Posts tagged “Utah Data Center

The President’s Ignoble Lie


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):

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.


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

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

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.

“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

Related links:


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

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.

(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.

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.

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


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 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 Visit the link below for more details.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013