Make no doubt about it. NCMEC is a government front that exaggerates claims about what they do, statistics about success rates and their self-proclaimed nobility. Celebrities have come to their side to voice their support for NCMEC and if you like to drink from the Kool Aid, you will get poisoned also. The simple question is where are the children? Just ask the hundreds or thousands of parents who reported to NCMEC and ask them where their children are today?
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC, was created out of the publicity generated from the Adam Walsh disappearance and death back in 1981. The claim raised at the time before Congress was that there was no government-affiliated agency in existence to assist the parents of abducted children. The figures at the time portrayed the situation as grim, insisting that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of children a year were abducted by strangers. As it turned out, long-term abductions by strangers figured only in the tens per year. Since its inception, NCMEC has received millions of dollars each year from Congress. Presently, Congress allocates $50 million per year to the Center. But how is the money used? And how does NCMEC work? NCMEC describes itself as a Missing Children Clearinghouse, meaning that it disseminates information, but plays no active role in the actual recovery of missing children. Today, NCMEC has hundreds of staff and its salaries alone are running close to $30 million a year.
But what does it do? Well, it gathers information and disseminates it. Does this help when a child goes missing? Perhaps, but not significantly. Basically, what happens is that NCMEC posts a photo of the child on their website. They have partner programs with Wal-Mart and with ADVO to distribute photos of parentally abducted children, which have been successful to a small degree. But what about those few children that are actually in peril; the ones that Congress originally intended a national missing children center to be structured for; the kids like Adam Walsh? The answer is, not a whole lot of help gets channeled from NCMEC.
Take the case of Shawn Hornbeck, who had been abducted by a stranger for four years. Or that of Shasta Groene, the little girl, who was abducted after her whole family was murdered. Or Elizabeth Smart, who was with her kidnapper less than a quarter of a mile away from her house with a clear trail any competent bloodhound handler could find. Where was NCMEC then? Nowhere to be found. Does America Need a $50 Million a Year Missing Children Clearinghouse……or, rather, a $50 Million a Year Missing Children Emergency/Ongoing Response Team?
The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children is a private and conservatively funded front organization that works hand in hand with the corporate media to exploit the fear for one’s children in order to help get laws passed which are fully unconstitutional. They are secretive about their operations and routinely refuse to even cite their data sources as they spread false and misleading statistical information to a nervous but clueless public. What is most startling is the seemingly limitless connections this organization has, despite their secretive nature.
They seem to have instant access to nearly any politician or corporate television program, and no journalists ever look into the group itself, but merely parrot the misleading information and often false statistics passed along to them. CNN and Oprah are notorious for doing this, and yet they reach such an unbelievably wide audience that it’s as though what the NCMEC says simply becomes fact when spread through these media outlets, with nobody bothering to verify anything.
It’s as though the claim that they stand for defenseless children somehow excludes them from scrutiny, but their clear involvement in political matters and influencing of the legal system begs some real investigative journalism. To the journalists who try, don’t be surprised when you hit a few walls. NCMEC is nothing more than a patriarchal organization designed to control women who leave a situation where they are being dominated and by doing so, it sends a message to other women caught in an abusive relationship, that they had better not leave or their abuser will hunt them down like dogs with the assistance of Ernie Allen and the justice departments in various countries.
I feel this is an assault on the rights of women and of course, most especially on mothers who are raising the next generation. For me, this is a straightforward attempt to silence women and the women’s movement through the re-victimization of the most vulnerable. If NCMEC’s Going to try to regulate the Internet for Child Porn, It Should At Least Be Subject to FOIA. NCMEC’s job is simply too important to be entrusted to a nonprofit group–such a task can only be performed by a fully trained and funded law enforcement agency (one, which conveniently enough, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, congressional oversight, and constitutional requirements for due process.)
Congress is unlikely to address the problem of NCMEC’s accountability given the sensitivity of the issue of child protection. But, fortunately, we live in a republic, not a pure democracy: Our third branch of government, the judicial branch, exists to enforce the rule of law; being somewhat insulated from political pressure, the courts provide a final check on the authority even of the almighty NCMEC. So it’s never been high on the Obama administration’s list of czarist reforms. But simply by ordering NCMEC to comply with FOIA, the Lazaridis court http://about.bloomberglaw.com/law-reports/district-court/) could, with the stroke of a pen, bring accountability to NCMEC’s law enforcement functions.
The legal question is simple: Does NCMEC qualify as an “agency,” which FOIA defines as an “authority of the Government of the United States?” If so, NCMEC must not only respond to requests for certain of its “records,” but it must also follow a rule-making process akin to that required of federal agencies when they make policy decisions, offering the public appropriate notice and the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations—instead of, say, threatening Internet companies behind closed doors (sometimes the same companies that later make generous donations to NCMEC) or cutting deals with state attorneys general. It turns out that this is not a new issue.
Federal courts have had to decide whether a number of quasi-governmental entities qualify as “agencies” over the years, especially given the trend towards privatization over the last three decades. Some organizations, like the Smithsonian Institution, have decided to comply with FOIA even though courts have held that they’re not required to do so. NCMEC could have allayed all these concerns years ago by doing the same thing, but absent a change in management at the organization, it seems only a court order will force the organization to open its “black box” of decision-making to public inquiry. In a number of other circumstances, courts have required nominally private organizations to comply with the federal FOIA or its state equivalents. A thorough (if dated) treatment of this issue can be found in the 1999 law review article, Privatization and the Freedom of Information Act: An Analysis of Public Access to Private Entities Under Federal Law by Craig Feiser, Florida’s deputy solicitor general and an adjunct at FSU Law. Feiser explains: When Congress amended FOIA in 1974, it added section 552(f)(1) and broadened the definition of “agency” to include entities not explicitly mentioned under the APA, but which “perform governmental functions and control information of interest to the public.”
In deciding whether a private organization qualifies as an agency subject to FOIA, courts have considered two factors. One factor asks whether the entity has substantial independent authority in performing a function of the government, making it the functional equivalent of the government. The other factor asks whether the government substantially controls the entity’s day-to-day operations or organizational framework. In using either factor, the court is essentially asking to what degree the entity is performing a government function.
In one case, the government is pulling nearly all of the strings; in the other case, the entity is making decisions independently for the government. Financially, NCMEC is largely a creature of government: 70% of NCMEC’s $42 million budget in 2007 came from the government. But as Feiser notes, funding does not always mean control. Government control over NCMEC’s internal decisions is unclear. Indeed, the very lack of government control over an organization essentially regulating the Internet and imposing criminal sanctions that could follow convicted “sex offenders” for life would by itself be an enormous problem.
But given what NCMEC actually does, it obviously qualifies as an “agency” subject to FOIA under the “functional equivalence factor,” which as Feiser explains, basically represents the opposite situation from the control factor. Here, the entity is functioning independently, but making decisions for the government, as opposed to having its decisions made by the government. In effect, it is the functional equivalent of the federal government, and, therefore, it should be an “agency” under the FOIA. I am hoping that the court sees NCMEC for what it is: a private organization tasked with implementing not just any government function, but the enforcement of laws against the most vulnerable victims in society. Absent such a recognition, NCMEC will continue to grow into an unaccountable regulator for the Internet.
Today, the only public oversight of NCMEC required by law is the requirement that NCMEC (like any non-profit with federal tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit status) file a Form 990 each year disclosing basic information about its finances. That report does not list NCMEC’s donors, because donors have a First Amendment right to remain anonymous, but a more transparent organization would, like my own think tank, at least identify its major donors. NCMEC’s CEO, Ernie Allen, was paid $359,191 plus $411,636 in benefits in 2006 (PDF p. 46) and $409,821 plus $426,540 in benefits in 2007 (PDF p. 19), for a total of $1.6 million in two years (roughly $800,000/year); I’d be reluctant to suggest that anyone at NCMEC was more interested in money than in protecting children, but if given the choice, we’d all prefer to do well while doing good. So if Allen were smart, he’d realize that a court order subjecting NCMEC to FOIA might be the best of all possible worlds: Requiring real accountability would neutralize calls for nationalizing NCMEC, allowing the organization to continue operating as a non-profit that can pay quite a bit better than the Federal civil service. Even the Senior Executive Service, for agency heads, maxes out at a measly $197,000/year.
Of course, if NCMEC’s records and decisions were subject to FOIA, the organization might not be able to convince any companies or Corporate America to essentially to write large checks to NCMEC. But even this tax-hating libertarian would be hard-pressed to argue against funding the enforcement of laws against child pornography, abduction and exploitation with taxpayer dollars. I can’t help but wonder how many more agents the FBI could employ to combat child porn with an extra $1.6 million/year in funding (the salary of Allen and NCMEC’s top-five highest paid employees). It seems that FBI agents today make roughly $48,000-87,000/year. Let’s call it an average of $67,500 and throw in 20% for overhead. That works out to $81,000/year—or: 20 new agents for what NCMEC is paying its top six employees; or 368 new agents for the $29.82 million NCMEC received in government support in 2007. http://www.wearenotmissing.com/responsefromthencmec.htm FBI agents today make roughly $52,000-89,000/year. Let’s call it an average of $70,000 and throw in 20% for overhead. That works out to $84,000/year—or: 20 new agents for what NCMEC is paying its top six employees; or 398 new agents for the $35.82 million NCMEC received in government support in 2012.
I’m certain that the solution is far more complicated than simply hiring more FBI agents, and that NCMEC does any good work in the service of a noble cause. There are local, state and some federal agencies that claim they make a dent in the investigation and recovery of missing children and should not be excluded from the merit of their accomplishments. I credit any law enforcement for their efforts. However, the conception of a family running to the police for the sake to filing a police report which is actually an incident report for the most part and then running over to NCMEC will most often never be of any consequence or investigation resulting in the return of a missing child. It is grossly misleading.
The big picture here and the reality is that every 5 minutes, a child goes missing and the clock starts ticking. Action is required and if you think like NCMEC and the follow police protocols like taking a missing persons reports, talking to all of your child’s friends, their family members, combing the neighborhood, your child’s schools, hangouts hospitals, driving the streets, bus stations, train stations only will make you all the more hysterical and waste precious time. NCMEC admits in its tax returns as having in overages in the bank. Yet in its more than a quarter century of history, whenever a child has been abducted and faces death, the NCMEC has not offered one cent as a reward. What does that say about those that run it?
Their NetSmartz website is probably worth another $25,000, but that’s a one-time expense. And their Cybertip hotline for the online sexual enticement of minors could be run for pennies. Why? Because the information collected is simply redirected to the FBI. NCMEC does not investigate. In 1984, Thursday’s Child sited a girl believed to be Kimberly Doss, a missing child then listed with NCMEC. However, due to stonewalling by NCMEC and that time working with Children of the Night, local police authorities were persuaded to drop their search for the girl, who was in plain sight with her pimp. It was only years later that NCMEC admitted their error and now gives her the street name she used at the time of Kimberly Gardner. Doss was never seen again. The NCMEC (color) photo tends to look more like comedian, David Steinberg, than anything Kimberly Doss might resemble should she be alive today.
The police enhancement is probably a far more accurate portrayal. In fact, when abducted Shawn Hornbeck was found by accident, he turned out to look nothing like NCMEC’s age-progressed photo. The age-progressed photo of Hornbeck shows him to be more of a Ben Affleck type. Yet Hornbeck turned out to look more like Elijah Wood.
The fact of the matter is that only a handful of children like Jaycee are abducted each year and an annual budget of $50 million dollars (NCMEC also gets an additional $8 million from private sources) is more than enough to further any search. As it turned out, though, Jaycee and the other were just poster children for Congressional waste. NCMEC also does age progressions. Yet compare their age progression of Kimberly Doss with that done by Texas Police.
So, when the $50 million a year puts up a poster where the photo is totally wrong, aren’t the effects actually counterproductive to any recovery? No one would have recognized Shawn Hornbeck even if they had seen him in person, because he didn’t look like NCMEC said he should. And what about Jaycee? While she was imprisoned in her captor’s back yard, living as his sex slave from age 11, bearing two of his children, never seeing the outside world, never being allowed to experience childhood, NCMEC was raking in nearly half a billion dollars from Congress, while their President, Ernie Allen kicked back in a swell home and shook the hand of the United States President that led our nation into ruin. Why didn’t NCMEC search out all the pedophiles in the area where Jaycee Dugard was abducted?
- Why did they not hire one private investigator to continue the search?
- Why did they not use Bloodhounds in any of these cases where a discovery could have been made immediately?
- Why did they not offer a reward for her recovery?
- Why are they not listed with directory services?
- Why don’t they have 24-hour critical staff?
- Why does no one notice?
While Jaycee was wasting away and lost her childhood, NCMEC was raking in nearly half a billion dollars from Congress. Why didn’t NCMEC search out all the pedophiles in the area where Jaycee Dugard was abducted?· Why didn’t they hire one private investigator to continue the search?· Why didn’t they offer a reward for her recovery?· Why aren’t they listed with directory services? Is there any red flags, indicative behavioral signs that might lead to your children to runaway away or feel isolated enough to look for attention from a stranger on social media and fall prey to a predator? If NCMEC’s Going to Regulate the Internet for Child Porn, It Should At Least Be Subject to FOIA
If so, NCMEC must not only respond to requests for certain of its “records,” but it must also follow a rule-making process akin to that required of federal agencies when they make policy decisions, offering the public appropriate notice and the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations—instead of, say, threatening Internet companies behind closed doors (sometimes the same companies that later make generous donations to NCMEC) or cutting deals with state attorneys general. Until NCMEC is either nationalized as a direct arm of law enforcement or made significantly more accountable as a private organization, we won’t really have any way of knowing whether the money being spent on NCMEC is being spent in the most effective manner possible to deal with the problems of child pornography, abduction and exploitation. We also won’t know whether draconian alternatives to direct enforcement (e.g., hiring more FBI agents) like network-level filtering mandates are truly necessary, despite their unintended consequences for the free speech and privacy rights of law-abiding Internet users.
There is a cause to end worthless spending in this country that is part of our fiscal end and part of our economic crisis. It is also another part of the corrupt political system where bystanders takes no action and let perpetrators allow crimes to be committed and predators to repeat their offenses. In this particular case, this is not just a major financial case of white collar crime of epidemic proportions but the great loss of innocent lives. Children are our greatest resource. To trivialize human life and take advantage of this the pain, angst , peril, frustration and desperation of the families of the lost is abhorrent. To divide the families from their loved ones and outright misrepresenting an organization and stealing money from the government and the public is simply a scheme no different than a grifter.
One of many complaints I also get, is the posturing of racism and why one’s child is not deserving of the attention of another. That emotional nature is grief talking but one that also
has merit. if you take a hard line approach at NCMEC and look at their flyers which most often if not all the times offer no reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the children, what does that tell you? We know that they are properly funded, so why no reward? Where is the incentive? Is it because of the huge benefits that are paid to Allen and the employees of NCMEC are the reward?
If you look at the r\missing flyers of the children, why is there only one photo of a black child and several of a white child. Why is there more descriptions in the flyer of a white child? When it comes to catching the eye of the media, have you ever seen a black child disappearance case covered extensively? How about just one time?
The photos that appear in this blog are all high profile cases where a sea of law enforcement did not solve them. It took a sea of media to follow the case and put it out to the public who solved the mystery but law enforcement still took the credit. What happened to those less fortunate did that did not receive the attention from the press? How many families aregrieving each and everyday about their loved children?
Families are clinging onto the steps that law enforcement taught them and NCMEC advised them but neither of the two took the time to investigate their child’s whereabouts. The first 5 hours is crucial to children of the ages of infancy to 5 years of age. Then it is of utmost importance from the ages of 6-12 hours for the ages of 6-11 years of age. From 12-18 years of age, you have at best 12-48 hours and perhaps in remote cases where they are abducted they can become victims of human trafficking and every minute can equal a mile that separates you from your child.
Either way, the clock ticks, and the chances of finding them dead or alive are precious. There are thousands of cold cases out there simply because they were never investigated or they were mishandled. NCMEC is getting FAT and simply not helping grieving families find their children. The government is part of the problem also and not part of the solution. If you want to find a missing child who is in eminent danger, you MUST hire a professional with a proven track record and not waste valuable time.
No flyers or candle vigils in the world will bring back your child. The wait and see approach is a disservice to your and most important your child who is crying out for help. The police cannot leave their jurisdiction so if the FBI will not take your case, the likelihood of any qualified law enforcement agency of even looking into your matter is about 1%. If you want to gamble of those odds, that will be the percentage of ever seeing your child again. www.thelost.net