Friday, August 16, 2013

Peter Lance: an American asset

Photograph by Larry Gauper (

This country needs more journalists like Peter Lance. He's an extremely talented and meticulous investigative reporter and a prolific and easy-to-read author who has produced several best-selling books on the workings of organized crime in America and its linkages to global terrorism.

August 3, 20013 - Mob Museum, Las Vegas - C-SPAN "BookTV" telecast

As you can see in the screen shot from C-SPAN's video of Peter Lance's presentation, I was privileged to be in the audience in the courtroom of the former federal courthouse, now the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (the Mob Museum), in downtown Las Vegas on August 3, 2013. It's a gross understatement to describe Mr. Lance as a fascinating and animated presenter. He's truly outstanding! Nobody left the room during his one-hour forty-five minute lecture.

C-SPAN's "Book-TV" was on hand at the museum and video recorded the entire lecture. It aired on Saturday, August 10, 2013, and you can watch it by clicking here.

My question had to do with how he found both the energy and courage to do the extensive work he did in producing several well-documented books on the mafia and how the CIA and FBI missed the planning for the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. In these treatises, he points out mistakes made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including spending extensive resources on "getting" former and now deceased crime boss John Gotti, while missing important cues from Al Qaeda in their run-up to 9/11.

I indicated in my question that the FBI and Al Qaeda are still around and I wondered if the mafia was dead. He replied that organized crime was pretty much dismantled and he felt an obligation to shed light on where the FBI circumvented the law in taking down some of the principals in his books. He tells how the FBI's tactics were successful in bringing down mobsters, in some cases. But, it seems to me, it was a wild way of using the law to fight lawbreakers.

He doesn't fear for his own safety and he's soldiered on despite strong efforts from high-ranking government officials to halt the publication of some of his investigative work, including the new book he talked about in his Mob Museum presentation. He praised the work of the former FBI agent in charge of managing mafia "informants," Roy Lindley "Lynn" DeVecchio, and the work of then U. S. Attorney and eventual mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani personally prosecuted a number of individuals involved in organized crime.

Lance built this particular presentation around his most recent book: Deal with the Devil: The FBI's Secret Thirty-Year Relationship With a Mafia Killer, published this year (2013) by Tenacity Media Group  Ltd., working in cooperation with HarperCollins Publishers. 

In Deal with the Devil, the five-time Emmy winning reporter draws on decades of once secret FBI files along with his own personal interviews to tell the story of Gregory Scarpa, Sr., also known as "The Grim Reaper," a Mafia leader (capo) who "stopped counting" after 50 murders. And during the time he was doing much of this killing, he was a "Top Echelon Criminal Informant for the FBI."

This is a book every American should read. I learned a lot during the Las Vegas lecture, but the book tells a lot more.

You can learn about Peter Lance's work by going to his website:  Lance earned a B. A. from Northwestern University in 1971 and later a master's degree in journalism from Columbia. He received his law degree from the Fordham University School of Law in 1978.

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