2013 has been flooded with news of cybercrime and computer hacking. In July, South Korea announced a huge cyberattack was part of an extremely focused, long-term covert cyberspy operation conducted by a group of highly-skilled, organized hackers. Earlier in the year, an Algerian national was extradited from Thailand to the US for allegedly playing a crucial role in the development and distribution of the cyber virus “EyeSpy”. The story proved how foreign hackers are no longer safe from FBI prosecution. The latest story involving computer hacking is centered on the UK hacker Gary McKinnon winning an extradition battle. McKinnon was indicted in 2002 on charges of hacking into the US government’s computers. What followed was a decade-long battle in courts in the UK to avoid extradition to the US. Instead, McKinnon sought to face trial in Britain. Gary McKinnon’s health was the source of his avoidance of extradition. Having Asperger Syndrome, McKinnon is at a high risk of suicide and it was within these grounds that led to the 47-year-old winning his extradition battle against the United States. According to BBC, in 2012, the UK Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that the British computer hacker was “seriously ill” and that the extradition warrant should be withdrawn.
Browsing Corruption and Crime
In October this year, Top Secret Writers reported how, in 2008, the largest food fraud in US history was foiled by customs agents. Just a month later we are reporting about another major fraud case, this time related to a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who cheated American taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. 64-year-old John Beale, a former deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air Radiation, pleaded guilty to stealing almost $900,000 from the EPA. The extensive fraud went on for 13 years when Beale would fail to show up for work while dishonestly claiming he was involved in top secret work with the CIA. In a court hearing in Washington in September 2013, the judge read evidence against Beale and then asked whether it were true. “Yes it is, your honour,” said Beale in a flat, emotionless voice reported the Huffington Post.
On the evening of Sunday October 13th, a dry ice bomb exploded in a men’s bathroom at Los Angeles International Airport. LAX officials immediately responded, and discovered a 20-ounce plastic bottle that had been blown open by dry ice vapor. The sequence of events following the explosion mark a timeline that would be valuable intelligence for any terrorist planning out an airport bomb attack. Immediately following the blast, the airport shut down all terminal operations, and delayed all flight departures. The LA police department sent in a bomb squad, which cleared the restroom as free from any other explosive devices. Flights finally resumed at 8:45 P.M. on Sunday night, and operations went on as usual. (1) The FBI took on the investigation, which led to a ground service worker by the name of Dicarlo Bennett, 28, being charged with possession of a destructive device in a public place and causing the massive security response at Terminal 2. Bennett is Jamaican-born, but he is a U.S. citizen. Last week, Bennett – facing up to six years in prison – told the court, through his attorney, that the dry ice bomb was placed in the bathroom as a joke and out of personal curiosity. The dry ice was initially removed from a plane in order to protect an animal being flown in the same compartment. (2) Whether or not Bennett intended to cause any destruction to life or property, the seemingly harmless joke reveals a significant intelligence problem with the security response to such events, and the media coverage of it. Awareness of how security agents respond to specific bombing events provides potential terrorists with a great deal of information that they can then use to plan out more damaging and more effective future operations.
On May 16, 1948, a CBS journalist, George Polk, reporting on the civil war in Greece was found dead with his hands tied behind his back back and shot at point blank range in the back of the head. The Polk execution was a two-fold mystery in that it was unclear who exactly was responsible for his murder and that it appears the CIA is attempting to cover up the actual events of what occurred. It also appears that the National Security Archive may have a solid case for a CIA cover up. George Polk was a CBS reporter covering the civil war in Greece between the Greek government and the Greek Communist Party. This has been considered to be one of the first battles of the Cold War. While reporting in Greece, Polk was very vocal and very critical toward both sides of the conflict. He was particularly critical of the Truman Administration’s support of the Greek government. With Polk stepping on so many toes, it is not a surprise that he was discovered murdered, execution style. However, the big question was who committed the act.
In 1940, more than 4,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals were massacred in Katyn Forest. (Later it would be determined that these men were only part of a larger set of simultaneous executions that occurred in the surrounding area, which resulted in a death toll of upwards of 22,000.) There were two large mysteries surrounding the executions. The first mystery was who actually conducted the killings: the Soviets or the Nazis. The second mystery was if certain American officials attempted to cover up the mass murders or at the very least attempted to sugar coat the tragedy to make it appear to be less severe. The Nazis, the Soviets, and the U.S. Government conducted inquiries of their own, and each derived conflicting results from the others. However, much of the mystery has been solved through a 2011 documents request that provided thousands of documents in regards to the Katyn Forest Massacre and the American inquiry into a possible cover-up.
In 2008, the largest food fraud in American history was foiled by customs agents suspicious of six shipping containers from China labeled as originating from Korea. These containers were filled with honey destined to be used in various American food products. The ensuing investigation revealed a food fraud totaling to-date over $180 million. During the course of the investigation, agents traced the origin of the fraud to German company ALW. (1) According to the DOJ (Department of Justice), “14 individuals, including executives of Alfred L. Wolff GmbH and several affiliated companies of the German food conglomerate and others were charged for allegedly avoiding approximately $80 million in anti-dumping duties on Chinese-origin honey. Authorities seized and forfeited more than 3,000 drums of honey that entered the country illegally”. (2) Chinese national Gong Ji Chen was indicted for creating a fake company to hide the Chinese honey origin. (3) Overall, six companies were charged with various crimes perpetrated to avoid tariffs on imported Chinese honey. The tariffs are 221% of declared value, nearly three times more than other foreign countries. (2)
On August 12, 2013, James J. Bulger, aka “Whitey”, the syndicate boss once listed on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, was convicted for his crimes. (1) After two months of listening to the evidence, a federal jury found Bulger guilty of the murders of 11 people. According to the FBI, Bulger was also convicted of “numerous counts of extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, and firearms possession”. (2) Nicknamed “Whitey” because of his white-blond hair, the former leader of the Irish-American crime syndicate Winter Hill Gang of South Boston, controlled an extensive network of criminals during the 1970s and 1980s. Those activities included “loansharking, extortion of local business owners and bookmakers, trafficking of narcotics and firearms, and murder”. (3) In 1975, Bulger became an FBI informant and was given immunity of prosecution as long as he provided the FBI with information about the Italian Mafia. (3) He rose to power when the Winter Hill leader, Howie Winter, was arrested along with other gang members on the charges of race-fixing. Bulger took control of the Winter Gang, but in 1994, it’s reported that his former FBI handler John Connolly tipped him off that charges were being brought against him for various crimes, including the 11 murders that he was eventually convicted of. Bulger fled indictment and became one of the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives. In fact, this ’94 event inspired the story for the 2006 film, “The Departed”. (3) Just over 16 years later on June 22, 2011, Bulger along with his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig were arrested at an apartment in Santa Monica, California. Greig was charged and found guilty of identity fraud and harboring a fugitive. Her sentence carried eight years in federal prison.
The infamous phone hacking scandal that dominated the British media for months has resurfaced with a new twist. A prominent Labour MP has called for the FBI to open an FBI Murdoch investigation after the media mogul admitted that he knew about illegal payments to the police. Chris Bryant won £30,000 in damages for phone hacking by the now obsolete News of the World. The Labour MP is now calling upon the US authorities to charge Murdoch following the release of a secret recording in which Murdoch admitted to The Sun reporters that paying off officials was part of “the culture of Fleet Street”. (1) The MP is urging the US to use the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to charge Murdoch. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was established in 1977. It was enacted, according to the Department of Justice to: “Make it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.” (2) Essentially, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it illegal for US companies to pay public officials on foreign soil. Bryant told the Telegraph that Murdoch’s secretly recorded views were yet “another reason” for the FBI to act and for the billionaire’s media empire to face US charges. (3)
On July 19th, Massachusetts officials announced that DNA testing proved conclusively that Albert DeSalvo was in fact the Boston Strangler. This brings to a close a case that has baffled investigators for over 50 years. (1) The case of the Boston Strangler started on the evening of June 14, 1962, when 55-year-old Anna Slesers was discovered strangled to death in the bathroom of her Gainsborough Street apartment. She had also been sexually assaulted, and her apartment had been ransacked to look like a burglary, but a number of valuable possessions were left untouched. Only two weeks later, 68-year-old Nina Nichols was also sexually assaulted and strangled, and her Commonwealth Avenue apartment was ransacked to look like a robbery. Valuables were lefted untouched. On the same day, 65-year-old Helen Blake was also found sexually molested and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Lynn. (4) Through 1963, the victims became younger, with a number of women in their 20s getting killed throughout Boston in the same manner. However, it was the last victim – 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, who was murdered on January 4, 1964 – whose case would offer the evidence required to eventually name Albert DeSalvo as the Boston Strangler, on July 19th, 2013. (4)
The President and the U.S. government want us to believe that the economy has bounced back and is getting stronger by the day. However, not everyone shares the same positive outlook as our political leaders. In fact, there are some people that are predicting a financial armageddon. Those who do not believe that the country has experienced any real economic improvement contend that our economy is at a tipping point and the smallest economic downturn could put it over the edge. Below are seven “signs” from various points of view that our economy is being pushed over the brink and into financial Armageddon.