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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

D.C. Madam Investigative Files

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has released about 40 pages of material under the Freedom of Information Act related to its investigation of Deborah Jean Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. Madam" who died in an apparent suicide earlier this year.

The USPS refused to release information on the D.C. part of the case, citing a FOIA exemption that allows case files to be withheld if there is a "reasonable chance they will interfere with ongoing law enforcement proceedings." According to ABC News and other sources, several well-known and senior government officials were among Palfrey's clients.

However, Palfrey was arrested and convicted as the result of an earlier investigation in California, during the 1990s. Information on that case was released, including copies of checks and correspondence related to Palfrey's California prostitution ring and a fairly graphic affidavit in support of a search warrant, describing informant accounts of what life was like as a prostitute working under Palfrey's direction. Informants who worked as prostitutes for Palfrey said they charged $200 an hour for a regular call, half of which went to Palfrey.

"Palfrey told (the informant) she didn't have to do 'kinky stuff ' like being 'tied up or beaten up', if she didn't want to, but if she did, it would cost the client extra," the affidavit states.

Another informant showed up for a job interview after responding to an ad for an escort service.

The informant "was told by Palfrey that hers was a full service escort service, and then was asked by PALFREY, 'How open minded are you?' Palfrey told (the informant) she would be sent to male clients and her job was to make the men happy and not let the men be disappointed." The second informant became involved in violent encounters while working for Palfrey, many details of which are redacted.

Click here for the files


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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