did not stuff the ballot box for Joe Biden. "Never, never," the city's former Mob boss, Ralph Natale told Fox News. "They were told if you do one thing it will be the end of us for all time. This is their chance to become human beings." 

Natale, born and raised in the South Philadelphia neighborhood that is the city's mafia home base, ruled the Philadelphia mob in the late 1990s. He flipped and testified for the government against his reputed successor, Joe "Skinny Joey" Merlino in 2000, after pleading guilty to racketeering, murder, and drug conspiracy charges. He also admitted to eight gangland murders. He says organized crime may resort to almost every crime imaginable but putting the fix in for Biden is not one of them. 

"The Dems won the election fair and square," he said.  

The prospect that the mafia interfered in the election to tip it to the President-Elect in the key state of Pennsylvania, was first raised on the internet by a Buffalo, N.Y. website and then amplified by several of President Trump's supporters. 

Jordan Sekulow, the son of top Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, retweeted the claim that Merlino helped fake 300,000 illegal ballots for Biden, at $10 each, for a $3 million underworld score that handed the state to the Democratic nominee. 

Besides Natale, authorities and Merlino's lawyer say the story is not true. 

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

You can also read my Q&A with former Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime boss Ralph Natale via the below link:

Note: The top and bottom photos are of Ralph Natale. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Former Army Green Beret Pleads Guilty To Russian Espionage Conspiracy

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

A former Army Green Beret pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with United States national defense information. 

According to court documents, from December 1996 to January 2011, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, of Gainesville, a former member of the U.S. Army, conspired with agents of a Russian intelligence service. During that time, Debbins periodically visited Russia and met with Russian intelligence agents. In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia. 

“Debbins today acknowledged that he violated this country’s highest trust by passing sensitive national security information to the Russians,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.  “Debbins betrayed his oath, his country, and his Special Forces team members with the intent to harm the United States and help Russia.  Debbins’s guilty plea represents another success in the Department’s continuing effort to counter the national security threat posed by our nation’s adversaries, including Russia.” 

“Our country entrusted Debbins with the responsibility and training to protect it from its adversaries,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Debbins betrayed that trust and betrayed his fellow service members by conspiring to provide national defense information to Russian intelligence operatives. I would like to commend our investigative partners for their steadfast and dogged dedication to bringing Debbins to justice and holding him accountable for his crimes.” 

From 1998 to 2005, Debbins served on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army, serving in chemical units before being selected for the U.S. Army Special Forces. The Russian intelligence agents encouraged him to join and pursue a career in the Special Forces, which he did, where he served at the rank of Captain. 

Over the course of the conspiracy, Debbins provided the Russian intelligence agents with information that he obtained as a member of the U.S. Army, including information about his chemical and Special Forces units. In 2008, after leaving active duty service, Debbins disclosed to the Russian intelligence agents classified information about his previous activities while deployed with the Special Forces. Debbins also provided the Russian intelligence agents with the names of, and information about, a number of his former Special Forces team members so that the agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service. 

“Debbins betrayed this nation and his fellow serviceman, putting Americans and our national security at risk by providing national defense information to Russia’s Intelligence Service,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Despite being entrusted to protect his colleagues and U.S. national security, he chose to abuse this trust by knowingly providing classified information to one of our most aggressive adversaries.  Today’s plea is an example of the zealous pursuit of justice that the FBI and our partners stand for and work tirelessly to achieve every day.” 

“President Kennedy called the Green Berets ‘a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction.’ Mr. Debbins’ actions were a symbol of betrayal, a badge of cowardice, and a mark of treachery,” said Alan E. Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division. “He pledged his allegiance to Russia, and in doing so, sold-out his country and fellow Green Berets. This case should serve as a reminder that the FBI and its investigative partners will stop at nothing to hold an individual accountable for their actions.” 

Debbins is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 26, 2021.  He faces a maximum penalty of life 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. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas W. Traxler and James L. Trump, and Trial Attorney David Aaron of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, are prosecuting the case. 

U.S. Attorney Terwilliger and Assistant Attorney General Demers greatly appreciate the assistance of Army Counterintelligence, the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service, and MI5.

FBI: The Chinese Threat: Chinese Talent Plans Encourage Trade Secret Theft, Economic Espionage

 The FBI released the below information:

What are Talent Plans? 

Foreign governments sponsor talent recruitment programs, or talent plans, to bring outside knowledge and innovation back to their countries—and sometimes that means stealing trade secrets, breaking export control laws, or violating conflict-of-interest policies to do so.

While various countries use talent plans, the Chinese government is the most prolific sponsor of these programs—and the United States is one of China’s main targets.

The U.S. welcomes international collaboration in academic and scientific research and business development. But American businesses, universities, and laboratories should understand the potential risks and illegal conduct incentivized by Chinese talent plans and take steps to safeguard their trade secrets and intellectual property.

How Chinese Talent Plans Work 

China oversees hundreds of talent plans. All incentivize its members to steal foreign technologies needed to advance China’s national, military, and economic goals.

China recruits science and technology professors, researchers, students, and others—regardless of citizenship or national origin—to apply for talent plans. Individuals with expertise in or access to a technology that China doesn’t have are preferred.

Participants enter into a contract with a Chinese university or company—often affiliated with the Chinese government—that usually requires them to:

  • Subject themselves to Chinese laws
  • Share new technology developments or breakthroughs only with China (they can’t share this information with their U.S employer or host without special authorization from China)
  • Recruit other experts into the program—often their own colleagues

China will let people with existing jobs in the United States participate in talent plans part-time so they can maintain their access to intellectual property, trade secrets, pre-publication data and methods, and U.S. funding for their research.

Talent plan participants are offered multiple financial, personal, and professional benefits in exchange for their efforts.

China’s talent plans have successfully recruited participants around the world to work on key programs like military technologies, nuclear energy, wind tunnel design, and advanced lasers.

Risks and Information for U.S. Businesses, Universities, and Laboratories 

Talent plans can sometimes foster legitimate sharing and collaboration as part of an appropriate business arrangement or research exchange, but this is not the norm.

Instead, talent plans usually involve undisclosed and illegal transfers of information, technology, or intellectual property that are one-way and detrimental to U.S. institutions.

Your students and/or employees could be talent plan participants. Many people who participate in these programs work at prominent U.S. laboratories, businesses, and universities, including places where government research is conducted for sensitive military and scientific projects.

Transparency and disclosure regarding an individual’s participation in a talent plan are essential. This is the only way U.S. institutions can assess the risks to their intellectual property, prevent abuse of the open access offered by the U.S. research environment, and ensure grant-funding programs are fair and equitable. Unfortunately, many participants do not disclose their involvement in these programs.

An individual’s undisclosed participation in a talent plan may:

  • Pose risks to national security because of the participant’s obligation to the Chinese government

  • Result in inappropriate use of taxpayer funds if the participant is awarded a U.S. government grant
  • Harm other researchers and scientists by jeopardizing their professional credibility and their ability to obtain future research funding—and denying them the professional and financial benefits of their efforts—if their work is stolen and transferred to China
  • Result in the recruiting of colleagues by the participant
  • Result in lasting financial damages to your institution due to stolen information or the inability to obtain federal research funding in the future

Even if talent plan participants who steal information are eventually caught and prosecuted, the damage done to your organization by intellectual property theft may be irreversible.

Risks and Information for Chinese Talent Plan Participants 

Although participating in talent plans is not inherently illegal, you may violate U.S. law, especially if you don’t properly disclose your affiliation.

You should familiarize yourself with and abide by disclosure and conflict-of-interest rules required by your U.S. employer and the U.S. government. Transparency and full disclosure of talent plan membership and foreign contracts or agreements are essential for institutions to assess risk.

You risk criminal prosecution when you steal intellectual property or misuse grant funds. Talent plan participants have pleaded guilty or been convicted of offenses including:

  • Export-control law violations
  • Economic espionage and theft of trade secrets
  • Grant and tax fraud

Monday, November 16, 2020

Have You Seen This Grenade-Stealing, C-4 Packing, Fugitive Sailor Who Escaped 15 Years Ago Today?

 Geoff Ziezulewicz at the Navy Times offers a piece on an armed and dangerous sailor fugitive. 

Fifteen years ago today, James T. Praefke ditched his escort and escaped from Navy custody after being sentenced to hard time at Naval Brig Puget Sound, Washington.

The electronics mate 1st class remains on the lam to this day, and he is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s longest-running active fugitive investigation.

Now, NCIS is asking if you’ve seen him.

Authorities discovered a M33 fragmentation grenade in Praefke’s bag during a customs inspection as he returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, from an Afghanistan deployment in February 2005.

“Later searches led to the discovery of military grade C-4 explosive,” NCIS said in their latest appeal for help in locating the fugitive former sailor.

Praefke had been serving as a command logistics petty officer, in charge of packing items for transport to and from Afghanistan. He went to trial later that year and was convicted at general court-martial in October 2005 and sentenced to more than three years in the brig for unlawful possession of explosives, larceny of ammunition and for making false official statements, according to NCIS.

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

Babylon Bee: Chicago Mayor Limits Gatherings To Ten People Unless You're Involved In A Drive-By

 The Babylon Bee takes a satirical shot at the Chicago mayor.

CHICAGO, IL—Now that Biden victory parties in the streets have ended, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is announcing a new round of lockdowns to help halt the spread of something bad that nobody can remember anymore. To help prevent transmission of the deadly something, the mayor has announced that all gatherings of more than 10 people will be prohibited -- unless, of course, you're going to be involved in a drive-by shooting.

"Let me be clear, you probably shouldn't be shooting people," said Lightfoot in a press conference. "But if you really have to shoot some rival gang members, and you need more than a crew of 10 to do it, we'll make an exception just this once. Don't go crazy though."

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