Posts tagged “NSA

The Man Against the Machine: U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Reins In the NSA

A few decades ago, one of my class instructors joked that, “If pro is the opposite of con, then Congress is the opposite of progress.” With 535 legislators with different agendas, Congress is a body that is often pulled if different directions, many of which are dominated by well-heeled special interests.

This makes Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s USA Freedom Act an unusual species in Washington. This legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate with large, bi-partisan support, and was then signed by President Obama.

A U.S. representative since 1979, Sensenbrenner is a leader on legal issues that affect Americans’ privacy. He is keenly aware that the powerful pull the strings vis-à-vis their well-connected hired guns — lobbyists.

With the far, neo-con right ratcheting up the rhetoric regarding the expiration of the USA Patriot Act’s bulk data collection of all Americans’ telephone records, Sensenbrenner was able to build a coalition of Democrats and liberty minded Republicans to debunk the myths being bellowed by the national security statists.

One of the myths being promulgated by the neo-cons: There is no need to worry because the NSA is simply retrieving telephone calls and the length of these calls; none of these conversations are recorded.

First, if the government possesses every telephone call placed, and couples this data with the algorithms the NSA gobbles up by archiving Americans’ e-mails, Web clicks, and posts on various social media Web sites, an intelligence analysis with an eighth grade reading level could easily draw a portrait of any individual’s life. In essence, the government knows what books we read, who we communicate with, our political beliefs, and the means by which Americans exercise their free speech rights.

Second, the NSA does record telephone calls and, anyone who says otherwise is part of the government’s noble lie. Since 9/11, the NSA has recorded trillions of telephone conversations. To learn how these programs work, I would strongly encourage readers to visit the below link:

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

Today, Congressman Sensenbrenner appeared on the Jay Weber Show to discuss the USA Freedom Act. To hear the podcast, please visit the below link:

http://www.newstalk1130.com/media/podcast-jay-weber-show-thejaywebershow/jay-weber-hour-2-part-1-26102606/

Any American concerned with the issue of security vs. privacy should be proud of Sensenbrenner’s accomplishment. Even the secular-progressive Milwaukee Journal Sentinel applauded this rare, bi-partisan legislation and the proposed oversight of these Orwellian government agencies:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/after-carefully-building-coalition-sensenbrenner-savors-win-b99512887z1-306069891.html

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Steve Spingola is an author, retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective, and a contributor to TNT’s Cold Justice.

His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

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

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2015


When Judges Drink the Big Brother Kool Aid

If one needs to wonder why the United States — once the land of the free — has slowly morphed into a surveillance state, all they need do is listen to what a Supreme Court justice recently said.

“At an interview the National Press Club on Thursday,” reports BreitbartTV. “Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about their views of the First Amendment.”

Marvin Kalb, the event’s moderator, questioned Scalia on the constitutionality of the NSA’s domestic spying of American citizens. Is it possible that the NSA’s grab of metadata, which the agency combines with algorithms to paint of portrait of individuals, is unconstitutional, Kalb asked?

“No, because it’s not absolute,” said Scalia.  “As Ruth has said there are very few freedoms that are absolute. I mean your person is protected by the Fourth Amendment but as I pointed out when you board a plane someone can pass his hands all over your body that’s a terrible intrusion, but given the danger that it’s guarding against it’s not an unreasonable intrusion. And it can be the same thing with acquiring this data that is regarded as effects. That’s why I say it’s foolish to have us make the decision because I don’t know how serious the danger is in this NSA stuff, I really don’t.”

What is scary is this statement was made by a man who took an oath to uphold the Constitution — a document that supposedly protects its citizens from government abuses.

First, Justice Scalia might want to checkout the NSA’s charter, which limits that agency to collecting foreign intelligence and prohibits it from spying on American citizens within the United States.  That job belongs to the FBI.

Second, if Justice Scalia is so inclined, could he explain the constitutionality of a foreign intelligence surveillance court approving a warrant for 150 million non-specific targets for the purposes of gathering the telephone records of American citizens.  A warrant or a subpoena, based on such a wide-swath of targets and absent probable cause of individual wrong doing, does not jibe with the Fourth Amendment.

This statist rationale — cut from the same cloth that Supreme Court once used to uphold the 1917 Espionage Act, which permitted censorship of newspapers — is proof that, when it comes to individual liberty, our courts have become government rubber stamps.

“Where did our nation’s judges get their law degrees from?” asked Devin Sharif, who brought Scalia’s statements to the attention of SF,  “China or Russia?”

Hummmm

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

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, 2014


Hackers & Blackmail: Our Future Electronic Concentration Camp

In his 2006 book No Place to Hide, journalist Robert O’Harrow, Jr. painted a troubling picture of America’s brave new world, where technology would track our every move.

Eight years later, O’Harrow’s writings have proved prophetic.  Within the scope of the last month, 110 million Americans have had their personnel data compromised courtesy of security flaws at Target.  Sources say that Target customers routinely had their driver’s license scanned after making certain purchases.  This data, along with specific credit card information, is now in the hands of Russian hackers.

“I’ll never shop at Target again,” said woman who had contacted SF.  “I felt very uncomfortable when they scanned my driver’s license at checkout.  I just thought that, being a major corporation, Target would have its act together.  Was I ever wrong.”

Today, Sen. Al Franken,  chairman of a Senate Committee on Privacy and Technology, demanded that Ford Motor Company discontinue the GPS tracking of persons who have purchased that company’s vehicles.

During recent remarks, Ford’s Vice President of Jim Farley stated, “We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”  Farley went on to say that Ford is not supplying its customers’ data to anyone, although Franken claims that evidence exists that Ford is tracking individuals who drive their company’s vehicles and is supplying the data to third parties.

Then there is the NSA showing, yet again, why this Orwellian agency is an acronym for Never Say Anything.  The British newspaper, The Guardian, just published a piece indicating that the NSA routinely vacuums over 200 million text messages each day.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.  Things are bound to get  much, much worse.  Just wait until hackers get their hands on the medical records of Americans and use them to blackmail individuals.  It is not a reach to imagine a scenario where a ransom is demanded in bitcoin.  If this ransom goes unpaid, the hackers will disclose a list of psychiatric medications or disclose an individual’s personal medical information online.

And regardless of what our politicians promise, it will only be a matter of time before state and federal government DNA databases are compromised.  Imagine what an insurance company might be willing to pay for this information prior to underwriting health and life policies.

So keep playing with all those high-tech gadgets and continue believing that those who’ve warned of the Brave New World’s electronic concentration camp are simply delusional crackpots.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.  He is set to appear on TNT’s show “Cold Justice,” on February 14.   His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, is available at Amazon.com.

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, 2014


It’s Time to Stop Feeding the Beast

Manipulation has always been a part of politics.  Remember the anti-Barry Goldwater ad showing an atomic bomb exploding while a young girl played with a flower?  How about the famed Willie Horton spot employed by Bush 41?

At the federal government level, however, the strategy of playing to one’s fears and stretching the truth has been replaced by subterfuge and outright lies.

First, there is the Obama administration’s argument that having the NSA seize the data on over 280 million Americans’ cellular telephones does not equate to domestic spying.  The NSA’s own charter restricts the agency to gathering information on foreign nationals, not American citizens on American soil. Why then did the Obama administration use a foreign intelligence surveillance court to obtain data on American citizens?

Only a “secret” court using apparently “secret” rules would approve a request from the government seeking swaths of information in order to conduct a fishing expedition.  The Fourth Amendment requires that a court order be signed by a magistrate, and supported by Oath or affirmation, “particularly” describing the alleged offense, the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.  In the case of the metadata seizure, the government, according to a Federal Judge Richard Leon, has not met this burden.  In fact, when asked, the government could not provide any information to Judge Leon about a single terrorist act that the collection of metadata had prevented.

And unlike the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Smith v. Maryland, the metadata obtained by the NSA does more than simply record telephone numbers in a pen register.  Cellular telephone technology enables the NSA to track a user’s location and to geo-tag, via GPS and tower triangulation, the person being called. Granted, while the actual telephone records might be owned by a third party (Verizon, Sprint, etc.), the device itself, which emits its location, is owned and operated by the user.  Common sense dictates that Americans, absent their consent, have a reasonable expectation to privacy when it comes to their location, unless the government can show that an individual is involved in criminal activity. Absent this showing, the NSA’s metadata collection is little more than domestic spying.

The government’s thrust for the metadata of Americans is just one example of a federal government out of control.  Using grant money to hook the local police into a culture of control and surveillance, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) have ushered in a new phase of Orwell’s America.

In late November, an NBC affiliate in Texas reported, “Police officers in Fort Worth, Texas, set up a roadblock on a busy city street last week, and directed motorists into a parking lot, where they were asked to submit samples of their breath, saliva and blood.”

The non-consensual roadblock that unduly interpreted the lives of every day Americans was funded by a NTSA grant.  Its purpose, according to the news report, was to gather “random sampling…to determine how many motorists are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

http://autos.aol.com/article/police-ask-random-drivers-for-saliva-breath-blood-samples/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl14%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D409229

In Redding, Pennsylvania, local police and a federal contractor conducted a similar operation.  “A private firm,” reports the Redding Eagle, “with a federal contract – and backed up by city police – forced motorists off Laurel Street and into a private parking lot Friday to question them about their driving habits and ask for a swab of their mouth.”

One individual, whose was detained even though he had violated no law, was Ricardo Nieves, who told the Redding City Council, “I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels.”

“The checkpoint” according to the newspaper, “was supposed to be voluntary, but Nieves said he had to refuse several times over a five-minute period before the woman taking the survey let him go.”

http://readingeagle.com/article/20131217/NEWS/312179910&template=mobileart

Is this the same America that was once the home of the FREE or does this type of conduct eerily resemble that of the police state in the People’s Republic of China?

The federal government is the equivalent of a 600 pound man whose size is set to cause a cataclysmic death.  Only one thing can save him: calorie restriction.  And with our elected officials in the tank for the security-industrial complex and their well-connected lobbyist on K Street, our freedoms and prosperity will soon be crushed unless we stop feeding the beast.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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


The President’s Ignoble Lie

BWS_bestofspingola_300dpi

Only a politician who knows that the mainstream media is in the tank for him would appear on national television and—with a straight face—tell such a whopper.

In early August, President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and told the host, “We [the United States government] don’t have a domestic spying program,” even though media reports abound that contradict this statement.

“Everybody knows I love this president, but this is ridiculous,” said Van Jones, a far-left former Obama administration advisor, while appearing on CNN. “First of all, we do have a domestic spying program, and what we need to be able to do is figure out how to balance these things, not pretend like there’s no balancing to be done.”

Splitting hairs like virtually every politician does, President Obama’s answer is, of course, predicated on what is considered “a domestic spying program.”  The reality is that the federal government, as well as state and local law enforcement (funded, in part, by the federal government), is up to their ears in  spying on Americans.

The most visible sign of domestic spying initiatives are the millions of cameras posted along interstate highways, mounted on poles at key intersections, or those little white boxes containing cameras found, in some instances, every mile on stretches of southeastern Wisconsin freeways.  This data is recorded and archived by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s State Traffic Operations Center in Milwaukee—an Orwellian facility funded, in part, with federal grant money.

At the national level, the National Security Administration (NSA) operates programs, described in detail by fugitive Edward Snowden, which can watch Americans type instant messages and e-mails in real time.  The NSA is set to open its Utah Data Center this month.  This 1,000,000 square foot facility will house trillions of Americans’ telephone conversations and e-mails. Once a user of telephone and/or an electronic device utters or types one of over 1,000 keywords, every conversation or message to-and-from that device is recorded and stored by the NSA.  Under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act, this type of wiretapping is no longer concerned eavesdropping, unless the government chooses to open an individual’s electronic dossier and listen to the recordings.

“A requirement of the 2008 law is that the NSA “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.” A possible interpretation of that language, some legal experts said, is that the agency may vacuum up everything it can domestically — on the theory that indiscriminate data acquisition was not intended to “target” a specific American citizen,” wrote CNet’s Declan McCullagh.

And that is precisely what the NSA does and what the Utah Data Center was built to store.

If the NSA and Wisconsin’s DOT’s spy center still doesn’t have one convinced that President Obama was either lying to Jay Leno or is simply inept, consider the 77 intelligence fusion centers spread across the United States.  Wisconsin has two such centers: one operated by the Milwaukee Police Department and the other housed in a benign office park on Madison’s north side.  The equipment used by these centers was purchased with Department of Homeland Security grant money.  Moreover, federal funds underwrite about 20 percent of the Milwaukee fusion center’s budget.

These high-tech fusion centers can access one’s personal information from private sector data mining companies, such as ChoicePoint, in order to ascertain an individual’s financial transactions, book purchases, vehicles and properties owned, credit information, as well as names and addresses of relatives and neighbors.  Fusion centers also use software to track cellular telephones absent judicial oversight.  This technology enables an agent of the government to follow a cell phone from room-to-room within a particular building or structure.

If recording electronic communications, obtaining personal data from private sector companies, and following cellular telephone users in real time, still doesn’t have one convinced the government is spying on virtually all of us on a daily basis, automated license plate readers—considered by some the crown jewel of state and local government surveillance—should.

In Wisconsin, over 37 law enforcement agencies use automated license plate readers (ALPR), which are generally mounted on patrol vehicles, although some are placed at fixed locations.  These devices scan hundreds of license plates of passing vehicles each minute to check on the driver’s license status, possible warrants, or other fugitive data.  These devices also record the date, time, and location that the vehicle was scanned.  This information is then stored in various databases.  Most of these automated license plate readers are purchased, in part, with federal grant money.

Fox News 6 in Milwaukee ran an excellent segment on ALPRs last November (see the below link):

http://fox6now.com/2012/11/04/fox6-investigators-new-device-helps-cops-track-criminals-as-well-as-the-innocent/

But what about surveillance from the air?  By 2017, some experts believe law enforcement agencies will have access to over 33,000 Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAVs), also known as drones.  The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs Enforcement Division currently uses Predator drones with very intrusive surveillance equipment, including infrared that can see through the walls of homes.

A little over a week ago, I communicated with a former secret squirrel (law enforcement terminology for an agent or an officer who worked in the area of intelligence gathering), who, having observed my name on the dedication page of Mitchell Nevin’s new novel, “Psychic Reprieve,” seemed perturbed by the book’s detailed descriptions of the drone surveillance of a terror suspect and a sneak-and-peek search of the target’s home near San Diego.  He was not complaining about the novel’s factual description of the events, but that the author provided too vivid of a portrait of government operations.

So, President Obama, don’t lie to the American people. The government is spying on Americans 24 x 7 and federal money is paying for most of the gadgets as well as some of the manpower. Granted, the President knew Jay Leno wouldn’t call him out on domestic spying, which is precisely why he uttered his ignoble lie on The Tonight Show and not in front of knowledgeable journalists.

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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


Book Review: A Government of Wolves

Is America slouching towards a police state or is our nation already an “electronic concentration camp?”

In his recently released book, A Government of Wolves: the Emerging American Police State, John W. Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, makes a strong case that our out-of-control federal government has already crossed the Orwellian line of no return.

To make his point, the author quotes Milton Mayer, who made the following observation:

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.”

Mayer, however, was not pontificating about post-9/11 America.  Instead, his observations concerned the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

In A Government of Wolves, Whitehead details the methods and technologies that the federal government, as well as its co-opted local law enforcement ‘partners,’ uses to keep tabs on all Americans.  The debate, as he sees it, is weather the new “electronic concentration camp” is more in line with George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, since both novels offer slightly different versions of how the government seized the freedoms and privacy of the populace.

Personally, I think the Huxley scenario—that the culture is so consumed by entertainment and technology “that the citizenry does not realize they occupy a prison until it is too late’—is spot on.  A thriving democracy depends on a high percentage of knowledgeable voters, and, quite frankly, the knowledge most voters possess is the equivalent of sixth grade reading level.

Earlier this month, noted conspiracy theorist Mark Dice released a ‘man on the street video,’ showing what occurred when some college-educated people where asked to sign a petition asking President Obama to ban the Bill of Rights.  Proof that Low Information Voters (LIVs) abound, many signed without hesitation.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/09/watch-and-weep-heres-a-video-of-people-signing-a-petition-to-repeal-the-bill-of-rights/

These are the sheep, too caught-up in the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, to realize that they are being led to the political slaughter.  As long as the politician that they support gives his blessing, LIVs apparently are too busy to even care that their government is lying about the IRS scandal, NSA spying, or the establishment of a police state in the name of security.

Another assertion Whitehead makes is that the local police are being turned into a federally subsidized army; whereby, the federal government continues to borrow and print money while offering ‘grants’ that equip police departments with drones, cellular telephone tracking equipment, armored personnel carriers, and other high-tech gadgets, such as LED lights that cause nausea.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal echoed this concern in an article entitled, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Whitehead also makes a case that, in the near future, society will be divided into two broad categories of classes: the watchers and the watched.  In the United States, over 850,000 people—either contractors or government employees—are involved in the implementation of the Patriot Act-based surveillance state—the one that was supposed to keep tabs on terrorists. Of course, the term “terrorist” is rather subjective, which is why A Government of Wolves notes that intelligence fusion centers have monitored libertarian groups and other organizations that believe the federal government is too large, too intrusive, or no longer abides by the Constitution.

One a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst, the Spingola Files gives A Government of Wolves a nine.  For those who cherish freedom, for the government lap dogs in the mainstream media, and for students of criminal justice, this book is one that you should make a point to read.

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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


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.


A Few Thoughts About Boston

Some observations about the terrorist acts on Boston—the second, not the first, successful attacks in the U.S. since 9/11.

People in this country react in bizarre ways. For example: gathering in a park and cheering after the second suspect was taken into custody, as if the US had won some type of international sporting event. I used the conclusion of this event as a somber moment to reflect upon the fact that two relative simpletons managed to terrorize an entire city, kill innocent civilians, and law enforcement officers.

As far as the lock down, call it 20/20 hindsight, but the tactic itself may have actually helped the suspect elude capture, as thousands of eyes remained inside. Ironically, once the “stay sheltered” ban was lifted, a set of eyes observed something suspicious. Plus, this tactic sends a message to other wannabe Jihadists that they can shutter an entire metro area with a few pressure cookers.

Certainly, the boots to the ground teams on the street did an outstanding job. However, I think this case merits a thorough, top-to-bottom policy review. Once again, all the high-tech fusion centers, NSA electronic listening, etc. failed to provide the intelligence needed to prevent the attack. The shoe bomber hopped aboard an airliner undetected; the underwear bomber successfully took a commercial flight, even though he was on the no-fly list (due to his name being misspelled by one letter); while a bombing in Time Square was prevented by a faulty detonation device and a vender who had spotted a suspicious SUV. In each of these instances, surveillance—as a means to prevent terror attacks—failed miserably.

So much for sacrificing liberty for security—a doctrine Benjamin Franklin warned against.

Sure, after the fact, video surveillance has proved valuable; although it appears private video footage broke the Boston case open. Moreover, during this investigation Americans learned that suspect #1 traveled overseas for six months, posted strange things on social media, and was red flagged by a foreign government (probably Russia), which asked the FBI to check into his activities. One would have thought suspect #1 would have been one of a hundred individuals fusion center operatives would have kept close tabs on.

So, the question needs to be asked: was the $500 billion our nation has spent since 9/11 to employ over 800,000 people and create a vast electronic intelligence apparatus worth the expense?

In the past, I have argued that surveillance does little to protect Americans.  It is like saying surveillance can prevent a homicide.  No doubt, if the police are proactive, officers can stop suspicious persons or investigate information that comes to their attention, but, at the end of the day, law enforcement generally locates the deceased, chalks out the body, erects crime scene tape, and attempts to find the perpetrator—all, of course, after the fact. If a person is intent on dying as a part of a terror attack, surveillance will do little besides enable investigators and the media to replay the blast.

What can the government do to prevent terrorism? Discontinue the surveillance of large swaths of the American populace, 99.999 percent of whom will never commit an act of terror, and, instead, focus our resources on those with a motive.  Think about it: how do the surveillance cameras mounted atop traffic control signals on 124th and Burleigh prevent acts of terrorism? Wasting taxpayer dollars to conduct surveillance of Americans diverts resources from the real problem: extremist groups and foreign nationals overstaying student visas that pose a real threat to this nation’s security.

As far as the media, they continue to report that this was the first terror attack since 9/11, which is simply regurgitating the government line.  Ft. Hood was a terrorist attack. As was the case in Boston, the assailant, Army Major Nidal Hasan, was radicalized from within and took his orders from a far. Classifying Ft. Hood as “work place violence” is akin to claiming that Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy is an immaculate conception.

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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


Tonight: New Program to Spotlight NSA’s Surveillance State

As many of you may know, after leaving Fox News, Glenn Beck formed his own network, The Blaze.

Tonight, at 7 PM, a new Blaze program, For the Record, takes a detailed look at America’s post-9/11 surveillance state. The show’s host, Laurie Dhue, also formerly of Fox News, interviews a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) turned whistleblower.

For the Record explores a secretive new NSA facility, the Utah Data Center, described last fall in Wired Magazine.

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

This morning, Glenn Beck interview Ms. Dhue on his morning radio program. Having spent a considerable amount of time researching government surveillance, tonight’s show, part of a four part series, is one that anyone interested in law enforcement and government should watch.

The Blaze is s subscription service that costs $9.95 a month; however, the site does offer a two-week free trial offer.

www.theblaze.com

Moreover, Laurie Dhue’s personal story of her 15-year struggle with alcoholism—the same demon Beck battled—illustrates that people can eventually claw their way back and reclaim their professional standing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1355452/Secret-battle-Laurie-Dhue-reveals-secret-15-year-battle-alcoholism.html

In the print edition of Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I discussed the NSA’s perceived mandate to turn their intrusive eavesdropping capabilities inward in a chapter entitled, Why the NSA is an Acronym for Never Say Anything.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363211388&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

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, 2013


Why NSA is an Acronym for ‘Never Say Anything’

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

or

www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012


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/