Statement of Joseph E. SchmitzInspector General of the Department of Defense

Posted in Human Rights , United States | 29-Sep-04

Joseph E. Schmitz

Before the House Committee on Armed Services and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on Implementing the Department of Defense “Zero Tolerance” Policy With Regard to Trafficking in Humans

Since 1778, starting at Valley Forge, inspectors general in America have served as independent extensions of the eyes, ears, and conscience of their respective commanders. This Inspector General’s commander is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who recently admonished all leaders in the Department of Defense never to “turn a blind eye” to what our Commander-in-Chief, in a speech last year to the United Nations General Assembly, singled out a “special evil.”1

Before going on any further, I want to express my gratitude to the Members of Congress who have enacted what I like to call “legislative tools” for us to deploy throughout the Department of Defense in our ongoing efforts to teach and train our troops about human trafficking and otherwise to suppress this “dissolute and immoral practice.”2

I would also like to acknowledge and thank the uniformed inspectors general of the military departments, with whom my mostly civilian professional staff and I have been closely cooperating to suppress over the past 2 years any form of human slavery associated with Department of Defense programs and operations around the world.

One might ask why, in the midst of the Global War on Terrorism, even as deployed American soldiers are risking the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq, the President of the United States would devote almost a fifth of his United Nations speech last September to the subject of human trafficking. One answer might be the nexus between human traffickers and the arms traffickers supporting the terrorists who are killing our soldiers.3

Another answer might be that caring for the victims of human trafficking is a paradigmatically righteous thing to do for a President who refers to himself as a “compassionate conservative.”4 A more fundamental answer might be that to confront modern day human slavery forces us all to focus on “first things first,” that is, we need to focus on the principles that are worth fighting for, in order that we might better focus on “second things,” which include survival.

“[T]he principle of ‘first and second things,’ as C. S. Lewis calls it . . . [is] that when second things are put first, not only first things but second things too are lost. More exactly, when there are greater goods, or ultimate ends and proximate ends, if we put lesser goods, like survival, before greater goods, like values to survive for, then we lose not only the greater goods, the values, but even the lesser goods that we’ve idolized . . . . [T]he society that believes in nothing worth surviving for beyond mere survival will not survive.”5

Our currently available legislative tools for suppressing human trafficking include, of course, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and its 2003 reauthorization, which together prescribe a model “zero tolerance” standard not only for all Americans but for our Western Alliance partners as well. There is another legislative tool for combating trafficking in persons, less known but equally potent for those of us serving in the Department of Defense, known as the “Exemplary Conduct” leadership standard.

Congress first approved this leadership standard in 1775 and reenacted it in 1997 to promote precisely the type of moral courage expected of leaders throughout the Department of Defense in the face of relativists6 and cynics who say either that it’s no use to take on the so-called “oldest profession known to man,” or worse, and I have personally witnessed this pernicious attitude in Washington, D.C., and around the world, “they're just prostitutes.”

Among the many “lessons learned” in the course of our joint and global human trafficking inspections in Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo over the past 2 years, two “lessons learned” warrant reiteration today. First of all, among the root causes of the recent resurgence of human trafficking, aside from the obvious profit motive of organized criminals, is a general reluctance of leaders at all levels to promulgate and to enforce principle-based standards for subordinates who create the demand for prostitution generally, and for sex slavery specifically. The second “lesson learned” that I would respectfully reiterate today is that whenever leaders, especially those of us who swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,”7 become aware of human beings being referred to as “just” something else (for example, “they’re just prostitutes”), we ought never to turn a blind eye.

To actively subjugate -- or even to “turn a blind eye” when others subjugate -- any group of humans to a category of existence beneath the dignity of individuals “created equal, [and] endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [among which] are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”8 is, in a word, un-American.

Simply stated, slavery is antithetical to the core principles that underlie our Constitution. By taking on this “special evil,” we focus not only on physically surviving the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, but on the very principles that define “survival.”

My testimony today draws not only upon two human trafficking Inspector General reports over the past 2 years, but also upon a draft article, the working title of which is “Inspecting Sex Slavery through the Fog of Moral Relativism.” Copies of the reports and the draft article are included as attachments to my prepared statement. The reports speak for themselves.9 The draft article is based on first-hand observations I have made as Inspector General.

In Korea, we found that leadership of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) had initiated aggressive efforts to address the challenges of human trafficking. During the course of our assessment we noted some areas of the USFK human trafficking program that could be improved. General Leon LaPorte, USFK Commander, embraced our recommendations and acted promptly to implement them.

At the invitation of General LaPorte, I personally traveled to Korea – twice. During my first inspection visit to Korea, one of our Army MP escorts explained that the contracts for Russian entertainers on the so-called “Hooker Hill” in Seoul are sold weekly from one establishment to another. When I asked the young MP if he would like to do something about this blatant form of human slavery, he unhesitatingly responded in the affirmative, but then added that it was beyond his control. The young soldier was obviously waiting for a signal from the chain-of-command that would empower him to combat this affront to human dignity that, to him, seemed so morally wrong. Unbeknownst to this soldier, the top of his USFK chain of command had already sent the signal. It just hadn’t made it down to his level – yet.

Upon my return a year later, I found obvious indicators of substantial improvement: the message is getting out to all levels of command. The DoD’s zero tolerance policy is being effectively implemented thanks to the moral leadership of General LaPorte and his entire USFK leadership team.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, we found negligible evidence that members of the U.S. Armed Forces were patronizing prostitutes or were engaging in any other activities that support human trafficking. We did identify some opportunities to improve contractor awareness of the Department’s zero tolerance policy with regard to trafficking in persons. Subsequent to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum to all of the military departments, combatant commands, and Department of Defense offices implementing National Security Presidential Directive 22, formalizing a zero tolerance approach to trafficking in persons. I have included along with my prepared statement copies of both Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s memorandum as well as Secretary Rumsfeld’s more recent memorandum on the same subject.

Two of the main observations of our inspector general activities thus far are the need to educate service members on human trafficking issues, and the need for leaders to be “vigilant inspecting the conduct of all persons who are placed under their command.”

This leadership standard, which I referred to at the beginning of my prepared statement, was first drafted by John Adams and enacted by the Continental Congress as Article I of the 1775 Navy Regulations.10 More recently, in the aftermath of various sexual misconduct scandals of the 1990’s, Congress reenacted for leaders of all three military departments this same “exemplary conduct” leadership standard, thereby reaffirming “a very clear standard by which Congress and the nation can measure officers of our military services.”11

In the coming weeks, I will be visiting the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart. The Marshall Center provides training for ambassador-level leaders, senior executives, and “young leaders” from all over Europe and Eurasia, focusing mostly on Eastern Europe and Eurasia. I intend to use this opportunity to review how well we are teaching and training our European allies not only on how, but also why, we expect our commanding officers and others in authority throughout the Department of Defense to be vigilant in inspecting for any indications of complicity in human trafficking and otherwise to suppress this dissolute and immoral practice. During this upcoming trip, I will also follow up on our efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo to help measure improvement and determine whether my Office can be of further assistance.

Secretary Rumsfeld has called upon leaders throughout the Department of Defense “to make full use of all tools available, including DoD Inspectors General and criminal investigative organizations, to combat these prohibited activities.”

In conclusion, to reiterate Secretary Rumsfeld’s orders, “No leader in this department should turn a blind eye to this issue.”

1 George W. Bush, “President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly,” Sept. 23, 2003 (“an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world’s borders . . . generat[ing] billions of dollars each year -- much of which is used to finance organized crime”).

2 10 U.S.C. §§ 3583, 5947, & 8583 (same “exemplary conduct” leadership standard for “commanding officers and others in authority” in the Army, Naval Services, and Air Force, respectively).

3 See United States Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report,” p. 14 (June 2004) (“Trafficking Fuels Organized Crime . . . . According to the UN, human trafficking is the third largest criminal enterprise worldwide, generating an estimated 9.5 billion USD in annual revenue according to the U.S. intelligence community. . . . There have also been documented ties to terrorism.”).

4 Cf. Mt. 25:37-40 (NRSV) (“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? . . . And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”).

5 Peter Kreeft, A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews With An Absolutist, p. 133 (Ignatius Press 1999); see C.S. Lewis, “Time and Tide,” reprinted in GOD IN THE DOCK (1942) (“You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. . . . Civilizations have pursued a host of different values in the past: God’s Will, honour, virtues, empire, ritual, glory, mysticism, knowledge. The first and most practical question for ours is to raise the question, to care about the summum bonum, to have something to live for and to die for, lest we die.”).

6 See THE CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY, p. 690 (Robert Audi, General Editor, 1995) (“relativism, the denial that there are certain kinds of universal truths”).

7 5 U.S.C. § 3331 (“An individual . . . elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: ‘I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.’”).

8 Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . . .”).

9 Both reports are available on the Office of Inspector General, Department of Defense website at: and

10 Continental Congress, “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North America” (28 November 1775), Article 1 (

11 Senate Armed Services Committee, “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998” (Report to Accompany S. 924), p. 277, quoted in the Introduction, “The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America” (