Posts tagged “Orwell

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At the federal government level, however, the strategy of playing to one’s fears and stretching the truth has been replaced by subterfuge and outright lies.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

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.”

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.


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

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 and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Wisconsin Lawmakers’ Attempt to Rein in Surveillance State

Whether one thinks of him as a traitor or a whistleblower, Edward Snowden’s leaks of information pertaining to NSA spying illustrate one thing: our government and its leaders will lie to the American people whenever they deem it necessary.

Typically, these so-called “noble lies,” a term coined by the philosopher Plato, are premised on protecting our national security interests.  In reality, no matter what the underlying purpose, untruthfulness on the part of public officials undermines the rule of law at every level of government.

In August, President Obama, during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, proclaimed, “We don’t have a domestic spying program.”

Even though he is isolated in the White House, even a casual observer must wonder what planet the President is living on.  Has he driven down a major thoroughfare in his limo and observed surveillance cameras capturing the movements of Americans?  What about the millions of closed circuit television cameras (the square white ones) found virtually every mile or two on high traveled portions of interstate highways?  Has the President conveniently forgotten that his own administration is providing grants to local law enforcement for automated license plate readers that capture, geo-tag, and store data on the locations of our vehicles absent a reasonable suspicion? What about the NSA’s Utah Data Center, a facility that creates electronic dossiers on millions of Americans?

During my tenure at the Milwaukee Police Department, a long-time detective frequently echoed the mantra that “abuses lead to restrictions.”  If this now retired detective’s warning rings true, then the wide spread abuses and overreaching of our government, at all levels, is about to be met with a slew of regulations.

Fortunately, the state legislature in Wisconsin is finally grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns.  Two proposed bills seek to curtail the ability of the government to spy on its citizens.

The first initiative would restrict the ability of so-called Intelligence Fusion Centers from using GPS cellular telephone technology to monitor the movements of citizens without court authorization.

As things currently stand, operatives at the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Assessment Center, located on the second floor of Milwaukee’s Police Administration Building, can keep close tabs on any cellular telephone user who leaves their “location services” on.   The software used is very Orwellian.  Even though local tax dollars are used to fund the MPD’s fusion center, federal officials and city leaders believe much of the data captured and stored is exempt from Wisconsin’s open records law.

Another bill takes aim at information accumulated from Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs).  These devices are either mounted on squad cars or at fixed locations.  Once a license plate is capture it is time stamped and geo-tagged.

The proposed bill would limit the amount of time that law enforcement can maintain the license plate information after its capture.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Milwaukee Police Department has photographed over 9.6 million license plates since 2008.

Of course, Wisconsin’s law enforcement community is not particularly pleased with these restrictions, which limit its authority to spy on citizens absent a reasonable suspicion on any wrong doing.  Statist politicians, such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and big government police chiefs, like Milwaukee’s Edward Flynn, appear to view electronic surveillance and other measures that stretch the Constitution to its limits and beyond as a god send.

For example, Flynn, like Bloomberg, is a supporter of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which require officers to have a reasonable suspicion to stop a person but seems to forgo the reasonable articulable suspicion necessary for a lawful pat down.

Yet if surveillance initiatives are a god send then why does the government feel the need to conceal their activities from open records laws or, as was the case with the NSA, outright lie about them? Could it be that these leaders are fearful of what its citizens may learn: that America has become the land of the watched and home of the “Brave New World” that Aldous Huxley foretold in 1932?


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

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 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.

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.

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.


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

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

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012