John Miller, Slade Gorton Dinner Remarks

John Miller, Slade Gorton
Discovery Institute Anniversary Dinner
March 24, 2004
Print ArticleThe following speeches were given at Discovery Institute's Fourteenth Anniversary Dinner, held on February 5, 2004:

John Miller - Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

"Combating Slavery Now"

Tom (Alberg), thank you for that kind introduction. What Tom neglected to say, yes, I was chairman of the board for three years in between two terms where Tom, before me and after me, served as chairman. Tom has given such long service to Discovery Institute. I don’t know where the Institute would be without Tom. It’s over 14 years ago that Bruce started Discovery Institute. And, of course that was 14 years ago but Bruce had been nourishing that idea 30 years ago back when we were in the city council talking about tearing down the viaduct. And he was saying, “We’ve got to get a think tank started in the Seattle area.” And finally he did it.

Going back to that other Washington, in a way I don’t feel I’ve left Discovery Institute because wherever you go in D.C. in the halls of Congress, at the White House, at the State Department, wherever people are gathering to talk about ideas you hear about Discovery Institute. And, many of you here tonight, of course, give to charities that help people’s bodies and health and nourish their bodies and health. But tonight you’re here giving and showing support in a way that can nourish people’s minds. And all of us that have any association with Discovery Institute thank you for that.

Now, yes, I want to talk about what I’m doing. I want to talk about combating slavery. There’s a struggle going on in the world today. It’s not a struggle involving armies or bullets. But it is a struggle that involves many acts of violence. It’s a struggle for bodies and souls. It is astounding. It’s appalling that in the 21st century we should be talking about slavery. Trafficking in persons is a euphemism. What we’re talking about is slavery. A lot of Americans say, “Slavery? Didn’t that end with the American Civil War?” But, of course, slavery that was sanctioned by government based on color of skin did end with our civil war. But, slavery of many kinds goes on today. Slavery based on color; slavery based on forced labor in factories, sweat jobs, plantations; slavery based on sexual exploitation; slavery tied to domestic servitude, all of these kinds of slavery are going on throughout the world and I personally don’t believe there is a single country including our own that is exempt from this scourge. And the slavery we’re talking about of course affects the most basic human rights. It affects health. It affects national security. Slavery today, trafficking in persons, is the third biggest source of revenue for organized crime after the arms trade and the drug trade. Our own government estimates that every year eight to nine hundred thousand men, women and children are trafficked across international borders, including 18 to 20 thousand across United States boarders. That’s across borders. That’s not counting internal slavery. If we count that, we’re in the millions. Many nongovernmental organizations would say that I’m giving low estimates, that the figures are actually much higher. But I don’t want to just talk about numbers. You have to put a human face on this.

In October I traveled around the world. I spent a lot time not only talking with governments and meeting with nongovernmental organizations, but talking with victims. Let me just mention two. A young woman, 14 years old in Thailand, named Lord, taken three years before from her village in Laos with a promise of a job, money in a wealthier country, trafficked into Thailand, deposited at an embroidery factory, forced to work 13-14 hours a day, given just enough to live on, no wages. Lord had spunk. Lord rebelled. She was beaten. Lord rebelled again. She was stuck in a small closet where the son of the owner of the factory put a BB gun to her cheek and fired. Where she was beaten some more and industrial chemicals were dumped on her so that she would be an example to the other girls. Lord was one of the, quote, lucky ones. There was a raid. She got out. She’s now in a shelter run by a religious group. The owners of that factory are in jail. But, Lord has friends that she hasn’t seen since then and wonders where they are.

Let me give you another example. This doesn’t just go on in less developed countries. The Netherlands where I met with a woman named Sasha who’s now probably in her late 20’s. She’s working in a hospital studying for a degree in social work. Native of the Czech Republic, Sasha, late one night told me the following story. When she was in her teens she was in a marriage that was not going well in the Czech Republic. She had a two year old daughter from that marriage. A so-called friend of the family said, “Why don’t you go to the Netherlands. You could earn some money as a waitress, and then bring your daughter to be with you.” This was some friend. He introduced her to a trafficker who drove Sasha and three or four other young women to the Netherlands where they met up with another trafficker. Then they were delivered to a brothel and Sasha was told, “Here’s where you’re going to work.” And she said, “No, I was told I was going to work in a restaurant.” They said, “You will work here.” She said, “I will not.” They said, “You will if you want your daughter back in the Czech Republic to live.” And she did. They said, “You have debts—15 to 20 thousand euros to pay off. You must pay off these debts. If you want your daughter to come, then you must earn more money. You must work harder.” So, instead of servicing 10 men a day she serviced 15 to bring that daughter to the Netherlands. Finally, she did. And every morning she would take her young daughter, who was then four or five, to some kind of school. Then she’d go home and sleep. Then she’d pick her up, might take her home. Then she would go to, quote, work. When Sasha got more and more depressed she was thinking of murdering her daughter and committing suicide. And one day she was in a taxi cab and the driver was very friendly. She just blurted it all out. The taxi driver said, “That’s terrible. We’re going to do something.” He organized a gang of young toughs who went and confronted the traffickers, “Hand her over.” “No, we won’t.” “Hand her over.” “We will for 20 thousand euros.” “No, we won’t.” “You will if you don’t want to feel pain.” Finally, they handed her over on condition that she not reveal the identity of her traffickers. I asked Sasha, who worked in the Amsterdam Red light district, “How many people in this red light district, these women that we see, how many are there by choice? And how many have been physically threatened and coerced?” And she said, “Oh, the vast majority. The vast majority are victims. They’re in some kind of slavery.”

So, this gives you some idea of what we are dealing with. I don’t want people to go away thinking, “Oh there’s nothing we can do because hundreds of thousands are in this existence.” There are things we can do and there are things we are doing. President Bush, in his speech to the UN General Assembly this fall urged cooperation to fight slavery, pledged additional resources of the U.S. government, and issued an executive order asking every U.S. agency to make this a priority. He’s blessed me, giving me the opportunity to work on this cause and to chair an interagency panel—justice, labor, health and human services, USAID State Department—so we can coordinate efforts at home and abroad in addressing the slavery issue. There’s a neighbor with me in our small office in the state department who puts out a report every year evaluating countries – saying which countries are doing good things, and which are not. Now this report has some teeth in it because countries who are really poorly rated risk losing U.S. aid. It’s given me the opportunity to administer some modest programs around the world to help in prosecution and prevention and protection.

There is some good news. The three months before this report came out last June, before countries found out how they were going to be evaluated, we saw more progress in fighting slavery than we’ve ever seen. We saw massive arrests of traffickers from Serbia to Cambodia. We saw tough anti-trafficking laws passed from the Philippines to Haiti to Burkina Faso to Georgia as countries awakened to what was going on and what they could do. And then in the three months after the report, when countries were given three months to shape up or face the possibility of presidential sanctions, we saw countries including friends and allies establish law enforcement training courses, start running public service announcements to warn potential victims, start setting up screening procedures to treat victims humanely so that the police would refer the victims to shelters and nongovernmental organizations. So, yes, there are things that can be done. And in this country there are things that can be done. Our justice department is stepping up prosecutions. There’s over a hundred ongoing investigations right now. The Department of Health and Human Services next month is going to start a major media campaign. Shelters are being established.

The good thing is that all of us can do something about it. When we talk and write about this—I’ll tell you in this job, as I’ve said, I feel sometimes like I’m a preacher or a Rabbi because when we talk about this, when we write about this, we increase public awareness and that leads to action. When we go to our churches and our synagogues and our civic groups and we get them involved, that helps. The nongovernmental organizations, particularly faith based groups have taken the lead in this area. They have been setting up shelters around the world. There’s a woman from this state, a former congresswoman, Linda Smith, who has spent the last three or four years establishing shelters for children forced into slavery helping to educate and rehabilitate them, shelters in India, Nepal and Jamaica. When we talk to our public officials, we get them more focused on the issue and that helps lead to results.

And fortunately, we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We stand on the shoulders of the abolitionists in the nineteenth century who fought to abolish slavery in the United States. We stand on the shoulders, as Bruce mentioned, of William Wilberforce, the English parliamentarian who in the late seventeen hundreds got up in the parliament and said, “We’ve got to abolish slavery in the British Empire. We have to send the British Navy out to intercept the slave ships.” People looked at him and said, “What right do you have to impose British moral values on the world.” Does that sound familiar? But, Wilberforce persisted. For 25 or 30 years he persisted and eventually succeeded. Saw the abolition of slavery based on color, sent out British ships but freed 300 thousand slaves, 600 British sailors lost their lives, a little known chapter in history. We stand on their shoulders. But today we have some things going for us that Wilberforce and the abolitionists didn’t have. Back in those days there were governments that officially supported slavery. Now, governments may look the other way but no government officially supports slavery. Back then Wilberforce could talk about British moral values, Biblical values. Today we can talk about those, we can talk about the Declaration of Independence, and we can talk about international covenants, United Nations agreements. There is a foundation upon which to work.

Will we succeed overnight? Of course not. I was talking with my wife on the way down, June. We were talking about this and there’s a passage in the Jewish prayer book, The Sayings of the Fathers, where they’re giving advice. People throwing up their hands, “How can we do all these things the Lord requires of us?” And the passage says, “It is not your obligation to finish the task, but neither are you free to exempt yourself from it.” And that’s what we all have to remember when we seek to combat this scourge and abolish slavery from the face of the Earth.

Thank you.

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Slade Gorton - Commissioner, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

"Terrorism and U.S. Security"

Since September 11th, 2001, the President and the Congress of the United States have, in my view, taken extraordinary steps for a free country in responding to that tragedy and that challenge. Before the year 2001 was over, the American military and intelligence organizations had liberated Afghanistan and had destroyed the sanctuary from which Al Qaeda trained its terrorists and from which it operated. The Congress had passed the Patriot Act, moderately increasing the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain information.

In the following year, 2002, the Congress, at the President’s request, had created the Homeland Security Department, consolidating most but not all of the agencies of government responsible for our security. The Congress itself created a joint intelligence committee to study what went wrong with respect to 2001. That joint intelligence committee, which under the rules of Congress had to terminate its efforts at the end of the year 2002 – at the end of that Congress – found three principle failures on the part of ourselves and our government. First, that the weapons used by the hijackers were not prohibited carry-on items on aircraft, the theory being that aircraft hijackers were not suicidal but only wanted to go to Cuba or to free prisoners. Second, that the response of the United States to earlier attacks on U.S. interests and U.S. citizens had been far too modest. And, third, a failure to properly coordinate intelligence fragments—that is to connect the dots—that might possibly have frustrated the hijackers. I may say, not at all incidentally, that I have certain reservations with respect to all three of those conclusions.

Before 9/11 it’s doubtful that the American people would have accepted airline security measures to which we’ve become accustomed since that day. Before 9/11, very bluntly, neither President Bush nor President Clinton could conceivably have invaded Afghanistan as a preventive measure and survived politically. And, finally, there’s a very serious question as to whether the primary intelligence failure was a failure to connect the dots, or that there were too few dots to connect in the first place.

Because that joint committee of Congress could not finish its work, over certain objections from the White House, it created the 9/11 commission. The President was permitted by the statute to appoint the chairman, but the other nine members, myself included, were appointed by the Republican and Democratic leaders of each House of Congress to be evenly divided, five Republican and five Democrats.

In 2003, of course, under the leadership of the president, we liberated Iraq, brought to heel Libya and have certainly reduced the threats coming from at least Syria and Iran. The president also created a Terrorist Threat Information Center that, finally and belatedly, helps coordinate the intelligence activities of half a dozen independent agencies and more than that number of law enforcement agencies. Coincidentally, with these activities for close to two and a half years now, there have been no further serious terrorist incidents in the United States itself.

So does that mean that we’ve solved the problem of our security? That 9/11 was an isolated incident unlikely to be repeated? I am convinced that that’s not remotely the case. It is also clear that the degree of success that we’ve already had has caused an increasing and I think alarming degree of complacency on the part of the people of the United States. A paradox, the more successful we are, the less we are concerned with the threat.

Now back to the 9/11 commission itself. It has a broad set of charges. First, to determine as objectively as possible the facts and relevant circumstances that lead up to the 9/11 attacks. Second, to determine the adequacy of the response to those attacks on September 11th and immediately thereafter. Third, to critique the lessons learned and the security improvements from September 11th up to date. And, fourth, to provide recommendations for additional future reforms. We were given until May 27th of this year to complete that work. So far, we’ve received two million three hundred thousand pages of documents from agencies of the United States Government and other relevant governmental bodies. We were convinced relatively early that that time frame was too short. We also have been subjected to understandable but highly frustrating delays on the part of a number of agencies of the federal government, two of which were serious enough to require us to issue subpoenas to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense. And only earlier this week did the administration, with some reluctance, agree to a sixty day extension for the report of the 9/11 commission, an extension that still must be ratified by Congress before it becomes official. I consider this to be a Pyrrhic victory as the new date on which we are to report is the day before the Democratic National Convention – putting our report in the midst of the presidential campaign. I and a number of my colleagues thought it would be far better to release our report after that election was over. Just last week, however, we made our first public statement about findings that the commission has made in connection with the hearing on subjects relating to the nineteen 9/11 hijackers and the events of 9/11 itself. And I’d like to share some of those findings with you this evening to show how wide ranging and how astounding some of our ultimate conclusions are likely to be.

Collectively, the 19 men who hijacked four aircraft on September 11th, 2001 had one or more, and in most cases many more of the following seven characteristics. One, they included a significant number of known members of Al Qaeda who could have been watch listed by federal governmental agencies, but were not. Two, they presented passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner – the specifics of which are still classified. Three, they presented passports with suspicious indicators. Four, they made detectable false statements on their visa applications. Five, they were pulled out of line for extra scrutiny by border officials, but then passed. Six, they made false statements to gain entry into the United States. Seven, they violated immigration laws while they were here. Notable in this list is one absent factor. Not one of them snuck over a border by evading or avoiding immigration agents. Now as against those 19, one man who was probably a potential hijacker was turned back by a suspicious and alert immigration agent in Orlando, Florida. And four possible hijackers were unable to get visas, primarily because they asked for them in places other than their countries of residence.

Now, how does this kind of failure take place? Well, first and foremost because a great bulk of these men came from Saudi Arabia. Visa checks before 9/11 were primarily directed at restricting entry to people who it was suspected would want to stay and want to become permanent illegal immigrants, and very few Saudi Arabians fall into that category. In addition, three of the hijackers were notorious Al Qaeda operatives who were discovered in Yemen by the National Security Agency a year or so before this incident, and were then lost as they went to Malaysia. This information was not shared quickly enough with the CIA. However, because none of those three eventually became a pilot, it can’t be said with certainty that their apprehension would have prevented 9/11.

Now, think back from the point of view of the security of our aviation. Before 9/11 if these security efforts were directed almost entirely at preventing the Cuban type hijacking and at preventing explosives from getting on aircraft. This remained true because of the Pan Am 103 over Scotland and the so-called Bojenka affair, where a capture in the Philippines of a terrorist prevented the planting of bombs (explosives) on half a dozen U.S. bound aircraft. In fact, that was almost the entire thrust of the 1996 Gore commission on aircraft security. On that front, we have been successful. There were no hijackings in the United States for more than 10 years, and after Pan Am 103, no successful explosives planted on U.S. aircraft. But the vulnerability of that system was well known publicly and highly discussed.

There was also some knowledge of Al Qaeda’s interest in aircraft hijacking and at least one discussion in the Federal Aviation Administration of the possibility of suicide hijackings. But those threats were dismissed because nothing like that had ever happened. But perhaps the most appalling single bit of knowledge that we gained in the course of the last week was that the federal aviation administration had a no-fly list prior to 9/11 comprised of only 20 names. The State Department, for which John (Miller) works, had what they called a tip-off list with tens of thousands of names of suspected terrorists or other criminals. Yet, when I asked the head of security for the Federal Aviation Administration from the year 1997 to the year 2000 – a distinguished retired admiral – when he first heard of the tip-off list, he responded, “Yesterday.” The operating head of security, who is still in the Federal Aviation Administration, had this question and answer with me and I quote directly from our records: Myself, “Merely being a suspected terrorist doesn’t get you on that no-fly list?” Answer, “It can. It depends on what group you’re associated with and what other information there is.” John Lehman, one of my co-commissioners said, “So, it’s OK for terrorists to fly if you don’t think they’re going to hijack the aircraft?” This demonstrates a certain lack of sophistication to say the least.

As I mentioned earlier, security check points on September 11th were designed to prevent guns, very large knives, explosives and/or mace from getting on an aircraft. Thus, the hijackers required only three qualities to strike successfully. First, some of them needed at least rudimentary pilot skills. Second, they needed practical measures to get into the United States and on board those aircraft. And third, they needed an unconditional willingness to die. They had all three. And only one of them, the middle of those three, was something over which we here in the United States have a substantial degree of control.

Let me go back once again to those four goals that the 9/11 commission was given by the Congress and by the President of the United States. The primary question before the commission is, “Can we at least reach unanimous agreement about all of the relevant facts leading up to and taken place on September 11th, 2001 itself?” This from a long term, from an historic point of view, is probably the most important of our tasks. It’s one on which I am convinced that unanimity is possible and that I believe that unanimity is at least likely. So far, in more than a year, we have never had a vote or an issue which has divided the ten members on a partisan basis. The second question is, “Should we characterize those facts, assign blame or credit, suggest even at this late date that heads roll?” I think unanimity is probably unlikely in this connection but I do regard it as relatively appalling that the only individual who has lost his or her job since 2001 in connection with these security questions is Admiral Poindexter, about six months ago, for being too tough with respect to his views on security.

Next, we must make recommendations about what should take place in the future. I give you what I consider to be the most important single issue that comes before us in that connection. Because we have so many security agencies and because it is overwhelmingly obvious that a significant portion of our failure in this connection was because those agencies do not communicate with one another well enough, how in the future should we deal with domestic intelligence activities? There are four existing or proposed agencies equipped for activities of that sort. The FBI, which has held that responsibility traditionally and is aggressively moving into it to an even greater extent at the present time; the new Department of Homeland Security; an independent entity much like the British MI5; or the CIA itself. There are plusses and minuses in connection with each one of those.

The FBI has this responsibility now. Unfortunately, up until 9/11 most of the people assigned to that responsibility in the FBI were people who had failed as agents in the law enforcement field. It was not a track on which you could make a successful FBI career. Second, of course, it is a law enforcement agency. Its primary function is to catch criminals after a crime has been committed and to build a case iron clad enough to go to a United States attorney and obtain a prosecution—a very, very different culture from the often vague and ambiguous kind of information that makes up intelligence activities.

The Department of Homeland Security, the logical entity, has taken over many homeland security activities. But we would have to start all over again at the beginning there. We would have to find the people and they aren’t easy to find.

MI5 seems to work in the United Kingdom, but the head of MI5, a fascinating woman who majored in English and spent her first three years as an elementary school teacher and then worked her way up through that intelligence agency to the top, said, “Well there’s a real difference. Unlike your intelligence agencies, we don’t have the right to arrest anyone, we have to go to the police. But in the United Kingdom there are just 56 police agencies, the heads of which are all cleared for the highest degree of secrets and all of whom I know personally.” Here in the U.S. we have 13,000 law enforcement agencies and virtually no way to have the same kind of relationship with all of them.

The other qualified group, the CIA itself, has been in full charge of intelligence activities overseas but no jurisdiction within the United States at all, a boundary which now seems to be increasingly artificial. But, of course, overseas it is not subject to the Constitution of the United States and the kind of activities in which it can engage. And the resistance to what otherwise seems to be a rather logical move, I think would in fact be overwhelming.

Finally, it seems to me that we as Americans have not concentrated significantly on the nature of the threat with which we are dealing. In my opinion there are at least two major distinctions between the kind of war (the kind of contest) in which we’re engaged today and that of an almost 50-year-long cold war with the Soviet Union. First, there is no nuclear armed sovereign power on the other side of this contest. And so, no significant possibility of the kind of nuclear Armageddon which was always a possibility and always a fear during the cold war. But second, we are dealing with a much deeper and longer lasting philosophy. Communism, to put it in one fashion, was at the very least a Western cultural aberration. There was some ability to discuss from a common ground. And as a true believer of philosophy it seemed to me that it lasted for no more than three generations, and at least for the last generation in the Soviet Union, no one any longer believed. It was simply a method by which you held power. It collapsed.

Militant Islam, on the other hand, has a history as old as the religion itself, some 14 hundred years. It is not a majority within Islam, but it is a very, very distinct theme. It is unlikely to disappear simultaneously. It is certainly impervious to any form of Western philosophical or democratic argument. It is, in my view, likely to cease to be a threat to us only when it is a threat so great to Muslim countries in which it exists that it becomes more than they are willing to bear. They must take care of it themselves. Because, remember, one of my first comments was, for two and a half years we have not had a terrorist threat, another major terrorist attack in the United States. But, we have had terrorism. It’s taken place in Indonesia, in Morocco, in Saudi Arabia itself, an event which did far more to change Saudi attitudes than did 9/11, and in various other countries. In other words, we have to a certain extent, so far, not ended terrorism but we have displaced terrorism to easier targets.

So, in summary, it seems to me, and I think I can speak for the members of the commission as well, that our defenses against this very different kind of war must take place on three different levels. First, are hardened targets within the United States – a problem we’ve begun to address with respect to aircraft and have hardly begun to do with respect to cargo and a number of other of our threatened areas and something that can never be perfect in any kind of free and open society. Second, a far more aggressive set of activities and a policy of preemption in which we attempt to prevent threats before they can fully materialize. Of course, here in the United States there are practical limits and civil liberties criticisms associated with this approach. And, finally, preemption on the ground, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is both expensive in time, money and life consuming as well as highly controversial within the United States itself. It is however, in my opinion, doubtful that this is a challenge that will be completely surmounted in the lifetime of anyone here in this room, but one about which we must be as patient and ultimately as successful as we were with the Soviet Union both in defending the United States and in the maximum possible extent extending our ideas and our ideals to the rest of the world, a job to which my friend, John Miller, is contributing daily.

Thank you very much.