State Department's Sex Trafficking Scandals

Pssst, did you hear? President Obama is replacing Ambassador Howard Gutman in Belgium. You remember Ambassador Gutman, don't you? He's the big Democrat donor President Obama nominated to represent his policies in Belgium and who, it is alleged, trolled for prostitutes -- some of them children! -- in a park near his official residence.

Late in the day on Friday, June 21, the White House released a list of new nominees for various posts, and Denise Bauer was listed for the United States Ambassador to Belgium post. For the cynics, this is similar to a Friday night document dump -- a strategy the Obama Administration employs to release controversial information or items unflattering to them after the nightly news cycle is over and most people tune out for the weekend.

Denise Bauer was the Finance Chair of Women for Obama during the last election and served on the Obama for America National Finance Committee for the 2008 and 2012 elections. She was also a donor and a bundler. According to the New York Times, Bauer has raised $4,367,187 for Obama since 2007.

In a speech on May 5, 2013, Ambassador Gutman announced that he was leaving the post. CBS News reported about a month later that a memo obtained from the Department of State (DOS) Inspector General's (IG) office noted that the DOS has known about the prostitution rumors since 2011, but higher-ups in the DOS stopped the investigation of Ambassador Gutman. He was allowed to remain America's representative to Belgium for two more years, and, if the speech is any indication, he is leaving with his head held high, even amidst rumors that his pants had been around his ankles during much of his tenure.

The biographical information about Gutman on the website says he was a "Special Assistant to F.B.I. Director William H. Webster, focusing on counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence." What do you think counter-intelligence officers from other countries would do with information that a U.S. Ambassador bought prostitutes of all ages in a park in Belgium? Can you say "blackmail"? His background seems to imply he should have known how risky and stupid actions like that could be, and yet, if the rumors prove true, he jettisoned his judgment in favor of his sexual proclivities.

Guess what else was released last week? The 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was made public on June 19. The TIP Report is the product of the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), as mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The 2013 Report ranks the United States in the highest tier, Tier 1, and states, "The U.S. government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."

What does that mean? In part, it means the United States ranking takes into consideration U.S. policy enacted to eradicate modern-day slavery. There are two indicia listed which are used to judge a country's "serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons" that are interesting in light of recent scandals:

  • Whether the government of the country vigorously investigates, prosecutes, convicts, and sentences public officials who participate in or facilitate severe forms of trafficking in persons, including nationals of the country who are deployed abroad as part of a peacekeeping or other similar mission who engage in or facilitate severe forms of trafficking in persons or exploit victims of such trafficking, and takes all appropriate measures against officials who condone such trafficking.
  • Whether the government of the country has made serious and sustained efforts to reduce the demand for

(A) commercial sex acts; and

(B) participation in international sex tourism by nationals of the country.

Can you name two U.S. public officials recently alleged to have purchased sex from children found in prostitution in other countries? (That is called "sex trafficking" and "sex tourism," by the way.) Yes, Ambassador Gutman is one, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) is the other. Sen. Menendez is alleged to have flown to the Dominican Republic and had sex with teenagers engaged in prostitution.

So, following the first bullet point, has the Obama Administration vigorously investigated either case? It is alleged in the DOS IG's memo that during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's tenure, the situation with Ambassador Gutman was ordered dropped. Would that indicate "officials who condone such trafficking"? Has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) urged the Obama Administration to look into allegations that the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may have engaged in sex trafficking and international sex tourism in the Dominican Republic?

How about the prostitution scandals involving Secret Service agents engaging prostitutes in Colombia when they were there to do advance work for President Obama's visit, and the security detail assigned to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hiring prostitutes during trips with her to Russia and Colombia? In both cases, the problem of agents engaging prostitutes was portrayed as a common occurrence in federal agencies. Those agents were involved in commercial sex, which exacerbates sex trafficking and international sex tourism. Without the demand for commercial sex, there would be no sex trafficking.

In 2009, then-Secretary Clinton wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post to announce the release of the 2009 TIP Report. She wrote, "To some, human trafficking may seem like a problem limited to other parts of the world. In fact, it occurs in every country, including the United States, and we have a responsibility to fight it just as others do."

Yes, she had a responsibility to fight it when her security detail and an ambassador under her authority engaged in commercial sex and allegedly the sex trafficking of a minor.

She also wrote, "Human trafficking flourishes in the shadows and demands attention, commitment and passion from all of us." By covering up these scandals and allowing the perpetrators to remain in their jobs, she cast a huge shadow over the plight of sex slaves found in the commercial sex industry.

In 2012, President Obama gave a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative on the topic of human trafficking. He said, "First, we're going to do more to spot it and stop it.  We'll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem."

Given the examples above, it seems when they spot it they cover it up.

President Obama also said, "In short, we're making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings.  We will have zero tolerance.  We mean what we say.  We will enforce it."

Except when you don't.

Brenda Zurita is Research Fellow for the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank and research arm for Concerned Women for America.

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