Archive for June, 2013

Does Police Chief Flynn Believe the Constitution is Irrelevant?

There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, when members of the local police proudly served their communities free from the yoke of federal law enforcement.  In the 1980s and 1990s, cops on the beat and detectives hunting down suspects kept a distance from the likes of the FBI—an agency that routinely looked down their noses at ‘the locals.’

When watching a television drama, such as Criminal Minds, I sometimes chuckle when the FBI’s 20 and 30 something agents make veteran police investigators look like second-rate cops.  When it comes to clearing a serious crime, I would much rather have a core group of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) homicide detectives working with me than a slew of FBI agents, many of whom rarely work the streets, and then rib the handful of their colleagues that actually do.

After 9/11, however, the federal government realized that its agents desperately needed the intelligence gleaned by ‘the locals,’ whose officers pounded the pavement 24 x 7.  In order to bring state and local law enforcement agencies into a national fold, Uncle Sam dangled billions of dollars in grants in front of the noses of mayors and police chiefs.  This “free money,” as it is insanely described by the likes of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, became a powerful drug that quickly turned some police chiefs into addicts constantly on a lookout for their next fix—another federal government handout.

In the interim, having taken the federal government’s money, local police agencies now served two masters—the residents of their communities and the US Justice Department.   Milwaukee’s chief of police, Ed Flynn, took the fed’s bait money and established an “intelligence fusion center,” an operation staffed by federal agents, members of the National Guard, state agents, and several members of the MPD, even though, in many instances, those who summon the services of the Milwaukee police often wait hours for an officer to respond.

Moreover, as federal, state and local law enforcement morphed together, the decentralization of authority—a concept our nation’s founders saw as a buffer against tyranny—has ebbed to the point where leaders of police agencies in New York City and Milwaukee apparently no longer believe that the Fourth Amendment is relevant and sacrosanct.

On June 11, Wall Street Journal reporter Heather Mac Donald profiled the case of Floyd v. New York, a federal lawsuit brought to “specifically target” the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

A “stop,” based on a “reasonable suspicion” of wrong doing, and a “frisk,” premised on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable” belief that a person might be armed, was a practice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio.

In New York City, however, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy omits the “reasonable and articulable” part of the equation.  In plan speak; the NYPD’s policy thumbs its nose at the Fourth Amendment and the judicial precedents established by our nation’s highest court, which, prior to the Patriot Act, was respected as the rule of law.

In her article, Ms. Mac Donald appears to find a prominent supporter of Ray Kelly’s frisk without cause policy on the seventh floor of Milwaukee Police Administration Building.

“Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said that it will be a “tragedy” if his city is forced to curtail the pedestrian stops that have reduced crime in inner-city neighborhoods,” wrote Ms. Mac Donald.

“That’s what worries us about what’s happening in New York,” Chief Flynn told the Los Angeles Times in April. “It would just be a shame if some people decided to put us back in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324063304578525850909628878.html

Asking the police to follow the guidelines put in place by the U.S. Supreme Court that frisks should be based on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that an individual is armed hardly equates to shuttering officers inside their squad cars.  Chief Flynn, as Commissioner Kelly, took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Ray Kelly’s willingness to trample on the Fourth Amendment, and Chief Ed Flynn’s apparent support for such a policy, illustrates why public officials should be viewed skeptically when they ask the public to trust them with the use of drones, cellular telephone monitoring technologies, and widespread government data collection.

This new American age of Machiavellian-type governance; whereby, the “ends justifies the means,” might work well for autocrats in China, Russia, and Cuba, but should have no relevance in the United States, where our nation—once the home of the free—has, in a historical blink of an eye, mutated into the land of the watched.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Think that the Word “Gullible” Can’t be Found in the Dictionary? Then You’ll Believe the NSA, Too.

The controversy surrounding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) metadata collection of the telephone records of Americans has resulted in statist politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, alleging that the NSA is not examining the content of our communications.

With history as our guide, Americans should know that the NSA is an agency that, to put it mildly, has a track record of being less than truthful, not only to the American people, but also to congress.  This is because its leaders believe that the misinformation they provide is justifiable under the ‘noble lie’ doctrine.

A “noble lie”—as defined by Plato in his book The Republic—is misinformation disseminated by members of the elite and/or governing classes to reduce social anxiety or to advance a hidden agenda. As those who have worked in law enforcement know it is perfectly lawful for an agent of the government to lie to the public, but a crime for a member of the public to lie to an agent of the state.  This is the ultimate ‘do as I say, not as I do’ rule of the governing class.

Last Friday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) appeared on WISN radio to discuss, in part, the NSA controversy.  Talk-show host Vicki McKenna, though, came to the table, figuratively, with both guns loaded.

To listen to the exchange visit:

http://www.newstalk1130.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?more_page=1&podcast=vicki_mckenna&selected_podcast=vm_06-14-13_hour2_part2_1371233111_11642.mp3

Sen. Johnson, when pressed, stressed that the purpose of the NSA’s use of a foreign intelligence court to gather and store the domestic telephone records of American citizens did not involve the seizure of content.  However, while I do not believe Sen. Johnson is being at all untruthful, he is basing his response on information spoon fed to him by the NSA and/or members of U.S. Senate carrying water for intrusive domestic surveillance initiatives.

William Binney is a former NSA engineer turned whistleblower.  While employed with the NSA, he designed a program that would have allowed the spy agency to identify the electronic communications of terror suspects while protecting the privacy of law-abiding Americans.  The NSA rejected this program outright.  Binney has emphatically stated that the NSA is retrieving the domestic telephone, e-mail, and Internet content of Americans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuET0kpHoyM

Author and NSA expert James Bamford mentioned a few of the NSA’s eavesdropping programs in his outstanding book, The Shadow Factory. Because much of the world’s electronic communications has shifted from satellites to ocean-buried fiber optic cables, the NSA has sought and obtained access to these cable links.  One example is the AT&T center in San Francisco, where, with that company’s consent, the NSA established a so-called listening room; whereby, NSA operatives installed software that records and catalogs the electronic content of Americans’ communications.

Ironically, while the federal government requires companies to provide consumers with privacy notices, the same government has granted telecoms that violate these privacy agreements, by turning over users’ information to the NSA, immunity from civil and criminal prosecution.  Moreover, the government further forbids these telecoms from informing their customers that these privacy policies are worth no more than the paper that they are written on.

In other words, our own government is feeding its citizens one noble lie after another.

This is precisely why those who pay attention to the NSA believe that the agency has recorded, cataloged, and stored between 21 – 25 trillion telephone conversations, many involving Americans, since 9/11.  The purpose of the 1,000,000 square foot Utah Data Center, built at a cost of $2 billion, is to retrieve, record, and store telephone conversations, e-mails, credit card transactions, faxes, and even encrypted data.  That way, should an individual later be identified as a person of interest, federal investigators can obtain a warrant from a FISA judge to access the content of their NSA dossier.

https://www.rutherford.org/multimedia/on_target/pressure_points_the_electronic_concentration_camp/

As we learned during the Nixon administration and, now, during the current Obama administration’s IRS scandal, sensitive information in government hands can be used by political hacks to gather dirt on political opponents of the government or to embarrass those who dare speak out (as the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover did to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

So, no, I am not buying the line from politicians like Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Diane Feinstein.  I am, however, surprised that Sen. Johnson was willing to pinch hit for these statists.

UPDATE: THREE NSA WHISTLEBLOWERS APPEAR IN USA TODAY VIDEO

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblower-nsa-officials-roundtable/2428809/

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out: Claims NSA is Operating Outside the Law

The 29-year-old whistleblower that ripped open the NSA’s cover for an operation code named Prism—an intrusive surveillance system that scans the servers of almost 50 American tech companies to glean data on Americans—speaks out and explains why he leaked agency abuses to the media.

Edward Snowden accuses the NSA of “subverting the power of government” and said that he could wiretap anyone anytime.  Snowden debunks the “nothing to hide” mantra of the Big Brother, pro-government surveillance crowd.

Watch the interview:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-why

In another article, the New York Times reports that several large high-tech American companies capitulated to government demands and provided data to the NSA, even though, as late as last Wednesday, several of these companies denied doing so.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/technology/tech-companies-bristling-concede-to-government-surveillance-efforts.html?_r=1&

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Spying on Americans for Surveillance Sake is a Scandal

The scandal—and it is a scandal not a controversy—involving the Obama administration’s directive ordering the National Security Agency (NSA) to literally seize the telephone records of millions of Americans, according to at least one whistleblower, is the “tip of the iceberg.”

One of the best books concerning NSA surveillance is James Bamford’s Shadow Factory, where the author spotlights intrusive initiatives designed to capture the data of those abroad as well as American citizens.

One of these intrusive technologies is called “word spotting,” by which software supplied by Nexidia Inc. makes 8,000 hours of searchable audible data available each day.  The second and much more Orwellian NSA program was dubbed “Trailblazer,” which uses algorithms—computer generated data collected from “telephone calls, credit card transactions, social network sites, cellular telephone geo-location, Amazon book purchases, and E-Z toll passes,” to make it possible to not only discern where an individual is but what they are doing while they are at a particular location.

Bamford’s book, which was authored is 2008, is, by technological standards, yesterday’s news.  An even more intrusive spy program—one that began during the Bush administration, but expanded under President Obama—seeks to record and catalog all electronic communications and transactions.  In order to store this mountain of digital information, the U.S. government is spending $2 billion to complete the Utah Data Center, a 900,000 square foot facility with 25,000 square feet of high-tech servers. The program, called “Stellar Wind,” is the result, claims former NSA employee turned whistleblower William Binney, of the NSA installing cable tapping gear at the nation’s fiber optic nerve centers.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

“According to Binney,” Bamford writes, “one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.”

Under this new initiative, the NSA uses keyword detection to monitor all electronic communications, such as e-mails, digital telephone calls, faxes, text messages, instant messages, and Web streamed communications. Once a keyword is detected from a device, all communications emanating from a machine or an IP address are recorded and stored, even telephone conversations.  Under a liberal interpretation of the Patriot Act, data storage and cataloging is no longer considered eavesdropping, which is why a court order from a FISA court is not needed until an agency seeks to actually listen to the recorded telephone conversations.  Even encrypted data—codes that the NSA does not yet have the ability to decipher—are collected in the hopes that, somewhere in the future, the agency will have the capabilities to decrypt these messages.

With this data in hand, under the auspices initiated by Trailblazer, it is possible to now watch what a target of NSA surveillance is actually typing in real time.  One of the components of the FBI’s $1.2 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) network is the identification and cataloging of an individual’s key stroke rhythms. And where would the FBI gather such data? From the installation of individual key stroke recording devices as well as a data base from another agency with the ability to record key strokes.

In an effort to educate the public, SF is now offering The State of Surveillance—a new hour-and-a-half program that explains government surveillance initiatives. Whether it is the use of drones or the NSA’s intrusive domestic spying, those in attendance are in for a real eye-opening experience. I also discussed the NSA and other government surveillance initiatives in my latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, available at Amazon.com.

Related links:

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/state_of_surveillance.html

https://www.rutherford.org/multimedia/on_target/everybodys_a_target_in_the_american_surveillance_state/

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/20/exclusive_national_security_agency_whistleblower_William

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

(c) Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


In Appleton, Wisconsin, Having a Cold One is Now the Government’s Business

Had a tough week at work in the Fox River Valley? If you did and decided to stop after work on Friday to have a cold one and blow-off some steam, you might want to avoid the following Appleton, Wisconsin, taverns:

  • Luna Lounge
  • Anduzzi’s
  • OB’s Brauhaus
  • Mill Creek
  • Speakeasy Ultra Lounge

The proprietors of these establishments have, absent the consent of their patrons, caved to the de facto pressures brought to bear by the regulators of their tavern licenses: the City of Appleton and its enforcement arm—the Appleton Police Department.  When a customer enters one of the above taverns, a doorman scans their identification and later hands the information off to the Appleton Police Department.

An article in the Appleton Post Crescent documents this public-private information gathering operation:

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20130601/APC0198/306010139/Has-Big-Brother-arrived-Police-use-ID-scanner-bars-nab-criminals-civil-liberties-raise-concerns?gcheck=1

Of course, the doormen of these taverns, acting more-or-less as agents of the state, do not disclose to those providing IDs on demand that their data is being provided to the government.  Even e-mail solicitations, by law, give an individual an opportunity to opt-out.  At a bare minimum, if the objective is, as the Appleton police claim, to deter those on probation or parole from visiting these taverns, why not post signs giving ALL customers notice that their personal information will be forwarded to law enforcement?

Unfortunately, the Appleton Post Crescent’s reporter, Nick Penzenstadler, failed to ascertain what the police are doing with the data obtained from tavern customers.  Is this information being maintained in an Appleton PD data base for future use or being forwarded to one of Wisconsin’s two intelligence fusion centers? Is the data, at some point, being purged? Who, exactly, besides officials at the Appleton PD, will have access to this data? Now in possession of a government agency, is the personal information gleaned by these scanners a public record?

Until patrons get some answers they might choose to boycott businesses willing to ignore any semblance of a law-abiding person’s right to be left alone.  My suggestion to their competitors is to post signs proclaiming that they will not disclose their patrons’ personal information to the government absent a subpoena.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.


With Government Scandals in the Headlines, New Book Takes a Swipe at Big Brother

Traditionally, June is a good month for new books.  Publishers typically offer some of their best titles in summer, when millions of overworked Americans search for good reads to knock down during vacations. With government scandals on the front pages of many news organizations’ Web sites (formerly the front pages of newspapers), authors of books dealing with issues of bureaucratic excess will likely get an unexpected boost in sales.

One such book, A Government of Wolves: the Emerging American Police State, by John Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, was set for release on June 25.

http://www.amazon.com/Government-Wolves-Emerging-American-Police/dp/1590799755/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370058590&sr=8-1&keywords=a+government+of+wolves+the+emerging+american+police+state

With timing being the essence, the book’s publisher, SelectBooks, made Whitehead’s critique of post-9/11 America available on Memorial Day.  Inside, the author takes aim at the 77 federally subsidized Intelligence Fusion Centers, which have cost federal taxpayers at least $1.4 billion.  States and local government spent millions, if not billions, each year staffing these centers that use cellular telephone technology to follow and track citizens absent judicial oversight.

Whitehead further provides a scathing critique of the National Security Agency’s Utah Data Center—a mammoth $2 billion facility that records and stores telephone calls, electronic communications, and text messages, once a user types or utters one of 500 select words, many of which are rather benign.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/nprs_all_things_considered_weekend_edition_spotlights_constitutional_attorn

To get an idea of just how widespread the reach of government surveillance has become, visit the below link:

https://www.rutherford.org/multimedia/on_target/pressure_points_the_electronic_concentration_camp/

MILWAUKEE-BASED CRIME NOVEL NOW AVAILABLE IN TRADITIONAL PRINT VERSION

Readers of the Spingola Files range in age from criminal justice students to veteran law enforcement retirees.  If you’re a member of the latter category, not that technologically savvy, or simply find reading from the screen of a computer or tablet annoying, here’s some good news: author Mitchell Nevin’s crime novel, The Cozen Protocol, an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee, is now available in print.

Lemon Press—a publisher based in suburban Atlanta—has agreed to produce a second edition of this Milwaukee-based crime novel in print.

Some of you, especially those who have served as members of the Milwaukee Police Department from about 1970 to 2005, might recognize a few of the scenes from Nevin’s novel.  Although described as a work of fiction, I did locate at least three major incidents within The Cozen Protocol’s pages that are eerily similar to actual events.  In fact, the book’s new cover features a picture of a man killed by an arrow, an incident the appears premised on the slaying of Karl Lotharius—the former owner of Von Trier’s tavern on N. Farewell and E. North Avenues, killed when a 30 inch, wood-shaft arrow ripped through his abdomen on December 20, 1981.

The print version of The Cozen Protocol is available at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. Visit the link below for more details.

http://www.bookwire.com/The-Cozen-Protocol-9781936617180.html

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.