Franklin scandal
© TrineDay
Män som hatar kvinnor - 'Men Who Hate Women'. That's the original Swedish title of Stieg Larsson's runaway best-seller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Those who have read the novel or seen the Swedish film adaptation know that it's the perfect description. Larsson weaves a story of rape, sadism, spousal abuse, human trafficking, white-collar crime, and political corruption around the iconic characters of Lisbeth Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Yeah, it may just be a novel, but after the research I've been doing lately, I'm convinced that there's more to the Larsson's subject matter than just a page-turning good read. As the character 'V' put it in V for Vendetta, "Artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up." That's the truth, and if I've learned anything in recent years, it's that truth is stranger than fiction, and even more disturbing.

While I'm a fan of Larsson's work, and fiction in general, there's something to be said about true accounts. They have a way of 'seating' in the mind, making what was at first only 'interesting' and perhaps 'entertaining' fiction become real: solid, vital, life-altering. Fiction gives us the truth, but at a distance. It's up to the reader to divine the real-life applications and implications. But when they become clear, it can be a profound and painful experience. It's all too easy to take the easy way out when that experience is just too painful, with the potential of shattering too many deeply held illusions about the way reality really works. "It's just a story, after all." Those six curiosity-killing words are enough to prevent a person from doing the research to see that there may be more to a story than just the product of a good imagination. There may be a disturbing underbelly to the surface events of everyday life. In my case, that's where real-life investigative reporter Nick Bryant's 2009 book The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal comes into the story. It's the book that made a lot of things hit home for me, and it was absolutely devastating.

Bryant is a professional journalist, having published articles in many 'mainstream' newspapers and journals. But after deciding to research the infamous 'Franklin scandal' of the late '80s and early '90s, no mainstream editor would take his story. It was just too hard to believe. For those readers unfamiliar with the scandal, you can watch a never-aired documentary produced by UK-based Yorkshire Television titled Conspiracy of Silence. The documentary was commissioned by Discovery Channel, who pulled out at the last minute. Luckily, someone with access to a rough cut of the piece leaked it and Bryant has made it freely available on his website, here. The Franklin Scandal not only confirms what the Yorkshire team presented, but adds reams of new details and documents demonstrating a level of criminality, corruption, perversion of justice, and sadism that is simply mind-blowing.

larry king

GOP high-roller and pedophile, Lawrence E. King.
The Franklin case broke when its namesake, the Franklin Credit Union in Omaha, Nebraska, and its director, GOP 'high-roller' Lawrence E. King, were investigated for massive financial fraud. King was charged with 40 counts of embezzlement, fraud, and tax evasion - he stole a total of $40 million - to which he plead guilty. But the investigation soon turned up far more than financial crimes. King had been an 'information specialist' in Vietnam with access to top secret communications. After the war he cultivated relationships with friends in high places, like Washington and the FBI. And he surrounded himself with a cast of characters, many of whom, like King, had been and would be accused by numerous witnesses of sexual abuse, pedophilia, child trafficking, drug crimes, and murder. The accusations made his positions on the board of directors for Head Start, as president of the Girls Club and executive committee member of the Camp Fire Girls, as well as rumors of his involvement with Nebraska's Boys Town, take on sinister connotations. Shades of Mark Foley! There had long been rumors of King's homosexuality - Bryant interviewed one ex-security guard who claimed one of his duties was to give King blow-jobs in his private bedroom in the basement of the credit union - and soon witnesses started coming forward with tales of sex parties, inter-state flights for the purpose of providing prepubescent children as prostitutes for pedophiles across the country, even a black market for the selling of children.

A special committee was set up to investigate the allegations. But it was doomed to fail. Despite the investigators' best efforts, they were blocked at nearly every step of the way by witnesses who would turn up dead days before they were set to testify, death threats, 'turned' witnesses, incredulous officials, criminally unhelpful police, bought judges, bought lawyers, jury tampering, and a local press that seemed set on demonizing the investigation and victims and fully supporting the accused. It seemed that everyone - except the general public - was against them. Why that was becomes very clear when you realize who it was the victims were accusing of such crimes. Among those named in Bryant's book as involved in the pedophile ring (only those whose names were brought up in the press and trials are explicitly identified) are local Omaha businessman and millionaire Alan Baer, Omaha Police Department chief Robert Wadman, Omaha World-Herald columnist Peter Citron, senator Eugene Mahoney (friend of the World-Herald's Harold Anderson, who led the smear campaign against the Franklin investigators and witnesses), judge Theodore Carlson, congressman Barney Frank, CIA asset Craig Spence, a school systems administrator, and a DOJ official. In fact, during the course of the investigation Peter Citron would be arrested and charged with two counts of child molestation. Police also found a large cache of child pornography in his home and it was revealed he had a 25-year-long criminal history in different states for child molestation. What are the chances? On a related note, George H.W. Bush would later praise the World-Herald for their "journalistic integrity", signalling out Harold Anderson (mentioned above) for praise. In other words, the perpetrators were so placed that they had the power to squash any investigation: the police department, justice department, media, and government.

Caradori

Franklin Committee investigator, Gary Caradori.
While the victims and investigators were slandered in the press, that wasn't all they had to endure, as alluded to above. Many witnesses wound up dead, as well as lead investigator Gary Caradori. Caradori's is one of the most tragic stories in the whole affair. A gifted investigator, known for his integrity and good skill, Caradori was indispensable in cultivating sources, tracking down witnesses, and finding the dirt. On July 10, 1990, Caradori and his son were in Chicago, Caradori having piloted his private plane there ostensibly to attend the All-Star ball game. In fact, he had other reasons, for which the game served as a cover. He had tracked down a source with access to incriminating photographs of some of those accused (practically all witnesses said that their interactions - sexual acts, rape, torture - were photographed and/or videotaped), and he had told Paul Rodriguez, a Washington Times reporter who had been investigating similar activities in Washington, during which investigation Larry King's name had repeatedly surfaced. Before their flight back that night, Gary had called his wife to let her know that the trip had been a success. He relayed a similar message to senator Loran Schmitt, chairman of the Franklin Committee, saying, "Loran, we got them by the short hairs." The source had apparently been Rusty Nelson, one of the photographers who had admitted his involvement with the ring and who later told Bryant that he had been Caradori's contact, and had in fact provided him with photos that night in Chicago. But tragedy struck that night on the flight back, when Caradori's plane mysteriously broke apart in air, killing him and his son. The investigation found no evidence of foul play, despite the fact that the plane had obviously exploded in flight, the wreckage strewn across farmer Harold Cameron's cornfield just outside of Aston, Illinois. Missing from the recovered wreckage was Caradori's briefcase, which never left his side and in which he keep important documents relating to the case. With Caradori's death, the message to those involved in the investigation became even clearer: no one was safe, and these people would stop at nothing to cover up their crimes.

Understandably, all of this this was too much for many to handle, let alone accept as plausible or true. It sounded too much like fiction. And it was all to easy to blame the victims while the perpetrators got off. But the evidence is clear. Multiple witnesses whose stories corroborate each other (e.g., the fact that Larry King liked to be urinated on came up more than once), overlapping investigations in different states in which the same names crop up, the involvement of previously convicted pedophiles, the friendships and partnerships among people in high places who have been implicated together by witnesses, the plane receipts, the murders, the death threats (Bryant, too, received his fair share, along with phone and email harassment during his investigation). And then there were the two grand jury trials. The account of these trials, especially the second, in which Alisha Owen was eventually convicted of perjury and sentenced to 9-15 years in jail, were perhaps the most frustrating parts of the book to read. The FBI managed to 'turn' two of the three victims brought to testify, threatening them with jail or worse if they continued to tell their story. Only Alisha Owen refused to recant. The prosecution maintained that she had fabricated her story in the hopes of selling it and in order to get out of jail (she had been serving a previous sentence). But both of these reasons were absurd. First of all, as Bryant makes abundantly clear, it would have been impossible for her to coach the other two main witnesses, as was alleged. Not once did Owen even speak to a journalist about her story. Nor did she just want to get out of jail. In fact, the only way for her to avoid more jail time (9 to 15 years) would have been to recant. But she had decided to tell the truth, no matter what the consequences to her person. Her lawyer, Henry Rosenthal, was blocked at every step by the judge Raymond 'Joe' Case, plucked out of retirement specially for the case (as had the previous judge, Samuel Van Pelt) and Douglas County Deputy Attorney Gerald Moran. At times, they even tag-teamed Rosenthal, Case sustaining practically all of Moran's objections, and overruling most of Rosenthal's. Rosenthal was unable to introduce evidence, ask pertinent questions to witnesses, and was generally stymied the entire trial, while Moran was free to do everything Rosenthal wasn't and more. In fact, the trial bordered on the criminal, which devastated Rosenthal. Until that point, he had been a firm believer in the law, but this trial descended into the depths of Kafka-esque absurdity. At times, it even crossed the line of the law. For one, at the time Case was picked as judge, he was practicing law, while Nebraska law prohibits practicing attorneys from serving as judges. And while the jury was deliberating, evidence that had not been introduced in trial was planted in the jury's materials, which many of the jurors had said swayed their opinion in favor of convicting Owen of perjury. Also, before deliberations, Case had made sure to let the jurors know NOT to watch a special TV program on the case that happened to be airing that night (a program they had not heard of until Case brought it up). Of course, nearly all the jurors disobeyed his 'warning', and the TV program was a hit-job.

Needless to say, both trials fully exonerated the pedophiles and even punished the victims. Reading the full account by Bryant makes it crystal clear that it was a cover-up from the word go, and a reprehensible perversion of justice.

But even today, the victims stick by their stories, and new ones have come forward. Bryant tracked down the original witnesses (those who were still alive), which led to even more, including some who had been molested during their time at Boys Town, King's hunting ground. Their lives had been ruined: victims of drug addiction, trauma, and social marginalization. That's how the ring operated after all. The victims were approached young. They were then initiated into a criminal underground in incremental steps: provided with money and free drugs in return for small "favors." Then, things escalated to the point that they were used as child prostitutes for sadists and pedophiles. By that time, they were too far in. To talk would mean several things. First, there were the threats. Having witnessed murders firsthand, they knew such threats were not mere talk. They or their families would pay. Second, they themselves were implicated, forced to abuse each other and recruit other victims. And third, who would believe them? As events would make clear, drug-addicted, mentally disturbed youths, often with criminal histories, do NOT make for credible witnesses, especially when making seemingly outlandish claims about so-called pillars of the community. King and his ilk make sure to make it so. And they know they can get away with it.

Beria

L.P. Beria, torturer, murderer, rapist... and head Soviet official.
Unfortunately, this is the typical response to allegations or evidence of acts of the most extreme depravity. It's a lot easier and comforting to believe these kinds of activities (reminder: we're talking about the organized abuse, torture, murder, prostitution, selling, and trafficking of children) do not happen. It's the same response many Germans had during the Holocaust: a stubborn refusal to admit the crimes being committed by their own leaders. On their own, such acts are not that hard to believe. True crime books are best-sellers. We've all read about pedophiles, sadists, and serial killers. In small doses, and as 'unique' and isolated examples, we can believe such things, even if we can't comprehend them. At the same time, we can accept - as any study of history shows - the existence of political leaders who tortured, raped, and murdered without hesitation or remorse (Beria comes to mind). But put together, there's something about the idea that established networks of these kinds of individuals exist right now, under our very noses, that is unbelievable. It's the fact that this activity involved so-called 'pillars of the community' that is so shocking. To accept such a notion, especially when these crimes are among the most reprehensible to human nature - the type to inspire the strongest feelings of moral disgust and righteous rage among normal people - would tear the very foundations of our beliefs about our political system and the very fabric of our society. It would mean accepting a deep feeling of utter betrayal: the betrayal of a child subjected to sexual abuse by one who should be her protector, multiplied exponentially to our entire society. Imagine thinking that your police chief, judge, bank owner, governor, senator, or perhaps your favorite columnist is a sadistic pedophile. You would be shocked. Now imagine that all of them are, and that it's the same in many big cities and small towns all over the world. When the reality hits home, I think it's perfectly understandable for a feeling of hopelessness to take root. How can we have justice when criminals occupy positions of such eminence and power?

But the story goes deeper. In his last chapter, Bryant writes:
In my Franklin investigation, the names of lofty politicians and powerbrokers who have pedophiliac appetites have repeatedly surfaced. The names have been absolutely mind-boggling. Senator Schmit was anonymously implored not to pursue the Franklin Committee investigation because it would lead to the "highest levels of the Republican party." And shortly after Gary Caradori realized that he was in the feds' cross-hairs and "being 'set up' for an arrest," he wrote a letter to a renowned lawyer noting that the pedophile network he uncovered extended "to the highest levels of the United States." Given the names that have surfaced in my investigation, I believe without an immaculate cover-up of Franklin the administration of H.W. Bush may have been jeopardized. ...

Ultimately, an extremely uncomfortable question needs to be considered: Were the feds saving a specific administration or an extremely corrupt, institutionalized political system where blackmail is commonplace - or perhaps, both? In other words, is it possible that the feds were the prime movers in Franklin's underlying events? Is it conceivable that Franklin may have been the blackest of black ops? (Bryant 2009, pp. 491-2)
Craig Spence surfaced in Paul Rodriguez's Washington Times investigation. Spence himself, as well as other sources, claimed he was a CIA asset. Spence was involved with a 'call-boy' service run by Henry Vinson in Washington, DC, which he used to blackmail politicians, and with which King was involved. Vinson, after the ingenious scheme of buying up the phone numbers of call-boy escort services who had gone out of business, thus cashing in on their existing clientele, managed to end up running quite the 'business'. But when Spence got involved, things got complicated. Spence had his place rigged with bugging devices and cameras, which he used to film his blackmail tapes. He also introduced Vinson to Larry King. After balking at one of Spence's shady ideas and being threatened by a Justice Department official if he didn't sign on, Vinson's operation was busted and he was eventually sentenced to 63 months in prison for various felonies on a plea bargain. (Spence, although he was subpoenaed, never appeared before the grand jury.) In the process, the government ended up sealing his list of clientele in perpetuity. According to Vinson, that was for a reason. The list has some very recognizable names on it.

If any of this is true - and it certainly seems that it is - what it means is that all of these high-level politicians, police, media people, etc. are compromised. Whoever has access to the videotapes or photographs of these individuals engaging in sex with prostitutes and children can then wield them over their heads and fully control them. As Bryant points out, even this is not so hard to believe. In the '50s the CIA ran Operation Midnight Climax, a ridiculously named venture in which CIA-paid prostitutes "lured clients back to the safe houses, where they were surreptitiously slipped mickeys of various drugs, including LSD, and monitored behind one-way mirrors; sexual blackmail was reportedly used to secure the confidences of the unsuspecting victims who were surreptitiously drugged. The CIA has a track record of child abuse and blackmail; so is it possible that American politicians have been targeted by the CIA's spycraft?" Seems like a no-brainer to me. The question is, what are these people being blackmailed to do? I'll leave that to your imagination.

But let's put it all together. First of all, Franklin wasn't the only story of this kind: the 'Finders' case in Tallahassee just a couple years earlier in 1987; the 'Dutroux Affair' in Belgium just five years after; then there was the DynCorp scandal a few years after that, in the late '90s; Portugal in 2002, the UK and Chile in 2003.

Before Franklin, there was the strange story of the 'Finders', covered briefly in Bryant's book. On February 4, 1987, Tallahassee police took a call reporting two well-dressed men seen with six filthy, wild children playing in a park. When the police arrived, the children could not identify themselves and were "unaware of the function and purpose of telephones, televisions, and toilets." They appeared to have been living in the van the men had driven to the park. The men were discovered to be linked to a 'cult' called the 'Finders', who operated out of a DC warehouse. When police obtained warrants and raided the warehouse, they discovered "jars of feces and urine", "documents [with] detailed instructions for obtaining children for unspecified purposes ... purchasing children, trading, and kidnapping. ... One ... telex [message] specifically ordered the purchase of two children in Hong Kong to be arranged through a contact in the Chinese Embassy." Bryant adds, quoting the official US Customs Service report:
The investigators also discovered documents that discussed "bank secrecy," "high-tech transfers," "terrorism," and "explosives." To their astonishment, they even found a detailed summary of the events surrounding the arrests in Tallahassee the previous night and instructions that were broadcast via a computer network. The instructions advised the "participants" to move the "children" through different police jurisdictions, and "how to avoid police attention." (Bryant 2009, p. 11)
Within a month the FBI and CIA had commandeered the investigation, sealed the report, dropped all abuse charges against the men, and returned the children to the Finders. No mention of any of the strange things discovered at their warehouse... Thankfully, the USCS report was leaked to the media by a group of horrified agents. No other information has been made public.

A case remarkably similar to Franklin then cropped up in Belgium in the mid-'90s, complete with murdered witnesses, media hatchet jobs, incompetent police investigators, allegations of high officials involved in pedophile rings and snuff films, etc. Dubbed the 'Dutroux Affair', it centered around a pedophile and serial killer, Marc Dutroux, and his ties to a child prostitution ring involving people in high places. You can read Joël van der Reijden's extensive summary here (warning, some of the pictures and text are extremely disturbing).

A few years after that, a scandal involving military contractor DynCorp, operating in war-torn Bosnia, became public in 1999.
According to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of the former DynCorp aircraft mechanic, "in the latter part of 1999 Johnston learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts. Johnston witnessed coworkers and supervisors literally buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they had purchased."
Whistleblower
© Palgrave MacMillan
The girls (may of whom were 12 to 15 years old) were imported by DynCorp and the Serbian mafia from other countries, like Russia and Romania, and the men involved included members of UN staff. The whistleblowers ended up winning a settlement with DynCorp after they were fired for their part in exposing the scandal. One of the whistleblowers, former Nebraska police investigator Kathryn Bolkovac, has written a book about what happened, The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors And One Woman's Fight For Justice, which has recently been made into a film starring Rachel Weisz.

2002 and 2003 were big years for exposure of pedophile rings, with stories breaking in Bosnia, Portugal and Chile. First, there was Portugal:
Cruz

Convicted pedophile, TV personality Carlos Cruz.
The implication of top political and social personalities in a huge pedophile network with the apparent complicity of the authorities has shaken the very foundations of Portuguese democracy. Doubts are now being cast even on the impartiality of judges handling the case. ...

The discovery of a pedophile network in the Casa Pia care homes for children is regarded as Portugal's most-serious crisis in almost 30 years of democracy. Former Casa Pia employee Carlos Silvino is believed to have procured boys for wealthy and influential pedophiles for two decades. More than 100 children may have been raped or pressured into sexual activities with adults.

Charges have been formally raised against 10 suspects including former Labour minister Paulo Pedroso, a Socialist whizz kid and close friend of party leader Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues. Other suspects include two television personalities, one of the country's most prominent ambassadors, a high-society doctor and a well-known lawyer.

Orgies at a Villa

...The pedophiles targeted the most defenseless children, such as orphans and deaf-and-dumb young boys. Many of the orgies apparently took place at ambassador Jorge Ritto's villa near Lisbon.

Reports of the abuse surfaced in the 1980s, but investigations were dropped and documents disappeared in what appears to have been an orchestrated cover-up. Former secretary of state for families, Teresa Costa Macedo, said she received death threats after telling police.
Six men, including a lawyer, doctor, former ambassador, and TV presenter Carlos Cruz, were convicted in September 2010. Just as in Franklin, and all other similar cases, the men denied any involvement, despite evidence to the contrary.

Then, early in 2003, Counterpunch reported:
A child-sex scandal that threatened to destroy Tony Blair's government last week has been mysteriously squashed and wiped off the front pages of British newspapers. Operation Ore, the United Kingdom's most thorough and comprehensive police investigation of crimes against children, seems to have uncovered more than is politically acceptable at the highest reaches of the British elite. In the 19th of January edition of The Sunday Herald, Neil Mackay sensationally reported that senior members of Tony Blair's government were being investigated for paedophilia and the "enjoyment" of child-sex pornography:
"The Sunday Herald has also had confirmed by a very senior source in British intelligence that at least one high-profile former Labour Cabinet minister is among Operation Ore suspects. The Sunday Herald has been given the politician's name but, for legal reasons, can not identify the person.

There are still unconfirmed rumors that another senior Labour politician is among the suspects. The intelligence officer said that a 'rolling' Cabinet committee had been set up to work out how to deal with the potentially ruinous fall-out for both Tony Blair and the government if arrests occur."
The allegations are the most serious yet leveled at an administration that prides itself on the inclusion in its ranks of a high quota of controversial and flamboyant homosexual men, and whose First Lady, Cherie Blair, has come under the spotlight for her indulgence in pagan rituals that resemble Freemasonic rites. Unconfirmed information also suggests that the term "former Labour Cabinet minister" is misleading and that the investigation has identified a surprisingly large number of alleged pedophiles at the highest level of British government, including one very senior cabinet minister.
(Three years later, in 2006, the Jersey Island case would make headlines, uncovering a string of abuses that dated back several decades and resulting in 7 convictions.)

Then there was Chile:
spiniak

Accused Chilean pedophile, Claudio Spiniak.
The scandal has been agitating Chile since late last year, when María Pía Guzmán, a conservative member of Congress, denounced what she described as a prostitution and child pornography ring and accused Mr. Spiniak, the nouveau riche owner of a string of health clubs, of leading it. She said that some of her own political allies were involved.

"There is evidence that within the intimate circle of Spiniak's network, there are politicians," she said, citing accounts that she said she had heard at a shelter for sexually abused youths.

In the latest round of accusations, made public in July, people identified as procurers for the ring have implicated as clients the mayor of a large city and a Roman Catholic bishop renowned for his opposition to the Pinochet dictatorship. Both men have denied any involvement in the sex ring, but in a poll taken early this year, three-quarters of those surveyed said they believed that politicians were involved.

Mr. Spiniak, through his lawyer, has denied that he headed such a ring.

A total of 18 criminal investigations are under way, with at least a half dozen more expected to be opened soon. Last month, the investigative judge in charge of the case, Sergio Muñoz, ruled that there were sufficient grounds to move ahead with the inquiries and formal indictments of Mr. Spiniak and others the judge deemed to be members of an "illicit association." ...

Mr. Jocelyn-Holt contends that the news media's focus on Mr. Spiniak reflects "a combination of homophobia and anti-Semitism," referring to the fact that Mr. Spiniak is Jewish and bisexual.

"He is the bête noire par excellence," Mr. Jocelyn-Holt said, and has become "a sort of scapegoat or lightning rod" for various forms of social and sexual resentment.

Indeed, the case took an even more peculiar turn after a leading television network broadcast a report in which the owner of a gay bathhouse identified the investigative judge originally appointed to the case, Daniel Calvo, as one of his clients. With a camera running, he made a telephone call to the judge and got him to admit to "living in a glass house."

But Judge Calvo refused to recuse himself from the case, saying, "I have done nothing that could compromise the investigation that has been entrusted to me."

The Supreme Court ruled otherwise, though, dismissing him from the case in order to "safeguard the proper advance of administration of justice" and suspending him from his duties for four months for "improper behavior."

The television network is now facing criminal charges of violating a law forbidding the taping of interviews without the permission of those involved. A second network, which broadcast an interview with a 20-year-old woman who said members of the ring had sexually abused her, is now being sued by a prominent right-wing senator who felt her description of her abusers impugned his honor, even though he was not named.

In addition, Congress has given preliminary approval to a bill that would severely restrict the ability of news organizations to report on similar cases in the future. The legislation would, legal experts say, effectively put the sexual conduct of any public figure, including politicians, beyond scrutiny by making news coverage an "abuse" of their right to privacy.
More recently, in August 2009, there was the incident of three Americans deported from Cambodia for engaging in sex with children. Journalist Wayne Madsen describes how this story is just the tip of the iceberg, and that the problem of pedophilia and the abuse of child prostitutes goes all the way up to US diplomats and military officials, including congressional delegations who make trips to South-East Asia expressly for this purpose, arranged by US embassies. A few months earlier, Blackwater (now known as Xe) came under fire with lawsuits alleging child prostitution: the so-called "Blackwater Man Camp" in which Iraqi girls were procured to give military contractors oral sex for $1.

And of course, there's Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, now involved in a trial for his alleged buying of sex from a 17-year-old. This is amidst allegations of his own personal harem, and 'compromising photos' of him engaged in sex parties. And Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the IMF, also accused of numerous sexual escapades and assaults. And what about former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, convicted of rape and sexual harassment in late 2010? Incidentally, Russian PM Vladimir Putin seems to be a fan of both men:
katsav

Convicted rapist, former Israeli President Moshe Katsav (centre).
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday made light of the sex scandals surrounding Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, saying critics were simply jealous of his sexual prowess. ...

In 2006, he was overheard praising the then Israeli President Moshe Katsav who was at the time charged with multiple rapes, later to be convicted on two counts.

"He turned out to be a very mighty man! He raped 10 women. I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all -- we all envy him!" Putin was quoted as saying in comments later described as a joke by the Kremlin.
Charming, no?

Needless to say, the allegations that sprung up with Franklin start to seem a whole lot less outlandish. The same features appear over and over again. So what does it all mean? I think Stieg Larsson got it right. These are men who hate women (and children). They lack conscience and remorse. More accurately, they're psychopaths. Worst of all, they're also sadists and pedophiles.

salter
© Perseus Books Group
Psychologist Anna Salter has written a book on the subject: Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders (Basic Books, 2003). After encountering a shocking number of such cases in her small-town practice, and speaking with clinicians from other small and large cities, all of whom thought they were enigmatically caught in the 'centre of the universe of child abuse', Salter concluded: "This nation's dirty little secret ... is the number of domestic violence, rape and child molestation cases that are never reported to the police." (p. 2) Actual experience belies the official estimates for this type of behavior. It is more common than anyone believes.

Salter makes the important point that these offenders are not stupid. They know how to choose their victims. Just like the Franklin victims were not believed because of their histories of crime and mental illness, courts aren't likely to take the word of a four-year-old over a respected priest or public figure. The offenders interviewed by Dr. Salter had on average been charged with 1-3 offenses. But in private, they admitted to anywhere between 10 and 1,250 victims each. And they're more likely to be invited into your home than to break in. "More often they come through the front door in the day, as friends and neighbors, as Boy Scout leaders, priests, principals, teachers, doctors, and coaches. ... We give them permission because we don't recognize these people as predators." (p. 5) And we don't recognize them because they are experts at deception. They wear a convincing mask of sanity. They live a double life. They are charming, well-respected, and ruthlessly cunning.

But when you scratch the surface, a bare and cold inner environment makes itself clear. As one offender told Salter:
Because people want to believe in something. They want to hope. And they want to believe. They want to, there's something inside of people that makes them want to believe the best in things and the best in others. Because the alternative is not very nice. (p. 29)
That's putting it mildly. Also, take the case Salter quotes of the father accused of abusing his four-year-old daughter. Convinced of his innocence, his lawyer sent him to a polygraph expert, hoping to be able to use the test in court. Before the test, the polygrapher tells him, "I would truly hate for you to mess up your polygraph with something little that don't amount to a hill of beans. So if there is anything, anything at all that you want to tell me before the polygraph, now's the time so we can get it out of the way."

Well, now that you say that! The father then proceeded to tell the polygrapher how his daughter grabs his penis in the shower four to five times a week, how he masturbates in the shower with her as "education" for her, rubs up against her at night until sometimes "things happen", uses a vibrator on her until she orgasms (which she "loves"). After all that, the man failed the polygraph, but not before admitting that she "has licked and sucked his penis no more than five times... He has licked her vagina and performed oral sex on her not more than ten times." (pp. 17-18) And after that, he complained that on account of her small body, he hurt his back while "69ing" her. I share Salter's sentiments, "Perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking prison would do wonders for Mr. Jones's back." But the polygraph was a private one, thus not admitted into court. 'Mr. Jones' walked.

From Salter's description of the field of study of pedophilia, I can't help but conclude that there is a concerted effort to downplay the problem (which makes sense, given all of the above). Salter quotes a long string of psychologists and psychiatrists (Freud is perhaps most notorious) who have ignored, obfuscated, lied, and denied that there even is a problem. Then there are organizations like the Dutch Paidika: The Journal of Pedophilia, whose mission is to "demonstrate that paedophilia has been, and remains, a legitimate and productive part of the totality of human experience." (p. 64) Just rosy, huh? They neglect to mention that many pedophiles are also sadists. They enjoy hurting and even torturing their victims. Salter quotes one such creature:
When I stuck the pistol in my victim's back, the adrenaline rush that I got out of that - I had done drugs before, and I had drank alcohol. Nothing can compare with that rush that I got when I stuck that pistol in her back. It was like my whole world turned upside down. Everything went in slow motion for a few minutes. A lot of times I thought I was a junkie on my own adrenaline. May not have been. It may have been other chemicals in my body. But I learned how to tap into those things by using my own fear, other people's fear, and a lot of it came with the deviant behaviour. That's the only way I could tap into it. I wanted that high. (p. 101)
And another:
Q: Is the high from sadistic acts the same or different [as that in a consensual sexual relationship]?
A: The high from sadistic acts is different. It's more extreme. It was more extreme. It seemed to me that committing a sadistic act and having sex involved in that sadistic act just heightened everything more: the feelings, the orgasm, the ejaculation. It seemed to heighten it even more. (p. 102)
Salter comments:
Just as there are sounds many humans cannot hear but some other species can, this man [a sadist found asphyxiating his victims with a Ziploc bag sexually irresistible] has motivations, feelings, and hungers outside the normal range. If we can at least empathize with a child molester's loneliness, we cannot empathize with much of anything about a sadist: We will never know, fortunately, what it feels like to find torturing a child exciting. (Salter, p. 99)
Now, I like Venn Diagrams. Unfortunately, I'm a pretty poor graphic artist, so let me just describe one. Picture a circle for each of the following groups, which I'm pretty sure you'll agree DO exist:
1. 'Pillars of the Community' (e.g. politicians, lawyers, judges, law enforcement, businessmen, doctors, media people)
2. Psychopaths (e.g. people who despite their charm have no conscience, and a trail of people they have used and destroyed)
3. Pedophiles (e.g. people with a sexual attraction to prepubescent children)
4. Sadists (e.g. people who get a thrill from torturing others, sometimes sexually, sometimes not)
Bundy

Future GOP 'high-roller'? Close. Ted Bundy.
Now, overlap each circle with all of the others. Combine 1 and 2 and you get what are called corporate or political psychopaths. These are the types studied by experts like Robert Hare and Paul Babiak. According to their research, there are four times as many psychopaths in CEO positions than the general population. Cause for pause, if you ask me. Combine 2 and 4 and you'll probably get a serial killer, like Ted Bundy (who also happened to be a rising Republican, so you can add 1 to his circles). We know from the research of Hare and Babiak, as well as Andrew Lobaczewski, that psychopaths 'rise to the top', kind of like scum. And we know that 'bigger' psychopaths usurp 'smaller' ones. We also know that birds of a feather tend to flock together, and like tends to attract like (just try to picture Gandhi joining ranks with the Nazis...). So by the divine logic of Venn in concert Rhonda Byrne's 'law of attraction' and the laws of the food chain, you wind up with that blurry, crowded centre where all 4 circles overlap. Judging by what we can see around the world today, this seems to be the way things are.

The result?

A group of power-hungry psychopaths, bound by their own mutual ambition, cunning ruthlessness, proclivity for secrecy, and deviant worldview who have managed to rise to the top of power structures the world over. Many of them (or most - there may be some criteria of selection for being 'part of the gang') engage in acts that would turn the stomach of any normal human being. And despite the fact that they are competitive by nature, and use these mutual acts of ennui to blackmail each other, compared to what they think of people like you and me, these guys are the best of friends. They are bound to each other by their willing participation in the rape, torture, and murder of women and children. So when one involved in such activities is threatened by exposure, their own asses are on the line. That means pooling resources, calling in 'favors', and making sure that exposure does NOT happen, even if that means threatening investigators and murdering witnesses, and ruining the reputation of anyone who threatens in any way their necessary secrecy.

bryant

Author Nick Bryant.
But back to Bryant's book. I wouldn't be surprised if those who vehemently deny and mendaciously twist his words do so because they share some natural affinity with those he has exposed. It's a dynamic seen in a lot of the cases quoted: those doing the defending are often party to the very crimes they are covering up. But despite what his detractors say (and he's got a few - just check out the reviews on Amazon), his research on the Franklin case is top notch. He presents a load of documentation to make his case (about 100 pages of scanned documents are included in the book). The litany of miscarriages of justice, threats, blackmail, mysterious deaths of key witnesses and investigators, coercion of victims and witnesses, lies, and blockades courtesy of various federal agencies and institutions will leave the reader with no doubt that Larry King et al. were involved in some of the most horrible crimes imaginable. And they were covered up.

As Bryant notes, this is NOT a 'conspiracy theory' - it is a conspiracy, plain and simple, and one that has been repeated in recent years in countries all over the world. What is presented is just a microcosm - detailed, documented, and bullet-proof - of what is really a global phenomenon. And in that regard, in my mind, the book is a must-read. In part, I see it as a vindication of not only the victims, whose lives were left ruined as they almost invariably fell into drug addiction (helped along by their abusers) and mental illness, but also of those investigators whose credibility was maligned, who were smeared in the press, and who, in the case of Gary Caradori, ultimately met their own demise. As the mystic Thomas Merton wrote of JFK, though it applies to anyone who speaks truth to power and lies: "What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don't have: depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole: a deeper kind of dedication. ... But such people are before long marked out for assassination." (quoted in James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable, p. xv)