Choice is key

When it comes to how we use our own bodies as humans, I think it is important to keep in mind the element of choice. We have fought hard for the right to be able to choose to become mothers or not, but we find ourselves today fighting for the right to have sex on our own terms- even if those terms change every day.

When our voices are ignored or trivialized, as Ms. Farley seems wont to do in her book, “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections,” we suffer the same degradation she claims to be fighting against. She writes, on pg. 22, “I knew that they would minimize how bad it was,” and that the women she interviewed would “ignore bad things or pretended that unpleasantness will go away, or they call the degrading abuse of prostitution by another name that sounds better.”

I know many of us here are wondering why she would silence us before we even speak.

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Review of Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections

By Barbara Brents

I read Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada, Making the Connections by Melissa Farley this weekend. From the statements of others on the back cover, this report is being read as an academic study on the extent of trafficking in Nevada. However, I have to conclude that Dr. Farley must not have intended this particular report to be the main presentation of scientific research findings. She presents none of the elements contained in social scientific peer reviewed research. There is no systematic explanation of research methods, a rather unclear set of research questions, and it is difficult to generalize from the data presented here to the findings. For example, the report offers no empirical evidence to support the existence of sex trafficking in Nevada outside of that provided in newspaper articles. Instead she broadly defines trafficking as any movement of prostitutes across borders, and starts with the assumption that prostitutes do not consent. With that definition, all prostitution is trafficking.

She has conducted 45 interviews with women in legal brothels, but for the most part she discounts their comments saying, “I knew that they would minimize how bad it was” (p. 22) and “Most of our data offer a conservative perspective on the dangers of prostitution” (p. 23). She explains that her data did not fully support her conclusions for several reasons: managers were listening through devices to interviews, women are likely “ignore bad things or they pretended that unpleasantness will go away, or they call the degrading abuse of prostitution by another name that sounds better” (p. 22). Most researchers would then turn to other research methods if they determine their interviews were so flawed. The goal of scientific research is to make sure there is no evidence out there that might disprove one’s hypothesis. Instead, in the chapter on Nevada brothels, she reports findings from interviews in tables without systematically stating what the survey questions were, or how surveys were administered. And she runs regression with an N of 45. There is no statement of the sampling techniques. And for most of that chapter on brothels, she selectively uses quotes that do support her belief that prostitution is degrading while ignoring those that don’t support it.

She also relies very heavily on secondary sources to support her arguments. In a careful reading of many of her footnotes in the chapter on legal brothels, I found that she takes quotes out of context, without stating the overall conclusions of the sources. For example, of the seven of 10 or so sources that I was able to find where she drew quotes on Nevada specifically, five concluded their research with recommendations against an abolitionist approach to prostitution and with qualified support for legalization. The two who did not included a book written in the mid 1980s by a journalist and a documentary. She also draws several times on an unpublished paper written by a student at UNLV’s law school. I have not seen that paper yet.

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More on Palfrey case from WMR

http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/ 

 May 18-20, 2007 — On Wednesday night, CBS Late Night host David Letterman referred to our report about Dick Cheney being a client of the Pamela Martin & Associates escort agency in the 1990s. That earned Letterman a stinging commentary by Radar Online, a Hollywood gossip web site that leans decidedly to the neo-con right. Radar called Letterman a gap-toothed “comic.” This editor remembers other late night TV hosts — Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, and Tom Snyder. None of them were considered “comics.” They were TV variety show hosts, not “comics.”

In his monologue Letterman quipped, “Here’s a story we’re working on now. Apparently, there are rumors coming out of Washington that Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was the CEO of Halliburton, used to go visit prostitutes. This could explain why one girl was paid two billion dollars. I mean, I was thinking about this and Cheney … I mean, going to a prostitute, that’s … I mean, I can’t believe a good-looking guy like that would ever have to pay for sex, you know what I’m saying?”

Letterman on Cheney: “I can’t believe a good-looking guy like that would ever have to pay for sex, you know what I’m saying?”

Radar once had the backing of neo-con Mort Zuckerman. In something that should be of interest to Don Imus’ attorney, Radar – which does not hide its sympathy for the Bush administration, is also backed by a consortium that includes Yusef Jackson, the son of Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson, along with Al Sharpton, were the chief instigators behind Imus’ firing by CBS and MS-NBC. The current attack by Radar on Letterman appears to fit a pattern. Jackson and Sharpton have long been considered agents provocateur for certain special interests. One of Radar’s original co-financiers, Jeffrey Epstein, was charged on July 27, 2006 with solicitation of prostitution from female minors.

This editor checked out a few more Radar stories. One criticized the TV commercials directed by Oliver Stone for Moveon.org that were against George Bush’s Iraq war. Another pooh-poohed the discovery of two of Karl Rove’s emails concerning the US Attorney firings as largely unimportant.

What is unimportant is the delusional self-importance of many entertainment executives who support the neo-con Bush cause. To report that Disney-owned ABC News caved on the DC Madam story is heresy — an attack on Tinsel Town and New York megamedia and all that they represent. Some of these infotainment cockalorums make the worst politician in Washington look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms by comparison.

Yesterday, Radar referred to this editor as a “weird and lonely” blogger.  Anytime anyone in the neo-con corporate media executive office suites (and they know who they are) wants to compare life styles on the weirdness meter, I stand ready. By the way, when I’m lonely I don’t have to resort to calling escorts or engage in phone sex. And as far as the name calling is concerned, when all Cheney’s friends can do is muster up Gopher from the “Love Boat” and an on-line gossip column to throw stones, its merely a question of “mind over matter” — I don’t mind and they don’t matter.

It is interesting how the right-wing corporate media is now treating the DC Madam story. After attempting to have ABC News put a lid on the story, the Cheney revelations have caused the media barons to relegate the matter to the gossip sector. However, this tactic is not working. As anyone familiar with national security knows, there are two signs that someone is a security risk: sudden and inexplicable affluence or a radical change in demeanor and personality stemming from blackmail. Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft have both said that the Dick Cheney of today is not the same person they knew as Secretary of Defense. Cheney’s reported dalliances during his time at Halliburton and his radical personality change call for a full national security investigation. If a foreign power or foreign interests had access to Cheney’s phone records from the 1990s — and many foreign intelligence agencies would have been interested in communications in the neighborhood of the CIA where Cheney lived — there is a distinct possibility that blackmail is behind Cheney’s push for the war in Iraq. The right-wing focused on Bill Clinton’s comments to Monica Lewinsky during one of their conversations that he had been warned that a “foreign power” could be listening to his conversations. What was good for Clinton then should be good for Cheney now.

Thanks go to David Letterman for keeping this important story in the public eye. Note to Cheney and company: attempts to have a “work up” or “work over” done to this editor, whether from Washington or London, will surely fail as much as the Bush-Cheney administration has failed. Call off your dogs, Mr. Cheney.

May 17, 2007 — Conflicts of interest in DC Madam case. On Tuesday, May 15, this editor submitted a question to be asked of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the National Press Club breakfast. The question, which, like others, are screened in advance, was never asked. Part of the reason is that as far as most of Washington’s corporate-bought Fourth Estate is concerned, the DC Madam story was put to rest by ABC’s 20/20 and nothing further needs to be reported on the story.

The question that was to be posed to Gonzales was: “Do you believe a Special Counsel is necessary in the DC Madam case since a number of Justice Department officials and other federal law enforcement officers, including those involved in prosecuting the case against the “DC Madam,” are also clients of her sexual fantasy entertainment firm, Pamela Martin & Associates?”

WMR has learned that on the phone list suppressed from further release by US Judge Gladys Kessler are the names of scores of Justice Department prosecutors, Drug Enforcement Administration and Secret Service agents, Internal Revenue Service officers, and US Postal Inspection Service officials, including one involved in ordering the seizure of Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s assets. These names are in addition to a number of mostly Republican politicians, staffers, and political appointees, including Vice President Dick Cheney while he was President and CEO of Halliburton in the 1990s.

And why is the Fourth Estate so nervous about pursuing the DC Madam story? It also turns out that among the clients of Pamela Martin & Associates are a number of journalists for top Washington news media organizations, including — ABC News — which spiked the story and said there is no one “newsworthy” on the phone lists it obtained.

WMR also wants to thank the Randi Rhodes and Stephanie Miller shows for helping to keep this story alive. Hear the editor at http://www.randirhodesarchives.com/ . Click on hour 3, Friday, May 11, 2007. Thanks also to go Mike Malloy for his encouraging words about WMR.

No party left untouched:

May 16, 2007 — Part of the focus on the johns in the DC Madam case, an overwhelming majority of whom are Republican political appointees and office holders,  is on particular office and residential areas of McLean and Alexandria, Virginia, in addition to K, H, and Eye Street lobbying and law offices in downtown Washington, DC. The net may also ensnare two 2008 GOP presidential candidates, one declared and the other, as yet, undeclared. WMR has also learned that some of the clients arranged their own direct communications with Pamela Martin & Associates employees. Some requests by clients fell into the category of aberrant sex, including bizarre requests for urination, defecation, sado-masochism, and acts of sodomy by certain clients, some of whom have significant political profiles in Washington. These requests did not technically run afoul of prostitution laws which are based on vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by the client.

It is also noteworthy that according to one page of Pamela Martin & Associates August 1996 phone records previously released, the phone number of Pentagon City’s Ritz Carlton hotel, 703 415 5000, appears once on August 18 and twice on August 20, 1996, around a week before the Democratic National Convention when it was revealed that current GOP political adviser Dick Morris was engaged in toe sucking with prostitute Sherry Rowlands. In the June 26, 1995 issue of Time, it was reported that Morris often registered at the Ritz Carlton under an alias when he was visiting Washington from Connecticut. Morris was then the chief campaign adviser to President Bill Clinton and the revelation of his toe sucking antics with Rowlands during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago severely embarrassed the president. The Star tabloid featured a photo of Morris and Rowland embracing on a balcony of the Jefferson Hotel, four blocks north of the White House on 16th Street.

Morris also was only reachable on his pager during his stays in Washington, according to Time. Several calls of a very short duration on the page of DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s phone list from August 1996 appear to be calls to pagers in the Washington-Baltimore area.

Press reports have named Morris as a Pamela Martin client. Morris knew Clinton since his the Arkansan’s run for governor of Arkansas in 1978. Morris also provided campaign consulting to North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, both Republicans. The criticism of WMR’s investigation of the DC Madam’s client list from certain quarters, including pro-Hillary Clinton Democratic Leadership Council-linked blogs, likely has much to do with the fact that Morris was a confidante of President Clinton during some of his reported liaisons with Pamela Martin employees.

Cheney on Palfrey’s list? Juicy!

A little bird sent me a link to a fabulous page with juicy bits on the DC madam case.
http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

Here are a few quotes:

May 15, 2007 — WMR has learned that the circle of customers in the DC Madam case extends far beyond the customers of Pamela Martin and Associates identifiable from phone lists. Further dissemination of the phone lists has been blocked by US District Judge for DC Gladys Kessler. A number of the escorts of Pamela Martin were invited to “parties” in the Washington DC area, some of which were attended by noted Washington politicians and other VIPs.

The Bush administration and its allies have also attempted to seed disinformation that the phone list consists of Republicans and Democrats. WMR has also learned that the customers of Pamela Martin, extending back to 1993, were overwhelmingly Republicans, particularly Republican congressional members and staff members who were behind the multiple congressional investigations and the ultimate impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

Although ABC News concluded there was nothing “newsworthy” from the phone records it obtained, several Washington- and New York-based corporate media entities, including newspapers, magazines, and networks are actively pursuing various leads in the case, many of which have been previously reported by WMR. We are also actively pursuing several leads in the burgeoning scandal.”

“May 14, 2007 — WMR has received additional credible information on the patronage of Vice President Dick Cheney, while he was President and CEO of Halliburton in the mid to late 1990s, of the DC Madam’s escort service. We can also report that Cheney’s involvement in the DC Madam saga has now attracted the attention of the so-called “mainstream media.””

“May 14, 2007 — UPDATEDHookergate involves fired US Attorney. US District Judge for the District of Columbia Gladys Kessler, a Clinton appointee, has re-issued an order prohibiting DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey from releasing any more phone lists of her Pamela Martin & Associates customers. Secrecy of the phone records has been a priority for DC Assistant US Attorney William Cowden. Palfrey released the last four years of ten years of customer phone records to ABC’s “20/20” before Kessler’s March order prohibiting such a release took effect. As WMR reported, ABC and Disney, under pressure from the Bush White House, killed the story and stated that there were no “newsworthy” names on the Madam’s list. Six years of phone records, including those involving mid to late 1990s calls to and from individuals who would become top officials of the Bush administration, were not in the hands of ABC News. WMR has been informed by three well-placed sources that Vice President Dick Cheney, while a part-time resident of McLean, Virginia and while serving as Dallas-based Halliburton’s CEO, was a customer of the DC Madam.

The focus on the DC Hookergate story has now moved to Baltimore, and the firing by the Justice Department in December 2004 of the US Attorney for Maryland, Thomas DiBiagio. DiBiagio was fired, along with a number of other US attorneys, after George W. Bush’s re-election for political reasons. One of DiBiagio’s public corruption targets was the staff of then-Republican Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, some of whom had engaged the services of Madam Palfrey’s escorts. The US Attorney’s office in Baltimore first became involved in the investigation of the prostitution ring after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office and IRS agent Troy Burrus in Baltimore made a criminal referral to the US Attorney’s office in Baltimore. Subsequently, an asset seizure warrant for Palfrey’s assets was issued. Palfrey and her employees used two telephones in Maryland for their escort business, 301 231-5800 in Rockville, near some of the “mansions” in Potomac, Maryland and Great Falls, Virginia described by “20/20” as the locations in DC where Pamela Martin escorts would pay calls, and 410 244-1818 in Baltimore.

After Ehrlich complained to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the aggressiveness of DiBiagio, the Baltimore-based US Attorney was placed on the firing list in the wake of the 2004 election. David Margolis, an Associate Deputy Attorney General, claimed he did not know about any investigations of Ehrlich’s staff by DiBiagio when he informed the number one Justice Department official in Baltimore that the Justice Department had lost confidence in his abilities.

DiBiagio had already witnessed the brutal murder of his Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Luna in December 2003. A husband and father of two, Luna had departed in his vehicle, strangely leaving his cell phone on his desk at his office, and drove a circuitous route through Delaware, New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania before he was found in a creek near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Denver, PA stabbed to death 36 times, supposedly with his own pen knife. Federal authorities leaned toward a suicide but local investigators treated the death as a homicide. In 2004, DiBiagio claimed he was being pressured to stop his investigation of Ehrlich’s staff for links to gambling (particularly the gambling interests of jailed Maryland/DC GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff), prostitution, and other corruption and filed a threat report with the FBI. The Washington Post and Washington Times then reported that Luna was fearful that DiBiagio was going to fire him, which led to Luna’s “suicide.” It is a charge DiBiagio strongly denied. DiBiagio told the New York Times that the pressure from Ehrlich’s office and the Justice Department served “to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations.” Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin has asked for an investigation of DiBiagio’s firing.

Luna’s death on December 4, 2003 was followed a few days later, on December 10, 2003, by the indictment of Ed Norris, Baltimore Police Commissioner (and later Maryland State Police Superintendent under Governor Bob Ehrlich), for using his Baltimore Police Executive Protective Unit (EPU) to ferry prostitutes to various locations, including posh Baltimore and New York City hotels, including the Baltimore Hyatt. As Maryland State Police Superintendent, Norris was in charge of the Maryland State Police’s Executive Protection Service, which provides security for the Governor in Annapolis. It is noteworthy that one of Palfrey’s employees was identified as a Navy Lieutenant Commander instructor at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Like Palfrey, Norris also came under investigation for tax evasion by the Baltimore IRS office. ABC’s 20/20 reported that Madam Palfrey’s escorts were also driven to expensive Washington hotels, including the Hay-Adams. Palfrey, in an interview with Smoking Gun, agreed that it would not be a surprise if some of her escorts were linked to the case of jailed California Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, Mitchell Wade’s MZM, Inc., and Shirlington Limousine. The limousine service was, according to investigators, involved in transporting escorts to the Watergate and Capitol Hill’s Westin Grand Hotel for “poker parties” with top Republican congressmen and CIA officials. There are also interesting links between Norris and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Both served together as New York Police Department officers. Luna worked in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office during the time that Kerik first came under a probe by the Brooklyn DA in the late 1990s. Ksrik was tapped to become Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary before it was discovered he had hired a nanny who was an illegal immigrant. Kerik is currently under a federal probe and reportedly faces an imminent indictment. The New York Daily News reported that Kerik commandeered a condominium overlooking the World Trade Center’s “Ground Zero” to carry on extramarital trysts during recovery operations.

Hookergate expands: Cheney (l.), fired US Attorney Thomas DiBiagio (c.), who charged he was fired because of pressure from DOJ and Maryland GOP Governor, and Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (r.), whose staff was linked to a prostitution ring.

The murder of Luna and the firing of DiBiagio eliminated the threat that the well-heeled customers of the DC/Baltimore prostitution ring, many of them GOP stalwarts, would be exposed prior to the December 2004 presidential election. The attempt by Justice prosecutors and Judge Kessler to limit the criminal case to Palfrey continues the effort to punish the DC Madam and her employees and divert attention away from the customers. In May 2004, at the same time Norris and his chief of staff agreed to a plea deal in the prostitution case and received light sentences, Palfrey came under intense federal investigation. Palfrey claims that she is being scapegoated by the very same people who were her customers.

This past January, after being exposed by the media as running an escort, Brandy Britton, a PhD and former Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus was found hanging in her home in Ellicott City, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Britton’s home had been foreclosed after she was charged with running a prostitution service using the name “Alexis” and has since been identified from Palfrey’s phone lists as one of the Pamela Martin & Associates escorts. Palfrey used the name “Julia.” The Bush administration, clearly concerned about a sex scandal that will bring down more than just former Assistant Secretary of State Randall Tobias, is hoping to keep the focus on “Julia” and her employees, and not on “Backseat.”

For more info on Baltimore connection to the DC Madam case: http://www.yardbird.com/luna.htm

“May 11, 2007 — Cheney report blowback. As an example of what occurs in Washington when someone goes after the hypocrisy of the Bush administration and the lickspittles in the so-called “main stream media,” this editor was the subject of a verbal barrage this past week on WMAL-AM’s morning drive radio show. Apparently, the ABC-owned radio station did not like our report that Disney/ABC, under pressure from the White House, killed the DC Madam’s list story. The two morning radio hosts also did not like our report that Vice President Dick Cheney is on the list from his time as a part-time resident of McLean, Virginia while he was President and CEO of Halliburton.

WMAL has gone from a relatively apolitical station to a propaganda outlet for right-wing radio blatherers, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Paul Harvey, and Mark Levin, and the two morning guys, “Grandy and Andy,” who did not like our story about Cheney and the Madam.

On the Grandy and Andy web site this morning, the following “case closed” story is posted about the DC Madam’s list: “DC Madam: “There will be no more lists of records from a woman accused of running a Washington DC prostitution ring. A federal judge has barred Deborah Palfrey from releasing any more phone records that could implicate former customers. Palfrey says there was no sex involved and hers was a legitimate escort business.”

The WMAL morning slot was once filled by two hosts who pushed no political agenda: Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver. Weaver was the non-political voice of the National Park Service’s “Smokey the Bear” and cautioned park visitors, “only you can prevent forest fires.” These days, WMAL’s right-wing pontificators figure out ways to put out fires that threaten their corrupt heroes in the Bush administration.

And who are “Grandy and Andy,” who claimed this editor is not a “real journalist” and how do they have so much political insight? Well, Grandy is former Iowa Republican Representative Fred Grandy who many people remember as “Gopher” on “The Love Boat.” Andy is Andy Parks, the former WMAL helicopter traffic reporter who once regularly reported on tie ups from the Beltway to Gude Drive and Braddock Road to Indian Head Highway.”

Gopher (r.) panned our report on Dick Cheney and the Madam. [Click on Gopher if you want instant nausea]. Halliburton has a chopper pilot opening for Andy.

May 8, 2007 — Cheney on DC Madam’s list. Yesterday, WMR reported on the DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s list: “WMR has been informed that the CEO of a major corporation is a former CEO but, nonetheless, the aforementioned extremely high-level official of the Bush administration. The individual, who is definitely “newsworthy,” reportedly engaged the services of Palfrey’s escort firm while he was the CEO and maintained a residence off Chain Bridge Road in the Ballantrae neighborhood in McLean, Virginia, a few blocks from the headquarters of the CIA.”

Cheney “X’d” off the DC Madam’s list by ABC/Disney.

WMR has confirmed with extremely knowledgeable CIA and Pentagon sources that the former CEO who is on Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s list is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton during the time of his liaisons with the Pamela Martin & Associates escort firm. Palfrey’s phone invoices extend back to 1996 and include calls to and from Cheney. Ironically, in 2000 Cheney was appointed by Bush to head his Vice President selection committee, a task that enabled Cheney to gather detailed personal files on a number of potential candidates, including Bill Frist, George Pataki, John Danforth, Fred Thompson, Chuck Hagel, John Kasich, Chris Cox, Frank Keating, Tom Ridge, Colin Powell, and Jim Gilmore, before he selected himself as the vice presidential candidate.

The White House saw to it that ABC/Disney killed the DC Madam’s story before yet another scandal swamped the Bush administration. Cheney is departing Washington today for a trip to the Middle East, where he will visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the USS John C. Stennis in the Gulf.”

May 7, 2007 — On May 4, WMR reported on DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s client list and Friday night’s ABC 20/20 report on it: “ABC News has reportedly scaled down the number of clients who we be outed, possibly as a result of pressure from some of the clients’ attorneys.”  ABC caved to intense political pressure from the White House, Palfrey’s clients’ attorneys, and members of Congress and their staffs not to air any additional names from the list. It merely recycled the story about two individuals already named, recently-resigned US Agency for International Development chief Randall Tobias and Pentagon “Shock and Awe” originator Harlan K. Ullman.

ABC’s chief investigative reporter Brian Ross saw his story spiked by senior ABC News executives under pressure from Disney Chairman George Mitchell and CEO Bob Iger, as well as White House officials, including Karl Rove.  Anticipating that the DC Madam scandal would name additional Bush administration officials, including what WMR was told is an extremely high-level official in the White House, the Bush administration went to “General Quarters” and sought to kill the story. After reporting that Palfrey’s list contained a senior official at the World Bank, the head of an Air Force Intelligence squadron, the CEO of a major corporation, a White House economist (later said to be an official at the Office of Thrift Supervision across the street from the White House), and the head of a neo-con think tank, Ross said none of the names on Palfrey’s list were “newsworthy.” WMR has been informed that the CEO of a major corporation is a former CEO but, nonetheless, the aforementioned extremely high-level official of the Bush administration. The individual, who is definitely “newsworthy,” reportedly engaged the services of Palfrey’s escort firm while he was the CEO and maintained a residence off Chain Bridge Road in the Ballantrae neighborhood in McLean, Virginia, a few blocks from the headquarters of the CIA. A number of phone calls on Palfrey’ s phone bills are said to have originated from the Ballantrae area of McLean during the time of the CEO’s liaison with the Pamela Martin & Associates escort.

There is now an attempt to shift focus by some neo-con journalists in Washington away from the former CEO to officials of the Clinton administration who were also reportedly Palfrey clients. The White House spin machine is also a work. This editor noticed the top-level White House official was seated conspicuously next to his wife in the back seat of a Secret Service Crown Victoria executive black sedan minus the hallmark tinted windows but with the standard accompanying Secret Service motorcade vehicles traveling east on New York Avenue Thursday evening. In other words, the White House wanted pedestrians along H Street and New York Avenue to see this individual sitting with his wife in the vehicle, something unusual in the post-9/11 era.

ABC/Disney caved on Hookergate as many seasoned observers predicted. Ross has a history of having sensitive stories spiked. In 1998, his four month investigation on pedophiles being hired at Disney theme parks, including a puppet salesman at Disney World, was spiked on the direct orders of then-ABC CEO Michael Eisner.

The Washington elite began to push back in force on the Palfrey story during the middle of last week. The Washington Post started the push back with its hit piece on Montgomery Blair Sibley, Palfrey’s attorney.

A U.S. government source told WMR that he believes there is a definite link between Palfrey’s Pamela Martin & Associates and the Duke Cunningham/Dusty Foggo-connected Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Services, under federal investigation for allegedly helping to arrange for prostitutes to attend CIA contractor-arranged poker parties at the Watergate and Capitol Hill’s Westin Grand Hotel. Unlike its role during the Watergate scandal, the Post is part of the criminal conspiracy to cover up “Hookergate.” A public health nurse told WMR that it is irresponsible and a public health menace not to report cases of contacts with prostitutes in Washington, DC to public health authorities. The reason: With 152.2 AIDS cases per 100,000 people, Washington, DC has the highest AIDS rate in the United States.”

Prostitutes and Politics

Why is it still illegal to pay for sex?

The resignation of Randall Tobias, the chief of the Bush administration’s foreign aid programs, for “personal reasons” following the revelation that he had engaged the services of two escort-service workers has provided rich grist for amusement on the punditry circuit. There was indeed plenty of material for humor in the situation, from Tobias’s strong stand in favor of abstinence teaching in AIDS prevention programs to his “I didn’t inhale”-style assertion that he never had sex with the women. But the predictable laughs have obscured a much larger issue than hypocrisy in the ranks of social conservatives. The reason Tobias’s call-girl adventures became public is that the owner of the Washington, DC-based service, Pamela Martin, is facing prosecution and has turned her records over to news organizations to help pay for her legal defense.

Even those who feel a certain schadenfreude at Tobias’s downfall should be asking the question: should there have been a criminal case in the first place?

Prostitution is currently legal in virtually all developed nations, though often surrounded by restrictions and regulations. It is illegal everywhere in the United States except Nevada and, by a legal quirk, in Rhode Island if all transactions are conducted in a private residence.

Yet prostitution is perhaps the ultimate victimless crime: a consensual transaction in which both parties are supposedly committing a crime, and the person most likely to be charged—the one selling sex—is also the one most likely to be viewed as the victim. (A bizarre inversion of this situation occurs in Sweden, where, as a result of feminist pressure to treat prostitutes as victims, it is now a crime to pay for sex but not to offer it for sale.) It is sometimes claimed that the true victims of prostitution are the johns’ wives. But surely women whose husbands are involved in noncommercial—and sometimes quite expensive—extramarital affairs are no less victimized.

Another common claim is that prostitution causes direct harm by contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. However, that may be the reddest herring of them all. In Australia, where sex for money is legal, the rate of HIV infection among female prostitutes is so low that prostitution has been removed from the list of known risk factors in HIV surveillance. In the U.S., reliable data are more difficult to come by, but a 1987 Centers for Disease Control study likewise found very low infection rates among prostitutes.

It’s the criminalization of prostitution that does take actual victims. Take Brandy Britton, briefly notorious as “Madam Professor.” In January 2001 the 41-year old Britton, who had taught sociology and anthropology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County until quitting in 1999 amidst conflicts with colleagues and allegations of falsifying research, was arrested on prostitution charges. Britton had allegedly advertised on the Internet as “Alexis Angel,” “a very passionate full-service, GFE (girl friend experience) escort and erotic masseuse,” stressing her intelligence and education and charging from $300 an hour to $2,500 a day for her services. A year later, the week before her scheduled trial, Britton committed suicide.

While Britton may not have led an admirable life—her last occupation aside, her academic career seems to have been undone by professional misconduct and a habit of making unsubstantiated sex-discrimination charges—surely her death was a needless tragedy. It’s hard to see who benefited from the fact that the authorities in Maryland spent a lot of taxpayer money to investigate and prosecute a woman for discreet and private sexual encounters with men—encounters that would have been perfectly legal if, instead of directly paying her for sex, those men had spent an equivalent amount on dates and gifts.

As with other victimless crimes, the criminalization of prostitution creates a vast breeding ground for corruption, hypocrisy, and morally dubious law enforcement tactics. Thus, open advertisement of escort services is widely tolerated under the flimsy pretext that clients are paying for companionship, “modeling,” “role play” and other non-sexual activities, and that when sex occurs it’s by mutual choice unrelated to any fees. Selective enforcement is the norm, as is entrapment. Anti-prostitution campaigns are also frequently accompanied by the Big Brother-ish practice of state-sponsored public shaming. Not to mention how black market constitution makes it more difficult to police the sex slave trade, where the prostitutes really are victims.

Unlike some defenders of prostitution such as “Mayflower Madam” Sydney Biddle Barrows, I do not believe that selling sex should ever be seen as an empowering or liberating way of life, or an affirmation of female sexuality. (If anything, it perpetuates the notion that sex is something women do for male enjoyment.) I do not believe, as sex-positive feminist Susie Bright has written, that “sex-work professionals are [among] the future’s largest contingents of the new het-sex liberation front.” Nor do I think that disapproval of sex for profit invariably stems from a residual notion that sex is bad, or that “sex work” should be destigmatized as just another career. But there is a vast difference between social stigma and criminal prosecution, between personal moral judgment and the nanny state.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor to reason.

More commentary- pay attention, 007!

More from my lawyer friend:

On the surface the fed’s case against Ms. Palfrey mirrors in many ways another federal prosecution in Louisiana back in the 1990s. The escort service owner, Sylvia Landry, was charged with running an interstate prostitution ring and transporting women, including minors, across state lines to engage in prostitution. Rumor had it that she got caught in the middle of a political corruption investigation of the governor’s office, and the feds hoped to squeeze her into rolling over on some highly placed politicians. She refused to do so, went to trial, was convicted, and received a six year jail sentence. She committed suicide in custody, without ever giving up her client list. The U.S. Attorney (a Clinton appointee), who brought the full weight of the federal government down on her, ended up with egg on his face. Here’s the story:

“Baton Rouge sits in the heart of Cajun country and is also the centre of state politics. Louisiana politicians are notorious for not letting work get in the way of a good time.

In 1992, Sylvia Landry opened three escort services: Dial-a-Date, Cosmopolitan and Charlie’s Angels. As her client list expanded, Landry’s reputation gained her notoriety and attention in the Bayou state. By 1994, she was earning half a million dollars a year in net profits, with her client list rumoured to reach as high up as the Governor’s mansion and perhaps even as far as Washington, DC.

Within two years, Landry’s high-profile business ventures landed her in jail. She was arrested and charged with pandering and enticing women into prostitution, including the transportation of minors over state lines for these purposes. But Sylvia Landry was confident that her high-profile clients would pull the necessary strings to keep her out of jail.

Under pressure from authorities, a few of Landry’s girls testified against her and her antagonistic attitude certainly didn’t help matters. Through it all, Landry refused to turn over her client list. Some in Baton Rouge admired her defiance whilst others pushed for a local ordinance banning escort services. The case seemed to rip the city down the middle.

Landry was convicted on all counts and sentenced to six years in federal prison. She pleaded no contest to the state charges and was sent to serve her sentence in Texas. However, she escaped as soon as she arrived at the federal pen in Bryan, Texas. Three days later, Landry was apprehended less than three miles from the prison.

Whilst waiting for the transfer of Landry to a maximum security facility in Kansas, authorities found the Baton Rouge Madame dead in her jail cell, hanging from a homemade noose fashioned out of a bed sheet and attached to the smoke detector fixture in her cell.

Landry’s death was officially ruled a suicide, but around Baton Rouge, many people thought she had been murdered at the behest of some of her more powerful clients. As none of her employees or her clients were ever prosecuted, many Baton Rouge residents still claim that Sylvia Landry was the only victim in an otherwise victimless crime.”

Commentary on the Palfrey case and some parallels

These come from a community I belong to, and are written by a lawyer (posted with permission):

“As for agencies charged with money laundering, there’s N.Y. Confidential (Jason Itzler/Paul Bergrin), American Beauties (Jenny Paulino), Julie’s (Julie Moya), NY Elites (Elena Trotchenkova et al), Exclusively Yours (Barbara Eileen Tanner), Jeanette Maier…those are just a few.”

This list is interesting. The first three escort agency cases on the list were prosecuted under state law by the Manhatten District Attorney’s office. The third case, NY Elites, was a federal case investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, targeting immigrants and potential trafficking. I found a news article, in which the feds admitted this case was unique for them:

” Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said in court records this was their first-ever case under the law barring interstate prostitution that does not involve trafficking, the mob or tax evasion. But they denied it was a case of selective prosecution.”

The last two on the list were also federal. Exclusively Yours was a Virginia case, but my brief search didn’t turn up much about it. The last case you listed, Janette Maier, brought back some old memories. That was the case of the New Orleans madam who, along with her mother, ran a brothel in a residential neighborhood. It was shut down in the early 2000s when the FBI raided the place. The feds tried to make a serious racketeering and money laundering case, but they failed miserably. At the end of the day, Ms. Maier pleaded guilty to one minor count of money laundering, involving a $695 rent check. The federal judge, Ivan Lemelle, was plainly less than pleased with the government’s choices on how best to allocate their resources, particularly after 9/11. This is from a news account describing the sentencing:

“Then it is the judge’s big moment. He speaks slowly, seeming to choose his words with care. He mentions that these charges should have been brought in local courts, but were not. He also mentions that no charges have been brought against those johns ‘who have kept this business active.’
The sentence comes out like this: Jeanette Maier will report on May 19 to a VOA halfway house for a six-month sentence and pay a $10,000 fine, interest waived. In 49 minutes, the People of the United States are finished with Jeanette Maier. Or at least those people who matter in these matters. … “

Even more interesting is the debate that the case, and Ms. Maier’s secret list of well connected clients, spawned in New Orleans. The press came down hard on the feds for waisting their resources, particularly after the U.S. Attorney said that federal laws didn’t permit prosecution of the johns. Many local politicians and people in the legal community began seriously debating whether prostitution should be legalized and whether it made sense to put the women behind bars and not touch the well healed, well connected clients.

This is an excerpt from another local news account of the case:

“A mere seven months after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, armed with evidence from months of court approved telephone wire taps, a team of FBI agents answered the tourists question by storming a two-story Victorian house on the 4300 block of Canal Street, just up the road from the French Quarter in Mid-City.

They busted Jeanette Maier, 43, and her mother, Tommie Taylor, 62, for conspiracy to run a prostitution ring operating across state lines. In the raid, they seized the booking and billing records containing the names of hundreds of clients, some of them prominent and married.

Both women admitted running a high-priced brothel using prostitutes who worked for $200 to $300 an hour using women who traveled a national prostitution circuit from New York to Boston, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. And they both agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, even if that meant naming names, according to attorney Vinny Mosca, who represents Ms. Maier and Ms. Taylor.

“My clients have an agreement with the government to cooperate,” Mr. Mosca said. “If agents of the government debrief them, they will give truthful answers to any questions asked.”

According to telephone wiretap record summaries, the names that could come out if there is a trial in the future include cops, at least one judge, a telecommunications mogul, a former head of the prestigious Mardi Gras society Rex, a partner in a prominent law firm, a member of one of the city’s leading restaurant families, an executive with a large chemical company, bankers, stockbrokers, oil-field workers and a former professional football star.

The FBI got the green light to investigate goings on in the two-story, white-columned Victorian house by claiming a link to drug dealing and organized crime. Up to 10 agents worked on the case.

Apparently not enough evidence turned up to make a major racketeering case, however, so the federal indictments only included one minor marijuana charge against Loretta Mims, a 62-year-old New Orleans woman, who pleaded guilty May 8.

Ms. Taylor pleaded guilty to one minor count of money laundering, admitting she used profits from prostitution to write a $695 rent check. Prosecutors dropped five counts of money laundering and a marijuana conspiracy charge against the women in a plea bargain agreement, in exchange for their cooperation.

The prospect of the names coming out has some of the well-heeled in town a bit worried. Not all of the defendants have entered guilty pleas — including some of the 10 suspected prostitutes in other cities — which is why a trial is still a possibility in August. The booking and billing information could then be used as evidence and become part of the public trial record.

Sentencing for Ms. Maier, the madam, and Ms. Tayler, who helped run the business, is scheduled for August 28.

The case presents a puzzle for the local legal community, especially since acting U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said that there is no federal statute dealing with the customers when he announced the indictment in April.

“It demonstrates the lack of priorities on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department,” Arthur A. “Buddy” Lemann III, one of the most experienced of the city’s criminal defense lawyers, said in an interview. “It’s a waste of time and money to spend all these federal resources to investigate a couple of ladies of the night. To make a federal offense out of it is like using an elephant gun to kill a fly.”

They say prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, but suicide bombers are the newest national security threat and the top priority of the Bush administration. So some people, even in Washington, D.C., wonder what the FBI was doing investigating a brothel with so many agents for so many months prior to and since Sept. 11.

“If the FBI can spend resources investigating whether there is prostitution in New Orleans, they ought to be able to find the resources to investigate what happened in this country prior to 9/11,” Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said in a news conference last week.

The issue made the national television talk shows, and even James Gill, a columnist with the Times-Picayune newspaper here, took the FBI and Justice Department to task.

“The feds might have failed to anticipate the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and ignored anti-American tirades from Arabs enrolled in our flight schools, but a handful of prostitutes would be relentlessly pursued,” Mr. Gill wrote.

Ken Kaiser, special agent in charge of the New Orleans FBI office, said the backlash is frustrating. The brothel investigation was a good one, he told the Times-Picayune newspaper, and is an example of the FBI doing its job of being a domestic watchdog.

“To say this was a tremendous waste of FBI resources,” I deny it,” he said.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick turned down an invitation in the form of a letter from Mr. Letten to review evidence in the case for a possible state prosecution.

“This is their case, and I don’t know why they would want to give it to us,” Connick told the Times-Picayune. “They spent so much time and money on it already. They could certainly include the customers as principals.”

Mr. Letten maintains there is no federal statute to deal with “johns,” and that any prosecution of customers would have to be pursued in state court.

Mr Lemann said the case is like a hot political potato Mr. Connick declined to catch. He said there is no guarantee the list of clients, in the form of booking and billing records seized from the Canal Street brothel by the FBI, will ever come out.

Local sentiment is there are too many rich and powerful people named in the records for the list to ever be made public.

“I don’t think the list will ever come out,” said real estate developer Bobbie Monroe, an Old Absinthe House regular on Fridays.

Some think the case should open a debate about an issue that has lingered just beneath the surface of propriety here since cops ran prostitution out of the red light district on Bourbon Street in the 1950s and ’60s: Should prostitution be legalized? “

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