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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Child pornography found on Assistant U.S. Attorney’s computer

To this date 8-2-2014 nothing has been done to this Assistant DOJ attorney in their selective prosecution of Child Pornography.
Child pornography found on Assistant U.S. Attorney’s computer
3:41 PM 07/07/2011


Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday requesting an explanation as to why the Justice Department declined to file charges against a federal prosecutor with child pornography found on his work computer.


The finding against the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) was made by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

According to the Inspector General’s report, the AUSA admitted to spending a significant amount of time each day viewing porn at work.

“The OIG conducted an investigation concerning allegations that an AUSA was using his government computer to view inappropriate material on his government computer,” the Grassley letter quoted from the OIG report. “The investigation determined that the AUSA routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA’s government computer. The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography.”

Grassley further questioned why the department kept employing the individual for at least two months following the report; what types of cases this AUSA prosecuted; the status of the individual’s pension; and what types of Internet filters the Department now uses.

Last year 33 employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission were found to have viewed pornography on the taxpayer’s dime without receiving harsh discipline. (Justice Department snipes back at Issa, Grassley)

See the letter:

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

On May 31, 2011 I received a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) in response to a request Senator Coburn and I made to all Inspectors General to provide semiannual reports on closed investigations, evaluations, and audits that were not disclosed to the public.

This report contained what appears to be an inexcusable mishandling of serious allegations against an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) which calls into question the DOJ’s internal controls and prosecutorial discretion. The report cites the following OIG investigation of an AUSA:

“The OIG conducted an investigation concerning allegations that an AUSA was using his government computer to view inappropriate material on his government computer. The investigation determined that the AUSA routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA’s government computer. The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined prosecution. Disciplinary action against the AUSA is pending.”

This report relates to OIG investigations from October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011 and was submitted two months later. As the case for disciplinary action is “pending” as of May 31, 2011, this means that, at the very least, the DOJ has allowed an admitted serial viewer of pornography – possibly child pornography – to serve as an AUSA for two months, if not longer, and has yet to take action. This is simply unacceptable and compounds the questions raised by the fact that this AUSA was found to have “at least one image of child pornography” on his government computer and yet he was not charged with a crime.

Regarding the DOJ’s decisions in this case, I respectfully ask the following questions:

1. Is this individual still employed by the Department of Justice?

a. If so, in what capacity?

b. If not, when did this individual leave employment with the Department of Justice?

i. Was this departure voluntary or were they terminated?

2. Is this individual eligible for a government pension?

a. If so, has the DOJ made any efforts to strip this individual of his or her pension?

i. If so, what efforts have been made?

ii. If not, why not?

3. What types of cases did this AUSA handle?

4. Did the cases this AUSA was assigned to handle ever lead to any interaction with children?

5. Was the decision not to prosecute this individual made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which he or she served?

a. If so, did that raise any concerns regarding a conflict of interest?

b. If not, what office made the decision not to prosecute this individual?

6. How was this individual able to evade the DOJ’s pornography filters?

7. Has the DOJ made efforts to upgrade its pornography filters as a result of this individual’s actions?

a. If so, what efforts have been made?

b. If not, why not?

Thank you for cooperation and attention in this matter. I would appreciate a response by July 21, 2011….

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary

What is driving the Child Porn Witch Hunt?

What is driving the Child Porn Witch Hunt?



Beside the 300 Million dollars/yr. for five year bill passed attached to the Bank BailOut Bill of 2008 it is GRANTS as espoused by researcher 1min. 40sec. into this video. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has, ironically, found that exploiting children turns a profit. It has been doing so since its creation in 1984 under Ronald Reagan in this quasi-governmental scheme. It enjoys huge amounts of funding from the Department of Justice(DOJ) and a level of privacy other non-profits don’t have. NCMEC 2011 Tax return states they received over 40 Million dollars and paid out in salaries 32 Million leaving only 5 Million. Out of that 5 Million dollars 3 MIllion was spent on fundraising. With a CASH COW of this magnitude wouldn't you want to keep it alive and thriving? How would you do it? A child porn Witch Hunt. This is how child porn is a BILLION dollar a yr. business funded with TAX dollars we DO NOT have so in essence the real child abuse comes latter when your children's, children have to pay for it. 


NCMEC exaggerates its figures, saying that over 2,000 children go missing every day, almost 800,000 every year; However more than 95% of those cases are runaways and the other 4 to 5% are abducted by family members denied joint custody. Stranger abductions account for less than 1%. In the 24 years NCMEC been around their figures amount to, “19.2 MILLION missing children”. NCMEC should be applauded for the recovery of 121,000 children but, when compared to over 19 million quoted as missing, their recovery rate appears alarmingly low and too put these numbers into perspective the current population of the entire state of New York is 19.4 million. If we are to believe the NCMEC’s claims about the number of missing children that would be tantamount to the entire population of the state of New York missing, gone, vanished! If we compare these numbers to the Vietnam War where a total of approximately 2,594,000 (or 2.6 Million) U.S. troops were sent to served in Vietnam. Most everyone either knows a Vietnam veteran or knows someone who knows a Vietnam veteran. Can the same be said for a missing child? I know many Vietnam vets but NO missing children. How can that be? The DOJ knows damned well that 90% of underage hookers are not “lured” in any meaningful way, and that they do it because it’s the best and most dependable way to support themselves on the street. 

NCMEC 2011 Tax Return can be found here.
http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/Form990.pdf

Lawyer owes $300,000 for showing child pornography at trial


Lawyer owes $300,000 for showing child pornography at trial

(Reuters) - An Ohio lawyer who created sexually explicit images of children as part of a legal defense in child pornography trials must pay the children's parents $300,000, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.


Dean Boland, the lawyer at the center of the case, did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2004, Boland was hired as an expert witness by criminal defense lawyers to testify at three separate criminal proceedings for defendants on trial for possessing child pornography.

In an effort to argue that pornography laws were too broad because defendants had no way of knowing whether photos were real or fake, Boland downloaded images of two children from a stock photo website and digitally manipulated them so the minors appeared to be engaged in sexual acts, according to court documents. In one, a child was eating a doughnut, which Boland replaced with a penis. In another, he transposed a child's face onto the body of a nude woman performing sexual acts with two men.

He then used the before-and-after pictures at trial to demonstrate the difficulty of telling the difference between real and digitally morphed images.

Federal child pornography law bans the possession of images "created, adapted or modified" to show an identifiable minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. However, it does not ban entirely computer-generated child pornography.

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned about Boland's testimony, federal agents searched Boland's home and seized his files. To avoid being criminally prosecuted, Boland entered a diversion agreement in which he admitted to creating and possessing child pornography in violation of federal law. He also published an apology in the Cleveland Bar Journal.

Despite his admission, he defended his right to use the images in court, even filing a lawsuit against the federal government, which was ultimately dismissed.

In 2007, the parents of the two children in the original stock photos sued Boland under federal child pornography laws that allow the minor victims of child pornography to recover damages.

A federal judge initially dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the law shielded expert witnesses from liability. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last year disagreed, sending the case back to the district judge, who awarded $150,000 to each child.

On appeal for the second time, Boland argued that the children did not suffer any injury because he never displayed the images outside a courtroom and never transmitted them electronically. He also said the law violated his First Amendment rights to create and use the images to defend clients in court.

A unanimous, three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit rejected those arguments on Friday, affirming the damages award.

"When he created morphed images, he intended to help criminal defendants, not harm innocent children," Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote. "Yet his actions did harm children, and Congress has shown that it means business in addressing this problem by creating sizeable damages awards for victims of this conduct."

The existence of the images hurt the children's reputation and emotional wellbeing, the court found.

The court also noted that Boland could have made his point another way, by manipulating the photos of real adults or by using pictures of children generated entirely by computer. Instead, he chose the option Congress prohibited: He displayed images of real children modified to look like they were engaged in sexual activity.

A lawyer for the parents, Jonathan Rosenbaum, did not respond to a request for comment.

Boland has also been in the news recently because for a time he represented Paul Ceglia, a former wood-pellet salesman who sued Facebook Inc for a 50 percent cut of the company, claiming he signed a contract with founder Mark Zuckerberg. Federal prosecutors in October charged Ceglia with forging documents central to the suit. Days later, Boland asked to withdraw from the case for personal reasons.

The child pornography case is Doe et al v. Boland, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-4237.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Government IT expert is caught with child porn stash... but why did Downing Street keep it secret for six months?


Government IT expert is caught with child porn stash... but why did Downing Street keep it secret for six months?
Sebastian Crump faces jail after being caught with nearly 400 child porn images

Former Cabinet Office digital expert amassed images while working as digital communications manager advising Government on its own website
Police found images being streamed from his home computer IP address last year
But he received promotion at Cabinet Office while he was being investigated 


Published: 18:35 EST, 1 August 2014 | Updated: 07:25 EST, 2 August 2014

Facing a jail sentence: Sebastian Crump yesterday

A former Cabinet Office digital expert is facing jail after being caught with a huge stash of nearly 400 child porn images.

Sebastian Crump amassed depraved images of child abuse while working as digital communications manager advising the Government on its own website.

Now questions are being asked about why it took six months to emerge that a government official had been arrested over child pornography allegations.

Police discovered indecent images were being streamed from Mr Crump’s home computer IP address in April last year.

But incredibly last November – while he was still being investigated – he received a promotion at the Cabinet Office, where he had previously worked in internal communications.

When Crump, 39, was arrested in January this year Scotland Yard did not publicise the arrest. He was only named when he was charged last month, but even then the Metropolitan Police did not reveal his role at the Cabinet Office.

Details can only now be revealed after he pleaded guilty to four charges of making and distributing indecent images of children.

Yesterday Crump – who has spent a decade working in technology and communications for Government offices, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Central Office of Information – insisted: ‘I’m not a paedophile.’

The case has reignited a row over secret arrests by police involving government officials accused of child porn offences.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming said: ‘When they sat on the case for such a long time and then hid the fact that he is a senior civil servant, it causes great concern.

‘It does raise serious questions and alarm bells are ringing loudly.’ The Cabinet Secretary has already been asked to investigate the handling of a separate arrest of one of David Cameron’s closest aides.

Patrick Rock, deputy director of the No 10 policy unit, was arrested on suspicion of hoarding images of naked children in February.

The National Crime Agency refused to confirm or deny Mr Rock had been held or the existence of any inquiry, which was finally revealed by this newspaper.

Mr Rock was brought in to Downing Street as deputy head of policy in 2011, and was involved in drawing up Government policy on tackling online child abuse images.

Although Sebastian Crump’s work did not involve any child protection issues, the Mail can reveal he landed a government job after working as a children’s charity website manager.

Civil servant: Crump worked as a Whitehall communications manager

The IT expert worked for Action for Children, which helps support vulnerable and neglected children, between 1998 and 1999.

Last year while he was under investigation, he shared a picture on his Facebook page urging 11-year-old children to be safe on the internet.

City of Westminster Magistrates Court heard that Crump hoarded nearly 400 indecent images of children, 82 of which were classed as the most extreme.

At his £800,000 terraced home in Wandsworth, South London, police found 375 images and video files involving child and animal abuse.

The court heard that Crump’s marriage had collapsed following his arrest. He pleaded guilty on Thursday to three counts of making an indecent image of a child and one count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child.

But yesterday Crump insisted he was not a paedophile.

Dressed in purple trousers, with dark glasses and a straw cowboy hat covering his frizzy ginger hair, the keen musician, who is part of the British Humanists Association Choir, emerged from his home in Southfields, South London.

He insisted ‘I’m not a paedophile’, before sprinting off.

Crump is on bail ahead of sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on August 28. A Cabinet Office spokesman said Crump was suspended in January and quit in March.

The Government Is Planting Child Porn On Your Computer by Amber Harrison

The Government Is Planting Child Porn On Your Computer by Amber Harrison
https://www.intellihub.com/the-government-is-planting-child-porn-on-your-computer/



The Absurd Bureaucratic Hell That Is the American Police State



The Absurd, Bureaucratic Hell That Is the American Police State
By John W. Whitehead

July 28, 2014


“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Whether it’s the working mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old play unsupervised at a playground, the teenager forced to have his genitals photographed by police, the underage burglar sentenced to 23 years for shooting a retired police dog, or the 43-year-old man who died of a heart attack after being put in a chokehold by NYPD officers allegedly over the sale of untaxed cigarettes, the theater of the absurd that passes for life in the American police state grows more tragic and incomprehensible by the day.

Debra Harrell, a 46-year-old South Carolina working mother, was arrested, charged with abandonment and had her child placed in state custody after allowing the 9-year-old to spend unsupervised time at a neighborhood playground while the mom worked a shift at McDonald’s. Mind you, the child asked to play outside, was given a cell phone in case she needed to reach someone, and the park—a stone’s throw from the mom’s place of work—was overrun with kids enjoying its swings, splash pad, and shade.

A Connecticut mother was charged with leaving her 11-year-old daughter in the car unsupervised while she ran inside a store—despite the fact that the child asked to stay in the car and was not overheated or in distress. A few states away, a New Jersey man was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of his children after leaving them in a car parked in a police station parking lot, windows rolled down, while he ran inside to pay a ticket.

A Virginia teenager was charged with violating the state’s sexting law after exchanging sexually provocative videos with his girlfriend. Instead of insisting that the matter be dealt with as a matter of parental concern, police charged the boy with manufacturing and distributing child pornography and issued a search warrant to “medically induce an erection” in the 17-year-old boy in order to photograph his erect penis and compare it to the images sent in the sexting exchange. The police had already taken an initial photograph of the boy’s penis against his will, upon his arrest.

In Georgia, a toddler had his face severely burned when a flash bang grenade, launched by a SWAT team during the course of a no-knock warrant, landed in his portable crib, detonating on his pillow. Also in Georgia, a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old boy who answered the door, reportedly with a Nintendo Wii controller in his hands. The cop claimed the teenager pointed a gun at her, thereby justifying the use of deadly force. Then there was the incident wherein a police officer, responding to a complaint that some children were “chopping off tree limbs” creating “tripping hazards,”pulled a gun on a group of 11-year-old boys who were playing in a wooded area, attempting to build a tree fort.

While the growing phenomenon of cops shooting family pets only adds to the insanity (it is estimated that a family pet is killed by law enforcement every 98 minutes in America), it’s worse for those who dare to shoot a police dog. Ivins Rosier was 16 when he broke into the home of a Florida highway patrol officer and shot (although he didn’t kill) the man’s retired police dog. For his crime, the teenager was sentenced to 23 years in prison, all the while police officers who shoot family pets are rarely reprimanded.

Meanwhile if you’re one of those hoping to live off the grid, independent of city resources, you might want to think again. Florida resident Robin Speronis was threatened with eviction for living without utilities. Speronis was accused of violating the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid.

Now we can shrug these incidents off as isolated injustices happening to “other” people. We can rationalize them away by suggesting that these people “must” have done something to warrant such treatment. Or we can acknowledge that this slide into totalitarianism—helped along by overcriminalization, government surveillance, militarized police, neighbors turning in neighbors, privatized prisons, and forced labor camps, to name just a few similarities—is tracking very closely with what we saw happening in Germany in the years leading up to Hitler’s rise to power.

When all is said and done, what these incidents reflect is a society that has become so bureaucratic, so legalistic, so politically correct, so militaristic, so locked down, so self righteous, and so willing to march in lockstep with the corporate-minded police state that any deviations from the norm—especially those that offend the sensibilities of the “government-knows-best” nanny state or challenge the powers that be—become grist for prosecution, persecution and endless tribulations for the poor souls who are caught in the crosshairs.

Then there are the incidents, less colorful perhaps but no less offensive to the sensibilities of any freedom-loving individual, which should arouse outrage among the populace but often slip under the radar of a sleeping nation.

For instance, not only is the NSA spying on and collecting the content of your communications, but it’s also going to extreme lengths to label as “extremists” anyone who attempts to protect their emails from the government’s prying eyes. Adding insult to injury, those same government employees and contractors spying on Americans’ private electronic communications are also ogling their private photos. Recent revelations indicate that NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos, considered a “fringe benefit” of surveillance positions.

A trove of leaked documents reveals the government’s unmitigated gall in labeling Americans as terrorists for little more than being suspected of committing “any act that is ‘dangerous’ to property and intended to influence government policy through intimidation.” As The Intercept reports: “This combination—a broad definition of what constitutes terrorism and a low threshold for designating someone a terrorist—opens the way to ensnaring innocent people in secret government dragnets.” All the while, the TSA, despite the billions of dollars we spend on the agency annually and the liberties to which its agents subject travelers, has yet to catch a single terrorist.

No less disconcerting are the rash of incidents in which undercover government agents encourage individuals to commit crimes they might not have engaged in otherwise. This “make work” entrapment scheme runs the gamut from terrorism to drugs. In fact, a recent report released by Human Rights Watch reveals that “nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the ‘direct involvement’ of government agents or informants.”

Most outrageous of all are the asset forfeiture laws that empower law enforcement to rake in huge sums of money by confiscating cash, cars, and even homes based on little more than a suspicion of wrongdoing. In this way, Americans who haven’t been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of wrongdoing, are literally being subjected to highway robbery by government agents offering profit-driven, cash-for-freedom deals.

So who or what is to blame for this bureaucratic nightmare delivered by way of the police state? Is it the White House? Is it Congress? Is it the Department of Homeland Security, with its mobster mindset? Is it some shadowy, power-hungry entity operating off a nefarious plan?

Or is it, as Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt suggests, the sheepish masses who mindlessly march in lockstep with the government’s dictates—expressing no outrage, demanding no reform, and issuing no challenge to the status quo—who are to blame for the prison walls being erected around us? The author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt warned that “the greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.”

This is where democracy falls to ruin, and bureaucracy and tyranny prevail.

As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we have only ourselves to blame for this bureaucratic hell that has grown up around us. Too many of us willingly, knowingly and deliberately comprise what Arendt refers to as “cogs in the mass-murder machine.”

These cogs are none other than those of us who have turned a blind eye to the government corruption, or shrugged dismissively at the ongoing injustices, or tuned out the mayhem in favor of entertainment distractions. Just as guilty are those who have traded in their freedoms for a phantom promise of security, not to mention those who feed the machine unquestioningly with their tax dollars and partisan politics.

And then there are those who work for the government, federal, state, local or contractor. These government employees—the soldiers, the cops, the technicians, the social workers, etc.—are neither evil nor sadistic. They’re simply minions being paid to do a job, whether that job is to arrest you, spy on you, investigate you, crash through your door, etc. However, we would do well to remember that those who worked at the concentration camps and ferried the victims to the gas chambers were also just “doing their jobs.”

Then again, if we must blame anyone, blame the faceless, nameless, bureaucratic government machine—which having been erected and set into motion is nearly impossible to shut down—for the relentless erosion of our freedoms through a million laws, statutes, and prohibitions.

If there is any glimmer of hope to be found, it will be at the local level, but we cannot wait for things to get completely out of control. If you wait to act until the SWAT team is crashing through your door, until your name is placed on a terror watch list, until you are reported for such outlawed activities as collecting rainwater or letting your children play outside unsupervised, then it will be too late.

Obedience is the precondition to totalitarianism, and the precondition to obedience is fear. Regimes of the past and present understand this. “The very first essential for success,” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.” Is this not what we are seeing now with the SWAT teams and the security checkpoints and the endless wars?

This much I know: we are not faceless numbers. We are not cogs in the machine. We are not slaves. We are people, and free people at that. As the Founders understood, our freedoms do not flow from the government. They were not given to us, to be taken away at the will of the State; they are inherently ours. In the same way, the government’s appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.

Until we can get back to this way of thinking, until we can remind Americans what it really means to be a free American, and learn to stand our ground in the face of threats to those freedoms, and encourage our fellow citizens to stop being cogs in the machine, we will continue as slaves in thrall to the bureaucratic police state.


About The Rutherford Institute

"The Rutherford Institute is one of the nation's premier civil liberties organizations."—Nat Hentoff, nationally syndicated columnist

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization based in Charlottesville, Va., is deeply committed to protecting the constitutional freedoms of every American and the integral human rights of all people through its extensive legal and educational programs. The Institute provides its legal services at no charge to those whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.

Founded in 1982 by constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.

The Rutherford Institute has emerged as one of the nation's leading advocates of civil liberties and human rights, litigating in the courts and educating the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States and around the world.

The Institute’s mission is twofold: to provide legal services in the defense of religious and civil liberties and to educate the public on important issues affecting their constitutional freedoms.

Whether our attorneys are protecting the rights of parents whose children are strip-searched at school, standing up for a teacher fired for speaking about religion or defending the rights of individuals against illegal search and seizure, The Rutherford Institute offers assistance—and hope—to thousands.

The Rutherford Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts to which are deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.



ACLU Claims Government Covers-up Patriot Act Abuse Files two suits challenging FBI's powers under Patriot Act By Robert Longley

ACLU Claims Government Covers-up Patriot Act Abuse Files two suits challenging FBI's powers under Patriot Act By Robert Longley
ACLU Claims Government Covers-up Patriot Act Abuse Files two suits challenging FBI's powers under Patriot Act by Robert Longley


First, They Came for the Sex Offenders, by Judith Levine

First, They Came for the Sex Offenders, by Judith Levine
First, They Came for the Sex Offenders, by Judith Levine




When Journalists Threaten to Sue I was Disappeared by Salon

When Journalists Threaten to Sue
I was Disappeared by Salon

by DEBBIE NATHAN

On August 24, the online magazine Salon published my opinion piece "Why I Need to See Child Porn." It argued that we need a government system to vet researchers’ and journalists’ qualifications, allowing them to test government claims about the prevalence, content and profitability of internet child pornography images without fear of legal sanctions.


The next morning, August 25, Salon received communication from New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald, threatening to sue Salon and me for libel if my article were not immediately removed from Salon’s site. Among other things, my piece had discussed Eichenwald’s August 20 Times article, "With Child Sex Sites on the Run, Nearly Nude Photos Hit the Web."

Within hours after receiving Eichenwald’s threat of a lawsuit, Salon pulled "Why I Need to See Child Porn," along with dozens of letters responding to it. My piece was not archived on Salon’s site and neither were the letters. All the material was irretrievably removed. A correction was run stating it was "inaccurate" that journalists and other researchers have "no protection from prosecution if they viewed visual depictions of child pornography." On August 26, Salon’s editor, Joan Walsh, wrote on Salon’s forum for subscribers, Table Talk, that my article was taken down because its "central premise" was "impossible to just correct." She did not mention that Salon had been contacted by Eichenwald and threatened with a lawsuit.

I was not consulted about the decision to irretrievably remove my opinion piece and the letters. I had no input into the language of the correction.

After Salon pulled the article and ran its first correction, Eichenwald continued to threaten a suit unless another correction was run. On August 31 Salon ran a second correction, based primarily on language supplied by Eichenwald and his lawyer. I had no input into the decision to publish this correction, nor any input into its wording. Salon gave me no opportunity to respond to the correction.

The first correction had been published in a format allowing the public to respond by clicking a link on the same page the correction appeared on. People could read the responses sent in by clicking on the same page, just under the correction. During the next few days beginning August 25, Salon posted over 150 responses.

When Eichenwald demanded a second correction, he specified it must be "locked" so no public response could be submitted on the correction page or be readable from there. Subsequently, Salon formatted the second correction so it is impossible to send or read responses on the same page as the correction. Postings now can be made only by paid subscribers, to Salon’s "Table Talk" section. No discussion topic links in "Table Talk" are marked as having anything specifically to do with "Why I Need to See Child Porn."

I am extremely disappointed with Salon’s handling of this incident. Nevertheless, I trust public discussion will continue about the issues my article raised.

Do reporters need to see child pornography to write about it? By Alia Malek


Child Pornography: To See, or Not to See?

Do reporters need to see child pornography to write about it?
By Alia Malek


Writing in Salon on August 24, Debbie Nathan wanted to start a conversation about child pornography. She raised the question: How can journalists report on child pornography when it is a crime to even look at such images? Nathan argued that journalists should be protected from prosecution for possession of child pornography if that possession is for legitimate reporting purposes, including, for example, testing government claims about the prevalence of child pornography.


Instead, the conversation came to a screeching halt.

According to Nathan’s article, her inquiry was rooted in her own research this summer into child porn on the Internet. In the course of her reporting, she inadvertently stumbled onto a Web site that featured illegal images. She became consumed with a fear that she would be arrested and prosecuted, recalling the prosecution and incarceration in 2000 of freelance journalist Lawrence Matthews in Washington, D.C. on charges that he had received and transmitted pornographic images of children in the course of his research on the topic. She reached out to other journalists and researchers who had looked into the subject, and heard stories of people abandoning the enterprise because of the risk of prosecution.

Then on August 20, the New York Times published a piece by Kurt Eichenwald that exposed a group of new Web sites purporting to have legal images of children but which in fact feature images that are arguably pornographic. As Eichenwald explained, courts have decided that nudity is not required for images to be deemed child pornography. The Times article was accompanied by a disclaimer that stated: “Covering this story raised legal issues. United States law makes it a crime to purchase, download, or view child pornography, unless the images are promptly reported to authorities and no images are copied or retained. The Times complied with the law, disclosing what it found to appropriate authorities.”

Eichenwald’s article, beyond just reporting on the trend, included lurid descriptions of the kinds of images found on these “child modeling” sites, though he says he relied on law enforcement and chat-room descriptions of the images rather than firsthand viewing. Nathan, however, assumed that Eichenwald had seen the images himself, and kicked off her article by provocatively saying that Eichenwald had spent time recently “look[ing] at a lot of kiddie porn.” Though she discussed Eichenwald’s tactics and opined on their legality, she ultimately was arguing that “the government prohibits reporters and other legitimate investigators from doing front-line research into child pornography,” because she believes such work requires journalists to view illegal images and risk being prosecuted.

Uncontested in Nathan’s argument is the notion that journalists have to actually see these images to test “government claims as to how prevalent child pornography really is and what makes an image pornographic.”

On the same day Nathan’s article was posted on Salon, the magazine pulled it and any letters it generated, and issued two corrections. The first correctionemphasized that the law “does offer some legal protection for journalists and other researchers” and that an “affirmative defense may exist that would protect such work under certain circumstances, and the opinion asserted by Nathan that her work … would constitute a violation of the law was inaccurate.”

(An affirmative defense is one that does not deny the truth of the allegations against the defendant but gives some other reason why the defendant cannot be held liable.)

The second correction stressed that Eichenwald’s article was “not based on reviewing the content of the sites themselves” and reiterated the legal disclaimer that the Times originally ran with Eichenwald’s piece, asserting that journalists who come to possess these images inadvertently and who report them to the federal authorities are protected from prosecution.

With Salon disavowing Nathan’s entire article, the matter seemed settled. But the two questions at the heart of this episode are worth considering. First, the question Nathan addressed in her ill-fated article: Should journalists be protected from prosecution when they intentionally seek out child pornography for reporting purposes? And this one, which Eichenwald vigorously answers in the negative: Do journalists need to see these images — and therefore break the law — to adequately report on the subject?

The Times limited its interpretation of the federal statute’s provision for an affirmative defense to the case of inadvertent viewing. But a journalist like Nathan, who wants to see the images for her reporting, by definition would break the law and risk prosecution. (For a detailed review of the law as it pertains to journalists, see “Reporting on Child Pornography: A First Amendment Defense for Viewing Illegal Images?” by Clay Calvert, Kentucky Law Journal, Fall 2000/2001.)

We asked Calvert, a professor of communications and law and co-director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment at the Pennsylvania State University, to fill us in on the state of the law and any affirmative defenses as they apply to journalists:
“It is still very risky for journalists today to receive and transmit, during their investigation of a story or a report, images of child pornography. The Matthews case makes this clear in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the general line of Supreme Court precedent is that journalists are not exempt from generally applicable laws that apply equally to all citizens. Clearly child pornography statutes are such laws of general applicability, so journalists take a risk today when investigating child pornography as they come across it on the Web, even with the exception spelled out in the federal statute pertaining to destruction of the images and reporting the matter to law enforcement officials. That defense under federal statute [18 U.S.C. 2252A (d)] only applies, by its terms, to the possession of ‘less than three images of child pornography.’ In other words, basically a journalist would be allowed under this defense to only possess two images, and that’s not a lot of content to look at for a full-blown investigative article.”

Nathan argues that to report on child pornography, journalists will be forced to take the government’s word about, for example, what these images are, where they are, who is involved, the extent of the problem, and how much revenue is generated. And by extension, so will the public. Her argument is that the government cannot be trusted.

Indeed, in May of this year, a piece in Legal Times tried to ascertain the source of a statistic, used by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, on the prevalence of consumers of child porn on the Internet. As it turns out, both the media and the government were using a number — that at any given time 50,000 predators are on the Internet prowling for children — that seemed to come out of thin air. The media cited the government and the government cited the media as the source for the number.

But does contesting such a government claim require viewing the images? ForLegal Times, at least, it did not.

In a heated exchange in the comments section of the blog on Open Democracy between August 25 and September 2, Eichenwald asserted that journalists don’t need to see the images to adequately report on the subject. Eichenwald quotes his own e-mail to Nathan on the blog, saying that her “apparent belief that we need to study child porn images has all the earmarks of a rubbernecking obsession on the grotesque.” He argued that journalists can trust descriptions of the images given by the courts and law enforcement officials. He reiterated these comments to CJR Daily in a phone interview.

This is tricky territory. We understand the importance of challenging government claims, especially when labels are used to stigmatize people and silence debate. For example, in the context of “terrorism,” we have more than anecdotal evidence that the government has falsely accused individuals and misled the public. But such investigations did not require journalists to engage in terrorism themselves, or to break the law in any other way, to find out the truth.

In the context of reporting on child pornography, it seems the only reason to see the images (and thereby break the law) is to determine whether or not they are actually pornographic, and we haven’t yet seen credible evidence that the press is being lied to and manipulated in this context. Some might see this as a chicken/egg problem. But the most expedient methods of accessing information are rejected by journalists all the time when those methods are illegal. Those who argue the need to see child porn to understand it too easily dismiss the fact that not only is viewing illegal, but that it also prolongs the exploitation of these children — because society has determined that merely seeing children in these poses victimizes the child. Similarly, we recognize the tension this creates with our role as the Fourth Estate.

Whether this situation necessitates a privilege analogous to what journalists seek in a federal shield law is perhaps a discussion worth having. Of course, such a discussion would require — as in the shield law debate — an examination of the question, Who is a journalist? And in a profession that requires no licensing, there is the very real danger that pedophiles could hide behind our privilege to indulge their criminality.


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Alia Malek is an assistant editor at CJR.Comments Post a Comment

On August 24, Salon published my opinion piece "Why I Need to See Child Porn." As Malek discusses in her CJRDaily article, it argued that we need a government system to vet researchers' and journalists' qualifications, allowing them to test government claims about the prevalence, content and profitability of internet child pornography images without fear of legal sanctions.

The next morning, August 25, Salon received communication from New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald, threatening to sue Salon and me for libel if my article were not immediately removed from Salon's site. Among other things, my piece had discussed Eichenwald's August 20 Times article, "With Child Sex Sites on the Run, Nearly Nude Photos Hit the Web."

Within hours after receiving Eichenwald's threat of a lawsuit, Salon pulled "Why I Need to See Child Porn," along with dozens of letters responding to it. My piece was not archived on Salon's site and neither were the letters. All the material was irretrievably removed. A correction was run stating it was "inaccurate" that journalists and other researchers have "no protection from prosecution if they viewed visual depictions of child pornography." On August 26, Salon's editor, Joan Walsh, wrote on Salon's forum for subscribers, Table Talk, that my article was taken down because its "central premise" was "impossible to just correct." She did not mention that Salon had been contacted by Eichenwald and threatened with a lawsuit.

I was not consulted about the decision to irretrievably remove my opinion piece and the letters. I had no input into the language of the correction.

After Salon pulled the article and ran its first correction, Eichenwald continued to threaten a suit unless another correction was run. On August 31 Salon ran a second correction, based primarily on language supplied by Eichenwald and his lawyer. I had no input into the decision to publish this correction, nor any input into its wording. Salon gave me no opportunity to respond to the correction.

The first correction had been published in a format allowing the public to respond by clicking a link on the same page the correction appeared on. People could read the responses sent in by clicking on the same page, just under the correction. During the next few days beginning August 25, Salon posted over 150 responses.

When Eichenwald demanded a second correction, he specified it must be "locked" so no public response could be submitted on the correction page or be readable from there. Subsequently, Salon formatted the second correction so it is impossible to send or read responses on the same page as the correction. Postings now can be made only by paid subscribers, to Salon's "Table Talk" section. No discussion topic links in "Table Talk" are marked as having anything specifically to do with "Why I Need to See Child Porn."

I am extremely disappointed with Salon's handling of this incident. Nevertheless, I trust public discussion will continue about the issues my article raised.

For more information, see:

Judith Levine letter to the New York Times Public Editor

Debbie Nathan
www.debbienathan.com

Posted by DebbieNathan on Fri 22 Sep 2006 at 05:33 PM

Alia Malek writes Those who argue the need to see child porn to understand it too easily dismiss the fact that not only is viewing illegal, but that it also prolongs the exploitation of these children.

Claptrap. Not all child pornography would fall under the category of "exploitation" and one need only to reference the Michael Jackson trial and how Prosecutors sought to indict Mr. Jackson on child pornography charges over a coffee table book; A book by the way that had been in the possession of the District Attorney who earlier sought to indict Mr. Jackson on similar charges but failed.

Alia Malek does CJR a disservice by reciting the usual bumper sticker cookiee cutter echochamber phrases.

Posted by Nelson G on Sat 23 Sep 2006 at 11:45 AM

Alia Malek should brush up on her logic. She quotes Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez as saying that 50,000 child-sex predators are prowling the Internet, "a number," she says, "that seemed to come out of thin air," but then writes, appropos of whether kiddie-porn images are truly pornographic, that "we haven't yet seen credible evidence that the press is being lied to and manipulated in this context." If a made-up figure is not evidence of manipulation, what is? Given the Bush administration's unparalleled record of mendacity, any journalist who is not suspicious should be drummed out of the profession. Malek also suggests that a reporter who wishes to evaluate such claims first-hand is somehow comparable to one who believes he or she must engage in an act of terrorism in order to undrestand what the phenomenon is all about. But the comparison is speciouis. Viewing a kiddie-porn web site is analagous to visiting Ground Zero in order to see the results of a criminal act. She similarly puts the car before the horse in asserting that looking at an allegedly pornographic photo somehow "prolongs the exploitation of these children." But a photo is merely a record of an act that has already taken place. In a touching display of political deference, finally, she concludes that reporters should heed the law and not conduct such research because something called "society" has has forbidden it. But this is exactly the problem: the Bush administration has launched a major crusade around this issue, yet forbids journalists to engage in the most elementary fact-checking to determine that its claims are correct. This is positively Orwellian, yet CJR backs the administration up. Clearly the lapdog press has learned nothing from missteps over WMDs and the War on Terrorism. How sad!

Posted by Dan Lazare on Wed 27 Sep 2006 at 06:08 PM

Any time we rely on the government as the only source of information, we risk our freedom. While I agree that this is a very sensitive subject, and I personally have no desire to view such photos, accommodations must be made for those who 'legitimately' research such topics in an effort to discover if the government is telling the truth. One person viewing this filth is too many; I agree. But unchallenged overblown statistics that create laws for the purpose of denying us our personal freedoms, in the long run, is equally problematic. Knowledge is power!