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.
- 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.
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