Friday, May 27, 2011

My Complicated Situation & How Allen West Might Be Able To Help

The Situation
For any of you who have been following my blog or are my friends on facebook, you should already know a little bit about the issue at hand.

The short version of it goes like this: During a tough time in my life, I became friends with some unsavory characters, a gay couple that I met up with for sex. In the course of my friendship with them, I discovered that they collected, dealt and possibly even produced their own child pornography. After some serious consideration, I decided to take this issue to the FBI. The FBI launched an investigation and I was considered a “CI” (confidential informant).

Since that time, the case has seemingly been dropped. But this is over a year after I risked everything (and lost) by stealthily soliciting a DVD/CD with over 30 disgustingly hardcore videos and images of children being abused in ways that I will not describe on this blog. The FBI and Fort Lauderdale Police raided the men’s home while they were supposedly away on vacation as part of the investigation and recovered even more evidence against these men.

Since then, week after week and month after month went by and nothing else happened. The FBI stopped being as forthcoming with information as they had been. They changed my contact agent on me two different times and returned my calls less frequently. I have not been contacted by the FBI in about 4 months. I feel like I was basically hung out to dry.

I went before the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition and told of my case to anyone there who would listen to me. The Dolphin Democrats invited me to speak at one of their monthly meetings so that I could direct people to my blog and give them more information about the case.

I spoke to child safety advocates from around the country online and on the phone about the issue and discussed it with the Broward County Sheriff’s Department as well. An interesting conversation with an anonymous (only because I can’t remember his name) Sheriff’s Office employee, revealed something that I think everyone should know. Evidently, according to this unnamed source, there are only 6 or 7 “processing centers” in the United States where law enforcement can take recovered computers and electronics to have them probed for evidence in child pornography cases. These places are supposedly like warehouses and they are all back-logged for years because child pornography is THAT prevalent in our society and they just don’t have the manpower or funding to process all of these computers!

That being said, this particular case is probably NOT being held up for that reason. The FBI officially released me from CI status in a phone call a few months ago and told me that their investigation was complete. My contact agent told me the same thing: “The investigation is over and we have plenty of evidence to convict at least one of the two men. We know we have enough to get David [, the one who handed you the disc.]”

The question remains: Why would it take YEARS longer to indict one or two men for AT LEAST the possession of child pornography when there is plenty of solid evidence against them AND eye-witness testimony that can be used in court?

The Media

I’ve also spoken to reporters and publishers about this issue. The first person I discussed this issue with was my publisher, Norm Kent. At that time, I was the News Editor at South Florida Gay News. I was on thin ice with him at the time because of another issue and he seemed concerned that I was showing up to work sporadically and not performing at full capacity. I explained to him that I wasn’t getting any sleep and told him why. I even offered to write the story up for the paper when the investigation was complete. He responded by bringing in my replacement, Jason Parsley, and then firing me.

I can’t pretend to know exactly why Norm fired me. I have my suspicions but this is just the nuts and bolts of it.

The next reporter that I discussed the case with (after I was told the investigation was complete) was a woman who showed up at the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition meeting. Her name was Lisa Lucas and she claimed to be writing an in-depth article for Boca Magazine. She said she had written extensively about Human Trafficking and child abuse and that she was very interested in covering my story and that it had to be done quickly. My experience with her was rather ridiculous and unhelpful.

First Lucas said she wanted to interview me – I agreed to be interviewed at any time. Then she said the magazine would let me write my own story as a sidebar and that since I was previously a News Editor, it could lead to a permanent job at the publication. Speaking from her illustrious experience as a member of the “Society of Professional Journalists”, she told me that in order to get some press (and in turn, advocacy) around this issue, I would have to go into all the gory details and write a heart-wrenching piece for her. So that’s exactly what I did… and then she disappeared.

It was only later that I found out that Lisa Lucas was not operating as a writer for Boca Magazine as she claimed, but rather as a friend of Jason Parsley – the guy who replaced me at SFGN (South Florida Gay News). When I finally got her to call me back and respond to what I had written for her, she claimed that she was recovering from an aneurism and that my story would go to press very soon… Of course, it never did. If Ms. Lucas was indeed suffering from an aneurism, I apologize and hope she makes a speedy recovery.

Lastly, I spoke to Jay Weaver at the Miami Herald. He had written an article about the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for South Florida who was discovered to have received child pornography via email on his home computer. I remembered that the two men whom I had reported to authorities told me that they had “friends everywhere” and could take trips to Cuba and Prague where they could “pay little boys five dollars to do whatever [they] wanted”.

When Mr. Weaver called me back, he seemed more interested in the fact that AOL had reported this ICE agent to authorities. He was interested in whether or not I knew anything about AOL’s method of intercepting illegal emails. What Mr. Weaver was apparently NOT interested in was the likely possibility that my story and his could share a connection.

So, the Miami Herald has a story about a man who’s only known to have received 4 pictures via email and this is “big news” to them. Meanwhile, they neglect a story about two men who owned hundreds of high quality videos of children, toddlers and even infants being sexually abused when I’m telling them that I was a witness to these events… The news is apparently not the news until the government says it is…

The Government

So far, Government has been about as helpful as a sharp stick in the eye. I’ve spoken to Congressional Aides, Sheriff’s Officers, FBI Agents, State-Level leaders of efforts to combat Human Trafficking, and City Police and have come up empty-handed on all counts. The ONLY thing I NEED TO HAPPEN is for the two men that I turned in to authorities to see the inside of a courtroom. Once that happens, my good samaritan task is completed and I can go on with my life… Until it does happen, I am left wondering what happened to my country and my faith in humanity.
After I coaxed a response from the offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) I received a call from Jon Pyatt, Mrs. Schultz’ Deputy Chief of Staff. I was pleasantly surprised that he took time out of his hectic schedule to discuss my concerns with me. The congresswoman sits on the Intelligence Oversight Committee and her district is right next door, so this, in my mind, makes her the person who could see to it that whatever went wrong goes right. To further identify Mrs. Shultz as the perfect candidate to help me resolve my issue, child safety and the capture of predators is an issue that she has introduced legislation on and sought funding for.

Mr. Pyatt explained to me that if the congresswoman were to look specifically at my case - or to “cherry pick” as they say – it could be perceived as a lapse in ethics. Evidently, members of an oversight panel in congress can only look at an aggregate of investigations or Federal cases and can’t ethically zone in on a specific case… unless of course, the issue is specific to THEIR constituents. This brings me to my next attempt at ensuring that justice is served.

I contacted the offices of Allen West (R-FL) who was freshly elected in 2010 as part of the Tea Party revolution. Anybody who has been reading my blog or following me on facebook will know how I feel about conservative Republicans and thus what a stretch it is for me to go to these lengths. But as I explained to my friends – I refuse to draw a political line in the sand when it comes to the safety and protection of children. I need help from Mr. West because the criminals that I reported and helped to investigate happen to live in his district.

The offices of Allen West directed me to their website where I downloaded a form that authorizes him to investigate me and my situation as it pertains to the US Attorney’s Office. If he looks into this case and can determine that an indictment should have been handed down to these two men – we may finally have this ball rolling…

I have filled out Mr. West’s advocacy request form and he should be receiving it shortly. I only hope that my incessantly partisan blogging for Team Obama will not prejudice him against me. I hope at least that his desire to create a safe environment for kids in South Florida will rise stronger than any disfavor of liberal Democrats he might harbor.

Wish me luck – and as always, I’ll keep you updated!
-Jarrett Terrill

UPDATE (01-08-2012): DAVID BARCENAS GUILTY PLEA! (Now how about Stephen R. Morse?)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Classic Right Wing Liars Return To Familiar Territory

Part 1 – Newt Gingrich and Harold Camping

Newt Gingrich – Amongst such whoppers as “Gay marriage is against the Constitution” and “Indiana has the lowest unemployment rate in the region”, Gingrich should always be remembered for the sleeziest political lie in American history. It all started when a South Carolina woman named Susan Smith drowned her children in her car and infamously blamed the crime on a mysterious black man.

Susan Smith’s stepfather had been a prominent Republican fundraiser for Newt Gingrich and so Gingrich put himself front and center with the scandal to fabricate a new reality for the American people. “I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things,” Gingrich said.

This was of course, after it had come to light that a black man was not to blame for the crime. Susan Smith’s sickness, Gingrich said, was symptomatic of the kind of society that Clinton-era Democrats had created in America. "We need very deep change if we're going to turn this country around." Never once did Gingrich mention that the man who helped Susan Smith cook up the story about an evil black kidnapper was her own step-father… a preacher and a Republican.

Also missing from Newt Gingrich’s spin on the story was the fact that Susan Smith had desperately tried to escape her family since she was 15 years old with no success. Why had she tried to escape? According to her ex-husband, it was because she had been repeatedly molested by her stepfather, the preacher and Republican Gingrich campaigner. Of course, all of this information only came to us after Laura Bush was already hanging curtains in the newly Republican White House.

Harold Camping – Another big fat lie from right-wing Christian Republicans during the Clinton era might sound very familiar to us in 2011. This one goes: “The world is going to end tomorrow and it’s all because of the gays”. The architect of this perennial lie is Harold Camping, the multi-millionaire from Southern California who owns more than 135 radio and television stations in America and other parts of the world. He has tens of thousands of followers globally and they don’t leave his side no matter how many lies he tells them. His followers are gluttons for usury.

What’s really amazing about Camping is the way the American media refuses to portray him as anything but a pitiful, crazy old man with silly ideas. The reality of the situation is that Camping is an angry homophobe who commands that his followers protest homosexuality as a full-time job. It’s basically like giving the Westboro Baptist Church access to thousands of daily listeners in places like New York City, Boise, Tampa, San Francisco and other metropolis’ throughout the United States.

Furthermore, even gay activists have been slow to uncover the fact that the last time Camping made his "end of the world" prediction, he was joined up with the full force of "Focus on the Family" (although someone has edited their wikipedia page to indicate that the break between the organizations happened way back in 1985). Focus on the Family were the principal architects of California's Proposition 8 and Florida's Amendment 2 against both gay marriage and civil unions and it was Harold Camping who really put them on the air in the first place.

With a lack of irony, Camping’s two end-of-days predictions both came about in times that a Democratic President was seeking re-election. Both of his predictions relied heavily on “gay pride” being seen as an absolute sign from God that the end was near. Lastly, both of his predictions were lies. But they were useful lies to tell because both times, a renewed interest in was born with hits to the website increasing by thousands of times their original traffic virtually overnight. Family Radio fans donated their life savings to Camping’s anti-gay efforts and in 1999 sixteen Family Radio cult members were sent on a mission to Kingston, Jamaica to distribute copies of this anti-gay tract in French and English. This was around the same time that CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network began really setting up camp there. Since this time, Jamaicans had grown steadily and increasingly homophobic and fanatical in their beliefs about the rapture. It would take an entire decade before a woman came into my office to tell me that Camping’s spell had finally been broken and Jamaica had its first ever gay pride parade.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Florida vs. Florida - Republicans and 1 Democrat Lawyer Up Against Voters

Rick Scott has stuffed himself into a hat and now pulls himself out as a “defendant” in his own war against voters in Florida.

When you think of the way political lines are drawn, you may want to picture Florida as being shaped like a ballet shoe doing a pirouette because Florida has gently danced around the idea of a fair election for more than a decade now.

Let’s review this ballet & magic show, shall we?

Act 1
V is for Voters

In 2008, voters in Florida overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in the Presidential Primary. However, the Republican powers that be decided that they would rather run against Barack Obama and successfully invalidated the votes of Democrats in both Florida and Michigan. Barack Obama, to the dismay of many Republican tricksters, won the election anyway and resurrected Hillary Clinton as perhaps the most effective Secretary of State the USA has ever known.

Republicans are still sore about that. Especially in Florida.

Act 2
V is for Vendetta
In 2010, Republicans saw an opportunity to harness the anger, racism, homophobia, resentment and economic turmoil that voters were experiencing and re-package it as a revolution. Through a complex and manipulative marketing strategy, they birthed the “Tea Party” with funding from the Koch Industries and Florida’s own Amway.

(As a quick side note: Lady GaGa has broken her promise from the National Equality March for the 6th time by performing at an Amway Arena on Tax Day in Orlando. This is also after signing exclusive deals with Target and being the first to break the Arizona boycott.)

Once again successful, the Republicans elected a new leader for Florida… a billionaire proponent of privatization named Rick Scott. Since 2008, Republicans in Florida are keenly aware that racism and sexism, if made too obvious, can both come back to bite them in the ass. Therefore, Rick Scott was flanked throughout his campaign by a pretty black woman named Jennifer Carroll who satisfied both under-represented demographics for Republicans. She is rarely heard from since Scott won the election.

Intermission – A Puppet Show in the Lobby
V is for Ventriloquism

Believe it or not, Tea Party rhetoric was useful beyond what Republicans had originally anticipated. As it turns out, liberals gained traction with talk of “fighting the elitist cronyism at play in our big government”. Of course, the liberals were speaking of state-level politics which have been gerrymandered to benefit the Republican Party for as long as anyone can remember in the Sunshine State.

So it came to pass that the same puppets who denounced the validity of our President’s birth certificate could be used to promote the passage of Amendments 5 & 6 which would end the practice of re-drawing district lines to favor incumbent career politicians. Like naked emperors, Tea Party Republicans had proudly marched around Florida complaining of cronyism, nepotism and suppression of their fair representation. The unintended result was a window of opportunity to finally castrate Florida’s Republican machine – the machine that delivered George W. Bush to the United States of America.

Act 3
V is for Voodoo

In order to understand someone like Corrine Brown (D-FL), in my opinion, you need to see a movie called ‘Just Cause’ with Lawrence Fishburne. Fishburne plays a Sheriff in rural Florida who is one of the few black people permitted by the well-oiled establishment to hold a position of power. For this reason, he nearly terrorizes his own black community for the purpose of self-preservation.

Corrine Brown is a member of the US House of Representatives from North Florida and as such is situated in the same uncomfortable position (although, to my knowledge she has never terrorized anyone). She is one of the few Democrats in Florida who has systematically been permitted to win reelection for the last 17 years in a row. But Brown’s status as an incumbent comes at a steep price.

The district lines are re-drawn (gerrymandered) every year to capture almost every black voter in North Florida’s 3 largest cities (Orlando, Jacksonville and Gainsville) and throw all of them into her district so that other legislators needn’t worry about appeasing “those people” during their Republican campaigns. So, the tradeoff is that we get 1 black female Democrat in the House but we have to take as many as 3 hard-right Republicans in the area who don’t have to answer to a single black Democratic voter in their own districts.

Ultimately, this sort of injustice is what brings Corrine Brown to the rescue of Republican Governor Rick Scott as he tries to do away with Fair Districts Florida’s Amendments 5 & 6 (which have now become Article 3, Section 20 of the Florida Constitution). Corrine Brown has even called former leaders from the NAACP to her side and asked them to go against the current majority of civil rights figures (including President Obama) who support the new re-districting laws.

In what seemed like an alternate reality for Florida Democrats, Corrine Brown turned on a dime and sided with Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) (who voted against protecting minorities in every other situation) and the Republican establishment to sue the State of Florida in Federal Court for her perceived “right” to retain an unfair advantage in future elections. When Rick Scott purchased his way into election by the slightest margin ever, he became “the defendant” (along with the ACLU) in this case by default. The ACLU might be of some help in defending our new law, but Rick Scott will throw everything he can into stopping it.

It's confusing to voters because it makes it appear that Rick Scott is now defending fair districting practices in Florida against a black woman and a Hispanic man who want special treatment… That view of the situation is exactly how Rick Scott wants it to go down in the papers. But in reality, all 3 have been on the same side and wasting your tax dollars to fight against the Amendments that you voted into law. These three pirates have seized the throne and refuse to accept that they’ve already been outmoded.

In a time when teachers are being laid off by the thousands and medication for working-class people with HIV is no longer provided by Florida, it’s comforting to know how many tens of millions of dollars these 3 career politicians are willing to spend on their own job security.