Tuesday, June 4, 2013

FBI, distributor of child pornography

This is troubling.
The FBI seized and ran a child pornography service late last year as investigators worked to identify its customers...
The Bureau ran the service for two weeks while attempting to identify more than 5,000 customers, according to a Seattle FBI agent's statements to the court. Court records indicate the site continued to distribute child pornography online while under FBI control... 
Operating a child porn website is illegal. Distributing child porn is illegal. Possessing child porn is illegal. The FBI did all of this themselves in order to catch those who do the same.
According to the agent’s statement, investigators were unable to identify “Website A” users through the service’s records. Allowing the site to continue to operate – allowing pedophiles to continue swapping photos and accessing images stored on the site – was necessary to identify the customers.
Ah, so here it is. Identifying those who used this particular site was hard, so the FBI decided to change the rules for themselves. They decided that their ends justified their means. Shutting down the website wasn't enough?

Law enforcement officers are not above the law. If people can be incarcerated for years for possessing a few mild images, why is it okay for the FBI to run an entire website distributing even worse images? There is no foolproof measure of character that determines that it is okay for some people to distribute child pornography and not acceptable for others to distribute the images. 

When my husband was arrested for possession of child porn, no one evaluated his character to see if he is one of the special ones who can look at child porn. There was only the fact that investigators found child porn images on his computer; that was enough to send him to prison. He didn't run a website; he didn't distribute any images. 

FBI agents did, though. The FBI distributed thousands of images. The FBI is responsible for every one of the images that was distributed or downloaded during the time they ran the site.

A moral evil such as child pornography isn't something law enforcement--anyone--should play with. And running a child porn site is playing when you are also telling people how bad child porn is.
In what has become a disturbing legal cliché, federal prosecutors often assert that each time an image of rape or molestation is shared, the child is abused again. 
That was among the arguments offered by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marci Ellsworth last year when she sent a Seattle child molester to federal prison for child pornography crimes unrelated to the Nebraska investigation. 
Ellsworth opined that Pinson’s crimes were not, as the child pornography consumers sometimes argue, “victimless.” 
“Distributing of child pornography – images and videos of real children experiencing the worst moments of their young lives – is not a ‘victimless’ crime, and the heinous nature of this offense should never be diminished by referring to it as ‘just pictures,’” Ellsworth told the court.  “The children portrayed … suffer real and permanent damage, for the rest of their lives, each and every time their exploitation is shared over the Internet.”
If that is true--that the people in the child porn images "suffer real and permanent damage, for the rest of their lives, each and every time their exploitation is shared over the Internet"--why shouldn't the FBI be held responsible for what happened while they ran the site? 

Perhaps plumping up the number of arrests is more important than actually protecting the children in the images because if law enforcement truly wanted to find the people who are producing the images, they should stop putting people in prison for looking at the images. Looking at the images is the only way to identify those responsible.

Driving child porn further underground has only made it more dangerous. When no one dares to admit looking at child porn, who will come forward to identify the children or adults in the images? 

The article also quotes some of the more abhorrent comments made on the site, detailing what the commenters imagined doing with and to the children. Ugly, repulsive, stomach-turning, frightening comments...comments protected by the First Amendment, nonetheless. When commenters are anonymous, they will say things they would never say in the presence of someone who knows them. 

What is the difference between an anonymous commenter who talks about hurting a child and a commenter who wants to shoot my husband? Both are talking with some pleasure about doing something illegal, both are talking about very real people--the children in the images and my husband. While it is possible that someone could put action behind their anonymous chatter and hurt a child or shoot my husband, it is not likely. 

What is likely, is that if the FBI faces no consequences for distributing child pornography, the agency will continue on that course. 

Which laws will they break next?

1 comment:

Anoni Tihnker said...

I understand that the articles stated "customers", however the rest of the article refers to the "customers" as "users". It is hard to ascertain whether they were in fact paying customers or merely users re-posting content that is already floating around on the Internet. Putting people in jail for possessing media they did not pay for does nothing to stop the problem. You might be able to throw 5,000 people in jail for accessing, viewing, or downloading pictures of an act that has already occurred, but the sad truth is even if you send them to prison you have done nothing to the supply of child pornography on the Internet. It will always be there, whether it is 5 days from now or 5 years from now. The government will waste all of our taxpayer money creating federal jobs so some "special agent" can sit at his desk, download some child porn from another user, then subpoena their ISP for information, and subsequently raid their house and for what?. The next day you get some government issued AR-15s or G-18s pointed at your face while you are in bed all because of some fucking pictures or videos that you got floating around on the Internet..whoopdy fucking doo *applause* for those special agents they made a huge dent in the so called "child porn industry". The United Fucking States of Fucking America...Land of the fucking idiots and home of the fucking ignorant...