Protect NCMEC?

The National Association to PROTECT Children, which describes itself as “a national pro-child, anti-crime membership association. . . . committed to building a powerful, nonpartisan force for the protection of children from abuse, exploitation and neglect,” recently issued this rare rebuke of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) paid its CEO over $1.3 million in salary and compensation in 2008, the St. Petersburg Times reported last week, in an article now drawing fire from the group.

“In 2008, the latest year for which records are available, [Ernie] Allen made $511,069 as head of the center and its international affiliate. He also received $787,126 in deferred compensation and underfunded retirement benefits, as well as $46,382 in nontaxable benefits — a total of $1,344,567,” reports Susan Taylor Martin, a veteran investigative reporter.

NCMEC claims that the additional $787,126 it paid Allen in 2008 was for “retirement benefits that have accumulated for more than 20 years.” Martin also reports that “the center’s 350 employees include 11 who are paid more than $125,000.”

Martin asked Sandra Mioniutti of Charity Navigator, which calls itself, “the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities,” about NCMEC’s practices. “I think it doesn’t pass the smell test with donors… said Mioniutti. “It’s very hard for people to wrap their arms around huge salaries, especially right now when we’re in a recession.”

The article provoked a rare official response on the issue from the National Center.

“Mr. Allen’s involvement with NCMEC goes beyond the traditional CEO. He was one of the co-founders of both NCMEC and ICMEC. Mr. Allen serves as the full-time chief executive and manages two nonprofit organizations with separate boards of directors, one domestic and one global, and he played a significant role in building both organizations,” NCMEC says in the statement on its website. (For a list of the NCMEC Board of Directors, click here.)

“Key facts and information that were provided to Ms. Martin were omitted and the resulting story contained inaccurate and misleading information,” claims NCMEC.

Government Salary?

A second issue raised by the St. Petersburg Times is also provoking a defensive response from the Center. The paper’s story runs under the headline, “Quasi-governmental missing kids center enjoys key exemptions from federal rules,” raising questions about NCMEC’s legal status and salaries that dwarf normal government pay scales. Allen’s base salary of $511,069 is greater than President Obama’s, and nearly three times the salary for a U.S. Senator (source).

“The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is not a government agency…” responds the group. “NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It is an information clearinghouse. It assists law enforcement, but does not engage in law enforcement action itself.” At NCMEC’s 20th anniversary “Tribute to President Ronald Reagan” in 2004, the agency described itself as “a public-private partnership, taking the best of both worlds to better protect America’s children.”

But NCMEC’s legal status is not that simple.

Often referred to as “Congress’ Nonprofit,” NCMEC operates in a gray area between government and the private sector. Attorney and author Andrew Vachss (a PROTECT National Advisory Board member) calls the agency “the Blackwater of Child Protection.”

“Why should we be outsourcing what the government’s supposed to do in child protection?” asks Vachss. “Why should this be in private hands?”

By special statutory authority, the ostensibly private Center has access to secure law enforcement databases, warehouses illegal child pornography images and even has federal agents working under its roof. Federal law also gives NCMEC the power to compel private industry to deliver evidence of suspected online crimes, which is then forwarded to law enforcement, effectively making the Center an operational middle man in thousands of criminal investigations.

NCMEC’s power and funding have often come at the expense of law enforcement, as Congress starves law enforcement agencies while funding the Center lavishly. When NCMEC took over a critical child pornography database for identifying victims from the FBI, Bureau officials explained sheepishly that “they had the people and we didn’t.” However, NCMEC says in its official statement that it “is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” making it impossible for citizens to determine how effectively or quickly thousands of child victims are now being searched for, identified and located.

Many in the law enforcement world resent the power and funding Congress has given to NCMEC and fear its political influence. “I’d rather piss on a Mafia boss’ shoes than piss off NCMEC,” one former child pornography investigator told PROTECT. That sentiment is whispered among law enforcement nationwide.

Scrutiny Unlikely

It’s unlikely, however, that revelations of NCMEC salaries will trigger official action against a massive agency that one top Justice Department official recently called politically “wired.”

“It’s widely understood on Capitol Hill that openly criticizing or challenging NCMEC is off-limits,” says PROTECT executive director Grier Weeks. “Their untouchable status weakened a little after the Foley scandal [Rep. Mark Foley headed NCMEC’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus], but criticism is still spoken in code and prefaced with effusive disclaimers.

“As far as expecting low- or mid-level bureaucrats at Justice to challenge the Center on issues like million-dollar salaries, forget about it.”

NCMEC operates under a $30 million annual “cooperative agreement” with the U.S. Department of Justice. It raises approximately $10 million more a year from private entities, including companies that it has quasi-regulatory power over (see Microsoft settlement, Cuomo prosecution threat).

“The question raised by the St. Petersburg Times is not so much about NCMEC’s accountability,” says Weeks. “That is what it is. This is about the federal government’s accountability. It would be hard to argue at this point that NCMEC is not a re-branded government agency operating outside the bounds of normal government accountability–one free to aggressively influence the political, legislative and budgetary process.”


6 Replies to "Protect NCMEC?"

  • Emmanuel Lazaridis
    March 26, 2010 (4:01 pm)
    Reply

    Dear Sir,

    I have followed your blog for some time now, and have found it to be very informative.

    The only serious attempt to obtain scrutiny of the American Center and its activities comes from abroad because, as PROTECT rightly points out, American authorities are unwilling to implement proper oversight of this political “sacred cow”. Mr. Allen is getting rich on the backs of the poor children that he and his Center falsely claim to be missing. His Center is now the largest perpetrator of missing child fraud in the world. Of course, more “missing” kids translates to more $$$ for Mr. Allen and his Center.

    More than a dozen European children have been identified who are falsely claimed by Mr. Allen and his Center to be missing. For this fraud on the public and the violation of these children’s fundamental rights under the CRC, Mr. Allen will shortly be facing criminal charges across the European landscape. His first criminal trial is now set for December 2010 in Athens, Greece.

    Greece, once again, is the trendsetter: foreign courts will have to provide the oversight that United States authorities will not. Is it not a shame that the United States is showing, once again, that it can be entirely impotent when it comes to policing its own?

    Emmanuel Lazaridis

    See: http://www.ncmec.eu

  • sister blue
    March 26, 2010 (4:23 pm)
    Reply

    From the legislative desk of Senator Nancy Schaefer 50th District of Georgia

    November 16, 2007 Updated: September 25, 2008

    THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES

    BY: Nancy Schaefer Senator, 50th District

    My introduction into Child Protective Service cases was due to a grandmother in an adjoining state who called me with her tragic story. Her two granddaughters had been taken from her daughter who lived in my district. Her daughter was told wrongly that if she wanted to see her children again she should sign a paper and give up her children. Frightened and young, the daughter signed. I have since discovered that parents are often threatened into cooperation of permanent separation of their children.

    The children were taken to another county and placed in foster care. The foster parents were told wrongly that they could adopt the children. The grandmother then jumped through every hoop known to man in order to get her granddaughters. When the case was finally heard in court, it was made evident by one of the foster parent’s children that the foster parents had, at any given time, 18 foster children and that the foster mother had an inappropriate relationship with a caseworker.

    In the courtroom, the juvenile judge, acted as though she was shocked and said the two girls would be removed quickly. They were not removed. Finally, after much pressure being applied to the Department of Family and Children Services of Georgia (DFCS), the children were driven to South Georgia to meet their grandmother who gladly drove to meet them.

    After being with their grandmother two or three days, the judge, quite out of the blue, wrote up a new order to send the girls to their father, who previously had no interest in the case and who lived on the West Coast. The father was in “adult entertainment”. His girlfriend worked as an “escort” and his brother, who also worked in the business, had a “sexual charge brought against him”. Within a couple of days the father was knocking on the grandmother’s door and took the girls kicking and screaming to California.

    The father developed an unusual relationship with the former foster parents and soon moved to the southeast. The foster parents began driving to the father’s residence and picking up the little girls for visits. The oldest child had told her mother and grandmother on two different occasions that the foster father molested her.

    To this day after five years, this loving, caring blood relative grandmother does not have visitation privileges with the children. The little girls are, in my opinion, permanently traumatized and the young mother of the girls was so traumatized with shock when the girls were first removed from her that she has never completely recovered. The mother has rights but the father still has custody of the children.

    Throughout this case and through the process of dealing with multiple other mismanaged cases of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), I have worked with other desperate parents across the state of Georgia and in many other States because their children were taken for no cause and they have no one with whom to turn. I have witnessed ruthless behavior from many caseworkers, social workers, investigators, lawyers, judges, therapists, and others such as those who “pick up” the children.

    I have been stunned by what I have seen and heard from victims all across this land. In this report, I have focused mainly on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). However, I believe Child Protective Services nationwide has become corrupt and that the entire system is broken beyond repair. I am convinced parents and families should be warned of the dangers. The Department of Child Protective Services, known as the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in Georgia and other titles in other states, has become a “protected empire” built on taking children and separating families. This is not to say that there are not those children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection.

    However, this report is concerned with the children and parents caught up in “legal kidnapping,” ineffective policies, and an agency that on certain occasions would not remove a child (or children) when the child was enduring torment and abuse.

    In one county in my District, I arranged a meeting for thirty-seven families to speak freely and without fear. These poor parents and grandparents spoke of their painful, heart wrenching encounters with DFCS. Their suffering was overwhelming. They wept and cried.

    Some did not know where their children were and had not seen them in years. I had witnessed the “Gestapo” at work and I witnessed the deceitful conditions under which children were taken in the middle of the night, out of hospitals, off of school buses, and out of homes. In one county a private drug testing business was operating within the agency’s department that required many, many drug tests from parents and individuals for profit.

    It had already made over $100,000.

    Due to being exposed, several employees in this particular office were fired. However, they have now been rehired either in neighboring counties or in the same county again. According to the calls I am now receiving, the conditions in that county are returning to the same practices that they had before the light was shown on their evil deeds.

    Having worked with probably 300 cases statewide, and now hundreds and hundreds across this nation and in nearly every state, I am convinced there is no responsibility and no accountability in Child Protective Services system.

    I have come to the conclusion:

    > that poor parents very often are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers;

    > that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;

    > that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while the parents are at work and while their children are separated from them. (some times parents are required to pay for the programs) This can take months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents are victimized by “the system” that makes a profit for holding children longer and “bonuses” for not returning children to their parents;

    > that caseworkers and social workers are very often guilty of fraud. They withhold and destroy evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights unnecessarily. However, when charges are made against Child Protective Services, the charges are ignored;

    > that the separation of families and the “snatching of children” is growing as a business because local governments have grown accustomed to having these taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;

    > that Child Protective Services and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing.

    There should be open records and “court watches”! Look who is being paid!

    There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, guardian ad litems, court personnel, and judges. There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that the social workers are the glue that hold “the system” together that funds the court, funds the court appointed attorneys, and the multiple other jobs including the “system’s” psychiatrists, therapists, their own attorneys and others.

    > that The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion first in 1974 by Walter Mondale and later in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, offered cash “bonuses” to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In order to receive the “adoption incentive bonuses” local child protective services need more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sells and you must have plenty so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 to $6,000 bonus for each child adopted out to strangers and an additional $2,000 for a “special needs” child. Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;

    > State Departments of Human Resources (DHR) and affiliates are given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. For every child DHR and CPS can get adopted, there is the bonus of $4,000 or maybe $6,000. But that is only the beginning figure in the formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the State has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. Therefore States and local communities work hard to reach their goals for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care.

    > that there is double dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. There is funding for foster care then when a child is placed with a new family, then “adoption bonus funds” are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved and so is Medicaid;

    > As you can see this program is ordered from the very top and run by Health and Human Resources. This is why victims of CPS get no help from their legislators. It explains why my bill, SB 415 suffered such defeat in the Judicial Committee, why I was cut off at every juncture. Legislators and Governors must remember who funds their paychecks.

    > that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together or provide effective care;

    > that the incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after taking them has disappeared and who in protective services will step up to the plate and say, “This must end! No one, because they are all in the system together and a system with no leader and no clear policies will always fail the children. Just look at the waste in government that is forced upon the tax payer;

    > that the “Policy Manual” is considered “the last word” for CPS/DFCS. However, it is too long, too confusing, poorly written and does not take the law into consideration;

    > that if the lives of children were improved by removing them from their homes, there might be a greater need for protective services, but today children are not safer. Children, of whom I am aware, have been raped and impregnated in foster care;

    > It is a known fact that children are in much more danger in foster care than they are in their own home even though home may not be perfect.

    > that some parents are even told if they want to see their children or grandchildren, they must divorce their spouse. Many, who are under privileged, feeling they have no option, will divorce and then just continue to live together. This is an anti-family policy, but parents will do anything to get their children home with them. However, when the parents cooperate with Child Protective Services, their behavior is interpreted as guilt when nothing could be further from the truth.

    > Fathers, (non-custodial parents) I must add, are oftentimes treated as criminals without access to visit or even see their own children and have child support payments strangling the very life out of them;

    > that the Foster Parents Bill of Rights does not stress that a foster parent is there temporarily to care for a child until the child can be returned home. Many foster parents today use the Foster Parent Bill of Rights as a means to hire a lawyer and seek to adopt the child placed in their care from the real parents, who are desperately trying to get their child home and out of the system. Recently in Atlanta, a young couple learning to be new parents and loving it, were told that because of an anonymous complaint, their daughter would be taken into custody by the State DFCS. The couple was devastated and then was required by DFCS to take parenting classes, alcohol counseling and psychological evaluations if they wanted to get their child back. All of the courses cost money for which most parents are required to pay. While in their anxiety and turmoil to get their child home, the baby was left for hours in a car to die in the heat in her car seat by a foster parent who forgot about the child. This should never have happened. It is tragic. In many cases after the parents have jumped through all the hoops, they still do not get their child. As long as the child is not returned, there is money for the agency, for foster parents, for adoptive parents, and for the State.

    > that tax dollars are being used to keep this gigantic system afloat, yet the victims, parents, grandparents, guardians and especially the children, are charged for the system’s services.

    > that grandparents have called from all over the State of Georgia and from other states trying to get custody of their grandchildren. CPS claims relatives are contacted, but there are many many cases that prove differently. Grandparents who lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children lose their family heritage and grandparents, and parents too, lose all connections to their heirs.

    > that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!

    > That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to 70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have been removed from their homes.

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. Call for an independent audit of all State Child Protective Services (CPS) and for a Federal Congressional hearing on Child Protective Services nationwide.

    2. Activate immediate change. Every day that passes means more families and children are subject to being held hostage and their lives destroyed.

    3. Abolish the Federal and State financial incentives that have turned Child Protective Services into a business that separate families for money.

    4. Grant to parents their rights verbally and in writing.

    5. Mandate a search for family members to be given the opportunity to adopt their own relatives if children need to be removed permanently.

    6. Mandate a jury trial where every piece of evidence is presented before permanently removing a child from his or her parents. Open family court. Remove the secrecy. Allow the press and family members access. Give parents the opportunity in court to speak and be a part of their children’s future.

    7. Require a warrant or a positive emergency circumstance before removing children from their parents. (Judge Arthur G. Christean, Utah Bar Journal, January, 1997 reported that “except in emergency circumstances, including the need for immediate medical care, require warrants upon affidavits of probable cause before entry upon private property is permitted for the forcible removal of children from their parents.”)

    8. Uphold the laws when someone fabricates or presents false evidence. If a parent alleges fraud, hold a hearing with the right to discovery of all evidence made available to parents.

    FINAL REMARKS

    On my desk are scores of cases of exhausted families and terrified children. It has been beyond me to turn my back on these suffering, crying, and beaten down individuals. We are mistreating the most innocent. Child Protective Services have become an adult centered business to the detriment of children. No longer is judgment based on what the child needs or who the child wants to be or with whom, or what is really best for the whole family; it is some adult or bureaucrat who makes the decisions, based often on just hearsay, without ever consulting a family member, or just what is convenient, profitable, or less troublesome for the social workers.

    I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to so many families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so. Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free.

    “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” Proverbs 31:8-9

  • Carlos
    April 10, 2010 (1:16 am)
    Reply

    Interesting that Emmanuel Lazaridis aka Michael MacDonald aka “Secretariat of the NCMEC.eu” aka “we at the European Centre” aka international kidnapper of an American child wanted by authorities in the US and France for child abduction is posting on this blog entry.

    Hey Manny how about removing my abducted son from your fraudulent and disgusting squatting/phishing like imitation of the NCMEC’s missing kid’s website where you have him listed as a case of “missing child fraud?” All your bleating and hand wringing fools no one. You are a hypocrite of the highest order and no amount of sophistical, circular or convoluted logic will convince anyone otherwise. Having you advocate for change at the NCMEC is like having organizations like NAMBLA advocate for gay rights. By very virtue of you advocating against the NCMEC you damage the argument for reform and oversight. Like the pedophile amongst the gay right’s activists you are the parental kidnapper amongst the child’s rights activists damaging the credibility and moral authority of those who agree with them. As long as bottom feeding low life’s like Emmanuel Lazaridis, are vociferously criticizing the NCMEC they must at least be doing something right.

    I’m all for constructive oversight of the NCMEC and any other recipient of large amounts of US taxpayers money, in particular when that agency fulfills such a critical role as that played by the NCMEC — we just need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Children are societies most vulnerable members. Despite the way the issue of children’s rights gets disingenuously tossed about daily by politicians trying to promote some ulterior agenda by using the spectre of endangered children to evoke an emotional response, there are very legitimate issues confronting American children that the NCMEC plays a huge role in addressing.

  • astroloji
    June 11, 2010 (3:15 am)
    Reply

    I have come to the conclusion:

    > that poor parents very often are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers;

    > that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;

    > that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while the parents are at work and while their children are separated from them. (some times parents are required to pay for the programs) This can take months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents are victimized by “the system” that makes a profit for holding children longer and “bonuses” for not returning children to their parents;

    > that caseworkers and social workers are very often guilty of fraud. They withhold and destroy evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights unnecessarily. However, when charges are made against Child Protective Services, the charges are ignored;

    > that the separation of families and the “snatching of children” is growing as a business because local governments have grown accustomed to having these taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;

    > that Child Protective Services and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing.
    —–

  • BigTim
    December 6, 2014 (12:01 pm)
    Reply

    It is interesting that Allen is from south Louisvlle and attended DuPont Manual High School from 7th to 12th grade where he was a high achiever, being president of student council, drum major of band, and much else. Sen Mitch McConnell is from south Louisvlle and attended the same high school preceding Allen by just a few years, and was also president of student council, etc.. It is not inconceivable that McConnell has been a mentor to both Allen and the organization.

  • BigTim
    December 6, 2014 (12:42 pm)
    Reply

    I neglected to add that Allen also followed McConnell through the University of Louisville and UL Law School.


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