Real News: March 5 Mashup

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Real News Mashup is a compilation of articles that I consider to be interesting, informative, or both. Please share articles of your own in the comments. Perhaps if we work together, we can remember that the world is bigger than the propaganda storm.

 

 

Things That Might Make You Want to Slap Someone

Why the US Supreme Court’s New Ruling on Excessive Fines is a Big Deal — German Lopez, Vox

Today’s Supreme Court rarely hands down a unanimous ruling. This is one of them.

 

“Dear Attorney General Barr”: Advice from Insiders — Sheryl Attkisson, The Hill

I found this list compiled by several lifelong veterans of the military and intelligence communities. They were asked the question, “What should be Attorney General Barr’s top priorities?” These are their answers. 

 

 

Saudis Prepare Trials of Detainees Identified as Women’s Rights Activists   Hesham Hajali, Reuters

In other words, Saudi women can now drive under limited conditions in Saudi Arabia, but those who fought for the right are now being prosecuted. And just to make sure none of the Saudi women forget they are still chattel in the Sharia Law kingdom . . .

 

Google, Siding with Saudi Arabia, Refuses to Remove Widely-Criticized Government App That Lets Men Track Women and Control Their Travels — Bill Bostock, Business Insider

 

US-Backed Forces Launch What Could Be the Last Major Battle Against ISIS in Syria Small Wars Journal, Articles by Liz Sly of The Washington Post and Gordon Lubold of The Wall Street Journal

 

Venezuela’s Suicide: Lessons from a Failed State — Moisés Naím and Francisco Toro, Foreign Affairs

Forty years ago, Venezuela had a thriving economy. Now, millions rush to escape the failed state. It took decades to get from Point A to Point B, and the journey has many lessons for the rest of us.

 

DIA Mole Ana Montes
FBI mug shot, public domain

 

Ana Montes Did Much Harm Spying for Cuba. Chances Are, You Haven’t Heard of Her. — Jim Popkin, The Washington Post  

 

China Is Building Soft Power In US Schools — Rachel Oswald, Roll Call

 

Smart Home Assistants, Like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, Might Soon Report Their Owners to the Police for Breaking the Law — Charlie Nash, Breitbart

 

Now Facebook is Allowing Anyone to Look You Up Using Your Security Phone Number — Michael Grothaus, Fast Company   

Facebook does not allow anyone to opt out, but the article has instructions in the last paragraph to limit access to your phone number to “friends.”

 

Seeding Control to Big Agriculture — Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative

In the Canada Has Lost Its Flaming Mind Department . . .

 

Defending Yourself Against a Home Invader Is Now a Criminal Offense in Canada — Lance D. Johnson, News Target

 

Police In Canada Are Tracking People’s “Negative” Behavior In a “Risk” Database — Nathan Munn, ViceI

“Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a ‘negative neighborhood.'” . . . What’s next? A Citizenship Score? IMHO, a road to hell soundly paved with the good intentions of decent Canadians.

 

Stepping Back from the Edge . . .

From Bombers to Big Macs: Vietnam A Lesson In Reconciliation — Denis D. Gray and Hau Dinh, Associated Press

 

The Disease of More — Mark Manson, Mark Manson  

 

Meet the Skier Who Made the “Impossible” First Solo Descent of K2 — Aaron Teasdale, National Geographic

 

8 Etiquette Tips for Social Receptions at Conferences — Lenny Zeltser, Lenny Zeltser

 

 

A Message in a Bottle Washed Up on Padre island–57 Years Later  — Dan Soloman, Texas Monthly

 

And These are Just Fun . . .

 

Couple Who Served in WWII Together, Married Seven Decades, Pass Away on Same Day  Healthy Food House

 

Game of Thrones First Look: Inside the Brutal Battle to Make Season 8 — James Hibberd, Entertainment

 

Hadrian’s Wall Archeologists Discover Rude Grafitti and Pictures of Roman Quarrymen Who Built It — Patrick Sawer, The Telegraph

 

The funniest thing that happened this week, unless you are Russian. Watch as the Russian freighter Seaguard plows into this bridge in Busan, South Korea. . . . No injuries or deaths reported, so laugh away!

 

All the best to all of you for a week of avoiding the obvious obstacles.

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Rules of Engagement:

We want comments.

Thoughtful disagreement fosters intellectual growth for all of us. Civil Discourse is strictly enforced. That means you can say anything as long as you focus on the concepts and say it with respect, free of personal insults.

Bayard & Holmes reserve the right to remove comments for any reason.

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What do the main intelligence agencies do and where do they operate? How do they recruit personnel? What are real life honey pots and sleeper agents? What about truth serums and enhanced interrogations? And what are the most common foibles of popular spy fiction?

With the voice of over forty years experience in the Intelligence Community, Bayard & Holmes answer these questions and share information on espionage history, firearms of spycraft, tradecraft, and the personal challenges of the people behind the myths. Order now at Amazon and Kobo

 

 

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Real News Mashup–January 24, 2019

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

News Finds is a compilation of articles that I consider to be interesting, informative, or both. Please feel free to share non-political articles of your own in the comments. Perhaps if we work together, we can combat the overwhelming propaganda we are bombarded with by mainstream media.

This post is a bit long, as I’ve been stacking up articles for a while.

 

General Interest

 

Tony Mendez, “Argo” CIA Officer Who Smuggled US Hostages Out of Iran During Crisis, Dies at 78

A master of forgery and disguise, Tony Mendez was an outstanding professional and an outstanding human being. Rest in peace. #Respect

How the Media Convinces Us All the We’re Outraged — Even When No One Cares

Someone posted a video online of youngest senator Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez dancing. Social media exploded with outrage at the “conservative outrage” over her video. I noticed, though, that I didn’t actually see any of the conservative outrage that was the supposed source of all of this leftist outrage. Apparently, I’m not the only one who noticed.

Police Have No Duty to Protect You, Federal Court Confirms Yet Again

Something to keep in mind when considering personal security issues.

Davos Billionaires Keep Getting Richer

The world’s billionaires and their political minions are meeting in Davos, Switzerland this month.

My own observation:

In the past, the richest people were visible and had the responsibility of ruling nations. We called them kings and queens. Since democratic forms of government came along, the richest people have been able to outsource public appearances and the daily headaches of governing the masses to minions known as “world leaders.” We like to believe that media is above it all and holds these world leaders and their largely invisible billionaire backers accountable for their actions, but mainstream media is owned by those billionaire backers, so mainstream “news” reduced to agenda-driven propaganda.

And the rest of us? The handful* who own the world see us as the barnyard animals to be herded and juggled for their money-farming needs, i.e. “We need more cheap labor in Europe. Let’s get our minions there to push open immigration.” Sort of like, “We need more plow horses. We’ll introduce another twenty to the herd. It will take some time for the herd to adjust, but it will.”

Where in the past the owners of the world used religion to inspire the outrage necessary to get the mob going the right direction, now they use social buzzwords and politics.

Conspiracy? Not at all. Simply the organic alignment of personal interests.

*When I say handful, I mean handful. According to a recent report by Oxfam, only 26 people now own as much as 50% of the entire world’s poorest.

 

 

Military/Intelligence Articles

 

Defense Intelligence Agency (“DIA”) Chinese Military Power Report

An excellent report on Chinese Military Power published by the US Naval Institute.

Does the US Face an AI Ethics Gap? 

This article explores the Artificial Intelligence Ethics Gap in the Western world that impacts military defense. In other words, Communist China and other countries develop AI technologies in ways that are ethically prohibited in Western societies. Does this put Western societies at a disadvantage? It poses an interesting dilemma.

On Nobility and the CIA’s War in Afghanistan

Setting the record straight.

The US Intelligence Community Wants Disruptive Change as Long as It’s Not Disruptive

An excellent piece on how collecting facts without thought is like doing steps without dancing.

OSS Training in the National Parks and Service Abroad in WWII

A fairly intense downloadable book on the history of the OSS and its relationship with the National Parks.

 

Now let’s lighten up!

 

Man “Marries” Laptop, Sues for State Recognition and a Wedding Cake

Yes. Really. Can’t make this up.

Bring It On! New Taliban Video Shows Intense Training for New Cheer Squad Competition

Likely hilarious to anyone who has served in the US Armed Forces.

Photos from the Moon’s Far Side: China’s Chang’e 4 Lunar Landing in Pictures

First pictures from the dark side of the moon. *queues up Pink Floyd*

Florida Couple Run Over by Patrol Car While Lying in Road to Watch Lunar Eclipse

A Darwin Award near miss, for sure.

Natural Beauty of Wildlife Beneath the Waves Revealed in Stunning Pics

The word “stunning” is generally overused these days, but it applies in this instance.

 

The Tank Chair

 

 

 

All the best to all of you for a week of stunning beauty.

Piper

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Rules of Engagement:

  1. We love comments.
  2. Feel free to disagree with me and with each other in comments as long as arguments are rational and not things like “It scares me so it should be banned.” Thoughtful disagreement fosters intellectual growth for all of us.
  3. Civil Discourse is strictly enforced. That means you can say anything as long as you focus on the concepts and say it with respect, free of personal insults.
  4. No arguing or advocating for or against Trump or any other politician, no matter what your position. We are all inundated with too much of that already.
  5. Bayard & Holmes reserve the right to remove comments for any reason.

Espionage Info for Everyone — SPYCRAFT: Essentials

Bayard & Holmes

We are proud to announce the birth of our new book baby, SPYCRAFT: Essentials.

 

 

What do the main intelligence agencies do and where do they operate? How do they recruit personnel? What are real life honey pots and sleeper agents? What about truth serums and enhanced interrogations? And what are the most common foibles of popular spy fiction?

With the voice of over forty years of experience in the Intelligence Community, Bayard & Holmes answer these questions and share information on espionage history, firearms of spycraft, tradecraft techniques, and the personalities and personal challenges of the men and women behind the myths.

Though crafted with advice and specific tips for writers, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is for anyone who wants to learn more about the inner workings of the Shadow World.

 

Now available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon.

 

“For any author, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is the new bible for crafting stories of espionage. It’s also perfect for anyone who wants to know the lengths nations will go to keep or steal secrets and the methods they will use to do so. This is a bombshell of a book.”

~ James Rollins
New York Times Bestselling Author of The Demon Crown

 

“From novices to experts, I suspect everyone will find something in this book that they did not know before.”

~ Doug Patteson
Film Technical Advisor and Former CIA Officer

 

“Bayard and Holmes have done the unprecedented: crafted a fully informative, while wholly unclassified, overview on American spycraft with a special focus on preparing novelists for realistic scene writing. That said, this little treasure should not be limited to writers. Because it delivers solid, valuable information as a comprehensive primer on how the Intelligence Community really operates, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is a must-read for all involved Americans.”

~ Rob DuBois
Retired US Navy SEAL and NSA Collector

 

“An instant classic. Detailed, insightful, and authentic, SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers is my go-to reference for all things espionage.”

~ Grant Blackwood
New York Times Bestselling Author of the Briggs Tanner series

 

“An essential addition to every thriller writer’s library. If you want to know how the Intelligence Community really works, read SPYCRAFT: Essentials and you’ll get it right every time. Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes know their stuff!”

~Diane Capri
Award Winning New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Hunt for Jack Reacher series

The USS Fitzgerald/ACX Crystal Collision – Questions & Conclusions

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

At approximately 2:20 a.m. local time on June 17, 2017 the US Navy Destroyer USS Fitzgerald suffered a collision with the Philippines-registered container ship ACX Crystal approximately 64 miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

 

USS Fitzgerald at Yokosuka Naval Base
Image by US Navy employee, public domain

 

The 29,000-ton container ship suffered minor damage and was not impeded from continuing its journey to Tokyo. The 9,000-ton Arleigh Burke class USS Fitzgerald, on the other hand, suffered significant damage on her starboard side. Based on early reports, the USS Fitzgerald was in danger of sinking, and seven of her crew members lost their lives.

First and foremost, we extend our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the seven sailors who lost their lives.

This collision reminds us that there is no such thing as a “safe” deployment. Because of what those seven sailors suffered and what their families are now paying, decency demands that we be cautious in drawing conclusions about the causes of the collision.

Our US Navy, along with the broader US defense community, exists to ensure the sovereignty of the United States of America and the freedom and safety of her citizens.

Modern, extravagantly expensive and highly complicated Burke class destroyers play a critical role in that mission. These ships are an important and finite asset, and we currently have sixty-one of them in active service with fourteen more in various stages of design and building.

From my perspective, the loss of any service member always matters. Now, and at a time when only a small minority of eligible young Americans are willing to serve in our military, it is even more important for our military to do what it can to minimize personnel casualties.

In modern corporate America, workers are generally disposable and easily replaceable, but in the modern US military, qualified soldiers and sailors are a precious resource. The US military is in the business of war, and human losses are a grim, but somewhat unavoidable, result of war and war preparations. However, we must endeavor to not waste the lives of our service members due to inadequate equipment, doctrine, training, or leadership.

In an attempt to avoid similar calamities in the future, the US Navy and the US Coast Guard will each conduct thorough independent investigations of the collision.

The Navy will, in fact, conduct two parallel investigations. The Japanese Coast Guard is also conducting an investigation, and the Philippine government has, not surprisingly, announced that it, too, will conduct its own investigation. In addition, beyond all the official investigations, any number of intelligence services from a variety of nations will be searching for any unusual evidence relative to the collision.

All investigations of maritime calamities rely on constructing an accurate and detailed timeline of the events leading up to and subsequent to the impact. The communications logs, navigations logs, bridge recordings, and all physical evidence from the USS Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal must be examined in detail. Also, all members of both crews must be questioned. The investigators have not had time to gather and examine all of the statements and evidence, and they have yet to offer any conclusions concerning the causes of the accident.

The fact that the professional investigators have yet to draw conclusions has not stopped the legions of not-professional armchair naval experts from reaching ironclad conclusions. The fact that those ironclad conclusions of the not-professionals seem to change by the hour does nothing to dissuade these folks from fervently and passionately espousing what they consider to be irrefutable fact.

Many Americans care a great deal about our Navy, our entire military, and our nation’s defense. That perhaps explains their need to have immediate answers as to whom or what caused the disaster. I salute their patriotism. For a democracy to survive, it requires the diligence of enough of its citizens to overcome apathy. However, I suggest to them that they remain flexible in their views until more evidence is available.

Some of the opinions being passionately expressed are, to say the least, a bit colorful. Most collisions at sea do not involve complex conspiracies or exotic causes, and a collision in a shipping route at night in busy waters is not altogether rare. This collision has our attention because it involved one of our valuable “Burkes,” and because seven sailors lost their lives.

Many of the conspiracy theories popping up are influenced by several key factors.

First, the night was clear. Even on a clear night at sea, haze can impair and distort a helmsman’s or watch stander’s view, and judging the distance and speed of another ship at night is not as simple as it sounds. Even so, in this day and age, we all quite reasonably expect that any modern US Navy warship has adequate radar, sonar, transponder sensors, and adequate information processing systems to detect and note an approaching 29,000-ton freighter. It begs the question, how did the Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal not see each other in time to avoid a collision? In theory, only one of the ships’ crews would need to be aware of the other ship in time to avoid a disaster.

The second reason the public is suspicious is that the accident occurred near Japan, where China and/or North Korea might be able to easily influence events. I, too, am suspicious. In fact, I am justifiably suspicious of the North Koreans and the Chicoms every moment of every day. However, we must remember that suspicion is not, in itself, evidence.

Third, some early and not yet verified statements indicate that the ACX Crystal had her running lights and her navigation transponder off. At this point, my suspicion is that her transponder was on, but I may be wrong. I am not sure about her lights. If they were in fact off, then that may well have been a major contributing factor to the collision. We will have to wait for all the crewmen to be questioned and data logs from multiple sources to be examined before we know if those assertions are accurate.

A fourth factor that drives suspicions of foul play is the fact that as a container ship, sophisticated electronics warfare equipment capable of damaging or temporarily obstructing radar and radio systems could conceivably have been loaded on to the ACX Crystal without the knowledge of the captain or crew. Such equipment could have been activated remotely.

It’s important that for now we remember the critical difference between “could have been” and “was.”

At this point, I estimate that Communist China wants war with the United States even less than we want war with China. In spite of all the propaganda out of China, and in spite of her current efforts to expand her naval power, China remains at a strategic disadvantage in any potential war with the United States. North Korea has been, and remains, less rational in its decision making as compared to China, but the distances between “would do it” and “could do it” remain substantial for now.

One possible factor that many members of the public might not be aware of is the fact a US Navy warship might at times operate without its full suite of Aegis systems active.

Aegis is a powerful and brilliant radar tracking system, but the more powerful a radar system is, the more easily it can be detected by opponents. I have no information indicating that the USS Fitzgerald was on that night, or any night, operating in “quiet” mode. I am simply explaining that it is one possibility.

I understand the tremendous need for answers and explanations.

I feel the same way. I share your anger. I want to know why those sailors died, why our ship was damaged, and who or what is at fault. This sad event is important to me, because our national security is important to me, and because I consider all US military members to be my brothers and sisters. We share an oath that matters to me.

I know that this calamity is also important to many of you. We owe it to the lost sailors and to their families to find the real causes of the collision. I hope that as a country, we will not rely on emotion or conjecture, but rather wait for investigations to lead us to accurate conclusions, because as you read this, many other US Navy and allied ships and sailors are sailing in dangerous waters, and we need accurate information to prevent more loss of life and more damage to valuable ships.

 

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Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, VA

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, CA

Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, CN

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, TX

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, CA

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, MD

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, OH

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Our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of these fine sailors.

 

 

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

Bayard & Holmes

With the increasing number of terrorist attacks around the world, the public is becoming ever more aware that it’s wise to take precautions and think about safety measures. Today we welcome former CIA officer Doug Patteson of Inglorious Amateurs, who shares his insights and advice on precautions we should all take as a matter of habit.

 

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

~ Doug Patteson

Whether it is the recent suicide bomb in Manchester UK, or the 2003 The Station nightclub fire, or any number of other recent catastrophic events, we are reminded that we need to always be thinking about our security in public events and transitional spaces. Just because you are in an event or location with robust security, you should not ever take your safety for granted.

 

 

At events like the Manchester attack, we tend to think we are safe. The arena has security, no weapons are allowed, it’s a fun crowd out for a fun evening.

Attackers know these thing too and they tend to look for the weak points in security. In this case, the attacker chose a transitional space, a natural funnel between a primary exit from the arena, and the nearest public transport, the Manchester train station. He knew traffic flow from the concert would be heavy and concentrated. He knew the only likely security in the transitional space would be CCTV cameras (great for post mortem, not so hot for prevention). And he knew that by the nature of the transitional space, no one would think twice about someone loitering (waiting on friends? A train?) carrying luggage (it’s a train station entrance after all).

In 2003, The Station nightclub caught fire and was engulfed in smoke and flames in 5 ½ minutes. Of the 462 people in a club with capacity for only 404, 100 died and 230 were injured. When the fire began, people panicked and fled blindly, trying to exit through the one door they had entered, ignoring other potential exits.

A framework can be helpful in this process. Largely, the model below is familiar to most military or first responders as it is similar to the traditional OODA loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act model of decision making. But, sometimes jargon gets in the way of understanding. So here is some simpler language.

Pay attention

For some reason, when we get around our friends, in a social situation, excited about our plans as they unfold, we stop paying attention to the world around us. When we are alone in public, we tend to pay far more attention to our surroundings. We feel alone, which often makes us feel insecure, less safe, but heightens our focus. Being in a group brings an often false sense of security, and a fair number of distractions.

Don’t let your guard down. Stay vigilant and pay attention to the world around your group. If something seems out of place, or makes you feel off, there is probably a good reason for it. Security professionals often call this situational awareness, which is a fancy way of saying understanding the environment and events you are in, in relation to time and meaning, what is normal and expected, and thus what is out of context and therefore noticeable. And if you notice something that looks out of place, or your spidey senses start tingling, an unattended bag or individual dressed inappropriately for the environment and looking uncomfortable, etc. let someone in authority know.

 

Know the layout

There is a reason flight attendants show passengers where the exits are. Statistics point to a significantly increased probability of surviving a plane crash if you know where the exits are. Virtually any public venue you go to will have multiple entrances/exits. Don’t just remember the one you went through to get there, learn where at least one of the others is.

In 2003, during The Station nightclub fire,  100 people died, 40 of them in the doorway they had entered through. There were three other exits in the building, and an entire front of windows that could have been broken to create egress points. People are creatures of habit, they like to go in the way they came.

Take a few minutes, look for the exits, talk it over with your group and have a plan in case you get separated or things go south.

Take a moment to assess what’s happening

If you are in situation where an event has happened (active shooter, plane disaster, ied), don’t panic. Stop, take a moment to assess the situation. Where is the threat? Is it ongoing? What are my escape options? Remember, you already learned where the various exits were. What is the crowd doing? Is there cover available to me? Or just concealment? Can I leave? Or is hiding my only option?

In the early days of active shooter training, the mantra was Run, Hide, Fight. Today that has been replaced with Avoid, Deny, Defend. In either case though, you need to take a little time to assess what is happening. Don’t freeze however, this is an active assessment informed by your previous knowledge of the area. You are making decisions about your next steps.

Take action

With your assessment in mind, action is now required. Can you safely and quickly leave the area? Which way? What is the crowd doing? There can be significant risk in following the crowd. Crowds can lead to deadly bottlenecks. In the case of a terrorist attack, one tactic we have seen applied is an initial attack designed to stun/assault a crowd, followed by a second, potentially larger attack, designed around a bottleneck of fleeing victims and/or first responders.

Are you responsible for others? Are they with you? Can you communicate with them? Did you set up a meeting place in case you got separated? Now is the time to execute on the plan you worked through earlier. For example, “We are going to head out that emergency exit on the north side of the stage. We will make our way back to our vehicle in section X of the parking lot.” Once you leave, get away from the threat zone. Remember, debris from an explosion can travel long distances. Don’t linger in the area.

Finally, what to do if you or a friend are injured?

Do you know CPR? ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation). Are they conscious? Talking? Take another moment now to assess their injuries. Have you taken any medical training or first aid courses? Do you know to apply pressure if they are bleeding? Do you have a med kit? I highly recommend you get one, get trained on using it, and carry it. Call 911 and, if necessary seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

 

Look, I don’t want you to live your life in fear. That’s what the bad guys want, whether a bully, criminal or terrorist. Go out with friends. Attend concerts and movies. Travel. Live your life. I am only advocating that you go out in that life a little more prepared. A slightly harder target than the average person. Someone more likely to survive when faced with a deadly threat. Because you have taken the time to pay attention, assess, build a plan and be prepared to execute on it.

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Doug is a former CIA officer with extensive overseas experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He is skilled in several foreign languages, personal security, tactical driving, counter terrorism tactics and small arms. He holds an MBA from Wharton and has worked in high tech, private equity and manufacturing. He regularly writes on business and intelligence topics for both web and print publications, serves as an on air SME for news and opinion shows, and consults/produces on film and television productions.

 

For more from Doug, please see his work at Inglorious Amateurs.

Fat Leonard, US Navy, & America’s Military Corruption Conspiracy of the Century

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

The US Navy is currently caught in the throes of the greatest known American military corruption conspiracy of this century to date.

After a three-year investigation, the story first broke in November, 2013 with the accusation that Director of Naval Intelligence Vice Admiral Ted “Twig” Branch and four other naval officers accepted bribes of cash, prostitutes, and expensive trips in exchange for steering US Navy contracts for port services to a company named Glen Defense Marine Asia (“GDMA”). Indictments started coming down.

 

Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis
Image by US Navy, public domain,
via Defense News

 

Several naval officers and civilians were arrested at that time on charges of Conspiracy and Bribery. Among those arrested was the apparent mastermind, one Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, a Malaysian businessman who is the owner and CEO of GDMA. He is a port service kingpin in the South Pacific region with alleged connections to Communist China. According to the US Justice Department prosecutors, “This is the first time multiple officers are charged as working all together in a multi-layered conspiracy, pooling their individual and collective resources and influence on behalf of Francis.” It is a multi-layered conspiracy with countless cost to our nation.

One of the indictments was unsealed on March 14, 2017, and its 78 pages reveal just how extensive this maze of betrayal, greed, debauchery, and arguably even treason had become, involving at least twenty US Navy officers including a Vice Admiral, five Rear Admirals, a Marine Colonel, five Navy Captains, six Navy Commanders, two Navy Lt. Commanders, and a Navy Warrant Officer, along with several top GDMA employees. Some officers even drew their wives into this proven criminal conspiracy.

It began in January of 2006 when Navy Contract Supervisor Paul Simpkins, a Department of Defense civilian employee, contacted Fat Leonard and offered to throw Navy ship docking service contracts to GDMA in exchange for cash.

One month later the cash—our taxpayer dollars—started flowing. GDMA signed a $929,000 contract with the US Navy for docking services. Not only was this the first contract of many, but the Navy now estimates that it paid more than double the normal rate for the services provided. In exchange, Simpkins received $50k in US cash from Fat Leonard’s hands.

In short time, Simpkins and Fat Leonard pulled several naval officers into their dealings—senior officers who were responsible for coordinating missions, directing operations, directing ship movements, and scheduling port visits to service the ships and submarines of our US Navy 7th Fleet, which is the US Far Eastern Fleet. One conspirator was even the commanding officer of the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS George Washington.

Soon, these senior US Navy officers were using their position and influence to direct business to Fat Leonard’s facilities throughout the Far East. Not only that, some of the officers regularly sent the Malaysian classified ship schedules and helped protect GDMA from investigations by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (“NCIS”). In return, the officers received lavish dinners, time with prostitutes, expensive gifts, travel expenses, and luxury hotel accommodations for themselves and their families.

The recently unsealed indictment best indicates the jaw-dropping extent of the criminal activities undertaken by these conspirators, not to mention their sheer stupidity. It includes charges of Conspiracy, Bribery, False Statements, and Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy to Commit Honest Service Fraud—a laundry list of what NOT to do as a naval officer.

As you read this, please keep in mind that it is highly illegal for any government employee, military or civilian, to receive expensive meals and gifts, much less prostitutes and travel expenses, from defense contractors or any other influencers. Also remember that Fat Leonard is a Malaysian national operating a multi-million-dollar business throughout the Far East, including facilities in Hong Kong.

You know, Hong Kong? That place controlled by Communist China, the hostile country that spies on the US at every possible opportunity? Yeah. That Hong Kong. Because a Malaysian criminal defrauding the US government is certainly going to be too moral and ethical to trade or sell our classified information to his host country of China, right?

Let’s look at the list of allegations included in the indictment:

  • Repeated incidents of officers sending Fat Leonard classified information on planned US Navy ship movements via private email and Facebook.

One of numerous examples from the recently unsealed indictment:

“On or about January 25, 2008 at 12:25 a.m., SHEDD, using his cooltoad.com account, emailed Francis [Fat Leonard] multiple classified ship schedules. During this exchange, SHEDD confirmed a change to the schedule of the U.S.S. Fitzgerald to accommodate Francis.”

  • Repeated incidents of officers using their position and influence to steer contracts to GDMA in full knowledge of the fact that GDMA was charging the US approximately twice the going rate for port services.

  • Repeated incidents of officers using their position and influence to re-direct US Navy ships to GDMA’s facilities, often at Fat Leonard’s request. (See quote above.)

  • Repeated incidents of officers actively suppressing GDMA competition for contracts.

  • Repeated incidents of officers using their position and influence to suppress NCIS investigations into GDMA’s overbilling practices.

  • Repeated incidents of officers warning Fat Leonard of investigations and helping to destroy evidence and otherwise obstruct said investigations.

  • Repeated incidents of officers and even their wives “shaping” contacts. “Shaping” is the espionage term of art for courting someone into a conspiratorial ring.

From the indictment:

“In a further effort to recruit AB, the FISC official, into the conspiracy, DEGUZMAN, his wife, Aruffo, Francis and others developed and implemented a ‘shaping op[eration].’ On March 30, 2007, DEGUZMAN wrote to Aruffo: “Ed san, Domo [thank you] for the tuna. Got the other tuna to [AB’s wife] for ‘shaping.’” Aruffo forward the email to Francis, adding, “Beginning our ‘shaping’ OP, dropped off a chunk of tuna that I bought in General Santos [City] for DEGUZMAN’s wife to drop off with [AB’s wife].””

Using wives this way is not uncommon in conspiracies. Sending wives to other wives with expensive gifts is a low risk way to test the waters before inviting new co-conspirators into schemes.

  • Repeated incidents of officers recruiting their successors to continue these criminal activities on behalf of Fat Leonard and GDMA.

  • At least one incident of an officer requesting that Fat Leonard pay off his personal debts, to which Fat Leonard requested and received classified information on planned US Navy ship movements.

  • At least one incident of an officer using his position to influence staffing levels in a Ship Support Office in Hong Kong at the request of and on behalf of Fat Leonard and GDMA.

  • Repeated incidents of officers requesting employment from GDMA for their post-service lives. As a point of interest, none were hired by GDMA.

  • Repeated incidents of officers destroying evidence, making false statements, and obstructing justice once they, themselves, came under investigation.

In return for these actions on his behalf, Fat Leonard provided the officers and many of their wives with lavish meals valued at tens of thousands of dollars, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, gifts, cash, and the services of prostitutes. The recently unsealed indictment is a laundry list of things US Navy officers should NOT be receiving from smarmy defense contractors.

  • Repeated incidents of officers requesting and receiving travel expenses and lodging accommodations for themselves and their families.

  • Repeated incidents of officers and their wives receiving lavish meals costing tens of thousands of dollars.

From the indictment:

“On or about March 24, 2007, NEWLAND, DEGUZMAN, HORNBECK, and Aruffo attended a multi-course dinner hosted by Francis at the Oak Door in Tokyo, Japan, during which was served, at Francis’s expense, foie gras, Lobster Thermidor, and Sendai Tenderloin, and for dessert, “Liberte Sauvage,” the winning cake of the 10th Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie 2007, followed by cognac and cigars. Each course was paired with fine champagne or wine.”

  • Repeated incidents of officers and their wives receiving expensive gifts from Fat Leonard.

  • Repeated incidents of Fat Leonard arranging and paying for debauchery with prostitutes.

From the recently unsealed indictment:

“On or about May 22 – 25, 2008, during a port visit by the U.S.S. Blue Ridge to Manila, Philippines, HORNBECK, DOLAN, LOVELESS, LAUSMAN, SHEDD, and Sanchez stayed at Francis’s expense at the Makati Shangri-La in Manila, Philippines, where for himself and the U.S. Navy attendees, Francis booked the Presidential Suite. In this venue, Francis hosted a raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes in attendance, during which the conspirators drank all of the Dom Perignon available at the Shangri-La. Room and alcohol charges born by Francis exceeded $50,000 USD.”

Two of the conspirators emailed Francis to thank him for his hospitality from the private cooltoad.com accounts the group used to communicate regarding their criminal activities.

 


This photo of Presidential Suite, Makati Shangri-La Manila, sans prostitutes, is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

The investigation, opened in 2010, is ongoing, and the indictments continue to flow.

Most of the defendants have not yet gone to trial, and some that had already been convicted have yet to be sentenced. For those readers whose stomachs can endure a more detailed description, the US Justice Department indictments that have been released are available at both the Justice Department web page and the US Naval Institute web site.

The US Justice Department took and kept the lead in this long investigation, and it is pursuing prosecutions in Federal Court. However, if any of the accused officers should miraculously escape the wrath of the federal judges, the US Navy retains the right to re-arrest and charge them under military law with that great catchall “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer.” Some of the minor players have already pleaded out and have, in some cases, received punishments proportional to their crimes.

This Fat Leonard Conspiracy has dealt inestimable damage to our national security on multiple levels:

  1. When the details of deployments and ship schedules are known to our potential enemies, those ships are then more vulnerable to well-planned attacks, including terrorist attacks. That’s why ship schedules are classified in the first place.

  1. Ship deployments are supposed to be determined by our national security interests. When ships are diverted from the locations where they most benefit our national security, that damages our national security in strategic terms.

For example, strategic realities might have indicated that on a particular day, a particular aircraft carrier and her escorting cruiser and destroyers would have been ideally located off the coast of Japan. But because these officers were selling out our country for Lobster Thermidor and blow jobs, those same ships might have been instead in a port in Singapore or Malaysia. But hey, why let national security get in the way of free prostitutes?

  1. The service employees of GDMA, a corporation owned and operated by a criminal, had access to our US Navy vessels and the highly sensitive systems they carry.

We don’t know to what extent Fat Leonard or any of the implicated GDMA employees are involved with the communist Chinese government or with individuals that are involved with the Chinese communist government. By exposing our ships to service employees from foreign docking and ship services that were operated by a criminal, these US Navy conspirators unduly exposed our technology to those who would do us damage, and possibly on behalf of Communist China.

We may never know if the communist Chinese government received classified information about the highly sensitive systems on our US Navy vessels, but it would be an unusual misstep for the Chinese if they did not.

  1. Congress gives money to the US Navy on the assumption that the Navy is not wasting it. The next time the Navy goes to Congress for money, Congress will rightfully ask, “Is that price with or without the hookers?”

The US Navy, the Pentagon, and the current US administration hope to be able to contain any physical conflict with China to the Western Pacific, as opposed to Los Angeles or downtown Kansas City. That requires very expensive ships, very expensive maintenance on those very expensive ships, and the very expensive recruiting of skilled, patriotic young men and women to maintain and operate those very expensive ships. When US Navy officers engage in criminal financial malfeasance, they make it more difficult for the US Navy, the Pentagon, and the president to convince the taxpayers that they should all willingly pay more taxes to modernize the fleet.

It’s hard enough explaining the $13 billion going into the construction of our first of class USS Gerald Ford supercarrier. How can the taxpayers not question building and manning such a ship when they are wondering if and when another Fat Leonard Conspiracy will occur, or if there is even another one ongoing? How can the US taxpayers not wonder if the USS Gerald Ford will be in the hands of trustworthy leaders? How can we all not wonder if the extremely expensive new technologies on that aircraft carrier will end up being exposed to the ongoing, robust espionage efforts of Communist China and Putinesque Imperial Russia?

  1. Such criminal malfeasance on the part of officers at the very top of the US Navy undermines the entire military culture.

Repeatedly throughout the active years of the conspiracy, junior officers objected and made recommendations that their superiors shot down. In a chain of command, junior officers and enlisted service men and women can raise concerns, but they don’t get to question orders. Implicit in that is that the officers at the top can be trusted to be serving our nation and not themselves. When those at the bottom don’t or cannot trust the people at the top, there is a breakdown in authority and effective functioning.

These conspirators, ranging in rank from First Class Petty Officer to Vice Admiral set a horrific example for the US Navy and all military branches with their criminal behavior. Our best young people are not inspired to stay in the Navy and do their best job for their country when their senior leaders are stabbing them in the back. It’s bad enough that our enlisted men and women risk their lives serving at such low wages to defend our country when our politicians so infrequently display any sense of patriotism or selflessness. Having their own senior officers, whose judgments their lives depend on, betray them so coarsely makes it that much harder for those young Americans to continue serving our country selflessly.

There may be much more that we will never know about the Fat Leonard Conspiracy, but there are two known and glaring facts worthy of our attention.

  1. That such a broad conspiracy involving so many people could continue for at least five years speaks poorly of US Navy financial oversight, Navy security oversight, Navy counter-intelligence efforts, and the US Navy’s culture and leadership in general.

  1. That senior Navy officers and Navy Criminal Investigation Division agents willingly helped schedule and then attended wild parties in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines, where they were serviced by prostitutes procured by GDMA indicates a frighteningly amateurish level of conduct by trained professionals. Did the Communist Chinese government conduct honeypot operations against these Navy officers with the help of GDMA? We can’t say for certain, but it’s entirely plausible and a good bet. If Holmes were Chinese, he certainly would not have missed the opportunity for such an easy intelligence coup.

The biggest question in all of this is to what degree the US Navy will improve its oversight and its promotion selection process. So far, the changes have been minor. The US Navy needs to conduct a serious investigation not just into these crimes, but into the culture that allowed them to occur.

This problem may seem far removed from our daily lives, but it touches all of us.

We are not helpless. We can let our elected officials in our home districts know that we are revolted by this criminal malfeasance that has bilked we taxpayers of untold millions, and we can demand an investigation into how these crimes went on for so long. This web site has complete instructions on how to reach each representative and senator—How to Contact Your Elected Officials.

These politicians might not care much about our US Navy or our national security, but they all care a great deal about being re-elected. They want our votes. Let’s make them earn those votes for a change. No government will ever be any better than we, the people, force it to be.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE.

Watch for their upcoming non-fiction release, CHINA — THE PIRATE OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.

 

cover-3-china-the-pirate-of-the-south-china-sea

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

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A Grain of Salt–Spy Ships, Officials, and Russian Missiles

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Big Media, Big Politics, and Big Business all profit financially and politically when they keep the public worked up in fear and/or outrage. They are not our friends. Let’s take some of their power back with a few facts.

Outrage

Throughout media, “US officials” report that a Russian spy ship has “appeared” off the East Coast – the first such sighting during the Trump administration.

Facts

  • Russian spy ships have been “appearing” off the US East Coast since the invention of the radio – literally over ninety years.
  • If we want to get technical, Russian spy ships have been “appearing” off of US coasts ever since Russia could sail to the US coast.
  • It is entirely possible that this is the first time journalists have bothered to notice Russian spy ship patrols.
  • According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) from the mean low water mark of a coastal state.
  • The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, and Emperor Palpatine can legally park their entire navies 14 miles off the US coastline and have a bacchanalia if they want to, and they are breaking no international laws.
  • The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov was 30 miles off the US coast as of February 15, 2017.
  • There are no allegations that any Russian ships have violated US territorial waters.
  • US ships regularly cruise coastal waters of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and every other country on the planet that has a coastline.
  • Merriam-Webster defines “official” as “one who holds or is invested with an office.”
  • Merriam-Webster defines “office” as “a position of responsibility or some degree of executive authority.”
  • Well over 800,000 people in the Intelligence Community hold top secret clearances, which would indicate “position[s] of responsibility or some degree of executive authority.”
  • If I had cited to “officials” in my freshman journalism class, I would have flunked and become the department poster child for shoddy journalism. 

 

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

Where the hell have “journalists” been for the past ninety years? This is like watching seven-year-olds discover Knock-Knock Jokes. These same “journalists” couldn’t even find Russia on a map before it hacked the DNC last August.

Actual photo of journalists finally noticing Russian spy ships off of US coast.

 

Outrage

“Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump” ~ The New York Times

 

Facts

  • Versions of this headline are being paired throughout media with “news” of the Russian spy ship.
  • Russia did indeed deploy a new intermediate-range missile, which can be considered a violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  • Russia deployed this missile in December, 2016, before Trump took office.
  • The Obama administration was aware of the Russian missile program in 2014.
  • The Obama administration warned Russia in 2014 that it was violating the treaty.
  • The Obama administration warned Russia again in 2015 that it was violating the treaty.
  • Russia now has two batteries of the new cruise missiles.

 

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

While the arms treaty issues will certainly pose a challenge to the Trump administration, Putin threw down the Arms Gauntlet during the Obama administration. Obama responded with a frown. This recent missile deployment is not about Putin “challenging” Trump like some sort of international cock fight, as the headline implies. It was just time for Putin to test his new toys. He’d have done it no matter who won the election.

Unfortunately for all of us, Trump threw down the Screw-You Gauntlet when he started his administration by publicly telling off all of the top media muckity-mucks. The media has picked up that gauntlet, and the public is nothing but a pawn in the Media War.

 

Bottom Line

Spy ships are old news, and Putin has had his missile agenda for a very long time. Media and politicians also have their agendas. None of these agendas include an informed, educated public.

Take it all with a grain of salt!