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Newt Gingrich and the Unsecured Cell Phone

In January 1997, Newt Gingrich asked several of his associates how to handle the House ethics charges against him.

In January 1997, Newt Gingrich asked several of his associates how to handle the House ethics charges against him. Unfortunately, he did so via conference call. One of the parties dialed in with a non-secure cell phone. The call was overheard - and taped. The subsequent uproar resulted in a $300,000 fine against Gingrich.

Could something similar happen to you? You bet. Never consider your conversations to be confidential unless you've taken steps to make them that way - especially over a cell phone! Empire can customize secure communications systems to meet your most stringent needs. Contact us, and we'll advise you promptly.

As a Ross Engineering affiliate, Empire Investigation & Security played a key role early on in telling the public how the Gingrich taping could - and couldn't - have happened.


Pittsburgh, PA, January 14, 1997 — The "accidental" taping of Newt Gingrich's cellular phone conference call was no accident, states communications security expert James Ross, president of Ross Engineering, Inc., a firm specializing in national and international technical surveillance countermeasures training. "The clarity of the transmission and its duration clearly indicate that a surveillance specialist monitored and taped the conversations of the speaker." The taping could only have been done by highly skilled professionals with sophisticated equipment supposed to be available only to authorities in law enforcement.

A team of seven Ross experts -- based in Virginia, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Texas, New York and Buenos Aires -- analyzed the circumstances of the Gingrich taping and proved that no standard scanner (such as the Florida couple claims to have used) could have recorded Gingrich's conversation continuously while moving. That's because frequencies change as a vehicle travels from one "cell" to another (hence the term "cellular phone"). These changes inevitably produce gaps in the conversation on the tape because of the delay while phones shift from one cell to the next.

Only very expensive, specialized equipment can react quickly enough to eliminate such gaps. Any competent communications security specialist would spot the difference and hesitate to pass off such dangerous material as "innocent" taping by amateurs, Ross says. Conclusion: Chances are high that the individual with the cellular phone was under full-time surveillance.

Contact Empire Investigations to make sure you don't repeat Newt's mistake.