WOW, I think to myself… Hotel security at my door, at midnight… I have my own wife with me… What could it possibly be?
IT IS JUST ABOUT MIDNIGHT. Our hotel room is dark and quiet (with perhaps the intermittent gentle snoring for which I am famous.) Karin and I are in Columbus for a couple of days and I jokingly mentioned to her that our room is ‘murder central’ – a pun related to a television reference to rooms at the end of the hall by the stairwell. On this occasion, we are both sound asleep when a seriously loud and the prolonged BANG BANG BANG of a fist on our door. As always, our door is double locked, an alarm wedged between the door and the floor and my Colt .45 at my side.
AGAIN, BANG, BANG, BANG. I call out who is
it? A deep voice responds, SECURITY! It was a business-like tone that told me
this has nothing to do with our neighbors complaining about the
I make my way to the door and removing the alarm wedge, I look through the peep-hold and see a very large person in a security uniform standing there and not looking very happy.
WOW, I think to myself… Hotel security at
my door, at midnight… I have my own wife with me… What could it possibly be?
I get horrific thoughts of bad news from home… Karin speculates that
something happened to our truck. Nothing prepared me for what I would see when
I opened the door.
I open the door to find this very
professional looking security person looking less than pleased at me and at his
feet stands the cutest little four-year-old girl in pajamas, wrapped in a blanket looking
scared to death.
at me I suppose, because he thinks I am the negligent father or grandfather who
has allowed this child to go strolling the hotel at night, the guard demands, “DO
YOU KNOW HER?”
“No, Sir” I replied.
His expression changed and with compassion he looks at the girl and asks, “Tell
me what you think your room number is again?”
The guard apologizes
for bothering us and I volunteer to help him find her parents if he needs
assistance. He said he would handle it, “But thanks” he said.
I went back to bed with a prayer for that
little girl to find her parents and thanking God for a security guard who really
author of “Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat”
Not long ago, I was asked to put down in a few sentences how private, licensed security firms and the individuals working for them help make Ohio safer. If you follow my writing at all, you know that I am a strong proponent of the concept that the only person who can make you safer is you. Still, though, there are circumstances in which security personnel add to the safety equation for a business. By keeping businesses safer, the employees and customers are safer. Logic would argue that safer businesses, employees and customers results in an overall positive effect for the state. I’ll very briefly examine three components of professional security which result in a safer community. The three are: Trained, Equipped, and Observant.
We begin with the expectation that every individual employed by a professional security company in the State of Ohio is vetted. A requirement of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Department of Homeland Security is every person who holds the company license and every individual employed under that license undergo a thorough background check which includes an automated fingerprint check through the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI&I).
Likewise, any individual to receive on their license an endorsement to allow him or her to carry on-duty must also have a fingerprint record check through the FBI.
First, then, in our list of items that professional security employers provide are agents who are: trained. We will begin with firearms. If a person is to receive an endorsement on their registration as a ‘firearm bearer’ they must first also show completion of either a 140 hour ‘civilian’ firearms qualification program credentialed by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). The course must be supervised by an OPOTA certified instructor. The only other way in which a person working for a security company is to be a current holder of an OPOTA Certification as a Peace Officer in Ohio and records indicated a firearms qualification within the last 12 months. All firearms bearers must requalify annually.
I have purposely not used the term security guards because of the injustice done to those who work as guards by Hollywood and media in general. The old days of a retired, older gentleman with a large ring of keys in on hand a thermos of coffee in the other strolling from one station to the next where he would insert a key that showed he had ‘checked’ that area and he’d amble on through the night, often afraid of his own shadow or just looking for a place to nap are long gone. As certain as I am that there were those who fit that description to a ‘t’; today they are working their way toward a high degree of professionalism because of the new threats that corporate America is facing in our ever-changing foreign political landscape and home-grown corporate espionage agents both in physical and in cyber security. Many companies use the term ‘officer’ and some such as my own company, use the term ‘agent’ to eliminate any confusion with local law enforcement officers.
Training on the job is an important part of any company’s program for agents. The Ohio Department of Public Safety/Homeland Security makes available for all registered agents on-line training covering a wide-range of topics all of which are relevant to security challenges in today’s corporate climate. In relation to that, ODPS requires very specific insurance that also meets the challenges of today’s world.
Equipping of law enforcement officers over the last decade has taken major strides in officer protection and in providing devices for recording interactions between citizens and the officer. Much of the same equipment is required for security work. Depending on the assignment and the location, a security agent may be wearing a uniform distinctively marked, a bullet-resistant vest, firearm, taser, and body-cam. Covert equipment has also taken huge steps in the last two decades. Constantly changing electronics and digital information recorders, covert recording devices, tracking devices and a multitude of tools have make it safer for investigations to progress. Agents must continually stay abreast of ever changing laws that may impact their work.
The third area that I chose to help explain the concept that better vetted and trained security personnel with the best available equipment will help make the regions in which they work safer for all citizens is observant. The term we use at SCI and have stressed in all our citizen safety training publications and articles is situationally aware. Agents receive training in professional organizations on being always aware of their surroundings. We do not preach paranoia but awareness and readiness to act whatever the threat might be. SCI seeks to show everyone we train, whether as an agent or in a community based training, that being aware of your situation is the best way to stay safe and keep others safe as well.
A great deal has changed in private security and investigations since Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade hunted the Maltese Falcon. The world is at our doorstep and its time we prepare ourselves to open the door. I believe that Ohio and other states are safer because of the well-trained security companies that are working together to meet the threats that are facing our private sector world. I encourage them all to stay the course.
If the first three weeks since the election are any barometer, the next four-year term of President-elect Trump will be filled with drama. Quality intelligence evaluation and contingency planning are not about drama but, as Sgt. Joe Friday, was known to say: Just the facts.
That is a simple enough statement about intel gathering and dissemination of information that may forestall the next major attempted attack on U.S. interests either at home or abroad. However, it belies the subtle art that is involved in not only reading the intelligence as it is gathered; but, in reading into its context. The message is often more than the sum of the translation. It includes a telltale hint of the motivation behind the dissemination of such information. That motivation will direct the seasoned analyst to dig beyond the face page and into the mind of the author of the text.
Recently, good intel was received that ISIS related malefactors had plans to rent U-Haul type trucks to obliterate crowds at Thanksgiving Day parades and festivities. SCI alerted local and the national offices to the intel. Later, a threat came against the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As anyone who watched the parade could attest, whatever might have been attempted was thwarted at some level by those prepared to take on the task.
In Dr. Riggs’ upcoming book, Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat there is a call to arms for local citizens to first strengthen their homes, their castles – to make sure that the moat is full and the drawbridge is up. That doesn’t mean that the knights stay inside and await the attack. Rather, they have taken every measure to make certain their family is on a firm foundation in their faith, in their love for one another and in their physical and mental preparedness to meet the enemy at the gate. Once they have made certain their homes are secure, they prepare themselves to meet the enemy ahead of the enemy’s schedule and to help the local law enforcement authorities to do whatever it takes to keep their piece of America safe for themselves and for their posterity.
A quote from the book goes like this: “The enemy is on our doorstep. You can hunker down in the house, run out the back door to try to escape, or you can open that front door and send the enemy to meet the Judge. It is time to stop being afraid.”
This book is a call to arms and a call to re-kindle the faith of our fathers who forged the United States of America on the fires of battle against an enemy that was within their land as they held to their faith in God to bring about a peace with honor when the enemy was vanquished and not before. Watch for the book in early 2017 through Motivational Press.
The initial video training is just enough information to be dangerous, at least in this author’s opinion.
In about 1972, Jim Raposo wrote a song made popular by Jim Henson singing as Kermit the Frog, ‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green’ and such words were never more true than in the world today for some who consult with international organizations and are painting whole countries green! Kermit, apparently has begun to understand the dangerous times in which we live. It is a shame that some of these consultants are not aswell aware. When I say it’s a shame, I mean shame in the most Asian culture seriousness of the word. Perhaps an allusion to another time in our country when being green was a euphemism for being a novice, inexperienced and in capable of functioning on their own, particularly in dangerous situations, is the best way to understand the color.
I enjoy allusions to cinema and when those illustrations also include John Wayne, so much the better! In El Dorado, John Wayne plays Cole Thornton, a gun hand who refuses to go against his old friend who is the sheriff in the middle of a range war. Instead, he comes to his aid. The sheriff, J.P. Harrah, gets very irritated at a new friend of Wayne’s character, named Mississippi (James Caan) and turns toward him, gun drawn. Thornton (Wayne) says, “Now wait a minute J.P., he’s a little green…”
Like an unripe fruit, he was not ready. In this case, he was not ready to be on his own in a dangerous situation.
What does this have to do with this consultant advising this international agency on security and using the color green? The plan, apparently, was to review the security needs of every country in the international organization’s wheel house. They would then color code them as to the level of security training necessary. There were four categories, red being the highest risk and requiring the most training, orange, yellow and then green. Thirty-four out of sixty-five areas of responsibility worldwide, 52.3% were rated as GREEN and were considered LOW RISK. The most heinous part is that the LOW RISK countries required NO TRAINING. Some extremely basic 3 hourintroductory videos are shown to everyone but beyond that – No Training!
Low risk countries included all of Europe; including Germany, France, and Spain and we all know how safe those places are today. Ukraine, recently invaded by Russia with war still prevalent in the eastern cities only rates a YELLOW – two days of training!
Although Eastern and Western Mindanao were considered separately, the Philippines was listed as GREEN, no training needed. Western Mindanao is RED and Eastern Mindanao is only YELLOW – requiring just 2 days of training! I could continue; but, you can imagine that if over 50 percent of an organization’s countries, or areas of responsibility, require no supplemental training at all, what is the level of situational awareness of the people working in those countries?
Let’s take a further look at Mindanao. The company divides it into Western and Eastern as we described earlier. Those were the names used before the emancipation. The correct name for Western Mindanao is the Zamboanga Peninsula. Remember, it is shown as RED and the remainder of Mindanao or what was labeled as Eastern is YELLOW – requiring only two days of training so near to one of the most hateful bunch of Al Qaeda factions out there. Now, realize that all of Mindanao is only 37, 654 square miles. That is less than the State of Ohio which is 44, 825 and can be traversed easily in a few hours. The Zamboanga Peninsula is only 572.74 square miles, which is comparable in size to New York CITY which is 468.90 without its suburbs! So, here I am in Ohio saying that in NE Ohio I’m okay, only a yellow; but, if I travel a few hours to near Cincinnati, bang- I’m in red territory.
Let’s jump off the island of Mindanao and consider the rest of the Philippines which is GREEN – no additional training needed. Manila, the capital city is about as far away from Mindanao as you can get and still be on the archipelago. By air it is only 561 miles to Manila from Mindanao and 1040 miles by land and boat. Forty two hours travel in the latter and only 59 minutes in the former. Plus, the airfare currently is only $91 one way. Employees of this company living in Manila are GREEN and require no additional training while they are only $91 and 59 minutes from some of the worst Al Qaeda terrorists in the world.
The United States is listed as GREEN yet shootings, stabbings, kidnappings are on the news almost every night. Should not every American have some understanding of how to be situationally aware enough to protect themselves? Apparently the employees of this organization do not require it. The initial video training is just enough information to be dangerous, at least in this author’s opinion.
No doubt, those involved in this organization went about their task in good faith and put a great deal of stock into what they were being told. I would really like to know what kind of a grid was used to determine the levels of risk. I would also like to know how, any group responsible for the lives of their employees, and, due to their diverse spread across the world, their employees’ spouses and their children, can consider any of them to not require any real training.
Sadly, if I were to hazard a guess… a deciding factor was cost. To the organization’s credit, they weren’t specifically trying to save themselves money because the brunt of the cost of the training would be born by the employees themselves. That is the way this company is structured. You could say, that a company that was bearing its responsibility correctly, (or I believe the argument could be made to carry their responsibility morally), should beproviding the training at no cost to the employee; but that is not the way it is currently for most of these contract-type employees.
Over fifty percent of this organization’s area (and probably an even much higher percentage of their actual employees and families) are living in GREEN areas. Very seldom in writing is there an opportunity to use this word, so here goes, I am flabbergasted!
If you could see me right now you might think you were intoxicated or had a head injury because you might just see two of me… because I am simply beside myself on this one!
I truly believe that the organization involved here is attempting to do their very best; but, internally they have almost no expertise by which to filter what they are being told by outside consultants. I have no idea the credentialing of these consultants. Maybe, in many areas they are considered experts. However, it is this one person’s seasoned opinion that they are very wrong in the way they are directing this organization. I urge any group that decides to depend solely on the opinions of someone or some group from outside their own agency on how best to protect their own people to use the very utmost of caution.
One last movie analogy, in the Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, the malefactor must decide which chalice he believes to be the cup of Christ. If he picks the right one, he receives immortality, the wrong one brings death. As the Nazis villain decays into a pile of dust, the ancient crusader left to guard the cup says very simply, “He chose poorly.”
Then the other officer came… he was polite and professional but he was not about to be taken into Emmy’s conidence.
Ok, perhaps “arrested” is not exactly the right term and Emelia isn’t quite two. It all began on our trip to Orlando as Emmy and I were at the Cleveland Airport going through passport control and security. Now, before I tell the entire story, allow me to say that Emelia has the greatest deference for police oficers. She should, at least. I am a retired Chief of Police. Emelia’s father is a county corrections officer and her uncle is a local police officer, not that this 1 year and so many month old little girl really understands that. I also need to say at the outset that we fully understand the dificult task that TSA officers have and why they needed to do what they did with me at the airport.
Now… for the story. It was just Emmy and me, waiting our turn in a VERY long line at security. Thankfully, Emmy was in a stroller so we moved ahead a little more quickly. I got all of our stuff on the converyor belt to the x-ray machine and we were waiting to go through the detector a second time. I say a second time because the first time, as I carried the little munchkin through either my brand new knee or my old steel rods along my vertebrae activated the detector. As we waited, a TSA officer tried to make nice with Emelia and gave her a stick on TSA badge which she wore proudly on her shirt, at first anyway. Then the other officer came, an older gentleman. He was polite and professional but he was not about to be taken into Emmy’s confidence. Time came for the second trip through the detector. This time I had to walk through on my own and then call Emmy to follow me because if I carried her, she would have to be patted down too. Finally, she came through, now her emotions were beginning to boil. She wanted held but I could not pick her up or, again, she would have to be searched. So, she gets placed in her stroller and she sits and watches while this officer takes her Papaw and frisks him very thoroughly. The longer he takes to search me and the more he is putting his hands on her Papaw the angrier she becomes. And then, it happened. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so here… Continue reading “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Two-Year Old Whose Grandpa is Arrested?!”
All across America, there is a storm coming. The wind is just beginning to pick up ever so slightly. Some of the folks who have been around awhile, kind of like yours’ truly, are saying something like there’s a rain in the air, we can smell it; we can feel it in our bones… America, a storm is coming.
Have you watched a summer storm begin long before the sky gets dark? It begins with a smell in the air. Your grandma may have said something like “It smells like rain…” and then the slight breeze that doesn’t seem to be anywhere except in the trees begins to rustle the leaves. If you watch closely enough it is almost as if you can see the leaves turn themselves over so that their porous underside can soak up every drop of the coming rain.
Next the clouds begin to darken and the wind picks up a bit. If you are living on a farm you see the chickens and other small animals are anticipating the coming storm and they start to find some shelter. Some seem to not care and you understand where the phrase: ‘doesn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain’ originated. The larger animals seem to know when things are going to get really heavy. The cattle will group together and all of them put their backsides to the on-coming storm, huddled together for warmth and protection – there is a lot of common sense we could learn from animals.
Some of the larger animals that have a season or two on them are moving slowly toward the center of the field if the path to the barn isn’t open yet for feeding time… they begin to move toward each other, starting to form a protective huddle. That huddle can be good if the storm is going to come and then pass you by but if it is a real cyclone kind of storm burying your head in a huddle might keep your nose dry; but you’re sure enough risking another part of your anatomy that is best not left in the wind! It’s kind of hard to defend yourself from the onslaught of what is about to come your way when the only thing you can see is the other cow’s nostrils. Maybe, America, instead of being a bunch of befuddled bovine, we need to begin to act more like the wild mustangs who are defiant of the wind in their mane. They snort and flare their nostrils, raise back their head against the stinging rain and rare up on their back legs, striking out at the storm and the lightning flashes as if defying it to come and get them.
Certainly the animals that take shelter and huddle together, they know a storm is upon them are wise enough to recognize a storm before it hits. But unless they are completely resigned to just take whatever happens with a “just let me be and when its all over, if I’m still able to stand I will keep chewing my cud and hope the next storm isn’t as bad” attitude, they really have no hand in protecting themselves or the rest of the herd, including their little ones. The stallion, the defiant one stands against the storm as if to say, “Not on my watch! No storm is going to take my life, my freedom, or my off-spring from me!” America, a storm is coming… I can feel it in the wind. Are you ready?
Here at SCI we do not work by way of body counts but we focus on areas where our teammates and clients may be working or their families shopping and enjoying life – unaware of the Damoclean threat hanging over them.
MID-DAY Monday 13 January 2014 – Downtown Budapest, Hungary
An unlikely ‘random’ bomb was apparently thrown in front of a Magyar National Bank (CIB) by a rider on a motorcycle who fled the scene at a high speed. No initial reports of injuries. Questions remain.
This report will examine the implications of the following scenarios for the investigation: the intricate web of Hungarian national government control of banking; Hungary versus the EU in banking regulation conflicts; national banks competing with foreign banks for dominance in Magyar markets and the possibility of a random bomber attempting simply to create mayhem in the city center with the complicated bank issues and investigations as a carefully chosen ruse.
For nationals and those living or visiting Budapest in the short-term, this report offers a new reality based on the introduction of a threat requires personal vigilance and mental preparation.
Should bombings continue – Avoid high risk areas as future events identify those locations.
1. Maintain a watchful eye whenever in a public place
2.Particularly watch for the M.O. of a person on a motorcycle carrying a satchel ready to throw
3.Watch your children and be ready to seek cover if needed
Why? And why CIB? Two primary questions that require context. It follows:
The recent violence in downtown Budapest is so much an anomaly that it would be easy to bypass the mention of it. International media outlets, if they carried the bombing at all, had just a very short blurb between the sports scores and the weather. The major intelligence sources noted it, but in a simple chronology of ‘what’s happening around the world.’ Unfortunately, the news of terrorist attacks in the world has become common place. The media assigns priority to stories based on body counts and when violence, as in Budapest, comes away with no one dead, it goes to the bottom of the news headlines list. Here at SCI we do not work by way of body counts but we focus on areas where our teammates and clients may be working or their families shopping and enjoying life – unaware of the Damoclean threat hanging over them. Such was the case Monday when a suspect, seen fleeing the scene on a motorcycle drove past the CIB bank building in downtown Budapest. SCI sources are working on providing more details on the location of the branch office. (See map)
As recently as February 2012, Hungarian Central Bank was involved in complex political maneuvering regarding the inter-connectedness between the national government and the operation of the bank. The prime minister held the power to dismiss the head of the Data Protection Agency, Judges and to vacate laws that made CIB an ex-officio part of the national government. Government officials wanted, at that time, to require that bank officers take oaths of office and acquiesce to salary caps determined by the government. The appearance of impropriety and the allegations of corruption for some time has led Hungarians to be concerned about the CIB interconnectedness with the national government.
The 2012 political drama was followed by intercession from European officials who saw the Hungarian government’s controlling power over the CIB as a major hurdle for the nation to receive full membership in the EU. In April of 2012, European officials were notified that the Hungarian Economy Ministry had drafted legislation that amended previous laws which the EU believed limited the independence of the CIB to operate within the EU trade markets. Two immediate changes were to eliminate the requirement for a member of the national government to be present for meetings of the bank’s business. The law also eliminated the requirement that minutes of all meetings be copied to a member of the national government. Perhaps the most extensive and politically challenging issue was that the agency was pressed to drop its move for a constitutional amendment that would have permanently merge the bank with the country’s financial regulator, making the bank an official arm of the national government. These changes were submitted to the European Commission and are under review to determine to what degree these changes will enhance the country’s bid for full membership in the EU.
That returns the discussion back to the two questions: Why? Why CIB? The second question is perhaps the easier of the two to answer. The CIB may have been singled out for the terrorist bombing simply because of its relationship to Hungary’s national government. No other bank in Hungary is entangled with the government as deeply as CIB. International banks and financial institutions of all kinds flocked to Hungary after the Cold War but now operate throughout the city center and beyond with ever-increasing difficulty and financial losses. Many of the international banks and financial institutions are looking for ways out of the financial messes they have encountered while in Hungary. (More on that to follow.)
MNB What does the Hungarian government say about their relationship with the Magyar Nemzeti Bank? ‘The primary objective of the MNB shall be to achieve and maintain price stability. Without prejudice to its primary objective, the MNB shall support the economic policy of the Government using the monetary policy instruments at its disposal.’ (Stratfor)
“The Magyar Nemzeti Bank” is the Hungary National Bank which is also known as the CIB.
According to the Act CXXXIX of 2013 on behalf of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) which went into effect 1 October 2013: The Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority and the MNB are integrated into one institution. Understanding that, the MNB reports that the European Supervisory and Market Authority has begun work on a reports on market abuse which may take into consideration the intra-relationship between the HFSA and the MNB (CIB).
Some background on the ESMA reveals that: ESMA is an independent EU Authority that was established on 1 January 2011 and works closely with the other European Supervisory Authorities responsible for banking (EBA), and insurance and occupational pensions (EIOPA), and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). Its mission is to enhance the protection of investors and promote stable and well-functioning financial markets in the European Union (EU). As an independent institution, ESMA achieves this aim by building a single rule book for EU financial markets and ensuring its consistent application across the EU. In this current investigation for it s report on abuses, among other issues the ESMA is focused on:
• Indicators and signals of market manipulation;
• Criteria to establish Accepted Market Practices;
• Arrangement, systems and procedures to put in place for the purpose of suspicious transactions and order reporting as well as its content and format;
• Issues relating to public disclosure of inside information and the conditions for delay;
In a SITREP just issued today, intelligence sources in the United States report that Hungary is trying to gain more control over its banking sector. On Jan. 5, Hungarian media reported that Szechenyi Bank, which is partly controlled by the Hungarian government, has made a bid for the Hungarian branch of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank. Unconfirmed rumors also suggest that another Austrian bank, Erste Bank AG, could receive a bid from the state. The rumors come as Gyorgy Matolcsy, the head of the Hungarian central bank announced that four major foreign banks could leave Hungary in the next year and a half.
In the coming months, Budapest will continue its efforts to put more foreign-operated banks in Hungarian hands. Rather than expropriating banks directly, the government is more likely to execute its strategy incrementally, pressuring banks to deleverage their assets so that Budapest and local companies can buy them out relatively cheaply. Mostly it will do so with the help of domestic businessmen closely tied to the government. This strategy is just one aspect of a broader evolution in Hungary’s foreign and domestic policies, which increasingly deviate from those of the European Union
Foreign banks account for roughly two-thirds of the Hungarian market, and with the exception of the country’s largest lender in terms of assets – OTP, most of the major banks are foreign-owned.
The European crisis changed this dynamic. From a purely financial perspective, the devaluation of the Hungarian forint created serious problems for foreign banks operating in Hungary. Most of these institutions used to offer loans — most notably, mortgages — denominated in euros or Swiss francs. As people became increasingly incapable of repaying their loans, the Hungarian government passed two series of measures (in 2011 and 2013) that converted some of those loans to forints at a lower exchange rate. Brussels criticized Hungary, but it did not actually punish the government for converting the loans.
Could there be a link between the European based ownership of the majority of Hungarian banks, the expected hostile appropriation of these banks by both the Hungarian government and business resources inside Hungary loyal to the government and the terrorist attack on 13 January 2014?
Is it possible that a non-aligned actor, driven by the mortgage crisis be responsible?
Could it be not financially motivated at all but rather simply a random act of violence which either used the bank/government political crisis as a ruse or it was simply a coincidence that it was in front of CIB?
As of this report, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
(Note: Intelligence and analysis supplied in part by STRATFOR)