• #Metoo is for Me, Too

    November 28, 2017 // 7 Comments »



    As a young man I was the victim of unwanted sexual attention from someone in Hollywood. In the intervening decades I never told anyone what happened. I know the name of the man who did this to me, but I am not sure what to do with that.


    I landed a summer internship with a major studio, out of a Midwestern college in the 1980s where people simply did not talk much about sexuality. One of the only men at the school who was open about being gay was considered something of a political celebrity on campus. I am a straight man, what today people dismiss sarcastically as boring CIS binary old white bread.

    I knew no one in California. The man who played me was in a position to help me in all sorts of ways, and he sometimes did. He was generous with advice and what seemed to be friendship. Things changed as I remember him showing me the thick binders of aspiring actors and actresses’ head shots, him lingering on the beefcake images and making jokes about how he knew a no-name young shirtless actor, who since went on to some modest roles. The man complimented me on the way I looked, and “accidentally” touched my arms, especially on the days I wore short sleeves. I was very naive and it wasn’t until the invitation to take a drive out into the desert that I finally realized what was happening.

    I distanced myself from him via a rotational program that sent me to another office. It never occurred to me to say anything. For anyone who questions the value of Human Resources in 2017, it was called just Personnel then and did little more than process tax forms. After I moved to the new department, the man called me a few times, showed up at my new office to “say hi” more than once, and invited me to lunch, parties, events, and a place he kept in Palm Springs long after he knew I would say no. He was older than me, and married to a woman at the time. He wrote me a nice letter of recommendation, which I shamelessly and selfishly used to get a future job.


    After I left California, he sent me occasional photos, often just in beachwear. A string of late night phone calls that woke me up, always with an apology that he’d mistaken the time difference – again – between California and the east finally made me realize who I was and what he was when he looked at me like a meal. I think my new-found hostility coupled with his growing boredom (perhaps there was a new intern?) convinced him to leave me alone.

    I never heard from him again after that last unwanted call. I have had no contact with him for decades, and I wonder if he would see this article if he’d even have any idea who I am.

    I don’t think of myself as a survivor, or anything like that. But some of my adult bitterness has roots in what happened. Nobody just walks away. I did learn a lot. I learned about fear and insecurity, and because I was ashamed of myself, I learned how to keep my mouth shut while for years people said to me in response to all sorts of terrible things in the news “Well, you don’t know what it feels like” when I did.

    I wrestled for some time with the idea that I had done something wrong – this took place in a world away when even in Hollywood people didn’t show all their cards to strangers, and some careful back and forth signaling was not uncommon if one party found another of the same sex attractive. Maybe I sent out the wrong signals, maybe I didn’t realize I had to say no unambiguously much earlier than I finally did. Maybe at some level I enjoyed the attention, drawing a line in my mind that didn’t exist in his between the non-sexual and sexual.

    The events of the past weeks brought all of this back from the dark place in memory where I had left it. I was able to make peace with myself long ago, but the complexity of emotions these days still surprised me.

    It took me a moment to pull his name forward, though his face came readily into my mind once I let that happen. Some Googling of a person I had not thought of for many years tells me he’s still in the movie business, doing well, though by no means an A Lister. You’ve heard of some of the projects he has worked on, and he is very active with charities. Turns out he played an important behind-the-scenes role in a TV series I really enjoyed watching with my kids when they were younger. He has some minor connections with the Democratic party. In the current climate, the story might make the news.

    If I say his name.


    I tried to think why it would make sense now to say who he is. If I said his name and Twitter caught it, I’d have a chance to tell everyone I did it for those who can’t stand up, to empower others, those things people seem to know just how to say now when the cameras come on. Maybe someone else would find comfort knowing they are not alone, but I really doubt the world needs my story to understand unwanted sexual attention is rampant. Maybe people would say I am brave and put me on a talk show. We don’t like to acknowledge it, but in 2017 there can be profit in being a victim, and sensationalism for its own sake is part of the world we live in.

    Who knows, maybe the guy would Tweet out an apology, say he was ashamed of his former self, explain he has since gotten help or something, though that would be for him and the people close to him. I certainly don’t need it for anything. Humiliation isn’t zero sum. His wouldn’t erase mine. There was never a chance of justice, not then and not now.

    I can only speak for myself in saying the only reason I could really come up with to “name and shame” this man now is revenge.

    Years ago he was in a position of power over me, and I convinced myself I had no choice but to put up with what was done. Times have changed, and in a way I’m now the one in power: he potentially has something to lose via my accusations while I have little to worry about in the current climate. I have the chance to use the power I have now to hurt him.

    So yeah, #MeToo. But if me, too, means doing to him what he did to me now that I finally can, then, no, not me, too.



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    Nasty Contractor Business from Iraq

    December 2, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Here is a letter (not written by me) about one American that has also been faxed to Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano and Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs.

    I have no way to verify the allegations made against a single contractor—of sexual harassment, fraud, retaliation and more—but reprint this in its entirety to illustrate the complexities of our war in Iraq, in particular the use of so many contract employees subject to, essentially, no authority or system of law.

    Whether or not the specifics below are true, it was clear from my own time in Iraq that the mix of military, civilian government officials, contractors and local Iraqis subject to no single authority created exactly the type of problems you would expect with such unequal power relationships without proper supervision.

    The deletion of all the names below makes this a bit hard to read, but I encourage you to give it a try. You’ll learn more than you care to about how ugly things look when you turn over the rock and expose what’s underneath to daylight.

    Peter

    —————————————–

    Enclosed is extensive documentation detailing visa fraud, abuse of authority, retaliation against witnesses, filing and doctoring of official reports, and intimidation committed by Mr. Xxx, Junior Counter-Intelligence Officer with the Department of Defense through a contract with Xxx. I received initial information about this abuse in 2010 from U.S. Army Colonel Xxx and Major Xxx. The victim of the crimes of Mr. Xxx is an Iraqi national who worked as an interpreter from 2003 to 2009.

    We have been working on this case for more than three years, and I will not let this matter drop. The personal safety and security of an ally of the United States is at stake, and the injustice perpetrated upon her by one of my fellow American citizens is too revolting for me to ignore. Over the past year, I have sent this information to senior officials in the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State. In addition, I have been in frequent communication with the offices of Senators McCaskill , whose staff has filed a request for an IG/DoD investigation. As you will see, the Washington Post covered this story on the front page. I have also filed IG reports at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, along with a case at the USCIS Ombudsman.

    The crimes committed by Mr. Xxx that are detailed in the attached documents are a serious breach of law, and the unconscionable inaction by the U.S. government to redress the situation of Xxx, while facilitating the relocation and effective absolution of Mr. Xxx, is a serious breach of even the most simplistic understanding of the legal, moral and ethical duty that the United States must have for the foreign nationals it employs, whether directly or through its subcontractors.


    Specific allegations against Mr. Xxx.

    Compiled by Colonel Xxx:

    1. Abusing his authority by pressuring local national females into having a sexual relationship as a condition to pass or avoid the security screening process;

    2. Abusing his authority by seeking revenge or retribution against local national females (e.g. by firing from employment, threats of firing, threats against family members, threats to stop SIV Immigration, threats to release confidential information to unauthorized persons to break or destroy familial relationships) who do not respond to his overtures for a personal relationship, or who try to break away from him after having a personal relationship;

    3. Having sexual relationship with local national females with whom he was charged with conducting the security screening process;

    4. Retaliating against all persons who are potential witnesses against him, who fight the process and try to retain the local national employee, or who bring Complaints of Misconduct against him.

    5. Releasing confidential and sensitive information to unauthorized third persons, outside the security reporting channels, in order to cause harm to or intimidate local nationals (primarily females) into compliance with his request for a relationship or to prevent them from having a relationship with another, or to keep them silent as witnesses against him and others in the office that may be complicit in his activities.

    6. Creating, “doctoring” and filing false reports, or placing filing reports in a way to place the local national in a “false light” to the military units with whom they were employed, of security concerns against local national employees or potential employees in order to coerce them into an improper relationship or set them up for firing and expulsion from the FOB and the International Zone in order to cover his misconduct and eliminate witnesses. (Many times this is done when one unit is leaving and a new unit comes on board because the new unit doesn’t know the history and character of the local worker and is most easily influenced by information provided).

    7. Bringing onto or making alcoholic beverages accessible to residents of FOB Prosperity and other contractor employees. Consuming alcoholic beverages at social events (some allegations he also leaves the IZ for these parties) involving foreign nationals, local nationals, and other DoD contract personnel in a manner that compromises his professionalism and sets the conditions for personal misconduct in the performance of his duties.

    Potential Evidence/Witnesses to Support the Allegations:

    Because these allegations were so serious, and because a common theme began to emerge with most of the affected local nationals, I decided to ask some questions myself of persons who may be in the “know” about the reports of misconduct before deciding to file a formal request for an inquiry. Here is what I found:

    * I personally spoke with one of the local national translators alleged to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Xxx because I have known her for a long time. She admitted to me that she and Mr. Xxx had a sexual relationship that arose either during the time he was supposed to be responsible for conducting her security screening, or he met her during that time and it developed as a result thereof. She said he then helped her get her SIV to the States, paid her way and either traveled with her or met her there. After a short time, she tried to break away from him and she returned to Iraq (where she currently resides) and she said he is giving her and her family a very hard time with threats to bar her and them from coming or returning to America. Although she is nervous, I think she is available to talk about this and, in fact, she may have already met with folks from your organization before these complaints surfaced to report the situation.

    * I corresponded via email with Xxx, a former supervisor for Mr. Xxx, and, as you can see from the attached email excerpts, he confirmed that the above allegations were true against Mr. Xxx. He also made reference to a Regional Manager that may be able to confirm the allegations as well.

    * I was contacted by local national translator nicknamed Xxx who was recently terminated abruptly because of an adverse screening result from Mr. Xxx that resulted from an argument she had with one of Xxx’ co-workers (DoD Iraqi-American Xxx female named Xxx). Xxx had reported her fear that she would be fired because of this incident to me and to her POC almost two months before her firing and right after the incident occurred for which she filed a complaint with Xxx against Mr. Xxx. She reported that Xxx confronted her in one of the female latrines on the FOB and made disparaging and discriminatory remarks about Xxx and other Muslim women (an allegation other translators have also made against Xxx) and their personal hygiene practices. Later, Xxx was joined by Xxx who made it clear he was Xxx’s friend and co-worker and that Xxx might have a problem the next time she was screened. She also noted Xxx had made a comment to her with words to the effect, “You should have spoken to me in the DFAC when I was trying to be “friendly” with you—now you will see”, which made her believe he was threatening to fail her in her screening because she refused to have a personal relationship with him and as revenge to protect his friend.

    * Another recent firing involved a local national female translator named Xxx. Xxx was supposedly fired because she was found to have a “fake” Jinsiya during the screening process. I have known Xxx since 2007 and have always known her to be honest, loyal, and a hard worker for the CF. Apparently during the time in recent months when she had continuous and regular duty at one of our JSS’s in Baghdad, she asked someone to renew her Jinsiya. The Jinsiya had all the correct information about her and there was no attempt on her part to deceive anyone, but apparently it was not an official Jinsiya (although that question remains) and she was fired for this reason after all those years of loyal service. So, what is her connection to Xxx issue. Well, she is good friends with Xxx (above referenced translator who had the run-in with Xxx and Xxx) and she, like Xxx were eyewitnesses to Xxx’s personal relationship with Xxx and another local national translator named Xxx because of proximity to their CHUs. So, it is not unthinkable, given what Xxx’s former supervisor said of him, that Xxx is one of the potential witnesses against Xxx that needed to be eliminated from the FOB and IZ.

    * I know you are familiar with the situation with respect to Xxx and her situation regarding the Iraqi Wide badge and being requested to take a polygraph test (which I understand she took and failed today). As you can see from Xxx’s email, much of Xxx’s problem stems from Xxx’s personal bias against her and it is likely he would go to any length to make her fail her security screening. I think Xxx has also related to you, or through her current employer or previous POC, that Xxx tried to press her for a personal relationship and she refused to respond and that is when her trouble started (specifically Xxx’s bias) painting her in a false light.

    * Just today the BMET (co-located with us) was told that one of its local national translators (Xxx —whom I have known for about three years and have never seen anything untoward from or with respect to him from a security standpoint) failed the security screening and they were told he must leave the FOB immediately, however, they didn’t specify any reason for the firing. But, apparently there was a question to him about knowing another translator that was recently fired (that I think worked for your organization—his nickname is Xxx) as a possible basis for his firing. It is my understanding that Xxx was having personal trouble with Xxx and the yet unverified allegation was Xxx was pressuring Xxx to give false evidence against other local nationals or others on the FOB—so again a possible connection to Xxx that goes beyond the fact that Xxx works for office that does the screenings.

    * I was also informed that another local national female translator Xxx has a similar situation with Xxx. I also believe she was recently fired or left her employment under adverse conditions and is living in the red zone afraid of Xxx. As I understand her story, she had a sexual relationship with Xxx for sometime after which she left him and married a U.S. soldier with whom she had a child. During the time she was still on the FOB, Xxx was seen at her room having heated arguments with her. Sometime during the process her room was subject to inspection and information was found on her computer showing she had the relationship with the US soldier and apparently had pictures of their wedding and honeymoon in Turkey. Xxx was angry and jealous (so the allegation goes) and threatened and continues to threaten to release information to her husband about his relationship with her in order to break their relationship and cause her husband to stop her and her child’s visa process for immigration to the states. She is laying low in the red zone waiting for the immigration process and trying to appease Xxx from releasing the information to her husband. (Note: I know Xxx but have not spoken directly to her about this story and I don’t know where she is currently located, however, I heard the same story from people close to Xxx and who know the situation. They say Xxx is afraid of Xxx and afraid to come forward to tell the full story).

    A security check was done on Ms. Xxx in 2009 and no derogatory information was found. Mr. Xxx was dating a local translator who did not like Xxx and, along with his rejected advances, he was able to insert derogatory information into her file. He was known as manipulative, devious, and a womanizer amongst fellow employees and allied Iraqis.

    This harassment also happened to a number of other female employees, in addition to men whom Mr. Xxx did not like.



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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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