In Rochester, Michigan earlier this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a speech outlining his “vision for defending the freedom and dignity of the world’s vulnerable.” During the speech, McCain noted that “the State Department estimates that between 15,000 and 18,000 human slaves are brought into the United States, many of whom are forced into the sex trade every year.”
Arguing that the U.S. government has not done enough to address this dire situation, McCain said “we need to do more,” adding that as president, he would establish a task force to “increase cooperation and communication between” federal agencies to combat human trafficking:
While the past few years have seen increased efforts on the part of the State and Justice Departments and the FBI to combat the human slave trade, we must do more. As President, I’ll increase cooperation and communication between all agencies of the federal government by establishing an Inter-Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking, whose purpose will be to focus exclusively on the prosecution of human traffickers and the rescue of their victims.
While McCain’s proposal sounds great and creates the illusion that he is a champion of this particular cause, there is one problem — an “Inter-Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking” already exists.
The “Inter-Agency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons” was created as a result of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. In fact, the task force is already set up to do much of what McCain proposed, including combating sex trafficking, bringing traffickers to justice, and focusing on victims:
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 authorized the President to establish the President’s Interagency Task Force (PITF), a cabinet-level task force to coordinate federal efforts to combat human trafficking. The PITF is chaired by the Secretary of State and meets at least once a year. [...]
The PITF approved the following resolution reaffirming the victim-centered approach [and a] commitment to bringing human traffickers to justice, and a sensitivity that victims are just that – victims.
Moreover, McCain’s “proposal” does not match his past rhetoric. In 2001, he opposed an earmark that funded the fight against human trafficking. “There is also a $200,000 earmark for a conference in human trafficking at the University of Hawaii in this bill,” McCain complained at the time.
It may be tempting to chalk up this misunderstanding to another one of McCain’s “senior moments,” but his “new idea” came from prepared remarks — which could lead one to conclude that McCain is just simply confused.