According to The Washington Post, the Bush administration is having a bit of trouble finding recruits for its latest crusade:
Early last month, the [FBI's] Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes and public corruption.
The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."
A few of the printable samples:
"Things I Don't Want On My Résumé, Volume Four."
"I already gave at home."
"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."...
According to a story a reader recently sent me (thanks), the FBI's having similar problems in Florida:
...[U.S. Attorney Alex] Acosta, a Miami native who formerly held a high-level position in the Justice Department, is having a hard time persuading other law enforcement officials in South Florida, including his own assistant U.S. attorneys, to join the anti-porn crusade.
Sources say Acosta was told by the FBI officials during last month's meeting that obscenity prosecution would have to be handled by the crimes against children unit. But that unit is already overworked and would have to take agents off cases of child endangerment to work on adult porn cases. Acosta replied that this was Attorney General Gonzales' mandate.
Acosta's meetings with other law enforcement agencies also were not particularly fruitful, sources said....
The Gonzales Justice Department is focusing on porn produced by and for consenting adults because the religious right is obsessed with porn, particularly with the notion of porn addiction. Right-wingers in Congress, including Katherine Harris, Mike Pence, and Sam Brownback, have held hearings on porn addiction.
This, by the way, is not like, say, rescuing people who are drowning in a hurricane -- there's a consensus among porn opponents that's it's really, really important for the federal government to leap in forcefully and help local authorities:
...[Randy] Sharp [of the American Family Association] said the initiative is necessary because local law enforcement and city attorneys get "crushed" by high-powered lawyers hired by adult book stores or video stores when there are efforts to shut those establishments down.
"You need the federal government to assist," said Sharp....
Alex Acosta, the U.S. attorney in Florida, was visible before the 2004 election, focusing on human trafficking. Here he is hosting an "Ask the White House" online chat on human trafficking. Here he is giving a speech on the subject. Here's George W. Bush giving a speech on the subject.
Human trafficking is bad. It's also a big issue for religious conservatives. One can't help but think that the Bush administration focused on that issue before the election (don't want to lose the votes of those "South Park conservatives"!), then switched to porn after the election was won.
I just want to add that if the Justice Department wanted to redouble its efforts against human trafficking, and if this were to result in the prosecution of pornographers who are linked to human trafficking, no reasonable person would object. I think that would be a popular decision. (The people at the Lifetime cable channel seem to agree.) But that doesn't seem to be what's going on here.