Posts tagged “Wade Page

When Mistaken Priorities Cost Lives

 Sunday’s heinous shootings at a southeastern Wisconsin Sikh temple—dubbed by the FBI a possible act of domestic terrorism—illustrates that, in some instances, the criminal justice system tragically misallocates precious resources.

While the FBI correctly claims that the current state-of-the-law prevents its agents from collecting data on suspected domestic terror suspects, under the provisions of the Patriot Act, law enforcement can purchase information from privately held companies or non-profit organizations. Corporations, such as ChoicePoint and Acxiom, routinely sell detailed dossiers on American citizens to law enforcement. In the 1990s, the Milwaukee Police Department paid for and received information from the Southern Poverty Law Center—the same group that followed the activities of Sheikh Temple shooter Wade Page for the past ten years.

Even though red flags popping-up around active shooters, such as Colorado’s James Holmes, Tucson’s Jared Loughner, and Page, in hindsight, appeared visible, too often the resources needed to monitor trouble individuals are wasted enforcing trivial laws and incarcerating those who are relatively harmless.

This certainly is the case with an Arizona man locked-up on July 9, 2012, for holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix home.

The Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead reports that Michael Salman was “fined more than $12,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail starting on July 9, 2012, for the so-called “crime” of holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix home”—a violation of city building codes.

“In such a society,” Whitehead argues at, “we are all petty criminals, guilty of violating some minor law. In fact, Boston lawyer Harvey Silvergate, author of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, estimates that the average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day, thanks to an overabundance of vague laws that render otherwise innocent activity illegal and an inclination on the part of prosecutors to reject the idea that there can’t be a crime without criminal intent. Consequently, we now find ourselves operating in a strange new world where small farmers who dare to make unpasteurized goat cheese and share it with members of their community are finding their farms raided, while home gardeners face jail time for daring to cultivate their own varieties of orchids without having completed sufficient paperwork.”

Mr. Salman is currently an unfortunate guest at Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 2,000-prisoner tent city, where according to Whitehead, prisoners “battle the heat by positioning themselves in front of a few large fans, but they are of little use when temperatures reach 145 degrees. Stun fences surround the perimeter, with four Sky Watch Towers bearing down on the occupants. Facial recognition software and K-9 units keep track of the people moving about, longing for their freedom.”

In the interim, while law enforcement and our courts incarcerate thousands of people like Mr. Salman for minor offenses, those exhibiting psychotic and/or homicidal behaviors seemingly roam from state-to-state under the radar screen of the newly created American surveillance state.

Moreover, if an organization, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, is able to compile data on individuals like Wade Page and lawfully sell this data to law enforcement, one has to wonder if the 77 intelligence fusion centers—funded in part by federal tax dollars—are up to the task or if these domestic spy operations spend too much time focusing on individuals like Michael Salman instead of keeping their eye on the prize.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

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


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012