Red Light the Movie

June 19, 2010

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WHAT THE “RED LIGHT DISTRICT” REALLY MEANS

By MARK MORRIS of The Kansas City Star. Diplomats, researchers admonish media on sex-trafficking coverage

At the United Nations, Diplomats and researchers on Wednesday, urged journalists, to not dwell on the salacious details of sex trafficking when reporting on the fight against modern-day slavery.

At a U.N. panel discussion in which reporters, filmmakers, public officials and social-service providers were asked to examine the media’s role in exposing human trafficking.

Former ABC News correspondent Lynn Sherr, who moderated the panel, acknowledged: “Members of the news media, often don’t get it right,” preferring instead to focus on sensational stories of abuse.

But Sherr noted that organizers of the panel invited journalists and researchers whose work represented some of the best reporting on human-trafficking issues.

The panel included Kansas City Star reporter Mike McGraw, who was among a team of journalists that last year published an award-winning, five-part series on human trafficking. The Star found that the U.S. government was failing to find and help thousands of human-trafficking victims.

Noy Thrupkaew, a fellow at the Open Society Institute in New York, encouraged reporters to work harder to paint three-dimensional pictures of those who have endured the abuse of modern slavery.

“It’s more than the moment of dramatic epiphany and rescue,” Thrupkaew said. “Think about what happens in the life of happily ever after. It’s a story not only of deprivation but one of resilience.”

An Israeli documentary filmmaker, Guy Jacobson, acknowledged that maintaining objectivity also was a problem, particularly after delving deeply into the subject. His latest film, “Redlight,” which premieres soon, contains footage he obtained by using undercover cameras in Asian brothels.

Jacobson asked for a show of hands from the more than 400 people who attended the panel discussion in the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council chamber.

“Who thinks that 5-year-olds should be working in a brothel and raped every day?” he asked. “If you do, me and my baseball bat will have that discussion with you outside.”

Panelists agreed that protecting victims of human trafficking should be the prime consideration for journalists.

“When I met my first victim who was still in jeopardy, I realized that the preponderance of my victims were still alive, but could soon be dead if I didn’t do my reporting correctly,” said E. Benjamin Skinner, a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

Panelists also decried the lack of consistent statistical information on human trafficking. U.S. human-trafficking czar Luis CdeBaca contended that 50,000 people worldwide last year had been freed from slavery. But U.N. Under-Secretary-General Antonio Maria Costa argued that the number was less than half that figure.

“Data is a huge problem for this issue,” McGraw noted. “We live in a country that claims to have more than 14,000 victims coming in every year, but we have a visa system that will only help 5,000 a year, even if we found every one.”

Even the definition of human trafficking can sometimes trip up reporters, CdeBaca noted.

“If you look at an article in Arizona they mean alien smuggling,” CdeBaca said. “If you look at an article in Kansas City or in Florida, they mean slavery.”

Costa said the media’s role in raising the public’s awareness and understanding of the issue was essential.

“How do you rate the role of media?” Costa asked. “The performance would not be an A or B. Maybe a C, if that. But we need the media as a multiplier.”

The panel was sponsored by the Schuster Institute, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

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KansasCity.com for more, on The Star’s series on human trafficking.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send e-mail to mmorris@kcstar.com on Wed, Jun. 16, 2010

This blog was created by a NYC organization https://fightchildtrafficking.wordpress.com/humantraffickingismoderndayslavery/

Adam Walsh Act

October 13, 2009

In the article below, there’s somewhat of an accusation directed toward Obama, which sets off my “Partisan Rethoric” radar.  Personally, I voted for Obama and stand by my vote.  But concrete facts are listed here.  First section is a synopsis.  Second section is the actual discussion.  Comments are welcomed at the bottom of the page.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), submitted the following statement for the record on the Department of Justice (DOJ) Fiscal Year 2011 budget request. Senator Shelby’s statement criticizes the Administration’s request with regard to its lack of funding for the Adam Walsh Act, its failure to attempt to reduce the DNA backlog, and its significant cuts to funding for terrorism fighting capabilities.

Below are excerpts from Shelby’s statement.  After these excerpts, the full statement is posted underneath.

Regarding Adam Walsh funding:

“General Holder, on March 6 of this year, President Obama appeared on the 1,000th episode of America’s Most Wanted and told John Walsh, ‘We’re going to do everything in our power, as long as I’m in the White House and as long as I’m the father of two girls, to make sure that we’re providing the states the support they need to make this happen…’

“The President went on to tell Mr. Walsh that the White House had increased the number of Deputy U.S. Marshals dedicated to Adam Walsh cases from 300 to 400, increased AWA funding by 23 percent, and how important it is for the Administration to build up the Marshals Service as it was “something we want to do in our federal budget…’

“I regret to say that the President misinformed John Walsh. In reality, the Marshals Service will have a total of 177 operational and support personnel solely dedicated to Adam Walsh Act enforcement in FY 2010, which is the most they’ve ever had. This subcommittee….not the White House, added the 105 dedicated personnel that the president credited himself with…

“I would hope that the White House would correct the record and take the initiative to provide more funding for the Marshals Service to protect children from predators, instead of taking credit for the job Congress has done. I would suspect Mr. Walsh hasn’t heard a word from anyone in the Administration since the President used him for lip service and airtime…

This website is created by a NYC organization https://fightchildtrafficking.wordpress.com/humantraffickingismoderndayslavery/

The full text of Senator Shelby’s statement is below:

“Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. And thank you, Attorney General Holder, for joining us to discuss the Department of Justice and its Fiscal Year 2011 budget request.

“First, I want to recognize and extend my appreciation and support to the men and women of the Department of Justice who protect this country from crime and terrorism. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

“The Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for the Department of Justice is $29 billion. This is a $1.5 billion, or five percent increase, over the Fiscal Year 2010 request. Via the Second Chance Act, the Department of Justice is requesting $140 million to educate and mentor terrorists, pedophiles and career criminals – while requesting minimal funds for reducing the DNA backlog and tracking the monsters that abducted and sexually assaulted Adam Walsh, Elizabeth Smart, Dru Sjodin, Polly Klaas, Jessica Lunsford, and others like them.

“Minimal progress has been made in funding and implementing the Adam Walsh Act and a long term and efficient plan for reducing the DNA backlog by increasing public crime lab capacity is nonexistent.

“How can we look into the eyes of the parents of these children and tell them DOJ and the Administration are prioritizing criminals’ re-entry into society over funding the Adam Walsh Act?

“In a perfect world flush with resources I would be supportive of funding the Second Chance Act, but the very idea of taking money from victims and law enforcement officers to educate and comfort terrorists, pedophiles, and career criminals is once again, an abomination.

“General Holder, on March 6 of this year, President Obama appeared on the 1,000th episode of America’s Most Wanted and told John Walsh, ‘We’re going to do everything in our power, as long as I’m in the White House and as long as I’m the father of two girls, to make sure that we’re providing the states the support they need to make this happen.’

“The President went on to tell Mr. Walsh that the White House had increased the number of Deputy U.S. Marshals dedicated to Adam Walsh cases from 300 to 400, increased AWA funding by 23 percent, and how important it is for the Administration to build up the Marshals Service as it was “something we want to do in our federal budget.”

“I regret to say that the President misinformed John Walsh. In reality, the Marshals Service will have a total of 177 operational and support personnel solely dedicated to Adam Walsh Act enforcement in FY 2010, which is the most they’ve ever had. This subcommittee, not the White House, added the 105 dedicated personnel that the president credited himself with.

“In addition to the 177 personnel, 237 Marshals Service investigators support Walsh Act implementation on a collateral basis. This means Walsh activities are only a portion of their many duties as they are also responsible for protecting judges, tracking down non-sex crime fugitives, and transporting prisoners. In my six years of being on this subcommittee, the administration has never requested an increase for the Marshals Service purely dedicated to this mission.

“In 2008, Senator Mikulski and I included the first ever funding of $17 million for Adam Walsh enforcement in a war supplemental funding bill. In 2009, we increased this funding by another $5 million. In 2010, the President simply requested funding to keep Deputy Marshals on board, with no increase. We said that is not good enough, and provided a $27.5 million increase above the President’s extremely modest request of $15 million in 2010. The President has not requested an increase for Adam Walsh Act enforcement, but instead is taking credit where the Congress saw the need and provided the resources. I would hope that the White House would correct the record and take the initiative to provide more funding for the Marshals Service to protect children from predators, instead of taking credit for the job Congress has done. I would suspect Mr. Walsh hasn’t heard a word from anyone in the Administration since the President used him for lip service and airtime.

“One issue it seems that both the Department and the Committee agree on is the importance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and their continuing leadership in combating the exploitation of children. DOJ continues to support NCMEC thru the Missing Children grants we have appropriated and, by all accounts, there continues to be a strong and unique partnership serving the interests of our most innocent victims of crime. I am concerned, however, that the Administration’s budget reduces the Missing Children’s account – the pool from which NCMEC and other child safety nonprofits must compete – by $10 million. I hope we can work together to increase that level of funding to insure that NCMEC receives the continued support it needs and that we are able to also help others in this area. We should be growing the pie for helping organizations that combat missing and exploited children rather than shrinking it.

Other topics, Shelby went on to speak about: 

On Reducing the DNA Backlog: “The long term solution to forensic backlogs is building capacity for government labs and not in the continual outsourcing to private companies who incite victims and victims groups and mislead law enforcement agencies, for the sake of a profit…

“Mr. Attorney General, for the sake of the integrity of the criminal justice system and the Department of Justice, it would behoove you to heed the concerns and needs state and local crime lab directors who are actual DNA experts — not members of Congress, their staff, for-profit DNA company sales executives, lobbyists, former NIJ employees, movies stars, and group advocates who have no DNA training or experience…

On Fighting Terrorism: “When Director Mueller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified three weeks ago, he verified that the President’s FY11 budget would cut their terrorism fighting capabilities. For every new dollar proposed by the White House for the FBI to fight terrorists, six dollars of current counterterrorism fighting capability are cut…

“As Director Mueller stated in a letter to you Mr. Attorney General, dated December 2, 2009: ‘The OMB recommendation does not recognize the value of biometric information gleaned from recovered and seized IEDs and related materials to the intelligence and homeland security communities. …’

“I believe the Administration is putting you, Mr. Attorney General, in a no-win situation, by having you defend their inept decision – a decision made by non-accountable bureaucrats at OMB. I know that cancelling TEDAC funding was not your decision. I also know that both you, and Director Mueller, appealed that decision, yet the Administration cut the very funding that the FBI Director said he believed was necessary to ensure that the FBI has the tools and the facilities necessary to respond to the terrorist threat this nation faces. It is clear from the request that OMB is not relying on the people who actually have to fight terrorism when it is making decisions regarding the threat this country faces.”

“The President also told John Walsh he wanted to provide support to state and local officials for DNA testing because they are strapped for some of the basic resources. Saying, “that we’re going to get support, bipartisan support from Congress on this issue, because it’s so important to every family across America and there are just too many horror stories reminding us that we’re not doing enough.”

“Mr. Attorney General, I would first start this initiative by having senior program managers at the National Institute of Justice who are responsible for DNA solicitations and being accessible to state and local crime labs to show up for work more than three days a week. I would also direct NIJ to stop writing grant solicitations catering to their for-profit DNA vendor friends that have had carte blanche access to NIJ for too long. DOJ should be more diligent in ensuring that components serving state and local law enforcement agencies have representatives that are accessible and accountable to the state and local labs they are entrusted to support.

“Our government forensic labs need to continue to build their capacity to adequately serve the justice system, and have used NIJ funding to make great strides in decreasing backlogs. I know that in my state, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has continued to make it a focus of theirs to build capacity in an effort to ensure backlogs don’t recur once they’re addressed – and they have been very successful.

“They have erased the backlogs in drug chemistry and toxicology analyses, and consistently reduced the DNA backlog, even as they have expanded their services. By building their capacity, government labs can process cases efficiently, expand their services, and start to test evidence from unsolved petty and property crimes, as ours has in Alabama.

“Recently in my hometown of Tuscaloosa, a cold case violent sexual predator was identified almost 20 years later as a rapist of a University of Alabama graduate student. This case would never have been solved without DNA and a dedicated lab which focused on building their capacity to efficiently analyze unsolved cold cases.

“The long term solution to forensic backlogs is building capacity for government labs and not in the continual outsourcing to private companies who incite victims and victims groups and mislead law enforcement agencies, for the sake of a profit.

“The perceived atmosphere of cronyism with private vender labs at NIJ is retaliatory and “do as I say.” If state and local crime labs disagree with NIJ on DNA policy, they should not be fearful of retaliatory actions by NIJ because they expressed their expert opinions. I have expressed this sentiment before to you and the previous administration about this unethical behavior yet no concrete actions to address this injustice have occurred.

“The culture of NIJ succumbing to influence and policy suggestions by for-profit labs began almost a decade ago with NIJ employees wanting to graduate into the private sector to double and triple their salaries. Evidence quality is paramount in forensics and the highest quality work is done in government labs.

“Continual outsourcing to private labs creates a residual holding pattern. While the seemingly quick fixes of loosening DNA technical review standards and private labs having access to the DNA database sounds like a quick fix to the backlog solution, the long term results could be detrimental to the integrity of cases, the database and the welfare of victims and law enforcement. NIJ funding should be focused on building the capacity of government labs to address the current backlogs, and more importantly, to provide the government lab with the infrastructure to insure these backlogs don’t recur. NIJ should not be focused on providing a bailout or setting up a welfare system for the private DNA labs at the taxpayer’s expense.

“Lastly about DNA, I wrote a letter to the FBI director expressing concern about undue pressure being put on the FBI to change existing DNA policy, citing correspondence from private vendor labs. I am told that as recently as this week, a member of Congress mentioned multiple times by the DNA vendor in that correspondence, threatened to change the FBI’s DNA policy by legislation if the FBI didn’t do so on their own.

“Mr. Attorney General, for the sake of the integrity of the criminal justice system and the Department of Justice, it would behoove you to heed the concerns and needs state and local crime lab directors who are actual DNA experts — not members of Congress, their staff, for-profit DNA company sales executives, lobbyists, former NIJ employees, movies stars, and group advocates who have no DNA training or experience.

“The President’s FY 2011 budget fails to fund the critical needs that the Attorney General identified and requested funding for in his request to the Office of Management and Budget during the budget process.

“For example, the budget proposes over $300 million in enhancements for national security – but that amount is substantially less than the $478 million the department requested from OMB. In fact, OMB initially recommended only $173 million for national security, a mere 36 percent of the department’s request.

“When Director Mueller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified three weeks ago, he verified that the President’s FY11 budget would cut their terrorism fighting capabilities. For every new dollar proposed by the White House for the FBI to fight terrorists, six dollars of current counterterrorism fighting capability are cut.

“Additionally, the White House does not believe the assessment of its own Department of Homeland Security that terrorist use of improvised explosive devices – IEDs – remains the greatest threat to the United States. If the White House believed that assessment, it would not have proposed to cancel $99 million Congress appropriated to the FBI for the construction of necessary facilities to forensically and technically exploit IEDs and terrorist bomb-making materials.

“Terrorist use of explosive devices continues to be a key threat to the United States. In just the past few months, we have seen an attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight, a plot to blow up bombs in New York City subways, and plots to blow up federal buildings in Texas and Illinois. This past weekend alone in New York’s Time Square demonstrates terrorists’ abilities to use explosive devices in major metropolitan U.S. cities. On an almost daily basis, we read about terrorists and insurgents using improvised explosive devices to injure and kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our embassies and consulates in Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries have been targeted by terrorist bombers.

“As Director Mueller stated in a letter to you Mr. Attorney General, dated December 2, 2009:

‘The OMB recommendation does not recognize the value of biometric information gleaned from recovered and seized IEDs and related materials to the intelligence and homeland security communities. In one recent instance, a TEDAC latent print examiner enhanced and then searched a latent fingerprint initially developed by DOD examiners in theater from an IED/weapons cache and determined the individual had since been legally admitted to the United States. Previous searches of the latent print image by DOD examiners failed to associate the print with any individual. TEDAC is responsible for and uniquely positioned to provide both tactical support to the war fighter and strategic support to homeland security. Given the President’s renewed commitment to Afghanistan, it makes more sense to act to quickly to establish a permanent TEDAC facility that can serve as the hub for tactical in theater forensic and technical exploitation capacity in support of the war fighter and as a strategic homeland security resource to protect against terrorist use of explosives at home.’

“I believe the Administration is putting you, Mr. Attorney General, in a no-win situation, by having you defend their inept decision – a decision made by non-accountable bureaucrats at OMB. I know that cancelling TEDAC funding was not your decision. I also know that both you, and Director Mueller, appealed that decision, yet the Administration cut the very funding that the FBI Director said he believed was necessary to ensure that the FBI has the tools and the facilities necessary to respond to the terrorist threat this nation faces. It is clear from the request that OMB is not relying on the people who actually have to fight terrorism when it is making decisions regarding the threat this country faces.

“Today, the Quantico TEDAC is overwhelmed. For the 56,000 boxes of IEDs and materials received since 2004, 37,000 are awaiting processing. The FBI estimates that 86 percent of the backlog contains critical information like biometric intelligence, fingerprints, DNA, and so forth that would assist the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and the Federal law enforcement in identifying terrorists.

“The United States needs to prepare for this threat and the proposed rescission of these funds only tells me – and this committee – about the lack of understanding by the Administration of the terrorist threat. While the Administration may choose to look the other way combating the terrorist explosives threat, we will not.

“TEDAC would ensure that the tactical information and intelligence gained from analysis of improvised explosive devices and the biometric identification data obtained from fingerprints and DNA is shared with U.S. intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies.

“This funding would have mitigated the impacts of the TEDAC workload on the FBI laboratory – both the workload of today and for future conflicts. What we do know is that there is not enough capacity at the current laboratory facility to support both the criminal functions of the FBI lab and the TEDAC mission. As a result, turnaround times for completing examinations have grown and more and more FBI field offices are submitting evidence to state and local labs for processing.

“The FBI laboratory should have the capacity needed to support its traditional forensic mission in support of law enforcement and support TEDAC. This is not a choice of doing one or the other; both must be done.

“The TEDAC forensic capability will satisfy the needs for an enduring U.S. government capability, as well as provide a ‘surge’ capacity for the FBI laboratory in the event of a major domestic incident or crime problem.

“Finally, the TEDAC facility will also provide the FBI with a back-up forensic capability in the event the Quantico facility is ever rendered inoperable. The current FBI laboratory at Quantico is a single point of failure within the FBI; there is no current back up location to perform that critical work.

“I believe the record shows that the proposal by OMB to cancel TEDAC funding is unwise, and I think it is very ill-timed. The threat from terrorist use of explosives is significant, real, and I believe enduring.

“Unfortunately national security and terrorism are not the only areas where the President’s budget fails the Department of Justice. The Bureau of Prisons, through the Department, sought $875 million in additional funding for prisons and incarceration. The President’s budget proposes $422 million but $237 million, not requested by the Department but included in the OMB passback, was added to the Department’s budget to buy and renovate a prison in Illinois to potentially house the terrorists currently incarcerated at the perfectly functioning Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.

“Apparently, OMB believes over-paying the State of Illinois for a vacant, decade-old, facility is a higher priority than providing the FBI with the forensic and technical capabilities necessary to combat terrorist use of explosives. If ever we needed an example of misguided priorities, this ranks near the top of the list.

“The Administration would like communities to believe it is committed to eliminating gangs and gang violence, yet OMB proposed eliminating the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center and reducing the number of FBI Safe Streets task forces, DEA mobile enforcement teams, ATF violent crime impact teams, and US Marshals task forces focusing on arresting fugitives.

“At a time when drug cartels infiltrate the ranks of foreign law enforcement – thus risking joint U.S. and foreign efforts to stem the flow of drugs into our country – OMB even proposed reducing DEA’s program to vet and train foreign police officers so we have trusted partners to work with overseas. I find this unconscionable, given the current border violence in Mexico.

“Thankfully, many of these misguided OMB proposals and suggestions were successfully appealed by you Mr. Attorney General, and for that we are all grateful, but, those proposals should never have been on the table in the first place. OMB should rightfully be embarrassed to have even put them forward.

“Basically, the President’s budget request for the Department of Justice is lacking all of the critical needs that the Department identified and proposed to OMB. I believe it is important and necessary for the committee to bring those unfilled needs from out of the shadows and into the light. If we are to enact a budget that meets the Department’s critical requirements, we must be able to consider their needs outside the President’s budget. To do less would be a disservice to our constituents and to the Department.

“I will close with a further quote from the FBI Director that I believe sums up this request accurately, ‘At a time when the nation remains engaged in a long-term conflict with those who advocate the use of terror against the United States, the OMB policy guidance and funding recommendations for FY 2011 simply do not make sense. Even in a constrained budgetary environment, the administration must ensure adequate funding for one of its most basic responsibilities – that of protecting the country and its citizens from hostile attack.’

“Our role is not to rubber stamp the President’s budget – we did not do that for President Bush and we will not do that for President Obama. Given the tight budget situation we face, these budgets decisions will not be an easy task. But, I believe the committee is up to meeting that challenge and I look forward to working with you Madam Chairwoman to undo the damage done to the Department’s budget by the bureaucrats at OMB.”

This blog was created by a NYC organization https://fightchildtrafficking.wordpress.com/humantraffickingismoderndayslavery/