Friday, May 29, 2015

An Open Letter to My Youngest Son....on His Birthday

My Son – today is a special day – the day you leave the moniker “kid” behind you…and enter adulthood…for you are now 21…and with that comes more responsibility…more challenges and yes…even more expectations…but I know you have what it takes to succeed in this world…and I know you will do great things. You came into our lives on warm day in May, 1994…and you changed us forever. 
I have been sitting…thinking about this day for quite some time. Turning 21 is a “rite of passage” – a simple step from being known as that “young boy” to becoming a man…and I remember everything you have done so far…and look forward, with great anticipation, to what you will do here in the future. 
I remember the day you were born…and how you would fall asleep in my arms on the rocking chair…only to wake if I even tried to put you down…and how the simple act of singing to you would bring that smile to your face. How I would lift you out of your crib and you would hold me tightly…never wanting me to let you go…and I remember you sitting with Nan as she taught you and Jake how to crochet...
I remember placing you on the motorcycle sitting in front of me while you held the handlebars and we rode off through the streets of Ft. Bragg. How our dogs Renegade and Ranger welcomed you as a baby to the family and kept you company as you grew. I remember your first 4-wheeler; your first hockey game and how I would have to tie your skates before each and every practice. I remember how you proclaimed that you no longer went to a barber for haircuts…”Dad…we go to a stylist!” 
I remember teaching you how to drive a stick shift in Stafford and all the times you drove in my lap around town. How you and Jake would always fight about who sat up front with Dad in the truck. I remember you packed yourself in my suitcase when I was going overseas hoping I would take you with me…but really not wanting me to leave. I remember you and your brother running me off the road at the go-kart track in New Hampshire…and laughing when you drove away. I remember coaching your soccer team in Monterey and teaching you how to skate in North Carolina…and I remember your first goal as part of our undefeated championship team.
I remember with great clarity…all the ski trips; your first chair ride to the top of the Gunstock Mountain and your “one piece” ski suit! I remember your first time snowboarding and how quickly you took to it and how impressed I am every time we are on the mountain now. I look back on early morning hockey practice; your first car; the fun times at Holy Cross and the Colonial Forge days. I remember the day you asked to attend motorcycle safety class…and then watching you drive away on your first bike. I remember you asking me for money...and after I said yes you proclaiming…”Father this act of kindness shall not go unnoticed” 
I remember coming around the corner...and you being there...at mile 49 of 50 in the JFK Ultra-marathon...and you running that last mile of the race with me...
I was never more proud of you when you called me and told me that you had earned your Eagle Scout Badge…and that you wanted to keep it low key…no ceremony to mark the accomplishment…just the knowledge and understanding that this…was something very special…
I remember watching you with animals and remarking how proud I was at your compassion in how you handled them…and the maturity you showed in meeting new people as you moved through your teen years. I remember the travels; the people whose lives you touched…and how they touched yours...
And I will always remember…when I was sick…and you held my hand…and you cried with me…
Over the past several weeks, I have been looking back at the life (to date) that has been Ian Patrick Hayes. As a father I could not have asked for more; you are a shining example of what is good in the world and you have so much to look forward to. Your many athletic and civil achievements to date are a great starting point for you in preparation for military service and I – for one – know how well you will do in this endeavor. 
In the world we live you either “have it” or you do not…and you have “it” Ian – and now, it’s time to use it.
As I pen this note to you Ian, I have a tear in my eye – not out of sadness...but out of love and admiration for the man you have become. You have provided so much to so many over the past 21 years and yet…as you celebrate this day…I think back to the times when you would hold my hand in the mall or sit in my lap while we drove the car down the road…and I miss that young boy…who on this day in 2015…became a man.
Happy Birthday Ian – you have work to do my son…now get to it!
Love - Dad

Friday, November 9, 2012

IT IS A JEEP...IT HAS NO FEELINGS!
Good Morning – several years ago there was an IKEA commercial that showed – of all things – a lamp being discarded in the trash. Many of you watched in disbelief as the commercial moved from sunshine and rain and the “little lamp” was left on the street corner to wait with the rest of the garbage. Reality struck when the spokesperson from IKEA stated…”it is only a lamp…it has no feelings” and we were all bought back to reality. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBqhIVyfsRg)
This morning I had my own “it has no feelings” moment as I have just sold my youngest son’s Jeep…and I will admit…I did so with a heavy heart!

I grew up learning how to drive on an old 53 Jeep my father had in the back yard. I can’t remember how I got it started but did and managed to drive right through the hedge row that separated my grandparents’ home from the neighbors. It was thrilling and scary all at that the same time. From that point on…I was hooked. Virtually every posting and city that I have lived in I have had a Jeep…but none meant more to me than the one I bought this past year for Ian. When you transition from your own wants and needs to those of your children and (luckily) they mirror your own…you become a very happy parent.
When the call came in that “I want a Jeep Dad” I was the quintessential happy camper! After cruising countless EBay and Craigslist postings I found our Jeep…in of all places Texas! I figured a couple of hundred bucks to transport it to Virginia ($500) and then I could teach Ian how to drive it! I soon realized that although I really liked this Jeep, eleven (yes…11) miles per gallon was not going to cut it for a commuter vehicle…but hey…I was not going to ruin his dream (or mine) by worrying about the economic impact this vehicle will have on my wallet!

Suffice to say that after spending another thousand dollars (yes…$1000) on a new exhaust we were in deep on this truck! Ian even went out and purchased additional items such as seat covers, sound bar and accent pieces for the outside of the vehicle. We had a bikini top installed as well. All told we sank a lot of money into our “baby” to make it what we wanted…and in the end the reality is that it is an 11 MPG vehicle that really does not fit what we need.
So here it is…a year later and our Jeep is no more. The young man who bought the truck is an Army guy with a large amount of disposable income and no kids. He will take the truck and paint it as well as change out some other items…all in an effort to make it his Jeep…and I applaud him for the effort. I could see that as soon as he had the keys in his hand he had “found her” and his day was now complete!

Ian and I discussed selling her many weeks ago – there was trepidation but reality as well plays into any decision. We both knew that eighty (yes…$80) dollars a week in gas is too much no matter how badly we like the vehicle – and so together – we made a decision…and we stuck to it!
We will probably buy another Jeep but like they say…”you never forget your first” and Ian and I will never forget our first Jeep that we had together!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

21 Years Ago Today my Son...You Changed My Life

21 Years Ago Today my Son...You Changed My Life

You came into our lives and changed us forever. I have been sitting thinking about this day for quite a while. Turning 21 is a “rite of passage” – a simple step from being a kid to becoming a man…and I remember everything you have done so far and look forward with anticipation to what you will do here in the future. I remember when you were born and would fall asleep in my arms on the recliner; how you would scream when we put you down and how a simple act of singing to you would bring us all joy.
I remember placing you on the motorcycle sitting in front of me while you held the handlebars and we rode off through the streets of Fayetteville and Ft. Bragg. How Renegade would walk up and pull the pacifier from your mouth ever so gently! How driving from Ft. Devens to Nana’s house in Revere and then realizing we forgot “your bunny” and had to go all the way back for it! I remember teaching you to drive at 8 and the officer pulling us over in the parking lot. I remember coaching your soccer team in Monterey and your hockey teams in North Carolina and at home in Virginia…and our undefeated championship team. I remember towing you behind the car at Ft. Bragg during that snow storm and “hoping” you will still on the rope as we hit 30 miles per hour in the 4x4!
I remember with clarity the trips skiing; your first chair ride to the top of the mountain and your “one piece” ski suit! I remember your first time snowboarding (“I hate this Dad!”) and how impressed I am every time we ski now. I look back early morning hockey practice; your first car; the fun times at Holy Cross (“and graduating…Jake Hayes”) and the Colonial Forge days. I remember all the injuries; the broken elbow playing roller hockey and the injury while playing High School Football – you scared your parents with that one! I remember the night we bought your new car and how proud I was that you choose something that would last – and how upset I was – a week later when you said “I don’t like it anymore!”
I was never more proud of you then the day you achieved your Eagle Scout Badge. When we stood there in the Marine Corp Museum with everyone in attendance I do not think even you fully understood what you had accomplished…but you did and we were all so very proud to have been a part of it…and when you thanked your younger brother for his help you took one step closer to becoming the man we knew you would always be.
While we spent time together this week and last in Martinsville, I have been looking back at the life (to date) that was Jacob Michael Hayes. As a father I could not have asked for more; you are a shining example of what is good in the world and you have so much to look forward to. You’re athletic and civil achievements to date are a great start for you as you prepare for military service and I – for one – know how well you will do in this endeavor too. In the world we live you either “have it” or you do not…and you have “it” Jake – and now it’s time to use it.  

As I pen this note to you I have a tear in my eye my son – not out of sadness but out of love and admiration for the man you have become. You have provided so much to all of us each and every day and yet…as you grow…I think to back to the times when you would hold my hand in the mall or sit in my lap while we drove the car down the road…and I miss that young boy…who on this day in 2012 became a man.

Happy Birthday – you have work to do my son…Now get at it!

Love - Dad   
 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eighteen Years Ago Today...and I Remember!




I remember so much about the last 18 years my son...the day you were born and how were watching the Indy 500 "waiting" on you! I remember the snow storms where you came out in shorts and told me "I have shoes on Dad" even though they were only slippers!

I think about how smart you were in hiding baby bottles as Mom tried to take them away from you...and how I would sneak into your room...and you would wake from a nap or a deep sleep and place your arms around me and I would "lift you" to freeedom! I remember when you began skiing and took off down the mountain without care or regard...and I had to chase you only to be admonished by the ski patrol...and I rember the cat licking the cheese at the B&B and you laughing...right after I ate it!

I remember your first goal in hockey Ian Hayes...and how you were part of our championship team...how you skated so strong and always wanted to play on your brother's team...even though they were 3 years older than you. I remember your first day with braces...and the day you called me and said..."they are finally off!"

I remember how proud I was when you told me you completed your Eagle Project knowing how much effort you put into it...and I remember your hand...holding mine...when Nana passed away and how you comforted me when she left us.

Then there were the comments when I came back from Iraq...like "we don't go to a barber Dad...we go to a stylist" and so many more! I remember holding your hand at the mall; the first time you drove a stick shift and the many times we would ski together!

I look back today...and I remember it all Ian Patrick Hayes...all of it! Eighteen years is a long time and you still have so much to do and so many things to accomplish. Where others will not...I know you will!

You have made me proud over these past 18 years...enjoy this day and all that it brings you for you are my son...and I thank God everyday for that!

Love
Dad

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When a General Officer Speaks...


Like many of you I grew up watching war films depicting the heroics that were WWII and the men and women who fought in that conflict. Front and center were the soldiers doing the impossible against all odds. Factor in some major performances by leading actors portraying famous General Officers of the period and you have the making of some incredible films.  Many of these classics will be re-run this weekend as we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day.

Fast forward nearly 50 years and the services continue to do a great job of selecting senior officers for “Flag” – a term used to denote those that have attained the rank of General (or Admiral for our Naval brethren) These officers in many cases represent the best of the best and usually have served their country for 22-25 years before attaining this rank.

There are only 11 four star generals on active duty in the U.S. Army. Fewer than one-half percent of commissioned officers make it to the top three ranks of Army general. Congress and the Department of Defense limit the total number of general officers to 302 general officers (generals, lieutenant generals, major generals and brigadier generals) in the U.S. Army.

If you have served in the armed forces or worked in close quarters with military retirees then no doubt you have run across a few General Officers in your day. Most are dynamic and well versed with a penchant for making things happen and a bit of a swagger in their step. I can list many from the Special Operations Community (past and present) as well as the Navy and the Marine Corp who I have been privileged to work with and serve under during peace and war. Great men born from a great country….

Which leads me to today’s posting about suicide and the words of a General Officer…

I will not try to imagine the frustration that comes from loosing men who have taken their own lives upon returning home from the battle but the Commanding Officer at Ft Bliss (in Texas) Major General Dana Pittard’s blunt and outrageous comments about suicide has raised eyebrows throughout the military and the US Department of Defense.  Suffice to say that many in the armed forces are upset and dismayed that a current “2 Star General” would call these warriors “selfish” in addressing the rising rate of suicides within the US Army.

I have attached a link so that you can read the article. In the end as a budding mental health practitioner focused on PTSD I can only hope that this General Officer realizes that the soldiers who serve under him at Ft. Bliss and around the globe look to his words and actions for encouragement and direction. When a General Officer fails his/her soldiers then it is time to go.

As soon as this hits the nightly news in the next day or so and with the advent of the Memorial Day weekend upon us…there will be 301 general officers on active duty in the United States Army quite quickly.  You can read the article at the following link:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/general-s-blog-entry-reignites-army-suicide-debate-20120522?mrefid=site_search

Warmest Regards and Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Very Important Article...for Every American

Good Morning! I very rarely post articles written by others however this piece by Gregg Miller of the Washington Post should be read by all. It is amazing what we are doing in the war against terror and the folks who spearhead that campaign deserve some recognition…even if they don’t want it! The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has led this effort and the attached piece discusses one of the most controversial programs that our Nation uses to protect itself; the armed UAV Program. The lethality of this platform coupled with its psychological effects has kept our Nation and the world safer since that ill fated day in 2001. Fast forward to 2012 and the program is the cornerstone of the efforts by senior leaders at keeping terrorism from gaining a foothold within the free world. I laud the efforts of those in the public service who give of themselves so that we can all enjoy the freedoms that many take for granted.  

I have attached the article as well as the links...please take a look!
Brian

At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt By , Published: March 25

For every cloud of smoke that follows a CIA drone strike in Pakistan, dozens of smaller plumes can be traced to a gaunt figure standing in a courtyard near the center of the agency’s Langley campus in Virginia. The man with the nicotine habit is in his late 50s, with stubble on his face and the dark-suited wardrobe of an undertaker. As chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center for the past six years, he has functioned in a funereal capacity for al-Qaeda.

Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, may be the most consequential but least visible national security official in Washington — the principal architect of the CIA’s drone campaign and the leader of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In many ways, he has also been the driving force of the Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killing as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism efforts.
Colleagues describe Roger as a collection of contradictions. A chain-smoker who spends countless hours on a treadmill. Notoriously surly yet able to win over enough support from subordinates and bosses to hold on to his job. He presides over a campaign that has killed thousands of Islamist militants and angered millions of Muslims, but he is himself a convert to Islam. His defenders don’t even try to make him sound likable. Instead, they emphasize his operational talents, encyclopedic understanding of the enemy and tireless work ethic.

“Irascible is the nicest way I would describe him,” said a former high-ranking CIA official who supervised the counterterrorism chief. “But his range of experience and relationships have made him about as close to indispensable as you could think. Critics are less equivocal. “He’s sandpaper” and “not at all a team player,” said a former senior U.S. military official who worked closely with the CIA. Like others, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the director of CTC — as the center is known — remains undercover.
Remarkable endurance
Regardless of Roger’s management style, there is consensus on at least two adjectives that apply to his tenure: eventful and long. Since becoming chief, Roger has worked for two presidents, four CIA directors and four directors of national intelligence. In the top echelons of national security, only Robert S. Mueller III, who became FBI director shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has been in place longer. Roger’s longevity is all the more remarkable, current and former CIA officials said, because the CTC job is one of the agency’s most stressful and grueling. It involves managing thousands of employees, monitoring dozens of operations abroad and making decisions on who the agency should target in lethal strikes — all while knowing that the CTC director will be among the first to face blame if there is another attack on U.S. soil.

Most of Roger’s predecessors, including Cofer Black and Robert Grenier, lasted less than three years. There have been rumors in recent weeks that Roger will soon depart as well, perhaps to retire, although similar speculation has surfaced nearly every year since he took the job. The CIA declined to comment on Roger’s status or provide any information on him for this article. Roger declined repeated requests for an interview. The Post agreed to withhold some details, including Roger’s real name, his full cover identity and his age, at the request of agency officials, who cited concerns for his safety. Although CIA officials often have their cover identities removed when they join the agency’s senior ranks, Roger has maintained his.

A native of suburban Virginia, Roger grew up in a family where several members, across two generations, have worked at the agency. When his own career began in 1979, at the CIA’s southern Virginia training facility, known as The Farm, Roger showed little of what he would become. A training classmate recalled him as an underperformer who was pulled aside by instructors and admonished to improve. “Folks on the staff tended to be a little down on him,” the former classmate said. He was “kind of a pudgy guy. He was getting very middling grades on his written work. If anything, he seemed to be almost a little beaten down.”

His first overseas assignments were in Africa, where the combination of dysfunctional governments, bloody tribal warfare and minimal interference from headquarters provided experience that would prove particularly useful in the post-Sept. 11 world. Many of the agency’s most accomplished counterterrorism operatives, including Black and Richard Blee, cut their teeth in Africa as well.

“It’s chaotic, and it requires you to understand that and deal with it psychologically,” said a former Africa colleague. Roger developed an “enormous amount of expertise in insurgencies, tribal politics, warfare — writing hundreds of intelligence reports.”

He also married a Muslim woman he met abroad, prompting his conversion to Islam. Colleagues said he doesn’t shy away from mentioning his religion but is not demonstrably observant. There is no prayer rug in his office, officials said, although he is known to clutch a strand of prayer beads.

Roger was not part of the first wave of CIA operatives deployed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and he never served in any of the agency’s “black sites,” where al-Qaeda prisoners were held and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.

But in subsequent years, he was given a series of high-profile assignments, including chief of operations for the CTC, chief of station in Cairo, and the top agency post in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq war.

Along the way, he has clashed with high-ranking figures, including David H. Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, who at times objected to the CIA’s more pessimistic assessments of those wars. Former CIA officials said the two had to patch over their differences when Petraeus became CIA director.

“No officer in the agency has been more relentless, focused, or committed to the fight against al-Qaeda than has the chief of the Counterterrorism Center,” Petraeus said in a statement provided to The Post.

Harsh, profane demeanor

By 2006, the campaign against al-Qaeda was foundering. Military and intelligence resources had been diverted to Iraq. The CIA’s black sites had been exposed, and allegations of torture would force the agency to shut down its detention and interrogation programs. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government was arranging truces with tribal leaders that were allowing al-Qaeda to regroup.

Inside agency headquarters, a bitter battle between then-CTC chief Robert Grenier and the head of the clandestine service, Jose Rodriguez, was playing out. Rodriguez regarded Grenier as too focused on interagency politics, while Grenier felt forced to deal with issues such as the fate of the interrogation program and the CIA prisoners at the black sites. Resources in Pakistan were relatively scarce: At times, the agency had only three working Predator drones.

In February that year, Grenier was forced out. Rodriguez “wanted somebody who would be more ‘hands on the throttle,’ ” said a former CIA official familiar with the decision. Roger was given the job and, over time, the resources, to give the throttle a crank. Grenier declined to comment.

Stylistically, Grenier and Roger were opposites. Grenier gave plaques and photos with dignitaries prominent placement in his office, while Roger eschewed any evidence that he had a life outside the agency. Once, when someone gave him a cartoon sketch of himself — the kind you can buy from sidewalk vendors — he crumpled it up and threw it away, according to a former colleague, saying, “I don’t like depictions of myself.” His main addition to the office was a hideaway bed.

From the outset, Roger seemed completely absorbed by the job — arriving for work before dawn to read operational cables from overseas and staying well into the night, if he left at all. His once-pudgy physique became almost cadaverous. Although he had quit smoking a decade or so earlier, his habit returned full strength.

He could be profane and brutal toward subordinates, micromanaging operations, second-guessing even the smallest details of plans, berating young analysts for shoddy work. “This is the worst cable I’ve ever seen,” was a common refrain. Given his attention to operational detail, Roger is seen by some as culpable for one of the agency’s most tragic events — the deaths of seven CIA employees at the hands of a suicide bomber who was invited to a meeting at a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, in December 2009. An internal review concluded that the assailant, a Jordanian double-agent who promised breakthrough intelligence on al-Qaeda leaders, had not been fully vetted, and it cited failures of “management oversight.” But neither Roger nor other senior officers were mentioned by name.

One of those killed, Jennifer Matthews, was a highly regarded analyst and protege of Roger’s who had been installed as chief of the base despite a lack of operational experience overseas. A person familiar with the inquiry said that “the CTC chief’s selection of [Matthews] was one of a great number of things one could point to that were weaknesses in the way the system operated.”

Khost represented the downside of the agency’s desperation for new ways to penetrate al-Qaeda, an effort that was intensified under President Obama.

Roger’s connection to Khost and his abrasive manner may have cost him — he has been passed over for promotions several times, including for the job he is thought to have wanted most: director of the National Clandestine Service, which is responsible for all CIA operations overseas.

‘A new flavor of activity’

But current and former senior U.S. intelligence officials said it is no accident that Roger’s tenure has coincided with a remarkably rapid disintegration of al-Qaeda — and the killing of bin Laden last year.

When Michael V. Hayden became CIA director in May 2006, Roger began laying the groundwork for an escalation of the drone campaign. Over a period of months, the CTC chief used regular meetings with the director to make the case that intermittent strikes were allowing al-Qaeda to recover and would never destroy the threat.

“He was relentless,” said a participant in the meetings. Roger argued that the CIA needed to mount an air campaign against al-Qaeda “at a pace they could not absorb” and warned that “after the next attack, there would be no explaining our inaction.”

Under Hayden, the agency abandoned the practice of notifying the Pakistanis before launching strikes, and the trajectory began to change: from three strikes in 2006 to 35 in 2008.

A second proposal from the CTC chief, a year or so later, had even greater impact.

“He came in with a big idea on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon,” said a former high-ranking CIA official involved in drone operations. “It was a new flavor of activity, and had to do with taking senior terrorists off the battlefield.”

The former official declined to describe the activity. But others said the CTC chief proposed launching what came to be known as “signature strikes,” meaning attacks on militants based solely on their patterns of behavior.

Previously, the agency had needed confirmation of the presence of an approved al-Qaeda target before it could shoot. With permission from the White House, it would begin hitting militant gatherings even when it wasn’t clear that a specific operative was in the drone’s crosshairs.

Roger’s relentless approach meshed with the Obama mind-set. Shortly after taking office, Obama met with his first CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, and ordered a redoubled effort in the fight against al-Qaeda and the search for the terrorist group’s elusive leader.

From 53 strikes in 2009, the number soared to 117 in 2010, before tapering off last year.

The cumulative toll helped to crumple al-Qaeda even as CTC analysts finally found a courier trail that led them to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Roger does not appear in any of the pictures taken inside the White House situation room when bin Laden was killed last May. Officials said he stayed in place at CIA headquarters and barely allowed himself to exult.

For all the focus on “kinetic” operations during Roger’s tenure, “he believes this is not a war you’re going to be able to kill your way out of,” said a former colleague. To him, “There is no end in sight.”

When the bin Laden operation concluded, he stepped outside to smoke.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Church...Special Operations and Human Trafficking

                                  Good Morning - for those of you that are not following us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, we have been engaged in several operations outside of Burma that address human trafficking and the sex industry. I want to set the stage for you on what has transpired in the last 96 hours...and what we are doing to fight this emerging and dangerous threat. In Europe, the United States and Asia….the figures are overwhelming...the flesh trade generates an estimated $32 billion dollars annually making human trafficking the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today. It is also the most lucrative. According to a 2010 International Labor Office (ILO) report, just a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67,200 annually in Western Europe and North America. The United Nations estimates that between 800,000 and 4 million men, women and children are deceived, recruited, transported from their homes and sold into slavery around the world each year. Eighty percent are women; girls and young boys trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. Of these, more than 300,000 women and children from Russia and Eastern Europe who are forced into prostitution each year. Western demand for Eastern European prostitute’s fuels today’s sex-slave industry. Currently, the market for Slavic woman and children in brothels and in pornography in "developed" countries — particularly the EU and the U.S. — is the hottest compared to other parts of the world, and is drawing on an endless supply of impoverished and vulnerable women.
A multitude of recent studies try to explain why women get snared into the trade in flesh. Researchers point to poverty, chronic unemployment, domestic violence and drug addiction as the primary “push factors.” As we continue to work within this field, sadly, we realize there isn’t enough discussion of the real root of the problem — the men. Human trafficking is basically international sexual terrorism perpetrated against women and children on a mass scale by men. It is their demand for illicit or predatory sex that generates huge profits for the slavers and leaves behind the tortured minds and broken bodies of those women and children they violate. I have seen this firsthand in Asia (Burma/Thailand) but now we are addressing it throughout US and Europe.
Fast Forward…The Life On Point Group...Just a few weeks ago, I was contacted late one night and asked if I could assist…a young girl had been taken from her home in the former Soviet Union and was now working in Ireland…yes…I said…Ireland. She had been on the streets and was being abused and sold for sex. She was heavily abused; dependent on drugs and yet…smart enough to get a note to someone associated with the church…and the church contacted me…same group who just one year ago had spent time in the jungles in an effort to stem the tide of Asian women and children being shipped across the border to Thailand and beyond. I took the call and put into place mechanisms to ensure she received the medical care, finances and hope that soon she would be back home with her family…suffice to say that on 14 March 2012…we succeeded.
A  Holy Collaboration...Based on what we were able to accomplish…the “Father” stated it was a “collaboration...made in heaven”…and yet…the story does not end there. Europe and the US are ripe with stories of women and children being violently exploited.  After a trafficking journey that typically involves deception, rape, beatings, and constant threats, victims are often forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions. Once formally put to work, human trafficking victims can be forced to service up to 100 customers a day. Malnutrition, forced sleep deprivation, as well as emotional and physical abuse become part of the day-to-day routine. 
This is what our victim endured before we were able to intervene. In addition to the abuse, forced abortions and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS are an ever looming probability. Life for a victim of sex trafficking is hell on earth! Some sobering facts for all of us to ponder...and ask why Life On Point is actively engaged in this arena:
       -        Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year 
       -        There are 1.50 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide
       -     Over 25 percent of sex trafficked victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe; many more emanate from Asia
       -        90% of victims trafficked into the European Union member states will end up in the sex industry in either Europe of the US
       -        Less than 2 percent of victims of trafficking are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 persons  involved in trafficking are ever convicted      
       At the end of the day....The odds are against us...but still we will fight and press the issue...on behalf of those who can’t do this on their own...and for those that being held against their own will...that is what makes the “holy collaboration” so worthwhile! For additional information on sex trafficking in Europe please take a look at the following link...it is a real “eye opener” http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4170464/Sun-investigation-uncovers-human-trafficking-is-still-rife-in-UK.html
Thank You

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Sad State of Affairs for Children and Society

Hello and Good Morning to everyone! It has been almost a month since I have put pen to paper and discussed the issues that are making headlines today. It is a sad state of affairs when children who have been placed into the cyclical process known as foster care are forced into prostitution and made to endure what others would never speak about…sexual abuse.

From the Press - I woke two days ago to read a Huffington Post article of a man in Ohio who was arrested after “pimping” his adopted 10 year old son out to several friends. To say this story is revolting is an understatement…to think that it is an isolated event is both ignorant and dangerous...for it happens with a greater relevance then we can even imagine or comprehend.  
“A 10-year-old boy shook when asked about being prostituted to two other men by an adoptive father who regularly had sex with him…as the boy was fearful of talking because he didn’t want to be taken from his home or separated from his new siblings.”
I am sure that the “parent” in this case set the conditions so that he could initially exploit this child for his own use by leveraging the child’s need to belong…and then using that for a greater perversion…by allowing others to participate. I can only imagine the psychological pain these kids had to endure as I have known and worked with others who have gone through the same…it is something that never leaves you. This story – in and of itself - would be bad enough however, as you read through it and you see the words “Craigslist” and “Internet” you come to realize that it is no longer something confined to the backstreets or back-woods of America but that it has now entered the domain of the computers that sit in our own homes. You can "peddle flesh" and find like minded deviants to participate in your perversion in your own town or while on vacation…if you only know where to look.
“He had been led to the adoptive father by another man who had posted a Craigslist ad wanting “taboo” sex”

I have always been an advocate of 21st century technology to better the lives of all of us…what happened here was a systematic collapse of a series of checks and balances that are part of any good system…especially one that places children into foster care. The local Dayton, Ohio news circuit is stating that the accused was a single “gay man” – sexual orientation aside the question that begs to be asked is how was this missed….a gay man adopting 3 male children? In an age of cutbacks and decreased budgets this seems to have been a major lapse in common sense. I am sure there will be a series of follow-on stories that address this so I will stop here…other than to say…outrageous!

When I look at this story, I can’t help but recall the iceberg analogy…”it’s not what you see above the water…its what’s below the water that will sink the ship” – how many others suffer in silence at the hands of those who wield some measure of “power” over them? How many other kids out there suffer…or have suffered over the years at the hands of those who were supposed to protect them? The numbers would surprise us…and therefore many of us do not even ask the question…until it is too late.
How to protect those that can’t help themselves
Our company - Life On Point Consultants - has taken a proactive approach in the prevention of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. As many of you know we are now active across the globe and as such can speak about much of what happens out there…from the “flesh markets” in Thailand to the child abuse issues in the Middle East…it is horrific and affects even those that don’t realize it is happening. The outcry for what has happened to those children in Ohio has been huge…the problem is that for every single incident that makes the Huffington Post or New York Times  the question becomes how many more are out there and how many more women and children are being subjected to this and other like abuses across the globe. The figures are shocking!
We should always remember...and take note;
“The world is a dangerous place to live not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”
 
More to follow…and many…many more...to hold accountable…thanks for following! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Score One....for the Good Guys

Hello and Happy New Year! Much has happened over the past several months and much will be written over the coming days however I wanted to make you aware of a great victory for those of us combatting human trafficking across the globe. 

I usually do not "post" previous articles but this bears reading by all of us. My hat goes off to the men and women of the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement. In New York City, a federal indictment depicts Deme Nikqi, 53, of Kosovo, as the leader of an international criminal network dedicated to smuggling ethnic Albanians from the Balkans into the U.S. across the Mexican and Canadian borders using fraudulent passports and visas. Although "different" from the work the Life On Point Team is doing in Asia… it is still human smuggling and trafficking nonetheless.

From the Press Reports:
His arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nikqi pleaded not guilty to all 28 felony counts. The most serious criminal charge in the indictment stems from a fatal accident near the Mexican border in Feb. 2010, when a car carrying undocumented immigrants crashed while being pursued by the Texas Highway Patrol. Prosecutors allege that Nikqi was responsible for arranging for the group's transit across the border. Federal law allows a sentence of up to life in prison for traffickers found to be directly or indirectly responsible for the death of a migrant being smuggled across the border.
In court documents, Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the alleged smuggling network exploited undocumented immigrants and exposed them to danger. According to Lynch, Nikqi charged Kosovars more than $15,000 for illegal transport to the U.S., including the production of fraudulent passports and visas.
Nikqi allegedly facilitated the transport of migrants overland through Central America and Mexico and then across the U.S. border, often hiding them in luggage compartments of buses and inside locked trailers with little or no food or water, prosecutors said. Lynch added that Nikqi's alleged smuggling network not only placed migrants at risk, but represented a "grave threat to our nation's borders."
"Transnational smuggling organizations such as those headed by Deme Nikqi are rightly viewed as a threat to national security, and will be vigorously prosecuted," she said. Lynch requested that Nikqi be denied bail, arguing that he represented an "extraordinary risk of flight."
"If anyone in the world could quickly and easily obtain a fake passport to flee the United States, it is Deme Nikqi," she said. Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky, of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, agreed, ordering Nikqi detained until trial.