Archive for May, 2012

Part II: Campaign Cash & the Security-Industrial Complex

When discussing issues pertaining to the emergence of the American surveillance state, supporters of the security-industrial complex often remark, ‘What does one have to fear if they have nothing to hide?’

My answer, of course, is, “Government.”

In the Twentieth-century alone, governments murdered over 17.2 million people—hundreds of times more than organized crime syndicates and serial killers combined.

A chilling exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum paints a poignant portrait of what can occur when a corporation’s pursuit of profit morphs with a government’s agenda of social control. 

“Several years ago,” wrote author Edwin Black, “I stood with my parents—both Jewish survivors—in front of an IBM Hollerith machine on display—at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. DC. I stared at it for a long time, thinking that the exhibit description—this machine was used for “census”—represented only the tip of a dark iceberg.”[1]

According the Black, the author of IBM and the Holocaust, IBM’s involvement with Hitler’s Germany began on the first day of the Third Reich and ended with Germany’s surrender 12-years-later.[2]

Unfortunately, Germany’s Jewish population at the time, believing they had ‘nothing to hide,’ answered census questions regarding their religious faith and ethnicity truthfully. Census bureaucrats then numerically coded and transposed the data to computer punch cards, which enabled Hitler’s Gestapo to locate the victims of the regime’s ‘Final Solution’ with relative ease.

This is why it is important to hold federal lawmakers accountable for their votes on domestic surveillance initiatives.

In the 1930s, Black’s book shows that IBM was not particularly concerned about the autocratic nature of the Nazi regime or the plight of Europe’s Jewish population. Like many corporations, IBM’s bottom line was showing a profit. 

In the second part of a series that links campaign cash to members of the security-industrial complex, SF examines the political donations made to U.S Rep. Gwen Moore, whose district encompasses Milwaukee County.  

From July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011, Moore received $11,750 from DRS Technologies—a supplier of products to military services and intelligence agencies that focuses on thermal imaging (i.e. infrared), and electronic sensor systems.[3] In 2009 and 2010, she also received a $250 contribution from Alan Perlstein of DRS Technologies.[4]

Law enforcement agencies use thermal imaging to observe marijuana grows and human movements through the walls of structures. One law enforcement source recently told me that the thermal imaging devices his department uses are so intrusive that investigators can actually see potted marijuana plants through the walls of a structure from over a mile away.

Police helicopters and drones also use thermal imaging to locate suspects and monitor the movements of people on the ground. During the Occupy Wall Street protests, an NYPD helicopter hovered over the tents of protestors and, with the use of thermal imaging equipment, ascertained the number of those present.  

In 2011 and 2012, Rep. Moore raised $292,600 from political action committees and $158,360 from individuals.[5]

In 2007, Rep. Moore received $1,000 from Geogre Stejic, of TELSA Technologies—a company that solves issues related to defense intelligence sectors.[6]  In early 2012, Moore received $1,000 for General Electric’s political action committee. She has also received $2,000 from Honeywell’s political action committee in 2010 and 2011.[7]

A review of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore’s campaign finance reports shows few transparent connections to corporations related to the security-industrial complex, although donations make by lobbyists and attorneys do not report which interests these entities represent.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


[1] Black, Edwin. IBM and the Holocaust: the Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation.  Dialog Press.  Washington, D.C. 2012.

[2] “IBM and the Final Solution: an Interview with Edwin Black.”  TeacherWeb.com. 26 May 2012. http://teacherweb.ftl.pinecrest.edu/snyderd/MWH/readings/10/IBM%20&%20Final%20Solution.htm

[3] “Gwen Moore: Democrat (elected ’04) WI House District 04.” Maplight.org. 25 May 2012. http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator/666-gwen-moore

[4] “Moore for Congress.” Nictusa.com. 25 May 2012. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_ind/H4WI04183/P-T/

[5] “Congressional District Fact Sheet: Wisconsin District 4.” Opensecrets.org. 25 May 2012. http://www.opensecrets.org/address/mydistrict.php?id=N00026914

[6] “Moore for Congress.” Nictusa.com. 25 May 2012. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_ind/H4WI04183/P-T/

[7] “Moore for Congress.” Nictusa.com. 25 May 2012. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_com/H4WI04183


Campaign Cash & the Security-Industrial Complex

Each year, special interest groups, many of which are large corporations—either indirectly through their K Street lobbyists or, directly, through political action committees and individual donations—contribute millions of dollars to congressional representatives and senators in Washington, D.C.

In his book No Place to Hide, award-wining journalist Robert O’Harrow, Jr. contends that, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, congress gave the Bush administration a virtual blank check to build a nation-wide surveillance state. With hundreds of billions of dollars flowing from federal government coffers over 1,900 private corporations quickly formed a new “security-industrial complex.”

In the coming weeks, in order to follow-the-money connected to the purveyors of government surveillance, SF will analyze the Federal Election Commission reports of southeastern Wisconsin’s three congressional representatives.

First up, is Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner.

Elected in 1978, Jim Sensenbrenner is a senior member of the House of Representatives.  Each year, he regularly holds a number of town meetings within the confines of his district, where regular Joes (i.e. those of us not represented by well-heeled lobbyists) can share their concerns.  

A friend of mine, who attended one of Sensenbrenner’s town halls in the Lake Country area about three years ago, showed-up to complain about the three major credit bureaus. When a national bank jacked-up the interest on his credit card from 12.5 to 18.5 percent, my friend decided to shop elsewhere. When a locally owned bank offered a credit card with an eight percent interest rate, he readily accepted; whereby, he paid down and then cancelled the high interest credit card. A few months later, he learned that at least one of the three major credit bureaus downgraded his credit score. The reason: he cancelled a major line of credit that he no longer wanted or needed.

Since many employers review a job applicant’s credit rating and these scores further determine the amount of interest charged by creditors, my friend asked Rep. Sensenbrenner what congress could do to remedy the matter. Sensenbrenner purportedly replied that congress has little regulatory power over credit bureaus and that the banking lobby is very strong in Washington.  Although appreciative of Rep. Sensenbrenner’s candor, he walked away from the town hall meeting with the realization that money is the only voice in Washington that seems to get a fair hearing.

And make no mistake about it—money is what it is all about, which is why it is important to keep an eye on campaign financial filings.  That being said contributions from lobbyist and attorneys limit the public’s ability to follow the money trail.

For example, from July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011, Jim Sensenbrenner received $34,921 from lobbyists, lawyers and law firms.[1]  Campaign finance reports, however, do not indicate which special interests these entities represent.

In regards to companies linked to the security-industrial complex, during the same period from 2009 – 2011, Sensenbrenner received $11,000 from Honeywell, a maker of high-tech video surveillance systems and $7,000 from Lockheed Martin. 

Traditionally a defense contractor, about 80 percent of Lockheed Martin’s annual revenue emanates from federal government contracts.[2]  However, when the pipeline of cash to the security-industrial complex began flowing, Lockheed-Martin did not miss a beat.  In 2008, the company won a $1 billion deal to develop the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) network.  NGI uses biometrics—software employing mathematical formulas to develop facial recognition characteristics, voice identification, keystroke rhythm classifications, and iris scans—to identify Americans as they are captured on CCTV, talking on the sidewalk to a friend, or simply typing e-mails. These technologies are the lynchpins of Real ID—legislation introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner that civil libertarians equate to a national identification card.

From July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2012, Sensenbrenner’s campaign fund received $11,000 from Google’s PAC, as well as $2,500 from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and $1,000 from Google’s Kent Walker. While Google is an Internet-based technology company, they have a working relationship with the National Security Agency—America’s top-secret electronic eavesdropping outfit.[3]

Over the same period, General Electric’s PAC contributed $4,000 to Sensenbrenner’s campaign fund.[4]

From 2011 – 2012, Congressman Sensenbrenner’s campaign received a total of $158,877 from political action committee’s.  Ninety-three percent of Sensenbrenner’s campaign fund came from contributions made from outside his Wisconsin congressional district.[5]

NEXT: SF examines Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s campaign donations.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


[1] F. “Jim” Sensenbrenner: Republican (Elected 1978) WI House District Five.”  Maplight.org. 23 May 2012.  http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator/456-f-jim-sensenbrenner

[2] “Aerospace and Defense Overview.” Wetfeet.com. 23 May 2012.  http://www.wetfeet.com/careers-industries/industries/aerospace-and-defense

[3] “Court Rules that Google-NSA Ties can Remain Secret.” USAToday.com. May 12, 2012.  23 May 2012. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-05-11/court-google-nsa-spy-china/54912902/1

[4] “FEC Disclosure Report: Sensenbrenner Committee.” Nictusa.com. 23 May 2012.  http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_detail/C00083428/

[5] “FEC Disclosure Report: Sensenbrenner Committee.” Nictusa.com. 23 May 2012.  http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_detail/C00083428/


Justifying the unjustifiable: the Cancer Killing Wisconsin Politics

Over the course of the past week, I received a communication from an individual—a person I will not name—who is associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office.  Based on some terse, yet pointed comments that I have made, this individual wanted to know why I wasn’t standing with assistant district attorneys by supporting the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.  Apparently in possession of the Barrett campaign’s talking-points memo regarding the mayor’s failure to obtain the endorsement of the labor union representing his city’s rank-and-file police officers, this person said “residency” was the only reason that the Milwaukee Police Association has endorsed Gov. Walker in the recall election.

To set the record straight, neither I nor anyone else affiliated with SF have publicly endorsed any candidate in the recall election.  In the past, I have taken the Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA) to task when their members identified themselves as public officials, and then cited their agencies, while making partisan political statements. I have also criticized the WPPA’s executive director, Jim Palmer, for signing a letter threatening a Milwaukee business leader with a boycott unless this citizen renounced his First Amendment right to support Gov. Walker.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2011/03/13/letter-from-state-police-union-executive-draws-fire/

Moreover, anyone who has taken a few minutes to view the contents of this Web site would quickly realize that the Spingola Files has a noticeable libertarian bent when it comes to matters of government surveillance—hardly an issue championed by neo-cons and right-wingers.

Back to the comments of the person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office.

Since I retired from the Milwaukee Police Department and now reside outside Milwaukee County, residency is not an issue that affects me. 

I do throw an occasional dart, however, when hypocrisy raises its ugly head.

So why is it then that Darlene Wink, a former low-level aide to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, was charged and convicted for campaigning on government time while using a taxpayer funded computer network, while the anti-Walker folks (particularly this person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office) downplay e-mails sent by Kris Barrett, Mayor Barrett’s wife, advocating political action during her tenure as a teacher for the Milwaukee Public Schools?

This type of attitude—that the misconduct of a particular individual should be marginalized as long as this person is ‘on our side’ politically—is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin politics.

After all, there are a plethora of reasons why rank-and-file Milwaukee police officers would vote against Barrett and the Democrats. 

Just a few years ago, former Governor Jim Doyle and his Democrat Party cohorts in the state legislature—with the support of Mayor Barrett—changed state law, which now gives the chief-of-police in the city of Milwaukee the authority to subjectively and arbitrary fire an officer for a rule violation, while denying this officer his or her pay absent a due process hearing with the Fire and Police Commission.   In every other jurisdiction in the state of Wisconsin, a police chief can only recommend termination, at which time an officer continues to be paid until the charges against him or her are substantiated by an oversight board.  

Furthermore, Doyle and Democrats in the legislature, specifically those from the Milwaukee delegation that should know better, granted early release to thousands of felons from Wisconsin prisons.  Almost half of these felons reside in one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties—Milwaukee, which means, unlike the vast majority of the rank-and-file officers represented by the WPPA, Milwaukee police officers bore the brunt of the Democrats so-called criminal justice reforms.

And, of course, I related these points to the person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office, who basically, in not so many words, accused me of being a sellout for simply pointing out the hypocrisy of those poo-pooing Kris Barrett’s taxpayer funded use of a computer network for political action purposes, but have yet to receive a reply.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4bI5ddrg9A

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Lapdogs: the Media and the Surveillance State

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012 



Madison’s Curmudgeon Mayor Seeks to End an Era He Created

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012