DOJ Cracks Down on Kiddie Pictures

There's been a reordering of priorities at the Justice Department this year.

Cybercrime, the majority of which involves child pornography, is now the FBI's third-highest priority, behind counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

Those convicted include:

...the former head of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union, an Ivy League professor, a sheriff's deputy, a Transportation Security Administration employee, an Army sergeant, a former Navy cryptologist, a contractor working at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a National Institutes of Health researcher and a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Some argue it's overkill.

Some defense lawyers and treatment professionals say that the focus on pornography has become excessive. Many caught in the dragnet, they say, viewed images for their private gratification but never intended to hurt a child.

"Sending people to prison for five or 10 or 15 years for looking at pictures is killing an ant with a sledgehammer," said Peter Greenspun, who defended Charles Rust-Tierney, the former ACLU head sentenced to seven years in prison for downloading hundreds of images. "These people are being put on sex-offender registries, they are being ostracized from the community, for looking at pictures."

The penalties are stiff -- here's a chart (pdf). Experts disagree over how many of the people who privately view the images also engage in improper contact with kids.

Last month the House passed a billion dollar bill to investigate child p*rn, sponsored by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The cost?

Her bill, which has drawn little opposition, would authorize spending $1.05 billion over eight years to hire hundreds of federal and state investigators and establish a special counsel's office in the Justice Department. Much of the money would be distributed as grants to state and local police agencies to crack down on cyber-porn.

Other provisions:

  • Establish a grant program as part of an Internet Crimes Against Children task force that would funnel funds to local agencies to investigate cyber-crime.
  • Authorize funds for hiring 250 new FBI, customs, immigration and postal agents dedicated to investigating child-exploitation cases.
  • Authorize $7 million per year to the Regional Computer Forensic Labs to support child-exploitation investigations.

Guess who's beating the drums in the Senate to pass a similar bill? No surprises here, the one-man anti-crime band Joe Biden.

Democratic Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Barbara Boxer of California have introduced a companion bill, which the Senate is expected to pass with bipartisan support early next year.

Biden's bill is S. 1738, the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2007. It authorizes funding of $600 plus million on task forces, grants, FBI agents, investigations, prosecutors, etc.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court heard arguments in October over the constitutionality of a child p*rn law.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What's wrong with kittie pictures? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 03:57:28 PM EST
    Oop, I read the headline wrong.  Sorry.  To quote from Spinal Tap, "It's a fine line between stupid and...clever."

    Another question (none / 0) (#19)
    by Joe Bob on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 07:01:48 PM EST
    Why are people always complaining about all of the sax and violins on television?

    Oh, nevermind.


    actually, i kind of wonder (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 09:47:55 AM EST
    if the issues jarober mentions, and the obvious problem of child pornography, don't go hand-in-hand?

    i suspect, with absolutely no empirical basis, that few children from well off homes become the victims of child pornographers. most are from impoverished homes, or abusive home environments. many, i suspect, are runaways from the same. they become involved in prostitution and pornography as a means of surviving, not because they want to.

    were our country's priorities a little more well founded, perhaps this would eliminate, in large part, the domestic source for pornography.

    how about putting that billion into health care and families? oh, wait, i forgot, it's more profitable, and easier, to lock people up.

    silly me, what was i thinking?

    You comment indicates at least one thing... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Patrick on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 01:08:39 PM EST
    Ignorance of the topic.  Which is a good thing!  

    Most child pornographers prefer children much younger than you're considering in your comment.  I have been involved in several investigations and the age of the victims is what is most disturbing.  Pre-teens or pre-puberty children are the most targeted victims.  That's like 6-12 year olds.  Unfortunately I've seen many cases where the victims were even younger.  

    In California, the possession of child porn was a misdemeanor until Jessica's law was signed in 2006.  Scroll down to the PC 311 section to read the before and after penalties.  


    Yeah (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jgarza on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 03:34:05 PM EST
    its over kill, Isn't part of the kiddie porn issue that they don't have to prove you knew it was kiddie porn?

    Sadly I feel like our justice system will never be sensible on this, Child porn pedophilia and anything in that direction make for easy opportunities for politicians to grandstand.

    It's like the drug users vs pushers (none / 0) (#3)
    by Lora on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 04:21:23 PM EST
    Crack down on the creators and purveyors of kiddie porn.

    Demand? (none / 0) (#4)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 05:27:04 PM EST

    Here's one thing you wave off - the people who look at child porn "without ever intending to hurt a child" are dependent on other people providing the porn who did hurt a child.

    The person watching the child porn is part of the problem.  

    why such stiff sentences? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 05:41:39 PM EST
    And why so much money to track them down and bust them? What Lora said...

    So what's the right amount of money to spend... (none / 0) (#6)
    by rdandrea on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 08:25:33 PM EST
    ...to protect children?

    If it was up to me.... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 07:42:18 AM EST
    I'd make crimes against kids the highest priority of law enforcement...above terrorism, drugs, and the lot.

    But going after the creeps who only look at pictures is the last thing to worry about...get after the creeps who take the pictures and actually harm children.  

    Anyway you slice it, ten years or so for looking at a picture is madness.  It's very sick stuff to be sure, but let's not lose our heads.


    Insane (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 12:21:38 PM EST
    And only one baby step away from thought crimes. A bit of waterboarding and anyone will admit that they once thought of an immoral act.

    Dark ages here we come.


    kdog, (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 12:38:04 PM EST
    Anyway you slice it, ten years or so for looking at a picture is madness.
    where did that number come from?

    That's not always the case (none / 0) (#9)
    by roy on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 10:40:15 AM EST
    That's true if we're talking about pictures taken of a child in a sexual context.  It's not true if we're talking about pornographic fiction with child characters, pictures of adults who look underage, wholly computer-generated pictures, or pictures of children in non-sexual contexts which are later misused as pornography.  All of which have been redefined, and prosecuted, as child pornography.

    Protecting children... (none / 0) (#7)
    by jarober on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 01:14:05 AM EST

    I wish the left would ask that question with regard to health care, smoking regulation, etc.  Having it trotted out for something as awful as child porn is disingenuous.

    PGP Trump Pron (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 04:12:55 PM EST
    I guess that that they will not have to resort to waterboarding:

    A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that prosecutors can't force a criminal defendant accused of having illegal images on his hard drive to divulge his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) passphrase.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier ruled that a man charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the Canadian border has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over the passphrase to prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to avoid self-incrimination.


    the right to cover your tracks... (none / 0) (#11)
    by TruthHurtzIndeed on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 06:19:01 PM EST
    ...and destroy evidence that might reveal that you are in possession of your neigbors children having sex.


    pics of, that is... (none / 0) (#12)
    by TruthHurtzIndeed on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 06:19:45 PM EST
    Freedom comes with hassles.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 07:45:59 AM EST
    one of which is the increased difficulty in catching criminals.

    I still think the right to be secure in your papers and effects (including your hard drive) is worth the hassles.


    areas the FBI focuses on.
    The FBI's cyber mission is four-fold:

    first and foremost, to stop those behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code;

    second, to identify and thwart online sexual predators who use the Internet to meet and exploit children and to produce, possess, or share child pornography;

    third, to counteract operations that target U.S. intellectual property, endangering our national security and competitiveness;

    and fourth, to dismantle national and transnational organized criminal enterprises engaging in Internet fraud.

    What They Say Versus What They Do (none / 0) (#20)
    by isaid on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:28:18 PM EST
    Ask the FBI why they are not prosecuting Gonzales, Mueller and McDade for re-producing and distributing child porn to promote a political agenda: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/9/14/104719/159

    Ask the feds why images of adult porn stars keep turning up in child porn cases that then do not get dismissed: http://amjur.wordpress.com/

    Ask the feds why they are allowing images of Tove Jensen and other Color Climax models to be copyrighted and distributed after they testified the footage was child porn: http://trewthe.wordpress.com/

    Ask the FBI why it took 2 years to begin their investigation of Regpay after being notified: http://www.avn.com/printFriendly.cfm?objectID=ED9E5DDB-1372-4B41-C4971FA43A058865&sitesection=vi deo