When my great-grandmother was put on a ship from Austria to the United States at the age of 14 years, the Jewish-American heritage of our family began. Rose Messer boarded a ship for the United States from Austria in 1914 and settled in Ohio, where she later married a Markovic (also Jews in Serbia) and founded a Jewish-American family.
My great-grandmother never hand a driver’s license, nor did she have a high paying job. She was a house-keeper and never lost her Austrian accent. She died in 1995 at the age of 95 years, after having hugged every one of her countless great-grandchildren. My mother was blessed with the name ‘Rose” as her middle name, as was my eldest daughter. She never spoke about why she left Austria or why she was forced to flee Europe for the United States.
Since then. I have spent my life knowing that my heritage was Jewish. When you find yourself feeling the spirit of the People of Israel, and you are no longer afraid, you are simply not worried about announcing it. God bless my great-grandmother, my mother and the State and Nation of Israel.
My paterenal side was Welsh (Gruffudd=Griffith), and also has a high Jewish influence. My passion or Israel is in the blood. You can drain it, but it will always be passed on.
WASHINGTON - The head of GCIS (Griffith Colson Intelligence Service), a private intelligence communications agency, says the former head of Mossad is “far of base” in his statements concerning the policies on handling Iran.
Hackers flying the AntiSec banner today released what they said was 400 megabytes of internal data from a government cybersecurity contractor, ManTech, as part of their campaign to embarrass the FBI every Friday, as well as target other government agencies and their partners.
GCIS ART PROTECTION UNIT BRIEFING: How stolen masterworks were recovered
MARK COLVIN: Late in July 1994, thieves broke in to an art gallery in the German city of Frankfurt. Two of the three masterpieces they got away with were late works by the great British painter JMW Turner. They were on loan from London’s Tate Gallery and between them they were worth 24 million pounds.
What followed was an eight-and-a-half year hunt across Europe to find and retrieve the two Turners. The man who coordinated it for the Tate was the gallery’s director of programmes, Sandy Nairne, and he’s written a book about it Art Theft - The Case of the Stolen Turners.
Far from the glamorous world of films like the Thomas Crown Affair, he makes it clear that it’s a murky business of organised crime with links to drugs and arms smuggling. And since the gallery ended up having to pay some of their insurance money to get the pictures, back, it’s a legally and morally ambiguous world too.
During a long and fascinating interview which you can hear or download later from our website, Sandy Nairne explored those issues with me and told me the story. This extract begins with the recovery, six years on, of the first picture.
SANDY NAIRNE: By 2000 we managed to, eventually after a lot of toing and froing get the first painting back but only one of them. And then there was…
MARK COLVIN: Only one?
SANDY NAIRNE: Only one came in 2000 and we then, I thought that we might get the second one maybe six months later but we had five different occasions between 2000, when we got the first and 2002, five different occasions on which we were fully operational, we were ready to exchange the fee for information.
We, on a couple of occasions I had a van in southern Germany in Frankfurt ready to pick up the second painting because of course you don’t want to be giving a fee and find you’ve got a 12 million pound painting in your hands and you don’t know where to put it.
I mean to answer your question the fact is that it was a very new world, a very different world on the other hand I supposed I’d say there’s a lot of parallels with what one does in museums because you have to do a lot of things very discreetly in a museum anyway, you have to deal with a lot of negotiation, you have to keep a lot of confidences, you have to persuade people of things so maybe it’s a parallel world of some kind.
MARK COLVIN: In some ways I’m wondering why you wrote a book and not a film script?
SANDY NAIRNE: Well there have of course been film scripts and one of things that I get to in the book in the second half, is of course the fact that this is an area surrounded by the kind of mythology of film. I mean none of us can think about art theft without thinking of the Thomas Crown Affair or thinking back to, I don’t know, earlier films like Topkapi and Rififi.
MARK COLVIN: Topkapi.
SANDY NAIRNE: Yeah, there’s a whole tradition and of course that tradition is actually in some ways rather unhelpful because it has these very particular stereotypes. The sort of debonair art thieves and this notion that sort of you know, hidden criminal collectors of art. So the whole field is…
MARK COLVIN: Yes criminal, crime fiction is full of shadowy figures in their castles or their hideaways ordering up Rembrandts.
SANDY NAIRNE: Exactly so the difficulty about my story is that because it’s true it doesn’t have as much flair perhaps as what people think it should have and it doesn’t have the debonair characters perhaps.
MARK COLVIN: There’s no equivalent of Raffles the gentlemen thief?
SANDY NAIRNE: No there certainly isn’t. I mean I did have a fabulous investigator Jurek Rokoszynski, known as Rocky. He was an incredible character who helped, I mean he was the really crucial part of getting the recovery to work.
I mean he did the negotiations with the solicitor and others in Germany so there were some great characters in this, I mean who knows whether there is a film element to it, but I just felt that a book that is straightforwardly told this story was important.
Because of course nobody, everybody is very cautious about talking about high-value art theft and one can understand why. People don’t want to discuss it and yet it goes on, I mean not all the time luckily but it does happen and I felt that it was really important to try and tell the story.
MARK COLVIN: So how did you get the second one back?
SANDY NAIRNE: Well after we had these five failed attempts in which in each case you know there was misinformation or people got nervous or disturbed or worried about the police being too close or things being in the wrong place eventually, eventually in December 2000, by this point I was also having to actually negotiate with my investigator Rocky had retired from the metropolitan police, was actually enjoying having a great time doing freelance sailing work.
And at one point I was negotiating both the Lee Burgs (phonetic) in Frankfurt as to when the painting might arrive I was also negotiating with Rocky who was offshore the northern coast of New Zealand so I had to fly him back from New Zealand to get him at exactly the right time to help make sure we could recover the painting appropriately.
In the second case as in the first I actually had with me the senior Tate conservator Roy Perry because as you can imagine one of the great fears for me was that I would organise a fee for information, we’d all be there a canvas would turn up but what if it wasn’t the Turner? What if there had been enough time for criminals to make a copy? So I had to have with me somebody who could absolutely with total certainty say this is the real thing. This is the real Turner painting.
MARK COLVIN: And so how did you make that exchange?
SANDY NAIRNE: We knew of a particular hotel in Germany in Frankfurt where it was possible for somebody to drive in, take something out of the trunk out of the boot of the car. Go up in a lift frankly avoiding the lobby area and go straight up to an upper level of rooms and we’d hired a room.
And that room was known to our contact and our solicitor collaborator came in with a canvas bag and brought it out of the canvas bag and there it was and it was an astonishing moment. I knew of course that it was the Turner. Although I formally had to get Roy to examine it very carefully against the conservation records and the photographs.
MARK COLVIN: It was undamaged?
SANDY NAIRNE: Unbelievably. It was undamaged. Well perhaps not unbelievably because I think the criminals whoever had these paintings they knew what they were worth, they knew that these two pictures started being worth 24 million and probably worth somewhere between 35 million and 40 million by the time they came back.
MARK COLVIN: We’ve already established that these people were not gentlemen crooks or anything like that. What is the underworld that deals in stolen paintings?
SANDY NAIRNE: It’s very difficult to piece it all together and I can only, even in my, this book I’ve done, can only be a partial account and I’m not an expert either as a criminologist or as an expert in criminality more widely but what one senses is two things.
One is that as there’s been a greater clamping down on money laundering and the movement of cash around the world for very, very good reasons at the same time it has caused, I think criminals to look for other means to transfer value illicitly in criminal terms.
And I think what one senses with paintings like this there can be a kind of knocking down to maybe 10 per cent of the value so that they were worth 24 million in real terms, they might be exchanged in criminal terms to 2.4 million. And actually what they means…
MARK COLVIN: So they become a sort of form of currency?
SANDY NAIRNE: Yeah a kind of collateral, exactly a kind of criminal currency but I always thought sadly the frames which were Turner’s original frames were lost, we never got the frames back, but I always thought it was quite significant that if you took as they did, somebody did, you could then fit the two pictures very, very neatly in the boot of a Mercedes and that’s a pretty neat way of moving even 2.4 million of criminal currency or criminal collateral, it is a pretty neat way of doing it. And the fact that they came back undamaged, unscratched meant that people, whoever had them, knew.
I think the other factor can be a certain kind of chutzpah and this is through analysing other high-value art thefts that for certain criminals there can be a real kind of chutzpah element about having done this and being able to claim and flaunt even the fact that they’ve done it to other criminals.
MARK COLVIN: Sandy Nairne, then director of programmes at the Tate Gallery, now director of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery speaking to me from his office in London. And you can listen to or download a 25-minute version of that interview on our website from this evening.
Preparations are underway to begin integration of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Launch Abort System (foreground) with the Crew Module (background) for acoustical testing. The tests will be conducted in the Reverberant Acoustics Laboratory at the Lockheed Martin Waterton facility near Denver, Colorado. The Orion stack will be exposed to a series of acoustic tests of increasing decibels that simulate the sound pressure levels that the vehicle will encounter during launch. Image Credit: NASA
NASA will host a news conference on Monday, Aug. 1, at noon EDT, to discuss the Dawn spacecraft’s successful orbit insertion around Vesta on July 15 and unveil the first full-frame images from Dawn’s framing camera.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — From New Jersey to California, police, courthouse officials and real estate agents are being confronted with a baffling new problem: bogus legal documents filed by people claiming to follow an obscure religion called Moorish Science. Their…
Barry H. Landau and Jason James Savedoff, both of New York City, were indicted in Baltimore, Maryland on charges of conspiring to steal historical documents—including original documents of Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt—from museums in Maryland and New York, and selling them for profit. A nationwide investigation is continuing.
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Design a Kit to Provide Power, Potable Water, and Communications & Win $10,000
In December 2010 the U.S. Congress passed the America Competes Reauthorization Act, providing agencies with broad authority to conduct prize competitions as called for in President Obama’s 2010 Strategy for American Innovation. The America Competes Reauthorization Act gives agencies a simple and clear legal path to conduct prize competitions, thereby dramatically lowering barriers for agencies to use prizes to spur innovation, solve tough problems and advance their core mission.
In March of 2010 a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) was initiated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to deliver a capability that can support the immediate needs of first responders to a crisis event by providing essential services and the capability to quickly assess and survey a crisis area and communicate with regional and national level leaders to coordinate the national response. The project developed an integrated kit that provides:
Reliable power from primarily renewable sources to power system components
Potable water from local sources
Local and global communications to transmit & receive voice, data and images
Local situational awareness and information sharing
The kit satisfies all operational requirements as defined by DOD, and delivers more capability than is required by other user organizations. However, the JCTD kit is bigger, heavier and more costly than some user organizations can accommodate.
Interested individuals and organizations are invited to design a kit for use in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) situations. The kit will be suitable for initial HA/DR response activities by US government departments and agencies, as well as by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign governments. The kit and all its components must not be subject to export control restrictions and should, if possible, cost no more than US$50,000 and weigh no more than 500 LBS. All interested Competitors must submit an HADR-Challenge Submission Packet via the DOD’s Challenge.Gov platform no later than 15 August 2011. All submissions and competitors must address the HADR Challenge Design Parameters and adhere to eligibility requirements outlined in the announcement. The HADR-Challenge runs from 6 July 2011 through 15 August 2011. Announcement of the Challenge winner will be made on 31 August 2011. The total financial award for the winner of the HADR-Challenge is $10,000.
Visit Challenge.gov now for details on this challenging and exciting opportunity!
As head of security at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Anthony Amore knows a few things about stealing Rembrandts. Back in 1990, the Gardner was the target of an infamous heist in which three of its four Rembrandts disappeared. None have been recovered, though Amore is still working on the case. What he and coauthor Tom Mashberg, a former editor and reporter at both the Boston Herald and the Globe, do in their nonfiction narrative is to catalog several historical cases in which Rembrandts have been stolen.
They begin by dispelling popular misconceptions. First, they show that the overwhelming majority of art thieves are not sophisticated connoisseurs or criminal masterminds. They are generally small-time crooks looking for an easy score, and museums that house Rembrandts are usually “softer’’ targets than, say, banks or armored cars. In about 80 percent of art heists, the authors note, the thieves have the assistance of someone who has worked inside the museum.
Museum security people understand the contradiction between making art accessible and keeping it secure from thieves. They “are engaged in an endless struggle to make art approachable without making it vulnerable. It leads to hard choices,’’ write the authors.
Second, the authors show that there are no rich or eccentric art lovers waiting in line to buy stolen Rembrandts. Fencing a famous painting is even harder than stealing it. About the best the thieves can generally hope for is to ransom the pieces back to the museums, which often exposes the thieves to capture.
The authors interview some of today’s highest-profile art thieves, including Massachusetts residents Myles J. Connor and Florian “Al’’ Monday. Connor, who keeps an alligator in his bathtub, is certainly an eccentric who knows a lot about art heists. Back in 1975, as Connor faced charges in another art heist case, he robbed a Rembrandt from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Connor brazenly, and effectively, offered to “help recover’’ the MFA Rembrandt in exchange for leniency in his pending case. The authors describe Connor’s chutzpah-filled strategy as “fine art for freedom.’’ The most absorbing part of the entire book is the verbatim testimony from Connor about how he cased museums, identified security weaknesses, planned his operations, implemented them, and sought to profit from the art he stole.
The book follows several Rembrandt heists closely, such as a 2000 armed invasion of a museum in Stockholm. The authors describe how the FBI organized a sting in which an agent posed as a buyer looking to purchase the stolen Rembrandt. It worked, and the painting was recovered.
The authors make it clear that stealing Rembrandts doesn’t pay. The cost to the public is immense, as priceless works fall into an abyss of remote warehouses and underground crypts where they may get damaged or destroyed. The authors conclude with a final plea to art thieves in general, and the purveyors of the 1990 Gardner heist in particular: “We hope that this book drives home the folly of art theft, a crime that costs us dearly and certainly does not pay, and that it inspires some to come forward with the whereabouts of these irreplaceable and unrivaled treasures.’’
While “Stealing Rembrandts’’ does a fine job speaking to art thieves, the general reader will find here neither the thrill of a detective story nor the splendor of a Rembrandt portrait. A focus on one heist instead of dozens may have reaped more rewards for readers seeking more drama and less analysis of bygone cases gathering dust in police annals.
DEA BRIEFINGS TO GCIS COMMUNICATIONS COMMAND CENTER
DEA Announces Narco-Terrorism Operations Against Hezbollah, Other Terrorist Organizations
On July 26, DEA and the US Attorney for the Southern District of New Yorkannounced the unsealing of indictments as a result of two DEA narco-terrorism undercover operations: first, an indictment against Siavosh Henareh, Bachar Wehbe, and Cetin Aksu for providing various forms of support to Hezbollah; second, an indictment against Taza Gul Alizai (“Gul”) on charges related to his supplying of heroin and weapons to a DEA confidential source (CS) who Gul believed represented the Taliban.
DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart stated: “These DEA operations starkly illustrate how drug trafficking is a double threat that fuels both addiction and terrorism. We have successfully targeted, and substantially dismantled two dangerous and complex networks; stopped efforts to arm Hezbollah and Taliban terrorists; and prevented massive amounts of heroin from reaching illicit markets around the world. Those responsible for these crimes will now face trial due to the brave and talented men and women of the DEA, the skilled federal prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, and the extraordinary cooperation of our many international and federal agency partners, all whom were instrumental in the success of these DEA operations.”
Project Delirium: Largest U.S. Strike Against La Familia, Nearly 2,000 Arrested
On July 21 DEAannounced the results of Project Delirium, a 20-month series of nationwide investigations targeting the La Familia Michoacana Cartel, the largest strike against La Familia in the United States with 1,985 arrests, $62 million, and approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana, and $3.8 million in other assets seized. Over 70 of these arrests took place on July 20-21, with more than 200 arrested since June 1.
“Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” said Administrator Leonhart. “Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border. The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization by capturing its leaders, strangling its distribution networks, and relentlessly pursuing its members and those who facilitate them.”
On July 16, in cooperation with 70 other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, DEA seized 13,806 marijuana plants found growing in the mountains outside of Veyo, Utah, and arrested 38 defendants who were in the process of harvesting the plants. The investigation linked this and three other grow operations seized last year to a Mexican drug trafficking organization operating in the same general area of southern Utah.
Probe Shows Former Worker At Mark Twain House Embezzled
Officials at the Mark Twain House & Museum acknowledged Tuesday that an investigation into financial irregularities involving a former employee revealed a loss of more than $500,000.
Executive Director Jeff Nichols said that a forensic audit of the museum’s books had recently been completed. He declined to reveal the total loss because of the ongoing investigation, but said the loss is greater than the organization’s $500,000 insurance policy covering employee theft.
"Our losses are in excess of what we recovered," Nichols said, adding that officials "have an idea" of the total loss.
The Commercial Record, a real estate and business publication, reported in its July edition that it had reviewed the Twain House’s public tax filings for the 2009 fiscal year, which revealed that the museum reported a loss of more than $750,000 that year from theft.
In June 2010, museum officials told The Courant that an employee had left the institution because of “financial irregularities,” that Hartford police had been notified, and that the Twain House’s financial status had not been “materially affected.”
As a result of the discovery, Nichols said, a review of internal controls was conducted and the museum adjusted its bookkeeping methods. Nichols said he has taken a more active role in the museum’s finances in a reconfiguration of the bookkeeping department, and that an outside contractor has been hired for accounting.
Citing the ongoing investigation,Nichols declined to name the employee who had left the organization over “financial irregularities.”
In 2003, the museum opened a new, $18 million visitor center. But there were construction cost overruns, other increased expenses and fewer people visited than anticipated.
By 2006, the Twain House was forced to restructure its debt related to the project and received a $3.5 million grant from the state to avoid bankruptcy. In 2008, facing a $350,000 shortfall in its operating budget, the museum received a $50,000 grant from United Technologies Corp., a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and laid off 33 of its 50 employees.
The theft, Nichols said, “probably would not have changed how things played out. We bit off a little more than we could chew.,”
Nichols said Tuesday that the museum is on the mend financially, finishing “in the black the last three years,” and whittling down its operating deficit to an “almost break-even” point.
He said the museum attracted a record 72,000 visitors last year. Visits to the museum are up 15 percent over this time last year, Nichols said.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign today announced a new partnership with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) America - an initiative that will help protect millions of children from online threats by encouraging Internet safety.
Homeland security is a responsibility shared across a broad range of partners, including the private sector. In support of our continued efforts to strengthen our security in collaboration with America’s businesses, schools and industries, DHS recently hosted the fourth DHS for a Day event in Seattle on July 19th.
From joint patrols to drug interdiction agreements, international partnership is essential to maritime security in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific. Coast Guard cutters patrol these transit zones and work closely with their Central and South American counterparts to stop drugs from getting close to the U.S.
Today, the Obama Administration announced the release of the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. In the words of the message from President Obama that accompanies the Strategy: “This strategy is organized around a single, unifying principle: To build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to our national security—and to urge our partners to do the same.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will enforce a federal quarantine order beginning July 30 that restricts the importation of rice into the U.S. from countries with known Khapra beetle infestations. The introduction and establishment of Khapra beetle into the U.S. poses a serious threat to stored agricultural products, including spices, grains and packaged foods.
Contracts valued at $5 million or more are announced each business day at 5 p.m. Contract announcements issued within the past 30 days are listed below. Older contract announcements are available from the contract archive page. Contract announcements are also available by e-mail subscription. Go to DOD News for more information and for links to other news items.
DOD BRIEFINGS & NEWS RELEASES TO GCIS COMMUNICATIONS COMMAND CENTER
News Releases are official statements of the Department of Defense. News releases issued within the past 30 days are listed below. Older news releases are available from the news release archive page. News releases are also available by e-mail subscription. Go to DOD News for more information and for links to other news items.
CIA STUDIES IN INTELLIGENCE TO GCIS COMMUNICATIONS COMMAND CENTER
Studies in Intelligence
All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence and CSI Publications are those of the Authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.
David Dinham was jailed for two years at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
An IT boss who admitted embezzling £500,000 from the National Library of Scotland has been jailed for two years.
IT boss David Dinham, 33, stole the money over a four-year period from 2006 when he had control over major budgets at the historic institution.
Dinham, from Edinburgh, admitted the embezzlement charge at a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in May.
The offence took place between 6 September 2006 and 9 June 2010. He was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
National Library of Scotland staff are believed to have spotted financial irregularities and called in the police.
In his role, Dinham was understood to have been in charge of a £1.8m project to store the library’s digital archive.
When spoken to by police Dinham, who grew up in Australia, said the transactions were for “personal purchases”.
Defence agent Duncan Hughes said Dinham, who has degrees in IT and accounting, had struggled with depression and low self-worth.
He asked the sheriff not to jail Dinham and highlighted his mental health difficulties.
Mr Hughes said: “He made one purchase on the credit card to buy a fairly small item, realised there were no checks and continued to purchase items.
"He is a highly intelligent and high achieving man but has just not managed to shake off this depression and has suffered from it since he was 17 years old."
Recover money Sheriff Alistair Noble said: “You have pled guilty to an extremely grave offence.
"A breach of trust was involved and the matter extended over a number of years.
"A very significant sum indeed was involved."
Sheriff Noble added that custody was the only option.
Martyn Wade, national librarian and chief executive of the National Library of Scotland, said: “This was a complex and sophisticated crime committed by a senior manager and budget holder who had a detailed knowledge of internal processes and procedures.
"Our systems identified discrepancies and as soon as these were confirmed, appropriate action was taken and the police were notified.
"Internal procedures were immediately reviewed and strengthened.
"A planned upgrade to a new financial system has recently been completed, which should prevent any future misappropriation of this kind.
"We also note the court’s earlier decision to make a confiscation order in respect of David Dinham’s assets.
"To date over £150,000 of stolen funds has been recovered and we shall, in tandem with the Crown Office, be continuing legal proceedings against David Dinham to recover as many funds as possible."
Founded in 1689 as the library for the Faculty of Advocates, the NLS holds almost 400 years worth of Scotland’s written history and culture.