Sunday, October 30, 2022

A Little Night Music: Nina Simone Sings Jazz Classic 'My Baby Just Cares For Me'

I’ve been listening to jazz great Nina Simone sing her classic jazz song, My Baby Just Cares For Me, on 

The song, originally sung by Eddie Cantor in the 1930 film, Whoopee!, was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn. Nina Simone recorded the song in 1958.   

You can listen to the song via the below link:

Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares For Me (1958) - YouTube 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Navy Chief Petty Officer Pleads Guilty to $2.7 Million Fraud Scheme

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

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach naval officer pleaded guilty today to his role in a $2.7 million procurement fraud scheme, and to lying on his federal income tax return.

According to court documents, Randolph M. Prince, 45, defrauded the Navy out of over $2.7 million through a procurement fraud scheme in which he, as a member of his Navy unit’s supply staff, steered government contracts to sham companies who were created and run by his friends. Prince had the authority to make purchase requests for military equipment on behalf of his command, and also had the ability to sign for goods when a company delivered them to his unit on the back end.

Prince took advantage of his position to direct purchases to the sham companies, which had been opened for the sole purpose of receiving government contracts from Prince. When a contract landed on the desk of one of these companies, Prince, and others, would generate fraudulent documentation to suggest the company had honored its end of the bargain. With this documentation in hand, the Navy would then pay the company. However, the sham companies never provided the Navy with anything at all. Instead, they distributed the Navy money amongst Prince and his associates.

Prince pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making a false statement in connection with his 2014 tax return. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 3. 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.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge for Defense Criminal Investigative Service Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Cliff Everton, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Norfolk Field Office, Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, and Kelly R. Jackson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. Layne is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-116.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Former Philadelphia Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested And Charged With Trafficking Firearms

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Samir Ahmad, 29, of Philadelphia, PA, was charged by Criminal Complaint with firearms trafficking and selling firearms to a person unlawfully in the United States, arising from his sale of two semi-automatic pistols to a confidential informant while he was employed as a Deputy Sheriff with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office.

According to the court documents, Ahmad was employed as a Deputy Sheriff with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office beginning in February 2018. In October 2022, when Ahmad was a sworn law enforcement officer as a Deputy Sheriff, he allegedly sold two semi-automatic pistols and ammunition to a confidential informant. During the exchange, the informant explained to Ahmad that he was unlawfully in the United States, and that he could “get deported” if he was caught in possession of a gun. As detailed in the Criminal Complaint, Ahmad responded, simply: “You don’t got to worry about none of that.” The defendant made $3,000 from the sale of the firearms. On October 19, 2022, Ahmad was terminated from employment with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office and arrested by federal agents.

The investigation is ongoing.

“As alleged, Samir Ahmad abused his authority – to the greatest extent possible – as a sworn law enforcement officer,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “The defendant was allegedly sold firearms on the street, and for the sake of putting money in his pocket, was willing to put deadly firearms into the hands of someone he knew was prohibited by law from possessing them. Working with our law enforcement partners, we are doing all that we can to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence.”

“The idea of a sworn public servant so blatantly undermining public safety is reprehensible,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Philadelphia is awash in illegal guns, which are being used to commit violent crimes, so every weapon we can take off the street and every trafficker we can lock up makes a difference. The FBI and our partners will continue to do everything in our power to make this city safer.”

“The result of this investigation is the paradigm of collaboration between our local, state, and federal partners,” said Eric Degree, acting Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “We cannot let the gun violence we are seeing become the norm. We will continue to use our expertise to identify, investigate, and incarcerate those who commit and those who facilitate the violent firearm crimes that plague our streets.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys J. Jeanette Kang and Justin T. Ashenfelter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A Toast To America

Jennifer Harper at the Washington Times, where my On Crime column appears, offers a look at the toast to America that was delivered by former CIA officer and former NYPD deputy commissioner David Cohen. 

 Let’s take a moment to consider this toast delivered at a recent gathering hosted by the OSS Society — which honors the mighty and innovative Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era predecessor to the CIA. 

The much-appreciated toast was delivered to the 600-member audience by David Cohen, a 35- year veteran of the CIA and former deputy commissioner for intelligence for the New York City Police Department who now serves as senior adviser to Starr Holdings. 

“This is to you, America,” Mr. Cohen called out. “You were birthed in the heat of revolution, from the Battle of Bunker Hill to the bitter winter quarters of Valley Forge — and finally victorious at Yorktown. You became a nation on battlefields from Shiloh to Vicksburg to Gettysburg, and showed amazing grace at Appomattox Court House,” Mr. Cohen said. 

“You matured in World War I, leaving behind on the battlefields of Belleau Wood, Flanders Fields and others nearly 120,000 Americans — who would otherwise be farmers, haberdashers or factory workers. Your blood flowed at Normandy and Bastogne, in the air and at sea, at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. You opened the gates of Nazi extermination camps, then uplifted your former enemies with your treasures and values,” Mr. Cohen continued. 

“You gained victory against the insatiable Soviet evil empire in a nearly 50-year war, with titanic battles stretching from Korea’s frigid Chosin Reservoir to the steamy jungles of Vietnam — through the Berlin airlift and the Cuban missile crisis. And you closed the Fulda Gap with your troops and tanks,” he said. 

“You freed Kuwait, saw bravery in Fallujah and shed blood yet again in Khost and Afghanistan — and you brought justice to Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Iran’s Qassim Soleimani, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and now Ayman Al-Zawahiri. 

And while achieving all of this, America — along the way, lest we forget — you found the cure for polio, put a man on the moon, invented baseball — and of course, rock ’n’ roll. America:

Never, never become weary, because your greatest achievements are yet to be witnessed,” Mr. Cohen concluded. “Now please stand and raise your glass in toast to America,” he told his audience. 

And they did. 

Note: The above photo is of Jasper Johns' painting, Three Flags.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Actor Who Should be Bond: Watch Aidan Turner Do A Sort Of James Bond Audition In 'And Then There Was None'

As I've noted here before, I think the best actor to portray James Bond is Aidan Turner. 

Not only was he quite good as Captain Poldark in that fine series, he was also quite good as the killer Philip Lombard in the latest TV version of Agatha Christies' And Then There Were None

His portrayal of the tux-wearing Lombard was sort of an audition for James Bond. And Turner nailed it, in my view.    

Emily Johnson compiled Turner's scenes as Lombard on 

You can watch the scenes (and think of James Bond) via the below link:

Aidan Turner Scenes "And Then There Were None" Part 1 - YouTube

Note: Charles Dance, who was also very good in And Then There Were None, as well as Game of Thrones, and also good as Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, in Goldeneye, would make a good Bond villain. 

You can read my earlier post on Turner as Bond via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: An Open Letter To Barbara Broccoli, Producer of the James Bond Films - Remake 'Moonraker' & Hire Aidan Turner As Bond 

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information this past Tuesday:

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) was created by Presidential Order four decades ago. On Oct. 14, 1982, in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice building, President Ronald Reagan announced a new coordinated federal government effort bringing together prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to attack the command and control elements of the drug trafficking organizations responsible for moving massive quantities of illicit narcotics into the country.

The White House directed that the OCDETF’s top priority would be to disrupt the sales and distribution networks of the traffickers. Some of the department’s most notable successes against drug cartels have resulted from OCDETF coordinated investigations and prosecutions. OCDETF was instrumental in taking down the powerful Colombian cartels of the 1980s; the notorious and violent Mexican cartels such as the Tijuana, Juarez and Gulf Cartels in the 1990s; and the methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and opioid threats from all over the world in the last two decades.        

As criminal networks have grown more sophisticated in the last 40 years — branching out to more varied types of criminal activity — OCDETF has responded by expanding its mission beyond drug trafficking organizations and money laundering networks to all forms of transnational organized crime. OCDETF is fully engaged in all manner of investigations into criminal networks involved in human smuggling, sophisticated financial fraud, cyber-enabled crime, illicit finance, arms trafficking, government benefits theft, business e-mail compromise and U.S. sanctions evasion. OCDETF is uniquely and ideally structured to support the fight against transnational organized crime through operational integration, collaboration and law enforcement information sharing.

“Since its founding, OCDETF has been a synchronizer and our role is to incentivize prosecutors to lead smart, creative law enforcement agents in investigations focused on priority targets of organized criminal groups and the illicit financial networks that support them,” said OCDETF Director Adam W. Cohen. “Today, OCDETF provides a forward leaning structure for our partners to work together and leverage each other’s strengths, capabilities and legal authorities resulting in continued positive impacts to the nation.”

OCDETF’s successes over the last 40 years have been made possible by strong collaboration and coordination with its member agencies. OCDETF is partnered with the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the department’s Criminal Division and 11 federal law enforcement agencies from the Department of Justice (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Marshals Service), Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Secret Service), Treasury (Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigation), Postal (U.S. Postal Inspection Service), Labor (Office of the Inspector General), and State (Bureau of Diplomatic Security).

OCDETF’s governance, bringing leadership to the multi-agency transnational organized crime mission and focus on joint priority targets has generated genuine measurable accomplishments — over 34,000 multi-agency cases against priority targets, over 124,000 indictments of almost 360,000 defendants, and incredibly, over 15,690 of those resulted in impactful disruption, or even dismantlement of criminal organizations.     

“As OCDETF begins our 41st year, we will continue to provide a coordination platform for comprehensive investigations and prosecutions of the most dangerous transnational criminal organizations, the successful result of which is to make our nation safer,” said OCDETF Director Cohen. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Justice Department Announces Charges and Arrests in Two Cases Involving Export Violation Schemes to Aid Russian Military

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

In separate charges unsealed today in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of New York and the District of Connecticut, and with the support of the Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, the Justice Department has charged nearly a dozen individuals and several corporate entities with participating in unlawful schemes to export powerful, civil-military, dual-use technologies to Russia – some of which have been recovered on battlefields in Ukraine while another nuclear proliferation technology was intercepted before reaching Russian soil.

In the Eastern District of New York, five Russian nationals and two oil brokers for Venezuela are charged in an indictment unsealed today for their alleged participation in a global sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme. One defendant was arrested on Oct. 17 in Germany and another defendant was arrested on Oct. 17 in Italy, both at the request of the United States. As alleged, the defendants obtained military technology from U.S. companies, smuggled millions of barrels of oil, and laundered tens of millions of dollars for Russian industrialists, sanctioned entities, and the world’s largest energy conglomerate.

Separately, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, a superseding indictment was unsealed charging four individuals – three of whom were arrested by Latvian authorities on Oct. 18 and one by Estonian authorities on June 13 at the request of the United States – and two companies in Europe with violating U.S. export laws by attempting to smuggle a dual-use, export-controlled item – a high-precision computer-controlled grinding machine – to Russia. Commonly known as a “jig grinder,” the item is export-controlled for its use in nuclear proliferation and defense programs.

“These charges reveal two separate global schemes to violate U.S. export and sanctions laws, including by shipping sensitive military technologies from U.S. manufacturers – including types found in seized Russian weapons platforms in Ukraine – and attempting to reexport a machine system with potential application in nuclear proliferation and defense programs to Russia,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As I have said, our investigators and prosecutors will be relentless in their efforts to identify, locate, and bring to justice those whose illegal acts undermine the rule of law and enable the Russian regime to continue its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

“This week’s indictments and arrests highlight the FBI’s work countering Russia’s flagrant evasion of U.S. sanctions and violation of export regulations,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI, along with our U.S. and international partners, will continue to aggressively disrupt the procurement of oil, laundered money, and unlawfully obtained military technology from U.S. companies to support Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

United States v. Orekhov et al., Eastern District of New York

According to court documents, Yury Orekhov, 42, a Russian national residing in Germany; Artem Uss, 40, of Moscow; Svetlana Kuzurgasheva aka Lana Neumann, 32, of Moscow; Timofey Telegin, 39, of Moscow; and Sergey Tulyakov 52, of Moscow are named in the indictment unsealed today. Also charged are Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce, aka Juanfe Serrano, and Juan Carlos Soto, who allegedly brokered illicit oil deals for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, as part of the scheme. On Oct. 17, Orekhov was arrested in Germany and Uss was arrested in Italy, both at the request of the United States, and will undergo extradition proceedings.

“As alleged, the defendants were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to unlawfully obtain U.S. military technology and Venezuelan sanctioned oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrency. Their efforts undermined security, economic stability and rule of law around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “We will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those who fuel Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the shadowy economy of transnational money laundering.”

According to court documents, Orekhov served as the part owner, CEO and Managing Director of Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH (NDA GmbH), a privately held industrial equipment and commodity trading company located in Hamburg, Germany. The other owner of NDA GmbH is Artem Uss, the son of the governor of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai region. Kuzurgasheva served as the CEO of one of the scheme’s shell companies and worked for NDA GmbH under Orekhov.

Using NDA GmbH as a front company, Orekhov and Kuzurgasheva sourced and purchased sensitive military and dual-use technologies from U.S. manufacturers, including advanced semiconductors and microprocessors used in fighter aircraft, missile systems, smart munitions, radar, satellites, and other space-based military applications. These items were shipped to Russian end users, including sanctioned companies controlled by Telegin and Tulyakov that serviced Russia’s military. Some of the types of electronic components obtained through the criminal scheme have been found in Russian weapons platforms seized on the battlefield in Ukraine. As alleged, in 2019, Orekhov travelled to the United States to source parts used in the Russian-made Sukhoi fighter aircraft and the American-made F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft.

Orekhov and Uss also allegedly used NDA GmbH as a front to smuggle hundreds of millions of barrels of oil from Venezuela to Russian and Chinese purchasers, including a Russian aluminum company controlled by a sanctioned oligarch and the world’s largest oil refining, gas and petrochemical conglomerate based in Beijing. Serrano Ponce and Soto brokered deals worth millions of dollars between PDVSA and NDA GmbH, which were routed through a complex group of shell companies and bank accounts to disguise the transactions. In one communication with Serrano Ponce, Orekhov openly admitted that he was acting on behalf of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, saying “He [the oligarch] is under sanctions as well. That’s why we [are] acting from this company [NDA GmbH]. As fronting.” The scheme also involved falsified shipping documents and supertankers that deactivated their GPS navigation systems to obscure the Venezuelan origin of their oil.

Payment for NDA GmbH’s illicit activities was often consummated in U.S. dollars routed through U.S. financial institutions and correspondent bank accounts. To facilitate these transactions, Orekhov and his co-conspirators used fictitious companies, falsified “know your customer” documentation and bank accounts in high-risk jurisdictions, causing U.S. banks to process tens of millions of dollars in violation of U.S. sanctions and other criminal laws. In one conversation with Soto, Orekhov bragged that “there were no worries...this is the shittiest bank in the Emirates…they pay to everything.” The scheme also utilized bulk cash drops with couriers in Russia and Latin America, as well as cryptocurrency transfers worth millions of dollars, to effectuate these transactions and launder the proceeds.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Orekhov, Uss, Kuzurgasheva, Serrano Ponce, and Soto are additionally charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); bank fraud conspiracy for the oil smuggling scheme; and money laundering conspiracy for the oil smuggling and IEEPA scheme.

Orekhov, Kuzurgasheva, Telegin and Tulyakov are additionally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud; money laundering conspiracy for illicit procurement of U.S. dual use technology; conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and smuggling goods from the United States.

If convicted of bank fraud conspiracy, the defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison with additional prison time as the result of conviction on additional charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI is investigating the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Italian and German law enforcement authorities provided valuable assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell for the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

United States v. Romanyuk et al., District of Connecticut

According to court documents, beginning in 2018, Eriks Mamonovs, 33, and Vadims Ananics, 46, both citizens of Latvia who operated CNC Weld, a Latvia-based corporation, conspired with Stanislav Romanyuk, 37, a citizen of Ukraine and resident of Estonia who operated Estonia-based BY Trade OU, and others, including Janis Uzbalis, 46, of Latvia and individuals in Russia and a Russia-based company, to violate U.S. export laws and regulations and smuggle a jig grinder that was manufactured in Connecticut to Russia.

“The indictment alleges that these defendants attempted to smuggle a high-precision export-controlled item to Russia where it could have been used in nuclear proliferation and Russian defense programs,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery of the District of Connecticut. “The danger created by such conduct is profound. I thank HSI, the Department of Commerce and the FBI, and our partners in Latvia and Estonia, who thwarted this alleged scheme and are working to bring these defendants to justice in a U.S. court of law.”

A jig grinder is a high-precision grinding machine system that does not require a license to export to European Union countries but does require a license for export and reexport to Russia because of its applications in nuclear proliferation and defense programs. At no time did the defendants apply for, receive or possess a license of authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce to export or reexport the jig grinder to Russia, as required by the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which restrict the export of items that could make a significant contribution to the military potential of other nations or that could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States.

U.S. authorities, working with Latvian authorities, intercepted the jig grinder in Riga, Latvia, before it was to be shipped to Russia.

Mamonovs, Ananics, Romanyuk, Uzbalis, and others are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison; violation of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), which carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison; smuggling goods from the United States, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison; and international money laundering conspiracy, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Mamonovs is also charged with making false statements to the U.S. Department of Commerce, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

The indictment also charges CNC Weld, BY Trade OU with conspiracy, violation of the ECRA, smuggling goods from the United States, and international money laundering conspiracy.

Ananics, Mamonovs and Uzbalis were arrested on Oct. 18 in Riga, Latvia at the request of the United States. Romanyuk was arrested in Tallinn, Estonia at the request of the United States, on June 13, 2022. The Justice Department is seeking their extradition. 

HSI field offices in New Haven, Portland (Ore.), and the Hague, Netherlands; the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement in Boston; and the FBI are investigating the case. The Prosecutor-General’s Offices of the Republic of Latvia and Estonia, Latvian State Revenue Service, Estonian Tax and Customs Board, and the Latvian State Police provided valuable assistance. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is providing valuable assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Konstantin Lantsman of the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorney Matthew Anzaldi of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.


Both actions were coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2 and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

A Little Humor: Husband Cleverly Rebrands Cigars As Smokeable Essential Oils

The Babylon Bee offers a clever satirical piece that cigar smokers, like me, will enjoy:

COLUMBIA, SC — Local man Alex McIlvaine stumbled upon the brilliant idea today of adding a little sign to his cigar humidor that reads "Smokeable essential oils."

"See babe! It's just like the diffuser you have, but a little more direct," explained Mr. McIlvaine to his wife. "Oo, a Padron! This one is good for arthritis, I think. Probably fixes Celiac disease too!"

An outraged Mrs. McIlvaine pushed back on his audacious claim of a cigar fixing arthritis, but Mr. McIlvaine simply asked to see what evidence she had that lavender cured diabetes. "Hey, fair is fair," said Mr. McIlvaine. "I'll continue agreeing that this vague scent of lemon can cure smallpox, so long as we can agree this lovely Rocky Patel cigar here will lower my cholesterol."

Mr. McIlvaine reportedly conceived the idea after seeing his wife order an essential oils set, which came in a box shockingly similar to a humidor. "That was when I realized, essential oils are just cigars for women," said Mr. McIlvaine. "Women feel a need to unwind, so they light up, breathe the fumes, and make the whole house smell. It's the exact same experience. The only difference is the delightful smell of tobacco versus some weird herb."

At publishing time, Mr. McIlvaine reportedly had lit up a Monte Cristo in order to fix his male-pattern baldness. 

You can read more satirical and humor pieces via the below link:

Babylon Bee | Fake News You Can Trust 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

My Counterterrorism Magazine Q&A With Thriller Writer Brad Thor

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with thriller writer Brad Thor. 

You can read the interview via the below pages or the below text:

My Q&A With Thriller Writer Brad Thor


Brad Thor is the author of a series of popular thrillers that features a character called Scott Harvarth, a former U.S. Navy Seal and Secret Service agent who becomes a counter-terrorism operative.


Brad Thor graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California where he studied creative writing, film, and television production. Prior to becoming a novelist, he was the award-winning creator, producer, writer and host of the critically acclaimed national public television series, “Traveling Lite.”


In addition to writing thrillers, Brad Thor has appeared on television to discuss terrorism and how closely his novels of international intrigue parallel the real threats facing the world today.


He has also served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Unit. And he has lectured to law enforcement organizations on over-the-horizon/future threats. He has also been a keynote speaker for the National Tactical Officers Association annual conference. In 2008, he shadowed a Black Ops team in Afghanistan to research his thriller, “The Apostle.”


His latest thriller is called “Rising Tiger.”


Brad Thor was interviewed by Paul Davis.


IACSP: I read “Rising Tiger” and I enjoyed the novel. You describe your thrillers as “Faction.” For example, I understand the brutal battle between Indian and Chinese troops on their border, and the Indian organized crime “Soda Pop War,” are two true events you include in “Rising Tiger.” Can you tell us what you mean by “faction”, and can you describe the two true events?


Thor: I call what I do ‘faction’, where you don’t know where the facts end, and the fiction begins. And this year with “Rising Tiger,” my goal was to put the action in the ‘faction’. When I write my books, I like to choose a geopolitical set piece as the backdrop. Preferably something people aren’t seeing much of in the media. When I read this true story about Chinese troops crossing the line of actual control in the disputed border region with India two summers ago high in the Himalayas and attacking with the Indians with all these home-made weapons, because there are no guns or explosives allowed in that area, I was riveted by this. I said, why am I not reading and hearing more about this in the media? I realized there are a lot of reasons for the United States to be more of a formal ally with India, not the least of which is that the United States is the world’s oldest democracy, and India is the world’s largest. We learned during COVID about the supply chain, and how much is made in China. China is not a good partner for the United States to be dependent on, from cholesterol medication to whatever you find at your local Walmart. I like India on many levels, but I didn’t know much about it. So how do I set a thriller in India? None of my contemporaries have done it. India is a fascinating place for espionage, and what if we took this association called the “Quad,” that exists in the real world. That’s India, the United States, Japan and Australia. What if the United States wanted to create an Asian version of NATO, and they sent a kind of shadow diplomat over to India to begin talks, but the Chinese caught wind of it and decided to assassinate the diplomat? What kind of firestorm would that kick off? That’s the basis for the book. It starts with the horrible six-hour hand-to-hand medieval-style melee in the Himalayas, and the next chapter is the assassination of the diplomat and it just rolls on from there.


IACSP: Can you describe the Soda Pop War? An unusual name for an organized crime gang war.


Thor: Growing up in Chicago and having friends in New York and New Jersey, I thought we had some colorful mafia wars. But some of the organized stuff that is happening in India is fascinating. I didn’t realize the links between organized crime and terrorism in India, and how much hand-in-glove it goes. The Soda Pop War happened to deal with a particular Indian crime syndicate that were using pop bottles as weapons. It was very much like a Sharks and Jets kind of thing, except instead of switchblades, they were using soda pop glass bottles. This very aggressive faction was willing to take it right up to the edge with what they did with the soda bottles. They were so brutal. A nasty bunch.


IACSP: Most interesting.


Thor: My problem with this book was not what to include about India, but what to leave out. It’s a spy thriller, and I want you to take it to the beach and keep flipping the pages, but I was riveted by the research.


IACSP: How would you describe your series’ protagonist, Scot Harvath, and how has he evolved over the twenty years you have been writing about him?


Thor: I have a couple of things to say about Harvath. First, he’s my alter ego, in the same way I’m sure James Bond was for Ian Fleming and Jack Ryan was for Tom Clancy. I like to joke that Scot Harvath gets to do the things my wife won’t let me do. I wanted to create a character where if the enemy isn’t going to abide by the Geneva Convention, or the Marquis of Queensberry Rules, I wanted the United States to have somebody who wasn’t expected to meet the enemy on the battlefield and have one arm and one leg tied behind his back. I wanted the United States to say we have established a way to do this with plausible deniability. We will let you go and do what it takes to achieve the mission. It is kind of based loosely on the idea of achieving the mission at all costs from “Wild Bill” Donovan and the OSS, the precursor of the CIA, and Donovan’s maxim was “If you fall, fall forward in service of the mission.” If you are going to send out somebody to do some of the nation’s most dangerous business, you are going to send them out unrestrained – no rules. You need somebody with a good, solid moral compass. You cannot send out a sadist. You want somebody who will break the rules only if it is absolutely necessary. People have joked that Harvath is kind of a Boy Scout, and he is to a certain degree, in that he has a code. At the base of everything is his belief, which is my belief, that you cannot have the American Dream without those men and women willing to protect it. Without them we have nothing. My wife can’t go the grocery store and my children can’t go to school safely if we don’t have those brave men and women, whether it is in the intelligence community, the military, or law enforcement. They are all critical to us enjoying peace, stability and prosperity.


IACSP: As George Orwell reportedly said, “We sleep soundly in our beds, because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence on those who would harm us.”


Thor: So I send Harvath into the world to do dangerous things and he doesn’t have any rules, but he wrestles with it, which is the right thing to do. How do I achieve this, because for him, coming out of the Navy SEAL community, success is the only option, and the only easy day was yesterday. As Harvath has developed, I think he has given voice to a lot of people in the law enforcement, military and intelligence community who are out there risking everything every single day.


IACSP: Is Harvath based on a particular Navy SEAL or someone you’ve met?


Thor: Harvath is kind of a slew of people that I know in different places, even down to his name. I know somebody in the judicial branch with the last name Harvath. His first name Scot was taken from my brother, but he is really a makeup of several people that I know in various communities that are working hard to keep America free form attack. I spent a lot of time with these people. I rely on them to help me do my books.


IACSP: Do your friends in the various communities act as your sources? Do you run things by them and ask them to authenticate things?


Thor: All the time. The national security advisor in the Trump administration, Robert O’Brien, was a neighbor of mine in college. That Chinese attack in the beginning of “Rising Tiger” happened during the Trump administration, so I was able to talk to Robert and without reveling classified information, which he would never do, he told me some very interesting details.


IACSP: Do you think an alliance between America and India is a counterbalance from the threats from Communist China?


Thor: I do. I also think a stronger relationship is an excellent bulwark against Russia. I think now we have such an opportunity to deepen that relationship within and so much benefit can come from it, such as manufacturing. I was stunned during COVID to realize how dependent we were on China. It is crazy to depend on an adversary. Two democracies bracing arms is a good thing, particularly in that region.


IACSP: Do you think China is going to invade Taiwan in the near future? And if so, what do you think the U.S. should do?


Thor: Taiwan is an important player in the semiconductor industry, and we would not like to lose our supply of semiconductors. You see what our support has done for Ukraine against Russia, but Russia has turned out to be a paper tiger. You get peace through strength and superior firepower, and we need to let China know that making a move on Taiwan is not a good option.


IACSP: What do you think of the killing of al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan? Is al-Qaeda still a threat to the U.S.?


Thor: I think al-Qaeda is always going to be a threat. I was thrilled that they got al- Zawahiri. I think it was a fantastic piece of intelligence work that they were able to track him down and locate him. It was a good, clean hit. We’ve been after that son of a bitch forever, so I’m glad we got him.


IACSP: I read that you were a member of Homeland Security’s “Red Cell Unit.” Can you describe what the unit does and what your role was?

Thor: I did Red Cell stuff for the Pentagon, and I also did it for Homeland Security. Everybody knew that 9/11 was a failure of imagination. Too often we expect what is coming down the road will look like what is in the rearview mirror. Our government said we want to be six or seven steps ahead of the bad guys. What they did was invite creative thinkers from outside the Beltway, like me and Michael Bey, the director. They had us come in and help them wargame different scenarios. I can talk about one scenario that was published, but other than that I can’t talk about it or put it in my books. They wanted me to do for them what I do for my books, which is to come up with these very thoughtful, real-life scenarios that are based in fact, which will help them think creatively. I think it was one of the most forward thinking and aggressive programs the federal government ever put together. As the son of a United States Marine, it was an incredible honor for me to be asked to serve my country, not by picking up a rifle, but by using the gray matter between my ears.


IACSP: Another thing in your background that I find interesting is that you shadowed a special operations group in Afghanistan. Can you talk about that?


Thor: I was invited to go over there as these guys were fans of the books. It was unofficial and I went over and spent a couple of weeks with them in Afghanistan. They said they didn’t know how I would react, so they reserved a hotel room for me in Kabul. They said if I got off the plane and was frozen and was not going to be able to handle moving around the country, they were going to park me in the hotel for a couple of weeks and grab me when they were done with what they had to do. It was fascinating. I learned a lot about the “Pashtunwali,” their code of honor. We would not go to a village where we had not been invited by the elders. If you were invited in, they would fight to the death to protect you. I was also fascinated with my guys moved around with a ton of Viagra. Because some of the elders have three, four wives and some married younger girls and they are considerably older, and erectile dysfunction is an issue. And they can’t get the little blue pill over there. It was interesting to learn about some of these Afghans who had no choice but align themselves with the Taliban, because it was the only way to survive. But they didn’t believe in what the Taliban were doing, and they didn’t want that for their children. It was also interesting to see the way they look at things. It is family, village, tribe. It is an interesting country and so sad that they have backslided so much since our departure a year ago.


IACSP: Can you say what unit you went out with?


Thor: No. I promised I would not say.


IACSP: I read you were threatened by Islamic terrorists over something you wrote in your books. Can you tell us about that?


Thor: I had a thriller called “The Last Patriot,” and the concept was that there was a chapter missing from the Koran. There was a lot of real-life evidence that suggests that there was kind of a deadline put on the followers of Mohamad. They keep showing up with little scraps that Mohamad said this and that, and then the person in charge of compiling the Koran said, alright, on Friday at five o’clock we are closed for submission. No more entries. Several years ago, while during work on the Grand Mosque in Yemen, all of these old parchments were found. A team of German archaeologists and specialists were invited in by the Yemen government to examine and date all of this stuff. They said this is stuff from the time the Koran was compiled. The Yemen government shut that down right away, because in the Muslim faith, the Koran is a perfect copy of a perfect book in Heaven, so there can’t be things that didn’t make it into the Koran. What is interesting is that over the course of his lifetime, Mohamad contradicted himself. And his followers said you said this fifteen years ago, and it put him in a tough spot. And he came up with abrogation and said to his followers was, “If the Angel Gabriel revealed something to me today and it conflicts with something I said in the past, what I say today takes precedent and abrogates what came before.” So I had an idea for a thriller in which is a missing chapter of the Koran is discovered and if the chapter could be authenticated, it would completely abrogate everything that came before and absolutely change the Muslim faith, cutting the legs out from under the hard-core radical the Islamists.


IACSP: I take it those hard-core radical Islamists were not thrilled with your idea?

Thor: It pissed off a lot of followers of that faith. We can make fun of other faiths, but Islam expects a protected face in the public square. And that is just too bad. I said I have the right to write whatever I want. You don’t have to read my book. I got a lot of death threats, so we ended up moving our house and we learned very quickly how to dial our security way, way up. I had a very excellent Muslim FBI character in the book, and it was balanced and not unfair to Islam, but there are some people in that faith that don’t want anyone saying anything.


IACSP: Are there plans to film any of your books.


Thor: We are now at a big studio in Hollywood, and we have the director that I wanted, and the producers are fantastic. I am sworn to secrecy because the studio gets to break the news once they get the writer.


IACSP: Good luck with the film and your book and thanks for talking to us.

Putin's Implacable Enemy: My Counterterrorism Magazine Piece On Senator John McCain And Vladimir Putin

Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on the late John McCain and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. You can read the pages below or the below text:

Putin’s Implacable Enemy: Senator John McCain Looked Into Vladimir Putin’s Eyes And Saw Three Letter: a K, a G, and a B

By Paul Davis

With the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been vilified by nearly the entire world.

This has not always been so, as many within and without Russia once believed that Putin was a welcomed change from the inept previous Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin. In the February 2000 Republican presidential debate, Texas Governor George W. Bush stated the jury was still out on Putin, noting that not enough was known about the Russian leader.

Senator John S. McCain (R-Az) disagreed.

“We know that he was an apparatchik. We know that he was a member of the KGB,” McCain countered. “We know that he came to power because of the military brutality in Chechnya. I’m very concerned about Mr. Putin.”

Senator McCain would go on to become Putin’s most persistent American critic.

Valdimire Putin was a Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB and served in Communist East Germany during the Cold War. He resigned from the KGB in 1991 and entered politics in Saint Petersburg. Russian journalist Masha Gessen states in her book on Putin, “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” that Putin remained a reserve KGB officer and was probably a covert operator for the Soviet intelligence agency. He was later promoted to colonel in the KGB.

Putin moved to Moscow and became an assistant to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996. He went on to serve as the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, and in 1999 became the prime minister under Yeltsin. He became the acting president after Yeltsin resigned and was elected to be president in 2000.

Putin’s critics have accused him of using GRU (military intelligence) “wet work” murder squads to kill and critically injury Russian critics residing in the West via radiation poisoning. His critics also accuse the Russian leader of leading institutional corruption in Russia and amassing a personal illicit fortune worth billions.

Putin critics believe that Putin wants to restore Russia to the country’s former “glory” as a world power. Putin once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” 

President Bush met Putin in 2001 and famously said, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

In the presidential debate in October of 2008, while debating his Democratic opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, McCain mentioned President Bush’s statement about Putin. He then added, “I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a K, a G and a B.”

McCain went on to say that Putin had repressed liberties in Georgia and issued a warning about Ukraine. He said Ukraine was in Putin’s sights.

McCain lost the election to Obama and the new president and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared a “reset” in dealing with Russia. That effort ended with Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his first attack of Ukraine in 2014.

The son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals, John S. McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and entered flight training in 1958. An A-4 Skyhawk pilot, McCain flew combat sorties against North Vietnam in 1967. On July 29, 1967, stray voltage from a mobile engine starter triggered a Zuni rocket to launch from an F-4 waiting for takeoff on the deck of the USS Forrestal. The rocket struck the belly fuel tank of McCain’s aircraft, killing Airman Thomas D. Ott. McCain jumped out of his cockpit and into a fire. A bomb exploded, which sent him flying about ten feet and killed a number of sailors. McCain suffered from burns and shrapnel wounds

It took the ship’s damage control teams 24 hours to contain the fire, which killed 134 Sailors, injured 161, and destroyed 21 aircraft. As the Forrestal headed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for repairs, McCain and other pilots from his squadron volunteered to transfer to VA-163 on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany.

According to the Naval History & Heritage Command, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam on 26 October 1967, but the shootdown was not the result of poor airmanship.

“Rather, it resulted from a willingness of McCain to take a calculated risk to destroy an important target: the Hanoi thermal power plant,” the Navy history command wrote. “The day before, he pleaded with the squadron operations officer to put him on the roster for the large Alpha strike scheduled the next day. Four Navy squadrons participated in the raid. It was McCain’s twenty-third mission and his first attack on Hanoi. The strike force was tracked by North Vietnamese radars as it went feet dry, and soon McCain could see smoke plumes from SA-2 launches. At the time of his shootdown, McCain’s aircraft was at 3,500 feet. He had received a good warning tone, indicating that a missile was tracking him, but he felt he had time to drop his bombs on the target next to a small lake and then outmaneuver the missile. He managed to release his bomb load just before the missile impacted.

“The missile shattered one of the wings of McCain’s A-4, forcing him to bailout upside down at high speed. The force of the ejection broke his right leg, his right arm in three places, his left arm, tore his helmet off, and knocked him unconscious. He nearly died when he descended into a lake in the middle of Hanoi. He made it to the surface and was bayoneted by an angry mob of North Vietnamese. He was sent to Hoa Lo prison (the Hanoi Hilton). He was interrogated for four days before his captors brought him to a hospital after learning that his father was a four-star admiral and the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command.”

McCain was 31 years old when he became a prisoner. Tortured and often kept in solitary confinement, McCain was a Prisoner of War from 26 October 1967–14 March 1973: 

Following his release, McCain spent five months recuperating and receiving medical treatment. He then attended the National War College and became the commanding officer of VA-174, In 1979, he served as the Navy’s Office of Legislative Liaison in the Senate. Captain McCain retired from the Navy in 1981. His decorations include the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat ‘V’ and one gold star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat ‘V’ and two gold stars, and the Purple Heart Medal with one gold star.

McCain was elected to the House in 1983 and the Senate in 1987. He ran unsuccessfully for President in 2008.

In 2011, Vladimir Putin spoke for four and a half hours on Russian TV and took calls from viewers. He was asked about McCain.

“He has a lot of blood of peaceful civilians on his hands,” Putin said of McCain, referring to McCain’s background as a combat pilot and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. “Mr. McCain was captured in Vietnam, and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years. Anyone would go nuts.”

McCain responded to Putin calling him “nuts” with a tweet: “Dear Vlad, is it something I said?”

In 2014, Putin ordered sanctions against the U.S. Senator.

“He sanctioned me, which means no spring break in Siberia,” McCain joked to a TV talk show host. “Russia is a gas station run by a mafia that is masquerading as a country.”

In 2015, returning from a visit to Ukraine, McCain said, “Russia is kleptocracy. It’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important.”            

Senator McCain passed away on 25 August 2018 from glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Russian media reported McCain’s death as the passing of “an implacable enemy of Russia.”

The late senator was certainly an implacable enemy of Vladimir Putin.


“John McCain was right: Vladimir Putin is a thug. He saw KGB in Putin’s eyes, and that’s exactly what the rest of the world is seeing now,” the McCain Institute at Arizona State University noted in a released statement. “Putin’s actions demonstrate the grave dangers of authoritarianism and underscore the need for free nations to stand firm in defense of democracy.

“Flexing unchecked power, Putin’s belligerence toward Ukraine is proving the case we’ve been making for so long – that democracy is the best way to unify society, secure peace and create broad prosperity. Accordingly, Western nations are uniting in a reaffirmation of their commitment to democratic principles, a goal that has eluded presidents since the end of the Cold War. Ultimately, the weight of authoritarianism is its biggest flaw. It crushes opportunity and forces people into bondage. Putin’s power grab in Ukraine represents a watershed moment in shifting the global balance of power away from authoritarianism and toward freedom.”

About the Author

Paul Davis is a longtime contributor to the Journal. He writes the IACSP Threatcon column.