Images of mobsters being paraded into court with hoods covering their heads appeared frequently on New Jersey television newscasts in the 1970s and 1980s, and were the result of hard work by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation. These images may be unknown to younger people and even may be fading from the memory of those who watched them, but the behind-the-scenes investigative work that brought them down is still alive and well.
The use of court-ordered communication intercepts under Title III, or “wiretaps,” and also, as they are commonly known, depending on the technology used, “bugs,” or “wearing a wire,” continues to be one of the primary means of obtaining source data – that is, original material, direct from the mouths of the very subjects of criminal investigations. Data obtained through wiretaps should not be confused with taped material obtained by subpoena, such as was the case with the famous Nixon Tapes – because he was knowingly taping himself. Without the primarily intelligence gathering method of recording conversations of suspects when they are not aware they are being heard, the only other available means of obtaining vital, incriminating data is through the dangerous work of infiltration by undercover law enforcement. Wiretaps are obviously safer, being conducted from secret locations by people whose identities are not known and who do not reveal to the world what they do for a living.
A Career Often Portrayed Inaccurately
Few people know the official job title of those who conduct these court-ordered surveillance operations, although many people have heard of “wire rooms.” You have probably seen mock-ups of them in crime-related movies and television programs. One of the most common scenes involves the use of an unmarked van with electronic gear taking up nearly every square inch. Wire room operations are often dramatically recreated for true-crime documentaries, where someone can be seen with headphones on, meticulously listening to calls, surrounded by anxious officers of the law – uniformed, plain-clothes and undercover, all hanging on what the person with the headphones is going to tell them. But what do you call the people who wear the headphones? They certainly are not called “wire tappers.” They usually are not police officers or DEA agents, for instance, but rather contractors who work for companies that supply their expertise to law enforcement. They are technically referred to as “Analytic Linguists.” Montclair State University and Translation Skills Training offer the only available training certificate programs for analytic linguists. These finely tuned skills are not taught, or tested, at any other educational institution.
What is not made up, fanciful, exaggerated or overly dramatized on television shows and documentaries is the intense nature of the work that Analytic Linguists do. Despite some periods when no calls are being made from or to numbers authorized to be monitored, that dedication and hard work goes on in wire rooms twenty-four hours a day and all year long. Analytic Linguists work in shifts on active cases all the time and all over the country, mostly, but not exclusively, in large urban areas. In the same ways as hospitals or a municipal fire department, Analytic Linguists have to be on duty all the time – and they are listening somewhere, to people who, due to evidence gathered by law enforcement, are under suspicion for crimes serious enough that judges have issued court orders to listen in on their phone conversations, and it is happening even while you are reading this.
Dr. Vogt has published numerous articles dealing with Spanish and English literature and has produced several volumes of critical editions of works of Golden Age Spanish literature, many from original, hitherto unedited manuscripts. He also has produced critical, bilingual editions of works, among them, The Complete Poetry of St. Teresa of Avila (University Press of the South: New Orleans, 2nd edition 2015). In addition, Dr. Vogt has published six books with McGraw-Hill on Spanish grammar for English-speaking students of Spanish. For the past several years, Dr. Vogt has worked to update and expand the content of courses developed by Ms. Elena Rojas, thus creating the Analytic Linguistics training programs offered by Continuing and Professional Education and TST™.
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