The Bush Crony Who Tortured American Teens, Part II

November 13, 2005

Listen here

Why is a man who should be prosecuted for torture appointed by President George W. Bush as Ambassador to Italy?

On Thursday’s show, This Bush Crony Has Blood on his Hands!, THE INSIDE SCOOP was the first radio show to report on STRAIGHT, Inc., the teen-age rehab center more akin to a torture camp run by Melvin and Betty Sembler. Melvin Sembler was for many years until a few months ago, George W. Bush’s U.S. Ambassador to Italy.

The testimonials from victims of this place were so horrific and so numerous that we barely scratched the surface. So reporter John Gorenfeld has agreed to come back to discuss this story this Sunday.

My second guest, Dr. Arnold Trebach, Justice Chief for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission during the Civil Rights Era of 1960-65, is Professor Emeritus at American University and Founder of The Drug Policy Foundation in Washington, DC. For two decades, Dr. Trebach has been investigating STRAIGHT.

My third and most important “guests” are the many survivors of Sembler’s torture and abuse that have agreed to call in as well.

You won’t want to miss today’s show!

Here’s John Gorenfeld’s Article: Ambassador de Sade

If you were a victim of STRAIGHT or you know an on-going drug rehab center where physical and mental abuse occurs, you are strongly encouraged to call in today’s show.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

  • Mark Levine March 20, 2006 10:13 pm

    Email me and tell me what you need. My email is

  • amanda March 20, 2006 1:04 pm

    we need a phone number to contact mark on legal matters

  • laurie March 14, 2006 5:37 am

    they just showed a documentary on bob litchfield and its cronies on sbs it was titled “tranquility bay” and i was amazed that such manifest child abuse has been sanctioned by the us attorney general.Is there no way that those responsible can be prosecuted mayby an application to the un human rights commission or appropriate body can be made and legal proceedings commenced,its an absolute disgrace kneecapping that lying ugly thing could be a start

  • Steven December 28, 2005 7:27 pm

    Warning to any person thinking about retiring in SARASOTA FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!


  • A statement of redundancy December 8, 2005 9:26 am

    The executionee is swathed with alcohol before their lethal injection

  • nyet December 7, 2005 3:24 pm

    see: In Defense of Referencing Hitler by B.K. Marcus

    The Drug War / Nazi Comparison is a well-established theme.

    The “holocaust” didn’t happen all at once, it was a process that began years earlier. They weren’t at lampshades in 1935. That came later. They (the Good Germans) started off by consenting to a gradual series of dehumanizing laws that ended in lampshades. It is right to point out were pograms and programs like “Straight Inc” could lead.

  • Elmer Fudd McSmith December 7, 2005 8:55 am

    Stir crazy–you caught me you waskily wascal–I’m a shameless self-promoter

  • Vicky December 7, 2005 7:43 am

    Hey Still Crazy – Try again!

    Gordon’s homepage is his own homepage – clicking on his name (all 59 of them) will take you to his website:

    Don’t believe me – try it yourself.

    Some of the other recent posters are connected – they aren’t denying or hiding it. (But they don’t always take you back to RadioInsideScoop’s site.

  • still crazy December 7, 2005 4:51 am

    Hey Gordon-

    How exactly is it that four seemingly unconnected people,you,Ginger,Cassandra,william earnshaw,sr….possibly more here…all ended up with homepages at,and all having links back to this very site?

    Is there something you’re not telling us about here?

    And all anyone has to do to know this,is to hover over all four of your gold “posted by” ID’s right here on this very page! Wouldn’t be surprised to see many more of these,by reading past threads on this site!

  • william earnshaw, sr December 5, 2005 12:35 pm

    Hi Marti,

    I agree, they need to be held accountable. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening when at least one state licenses this form of treatment and adamantly defends its right to exist. As if we didn’t have enough problems, this particular state agency (ODADAS) has ignored the latest request that the host homes be licensed as residential treatment centers. There are other agencies presently involved in giving the host home issue a second look. Until, at least in Ohio, ODADAS recognizes this treatment as abuse and stops ignoring the facts and personal testimony of victims, this will continue indefinitely. My point is that as long as they approve of this, they won’t consider it a crime for which to hold anyone accountable, let alone the financial supporters and the like. Besides, to them, it is apparently OK to abuse kids who have done drugs. That’s their license, so to speak. I believe that first we will have to prove in a court or Congressional hearing, for that matter, the abusiveness of this type of treatment before we can “hold them accountable”. 4 people filed complaints with ODADAS, including 2 from ISAC, and to no avail. They have discredited each and every single one of them.
    If someone reading this knows a way to convince ODADAS that the khk treatment methods are systematically abusive and that they should not license it, by all means, give it your best shot. Evidently filing complaints, reports and evidence that proves it is insufficient at best.

    Marti, please email me asap. Thank you…

  • G.I. Joe December 3, 2005 9:04 am

    Marti–get your differences and similarities straight–some Viet vets were drafted–and you don’t wanna hear the stories of how some tried to get outa the bush

    The common denominator is fear–Viet vets were taught to react to fear with anger–perhaps the kids were supposed to wallow in their fear–and graduating was to react with anger onto the new kids–I dunno–perhaps you can confirm or deny that

    To get paid benefits you do need a new label–it took three good wars to get PTSD benefits for military vets, now it’s a box on current ETSing vets’ DD214s (that’s progress and how it’s manifested)

  • Marti Heath December 3, 2005 6:22 am

    Cassandra thank you for your input but again we are a tad different than vietnam vets. We were not adults when it happened , in fact most of us were very young. We did not volunteer. We were not trying to protect the one next to us but were told to try to destroy the one next to us. In that, the effects although similiar in some area’s is very different in others.
    I think the survivors understand what I am talking about.
    In my opinion I think every survivor is OWED benefits from our government. We can without any shadow of doubt prove that they knew or should have known and chose to do nothing to save us or help us.
    If we must label the effects and choose some other label than PTSD. I would simply call it,
    APCCS. Adolescent Post Concentration Camp Syndrom. After all , our government said this in the mid 70′s concerning the Seed (the better version of Straight)- “Wose than a chinese prisoner of war camp”.
    I would prefer that we focus on holding those responsible ACCOUNTABLE.
    It is difficult if not impossiable to improve or have closure (if that is possiable) when there is NO justice.
    To not seek justice, to not hold those responsible accountable is the same as saying that we do not matter, that we are not worth the effort, that we as children – a generation- didn’t and don’t count. It is to say that what happened to us is not worth the intervention of prosecutors.
    I beg to differ.


  • Cassandra November 24, 2005 6:12 pm

    I just found this on a x-ref of Sembler/Blackwell


    Attn Beverly Harris Sunday 11-14 2:30 AM

    Re Epicenter of Vote Fraud Scandal, Florida “The Smoking Gun ” you’ve been looking for.





    You can reach Jeff at 561 889 2165 cell or 561 865 9548.

    His assistants are Al Rogers and Ben Roth.

    Here’s a brief outline

    Jeff has specific evidence of a widespread vote fraud perpetrated through a Juvenile Detention / Rehab facility called Bay Point Schools In South Miami, with connections to Mel Sembler and possibly Joe Klock atty to Katherine Harris.

    These connections lead directly to Jeb Bush and of course the White House. By using Juvenile Detention & Drug Rehab facilities and under the guise of criminal computer retraining, we believe Sembler has financed a well tested vote fraud scheme to assure his cronies Jeb & George Bush, among others, guaranteed elections.

    Specific evidence includes copies of internal memo’s and emails as well as testimony of the MIS Director of one Florida facility where much of the hacking was perpetrated. The work was replicated and limited to one location to avoid easy detection.

    The MIS Director is currently in hiding. Jeff can reach him.

    By internally tampering with Diebold Optical Scanners as well as Diebold Electronic E voting machines, the hacking, ( done from remote locations under the control of Mel Stembler’s facilities ( see below ) , votes were altered, switched , deleted or detroyed in numerous Florida, Ohio and New Mexico counties and then switched from John Kerry to George Bush.

    It is very likely that other races have been effected as well such as Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina , etc.

    Mel Sembler’s Drug Rehab and Juvenile Detention Center’s are under investigation and are and have been sued for a huge laundry list of extremely abusive behaviors ( see or search under ) .

    The vote fraud system was first tested in 1999. Used in the Florida Presidential Election in 2000. Tested again successfully in Jeb Bush’s race against Janet Reno and then Bill Mc Bride and finally in the 2004 Presidential Election. Also Georgia.

    The second part of this scheme seems to be that they also cover their tracks by using the names of Felons and others purged falsely onto the Felon voter roles. This I believe allows them to seem to use legitimate numbers by first inflating the roles and them flipping or using them in some places with out drawing to much attention. This also may be why we saw so many overvotes in places where there weren’t enough felon votes. This last sentence is my speculation.

    The scheme used computers at their facilities, an MIS director who trained juvenile delinquents under custody as well as others to hack into Diebold systems around the country and place software kernels that would raise votes for one candidate while deleting the others.

    This would explain both the erratic polls discrepancies reported in especially swing states but also here in North Carolina.

    These software fixes are supposed to leave no audit trail. This also would explain the seemingly random gltiches of people voting Kerry and getting Bush on review or the strrange over vote errors. I believe by the seizing of evidence under your FOIA we will be able with the help of experts to discover the audit trail and other evidence of tampering.

    Our specific evidence centers around Bay Point School in So Miami as the epicenter facility.

    Mel Sembler made his money, hundreds of millions, building Shopping malls. This was not enough as he wants much more power and influence and has been willing to donate millions to the Republican Party over almost 20 years to buy his access and influence.

    And now due to his complete disregard for basic civil and human rights ( his abusive facilities are legendary ) he is willing to exploit drug addicted juveniles and others under his companies custody to do his dirty work under threat and penalty of death or semi permanent incarceration. After all who would believe a junkie right ?

    Mel has been awarded for his Ranger level contributions to the Republicans and other misdeeds a prime cherry,
    the Ambassadorship to Italy by George Bush.

    He and his wife have been on Anti Drug Boards going back to the Reagans despite their appaling reputation in the recovery field.

    Information being gathered through the investigation launched by 16th Congressional Candidate Jeff Fisher of Florida currently has the attention of the FBI, DNC under Cam Kerry, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, 60 minutes, The Nation & others.

    Please contact us as soon as possible

    You can reach Jeff at 561 889 2165 cell or 561 865 9548.

    Beverly, Bless you and your family for 100 generations. May you travel safe surrounded by light. Thank you for being such a strong warrior and seeker of truth. You will always be remembered in our hearts and dreams.


  • Dr. Freud November 23, 2005 9:12 am

    Cassandra–so you see how impotent it is to try to contain emotions with words and labels and how truly important the emotion is, whether it have a real trigger staring you in the face or something surreal seeping out of your memory or the subliminal side of your senses

    When PTSD can make you laugh and creative–then you know you are doing something right–but don’t try to make the PTSD go away–it won’t–that is part of the healing process that is still God’s mystery (or to atheists: those rationales are “down-the-road”)

  • Cassandra November 22, 2005 10:55 pm

    How insideous is THIS?

  • Cassandra November 22, 2005 9:29 pm

    Case in point. This just came up on a news bot alert. Wanna see your hard earned tax dollars at work paying people to destroy all of our hard fought freedoms?

    Those Safe and Drug Free everything programs don’t come cheap, ya know! There’s lab work to do, and often litigation. Everytime someone buys in by way of the Department of Labour’s endorsement, Mel comes in his finely pressed Italian shitpants.

    Sorry, that’s course. So yeah, finding this stuff does wake up some anger in me. However, other people being as outraged and angry about it as I am makes me feel better. There’s only so much we’ll tolerate before we do something intelligent about it. Here’s to running the bumbs out, one bumb at a time.

  • Cassandra November 22, 2005 8:44 pm

    “Cassandra–so by ascribing your condition as prescience you believe your fears are founded on validity or connected reality? ”

    No. T’other way around. When my oldest kid was in school, I found out about DARE; the allegedly secret concerns box, the myth stated as fact, the fact that a program (not a course, that’s why the theoretical requirement for explicit parental consent) austensibly about drugs was taught, not by a pharmacist or anyone else w/ specific training in the field, but by a law enforcement officer. This all reminded me very much of the Program. But it didn’t bother anyone else, so I figgured it must be leftover paranoia.

    Then I found out that none other than Betty Sembler holds a seat on the board. And there’s more. There was some sort of affiliation between Sembler and Daryl Gates, DARE’s founder and world renowned defender of police brutality, so long as they brutalize the right people.

    Then I decided it was prescienc, not paranoia, and made a mental note to check next time instead of blowing it off. I’ve discovered many new facts and updated my conclusions often. Sometimes, I was being paranoid. Other times prescient.

    “PTSD is actually inclusive of that–the reality of the trigger of the fear is not as important as the presence of the fear–and reacting to that fear

    “Reacting has two basic options–lashing out in anger or withdrawing inwardly–sorting out reality usually comes after this first instinctive step”

    Yes, in the immedite moment, that about covers it. But, over the long term, I’ve found it extremely helpful to just go and slap a theory around like the proverbial red headed stepchild till it either lays down and quits fighting or proves out as at least likely.

  • Dr. Freud November 22, 2005 8:21 pm

    Cassandra–so by ascribing your condition as prescience you believe your fears are founded on validity or connected reality?

    PTSD is actually inclusive of that–the reality of the trigger of the fear is not as important as the presence of the fear–and reacting to that fear

    Reacting has two basic options–lashing out in anger or withdrawing inwardly–sorting out reality usually comes after this first instinctive step

  • Cassandra November 22, 2005 7:01 pm

    Well, not to say that all of the after effects of trauma are good and useful. I’ve had just a mild case of things like insomnia, hypervigilance and panic attacks early on.

    I think that gives me some small inkling of what it might be like for some folks. Hey, come to think of it, that’s one valuable thing I got from my program experience. When I run into a vet who’s hard for most people to tolerate or understand, I don’t feel sorry for him, I feel overwhelming gratitude and true affection. If he happens to be broke at the time and I spring for a meal or something, it ain’t charity, I owe and I know it and I’m happy as hell for the chance to pay back just a little.

    But, at the same time, I spent years thinking that, if I were uncomfortable w/ a situation and all my normal friends were not, well it was just my own paranoia. Turns out, I’m nowhere near as paranoid as I thought. If I had looked into DARE way back in the early `90′s when my daughter was taking their courses (don’t know how, since I’d never heard of the net back then…) I might have known much earlier that 1) DARE really is an evil, block monitoring program and 2) I’m only about half as messed up as I thought.

    It’s only paranoia if your fears are unfounded. Otherwise, it’s prescience.

  • Johnny Newshound November 22, 2005 3:02 pm

    Cassandra–make up your mind and define the difference

  • Cassandra (aka Ginger) November 22, 2005 1:42 pm

    I move that we reject the term PTSD in favor of the more accurate and useful term PTSP; Post Traumatic Stress Prescience.

    Anyone care to second that motion?

  • Dr. Freud November 22, 2005 10:20 am

    Marti–PTSD when concerned with all forms of trauma–has its similarities–that is what should be understood when seeking control of the disorder–because only quacks talk about cures for PTSD–it is a life-long malady

    PTSD studies will take you to a realm of your triggering thoughts and make your mind conscious of ways to avoid dangerous areas of consciousness–and techniques of response to recover from dangerous psychic arenas

  • Vicky November 21, 2005 9:45 pm

    Marti – Not to nit-pick but just to set the record straight – many young men were drafted during the Vietnam war.

    I don’t say this to make the comparison between the military and your experience…the more I hear on the drug rehab programs, the more horrified I am that this is something that took place in America in such recent times.

    (I’ve also been working through a book on the Jewish Holocaust the last few weeks; I say “working through” as it is so difficult to read it for any length of time. Today one of the chapters I read was specifically on Children.)

    But…I’m grateful for the exposure Mark has given this issue and for all of you who are willing to share your experiences.

  • Marti Heath November 21, 2005 9:27 pm

    Continued Letter To Mr. Levine

    We are perusing legal avenues through the statue of limitations which is all I can say at the moment. I know for myself I have gotten to the point where I would like to know the physical consequences of my 4 years there. I would be happy to volunteer for such a study as I am sure others would as well.
    We are talking about over fifteen thousand children who went through Straight, thousands more who were or are going through Straight like facilities. I think that since this effects almost a generation that a study is warranted but we have been unsuccessful in obtaining a center to do a study. I think it is mostly because we do not where to look.

    Any chance you could help get this off the ground. I know many survivors would be grateful.


  • Marti Heath November 21, 2005 9:24 pm

    Mr. Levine

    I was wondering if it is possiable Mr. Levine to find a local hsotpital sleep study center to study what are the results pysically and emotionally to individuals who as children are subject to:
    years of contant sleep deprevation
    Poor nutricion during the developing years.
    Repeated abuse
    Phycical trauma.

    Our congress called “the seed” which was the better version of straight “worse than a chinese prisoner of war camp”.
    Therefore, we can assume that our government knew and that they comparred it something so horriable. I am certain that our government did not rush to judgement when making that statement.
    I found one sleep study done on “concentration camp” survivors and it reveals that it produces in ability to stress management at times, inability to manage anger ( something almost all straight surivors have )
    Overweight issues due to the bodies inability to process certain proteins and more.

    I appreciate you continuing this story but I would really like to see a SCIENTIFIC study done on survivors to find out the lasting effects. Our experience there is so different.
    We are not like Vietnam Vets as we did not volunteer , we were MUCH younger, we were not being paid, we did not have benefits , nor were we a team looking to save our buddy but instead rewarded for destroying our friend.
    We are not like the plane crash victim that has PTSD as our experience lasted years not a day.

    We are different than the holocaust (german) survivors as we were not put in gas chambers, we were not adults. Yes, I know many children died in the camps. We did not suffer the same thing.
    Many of us would like to see a study on us. Because our experience is unique.

  • Kelly November 21, 2005 10:50 am

    WWASP did have a “parent weekend”-esque set up…There are, of course, the ubiquitous parent “support group” meetings (where Program parents get together in their area once a month and talk about how, either horrible {non-working} or wonderful {working} their kid is…). There also were the required Parent-Child Seminars (PC 1 & PC 2) that we had to complete with our folks at the end of our stay in order to graduate the Program.

  • The tidal wave of emotion waiting around the corner November 19, 2005 7:47 pm

    Scott Wagner–who are you to know how strong you have to be?

  • Ginger November 19, 2005 6:18 pm

    I think the hardest part of having had one’s illusions shattered is regaining honest and sure confidence in your own instincts. The second hardest part is the hanging onto that relationship through the Cassandra complex that nearly inevitably ensues.

    “That which does not kill you can make you stronger, but I really never needed to be this strong.”–Scott Wagner

  • G. I. Joe November 19, 2005 9:44 am

    Ginger–you’re right–the military taught us to fear–and to react to our fear–with anger–the results were sometimes monstrous

  • G.I. Joe November 19, 2005 8:40 am

    To Billiam Earnshaw–I’m saying–if all you’ve got to eat is peanut butter–eat it–and get stronger–and don’t let your adversity kill you from the inside

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 10:18 pm

    Yeah, Greg, I’m with ya’ on that too. I think maybe Virgil could be compared to a rather pathetic, failed Mengle wannabe. Maybe Bobby DuPont would be closer to that role, but I really don’t think he ever got his hands dirty. I think he’s just been raised in the bubble of unimaginable wealth and power and has no concept of connecting his actions and plans to the human costs.

    Vicki, you’re a lucky gal. On your worst day ever, I hope you find warm comfort in knowing how lucky you are.

    But don’t think these parents are some kind of lurching monsters who you’d spot as soon as they opened their mouths. This industry works like a pyramid scheme; mostly by word of mouth. Most of the salesmen are parents who have put kids through one of these programs. Hey, Rosanne Bar fell for it when she was with that creepy stepcraft preaching Tom guy. She put her kids in either Provo Canyon or CEDU (I’d have to check) So did Paris Hilton’s dad. Of course, it was just not this easy to get information back then. (God {the laws of nature type}) bless the bloggers! This is what a free press was meant to be!

    Many of those paid recruiters don’t talk to their kids either. But they keep to a very limited circle of trusted friends (fellow program parents) and keep telling each other that they’re doing the right thing by disowning their non-compliant kids. In their circle, “enabler” is probably a worse moniker than “atheist” is in yours. When they feel weak or are having bad thoughts about enabling, they call their fellow thoughlove hategroup members for reassurance (they report themselves) or go to another weekend seminar. Here’s an excellent essay on how that works.

    The state of the industry is MUCH more organized than it was 20 years ago. They had parent group after open meeting a couple of times a week, but only w/ the parents from the one location. Virgil Miller Newton introduced Parent Weekend, and I think they still do that and SAFE and KHK and probably others.

    And, getting back to the original topic, in the current administration and social/political climate, THIS is what rises to the top!

    Who sinks to the bottom in a corrupt society? Honest people do, that’s who.

  • Vicky November 18, 2005 9:21 pm

    Ginger – I assumed you were using it as a figure of speech and I was wanting to ask you about your relationship with your parents. Thanks for sharing that very sad story. I confess I just cannot relate to that type of situation.

    greg – how was “atheist” used as an insult? I just made an observation. Perhaps you took it as an insult? Of course, I am a believer in The Creator, God and believe myself to be of sound mind and of reasonable intelligence but I give you your right to not believe.

  • gregfl November 18, 2005 9:13 pm

    And Ginger, comparing Sembler to a Nazi…that one I think has legs. Comparing him to Dr. Mengle is where I start having problems.

  • gregfl November 18, 2005 9:12 pm

    Thanks Mark, Ginger, and Gordon for getting my point about terminology. It is VERY important in the context of a story to come off as credible, and using terminology that is reactionary and innacurate harms the story you are trying to tell.

    Vicki,you use the term Atheist like it is an insult. Some of us are quite proud that we have the reasoning ability to not have adopted a belief in a supernatural god. So, on behalf of Ginger, thanks for pointing out her powers of rationality.

    Mark, mucho props for telling us you intend to keep this story going.

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 9:09 pm

    Vicki said: “How can you blame a God you don’t believe in?”

    Well, it’s a figure of speech. I often say “I’d bet good money…” when, in fact, I don’t bet at all, not even on the lotto. No moral imperative behind it or anything. I just don’t enjoy gambling. But really, I think all of the Gods ever invented by men have been allagories for the imutable laws of physics and nature; especially those we don’t (yet?) understand. So “god” can act, in that capacity. And, btw, I apologize for the rough language. I copied that from a private list and missed that.

    Then: “Straight Survivor writes….”I can tell you that NOTHING in America has come close to this type of destruction of children other than Straight and Straight like programs. Straight is and always will be the American Holocaust (which is different than the German Holocaust).”

    (How about the destruction of 46 million babies since 1973 through abortion?)”

    Good point. Or the millions abused, neglected or murdered in foster care? Or how many who died of exhaustion or catastrophe in the coal mines? Or the nightmare of the Dickenson era orphanages?

    As far as brutality to children and other vulnerable people, Straight was bad enough, but nowhere near the worst.

    But this is a bit different. In those cases, no one was denying the violence to the children. They justified it, said it was normal and all that. But no one called it therapy. And, of course, except for foster care, those things are not happening in this day and age in this part of the world. Vicki, I’m over the confinement and emotional abuse. But they took my family from me. Dad and I came to an understanding a few months after my final escape. But I still don’t talk to my mother. In 20 years, she’s never called my phone or dropped in for a visit or explicitly invited me for one. I never did anything terrible to her, except for run away. But I had extremely good reasons for doing so and I called her often to let her know I was ok so she wouldn’t worry any more than necessary for my safety.

    And she chose them. And she’s not at all unusual. My dad was.

    Bottom line is that they’re not sorry and they are in positions of authority over others. That’s a problem.

    Then: “That it did not happen during wartime but just because people found they had the power to abuse kids to me makes it even worse. There was (is)no need to be so cruel. It was (is)sadistic, pure and simple.”

    (46 million pre-born innocent children destroyed by abortion since 1973!)

    Let’s be consistent please!”

    I would never have made the leap to abortion. If you want to know, Straight was austensibly against it. However, I know of two girls (one who was in the Seed) who were forced by Program staff to have abortions at the parents’ request.

    But my first thought in response to Mark was “This is a war!” Nixon named it, we’re living it; the perpetual War on Drugs. Have you seen the Drug War Clock?

    And the program is Stalinist reeducation.

  • Vicky November 18, 2005 8:19 pm

    Again…not trying to detract from this topic…but sometimes there are comments made that I just find it impossible to ignore without putting in my two cents.

    Going back to Ginger’s (the atheist) comment on 11/17 she writes…”But if this is a wrong way for people (and other intelligent creatures) to think, then God fucked up in a big way cause this is the way all people think. And I believe there are good reasons for it.”

    How can you blame a God you don’t believe in?

    Straight Survivor writes….”I can tell you that NOTHING in America has come close to this type of destruction of children other than Straight and Straight like programs. Straight is and always will be the American Holocaust (which is different than the German Holocaust).”

    (How about the destruction of 46 million babies since 1973 through abortion?)

    Our fine host Mark Levine writes….”I don’t know why you’re down-playing the real and awful suffering these innocent people underwent as children. It doesn’t have to be a Nazi Holocaust or the Trail of Tears or even the equivalent of a POW camp to be real, disgusting, and unconscionable. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen in America or anywhere around the world. That it did not happen during wartime but just because people found they had the power to abuse kids to me makes it even worse. There was (is)no need to be so cruel. It was (is)sadistic, pure and simple.”

    (46 million pre-born innocent children destroyed by abortion since 1973!)

    Let’s be consistent please!

  • william earnshaw, sr November 18, 2005 7:19 pm

    First, I’d like to comment about GI Joe’s remark about eating peanut butter and mental trauma… Did they make you eat nuttin but peanut butter when you were 13 and a little glass of water once a day? IF you’re in war, you expect to have great injustice. These stories were not from battlefields filled with bodies and blood, they were and still are from warehouses filled with kids.
    I think it is hard, in a way, to heal trauma due to the fact that it is occurring right now. If you can find a way to “get over it” while it’s still happening, that would be a priceless gift. It would be much better if it were to stop altogether and the people responsible for it were held accountable. Sure, there are things in life that are more drastic, etc… it’s a matter of context here. I don’t agree with the no pain no gain mantra eventhough I have experienced it many times.

    Ginger, the eeltank Scott knows about Riddile and the program, but, last I heard he was going to “see what he could do” and that was about 8 months ago. Gumball may know more…

    Mark, have you seen that ODADAS letter?

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 3:51 pm

    Thanks, Gordon. Let me see if I can very briefely add just one more point of clarification. I saw, with my own eyes, kids being pushed to the point of permanent damage. And I’ve heard from too many adults who, decades later, are still more than a little bothered. Then there are those who are no longer with us. One can argue all day about what caused a particular suicide. But the number of suicides among Program vets has yet to be explained to my satisfaction.

    These horrible things happened often. And yet I sit here along w/ most everyone else who was in one of these places telling you that most of us didn’t have any serious problems, drug related or otherwise, prior to intake. And, of course, things like rape and braking bones were not ordered by staff or defined in any company policy. These things happened more-or-less spontaniously, but I’ve never seen such behavior outside of the Program.

    There’s something about what IS in the manuals and the printed rules that seems to reliably bring about these kinds of problems. Gordon, I’m guesing you know what I’m getting at. I’m guessing most of the boys who signed up or were conscripted were as decent as anyone going in. But something happened to make them either behave like animals or tolerate it in others.

    That something is worth talking about because, if you don’t see it coming, you’ll fall for it. And most Americans wouldn’t know it if it came up and kissed them on the face.

  • Gordon from Bora Bora November 18, 2005 3:07 pm

    Mark, I think Ginger is close to what I am trying to say–The Straight problem is its own distinct horror–and historical hyperboles don’t properly define it–exaggeration doesn’t help either

    Let’s be journalists about this–take names and numbers and cite the facts

    With apologies to victims of the historical legacies of man’s inhumanity to man–I certainly don’t feel condescending–or even condensing–lest there be any confusion about that–my tears mix with my blood and the blood of others whose spirits scream to me to stand up for justice in all its forms

    I’m not being dismissive of the Straight atrocities–I’m just seeking a proper perspective for them

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 1:23 pm

    I think you’re right, Kris. Ya know, in the first broadcast on this subject, Mark, you said something to the effect that there are plenty of good rehabs out there; why you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. While I KNOW that the level of violence and coercion that was routine at Straight doesn’t happen in most rehabs, the basic method is very similar. For a good look at the state of substance abuse rehab in this country today, check out Stanton Peele’s work at It ain’t pretty. The fanatics got a good solid head start in the industry years before most of us even took an interest.

    But that’s not the whole story. What these people do to children and to adults who come under ther coercion us horrible enough on it’s own. But don’t think they mean to stop there. I can tell you from having grown up within this insular little culture that these people, litterally, believe that damned near everyone could use a little dose of their medicine. And they’re as determined as any fanatics to “help” us all, even if it kills us.

    I’m particularly disturbed by the prevalence of former Straight, Inc. executives involved in the “caring” fields and education. So whas Scott Bradford. And he doesn’t even KNOW about the Program, as near as I can tell!

  • Kris November 18, 2005 12:56 pm

    What I hope does not get lost in all the horror stories is that the so called “treatment model” used by Straight Inc, and still used today, is very dangerous to the well being of children subjected to it. And by saying this, I do not mean in any way to minimize the experiences of those who endured far more severe abuses than I did. While actually in Straight, no one laid a hand on me personally (not until the post 18 kidnapping). But that environment, in and of itself, was very destructive emotionally, psychologically, mentally, etc, etc….

    Some people refer to it as breaking them down then rebuilding them, some call it coercive thought reform, others say its mind control….still others call it brainwashing, some call it (very deceptively I might add) behavior modification. But no matter what you call it, this proceess used to “miraculously change” rebellious teens is so destructive. Obviously, the more heinous abuses some endured helped to create such a frightening environment for all of us, including those of us who complied because we were so terrified of the various punishments we saw daily. Being broken down so traumatically into utter submission just to survive destroys children.

    Another point I would like to make is that I dont want to see the real issues get lost in the mix of debating the correct terminology. ( I am referring to the dabate about the term ‘Holocaust’) Whatever you call it, every kid subjected to Straight’s so called “treatment model” was abused in similar ways that Korean War American POW’s were, but in a very different war. This war is still taking place in America, its called the War on Drugs. The children who survived Straight, Inc and other similar programs over the past 3o+ years are survivors of the war on drugs. I personally think that there is no one word that adequately conveys the complexity of what happened at Straight, Inc. I just hope we can get past debating the right words to the most important issues….holding those monsters accountable, the current intolerable and unworkable drug policy in this country, finding ways for survivors to heal, and educating the public to end child abuse disguised as treatment.

  • Ginger November 18, 2005 12:37 pm

    Hm, let me make a few statements here.

    Mark, I don’t think Gordon is being condescending or dismissive in the least. I think he and my buddy Greg are trying to nail down more accurate definitions and context. WE NEED THIS!

    As to definitions, the one my other buddy, Straight Survivor, is using is not the usual one. Here’s a more commone definition:

    “The word, Holocaust, derives from Greek words, meaning complete destruction, usually by fire. By the end of the 17th century, the word came to mean a great slaughter or massacre. It is now used to describe the genocide against the Jews in Europe by the Nazis.


    You’re right, Greg, it was not our parents nor the Sembler’s nor Art’s intent to destroy US. At least, they didn’t see it that way. It was their intent, plainly and frequently stated, to rid us of what they viewed as the insidious, cancerous “druggie” culture. These days, the troubled teen industry skips the druggie attitude diagnosis and encompases all forms of diviance from parental wishes. Same crap, slightly different sales pitch.

    But they knew, and you know this, that they were doing damage to us. They just equated it to something like chemo therapy; in their minds it was very clearly worth the risks.

    You’re right in that a direct comparison between the Program and the German Holocaust doesn’t hold up. But folks, please remember that the “final solution” didn’t occure in a vacume. It took generations and a lot of dirty political tricks (hauntingly familiar to anyone who’s paid close attention to how the religious reich or neocons operate) to bring the German people along, one little step at a time, to the point where they would get behind it.

    This Is Happening Now!!!! You guys keep asking, asif you haven’t got a clue, why this story didn’t break and the whole enterprise fall apart 30 years ago. Isn’t it fairly obvious? Troubled Teens (i.e. kids who’s parents take rash action to effect an ‘attitude adjustment’) are to the current power players as the Jews and Gypsies and other ‘undesirables’ were to the Nazis.

    Is it hyperbole to call Melvin Sembler a Nazi? After all, he’s clearly an effective advocate for the Holocaust Museum, a political and civic leader in Jewish causes. And for that I commend him. I think he’s just as blind as any of the other parents were about the nature of his program and his chosen friends and political affiliates.

    I firmly believe that most Germans who lived, fought, killed and died for their country throughout two world wars were just as blind to the evil in their midst as people like the Semblers are today.

    This is all leading SOMEwhere. Have a little skepticizm and presience and take a few moments to think about what Dr. Schwartz is up to. Why is he publishing as a medical doctor tips and suggestions for getting pediatric patients to snitch out their families? Schwartz, if you don’t know, was the medical director of Straight, Fairfax.

    And Arnold was right, Greg. It’s not necessary or even helpful to constantly harp on those most greusome and horrid events and aspects of the program that people find so shocking. It serves to diferentiate us from “normal” people when what we need most is to find common ground.

    For a surprisingly similar perspective from another angle, take a little time and read some of John Gorenfeld’s other stories. He well documents how the Büsh admin and a lot of other high ranking politicians have been carrying on a sub rosa political romance w/ another toalitarian, authoritarian religious nut for decades now.

    Connect the dots, folks! This is not an anomoly. This is a pervasive pattern of behavior which exposes a disturbing system of belief among the most powerful people on this planet at this moment. One of them, who we know of, is winning awards for teaching highschool students (using harsh methods if necessary) that they don’t have any damned right to free speech. Folks, that little sentimental not to free speech is about the only item left of our much vaunted Bill of Rights, in practical terms. It’s the only tool, short of armed rebellion, that we have left to turn this game around. So I’m not surprised that former Straight staff and other toughlove hategroup followers are starting to focus on it.

    It’s our job to reel them in. If we won’t do it now, when it can be done through peaceful politican means, who will? China? Al Queda? Here’s a darkly humorous thought. Canadians, known for gentleness and polity bordering on obsequiousness, must be some tough folk to have thrived so well in such a harsh climate. Can you imagine if they finally lose their temper, having held it back for so long? Wouldn’t it be comic tragedy if they were to come on down and (figuratively) burn the capital again?

  • Mark Levine November 18, 2005 12:16 pm


    Don’t get me wrong. I agree it’s not the Holocaust or genocide. But I hate the idea that something has to be considered equivalent to the Holocaust before we consider it evil or wrong.

    STRAIGHT was very evil and very wrong. And I think we can all agree on that.

    And the fact that the perpetrators are still at large and feted by the highest levels of our Government disgusts me to no end.

    We WILL bring this story to the mainstream press!

  • gregfl November 18, 2005 11:43 am

    The point Mark that he may be trying to make, and I don’t want to speak for him nor do I agree with his condenscending tone, is that over stating the abuse and comparing it to events like the holocaust or even calling it a holocaust is counterproductve. I agree with that assertion because it tends to cast a wary eye on the entire story.

    Yes, the modality of the Seed offshoot programs, straight, kids helping kids, safe, life, growing together, and the rest of their ilk are all cruel, sadistic and abusive. Those adjectives that you use are accurate and demonstratable with existing evidence. The term Holocaust is emotional and non demonstrative of the experience. Further, Calling the experience a holocaust or THE american holocaust after we EXTERMINATED the Indians and enslaved a generation of black people is way over the top and causes people to stick a label of “nutty” on those who bring forth the argument using such adjectives.

    So, while I am disqusted with Gordon’s tone and condensation, I nevertheless must agree that he is right on in this assessment.

  • Mark Levine November 18, 2005 11:27 am

    Gordon (aka “G.I. Joe” and “Bury my heart”),

    I don’t know why you’re down-playing the real and awful suffering these innocent people underwent as children. It doesn’t have to be a Nazi Holocaust or the Trail of Tears or even the equivalent of a POW camp to be real, disgusting, and unconscionable. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen in America or anywhere around the world. That it did not happen during wartime but just because people found they had the power to abuse kids to me makes it even worse. There was no need to be so cruel. It was sadistic, pure and simple.

    And I must say I’m somewhat astonished that you — who usually has such compassion for people who have been mistreated and abused — could be so dismissive about it.

    I respectfully disagree with you here, Gordon. But strongly so.

  • Bury my heart at wounded knee November 18, 2005 9:36 am

    The American Holocaust was about the Trail of Tears, little papooses

  • G. I. Joe November 18, 2005 9:07 am

    Survivie–There are some POW survivors who would call your complaints candy-assed–as a former line-grunt in Vietnam, I can relate to the feeling of being a hostage of American politics

    Listen kids–America isn’t pollyanna-ville–there is a dark side to the American dream

    The U.S. military is an extrapolation of this–expressed in the storage of 30-thousand nuclear weapons that sends a subliminal threat to the world

    So eat your peanut butter–grow up and fight your way out of your mental trauma–and express what’s good about America and confess what’s bad about Amerika and you will become a patriot of the world because of your tribulation

    But the Nazi Holocaust was genocide–are you saying Straight-like programs are about genocide?
    Isn’t that comparison hyperbolically ridiculous?

  • gregfl November 18, 2005 8:53 am

    The straight never TRIED to murder anyone, physically or otherwise. You are arguing from a false premise. The straight tried, in vain I might add, to be a vehicle for modifying the behavior of society by changing the behavior of children. The failed for many reasons, and they used techniques they didn’t even understand because they just copied them from a cult called the seed. I think the program is evil in application but not everyone that promoted this treatment model is evil, some are just ignorant, selfish and self-serving. In addition, not everyone that went thru one of these programs is damaged and some will even tell you many many years later that it “saved them” while leading normal productive lives.

    Please anon poster, think about your words and then think about what Arnold Trebach said at the conference several years ago. This is a paraphrase, but he said you are much better off UNDER emphasising the abuse then over stating it, because ANY amount of overstating or bringing the cause into the realm of unbelief is harmfull to the message. So no, it wasn’t a slaughter of minds…yours and mine both seem to be functioning pretty good about now. The human capacity to endure such thing is huge. What is was was abusive, inappropriate, a cult, and it did cause emotional harm to many. To phrase it in a manner that says all were harmed opens the door for one person who was there to say “I wasn’t” and then demonstrate why, thereby discrediting your entire argument. \

    So no, even using your webster’s “thorough destruction” argument that the program was a Holocaust you are wrong, because well.. just look at the people posting here. We have computers, we mostly have jobs, families, lives. We are happy, and I will be the first to tell you I am not “thoroughly Destroyed”. I wouldn’t propose to give the morons that perpetuate these programs that kind of power.

    Do you get it?

  • Straight Survivor November 18, 2005 7:25 am


    : a thorough destruction

    I know we are all aware of the German Holocaust which refers to a specific holocaust.
    However, I think when looking at survivors you can determine that a thorough destruction was attempted in many cases successful. If you read “What The Professionals Say” you will find this: “Straight comes close to performing psychic murder”.
    I dont think that Ginger attempted to compare it with the German Holocaust. Nor do I think any survivor would say or compare it to same. However, that should not preclude survivors from using the word. Just because it is not equal to the German Holocaust does not mean that it was not a Holocaust – thorough destruction.
    I can tell you that NOTHING in America has come close to this type of destruction of children other than Straight and Straight like programs.

    Straight is and always will be the American Holocaust (which is different than the German Holocaust).
    As for the comparison to the Military, I would simply say this.
    There is NO comparison PERIOD.

  • Ginger November 17, 2005 10:50 am

    Mark, we’re having a similar conversation elsewhere. Playing my favorite role as devil’s advocate, here’s my contribution to that. I think it answers your comment:

    The Riddiler speaks w/ forked tongue, hm? But you did get the issue into a major, internationally read daily AND the writer was fair enough to suggest that people do their homework. I can’t complain… well, I could, but it probably wouldn’t do any good.

    Here’s the thing. And this, I think, is what you and I have been arguing about, ****. Sad and wrong as it seems on the face of it, nobody cares what happened to us 20 years ago. After all, here we are, evidently alright. And it’s just too complicated and weird for most people to sort out the reasons why so many of us are _not_ alright, or even still here. Nobody cares, really, until their ox is gored.

    But if this is a wrong way for people (and other intelligent creatures) to think, then God fucked up in a big way cause this is the way all people think. And I believe there are good reasons for it. People will give us a moment of commisseration or, alternately, use our shocking stories for political fodder. But it ain’t got legs till they understand how it effects them in the here and now.

    Here’s what I suggest. I know we have friends right there in the Fairfax area. Can someone find out where the kids hang out and go talk to them and get their take on what kind of principal the Riddiler is? I know about the one kid who tried to stage a protest over the way he handled the smirking chimp’s photo op a couple of years ago. And I suspect that, if he’s proud of what he did as a Straight executive, then he’s probably treating kids in somewhat the same way. Is he really getting poor kids to master the skills and knowledge for a successful adulthood? Or is he just shipping the troublemakers out to alternative schools and programs and frightening the rest into going through the motions?

    And don’t forget that Richard Schwartz is still in the area. How’s their relationship lately? Check this out:

    If that link breaks, just go to and search on “schwartz”. Also in that periodical, former director of medical research and proud parent group member, Donald Ian MacDonald*. There was one article in particular that I don’t have time to dig for right now. It was about how to get a pediatric patient to snitch out their parents for drug use or other actionable violations.

    *and, subsiquently, drug policy advisor to Reagan.

  • Mark Levine November 17, 2005 10:24 am

    Congratulations, William, on getting your letter published in the Washington Post! Every bit of press helps, from John Gorenfeld’s article to this radio show to a news channel in Cincinnati to William Earnshaw’s article in the Post.

    The story is growing in the mainstream press. Now if we can just get published some of the more horrific acts that went on in these drug rehab centers. I wonder whether the Post would have published a more explicit letter…

  • william earnshaw, sr November 17, 2005 9:53 am

  • william earnshaw, sr. November 16, 2005 4:16 pm

    Well, today ISAC received a certified letter from ODADAS. It is so frought with incorrect statements that I don’t know where to start when reporting about it. So, I am going to take a day or so and digest its contents and post about it then. Just so you have a idea of how it goes, ODADAS says we did not send them anything new, eventhough we sent them over 90 documents that they didn’t have before they received them. Hmmmm

  • Ginger November 16, 2005 3:31 pm

    Why thank you, Mark. You’re such a gracious host. I’d never even suspect you were raised by lawyers! (kidding, kidding!) I hadn’t figured it out yet. And I must say I’m a little surprised. You’re a very interesting man, Gordon. And I hold to my statement that you were and are a damned fine soldier. Please, keep up the good work, even if you never come around on the public schooling issue. ;-)

  • Mark Levine November 16, 2005 2:28 pm


    I know you as the master of many names, but I think it confuses newcomers to the blog who are trying to have a conversation with you.

    For the record, “Gordon from Bora Bora” IS “Fishhead” and “G.I.Joe” and “Victor Frankl” (and several other names).

    (Of course, Gordon is not the real “Victor Frankl” who was a noted author, psychologist, and Holocaust survivor and from whom Gordon I’m sure got the notion that Holocaust survivors ate fishheads.)

    For blog new-comers, the easiest way to find out if someone is posting under a pseudonym is to click on their name (in yellow). That takes you to their website or (if that part is left blank), their email address. You don’t have to send an email to recognize, at least, who the person writing is.

    I allow anonymous names — as long as no one is abusive with the privilege — because some people feel more comfortable posting anonymously on a blog and I want all to feel welcome here. You can even post a fake email address and I don’t mind that unless you start abusing the privilege by insulting others with off-topic comments or only using it to post other people’s articles. While an occasional article post is not a horrible breach of netiquette, I prefer links, because I want to hear YOUR views, and if you want to cite someone else’s, you can post the link and we can all go there if we choose.

    To STRAIGHT survivors, I am working on your case and have already initiated contact with Congressional offices. There will definitely be a follow-up show. In the meantime, I hope, having come here for one purpose, you will stay and listen to shows on other topics and take part in the free-wheeling blog discussion here. Ginger has already done that, and I heartily welcome her participation.

  • Gordon from Bora Bora November 16, 2005 1:42 pm

    Ginger–what I took offense to was him saying he respected my service to my country–I realized from his comment was that he hadn’t seen a lick of combat–because that kind of service isn’t about respect or politics or what politicos tell you it’s about–it’s about survival at a very dirty deeds done level

    What my response should be from now on to jerkoffs who tell me that is–don’t respect my service, give me twenty dollars–then your comment will be worth something

    But you are on the right track, Ginger–it is a good time to be a crusader–if not now, when?

  • Ginger November 16, 2005 11:33 am

    I think I do have a pretty solid idea where the Program fits into a bigger picture.

    But first, I wanted to say something about a recent conversation you had on here w/ another vet. Can’t find it now, but he called you a good soldier and you took offense to that.

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve had many conversations w/ war supporters. Till the Abu Graib scandal broke, most of them had a hard time believing that good American boys were capable of, or would tolerate the sort of behavior we’re talking about. They rest easy believing (cause they don’t understand groupthink) that that kind of cruelty and blood-lust just can’t happen under America’s watch because they think most of our soldiers are guys like you. If that were true, then our involvement in Vietnam would have lasted only about 2 months, I think.

    I can’t say what that other guy meant. But, based on what I’ve read from you scattered around this blog, I think you were and are a damned good soldier. If there were more like you, war might be as rare to our civilization as it was to the Iroquois people we snuffed to build it.

    And I think it’s a big mistake to say “The Holocaust”, asif there had been only one in all of human history. Bull. Plain and simple, it’s just not so. What about S0malia? What about Manifest Destiny? The Inquisition, anyone? The Crusades? Ok, so modern technology and industrialization have allowed us to carry it off at mind numbing speed where it used to take a generation or two. But that’s cold comfort to the victims down through history.

    If you think it can’t happen here, we’re halfway there. And THIS is how it starts, folks! You now know that programs like Straight have been cranking out broken children for 3 decades w/ the full support and approval of the highest levels of our government. There have been numerous lawsuits, criminal investigations, media reports, books (both documentary and fiction based on real life). And yet no one even blinks!

    Friends, the very same thing happened in Germany BEFORE their holocaust! Why? Because, people in Europe in those days had about the same regard for Jewish people (not to mention Gypsies, mentally retarded, the disabled, homosexuals, african immigrants, etc.) as some people in America have for druggie kids. We were the scapegoats. We were dehumanized. Worse than in Germany, it is done to us not so much for the protection of America as for our theoretical own good! So there’s no busting them with silly old facts and evidence. These crazy bastards can, have and will continue to justify everything and anything they do in the name of their Utopian ideas about ridding the world unauthorized drug use. Unless, of course, we step up and take away their guns before we’re that far gone.

    Moreover, I think the consensus on this is a false consensus. We don’t really all agree with their take on things. But they can be dangerous if they find out that we don’t. So, just as in Group where no form of dissent, however subtle or reasonable, was ever tolerated, we go around thinking that everyone but the fringe supports the drug war because many of those who don’t are afraid to let it be known and those who do are afraid to even question it.

    Now, the Riddiler. I understand that, at some point, he admitted in a phone interview that Straight had been a mistake. And, as you note, he doesn’t exactly brag about his involvement in it. I think he owes us all substantially more than that private admission. I think he ought rightly to issue a public statement admitting his culpability, explaining how he was wrong, how he’s changed and how much better he is now. Either that, or we can send the SIBS mobile around to snatch him up. ( )

    Seriously, though. I too wonder exactly how they define this great “success” they keep praising him for and how he’s brought it about. Evidently, Arash Almasi wasn’t too impressed w/ either his integrity or his tactics when he was a student at JEB.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    –Edmund Burke

  • Ginger November 16, 2005 10:26 am

    Sorry, Greg. I thought that was an odd thing for you to say. Dunno how I got that mixed up.

  • Fishflies flying above your fish-head peanut butter sandwich November 16, 2005 9:18 am

    gregfl, anon, Ginger–like I said, put a fishhead in your peanut butter sandwich and understand you are part of the passing parade and learn the objectivity of your traumatic subjective situation–that is where your freedom lies–your mental freedom

    You are obviously still entrapped within your political situation and dutifully, so–but to keep your argument accurate–understand history and understand people have suffered extrapolated degrees of ill treatment compared to yours–and weigh your case with that in mind–your cause will be made stronger then

    Reagan put paraquat in pot–there is part of dinosaur Amerika that tries to quell drug abuse with hate–and not the only solution–love

    The Fall of Rome

    The government knew they had us,
    when they could keep the herb illegal,

    although we knew it was medicine.

    The government knew they had us,
    when they could sell us the Super Bowl as something more than a football game,

    although we knew it was just a football game.

    The government knew they had us,
    when they sold us the war, wrapped in a red, white, and blue bow.

    although we knew the Domino Theory was bullshit.

    The government knew they had us,
    when the Warren Commission sold us Lee Harvey Oswald, instead of the coup d’etat,

    although they insulted our intelligence.

    The government knew they had us,
    when they could hide their military budget and use it for, whatever,

    and ask for more, whenever.

    The government knew they had us,
    when they could send their cowboys out to tame the world and just create more terror.

    And so we come to our dilemma,
    to watch TV as the world burns,

    to eat TV dinners and get fat on fast food and watch our children get fat,

    and watch our children come back in body bags from all parts of the world,
    and also die in our streets.

    Oh, Government of the Eagle, once proud carrier of the torch,
    where have your powers gone?

    Your power was with the people,
    and your power went away,

    when the people knew you had them.

  • william earnshaw, sr. November 16, 2005 12:58 am

    If anyone is interested, the Washington Post this week is going to publish edited letters from myself and another straight inc survivor in the “extra credit” column that Jay Mathews writes. This is a matter of extreme controversy and coverup. I don’t understand how a person who assisted in the proliferation of the straight inc program while simultaneously administering it can refuse to report, to proper authorities, that kind of treatment as abuse. As a principal in VA, he is required to report abuse. He knows all about yet refuses to report it. Well, now Mel Riddile is actually the National Association of Secondary School Principals 2006 Principal of the Year. And, nobody in the school system there in Fairfax County seems to mind that this same person was instrumental in the delegation of systematic abuse of hundreds of kids. They have ignored the fact that he is failing to report this abuse as it is happening at this moment. Kids locked in strangers’ bedrooms, motivate or restraint, no school till 3rd phase, etc etc… Why is he not held accountable for violating the rules while employed by the state/county as a principal? Why does Representative Tom Davis think he’s had a school career for 33 years? 33? Wait, where did his straight inc time go? Hmm, oh well, is 5515 Backlick road an apparition? Let us not forget the straight inc policy about schooling… and how the program prevented people from attending class. He was even rewarded for his efforts in doling out the quack straight inc drug treatment. This is an irony of great size. Why do these folks’s names start with Mel?
    Also, how are those kids getting such high grades at his school? Are they being manipulated? Coerced? That’s a whole nother subject. Thank you for listening.

  • Sean November 16, 2005 12:06 am

    I would just like to personally thank Vicky for her openness. It takes a big person to admit a mistake, and we are all human. I think it takes great character to listen to other peoples opinions. It takes even greater character to change your personal opinion when you learn new facts on something.


    “I admit I didn’t really think it through when I made that comparison between the military and the rehab program for kids…and the fact that this is so totally distasteful it seems unbelievable!
    Posted by: Vicky at November 15, 2005 06:55 AM ”

  • Lesli November 15, 2005 10:50 pm

    I know of a staff member (former Straight, Inc. graduate) who rubbed a misbehavior’s peanut butter sandwich on the inside of the men’s urinal and then gave it to her to eat for lunch (she was probably 14-15 at the time) without her knowing it. He laughed about it as he watched her eat it.

    Is that abuse? Cruel and unusual punishment? Neglectful?

    I’d say all of the above.

    Meanwhile parents were paying thousands of dollars in tuition and still are in WWASPS and like programs to this day!

  • Wes Fager November 15, 2005 9:28 pm

    The Late Great Straight Holocaust and starvation by peanut butter

    Just one example this time–Starvation. An important part of Thought Reform is food deprivation. In Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pot’s Cambodia, Sadam’s Iraq and Amen’s Uganda federal authorities were able to starve people because they did not have to answer to anyone. The dictator was the law. But food deprivation of a minor in a democracy presents a problem, since it is illegal. So how do you legally starve a child in a democracy?

    [The Church of Scientology(TM) has a program called the Rehabilitative Project Force that its adult parishioners may attend. Church critics say it is a brainwashing center. But brainwashing requires starvation and RPF folks are feed all the beans and water they can eat. Now beans are a leguminous plant chocked full of protein. One thing about eating leguminous plants -- they give off gas. The gas expands in one's stomach and can give a bloated feeling of being more filled that one really is. But the greater issue is this: I love Navy beans. But if you give them to me for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for several days there will come a point that I'll tell you, give me one more bowl of beans and I'll vomit. I'll stop eating. And I'll lose weight. ]

    How did Straight implement food deprivation? Peanut butter — that’s how. Peanuts are a leguminous bean plant full of protein. And what kid does not like peanut butter? It bloats one full of gas. Straight gave many kids what they called peanut butter choker sandwiches. Sandwiches thich with peanut butter. But after a few days of nothing but peanut butter, a child becomes tired of that. Give me another thick peanut butter sandwich and I’ll be sick. The kid doesn’t eat and so loses weight. If the kid’s family sues, you tell the judge, hey your Honor, we gave that kid all the peanut butter he could eat. It’s not our fault he refused to eat it. In 1985 Straight-Atlanta paid former client Susan White $37,000 in an out-of-court settlement. Ms. White claimed she was put on a diet of peanut butter and water for 29 days because she would not admit to having a drug problem she did not have. Her suit was handled by the ACLU.

    Straight was preceeded by a federally funded program called The Seed. The Seed lost its federal funding and virtually closed after the US Senate accused it of using North Korean brainwashing methods on children. The man who managed the federal grant to The Seed was National Institue on Drug Abuse (a subsidiary of NIH) director Dr. Robert DuPont who was also the second White House Drug Czar. After Dr. DuPont left federal service, he became a paid consultant for Straight boasting that he encouraged Nancy Reagan to get involved with Straight and that it was his suggestion that Straight go national. Straight got sued all over the place and, invaribly, Dr. DuPont was used as an expert witness for Straight. The fact is the more people who sued Straight, the more money DuPont might stand to make defending Straight. Listen to his deposition for the Michael Daniels trial on April 6, 1988 where he is asked about peanut butter diets (pp. 69 – 70).

    Q. “Do you feel that if a person were placed on a peanut butter diet for any length of time that could not in any way be considered mental abuse?

    A. “I think it’s unpleasant. I would put it in the category of being unpleasant, not more than that. You have to understand that peanut butter is a mainistay in my diet, but of course I select it.”

    Q. “Doctor, you don’t eat peanut butter all three meals of your day, do you?”

    A. “It comes close sometimes but–”

    Q. “Do you ever eat peanut butter for all three meals of your day?”

    A. “No, but probably two.” “…If a person were allowed to eat nothing but peanut butter and that went on for even a period of days when there was no other food offered to that person, that would be upsetting. Now, abuse, I don’t know. I think it’s distressing, let me put it that way. I wouldn’t go beyond that.”

    The point is if you want to deprive a kid of food in a democracy, you need a trick and it wouldn’t hurt to have big gun expert witnesses too.

    According to The Simon Wiesenthal Center in LA, The SS called Dachau a “re-education centre”. Now that’s important because Straight calls its camps “re-acculturation centers.” Jews in Hitler’s concentration camps were made to defecate publicly like cats and dogs. Straight kids eliminated and wiped publicly before an oldcomer. These things are important because Walter Loebenberg, president of Straight Foundation, founded the Florida Holocaust Museum. On the board of directos are or have been Mel Sembler, Betty Sembler and Straight board members Jay Synder and Dr. Bruce Epstein. Dr. Epstein has been director of the museum. Many Straight survivors feel that the Museum is just a smoke screen to hide their work at Straight, and so they have protested Museum functions.

    In April 1998 Stephen Goldman who was then director of The Florida Holocaust Museum said, “There’s no irony in it being here. Our lessons are those of tolerance and breaking down of barriers.” He was talking about hosting “Stealing Home: How Jackie Robinson Changed America.” Well I take exception to that. In 1978 Florida’s Bureau of Criminal Justice Planning and Assistance released a report on Straight finding that in its first 18 months of operation Straight had enrolled 450 youths but only one had been black. Five years later Straight’s national clinical director admitted that out of 260 young clients at Straight – St. Petersburg there were no blacks! How can you run an institution that abuses children and then start a Holocaust Museum. How can you treat just white kids because they have more money, and then have a display to a great American baseball player because he is black!

    So you see the difference Victor. You can not feed an American kid fish head soup, or worse, nothing at all because the police will take you to jail. But in Nazi Germany it was the police themselves who fed people fish head soup. Who’s going to arrest them. Time and space limits my argument just to the starvation issue; there are so many more. Straight is not just a step in the direction of what happened in Germany; it is a GREAT leap in that direction.

    Victor, God love you, I could never be able to comprehend how you feel and your point is soundly taken — Straight is not as bad as Hitler’s Germany and absolutely NOTHING can even begin compare to THE HOLOCAUST. Still 75,000 American kids had their civil liberties and human rights violated. What do you call it? The Straight Incident? That’s fine. But as for me I’ll continue to call it The Late Great Straight Holocaust.

  • gregfl November 15, 2005 9:19 pm

    Patti, “american tragedy” in my mind, is a much more accurate and descriptive term. Using the term holocaust detracts from the real issues. Thank you for seeing that.

  • gregfl November 15, 2005 9:18 pm

    Ginger, you are attributing something said to me that I didn’t say. I fully understand that POWs were and are (even by our own government) subjected to “behavior modification” techniques to break them, that are essentially similar to the techniques used in the program.

  • Patti November 15, 2005 7:20 pm

    I will retract using the term Holocaust. I in no way meant to use it in comparison to any event which the term has previously been attached to. Maybe I think diffrent=( And the comparision never entered my mind until it was pointed out. I am sorry. This is why I used the “A” before the term instead of “The”.

    What I was defending it’s use for: is what happen to us is an American Tragedy. A murdering of the minds of thousands of Teens for some made-up and insane reason using propaganda created by those who would best profit from our abuse and control. I can see how all of what happened was used to warp the general populations belief as well. If someone comes up with a better more accurate word, please tell.

  • Ginger November 15, 2005 4:50 pm

    BTW, Greg my good friend. You’re wrong. POWs were, indeed, subject to the very same thought reform methods employed by Art and the Semblers. Ask John McCain (quick, now! before he pulls another Judas Goat move like he did in the run up to the 2k election!)

    I rest in pieces.

  • Ginger November 15, 2005 4:47 pm

    Wow! It’s wonderful to see such thoughtful interest and productive dialog going on! Behold the mighty awsome power of rampant talking out in group. (uh, that means sincere and profound respect for first amendment rights for all of our outlander friends here)

    Condolances and Vicky, don’t feel badly about maybe (maybe) being calous or minimizing the issue. Everybody please remember that this is an extraordinary story; all the more because it’s been going on for decades as an open secret and yet most people remain completely unaware of the existance of this multi million (billion, possibly?) industry. It’s only natural that you’d want to reject this as too strange to have happened; moreso because, by our silence and tolerance, we all share somewhat in the complicity.

    This story demands extraordinary evidence and a good deal of explanation.

    Again, thanks to all of you who are speaking and listening and most especially those of you who are asking the questions that come to mind. That’s how we close this knowledge gap. Speaking for myself, you can’t offend me. Just go on and try LOL!

    I agree with Greg that the Program is not directly paralel to the most famous holocaust to have taken place the modern, developed world. There are important differences, but there are also very important similarities.

    For one thing, this is not something that was done to some foreign immigrants in a thinly veiled attempt to kill them all. This is what toughlove believers have done and continue to do to their own children. I tend to agree w/ that Dutch drug policy maker who Arnold had dinner with; it’s a lot more hitler jugund, only without the camping trips and other fun stuff. Even that doesn’t measure out as directly equal. It would be more like this, if you can wrap your mind around this bizarre image. What if, during the rise of Naziism in Germany, Jewish parents started sending their sons and daughters to the Hitler Jugud? That, I think, comes close.

    I could make a good many other comparisons here, but I’ll stop at to for the sake of clarity.

    Like the Program, Hitler Jugund started a generation or more before the work camps were ever even contemplated. And the work camps were never intended to be execution factory lines till very near the end when the whole plan was falling apart and the (surviving) leaders were clearly mad by any standard.

    Just like Straight, Inc. and all of it’s colorful, euphemistic alter-egos that have sprung up over the past couple of generations, in Nazi Germany, the only way to get ahead, to gain influence and advancement–all of those primal tokens and talismans against starvation and undignified death–the Program has launced a thousand political and other careers. In our drug war crazy society, joining the ranks of the drug warriors (of whom the Semblers could be compared to royalty) is a sure fire way to keep yourself on the more comforgable side of the razor wire.

    And that is my primary concern. It’s not that I don’t care about the kids interned in these hellish camps around the country and offshore today. I do. But 1) there are plenty of people carrying the torch very effectively for them. Inasmuch as the story is getting out at all, that aspect of it is fairly well represented, in my opinion. 2) I used to have nightmares about being back in the Program. That’s no longer true (thank GOD!) Now I lose considerable sleep knowing that the people w/ their finger on the proverbial button are the very same as those who destroyed my family of origin along with their own. I’ve checked. I wasn’t just imagining things. They have overwhelming influence in our schools, our law enforcement, our legislature, our judiciary and now even the smirking chimp who’s taken up residence in the public housing unit on Pennsylvania Avenue in this nation’s capitol.

    I don’t believe that avian flu or muslim fundies are a grave threat to our way of life any more than I believe that Patti (or some hundreds of kids very like her and who I knew personally) were ever in grave danger from their non-existant drug problems. And I know just exactly how fanatic these very people can be. I’ve seen what they do to their own kids.

    Not that either issue is entirely a non issue. But the people currently entrusted with dealing w/ these profoundly important matters don’t have the will or the knowledge to make things better. All they know how to do is cram their own brand of fanaticizm down everyone’s throats and destroy all dissenters.

    That, to my mind, is a very grave danger to all of human civilization.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of it’s victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busy-bodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those that torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”–C.S. Lewis, God In The Dock

  • anon November 15, 2005 3:18 pm

    Mr. Fish Head:
    I know the value of validating my own experiences from being in a brainwashing camp, and that psychological aspect was probably missing from Victor F’s experience. He wasn’t forced to believe things he didn’t want to. If he had, he might have come out learning something different, such as the value of his OWN experience and perception, regardless of what that might be, in fact celebrating his differences. What we have to offer and our wisdom is no less profound, just different. In fact, very different in my opinion.

  • gregfl November 15, 2005 3:11 pm

    And I just told a story about being fed wet peanut butter sandwiches and a small dixie cup of coolaide, as the only thing to eat at age 14. The point is I am sure Victor’s experiences were horrific and and I wish the holocaust never happened. Further, given a choice between a year in Straight, Inc. or in a Nazi death camp, well only a fool would get on the train. The Holocaust is evidence of the failure of morality on a grand scale. But that does not negate the horrible treatment of american youth today at the hands of these drug warriors.

    Oh yeah, I agreed with him that using the term Holocaust was not appropriate in relation to this story, only that I understand what drives people to do it. I believe they are using a term that actually causes people to not believe them, that reduces credibility. I just am trying to help people understand.

  • The talking fish-head November 15, 2005 2:31 pm

    gregfl–Victor Frankl was a holocaust survivor and told a story about having only a bowl of broth to eat with a fish-head floating in it–for a day’s sustenance–and realizing that being thankful for the fish-head and seeing the good in what he had–was the only way he was to survive mentally

    Like I said–there is always somebody who’s got it worse–so be humble, be grateful, and unafraid

  • gregfl November 15, 2005 1:51 pm

    To the fish head soup comment. When I was in the Seed, we got up a 6 oclock in the morning and were loaded into a pickup with guards. No food. We got to the seed around 8:30, no food. At 10:00 the raps started and we were sat in chairs until 12:00. Bathroom was considered a privelidge and you had to ask, then be physically escorted by hand, and then watched and it was logged into a book what you did. at 12:00 we ate usually a wet peanut butter sandwich called a swimmer, maybe a cookie (1) and a small dixie cup of cool-aide. then we sat. at 2:00, we had 15 minutes of jumping jacks and other exercise mixed with humiliating songs like the hookie pookie, then we sat and rapped, again mostly with full bladders. at somewhere around 5 oclock, we had dinner, another sandwich and another cookie and a small cup of coolaide. Once in a great while we got a little more food, but this is what we ate as 14 year old growing children, and the extent of our exercise is listed above.Often then we would have a rap about how great it would be when we earned the next phase and got to go home and eat some of mom’s cooking. Then we had evening rap, and then we got back around midnight to the house. No food there. Some ‘host homes’ did give kids food, but not mine, and food was often given at host homes to compliant kids.

    Your tone of your comment was rather callous, even though I agree that the term holocaust isn’t appropriate.

  • gregfl November 15, 2005 1:40 pm

    I agree that the term Holocaust is not appropriate. However, concentration camp is not so far off. You just really have to understand what is was like to be 12,13,14,15 or 16 and locked away in one of these places, being tormented with isolation and rejection until your will broke to understand why some people use such strong words. So, while I was a 14 year old in one of these programs, I understand and agree why you would take objection to the use of the word holocaust. I also understand why some that were there feel compelled to use it. I hope this is a coherent explanation. As far as the comparison to the marine corps, see Wes Fager’s explanation above. I think he brilliantly captured the essense of that argument.

  • Victor Frankl November 15, 2005 9:21 am

    When all you have to eat is fish-head soup–tell me about the holocaust

  • Vicky November 15, 2005 6:55 am

    Wes – Thanks for the link…I did read it and continued to read more of your family’s own personal experience.

    I admit I didn’t really think it through when I made that comparison between the military and the rehab program for kids…and the fact that this is so totally distasteful it seems unbelievable!

  • Wes Fager November 14, 2005 11:13 pm


    I have heard your argument many times coming from cults. Many people have been abused and deprived in cults and when these cults get sued they hire prominent psychologists and sociologists who give the same argument you do claiming that new members of their congregations are treated no differently than Marine Corps boots.

    I saw one TV talk show where a former church member complained of being deprived of sleep and a current member in the cult kept jumping up saying–Jesus went up into the mountain for 40 days and did not eat or sleep.

    Anyway I once wrote an article that explains why Straight conditioning and Marine Corps boot camp are not one in the same. And here it is:

    Wes Fager

  • melissa November 14, 2005 7:29 pm

    selling young girls, selling babies, i do believe this all goes on in some of these youth homes. i read a post. of a young girl who had a baby, she didnt wont to, but one of the maternity homes she was in took her baby. she was not conpensated for it at all. she had no rights.
    i have alot of ? about certain things but i dont know how to bring it to anyones attention without being harmed. i cant just come right out and say what i think/know, may have gone on. with out proof. its just kinda like flashing back i want to remember i only remember to a certain point. thank you for allowing me to post with out telling me to get lost. im not a straight survior. but i am a survivor of the same hellish acts of abuse and mindcontroll. forgive my spelling its one of the many benifits of the home i was in.

  • Patti November 14, 2005 7:00 pm

    Vicky, I hear you. But what you are not realizing is in the Military recruits normally go in willingly -knowing they will be trained for a specific purpose. The techniques are explained and mandated by laws. You have a set “get out” date. You have the right to your own thoughts. AND in the military, you are paid, compensated…fed, provided medical treatment and are offered an Advocate.

    At Straight we were kidnapped, held against our will, forced into submission through the use of torture and the forced to abuse others(if we planned on ever getting out). We were deprived of tools to just live with integrity(like soap, shampoo, bandaids..clean clothes, medical care, outside advocacy) We never even recieved any kind of Treatment for Drug addiction/education or any other thing. There was NO therapy.

    I agree Straight Inc. committed “psychological murder” of thousands of teenagers and young adults. Thus creating “An American Holocaust” We are “War Survivors” of a exagerated war/terroism on The American Teen.

    There are Major diffreneces between Straight Inc ( and simalar) and the Military.

    I am personally offended you would even consider such a comparison.

  • Sean November 14, 2005 6:52 pm

    Well where to begin? I guess I will keep it short.

    Children are not allowed into the army for a reason. They are not allowed to sign contracts either. Why? Because they are children!!!!


  • Vicky November 14, 2005 6:31 pm

    Ok, I HAVE to comment again on this topic…I’ve been telling myself to just keep my thoughts/opinions to myself…but ha – I can’t. To those of you who experienced these difficult and unreasonable and inhumane situations, I am totally sorry and I do feel for your pain and suffering.

    However, I still am taking exception to the “holocaust/concentration camps” comparisons. (And Mark, I still distinctly remember when you called me to account on using the terminology of “Holocaust” to describe the 46 million unborn children slaughtered by abortion since 1973.)

    Would we say that military boot camp is the same as a concentration camp? Many of the same incidents you people experienced in these drug rehab programs are things that people in the military have been subjected to during boot camp. I’ve cut my husband off when he’s started telling me some of the things he witnessed during basic training in the Army.

    Anyway, I just had to express my objection to the use of these two specific terms but at the same time I am totally supportive of exposing the inhumaness of these treatment places.

  • Condolences November 14, 2005 6:12 pm

    Sounds like rough action for you kid-victims–but its really not the holocaust even though your PTSD claims in a class action suit should be valid–go after the deep pockets

    Rise above your victimization–don’t continue to sink within it–or you will fall into the category of the too stupid to live

    And–there is always somebody whose got it worse

  • Patti November 14, 2005 5:11 pm

    Thank you Lesli. That is what happened to me. I just sat there, not particpating. I was completely “mad”. My parents thankfully couldn’t pay for more than 6.5 months. But still I suffer in silence, afraid to speak to anyone about the abuse I suffered. I have fought off “suicidal thinking” for almost 20 years. I did loose myself in that chair at Straight Inc. I want it BACK, it belongs to me. The term “psychological murder” is tragically accurate.

    While I suffer, I still must live as close to “normal” as possible, meaning I did finish school, I have a Medical career. But the pain never goes away, I am constantly still sitting in that “Straight chair” in silence, looking desperatly for who I am. I haven’t been completely “comatose” in my growth through life, but it sure has been one hell of an uphill battle to not just lay down.

    I just can’t even express throughly in words how Straight has effected my life all these years. The horror of it all is too great, and if I try to talk to anyone about it they become so overwhelmed by the amount of trauma I speak of and can’t believe the horror of my story happened right here in America, Land of the FREE.

    I hope this story comming full circle will help us find Validation and some kind of closure. I hope it gives us all a chance to be heard. Straight Inc. needs to be held accountable for the trauma it inflicted on it’s clients. I hope to see parents realize “behavior modification through Thought reform” is not the answer. Facilities who treat children anywhere close to what Straight did need to be fully investigated and closed. Made illegal. It is disgusting to see these founders of Straight Inc. honored, as if they were some kind of Gods in some exagerated war on teenagers.

    I agree w/ Mr. Trebach if we had the right to an advocate outside the program we could have all found safety. It is the complete secrecy and isolation from the entire world outside the program that ultimately allowed all of these abuses to occur.

    Thank you everyone for all the comments and hard work investigating what happened.

  • Lesli November 14, 2005 3:27 pm

    I was in the Richardson, Texas branch of Straight, Inc. from 1986-1988. These were two of the worst years of my entire life.

    Straight, Inc. destroyed me to control me. They took away the only thing that was mine at the age of 15. Me. I was a victim with no voice, a minor. It’s taken nearly twenty years of pain and healing to recover from Straight’s damaging effect on me, and the relationships I have had since Straight.

    Straight’s forced compliance partnered with it’s dictatorship/brainwash teachings of discipline and confrontation with coercion were enough to drive anyone crazy. It did drive most of us insane. We were intentionally mentally distorted, humiliated daily, and shamed for our past. What past? We were children ranging from 12 through 17. We were scolded for being who we were and told if we didn’t do things Straight’s way, we would die or end up in jail because of drugs. Many of us, after we got out, did just that. We died or we turned to drugs, because Straight’s way was self-hating, and cruel. I was suicidal for 17 years after my experience in Straight. I was taught to hate everything about who I really was. I was humiliated and fearful my entire stay, with less humiliation only as a fifth phaser.

    I would like to see the people responsible for keeping the doors of Straight open held accountable legally for child abuse, and for their “abuse for prophet” methods. I lost myself there. Do you know how hard it is to get you back once you’ve lost yourself?

    I hope my voice spreads awareness about these programs, and the damage they do to children and families. I want to help people understand the long-term effects these programs take on children, and how it stunts their growth, and can and has completely destroyed them. Suicides, overdoses resulting in death, chronic depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and psychosis. Afflictions that take years to work through in therapy, costing some people hundreds and thousands of dollars, and many years of anguish and pain of losing yourself before finding yourself. Still, many never recover at all.

    Most of all, I want parents to know this is not an option for their kids. These programs are the wrong answer to a difficult problem called, “Raising teenagers.” Listening and loving, communication and/or long term therapy with patience, not confinement. Kid’s are not our clay to mold, they are extensions of ourselves, but not ours. My daughter is my responsibility to raise, not an institution’s, run buy children that went through the program that went through, that went through. Straight and Straight-like programs teach cult mentality, and force conformity over individuality, therefor destroying the young impressionable innocence which is our children’s souls, who grow up to be adults without souls. Adults without souls are lost and broken people. Torture does not heal, it destroys.

    I was there. I actually saw the blood on the walls of those timeout rooms. The tallies carved into the walls by the ones who were in there, everyday, being punished with solitary confinement, starvation and beatings. The screams and cries, the restraints, being spit on, kicked, yelled at, cussed at, embarrassed and degraded day after day.

    After a while, you’d have to be completely mad not to conform, even if that meant losing yourself completely.

    There was a guy that did all his time in Dallas in utter silence. Just sat there, and refused to participate completely for around two years. They finally just released him because his insurance ran out. He killed himself not long after his release.

    The emotional torture does not go away – years later the posttraumatic stress remains. I am grateful that after years of therapy, over ten years after my Straight eighteen-month stint in this abusive program, I have learned to cope with the self-hatred Straight, Inc. instilled so strongly in my mind two decades ago.

    Thank you so much for covering this story, and I pray that you continue to.

    A special thank you to Shanna, who I was in the program with, Sammie, Wes, and everyone else who has the courage and strength to fight the good fight against the destructive behavior modification/abuse camps.

    I hope soon Mark, that you do a story on the WWASPS (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools) and Robert Litchfield and cronies as well.

    Thanks again.

  • gregfl November 14, 2005 11:20 am

    For an interesting journey into the heart of this madness, may I respectfully suggest you spend a few minutes on my forum graciously hosted by Ginger of Fornits?

    Straight, Inc. was an offshoot of a cult I was warehoused in when I was a child called The Seed. Mr. Sembler’s son was there as well and this was the impetus and model of Straight, Inc.

    I want to thank everyone who participated here and especially the reporters who are picking up this story. Please remember that not everything you hear will be accurate, that some people approach their time there filtered thru current mental illness or other disorders, but after wading thru the mess the truth will come out. That is, we were institutionally abused, brainwashed, locked away and shamed because as Mr. Trebach indicated, society believed that drugs were more heinous than the treatment we received. Most of us were never addicts and many of us were just pre-pubscent children that were neglected by our parents and smoked a litle pot, drank a little beer or otherwise acted very much like our current president did when he was young. Thank you again.

  • Anon November 14, 2005 11:12 am

    I was in the Plymouth, Michigan straight for 22 1/2 months (1987-1989). There were 5 levels of “treatment” which were called phases. The 5th phase of this “treatment” was supposed to prepare the clients to graduate the program. If a client were to progress according to straight’s treatment plan they could graduate the program in six months.

    I ran away twice from straight while on the first phase and than began to comply with their program. I had been through so much abuse as a child prior to this place that I began to believe that I deserved to be punished by straight. I accepted it as my fate despite the fact I knew what was happening in there was wrong. I wanted my mother to just see that I was not such a horrible kid and thought this punishment disguised as treatment would give me that valadation I needed.

    I was on the 5th phase for over a year and became extremely depressed. Despite me complying with everything straight wanted me to do I was not allowed to graduate. I suffered extreme paranoia that staff members could read my thoughts and know all my actions regardless of whether or not I was in their presence, that I would not break any of their rules. Breaking rules (or being suspected) and getting caught would have caused me to be verbally abused and placed on a set back to a lower level.

    I made staff aware throughout my entire program that I was suffering from depression. No one ever offered me any pyschatric help despite that I was released from a pyschatric facilty the very day I entered straight. On the 5th phase I had been contemplating suicide for so long that as I was walking home from school back to the straight building I stood in front of traffic debating if I should let someone run me over. I could not see that straight was only a temporary situation in my life. They had the abilty to keep us there until we were 25 years old. There were many clients over the age of 18 in straight that were court oredered to be there. I was terrified of this happening to me.

    It was not until I had a mental breakdown of sorts in front of at least 100 parents including my mother that straight allowed me to see a psychatrist and licensed therapist. After being on the 5th phase for a year and seeing a gradution take place that I was not included in once again I broke down in front of the parents, my peers, and staff. I was then set back to a lower phase and had to start over.

    After all these years I suffer from paranoia, anxiety, and depression. I believe my incarceration in straight Inc. contributed to this.

  • Bob Who November 14, 2005 8:20 am

    Ole boy mel has been doing this for years…I can recall back in HS in St. Pete Florida….the rich kids got yank right out of class rooms by cia looking thugs … never to be seen again …ran into old HS friend and we where talking about the ole mel network …he never saw any those people again ….where did they go melly mel

  • Wes Fager November 14, 2005 8:05 am


    Here’s a video of motivating:

  • Mark Allen November 14, 2005 7:56 am

    It’s interesting that Jeb sent daughter Noelle to the Center for Drug Free Living in Orlando, rather than Safe, an offshoot of Straight and a rehab center he publicly endorsed.

  • Marti Heath November 14, 2005 6:35 am

    Let me just add this. I was NEVER a drug addict. My father and I were having issues.
    Yet, all my civil rights were taken away, I was taken out of school many times for over half a year. I too and my brother was kidnapped many times. I was sent out to kidnap other children.

    Many people have committed suicide due to this program that it is pathedic. In every city where Straight cropped up the suicide rate skyrocketed (see Wes Fager at
    I was the one who institued the criminal investigation in Straight. I had my leg broken by Miller Newton. I was on Sixty Minutes years ago.
    I can tell you the torture and abuse that I saw there and experienced there is beyond belief and still lives in nightmares as if it was yesterday.
    Let me further say that in all that I have heard Sam Monoroe report is TRUE. I was there and saw it happen to her.
    I have a letter here dated 1978 from HRS Florida to Mel Sembler warning him to “stop holding children against their will”. He knew. I also did interviews with many former board of directors who told Betty Sembler of the abuse and issues in which she replied “dont you dare tell my husband how to run a drug rehab”. Lets not forget former executive staff Helen Peterman who had NO qualifications. She was high school drop out. Yet she decieded when I ate and did my “treatment plan”.
    Yes, the FBI was told many times however, Mel Sembler had that investigation squashed. George Bush Senior did a commericial for Straight WHILE HE WAS PRESIDENT. When has a president EVER done a commerical for a company WHILE PRESIDENT.
    I was there when Nancy Regan visited and a child who wouldn’t cooperate was tied up and gagged in the back room.
    I and my brother were kidnapped and hog tied and brought back when we tried to leave.
    There were sex raps, strip searches of girls where the guy staff walked through the room.
    I have also done a study of survivors and found that 98 percent of survivors suffer from back or neck problems ( from hours and hours of standing and motivating). 98 percent suffer ptsd or anxiety. A large percent even years later live on some form of government assistance due to problems working form physical or mental issues.
    I too at one point pulled a knife on staff to protect a 14 year old girl from being beaten. I could not watch one more beating. I was fifteen.
    I was also on staff for a short period of time because I was told “We will Never let you out because we know you will go to the authorities”. Thats why I was held so long.
    They were right , when I finally escapped I went DIRECTLY to the authorities.
    I apologize for any misspellings, but I have to write this fast or I won’t write it at all. Its just that painful.

  • Marti Heath November 14, 2005 6:19 am

    Thank you for having the guts to report this story.
    I too was in Straight Sarasota and St. Pete. At the time I was in there longer than anyone had been (Almost 4 years). I was also the 1st child court ordered OUT of the program. I also went to the DA in Sarasota which came out with multiple criminal indictments against Straight and then closed Straight Sarasota.
    Having said that, I watched my brothers head get thrown through a wall, I watched kids drink drano in an effort to escape. I watched kids being beaten in front me, I too was expected to beat kids who chose not to behave. I was well aware of the staff raping 15 year old boys, newcomers being raped by their old commers, I watched as my friends went insane in front of me. I too was beaten , ridiculed, sat on, deprived of food, sleep and bathroom priveledges and much more.
    I was there when Sam Monroe was there. I am a witness to what happened to her.
    I can tell you I have seen the documents and been involved in collecting the documents. I can tell you that it is all true.
    The state of Florida INCLUDING Jeb Bush Knew what was going on.
    Many of us had impentigo, scabbies, pink eye. The food was molded.
    I can tell you 25 years later, the nightmares are still present, the rage is still there.

    Thank you for giving us a voice.
    Straight Inc. Is and was the AMERICAN HOLOCAUST.

    Marti Heath

  • John Gorenfeld November 14, 2005 1:50 am

    We’re not going to let go of this one until we get answers. Thanks, everyone, for helping to get this story out.

  • Karen November 14, 2005 12:01 am

    I’m grateful to you Mr. Levine, and to everyone who took part in this – thanks folks.
    Heres to rampant talking out in group ;)
    And yes, Mr. Levine – it is Still going on – and the perpetrators are Still dumping tons of cash in to republican coffers.
    You heard mention of WWASPS? Yes, well, there you have the largest contributor in the state of Utah – and they don’t discriminate against other states – The Litchfield family (WWASP) has contributed to Representative Geoff Davis of Ky.
    Please stay on top of this story.
    You’ve made a great start – but there is plenty taking place right now that needs attention.

  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 10:59 pm


    On Friday nights parents, parole officers, judges, newspaper reporters and prospective parents sat on one side of a gym-size room and the Straight kids sat on the other. A microphone was passed. A kid stood up and announced–my name is Bob. The drugs I’ve used are pot, LSD, PCP, tai sticks, over-the-counters, prescriptions, alcohol, . . . I’ve stolen money to support my drug habit. One night I was almost killed while driving high. . .

    Across the isle the adults sat aghast. They believed everyword Bob said.

    But when Bob escaped and said that he had been forced or cajoled into making up things he had done, and that he had been abused at Straight, Straight would say these are drug addicts. They are little monsters. You can’t believe a word they say!

    Take this link to see how Mel Sembler and Straight let kids defame themselves so that the program could grow.

  • Shane November 13, 2005 10:53 pm

    These parrots are making me tired.

    Well, I motivated so hard in LIFE that I got broken blood vessels in my fingers, and tennis elbows. Then, when I could barely motivate any more, I was stood up and confronted for not motivating hard enough. Yeah, that was real helpful.

    Then, there was the time I was in a “bench restraint” for a couple of hours. The 2 guys holding my arms put such pressure (trying to make my elbow joint go the wrong way) that I couldn’t even move my arms for maybe an hour afterward. It was incredibly painful too. No, that wasn’t torture.

    And then there was the hair pulling and slapping from Petermann. And the kidnapping she helped plan, when a fat guy sat on my back until I almost passed out, and told me if I pulled anything, he would sit on me the whole way to Mississippi (Bethel). Yes, death threats are very constructive ways to deal with kids.

    But I’m sure you never witnessed anything like that, did you Sue?

  • Sara November 13, 2005 10:02 pm

    Ginger mentioned that LIFE wasn’t as violent as Straight, and I tend to agree. Many of the abuses that I’ve heard committed at Straight, I did not witness at LIFE. However, I did personally witness physical abuse, denial of bathroom priveleges, and denial of privacy. I personally was forced to sleep with my legs intertwined with my oldcomer – something that comes very close to sexual impropriety.

    However, I will ask Sue – and anyone else who cares to answer – how you consider this okay? How do you consider slapping kids, sitting on them, pulling their hair, forcibly “motiviating” (arm flapping) them, and accusing them (of drug use) without proof – helpful?

    Sue, if you gave your kids this “treatment”, you’d be up on abuse charges in no time flat, and you know it.

    I don’t know what your agenda is. Most of ours is to simply stop abuse. What is your problem with that?

  • Ginger November 13, 2005 9:38 pm

    GalfromCal, I think Arnold Trebach has a pretty good point about the reason why there’s never been any serious investigation into this. Teenagers are the new n***ers. They’re even making up imaginary mental illnesses to explain rampant indignity among them. Do you really think oppositional defiant disorder is any more legit than draptomania was?

    If these turkeys were in a cell w/ their peers today, there would be no condemnation, only a delusion of martyrdome, likely supported by the guards, the judge and the cops who would have to be forced or shamed into arresting them.

    That last line that William got in there was really something to stop and think about. They’ve made and kept copies of child abuse reports against KHK in Ohio, but they can’t get an investigation going. Not only are they up against a powerful politician who holds a seat on KHK’s board of directors, but Governor Taft is quite cozy with Drug Free America Foundation (fka Straight, Inc., aka an American Taliban)

    If you’re up for it, read Dan Forbs investigative report, The Governor’s Sub-rosa Plot to Subvert an Election in Ohio.

    `Splains a lot now, doesn’t it? I know it rattled Calvina a bit cause Lenny Englander, same joker who’s representing Mel Sembler against Rich Bradbury, sent me a letter to let me know:

    Which answer the often asked question “Do the big wheels know what was going on”, or at least it tells us something. Yes, they know about this stuff. They just choose not to believe it. That’s the scary part. They are that adept at self delusion. That’s one reason why they’re so convincing.

    Mark, yeah I thought the same thing about flwatch2004. But the only place that string turns up on a search is my forum. I don’t know whether they get paid or not, but they have posted to the forum along the same lines as what they posted here. I’m sure they’re a true believer. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    But I agree w/ you that all viewpoints are welcome. I hold to the same policy. It works out. These are some extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. This stuff is documented.

    Anybody who’s having a hard time believing this should check the stories. Ask John or Wes or Dr. Trebach or about that. Or read The Great Drug War and ask yourself why nobody affiliated w/ Straight has sued Arnold over it. They obviously know about it.

    And I definitely will be recomending your show and blogs all over the place! You and John are not the first reporter to cover the story. But I think you’re the first outside of layman activists and victims to have grasp of how this fits into the broader picture. I’ve been beating that drum for years now!

    Thank you guys, all, for being decent, intelligent and properly skeptical.

  • Vicky November 13, 2005 9:28 pm

    Michelle – You make a good point…I didn’t mean to come across as insensitive to those who have experienced such inhumane treatment and I certainly think these programs should be fully investigated.

    I was discussing this program with a friend of mine after the show this evening and I said I couldn’t understand parents placing their kids in these places without doing some rather intense investigating prior to leaving their children there.

    I did go to several of the blogs where links were provided for various programs and also found on those blogs a variety of opinions on the type of treatment etc received.

  • Kelly November 13, 2005 9:14 pm

    more obvious URL to the above comment…

  • Kelly November 13, 2005 9:13 pm

    My brother’s story, may he rest in peace!

  • GalfromCal November 13, 2005 8:50 pm

    This is addressed to both Vicky and Sue!

    Vicky, if this person you have so chosen to defend, “Sue”, has a right to make a statement. Why wouldn’t “Sue” just make a statement something like this; ” I was in ‘LIFE’ program in such-an-such state, and I did not experience such abuses. However, programs like the ones the callers have talked about should be investigated. This discredits good programs such as the one I attended.”
    But no Vicky! Sue posts on this message board that people are liers. Vicky do you just turn your back on people that have suffered such hideous actions by adults? To restrain a young person, abuse them physically, and mentally and say it is a drug treatment/behavioral program. How could anyone see this as logical.

    These people should go to jail and suffer the judgement of their peers in the cell with them!

    Hey, maybe they might meet one of the young people that attended their so called “drug treatment/behavioral program”, and experience the results of what they did to these people when they were young.


  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 8:37 pm

    Here’s a flowchart of The Straights. It was done five years ago. At the end is a writeup of the second generation Straights that opened after Straight, Inc. closed.

    Wes Fager

  • Mark Levine November 13, 2005 8:21 pm

    I apologize to all who tried to get through and found the lines busy. Each time a line opened up, someone called within 15 seconds. There were just too many people who wanted to tell their stories to get them all on air. But I urge any survivor of Straight or similar programs to share your stories right here on the blog.

    I believe Sue, whoever she is, is either paid by the Republican Party (she lists her email as, which sounds like a Florida political something or other) or just didn’t have the awful experience so many others had and is incredibly naive not to believe them. Either way, I will not delete or alter her post, because I believe in the First Amendment. And though I believe Sue is profoundly wrong, I value those who have the courage to write in and disagree. (Sue, if you’re still reading this, don’t you think the fact that we have had such an overwhelming response — dozens of people with the same stories all across the country — and the fact that Mel Sembler hasn’t even denied the charges — strike you as strong evidence of credibility?)

    I think in order to persuade skeptics like Sue, it is important for as many of you as possible to tell your stories here and everywhere. Feel free to post anonymously (even if you have to make up an email address). I will not disclose your I.P. addresses to anyone.

    And now that the show is archived and podcast, please spread the word about this show and last Thursday’s (November 10, 2005). The archives will be kept on the blog for streaming or downloading for many years to come in the “Broadcast Archive.”

  • Ginger November 13, 2005 8:20 pm

    Thanks for seeing through it, GalfromCal. But I don’t think Sue is getting paid. I think Sue is a true believer. Here’s how someone like her can be. People are describing events that did occure wherever they are that probably didn’t occure at LIFE. From all I hear, LIFE wasn’t quite so militant or violent as Straight was. Neither was The Seed before or after the NIDA funding, only during that time.

    Meet John Underwood, former Sr. staffer from The Seed.

    Pretty much the same thing. There’s another former staffer w/ basically the same outlook who posts more often as Ft. Lauderdale.

    So, since there are differences and they want badly to believe, that’s a handy way to discredit and disregard the whole ball of wax.

    The similarities between the three programs are significant, but much harder to wrap your mind around than something obvious like rape, medical neglect or overt violence. They used the same isolation, same dogma and lingo, same extended daily group sessions, most of the same rules (not all), same host homes model and some of the same staff and initial group members.

    In other words, this is a cult. When cult members have irreconcilable differences, they split off from one another just like more mainstream churches split into different denominations.

  • Vicky November 13, 2005 8:16 pm

    I would think that Sue’s point of view in all of this is just as valid as anyone else’s and she has the right to state that poiint of view without being accused of being brainwashed.

    People interpret and respond to situations in life in different ways and for someone to state that Sue needs “professional help” just because she seems to have dealt with her time in a drug rehab program differently than some others doesn’t make her suspect!!!

  • Kris November 13, 2005 8:14 pm

    Sue, your comments reflect one of the big reasons our story has been ignored for so long. Straight, Inc taught people to believe that we were liars from the first moment we walk through those doors. Whether we were actually telling the truth was disregarded completely and happened to me in particular. I have never gotten over the fact that no one beleived me when I kept insisting that I had never tried drugs. So I personally find your comments to the effect that we are lying to be very offensive, to put it mildly.

    Kidnapping, by the way is a CRIME. I can also back up my story. For the record, before straight I had NO criminal or arrest history whatsoever, I was not a high school drop out, I never used drugs, etc. No I was not a saint…I was a typical rebellious teen with a couple unresolved issues, that was causing some problems at home. This is NOT something that justified throwing a child (me)in a warehouse to be completely broken down into submission, in so many ways I could go on forever about. I also completed my program since I 7th stepped/graduated. Yeah, your right, I do need and am in counseling, to help with the damage caused by Straight, mostly PTSD and Anxiety. What I want to happen out of our stories is for people to wake up and stop this madness in the name of treatment. And I hardly call being a college graduate, magna cum laude, and being a soon to be law school graduate a failure that I need to find someone to blame. I have found a great deal of success in my life in SPITE OF what I went trough at Straight. In addition I dont think rules and strictness are necessarily bad things. But what Straight Inc. inflicted went far, far, beyond strict rules. Yes, I call many things I witnessed child abuse, which is also a CRIME. Since I was one of those callers tonight, I am personally offended by your comments. If your experience was good, I would not dare call you a liar. But I will say I cannot fathom why you view your experience as a good one. Maybe you really had a drug problem and in spite of being in a STRAIGHT spin off, you “recovered.” Maybe you do not view beatings, broken bones, sexual assault as abuse, I dont know. Getting help for a drug problem is fine. BUT, kids should never be abused in the name of treatment.

  • GalfromCal November 13, 2005 8:00 pm

    The ney-sayer on this message board reminds me of people who say, “People that are abused wanted to be, because they put themselves in that situation.” What a bunch of crap!
    20yrs ago was a long time and “Sue” how do you think you can speak of all these programs when you only attended one? You are a really ignorant person to post such a statement. How could so many of these young people be making up lies? That is my question to you. Why would you not investigate this before making such alligations?
    I can tell you why! Ignorance is “Bliss”. So many people would love to stick their heads in the sand than to deal with the real problem here, and if we would look at why, we as a society, have so many children in trouble wouldn’t that be a better question.
    No, you want to blame the “Whistle Blowers” that sounds like a true REPUKE to me.

    I am just throwing your crap right back at you!
    Sue the “Red Haring”

    Most Sincerely,
    GalfromCal ;-)

  • Nihilanthic November 13, 2005 7:40 pm <- information about this… and Im amazed that Shelby didnt call in!

    Sue, we’re all glad to know you’re still brainwashed and you know personally that everyone else is a liar, but everyone else is able to realize that tens of thousands of people dont tell the same lie for 20 years, seperate by thousands of miles, totally out of contact with eachother!

    Your terminology and the way you frame your arguement betrays the simple fact that the “raps” (Large group awareness trainings… group brainwashing, basically) got through to you, and youve yet to shake it off. Id suggest you seek professional help… unless, of course, you work for one of those places and youre trying to cover your ass so youre not in the unemployment line, or in the chow line at a local jail, in a few months.

  • stop_mind_rapists November 13, 2005 7:30 pm

    I see the “program” is still working Sue, so sorry you’re angry at us, it really shows honey. If people believe they saw or experienced abuse WHO are you to deny them their God given rights. PLEAZZZE…

  • Sue November 13, 2005 7:14 pm

    There MAY have been a couple isolated boarder-line “abuse” situations at one or 2 of these programs, but it’s a CROCK if you believe this (what these callers said) went on for YEARS and YEARS, daily at these programs.
    I was in LIFE and NEVER witnessed what was said here. Most of these callers were TROUBLED teens, with horrible attitudes, arrest records, drop outs from school and their parents emrolled them in HEAVEY, long term treatment. It’s not SUMMER CAMP. They were made to think about their attitudes, actions, and wreckless ways. Who wants to do that?!? There were lots of rules, and guidelines to follow. It WAS strict. But these abuse reports are almost laughable. They never completed their treatment/counseling, and now need to BLAME someone/something on their current failures. It’s an EASY target.
    I graduated the LIFE program, learned how to DEAL with reality instead of get into drugs and trouble, and improved my self-esteem tremendously. I made life-ling friends there, whom I remain friends with today (20 yrs later). I have NO regrets about being there, as it helped me and SO MANY others. I appreciate that my folks didn’t sit by and watch me get worse. They cared enough to TO DO something, before it was too late.
    I believe many of these “survivors” (I have trouble not laughing at this term) would love to somehow get $ out of all this. It’s really sad that this is their plight SO MANY years later.

  • samantha November 13, 2005 6:52 pm

    NO CHILD WAS EVER TESTED FOR DRUGS NO URINE NO BLOOD TESTING! We were all forced to confess “our sins”

  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 6:52 pm

    Kids Helping Kids in Cincinnati was founded by in part by George Ross, Straight’s former national education director. straight was run out of cincy in 1986, now Kids Helping Kids is operating out of the old Straight building in Medford.

  • GalfromCal November 13, 2005 6:51 pm

    To all the people who have been subjected to this foul treatment and abuse,

    I will spread this information to everyone I know!
    I promise, as an adult who was abuse as a child, I want your stories to be heard by this nation. We as Americans must wake-up to the abuse of our children by so-called-drug programs. If we were interested in our children well-being than we would give them support not justify abusing them under such bullcrap programs.
    My heart goes out to all of the children who suffered at the hands of these twisted people!


  • amy November 13, 2005 6:48 pm

    Oh yeah, and they told us they could read our minds– and at twelve I believed it. Imagine how terrifing my life was that year.

  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 6:44 pm

    –1992 Tampa Channel 13 News aired a 3-day series on Straight abuses called
    Straight: Healing or Harming with Kim Keelor reporting. .

    In the first segment Ms. Keelor reported, “We wanted to find out if Mr. Bush
    knows about Straight’s documented abuse and other violations. We sent a
    sample of cases to the President . Bush’s Deputy Press Secretary [Tony
    Mitchell] said, “…we are not in the position to judge the merits of this
    program. Based on what we see here, we believe they should be fully
    investigated…” ”

    –at zappala (for ambassador to spain) senate hearing 1988 the senate
    investigating panel asked him about alleged abuses of straight . he told
    them he would get back to them in writing

    –when Clary Report found sembler probably quashed state attempt to close
    straight, straight secretary donald sullivan, resigned, ran as Republican for senate,
    and won and was on comittee that oversaw children and families which would
    investigate sembler if there was an investigation

    also at that time straight board member wesley pennington ran unsuccessfully for florida
    house of Rep. as a republican

    –Wes Fager called and spoke to a high level official for 15 minutes in jeb
    bush’s drug czar office. told him of straight’s abuses, told him that SAFE created the day straight closed. so Jeb Bush wrote a letter of endorsement
    for SAFE

    -whenever a straight was closed by health authroites or prosecutors, invaribly a senator or congressmen sent letters to the governor
    asking him not to.

  • amy November 13, 2005 6:43 pm

    I was in one of the earliest incarnations of these programs called the seed–it also started in florida by Art Barker.
    Seedlings abusing each other was in fact required, it was how you proved that you were actually straight. No one ever asked us to do it directly but screaming at each other and swearing at each other is what we did all day everyday.
    I was twelve when I went in to the program. I had never been high. The staff lied to my parents saying I had done drugs so my parents would admit me in the program.
    My parents still say it saved my life

  • William Earnshaw, Sr. November 13, 2005 6:43 pm

    TONITE AT 11PM, EXPOSURE OF Kids Helping Kids,

    Go to and click on I TEAM

    The story name is Kids Helping Kids Controversy

    WCPO is in Cincinnati.

  • stop_mind_rapists November 13, 2005 6:42 pm special investigation tonight 11:pm on KHK tell the liseners to tune in!!!

  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 6:37 pm

    The Mel Sembler Building cost $113 million. $83 million purchase plus $30 million to renovate.
    Semblder’s hometown Congressman Bill Young chaired House’s Appropriation committee to approve it. Plus $50 million to replace the causeway out to isalnd community where sembler lives. plus $3 million for Betty’s latest rehab program.

  • Dave G. November 13, 2005 6:37 pm

    You need to complete this story at it’s worst Mark. How are these people able to contribute so much to the GOP? It is the fact that the government overpays like crazy tax dollars, many thousands each month for each placment. Please get this fact out, Mark

  • Wes Fager November 13, 2005 6:33 pm

    Governor Jeb Bush is on the Advisory Board for Straight (under its current name, Drug Free America Foundation) along with his wife Columba and his Lt. Governor Toni Jennings. DFAF is funded by the US government.

  • Survivor of Straight Inc. November 13, 2005 6:22 pm

    My name is Brian.

    What many people don’t realize is the long-term effects of these kinds of treatment facilities. Understand that our unsung heroes like Ginger Warbis, Sammie Monroe, Richard Bradbury, Wes Fager, and others … these people are touching on the depth of the torture of these programs and we’re talking about these now. PTSD, Bi-Polar Disorder, Suicides, Domestic Violence, Crime Rate increase, and many other vile and societal harmful things are caused even today by those daily events at Straight Incorporated. There are people in jail today because they had become confrontive or violent throughout the years as a result of what happened to them at Straight.

    I have some survivors that I try to keep in contact with at Straight, it is not easy because we are all confrontive and sensitive about these issues. Relationships with family have become hard or non existant and completely broken from the exactness of Straight Incorporated. We lie, we still like to yell at others, we get our treatment and when we do some really nasty and horrible ghosts, a past near to memories of a Holocaust, come to light. Our self esteem is not low like you would see someone who has experienced a hard life or parents who did not love them. No. We have no confidence because we are looking for a reality that was taken from us, I am looking for myself before and during the time I went to that disgusting, criminal place. What brainwashing does to a person is not merely reach out and harm the person who gets their mind reacculturated, it touches the lives around that person too, just like crime does.

    Rosewood Incidents truthfully hold little to the mass incidents to Straight Inc. and the oppression and seizure of civil rights and the yearly, daily, hourly tortures. Our self esteem had been so non existant because Straight took away all our knowledge and desire to know the laws governing outside of Straight, proper and legal education, and a regular normal life. We, Straight Survivors, have not had our final and legal vengeance as of yet b/c we have yet to find an attorney creative enough to hear us and to get past the cronies and their effect on statutes of limitations and suit caps now that many of the survivors are just now beginning to wake up and remember safely what happened to them ten, fifteen, 25 years.

    God Bless all who have survived Straight Incorporated, we are literally owed far more than we are given. Melvin Sembler, you ARE a pedophile and a murderer. I am a survivor of Straight Inc.

  • Anon November 13, 2005 6:01 pm

    I hope that Tranquility Bay and WWASP might be looked at with this issue… WWASP is the umbrella organization that has facilities in the US and Jamaica (other facilities in Costa Rica, Mexico, American Samoa, and Czech have been raided and shut down amid abuse allegations)…

  • Ghost Freeman November 13, 2005 5:59 pm

    Mark, I’ve been listening to this show since a friend linked me to it, and I am in shock.

    I hope you have plans on podcasting this, since there are a few people I want to hear this.

  • Anonymous November 13, 2005 5:46 pm

    I was in Kids Helping Kids in Hebron Kentucky in 1989. I was sexually assaulted by an “oldcomer” there and the program never reported it to the police. This was under the tenure of Penny Walker who is still the Executive Director of Kids Helping Kids in Milford, Ohio. While I was there I saw boys arms broken from violent restraining tactics used by staff and phasers of the program. Staff lied to the parents about how the boys arm got broken stating that he was just out of control and punched the wall.
    Thank you
    KHK- survivor

  • Ginger November 13, 2005 5:43 pm

    THIS is pretty close to how these places work. Except that we didn’t worry about being executed at any moment, this is pretty much how we lived.

    Friday, February 25, 2005
    The Conspiracy Theory: Is Straight some sort of Richard Nixon CIA-NIH mind-control experiment gone awry?

    by Wesley Fager (c) 2005

    In the early 1950s accounts started coming out of Red China about a remarkable discovery to change men’s minds. It was quickly called brainwashing in the West, though one prominent psychiatrist suggested “mendicide” or “death of the mind” as a more appropriate title. After careful scientific analysis it was finally dubbed thought reform by the Western medical establishment. What the Chinese had devised are “re-education” schools which they call Seventh of May Academies. In reality they are prisons for political prisoners which they call “students”. Academy students are deprived of food and sleep, of toilet facilities and baths, of medicine. Their hands are chained behind their backs so they have to eat their meager rations and lap water out of a bowl like an animal. They defecate like a dog or cat without being able to wipe themselves. People spit in their faces and they are beaten, scolded, and incessantly urged to “tell all” in a process called “struggling”. The students live under constant fear that they may be executed at any time.

    As the Chinese thought reform student is being systematically humiliated, he is made to invent a trumped-up confession and then to spend the next three years of his life re-writing it, perfecting it, rehearsing it, and defending it, until, it is felt, he actually comes to believe his own made-up story! Once it is deemed the student is sufficiently confused about his own confession, he starts taking classes to learn Communist doctrines [re-education]. Psychologically the student becomes depressed over his present milieu and overloaded with deep feelings of guilt and shame for what he has admitted to, including confessions to turn in his friends and family members for real or dreamed-up crimes. For years he is afforded no exercise, diversions, or free time for relaxation or contemplation to think things out because he spends his three years in a small cell with eight other inmates. No one graduates unless everyone does what is asked. And what is asked is that they all come to truly believe their confession. There is a nightly court where a judge questions the student about his confession and tries to trip him up, and where guards might beat him, but it is his fellow cellmates who wake him through the day and night depriving him of sleep. It is his fellow prisoners who constantly urge him to “tell all” and who spit in his face. There is no trust. Everybody rats on everybody else in order to save himself.


    This will probably rankle Arnie, and I hate to do that. But I fear that this is also how we’re getting some of the “intelligence” that informs our military and political leaders. A leapord doesn’t change his spots.

  • Vicky November 13, 2005 5:38 pm

    Not to detract from this subject, but it brings to mind the sex trafficking problem not just around the world but also happening here in the United States.

    I am wondering if any of the people involved in any of these drug rehab programs saw any indication of the possible threat of human trafficking…in the buying and selling of humans – particularly women and children?

    (I’m having trouble getting the stream right now.)

  • GalfromCal November 13, 2005 5:37 pm


    I am just shocked! Yet not supprised! I am sorry that I have not been able to listen to the show.
    I have been so busy fighting the peoples fight in California, “Special Deception” put forward by Schwarzenegger. We beat him into his hole.
    Now I am listening to your show and these testimonies from these children.
    This is Sick! I am busy reading all this crap about this administration and their lies to the American people of about the war in Iraq, Tom Delays indictment, Libby/Rove involvement in the outing of CIA agent, the use of White Phosphorous by the U.S. military in Falushia(sp?) Iraq, and etc….
    I now hear this from your show! These poor children. I am just appauled.
    Mark, when will people wake up to these people in control of our government?


  • Skip November 13, 2005 3:35 pm

    It sounds like Straight Inc. is preschool for:
    (change the “zzz” to “S E X” in lower caps)

  • John Gorenfeld November 13, 2005 10:53 am

    Glad all you people stopped by. Should be a good show today.

  • Ginger November 12, 2005 10:10 pm

    Sean, thanks for bringing it back around to the broader topics. This is so encouraging. You’re starting to get it and so are a lot of others. But you don’t have to imagine Straight as a government program. For all intents and purposes, Straight, Inc. IS now a government program w/ influence and authority over our kids and adults.

    Look, some really bizarrely, over the top things take place in these programs. But I never did think that was the most important aspect of the story. Given a choice, day per day, hour per hour, I certainly would take jail over Straight or any of these other behavior mod programs. However, I would NOT want to trade places w/ some kid who’s staring at decades in a cage (i.e. ALL of their most productive years) for consensual drug violations or other zero tolerance bs.

    Read up on DFAF and Straight and get familiar with the names. Then read up on Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. You’ll be stunned to find that, to a very large degree, the Semblers and their close affiliates had a LOT to do with making that happen. Not all of it, of course. I don’t think this demented couple invented the drug war or anything. But they have risen to the top in the organizations and social circles that did. That’s not for nothin’.

    Here’s one scam that every parent should know about. DFAF is a public policy organization, primarily. As such, they invested heavily in mandatory drug screening in schools, workplaces, the military and just about every other gateway to paying the rent. And they did so expecting and receiving a generous return on their investment. Just look at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industries Association sustaining members list here:

    Interesting, isn’t it, that ChoicePoint turns a buck every time some zero tolerance loving school bureucrat destroys some kid’s future by violating the privacy of his or her bladder. And we get to pay for it, too! Isn’t that special! As a consolation, along w/ any notice of dirty pee, the parents get a referal sheet of treatment centers that very often includes Straight spin offs.

    Psychemedics Corporation is another interesting name on that list. Bobby DuPont, as head of NIDA, handed some washed up vaudeville comic cum professional alcoholic over a million dollars to expand his Synanon based program, The Seed, accross the land. He’s on the board of advisors, along w/ H. Wayne Huizenga.

    That whole list is pretty much stacked w/ people who 1) are beyond all sense and reason when it comes to unauthorized euphoria and 2) so tight with the Büsh crime family that they’ve been known to sleep at Sembler’s house while campaigning in Florida. So, evidently, they’re litterally closer to the president than Brother Jeb in Tallahassee.

  • Bob November 12, 2005 9:07 am

    Interesting definitions there Sean…

    Webster, lacking such creativity, foolishly defines ethics as a “system of morally correct conduct” which seems to hopelessly interlock the two. :-(

    …but in any case, I hope we can all agree that using spit therapy is simply a bad approach. It is the result of believing the end is so important it justifies any means – a common problem with many institutions and people.

  • Sean November 11, 2005 5:14 pm

    Straight Inc is a graphic and unfortunate example of what happens when the right wing rely on morals instead of ethics. I can think of no better example of what happens when your government, or those that support and fund your government, rely on moral rules instead of ethical rules.

    From my post on Nov 7th: (yes I’m lazy and quoting myself – how ya like that)

    “What is the difference between ethics and morals? Ethics are based on rules and logic, while morality comes from tradition. They both deal with right and wrong, but from different perspectives.
    My morals tell me it is wrong to get divorced, while my ethics allow for it. That is because one is based on traditional teachings from a certain historic perspective; the other is based on a set of rules to govern our laws. Why have both?
    Because we all have different morals that’s why. Our laws and our government NEED to be based on our ethics!! Basing a government on morals has a name – it is called the Taliban. Basing a government on morals has a second name – its called North Korea.
    The USA is based solely on ethics. It is, by design, devoid of morals.
    Now take the current administration. Some want to give them a pass because they defend themselves as being moral. I say that is just why we need to nail them to the wall for any crime committed. If they think they are above our ethical laws by claiming another allegiance to a moral code, then I say they need to go down.
    Just because they have a moral tradition of something does not indoctrinate their thinking into law and give them immunization!! If they break the law, they need to suffer the consequences. They need to take some personal and professional responsibility for their actions. They are like high school kids that got busted drinking behind the bleachers at the Friday night football game. We have them cold busted, and they go “we don’t remember who bought the beers for us”. What parent would put up with that? And how can we be expected to put up with that as a nation?
    So how do we put our foot down?”

    Another thing that is important to do is to highlight the dangers of legislating morality. Can you even imagine if Straight was a government program? If the current right wing has its way that is just what will happen.

  • Kris November 11, 2005 1:26 pm

    Yes, it seems as though Straight Inc was very influential on todays teen “treatment” facilities. It was held out to be a model by the White House and other republicans…It seems like many heard their message…not ours.

    Some current “treatment” centers or camps are just like Straight, some are watered down versions but still bad news, while others are slightly different but just as brutal, sometimes even more brutal than Straight was. You see, some morans got the idea to set up shop outside this country. So some teens are currently shipped off to another country to an american “treatment” center where there is no protection of US laws. In these such facilities, the abuses are more horrific than we endured in Straight. So, our story is still relevant all these years later, because our experience has become a much larger industry. The implications are frightnening. Just check out information about WWASP programs who operate troubled teen facilities both in the US and outside the country. This is just one example. The nightmare continues for todays children and it must be stopped.

    Straight Survivor 84-86

  • Bob November 11, 2005 11:26 am

    It seems that STRAIGHT, Inc morphed into other agencies like Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. The Sembler’s brag about their political connections with the Bush’s and their privileged status here:

    I’m wondering if the 80′s concentration camps for kids have also morphed into less brutal camps.

  • A word of advice for Pat Robertson November 11, 2005 11:21 am

    Don’t expect any compassion from Pat Robertson–he thinks God is capricious and selectively chooses to hear some and not others based on political pretense–pray to your fucking diamond mines you damned-Taliban-blasphemer, secretly on the side of the dark force–practice your wailing and gnashing of teeth–the Day of the Lord is nigh

  • Wesley Fager November 11, 2005 9:44 am

    For an overview of just how bad Straight is, check out these links:

    -a newspaper montage of Straight’s abuses

    -what professionals are saying about Straight

    -the torture of Marcie Sizemore

    -a flowchart of where the Straights are or have been

    -Straight founder Mel Sembler’s contributions to the Republican Party

    -video of George H. W. Bush endorsing Straight from the White House

    -Straight and the national GOP

    -an overview of Straight’s abuses

    -the influence of Straight founders Mel and Betty Sembler on national drug policy

    Wes Fager