EDITORIAL COMMENT: The EB is demanding mercy for Ms. Palfrey. A presidential pardon and a long secluded rest is advised for Ms. Palfrey sans blackberry.
'DC Madam' threatens to bring down Washington
April 29, 2007
The demise of a call-girl ring and pending trial of an alleged madam claiming thousands of clients has the US capital riveted by the chance powerful men may now be caught with their trousers down, with a senior state department official apparently first to fall.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 50, dubbed the DC Madam in local media, has been arraigned in federal court on charges of operating a Washington DC prostitution service for 13 years until her retirement last year.
Palfrey has denied she ran a prostitution ring. Her company, Pamela Martin and Associates, was simply a "high-end adult fantasy firm which offered legal sexual and erotic services across the spectrum of adult sexual behaviour and did so without incident during its 13-year tenure," she said.
Palfrey contends her escort service provided university educated women to engage in legal game-playing of a sexual nature at $US275 ($333) an hour for a 90-minute session, the Washington Post reported.
But Palfrey has also hinted that she has a record of the phone numbers of thousands of more than 10,000 customers that could embarrass more the a few of the US capital's high-fliers.
The US State Department announced yesterday Randall Tobias, the embattled head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was resigning for unspecified personal reasons.
However ABC News, which said Palfrey has provided it with a record of the numbers of calls to her private mobile phone, reported Tobias stepped down after they spoke to him about his allegedly contacting her number.
Since 2003 Tobias also was President George W Bush's first global AIDS coordinator, a job which drew criticism for his emphasis on faithfulness to partners and abstinence over condom use in trying to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus.
Before entering government he was chairman, president and chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and also, from 1997-2000, chairman of the board of trustees at Duke University.
His now-reported links to a firm accused of prostitution have raised more than a few eyebrows.
Palfrey's California home and other assets were seized by US tax authorities in October, and Palfrey has been trying to raise funds for her defence through an appeal on her website.
Her lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, told Fox television last month: "The statistical certainty (is) that there are a fair number of high-profile people who used this service across the government and private sector in the metropolitan DC area."
And the Post reported on Saturday local jitters appear to be multiplying. It said Sibley claimed "he has been contacted in the past few days by five lawyers asking whether their clients' phone numbers are on Palfrey's list of 10,000 to 15,000 customers from 2002 to 2006."
That may have something to do with the fact that Palfrey already has named her first name, as it were, on her website, where she has posted a court document from April 12 in which she alleges formal US naval commander Harlan Ullman was a "regular customer" whom she needs to subpoena.
Ullman, with James Wade, developed the military doctrine of "shock and awe" used by US government in its invasion of Iraq. According to one definition, it is shorthand for rapid dominance based on the use of "overwhelming decisive force", "dominant manoeuvres", and "spectacular displays of power" to subdue the other side.
Earlier this month Ullman told CNN: "The allegations do not dignify a response," and referred any other questions to his lawyer.