Posts tagged “FISA

DWD Strikes Again; an FBI Official’s Parchment Shredder; the Police and the Paranormal

Sadly and yet predictably, the body of 24-year-old Nick Wilcox—a Milwaukee resident last seen alive celebrating New Year’s at a pub on Old World Third Street—came to the surface of the Milwaukee River on Thursday.  Two Milwaukee police officers observed the young man’s body floating in the river adjacent to Pierre Marquette Park.

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I spent a chapter, entitled “Leaving for College? Take Some Common Sense Along, too,” discussing the risks involved with binge drinking from the standpoint of personal protection. I understand that the last people a teenager or someone in their early 20s wants to listen to is their parents. As such, encourage your child to take the advice of a former homicide detective—one who has scraped human remains off of sidewalks and tavern floors.

In Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Milwaukee, highly intoxicated men, for whatever reason, are drawn to bodies of water like aluminum to magnets.  There are three easy steps young people can take to make sure that, after a rough night on the town, they wake-up in a safe environment.

Although DWD (drowning while drunk) tends of be a male phenomenon, women, if over served, sometimes become sexual victims.  Having had candid conversations with a handful of coppers who routinely patrol Milwaukee’s Water Street, sober men—too cheap to pay a cover or buy a drink—often stand outside nightclubs at bar time waiting to take advantage of the alcohol-fueled inhibitions of inebriated women.

When planning a night out, it is important to come-up with a plan to ensure the safety of those you care about. This is serious business, so take my advice, and read the tips I provide in Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & 2, available now at Amazon.com.

Is the FBI Being Wronged by the Bill of Rights?

In a free society, judicial oversight ensures that government agents have a legitimate basis to believe criminal activity is occurring before seizing personal papers, eavesdropping on private communications, or intruding in private domiciles. Probable cause—the quantum of evidence that would lead a reasonable peace officer to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or might be committed—is a relatively low burden to meet.

This burden of proof, however, is apparently not low enough for the FBI.  At an American Bar Association luncheon, the FBI’s general counsel, Andrew Weissman, told those in attendance that the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) limits agents’ abilities to conduct surveillance of some Web-based communications, such as Google’s g-mail.

“We’re making the ability to intercept communications with a court order increasingly obsolete,” Weissman said, while lamenting that “criminals” make use of some Internet applications to communicate. He noted that a “top priority this year” for the FBI is congressional approval or an executive action that permits federal law enforcement to conduct surveillance of World-Wide Web password accessible accounts without a court order.

No doubt, Constitutional protections sometimes make gathering evidence more difficult, which is precisely why the founding father’s ratified the Fourth Amendment. If the FBI believes that the activities of those involved in criminal activity merit a significant threat to public safety, then its agents should conduct the necessary due diligence and seek judicial orders.

In 2008, congress approved several amendments to the 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Specifically, the new legislation dramatically expands the government’s ability to wiretap without meaningful judicial oversight, by redefining “oversight” so that the feds can drag their feet on getting authorization almost indefinitely,” noted ARS Technica reporter Timothy Lee. “It also gives the feds unprecedented new latitude in selecting eavesdropping targets, latitude that could be used to collect information on non-terrorist-related activities like P2P copyright infringement and online gambling. In short, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 opens up loopholes so large that the feds could drive a truck loaded down with purloined civil liberties through it.”

And what would discourage federal law enforcement from continually asking congress and/or the President to incrementally chip away at the privacy protections of Americans, since lawmakers have winked-and-nodded at virtually every request to marginalize the Fourth Amendment since 2001?

‘Gimme, gimme, gimme,’ continues to be the mantra of law enforcement officials as they seek to curtail the civil liberties of Americans in the name of public safety.  It is time for an adult in the room to stand-up, draw a line in the sand, and tell these officials that, if they can’t get the job done the way others have managed to do so since 1791 (the year the Bill of Rights were ratified), then it is time to step aside.

Soon-to-be Released Novel Focuses on the Paranormal and the Police

Recently, I was asked to review a substantial portion of the manuscript for Mitchell Nevin’s soon-to-be released novel, which explores the intersection where law enforcement and the paranormal meet.  Most detectives are extremely skeptical of psychics, although a handful insist that those with ‘special abilities’ have proved helpful. Nevin’s new novel is based primarily in Milwaukee, Chicago, Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, although several other towns gain mention. The plot is concise, free-flowing, and well researched.

According to my publisher, the new novel is still a work in progress.  If readers have had any experiences with psychics—good, bad or indifferent—please visit www.mitchellnevin.com and feel free to comment, as the author is still interested in gathering input.

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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


2013 and 1984–Liberty at a Crossroads

Strom Shirt

On his first day in office, President Barak Obama promised to “usher in a new era of open government.” Many advocates of federal government transparency, however, believe the Obama administration has went further than his predecessor, George W. Bush, to seal the doors of the federal bureaucracy from public scrutiny.

In 2008, candidate Obama promised to close Gitmo—the U.S. terrorist detention center in Cuba, and claimed, that if elected, his administration would give terrorist suspects trials in civilian courts. The Obama campaign further promised to “revisit” the USA Patriot Act “to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.”

As 2012 comes to a close, nearly three months after President Obama was reelected, his administration has not only failed fulfill any of the aforementioned 2008 campaign promises, it has, instead, responded like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on steroids.

In 2007, liberal newspaper columnists ripped the Bush administration for water boarding—a technique that simulates the drowning of a person under interrogation—by rightfully claiming this tactic violated the protocols of the Geneva Convention. The vast majority of these same columnists have since remained silent as the Obama administration has chosen to simply assassinate terror suspects, including American citizens, absent due process, as if assassination is somehow morally superior to so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’

A post by liberal blogger Taylor Tyler, entitled “A Liberal Argument Against Barak Obama,” spotlights the 180 degree reality of Obama’s campaign rhetoric and his policies.

“While Bush favored the capture and indefinite detention of suspects,” Tyler notes, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (otherwise known as drones) are Obama’s go to weapon in the War on Terror. Drone use began under Bush and greatly increased under Obama, with drone related deaths sharply rising. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that since 2004, drone deaths in Pakistan total between 2,583 and 3,378, including between 475 and 885 civilian and 176 children. Since 2002, deaths in Yemen are reported to be between 365 and 1,055, with between 60 and 163 civilian deaths. Deaths in Somalia, since 2007, have been reported to be between 58 and 170, with between 11 and 57 civilians killed. Drone death numbers may vary because, as the New York Times reports, the Obama Administration has continued the Bush Administration’s policy of redefining civilians.”

And yesterday, President Obama, who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, continued to trample on the document by signing an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The only thing “foreign” about this act is its willingness to ignore hundreds of years of judicial and legislative precedents concerning the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions of unreasonable searches. By extending FISA to 2017, the Orwellian National Security Agency (NSA) will now have access to over 1.7 billion daily text messages, emails, and telephone calls that take place on American soil.

Even left-wing producer Oliver Stone has joined the ‘whatever happened to the Bill of Rights’ chorus—a mix of Democrat Party civilian libertarians (Oregon Senator Ron Wyden) and Republican libertarians (Kentucky Senator Rand Paul).

“He [President Obama] has taken all the Bush changes he basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them,” Stone told Russian Television, claiming that the U.S. is now an “Orwellian” surveillance state.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2012/12/29/Oliver-Stone-to-Russian-TV-US-has-become-an-Orwellian-State

And, to a certain extent, Stone is right. Since 9/11, the NSA has secretly recorded more than 20 trillion telephone calls. Under FISA, recording these calls is no longer considered eavesdropping unless an NSA operative chooses to listen to the actual conversation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVv-SqByboc

Meanwhile, most Americans, as long as they have access to their electronic gadgets, seem ambivalent that every Web page they visit, every purchase that they make online or with a credit or debit card, and many of their telephone conversations—if they say one of hundreds of key words—are being secretly recorded and stored in an NSA database.

“If you want a picture of the future,” George Orwell wrote in his book, “1984,” imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Unfortunately, the American future is now the present. Whether it is biometric ID (Real ID for those of you in the mainstream media), Iris scans, surveillance cameras throughout the interstate and on light poles and busy intersections, Big Brother is watching, chronicling and storing what you say, where you travel, what you purchase and what you advocate.

And for those believing in the Starbuck’s mantra of “come together” bipartisanship, about the only thing the majority of Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama,  and even the judiciary seem to agree on nowadays, is that the society depicted in Orwell’s “1984” wasn’t so bad after all.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

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

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012