Disgraced: Obama’s Admin. Revealed In Underground Child Ring, Attorneys Moving To Press Charges
Just when you thought that your government could sink no lower; you find that not only can they do that, they consider it a source of pride that they did. This is one of those times in which you consider the person downloading child porn to be a better person than your government. And it makes you sick.
When Daryl Glenn Pawlak logged into a large child pornography website and downloaded images using his work computer, he was charged with receipt and possession of child pornography.
The operator of the site that was exploiting children, however, was not arrested. That’s because it was the FBI. And federal prosecutors are defending the agency’s decision to secretly hijack and peddle child porn for two weeks as part of a sting operation. During that time, tens of thousands of images of child pornography were uploaded to the site.
“Not only was the government the largest distributor of child pornography … it was also the largest exploiter of children, this conduct is the essence of outrageousness, and a serious need for deterrence exists.”
The case has ignited debate among legal scholars and defense attorneys about internet privacy and the FBI’s decision to keep such a website up and running while more children were harmed. Dozens of defense attorneys have filed motions to suppress evidence from the controversial child pornography sting, called Operation Pacifier. In some cases, federal judges have granted those motions. But most attempts to get charges thrown out have failed, legal experts say, even though some judges have ruled that the government violated the law and acted inappropriately.
Joining legal challenges nationwide, Pawlak’s attorneys are trying to get the charges dismissed, arguing that the government went too far by using a single warrant in Virginia to hack the computers of people all over the country, including his client. The American Civil Liberties Union compared it to Operation Fast and Furious, a failed sting operation run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives beginning in 2009 that resulted in 2,000 firearms winding up in the hands of criminals.
In that case, ATF allowed people to illegally buy the guns to traffic to Mexico in the hopes of tracking them to Mexican drug cartel leaders. But that didn’t happen, and instead, the agency lost track of the guns, including two that were found at the scene of the 2010 murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The FBI declined to comment about Operation Pacifier. The U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas said in court filings that it acted within the law and that dismissing the case would give people like Pawlak a “free pass” for trolling the web for photos and videos of children being sexually abused.
“The FBI’s process here should be encouraged, not deterred.”
Defense attorneys say the matter will eventually be resolved in the appellate courts, if not the U.S. Supreme Court. Historically, the government has taken down such websites immediately. Douglas Anderson, chair of the University of North Texas’ philosophy and religion department, said the government was conducting a cost-benefit analysis, weighing damage to children against catching people who download child porn. He said he was surprised children were used in such a calculation.
“It’s a moral conundrum for anyone who takes the view that we are committed to protecting them in all ways, they’re weighing it against these kids’ lives.”
You’d have to have something pretty overwhelming to offset damaging more people,” he said. “It would have to be awfully extreme to allow even one child to be harmed.”
The FBI in early 2015 seized, controlled and monitored a child pornography website on the “dark web” called Playpen for about two weeks. Playpen began operating around August 2014 on the Tor Network, a group of volunteer-operated servers that allows users to browse the internet anonymously using free software.
In February, the FBI obtained a search warrant from a federal judge in Virginia that allowed the agency to run Playpen for up to 30 days on a government-controlled server. Agents hacked into the computers of people who logged into Playpen and accessed its content. Agents were not authorized to rummage through a computer’s files or search other content, court records said.
Several men were charged with similar offenses in federal court in Houston under the same FBI operation, including a former pediatrician at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“The FBI took quick action to locate otherwise anonymous child predators and received the blessing of two federal judges to conduct the short-term, monitored operation that was authorized by a warrant,”
The FBI received the rare opportunity to make a dent in the otherwise impervious community of child predators using Tor to victimize children.”
Steven Jumes, Pawlak’s attorney, wrote in Dec. 28 motion to dismiss the indictment that the FBI hosted an estimated 22,000 images, videos, and links to child pornography that more than 100,000 people accessed.
“The government had taken leaps and bounds over the line of acceptable investigative techniques when it exploited and re-victimized thousands of children without taking any precautions to minimize the harm to them. Congress has long recognized that each viewing of child pornography re-victimizes the child.”
The harm to victims is lifelong, he said, because it’s impossible to completely eradicate all copies of the images.
“The line of what constitutes ‘going too far’ has been so offensively disregarded that such outrageous conduct can only be said to violate due process.”
The government denies its conduct was outrageous.
But a federal judge in the state of Washington ruled in November in an Operation Pacifier case that the government’s conduct was exactly that. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan wrote that the government improved the child porn website’s “technical functionality” and that it “re-victimized hundreds of children” by keeping the site online.
“The government used the child victims as bait to apprehend viewers of child pornography without informing the victims and without the victims’ permission — or that of their families.”
Colin Fieman, a federal public defender in Tacoma, Wash., has coordinated with defense attorneys across the nation on Operation Pacifier cases. He said the difficulty is in showing that the defendant was permanently harmed by the government misconduct.
“Hopefully, someone in Washington cares about it from an ethical standpoint, and maybe something good will come of it,” Fieman said.
Fieman said the FBI took no steps to block the more shocking parts of the website, like instructions on how to abuse children. The criminal cases are still relatively new, he said and will be resolved in the appellate courts.
“There is still a long way to go,” Fieman said.
Warrants have to say exactly who will be searched and where he said. But this case gave the government authorization for “vast hacking operations.” Prosecutors should use a more targeted approach, seeking warrants on specific users, he said. Crocker called it unprecedented for a single warrant to give rise to this many prosecutions.
“It was as if they said, ‘We can search anywhere,’” Crocker said. “The breadth of this operation is what we are objecting to … hacking into a computer is very invasive. The government needs to meet a high standard.”
Our government has an obligation to protect the weakest members of our society. Children were the only innocent people in this whole sordid tale and what did they do? Exploited them. Pimped their images out to depraved members of society. They prostituted these children, Barrack Obama and James Comey unabashedly were their pimps.