Friday, December 31, 2010

Melvin Sembler’s Legacy of Torturing of Children

Torture is the calculated physical and psychological assault on the individual, a practice used to instill fear, punish or degrade, to dehumanize, or to obliterate the self. It is often said that anyone who has been tortured remains tortured, long after the physical wounds have healed. Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain by one human being against another, thus it leaves particular kinds of mental and psychological scars. This trauma is different from other traumas because torture is a violation committed in secret and in spite of official denial. Many believe that torture only occurs in the most repressive regimes but the reality is that torture is widespread in all parts of the world. Although it is often perpetuated by police or security forces, it can also be carried out by armed forces, detaining authorities such as immigration officials, hospital staff, or prison wardens. Torture can be physical or psychological. New methods of torture are unfortunately being invented every year. Many can understand severe beatings, extraction of nails or teeth, burns, electric shocks, suspension, suffocation, excessive light, heat, cold or noise, sexual aggression (rape and other sexual violence), forced nudity, isolation and sensory deprivation, mock executions as torture. But psychological torture can be just as traumatic and the psychological wounds of both physical and psychological torture last a lifetime. The coercive and abusive methods of Straight Inc. were designed to obliterate the sense of self and instill fear and obedience to authority in young teens. Some of the abusive methods of Straight Inc. included sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual humiliation, sexual assault, prolonged sitting or standing in forced positions, isolation, detention for prolonged and indefinite periods of time, forcing one teen to abuse another, and prolonged denial of rest, sleep, food, water, adequate hygiene.

Many victims continue to suffer in silence and torture victims commonly report feelings of fear, guilt, shame, anger, disillusionment, insecurity and humiliation. For victims of torture coming forward to speak about what happened to them is very difficult. This is true for the tens of thousands of US children who were physically and psychologically abused and even sometimes sexually abused in the program called Straight Inc. What happened behind the closed doors of Straight Inc. is very deeply personal and highly traumatizing and so speaking about it can evoke for survivors a range of emotions. Survivors are afraid to speak publicly and may not have fully revealed their experiences to families and friends, in some instances they may not have come to terms with it themselves.

But victims of the abuse came forward again this month to tell of an emotional wound that will never heal. Listen to the straight survivors tell about their ordeal on Medical Whistleblowers’ BlogTalk radio show and how they feel about what they have been through.

Survivors of torture find it very difficult and challenging to try to move forward with their lives. Many who had spent time in Straight Inc. and other abusive teen rehabilitative centers speak with frustration that the fact that their torture actually occurred has not been publicly acknowledged. Survivors have individual and often have different conceptions of justice, some speak of the importance of criminal prosecutions, and others speak about civil compensation, rehabilitation or prevention of recurrence. But for everyone there is a need to restore that sense of dignity and control that was taken from them when they were tortured.

The United States of America which has signed the UN Convention Against Torture and therefore has an obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those who do torture. But the reality is that society has a deep seated prejudice toward the weak or powerless and there is a special stigma in the cases of persons who claim to be psychologically injured and who need to seek compensation or support. Governments are a reflection of the pervasive reactions to the horror of torture and so therefore denial, indifference, avoidance and repression are common. Impunity of the perpetrators will prolong, or in some cases deepen, the mental scars borne by the victim or by members of their families, as denial of the wrong makes psychological healing difficult. To obtain any justice through the court system, the torture victim is expected to testify to and provide a recounting of the violation suffered in order to create a public record of the event, and while this truth– telling may have a reparative value for many victims, it may also be deeply traumatic bring to the surface old emotional wounds. In addition those suffering from the mental anguish of torture do not always show physical scars and thus it is easier to deny the extent of their trauma and suffering. Can we afford to endorse the kinds of political compromises that give rise to de jure or de facto amnesties for perpetrators of torture when the right to reparation for victims of a wrongful act is a well-established principle of international law?(1)

For 17 years Melvin Sembler and his wife Betty operated one of the most destructive and world’s largest chain of juvenile rehabilitation programs, Straight, Inc. As many as 50,000 kids were in the Straight program. Straight, Inc. is the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that the USA has ever seen. This was torture – there was deliberate degrading and humiliating treatment, sexual abuse, physical beatings, lack of proper food or sanitation, deliberate sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, and lack of medical care. With inhuman conditions of confinement likened to Korean prisoner of war camps and amidst thousands of law suits alleging severe child abuse, the Straight Inc was finally shut down after a US Congressional investigation. The International Survivors Action Committee Corporation (ISAC)(2) estimates that two Straight clients died wrongfully for every one thousand who survived after being incarcerated for any length of time at Straight. Some estimate is that as many as a hundred to even a thousand children perished as a result suicide secondary to the psychological trauma of being tortured in Straight Inc. During his research Wes Fager was able to document 40 suicides of known Straight Inc abuse. Five percent of children and adults who attended Straight Inc. did so with court order and even after child abuse allegations had already filed against the facilities. But an important lesson we can learn from the history Melvin Sembler’s Straight Inc. is that any revulsion authorities have to cruelty and mistreatment of teens can be redeemed by the transformative power of political contributions. Melvin Sembler was a very successful political campaign fundraiser. People at the highest levels of the US government have endorsed and approved of Straight and its spin off programs including Nancy Reagan, George Bush Sr., Jeb Bush, and George Bush Jr.

After extensive federal and state investigations into the abuse, the Straight Inc. program just changed its legal name and continued business as usual. This gave rise to a myriad of programs under various names but all with the same abusive treatment of children. Torture which is prohibited under US law and under International law had been used by Straight Inc as a means to perpetuate extensive medical insurance fraud some of which involved fraud against the US taxpayer. As Straight Inc. branched out it started using governmental grants to fuel its growth.

In 1982 Donald Ian Macdonald, MD was appointed Director of Medical Research for Straight-national, and in 1986 Richard H. Schwartz, MD was Director of Research for Straight-Springfield. The 1991 report by author Richard Lawrence Miller titled Teens and marijuana: Ethics of research accuses Straight's Doctor Richard Schwartz of performing medical experiments on Straight clients without their informed consent. In 1971 the United States Senate's Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights under the directorship of Senator Sam Ervin began an investigation of the US government's role in behavior modification. Ervin's 650 page report was published in November 1974 under the title "Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification." In the report about The Seed which was Straight’s predecessor, the “brainwashing” methods used were likened to those methods employed by North Koreans against American servicemen during the Korean War. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) had funded The SEED under NIH. NIDA was at that time directed by Dr. Robert L. DuPont, Jr. Senator Ervin directed Dr. DuPont and NIDA to require The Seed to issue NIDA human consent forms to Seed participants and to their parents acknowledging that they were participating in human experimentation as required by NIDA's own regulations.

Melvin Sembler, a real estate magnate and strip-mall developer, earned his fortune as chairman of the Sembler Company, a Florida-based real estate company. Mel and Betty Sembler had a son in The Seed. When it closed Mel, Betty and some other Seed parents formed their own Seed-like program in 1978 which they called Straight, Inc. Straight was quickly accused of criminal child abuse by Florida's licensing and investigating agency the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS). Bob Marshall, the principal investigator for HRS was fired and thus further investigation was halted. There is sound evidence that the HRS report was covered up. One of the Straight Inc victims, Jerry Vancil who testified disappeared, and has never been seen or heard from since--dead or alive. Melvin Sembler responded to the allegations of child abuse by replacing Straight’s clinical director Jim Hartz with Miller Newton.

In 1983 Reverend Doctor Miller Newton, Straight's national clinical director, left Straight in Florida to setup his own second-generation Straight in New Jersey. In 1989 California health authorities closed down his expansion program in that state for reasons of criminal child abuse. Straight moved into the facility and took over Newton's clients. In just over a year later state authorities closed the California Straight too citing: "Documentation on file indicates that there have been incidents where children have been subjected to unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threat, mental abuse or other actions of a punitive nature, including . . . interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping or toileting, or withholding of medication." (3)

The NIDA was not the only federal agency to have funded The Seed. The Law Enforcement Assistance Agency (LEAA) had also made grants. Under pressure by Senator Ervin LEAA Administrator Santarelli announced the cancellation of all LEAA funding for medical research, psycho surgery, and behavior modification because, in his words, there "are no technical skills on the staff to screen, evaluate, or monitor such projects." LEAA had been approached by Straight to fund its startup because Straight Inc. realized that NIDA would demand that Straight Inc. parents and children sign human consent forms acknowledging that their kids were participating in a medical experiment.

Straight which was founded in 1976 after The Seed was shut down, needed startup money but it was still too risky to approach NIDA for funds as much had been made in the newspapers about NIDA's relationship to The Seed. It was a certainty that NIDA would have to ask Straight parents and their children to sign human consent forms acknowledging that their kids were participating in a medical experiment. But LEAA had not been setup to fund programs involved in human experimentation and thus it had no policy for human consent forms. True, LEAA Administrator Santarelli had held a news conference announcing the cancellation of all LEAA funding for medical research, but after Senator Ervin retired, LEAA staff quickly forgot the guidance of their own administrator. Straight Inc. managed to get two startup grants from the LEAA in 1976 and again in 1977 for $50,000 each. Around 1978 NIDA's director Robert DuPont left NIDA and became a paid Straight consultant. Straight then went national and became the largest juvenile drug rehabilitation program in the world--and one of the most destructive.

In 1983 a former patient won $220,000 from a jury for unlawful imprisonment that involved regular beatings at the Straight, Inc., facility in St. Petersburg, Florida. Another Florida patient won a $721,000 jury award in 1990. Dozens—if not hundreds—of other suits were settled out of court. (4) In 1985 the Semblers fearing civil suits by the victims of the abuse and fearing possible criminal prosecution, changed the mission of Straight, Inc. from "treatment" to "education" and its name from "Straight, Inc." to "Straight Foundation, Inc." In 1995, two years after Straight had to be closed; Betty Sembler changed the name of the educational foundation again to the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF).

From 1997 to 2000, Sembler served as Finance Chairman for the Republican National Committee and from 1994 to 2000 as Florida's National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee. He then lent his fund-raising skills to the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, helping raise a then-record $21.3 million during a single campaign dinner in 2000.(5) After his election, the younger Bush named Sembler Ambassador to Italy. Sembler served as U.S. Ambassador to Australia and Nauru during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. (6) Sembler was an adviser to Mitt Romney during the race for the 2008 Republican Party presidential nomination. According to, during the period 1989-2009, Sembler donated nearly $500,000 to political races and conservative political action committees. Sembler also supported former Bush administration figure I. Lewis Libby by serving as chairman of the Libby Legal Defense Fund, which raised money for the ultimately unsuccessful defense of Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief staffer, against perjury and other charges related to the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name.

So today Straight has morphed into an organization called the Drug Free America Foundation, which specializes in helping small businesses set up Drug Free Workplaces, and in promoting national and international drug policy. Through the Drug Free America Foundation and other think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Melvin Sembler still influences drug policy in this country by promoting public policy that allows coercive and abusive treatment methods. This child abuse is not limited to the U.S.A. Now the former staff of the KIDS program has established an abusive teen rehabilitation center in Canada, the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC). The abuse of children in residential centers has not stopped but has gotten even more governmental power to hide its true nature from law enforcement and regulators. Abusive teen rehabilitation centers are now even more numerous and the industry is still not regulated by the US federal government. There is no adequate means to monitor these facilities for human rights abuses. Those who profit from this child abuse continue use their financial gains for political power including now undisclosed contributions to non-profits to hide the real source and identity of the funds from the American public.

Melvin Sembler co-founder and CEO of Straight Inc. claims that Straight Inc. no longer has any financial assets – all the financial profits disappeared after the victims of Straight Inc. abuse started to win their cases in a court of law. Obtaining diplomatic immunity by becoming President George Bush Jr’s Ambassador to Italy, the money from Straight Inc. just disappeared into a myriad of complicated real estate transactions. Competent and dedicated FBI agents who were trying to pursue the money trail were told to not pursue their cases. Family court Judges who felt that justice had finally been served by court findings of damages to the victims, found that redress and restitution were denied because the court ordered damages were never paid by Melvin Sembler and his business associates. Private attorneys who spent endless hours compiling the needed documentary evidence were thwarted in their pursuit of justice for the Straight Inc survivors. One attorney tried to assemble a civil RICO case involving thousands of victims’ cases but when the FBI could not assure the payment of money to those who had already won their court cases, further legal pursuit of reparation to victims seemed pointless.

Yet Melvin Sembler’s financial empire and political power continued to grow. In the 2010 national election in which many judges as well as US Senators and US Representatives were up for election, Melvin Sembler stood publicly in support of the American Future Fund and the American Crossroads and its affiliate — Crossroads GPS. Both are shadowy nonprofit organizations which purport to be exempt from tax under section under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Both organizations are registered as a 501(c)(4), which means they can receive unlimited donations and do not have to disclose their donors due to a recent decision by the US Supreme Court.

In January 2010 five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited funds promoting or attacking candidates in local, state and federal elections. This opened the way for unlimited election campaign spending by corporations. Corporations such as Melvin Sembler’s Florida real estate corporation were already spending considerable amounts of money to influence elections, but Citizens United v. FEC allowed CEOs to spend as much as they want and hide their campaign contributions from the public. Corporate front groups can sponsor campaign advertisements supporting the candidates of their choice and the public will never know who is funding the ads. Thus Melvin Sembler as an anonymous corporate donor can influence the election of federal judges and the election of members of the US Congress and not have the US public even know which political candidate is beholden to him for campaign contributions through American Crossroads or American Future Fund. This is how money gained in medical insurance fraud, fraud against governmental programs and financial profits gained from abusing children finds its way into national politics and thus influences the investigative and legislative environment facilitating the criminal enterprises.

In March 27 2008 a complaint was filed against American Future Fund - violations of Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 as amended. American Future Fund failed to register and report as a political committee with the Federal Election Commission and to comply with the obligations applying to such committees. American Future Fund in 2008 received $7.5 million in donations and was spending approximately $6.3 million in the 2010 election. Sandra Greiner, Director and President of American Future Fund, was previously an Iowa State Senator and is currently an Iowa State Representative. American Crossroads and its affiliate — Crossroads GPS, reportedly planned to raise $52 million. In the state of Kansas the American Future Fund poured an estimated $900,000 to defeat an incumbent Attorney General, Steve Six in the November 2, 2010 election. Attorney General Steve Six served as the highest ranking Department of Justice official in the state of Kansas and was thus responsible for all investigation and prosecution decisions made for any administrative, civil or criminal case in the state. Attorney General Steve Six was noted for aggressively investigating and prosecuting medical fraud and also was an effective prosecutor against those who abuse children, prosecuting those who do human trafficking and do pornography. The group called American Future Fund (AFF), which is based out of Iowa, has spent millions opposing selected incumbents across the country. AFF has not shared with the US public their real reasons for their targeting particular elected officials and judges in multiple states. Neither have they volunteered to provide the names of their contributors to the Federal Election Commission.

There are several teen rehabilitation facilities in Kansas run by Teen Challenge USA. Teen Challenge is considered by HEAL (8) to be a teen torture center, managed on the same principles as The Seed and Straight Inc. Teen Challenge is a national faith-based residential drug treatment program that is in many states including CA, WA, TX, AL, AZ, AR,CO, CT, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY,OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA. The programs have no medical component and center instead of around prayer, Bible study and religious conversion. Teen Challenge currently operates five drug treatment centers in Texas – none of which have a state license, but only two of which have formally registered their status as a faith-based facility exempt from state licensing. As exempt faith-based drug treatment centers, Teen Challenge facilities are not required to have licensed chemical dependency counselors, conduct staff training or criminal background checks, protect client confidentiality rights, adhere to state health and safety standards, or report abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors. Even prior to seeking an exemption from state licensing, a 1995 state inspection revealed that Teen Challenge was not compliant with numerous state health, safety and quality of care standards. Teen Challenge USA has been reported to be abusive and has even hired staff even though they were already registered child sex offenders. It would seem to be common sense to not hire a known convicted sex offender to be director or on staff of a facility that treats children, but that is exactly what Teen Challenge in Winthrop Maine did – not once but twice – two registered sex offenders on staff.

Prior to the November 2010 election the grassroots non-governmental organization, Public Citizen had filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission against both the Crossroads GPS and American Future Fund alleging violations of federal election campaign laws and requesting that the Federal Election Commission take immediate steps to enforce the law and expose these groups’ secret financing to light of day. Currently Melvin Sembler can secretly donate any amount of money anonymously to these secret non-profit funds like American Future Fund and Crossroads- GPS and by doing so control who will be the highest Department of Justice official –the State Attorney General as well as which sitting judges will continue to serve the bench. That is the kind of non-transparent political power that allows this system covert governmental power to continue to allow abuse children to continue, and to allow those corporations who violate human rights to flourish and prosper in the United States of America. Constitutional civil rights and human rights have little chance of success when millions of dollars are spent to unfairly bias the election of judges or the State Attorney General.

Thus to stop further abuses of children and teens in residential programs the US must identify those that enable this activity to flourish and shut off the perpetrator’s access to grant money and political power. In order to prevent or halt further abuse, it is important to know the identity of the key actors. Explaining the role of the enablers as well as the perpetrators can make governmental officials adopt new due diligence commitments to avoid be complicit in what is actually criminal activity. Economic sanctions, reduction of various forms of governmental assistance as well as public media attention can all help to shine a light on the problem. Focused pressure on key individuals can gain their attention and cause them to rethink their actions or inactions. Much information is already available through several US Congressional investigations; the most recent was done by the House Education and Labor Committee chaired by Representative George Miller. H.R. 911: Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009 passed the US House of Representatives on Feb 23, 2009 but still has not yet received any real action in the Senate. This act was “To require certain standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and neglect in residential programs, and for other purposes.”

The Straight Inc. survivors need to feel that the US government will create effective measures aimed at the stopping the continuing violations and a verification of the facts and full public disclosure of the truth especially for abuses occurring today. For 17 years Straight Inc. and some of its medical doctors were in violation of international law by being in violation of both the Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code. We must have effective regulatory control over residential treatment centers and wilderness camps. These are gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and we need guarantees of non-repetition. We also must not give de jure or de facto amnesty to the founder and CEO of Straight Inc. Melvin Sembler and should require him to make effective and adequate reparations to the victims of this institutional child abuse. Many victims feel that a public apology including acknowledgment of the facts and acceptance of responsibility is particularly pertinent because the US government knew of the abuse but still failed to protect the children. The United States as a part of the international community should keep faith and human solidarity with victims, survivors and future human generations, and to reaffirm the international legal principles of accountability, justice and the rule of law.

Additional Notes and References:

1. The right of torture survivors to reparations as a matter of international law. Chorzow Factory Case (Germany v Poland), 1928, PCIJ, ser. A, no. 17, p. 47.

2. The International Survivors Action Committee Corporation was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created by survivors of Straight, Incorporated. ISAC works “to expose child abuse within privately owned behavior modification centers, drug treatment centers, specialty boarding schools and teen boot camps.”

3. Letter dated June 27, 1990 from Fred Dumont, Santa Ana, California District Manager for Dept. of Social Services to Straight, National Headquarters explaining why state authorities ordered the program closed.

4. Maia Szalavitz, “Why Jesus Is Not a Regulator,” American Prospect, April 8, 2001.

5. John Gorenfeld, “Ambassador de Sade,”, November 8, 2005.

6. “Biography: Melvin Sembler,” U.S. State Department, January 28, 2002 Former Ambassador to Italy (2001-2005); Former Ambassador to Australia and Nauru (1989-1993)

7. American Future Fund P.O. Box 13434 Des Moines, IA 50310 The American Future Fund operates as a 501(c)(4). March 27 2008 a complaint was filed by DFL against American Future Fund - violations of Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 as amended. The American Future Fund failed to register and report as a political committee with the Federal Election Commission and to comply with the obligations applying to such committees. The American Future Fund evaded basic disclosure requirements of the Federal Elections Commission by not filing a statement of organization and by refusing to file required reports. In this manner the AFF has evaded the oversight of the Federal Election Commission and failed to be in accordance with basic disclosure requirements and has spent money to influence elections. The AFF claim to provide Americans with a conservative multi-state advocacy group to communicate a free market viewpoint and to have a mechanism to communicate and a voice for free market ideals focused on bolstering America’s global competitiveness across the country.

Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies – Crossroads GPS, 1401 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005

8. Human Earth Animal Liberation, 126 SW 148th St, Ste C100-422, Seattle, WA, 98166-1984, (877)845-3232

9. Unlicensed counselors were hired at the Teen Challenge facilities. In one Teen Challenge facility in Winthrop Maine, a known child molester became manager of a Teen Challenge facility. Shondi Fabiano listed officially as a co-head of Teen Challenge New England by the website of the Northern New England District of the Assemblies of God, and who is officially listed as a lifetime-registered sex offender for second-degree child molestation and sexual assault in the third degree. An online check of sex offender registries, including the Florida sex-offender registry run by Florida Department of Law Enforcement, also shows Shondi Fabiano also has a history of 2nd degree sexual assault conviction in Kent, RI. Shondi Fabiano listed her residence as Teen Challenge in Maine’s sex offender registry. Shondi Fabiano was convicted of Second Degree Child Molestation in Rhode Island. She is listed on the National Sex Offender Public Registry. For additional information:

Another sex offender Dennis Knox was also at Teen Challenge in Maine Registered Sex Offender Dennis Knox is the second rapist employed by the Teen Challenge in Winthrop, Maine. Dennis Knox, age 35, was convicted of gross sexual assault after raping an unconscious female. He is listed on the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

At Teen Challenge there was also evidence of educational neglect (educationally insufficient material) and reports of physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse. There were many reports of abuse including forced missionary activity, possible violation of child labor laws, and forcing people to sign over paychecks to Teen Challenge. Florida has a nearly identical scheme to the one Texas had until recently, in that centers can be completely exempted from regulation by joining the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies--and Teen Challenge happens to be a member of FACCCA.

Action 9 reporter Todd Ulrich in Orlando, Fla. uncovered an unlicensed telemarketing operation at the Sanford Teen Challenge. Men convicted of financial crimes took customers' credit card information over the phone. They were paid 33 cents a day for a 40-hour work week. They were instructed to lie to potential customers about timeshare vacations from the "Disney Planning Center Resort." Further investigation revealed that the timeshare company has no relationship to Disney. Sanford Teen Challenge director Wayne Gray resigned in the wake of the scandal, and then fled when approached by Todd Ulrich for a follow-up story. Florida's Division of Consumer Services, which regulates telemarketing, is continuing its investigation.

Former Sanford, Fla. Teen Challenge director Wayne Gray, who resigned in disgrace when Action 9 news exposed an unlicensed telemarketing scam that paid workers 33 cents a day, turned up 1300 miles away in Oklahoma. Gray is now the Executive Director of Oklahoma Teen Challenge. No word yet on whether any of the Oklahoma Teen Challenge locations is running a telemarketing operation.

10. Public Citizen, 1600 20th Street NW Washington, D.C. 20009 (202) 588-1000,,, htp://, Kevin Zeese, P.O. Box 9596, Washington, DC 20016, 301-996-6582, Chris Holman, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, 202-454-5182, 202-454-5182

11. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth Street South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, Tel: 727.820.0100, Fax: 727.821.8435

12. Drug Free America Foundation Inc., 5999 Central Ave Ste 301, St Petersburg , FL 33710 Web Address: Telephone: 727-828-0211 Mental Health, Crisis Intervention / (Alcohol, Drug and Substance Abuse, Dependency Prevention and Treatment) Year Founded: 1978 Mission statement To Prevent Drug Abuse and promote awareness through education.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act - S 372

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) H.R. 985 had passed the House of Representatives with a strong bi-partisan majority was fully supported by the whistleblower community and contained true due process rights for all federal employees. But the new S 372 or the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) in the Senate which was approved by Unanimous Consent had significant differences from the house bill. Some in the whistleblower community such as the leadership of the National Whistleblower Center believe that there were in reality rollbacks of the current legal rights. Others such as the Make it Safe Coalition and the Government Accountability Project have supported the Senate bill despite its flaws.

Those who wish to “Tell Truth To Power” wish to do so within a safe responsible channel to work within the system not outside it. True national security experts realize that it is preferable to provide a proper protected channel for information about problems, mistakes, or even corruption to get from the field to leaders in authority. Enhanced whistleblower protections would specifically allow national security and intelligence workers to expose wrongdoing through their chain of command, keeping classified information within the intelligence community. Thus creating a viable protected system where none currently exists will help strengthen our national security rather than weakening it. We as a nation do need strong protections for those who step forward courageously to report problems so that we can respond by meeting those challenges and making the entire system stronger.

The following have been criticisms of S 372/WPEA as recently passed by the Senate:

1) Giving the power of summary judgment to the Merit Systems Protection Board is new power will may result in a substantial increase in litigation costs in whistleblower cases, a decrease in the ability to obtain settlements and the creation of a "record" that will be very difficult to reverse on appeal. Many cases could be dismissed by MSPB under this new power.

2) It is feared that the Senate version of the bill (S 372) may have decreased the ability of employees to blow the whistle on “mismanagement” by requiring the burden of proof to be at the level of “gross mismanagement.” (see Drake v. Agency for International Development, 543 F.3d 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2008).)

3) Section § 101(a) (and related provisions) of S. 372.1 re-defines the scope of a protected disclosures permitted under the WPEA, and permits managers and political appointees to fire career civil servants who disclose violations of law. This is contrary to Executive Order 12371. The key to a successful fraud detection program are laws and rules that protect and encourage employees to report "suspicious activities," regardless of the motives of those who engage in such activities and regardless of whether, after an investigation, those activities constituted only "minor" or "inadvertent" violations of law or regulation. The Government's interest in curbing waste, fraud, abuse and corruption is better served by over reporting, and the authorities to whom such disclosures are to be made can best determine the merits of the allegations.

Thus there has been dissent within the whistleblower community on whether the current House/Senate proposals were in fact rollbacks from current legal rights. But there is clear consensus that we do need strong whistleblower protections which will adequately protect federal whistleblowers, national security whistleblowers and a wider spectrum of those in the private sector. All in the whistleblower community believe that the house bill H.R. 985 was better written to provide the necessary whistleblower protections. Thus as S 372 moves forward to the House leadership it is an open question whether the House should approve it without any changes or instead hold it back and consider making the bill stronger and with greater protections for whistleblowers. The question that many whistleblowers are asking themselves is whether those changes ever truly materialize, and will legislation be passed that provides true protections for our whistleblowers. Let us hope that our national leaders listen to those who have questioned certain aspects of the current bill S 372 and make the necessary changes to improve it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled against the Texas Medical Board

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled against the Texas Medical Board (TMB), allowing landmark litigation by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeon to proceed to prove wrongdoing by the Board. In this important ruling the court has found that the Texas Medical Board has had claims of "pervasive and continuing violations of... constitutional rights" by the TMB, the Court expressly noted allegations that "the Board manipulated anonymous complaints," that the former Board president targeted physicians, and that "anonymous complaints allegedly were filed by a New York insurance company seeking to avoid paying... for claims." The case brought by AAPS means that allegations against the Texas Medical Board regarding bad faith administrative actions against physicians in Texas will no longer be able to be concealed and hopefully the transparency brought by discovery on this case will bring to light the truth behind the claims of wrongdoing against physicians.

Judge Denies Attorney Fee Motion Against PsychRights

Last month we reported certain defendants in PsychRights Big Medicaid Fraud case asked for over $325,000 in attorney's fees against PsychRights. Today the judge denied that motion.

For background, this is the case against various child psychiatrists, providers, pharmacies, state officials and a medical publisher for causing or submitting fraudulent claims to Medicaid for psychiatric drugs that are not for an accepted medical use as defined under Medicaid ("medically accepted indication"). The judge threw the case out of court because he said the Government knows all about the fraud and isn't doing anything about it. We have appealed that decision because we think the judge is wrong and in today's order denying the attorney fee award, the judge reiterated that there was "no consensus," that his decision was correct.

There is more information on the case at The case is part of PsychRights' Medicaid Fraud Initiative Against Psychiatric Drugging of Children and Youth. See We think this initiative has the potential for really putting the brakes on the drugging of children and youth by making the doctors realize they face financial ruin by continuing the practice.

We had been reluctant to try and raise a bunch of money for PsychRights with the threat of having it go to the defendants so now would be an excellent time to make a donation to PsychRights if you can and are so inclined. It will be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rape as an International Crime

The United Nations Security Council officially recognized rape as a tactic of war. Rape is classified as an act of torture within international human rights, humanitarian and criminal law. Rape is used to discourage dissent and to demonstrate power and it can be used to create an environment of fear that systematically breaks down the cohesion of a community by creating division and shame which tears apart social and family bonds. Rape in such a context is a war crime. Rape occurs also frequently in detention and in some countries is almost expected when a woman has been tortured.

Rape affects the entire community, although sexual assault is most often a crime defined by gender, with women and girls the predominant victims. It is a tactic to rape a woman in order to shame and humiliate the men in her family who were unable to protect her. Thus the sexual assault causes vicarious trauma to all who care about the rape victim and gives the rapist power over others who witness or hear about the rape. Men and boys have also been subjected to sexual abuse and rape. The shame and humiliation of such sexual violations leaves many victims unable to tell their stories. Being raped has consequences far beyond the event itself. There is a risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and physical injury, as well as psychological consequences that last for a lifetime. Those who have experienced rape as torture often experience depression, anxiety and inability to trust as well as headaches, nightmares and intrusive memories. There is long term impact on themselves, their families and society.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights...”

There is a human right to self autonomy and personal dignity. A person whether a man or woman has the human right to refuse sex with any particular person, at any particular time, under any particular set of circumstances. Consent is the issue, no one else has the right to make that decision for another. It does not matter whether force, coercion or fraud have been used, if the person's right to decisions regarding her/his personal autonomy has been ignored and he/she has been humiliated then it is rape - only if she/he has consented would it not be rape.

On July 17, 1998 the International Criminal Court was created and on April 11, 2002 the Rome Statute (establishing the court) was ratified, coming into effect in July 2002. The International Criminal Court can not only prosecute nation states for committing crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute, but certain types of non-state actors can be prosecuted as well.

There were four types of international crimes the court was created to address:
• Genocide,
• Crimes against humanity,
• War crimes,
• Aggressive wars.

Some Examples of Crimes against Humanity - Article 7 of the Rome Statute provides a list of the most heinous offenses, which includes:
• Enforced disappearance, defined as the detention or abduction of people (with the acquiescence of the state) along with a refusal to acknowledge their whereabouts or fate,
• Apartheid,
• Rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and enforced prostitution and sterilization,
• Deportation or forcibly transferring a population,
• Persecution, defined as the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights.

Rape causes serious bodily or mental harm and international criminal tribunals have indicated that rape can constitute genocide when it is directed toward destroying a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Under international law the crime of rape is a physical invasion of a sexual nature, which is not limited to a physical invasion of the body and may involve acts where there is no penetration or even physical contact.

The definition of rape in The Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) includes two key elements:

“The perpetrator invaded the body of a person by conduct resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim or the perpetrator with a sexual organ or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or any other part of the body.”

“The invasion was committed by force, or by the threat of force or coercion, such as that was caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression, or abuse of power, against such person or another person, or by taking advantage of a coercive environment or the invasion was committed against a person incapable of giving genuine consent.”

One of the most significant aspects of the above elements is the presence of the “coercive environment” and the inability of a person to give consent. This moves away from an assumption of implied consent and recognizes that under certain coercive circumstances the assumption works the other way—namely, the assumption is that the sex was unwanted.

When does rape change from sexual assault carried out by one individual against another to become a crime against humanity?

The Foca rape case verdict in February 2001 was the first time that individuals were convicted for rape as a crime against humanity. The Foca rape case was prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (the ICTY) in an effort to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity in the war in Bosnia. Prior to the Foca rape case no one had ever been convicted of rape as a crime against humanity.

The atrocities carried out in the Balkan war showed that in a terror campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” rape can be used as a “Tool of Terror.” The Serbs sought to carve out a new Republic of Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia by getting rid of the Muslim population. Witness accounts of rape that were communicated from a woman in one village to another became an important campaign of terror that caused the population to flee. Witnessing a rape of another woman is emotionally traumatizing, especially if that woman was your mother, sister or friend. A woman did not need to be herself raped in order to have the terror of rape to be effective causing her and her family to leave her home and abandon her possessions. Rape is not merely a brutal form of violence but it also violates deeply held social values,and therefore it breaks apart the ties of community that gives a group strength. When the rapist humiliates the woman or girl in public, it humiliates the entire community. Public rape communicates dominance not only over the victims that suffer this cruelty, but even more importantly it communicates the impotence of the community to do anything about it. Thus the crime of rape was perpetrated against the entire community in an effort to drive them out of their homes and off their land. The traumatic memories of the sexual violation of Muslim women would psychologically and emotionally traumatize the victims/witnesses long after they fled the area and were settled elsewhere, causing long term harm to the social group

The prosecution in the Foca rape case argued three things:
1. The use of rape in attacks on civilians was widespread and systematic,
2. To support the allegation that rape was “widespread and systematic” the prosecution worked to show that the tactic was repeated and continuous (systematic) and that what had happened in Foca was a representative sample of Serbian methods of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (widespread),
3. Rape was not simply an individual action but involved a chain of command. This did not mean that a commanding officer had ordered his men to rape, but that rape was occurring with his knowledge and he did not intervene to stop it.

The court ruled that the acts of rape were recognized as crimes against humanity because:
• They were part of a systematic and widespread campaign,
• The acts included elements of enslavement.

The Statue of Rome had included rape in its definition of crimes against humanity, but the Foca rape case made that language a reality. After the court’s decision in the Foca case, one commenter noted that, “Now we say rape is a crime, a crime against humanity, or a war crime or a constituent part of genocide.” The ICC Statute is important because it expands the coverage of crimes against women to more than just rape. The ICC statute also makes clear that such crimes as sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and sexual violence are all punishable under international law.

The Foca case taught us that it is extremely important that the court considers the views and concerns of victims throughout the legal proceedings. Experienced professionals with expertise in trauma, especially trauma related to sexual violence should provide psychological counseling to victims and witnesses. There also need to be special advisers with legal experience on the special issues regarding sexual and gender violence against children. It must be remembered that the victims put themselves in danger by agreeing to testify and the court should take appropriate measures to protect the safety and the physical as well as the emotional well being of the victims. These mechanisms to protect victim rights are crucial to establishing the truth about these serious crimes.

The Role of International Law in Whistleblower Protection

The Role of International Law

The United Nations recognized the vital role of human rights defenders and the UN was convinced that these human rights defenders need to be protected from retaliation for reporting violations of human rights of others. The UN formally defined the defense of human rights as a right in itself and to recognize persons who undertake human rights work as “Human Rights Defenders.” The Resolution 53/144 was adopted in order to protect both human rights defenders and their activities. This is commonly known as the “Declaration on human rights defenders.”

Who is a Human Rights Defender?

Defenders can be of any gender, of varying ages, from any part of the world and from all sorts of professional or other backgrounds. In particular, it is important to note that human rights defenders are not only found within non-governmental organizations,and intergovernmental organizations but might also, in some instances, be government officials, civil servants or members of the private sector.

Medical Whistleblowers

Medical Whistleblowers are human rights defenders. The Hippocratic Oath taken by every Medical Doctor states the Doctors’ responsibility to care for the sick, to report on the welfare of the individual patient and also guard against any bias in the medical care system in relationship to any class of persons. The central moral commitment of the Hippocratic traditional code is its dedication to something other than the physician’s self-interest, that something being the primacy of the welfare of the patient. The Medical Doctor’s clear obligation is to detect and prevent abuse and neglect.

Medical Whistleblowers promote the well-being of patients by taking appropriate actions to avert the harms caused by violence and abuse. The duty of the Doctor is to not only address patients’ immediate injuries, but also the psychological and social needs of victims. Medical Whistleblowers need to work closely in conjunction with members of the public safety and law enforcement communities. In the U.S.A. there is mandated reporting of any signs of violence, abuse, or suspicious injuries. This places the Medical Whistleblower in the position of being a human rights defender and possibly facing retaliation by politically or economically powerful adversaries. In the political international context, medical professionals are some of the first reporters of violations of human rights. Medical Whistleblowers report the abuse of the elderly in hospital and nursing home settings, the financial and civil rights violation by guardians of the mentally ill, sexual assault of vulnerable youth in the foster care system, male upon male rape in prisons, neglect or abuse of refugees, and brutality against prisoners of war or psychological torture of terrorist suspects. Often Medical Fraud goes hand in hand with the violation of the patient’s human rights. Criminals who defraud the US Medicaid system by fraudulent charges, false reports and unnecessary procedures on vulnerable patients, do not care that they are causing physical, emotional and financial harm to vulnerable children and adults. These criminals deliberately seek out persons who by their very medical condition, disability, cognitive difficulty, legal immigration status, nationality, or disease state are particularly vulnerable. The right of opinion and expression of Medical Whistleblowers need to be protected in order to protect these vulnerable patients.

National Security Whistleblowers

Nowhere is it more important to have persons of honor and ethical and moral character than in our national security service. It takes great courage to be a national security whistleblower and human rights defender especially when already working in a dangerous environment. But brave defenders have stood up for human rights and braved the stigma of being a whistleblower within the national security, law enforcement or intelligence professions. It must be pointed out that many of these professionals although not in the medical profession may have contact with those who need medical care and assistance or who have suffered abuse, mistreatment or even torture. In addition, many medical professionals do serve in national security positions or work with the security forces. Executive orders and administrative measures have been used to limit the action of human rights defenders, in the name of security. National security personnel face retaliation when reporting to the Merit Systems Protection Board or the appropriate Office of Inspector General. Protecting their right to provide testimony regarding issues of fundamental human rights is critical not only to our national integrity but also to our national security and defense as well. If in times of war, the U.S.A. as a nation is not perceived as abiding by international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, then we put the safety of our own men in combat at risk of brutal reprisals. Medical Whistleblower strongly supports appropriate national whistleblower protection legislation to give these courageous defenders the protection and support they deserve.

Forgive and Forget?

We should not be indicating to potential perpetrators of human rights violations that with time their acts will be forgiven and forgotten. We should not deny victims and their families the comfort of knowing that their suffering is recognized. Those who would continue past injustices and treat offenders as if they have absolute immunity, wish instead to erect a wall between the past and the present and place blinders on our governmental leaders about what may happen in the future.

This is not a pathway to national security but instead a blind following into potential disaster as we do not then learn from our past mistakes and make the necessary changes to prevent problems in the future.

Often those who have suffered whistleblower retaliation for bringing forward the truth to power have been told that we should forget the past and just move on. Those who advocate that we forget the past believe that we should not dwell on past injustices that can never be redressed. But our national whistleblowers embody the right to the public to know the truth and for those empowered to govern to make informed decisions. Without access to the guarantees of due process, those who wish to blow the whistle are instead punished for exercising their basic civil and political rights. The judicial system, far from affording individuals basic standards of justice, can be used by those in power as an instrument of repression to silence dissent. Not only is there an absence of the rule of law, but the legal system can be used against the people.

Reparation and Mitigation under International Law

There is a fragile connection between international law and justice and politics. In the international arena, many interests collide. There needs to be a real recognition of the economic and political power of the wrong doer, the competing interests of the various stakeholder groups including even opposing parties. International law needs to balance all these interests taking into account the constitutional obligation on the state to prosecute offenses that threatened the rights of citizens and its international obligation to prosecute crimes against humanity.

Nothing is more revealing about the situation of human rights in a country than the existence of political prisoners and social and political isolation of governmental whistleblowers and the denial of the most basic freedoms essential to humankind, such as freedom of expression, assembly and association. There has been an increased use of psychological mind control techniques to silence whistleblowers especially those in the national security, intelligence and law enforcement professions. Starting with subtle workplace bullying behavior, outright threats, surveillance, the witness intimidation can progress to illegal detainment with even hostile psychiatric evaluations or even treatment for “alleged” mental health illnesses. The effects of psychological intimidation, threats, and even psychological torture should not be under-estimated. Physical and mental consequences of torture can endure for several years and may be irreversible, often affecting not only whistleblower victims themselves, but also their relatives and close friends.

Although as Socrates may have said it may be better to be a victim than a wrongdoer, it would be much more preferable to have a secure route by which whistleblower complaints could be handled and retaliation quickly and decisively dealt with.

One of the means of mitigating the subsequent effects of torture on victims and their families is to provide them with medical, psychological, social, legal and economic aid. With this in mind, the General Assembly created the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture in 1982. The purpose of the Fund is to receive voluntary contributions and distribute them to non-governmental organizations and treatment centers for assisting victims of torture and their relatives whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of torture, as well as for the funding of projects for training healthcare professional specialized in the treatment of victims of torture.

Under the UN guidelines, every state should make sure that its legal system provides prompt and effective legal procedures of reparation for victims of human rights abuses. Applicants for reparation may include individual victims or a group of victims, the immediate family or the dependents of victims, or even “persons having a special relationship to the direct victims.” The measure of reparation should be expeditious and fully effective.

Such reparation should remove or redress the consequences of violations, and may serve the purpose of prevention. Reparation shall be in proportion to the violation. No statute of limitation should apply for human rights violations as long as an effective remedy is not available. The possibility and procedure of reparation should be widely publicized, and the applications for reparation should be diligently dealt with within an appropriate time period. Reparation should include restitution: the reestablishment of the situation that existed before the violation; compensation: redress for economically assessable damage; rehabilitation: medical, psychological, legal and social services; and satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

US class action lawsuits have already changed the world of reparations under international law by making it possible for victims to win sizeable awards and even the return of long forgotten assets. Ideally, the reparation should be sufficient to allow the victim to become compensated and rehabilitated. While it is notoriously difficult to measure non-pecuniary losses such as pain, suffering and emotional distress, property restitution could produce equally numerous problems.

United Nations Declaration & International Law Related to Defenders of Human Rights:

Articles 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 of the United Nations Declaration provide specific
protections to human rights defenders, including the rights:

❖ To seek the protection and realization of human rights at the national and international levels;
❖ To conduct human rights work individually and in association with others;
❖ To form associations and non-governmental organizations;
❖ To meet or assemble peacefully;
❖ To seek, obtain, receive and hold information relating to human rights;
❖ To develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their
❖ To submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with
public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may impede the realization of human rights;
❖ To make complaints about official policies and acts relating to human rights and to have such complaints reviewed;
❖ To offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other advice and assistance in defense of human rights;
❖ To attend public hearings, proceedings and trials in order to assess their compliance with national law and international human rights obligations;
❖ To unhindered access to and communication with non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations;
❖ To benefit from an effective remedy;
❖ To the lawful exercise of the occupation or profession of human rights defender;
❖ To effective protection under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, acts or omissions attributable to the State that result in violations of human rights;
❖ To solicit, receive and utilize resources for the purpose of protecting human rights (including the receipt of funds from abroad).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010

The Tribal Law and Order Act is bi-partisan legislation that was introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD). The Act passed the Senate on June 23, 2010, as part of H.R. 725, The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010. The Tribal Law and Order Act addresses disturbing rates of sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and the failure to protect indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA. Amnesty International drew national attention to in its 2007 report, Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA.

Here in Lawrence we are privileged to have many Native Americans and the Haskell University. So Lawrence Kansas is a melting pot for Native Americans from every tribe in the USA and benefits from the infusion of Native American culture and art. Indian arts and crafts provide important cultural and economic benefits to our community and to the wider public. We are looking forward to the Haskell Indian Art Market on Sep 11-12, 2010 featuring Native American artists and also artist demonstrations. National legislation regarding the civil rights and human rights of Native Americans is important to not only Kansas Native American tribes but also to all Native Americans attending the Haskell University here.

On June 30th, the Senate passed the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010. This legislation has been passed by both chambers of Congress and has been signed by the President. It will become law once administrative actions are complete. The Senate bill was S. 151 was sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ). The House bill HR 725 was sponsored by Representative Ed Pastor (D-AZ). HR 725 included the majority of the provisions in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 which tackles the complex jurisdictional maze that allows violent crime against Indigenous women, and in particular, sexual assault and violence against Native American and Alaska Native women, to go unpunished and unabated.

On Jan 19, 2010, this bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. On April 19, 2010 Medical Whistleblower highlighted the problem of violence against Native American women and the need for proper law enforcement investigation and enforcement in Medical Whistleblower’s Universal Periodic Review Report to the United Nations and spoke directly with President Obama to urge him and the US Congress to take action on this bill and other bills in front of Congress that protected human rights. With the actions of many other human rights advocates and great support from the public, the US Congress took decisive action on Jun 23, 2010 and S.151 passed in the Senate with changes by Unanimous Consent. In regards to HR 725 Representative Dennis Moore (D-KS) and Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) both took a supportive role and voted for concurring with the Senate on H.R. 725 House Vote #455 (Jul 21, 2010).

Plains and immigrant tribes in Kansas include Cherokee, Chippewa, Delaware (Lenape), Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Kaw Nation, Kanza, Kickapoo, Miami OK, New York Seneca Nation, Osage, Otoe, Ottawa, Pawnee, Peoria, Potawatomi Citizen, Potawatomi Prairie Band Nation, Quapaw, Sac and Fox, Shawnee, Wea, Wyandot, and Huron.

Medical Whistleblower wishes to thank the US Congressmen/women who helped pass this historic legislation and recognized the human rights importance of providing proper law enforcement investigation, protection and prosecution to crimes that occur to Native American people.

Official Summary of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009

10/29/2009--Reported to Senate amended.

Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 - States as the purposes of this Act to: (1) clarify the responsibilities of federal, state, tribal, and local governments with respect to crimes committed in trial communities; (2) increase coordination and communication among federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies; (3) empower tribal governments to provide public safety in tribal communities; (4) reduce violent crime in tribal communities and combat sexual and domestic violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women; (5) prevent drug trafficking and reduce rates of alcohol and drug addiction in Indian country; and (6) increase and standardize the collection of criminal data and the sharing of criminal history information among federal, state, and tribal officials.

Official Summary of the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2010

1/19/2010--Passed House amended. Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2010 - Amends the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 to expand the authority of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to bring criminal and civil actions for offenses under such Act involving the sale of misrepresented Indian-produced goods or products. Authorizes:
(1) any federal law enforcement officer to conduct an investigation of an alleged violation of this Act occurring within the jurisdiction of the United States; and
(2) the Board to refer an alleged violation to any such officer (currently, only to the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI]) for investigation. Permits such an officer to investigate an alleged violation regardless of whether such officer receives such a referral from the Board. Requires the findings of any investigation of an alleged violation to be submitted to a federal or state prosecuting authority or the Board. Authorizes the Board, upon receiving the findings of such an investigation, to:

(1) recommend to the Attorney General that criminal proceedings be initiated (current law);
(2) provide such support to the Attorney General relating to the criminal proceedings as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate; or
(3) recommend, in lieu of or in addition to any such criminal proceeding, that the Attorney General initiate a civil action. Allows the Attorney General, an Indian tribe, an Indian, or an Indian arts and crafts organization to initiate a civil action under this Act. Amends the federal criminal code to revise penalties for the sale of misrepresented Indian-produced goods and products.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Tribal Law and Order Act was passed

We have been successful!!! The Tribal Law and Order Act was passed and will be signed by President Obama tomorrow July 29, 2010. Our goal of protecting the human rights of Native American Women has been won.

Medical Whistleblower in this year's Universal Periodic Review report to the United Nations emphasized human rights concerns for the violence against Native American Women and called on the President and the US Congress to help end sexual violence and rape against Native American and Alaska Native women in the U.S. Last week, the House passed H.R. 725, to which the Tribal Law and Order Act was attached as an amendment, by a vote of 326 yays to 92 nays. President Obama has responded with his vow of support and his promise to sign this bill into law tomorrow, Thursday July 29th. President Obama said “The federal government’s relationship with tribal governments, its obligations under treaty law, and our values as a nation require that we do more to improve public safety in tribal communities. And this Act will help us achieve that.” We hope this will help address the longtime problem of disturbing rates of sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. The Tribal Law & Order Act of 2009 grants Tribal Courts the authority to impose harsher sentences and requires U.S. Attorneys to keep a better record of declinations involving Indian Country among other provisions. The Act also grants Tribal Courts the authority to impose a sentence of three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000 for a single count. Those are raised from the previous maximums of one year imprisonment and a $5,000 fine as outlined in the Indian Civil Rights Act. See S. 797 on THOMAS for the official source of information on this bill or resolution.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Elder Justice Act

There is a terrible tragedy of elder abuse that is occurring in silence the U.S.A. every day and the victims ordinary senior citizens are often physically and emotionally abused or financially exploited. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, as of July 1, 2004, 12 percent of all Americans were 65 and over. By 2050, people 65 and over will comprise an impressive 21 percent of the U.S. population.

The terrible secret is that according to Department of Health and Human Services estimates between 500,000 and 5 million seniors in our country are abused, neglected, or exploited. It is a sad fact that most victim of elder abuse remain silent about their victimization or do not know how to report.

The Senate is considering an Elder Justice Act. It would boost federal aid for identifying and investigating elder abuse at the state and local levels, require long-term care providers to report possible crimes to federal authorities and create new oversight within the Department of Health and Human Services for coordinating state and federal anti-abuse efforts. This bill has gained broad support in and out of Congress, with more than 500 advocacy groups supporting the legislation so it is hoped that at least some of the measures appear to have good prospects for being enacted into law.

According to a study for the National Institute of Justice, there are approximately 11% of people ages 60 and older suffer from some kind of abuse every year. In addition other studies show that elderly victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation have twice the risk of dying within a year.

The Elder Justice Act of 2005 which was now finally passed into law will hopefully:

 Fund research on comprehensive approaches to abuse detection and prevention;

 Promote coordination of federal, state and local efforts through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice;

 Support efforts to enhance capacity to discover and hold abusers and other violators accountable;

 Provide for long term care staff training and preventive security measures to protect individuals receiving long-term care, including the establishment of a national nurse aide registry and national criminal background checks; and

 Authorize funds for training and to establish a clearinghouse to empower professionals, researchers and consumers in finding solutions to elder abuse.

Petitions Currently Active on

Go to

Increase Funding to Improve the Education of Native Americans
Support Senator Tom Udall’s request for additional funding to the BIE and BIA. Let us not forget that education is a human right which includes (a) the right of access to quality education; (b) the practice of human rights in and through education; and (c) education as a right that facilitates the fulfillment of other rights.
Take Action

Urge the President to Issue an Executive Order on Domestic Human Rights
The time for action is NOW. President Obama should issue an Executive Order that holds the U.S. accountable for its human rights commitments.
Take Action

Support the Tribal Law and Order Act (S. 797 / H.R. 1924)
The Tribal Law and Order Act (S. 797 / H.R. 1924) is still in the spotlight in both the House and the Senate. The Senate recently passed this legislation out of committee. There is a lack of proper law enforcement protection to Native Americans on Bureau of Indian Affairs land.
Take Action

Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
We the undersigned are calling on the United States Congress to Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities WHEREAS, the Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century; and the President of the United States signed the treaty on July 30, 2009 and it is now necessary to ratify the treaty to give it the force of law..
Take Action

Stop Child Abuse - Support HR 911
It is a sad fact that the United States has not protected the human rights of children in private residential treatment and wilderness camps. These programs remain largely unregulated and terrible abuse happens while children are kept from communicating with their families and getting advocacy for even their most basic needs.
Take Action

ASAM creates a new medical board speciality to compete with boarded psychiatrists and psychologists

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has created a New Board Specialty in order to control Federal grant funds and other public financing in behavioral medicine.

American Society of Addiction Medicine certification FASAM is not equivalent to medical board certification. On their website the ASAM admits that the ASAM " examination is not a Board examination. ASAM is not a member of the Board of American Board of Medical Specialties, and ASAM Certification does not confer board Certification. "

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. The ASAM conveniently refuses to acknowledge the DSM IV R criteria for various addictive disorders and instead has their own criteria which was concocted by their own doctors with histories of addiction. Dr. George Douglas Talbott was one of the initial writers of the ASAM manual on addiction. This book is used by ASAM doctors as the bible to diagnosis people with "addiction". So they created their own criteria and based that on symptoms which in the real DSM IV R are attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Acute and Complex). The PHP never gives anyone just a diagnosis of PTSD because that would not allow them to legally prevent their whistleblowing testimony to be heard in a court of law. It is important to recognize the difference between PTSD which is a psychiatric injury as opposed to what is a mental disease. This is a legal as well as a medical concept.

Based on this newly concocted diagnostic manual dreamed up by the members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the ASAM then started their own credentialing program and called the graduates who learned their new diagnostic approach Fellows and gave them the initials FASAM behind their names. The ASAM is now trying to grandfather in their FASAM members as being boarded experts in behavioral medicine without going through the strenuous residential internships currently required to call a doctor a boarded expert. Should allegations of domestic violence and human rights violations be permanently erased from a doctor's record so that he can move into a position of national political influence and power?

There are specific professional organizations which provide Board Specialty training in medicine and psychology. These organizations have clear stringent guidelines as to who is given the honor and professional status as a boarded expert. Credentialing in the Boarded specialties as a MD is a challenging process that weeds out those without adequate clinical or academic skills.

Even in the field of psychology which is not the practice of medicine, there are still strict guidelines for board certification. The American Board of Professional Psychology was incorporated in 1947 with the support of the American Psychological Association. The ABPP is a unitary governing body of separately incorporated specialty examining boards which assures the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of specialty standards and examinations by its member boards. Through its Central Office, a wide range of administrative support services are provided to ABPP Boards, Board Certified Specialists, and the public.A Specialty is a defined area in the practice of psychology that connotes special competency acquired through an organized sequence of formal education, training, and experience. In order to qualify as a specialty affiliated with the ABPP, a specialty must be represented by an examining board which is stable, national in scope, and reflects the current development of the specialty. A specialty board is accepted for affiliation following an intensive self-study and a favorable review by the ABPP affirming that the standards for affiliation have been met. These standards include a thorough description of the area of practice and the pattern of competencies required therein as well as requirements for education, training, experience, research bases of the specialty, practice guidelines, and a demonstrated capacity to examine candidates for the specialty on a national level.

This is not true of the new board "speciality" criteria of the newly created Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW) - which was previously the American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association. The goal of the American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association was to make money on substance abuse treatment and mental health services. Instead their CEO and Chairman of the ABHW Board, Pamela Greenberg, is also Senior Vice President in the Stephens Inc. company in Dallas TX which supplies financial services for health insurance companies. The goal of this alliance is to make money for the financial investors (Stephens Group LLC). Those making management decisions are not trained in medicine or psychology, they are trained in financial assessment, risk management, cost benefit insurance statistical analysis, economics, public policy, survey research and other related fields. They are not medical doctors or psychologists.

It must be remembered that part of the funding for the State Physicians Health Programs is provided from medical malpractice insurance companies. The State Physicians Health Program is not designed to help targeted doctors recover and go back to practice, nor are they designed to truly protect the vulnerable patients from abuse, neglect and medical fraud. The State Physicians Health Program is designed to make their Directors money and to protect large hospital and medical corporations from medical malpractice suits. The State Physicians Health Program will readily sacrifice a medical doctor's career for corporate profits.

The Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW) organization run by Pamela Greenberg is designed to protect certain financial interests such as Medical Malpractice and Health Insurance companies (Aetna, Value Options, Cenpatico, Magellan Health Services, Optum Health Services, Shaller Anderson Behavioral Health, MHN) and also the financial interests of Big Pharmaceutical companies ( Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca International, Bristol Myers, Reckitt Beckiser). ABHW mission can be seen at

ASAM states in their mission statement that their goal is to establish addiction medicine as a specialty recognized by professional organizations, governments, physicians, purchasers and consumers of health care services, and the general public. The American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association (AMBHA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) are together promoting this new medical boarding and will be grandfathering those who already have the FASAM credentials in without the need for the normal hospital residency. These newly boarded "experts" in behavioral medicine would then be able to compete for Federal Funding on an equal basis to the already existing Medical Doctor Board and Psychologist certifications in Psychiatry and Psychology but these new graduates would be trained in the Dr. George Talbott and Ruth Fox traditions. One can only imagine what Dr. George Douglas Talbott ("recovered" alcoholic) and these other FASAM doctors would then do politically and financially with this new credentialing based on past history of medical fraud, patient abuse and human rights violations.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Health Care Now will be at the US Social Forum in Detroit June 22-26

Are you planning to attend the US Social Forum in Detroit from June 22nd to 26th? If so, we hope you will join Healthcare-NOW! Go here to see our schedule for the Forum.

On Thursday, June 24th, 10am-12pm we will be leading a workshop, titled "Single- Payer Healthcare, the Solution to the Health Care Crisis."

On Friday, June 25th, 1:00pm-5:30pm we will be leading a People's Movement Assembly, titled "What the Health Happened and How Do We Get the Health Care We Need?"

Also, Healthcare-NOW! will have an information table set up throughout the Forum and we need volunteers. Our table is at Cobo Hall Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-9pm. We need volunteers to staff the table in 1-2 hour shifts each day. In addition, we will collect 1,000 post cards in support of HR 676 with your help. To volunteer at our table please email us at

There are other events on the right to healthcare and single-payer at the Forum. See all the workshops and events we'll be involved in here.

For Improved Medicare for All,
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff


Director of Compliance and Oversight Division Kristina Borror
1101 Wootton Parkway
Suite 200,
Rockville, MD 20852

Dear Director of Compliance and Oversight Division Borror,


Recent reports by Physicians for Human Rights and a paper by
Renée Llanusa-Cestero in "Accountability in Research" raise
concerns that the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS)
conducted research and experimentation on detainees in US
custody and, in the process, likely violated federal regulations
governing human subject research carried out by United States
Government entities. These regulations are known as The Common
Rule (45 CFR 46). The CIA is one of seventeen federal agencies
required by law to adhere to The Common Rule when conducting
federally funded research on human beings.

The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) should initiate
immediately an official investigation into experimentation by
the CIA on detainees in its custody based upon the following
evidence of wrongdoing detailed in declassified government

(1) The collection by OMS health professionals of data from
detainees in order to derive generalizable knowledge of the
effects on detainee subjects of "enhanced interrogation"
techniques. These techniques, which have serious potential to
cause harm, included sleep deprivation, waterboarding, sensory
deprivation and overload. It appears that data also was
collected on the impact of techniques both when used
individually and when applied in combination;

(2) The collection of data from detainees subjected to the
technique of the waterboard in order to develop new methods and
procedures for its application, including the experimental use
of potable saline in place of water to reduce the risk of

(3) The CIA's apparent failure to comply with The Common Rule's
regulations (a) requiring all human research subjects to provide
informed consent, (b) assuring that subjects of research have
the right and ability to stop their participation in the
research at any time, and (c) requiring the conduct of prior
review of the proposed human subject research by an
Institutional Review Board.

We request the OHRP to conduct a For-Cause Compliance Oversight
Evaluation of the CIA OMS for research targeting detainee

If the OHRP concludes that OMS research on detainees subjected
to "enhanced interrogation" techniques commonly viewed as
torture violated The Common Rule and internationally accepted
standards of health professional ethics, the CIA must be
immediately sanctioned by the Department of Health and Human
Services. Any personnel found to have violated the law should be
referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
Professionals determined to be in violation of their ethically
mandated responsibilities should be referred to state licensing
bodies and professional associations for appropriate
professional sanctions.

**The following information will be added to the list of
Janet Parker DVM
P.O. Box C
Lawrence, KS 66044

Friday, May 7, 2010

Resident/Interns Making Life and Death Decisions while Exhausted and Sleep Deprived

The November 1999 report of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), entitled To Err Is Human: Building A Safer Health System, focused a great deal of attention on as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. Medical Errors are the eighth leading cause of death. More people die each year due to medical error than die due to work related injuries and even more than die in automobile accidents. These medical errors can occur outside the hospital in other medical settings and even at home as there are medical errors in the writing and filling of prescriptions. The Massachusetts State Board of Registration in Pharmacy estimated that 2.4 million prescriptions are filled improperly each year in the State. See the IOM reporton Medical Errors was issued in February 2000

What are medical errors? Well it can be a botched surgery, amputation of the wrong limb, an wrong medication dose given, ordering the wrong diagnostic test or forgetting to order a diagnostic test, poor infection control leading to nosocomial or post-surgical wound infections, giving the wrong blood unit to a patient, improperly adjusting IV fluid flow, misinterpretation of a test and failure to act on abnormal results.

So how do you feel about the idea that a resident/intern in charge of decisions that affect you or your loved one has been sleep deprived and is exhausted? It is clear all rational decision makers that a doctor who is unable to get adequate rest will probably start making mistakes. In the hospital environment this can lead to medical error and even patient death. Rather than hiding the truth of medical errors we need to address this problem head on and need to address the abusive system of on call duty and lack of sleep time for resident/interns.

There is a new study out call Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision, and Safety, most comprehensive study of resident work hours conducted to date. According to this recent Institute of Medicine study there are many abuses of scheduling of the more than 100,000 resident physicians in teaching hospitals across the country. Often in the U.S.A. these interns and residents are routinely scheduled to work shifts of 24-30 consecutive hours, with little or no sleep. They work in operating rooms and ER’s on the wards and in clinics. According to the study, the residents/interns when they are done their 12 hour or longer shifts, they potentially face back to back “on-call shifts” that can be 30 hours long. This brutal schedule leaves them sleep deprived and deeply fatigued interns and residents make mistakes thus impacting quality of medical care and safety. The rising level of medical errors in the USA is a testament to this real problem of quality of patient care and safety. Marathon work hours are linked to significant increase in failures of attention, performance deficits and medical errors. Driving back to their homes after an exhausting day at work leads to increased car accidents. The study reviews the robust evidence base linking fatigue with decreased performance in both research laboratory and clinical settings and makes a number of important recommendations for changes in the current system of training physicians. These include new limits on resident physician work hours and work load, increased supervision, training in structured hand-overs and quality improvement systems, more rigorous oversight and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to successfully implement the recommended reforms.

There is a human cost to medical error in injury, increased sick time, days off work, and even death due to medical errors. This is a huge problem for our health care system, one which costs about $37.6 billion each year; about $17 billion of those costs are associated with preventable errors. Imagine how much more efficient and economical our medical system would be if we could prevent the expenses related to medical error which account for direct health care costs.

Medical error is often not attributable to individual negligence or misconduct. The key to reducing medical errors is to focus on improving the systems of delivering care and not to blame individuals. Health care professionals are simply human and, like everyone else, they make mistakes.

For more information on medical errors, select

See also the landmark research conducted by Lucian Leape, M.D., and David Bates, M.D., and supported by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem. Fact sheet, Publication No. AHRQ 00-P037. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. The prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) in December 2008 released its landmark report, Additional information on Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision, and Safety can be found at Copies of the report are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3312 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at In addition, a podcast of the public briefing held to release this report is available at

Lingering Questions Revolving around the Murder of a Doctor in Connecticut

Dr. Lishan Wang is charged with homicide of another doctor, Vajinder Toor. Lishan Wang is now facing charges of homicide in Superior Court New Haven, CT in the U.S.A. Dr. Lishan Wang filed a law suit alleging that he was retaliated against for being a whistleblower and then lost his job. He feared that he would not regain employment and then would no longer be able to support his family. Like many doctors in the USA he faced an unresponsive peer review system that was not transparent nor equitable. It is a terrible tragedy that it appears that he has chosen to take the life of another. In the hours after police say he shot and killed Dr. Toor, Lishan Wang is said to have expressed regret for what he'd done as he spoke with the Branford police.

See these news reports:

I do not want to diminish the gravity of the offense of which Dr. Lishan Wang is charged and to which he apparently confessed to police. If he is guilty he should certainly bear the weight of the justice system for his crime. Homicide is never justified and this was a terrible loss for the Toor family. Toor leaves behind his wife, who was 14 weeks pregnant with the couple's second child and a toddler son. We extend great sympathy and condolences for this grieving family.

I believe we learn to prevent further tragedies by recognizing the truth behind these events. This is one reason why Medical Whistleblower provided information to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva information about the lack of protections for those who are defenders of human rights. In this UPR report Medical Whistleblower outlined the many ways in which justice is not served in the medical quality review and peer review system and why medical professionals in particular are threatened frequently with bad faith peer review. Bad Faith Peer Review is the lack of due process, transparency and justice in the administrative system controlling doctor's licensing. It is important the public recognize the inherent problems in the system that lead up to this tragic death so that the Toor family and others can understand what may have driven this man to such a desperate act.


July 2006 - May 2008: Wang is a resident at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

Nov. 2006: Toor joins the staff at Kingsbrook.

May 25, 2008: Heated argument between Wang and Toor where Toor accuses him of using "hostile body language."

July 6, 2008: Wang files EEOC complaint against hospital.

July 25, 2008: Wang terminated by Kingsbrook.

Nov. 2008: Wang resigns from a job at AE & LY Medical Associates of Flushing, N.Y., and moves back to Texas.

Feb 2009 – Feb 2010 Dr. Wang does postdoctoral work at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta

May 8, 2009: EEOC gives Wang permission to sue hospital.

July 28, 2009: Wang files federal discrimination lawsuit against Hospital. In the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Wang in 2009, Toor is referenced at least four times, and is accused of racial discrimination. In one incident documented in the suit, Wang said Toor humiliated him in front of other medical residents during a morning conference.

August 2009: Toor moves his family to Meadows condominium complex in Branford in preparation for a fellowship at Yale School of Medicine.

March 10, 2010: Federal judge orders Wang to comply with subpoena from hospital attorney's seeking his IRS returns, medication history and employment records.

April 13, 2010: Federal judge postpones conference call on status of federal discrimination case until May 6, 2010.

April 26, 2010 Police said Dr. Vajinder Pal Toor, 34, was walking to his car outside his Branford condo on Blueberry Lane just after 8 a.m. Monday when he was shot at least three times. Police said Toor's pregnant wife heard the commotion and confronted the gunman, later identified as 44-year-old Lishan Wang, of Georgia. Police said Wang turned and fired at her, but missed. Toor was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Wang then fled in a red minivan. The names of two additional people directly involved with Wang's termination from the residency program were also located inside the van, according to court documents. These additional people were apparently unhurt. Using a description of the vehicle provided by witnesses, police were able to locate the Wang and take him into police custody. Police said two large-caliber handguns were found in a tote bag in the minivan's back seat. Branford police released a report from an officer who interviewed Wang. In the report, Wang told officers that he was sorry for what happened.