The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Justice would rather let hardened pedophiles go free than to turn over information related to their methods of gathering evidence against such suspects. In some cases, the FBI has reportedly run porn sites in order to gather information on child porn seekers. And in other instances, the FBI has infected suspects’ computers with malware, all in an effort to gather the evidence necessary for a conviction.
Labeled “The Playpen,” the FBI’s kiddie porn sting operation on Friday saw the latest suspect to walk free. His name is Jay Michaud. His lawyer successfully argued in court that the FBI must turn over to his team of lawyers information regarding the Network Investigative Technique (NIT) it used to gather evidence on Mr. Michaud. The FBI said it would not turn over any information regarding NIT to the defense team, and the judge in the case, Judge Bryan then ruled all evidence gathered from NIT must be therefore suppressed.
As a result of the FBI’s refusal to turn over any information about the NIT used to gather information on Michaud, the FBI then chose to let Mr. Michaud go free. According to Techdirt, this is a common practice for the FBI when forced to choose between handing over technical data or letting a suspect walk free.
“The FBI is developing quite the reputation for dropping prosecutions in the face of challenges of its secret tools and techniques. The NDAs it hands out to every law enforcement agency seeking to purchase Stingrays not only tells them to obscure the device’s use, but to let suspects walk if it seems some of this info might make its way into the courtroom,” Techdirt writes.
The FBI has been criticized for its practices in evidence gathering. Techdirt writes, “The FBI argues in court (often obtaining the court’s agreement) that these questionable tactics (deploying malware, warrants that ignore jurisdictional limits, running child porn sites rather than shutting them down, etc.) are justified because the people it’s going after (child porn viewers/distributors) are that terrible. But then it turns around and lets the very bottom of its basket of criminal suspect deplorables go free rather than hand over information to the defense. It does this even though the defense, the judge, and the DOJ would do all they could to protect as much of the NIT information as possible, including sealing documents and redacting those that are published.”
During the trial, the FBI drew the criticism of the court which found it acted in an “outrageous” manner. The court then described the six ways the FBI acted recklessly in its evidence gathering against child porn suspects.
(1) The Government ignored the statute forbidding such conduct: “In any criminal proceeding, any property or material that constitutes child pornography . . . shall remain in the care, custody and control of either the Government or the Court.” 18 U.S.C § 3509(m).
(2) The Government facilitated the continued availability of Website A, a site containing hundreds of child pornographic images for criminal users around the world.
(3) The Government, in fact, improved Website A’s technical functionality.
(4) The Government re-victimized hundreds of children by keeping Website A online.
(5) 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.
(6) The Government’s actions placed any lawyer involved in jeopardy for violating ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4, and raise serious ethical and moral issues for counsel.
It is the conclusion of the court that the FBI ran a kiddie porn website, used kids as “bait,” and improved access to the child porn website, all in an effort to gather evidence on porn users. The most damning criticism from the statements seems to be the knowledge that child porn victims, the children, and their images, were used without their knowledge, once again, to draw in pedophiles to the government-run website.
It really seems unnecessary doesn’t it? Here at TFTP, there’s absolutely no mercy for pedophiles, especially when those perpetrators are police officers, or people in positions of authority, such as pastors, missionaries, or priests. But knowing the government is in the business of kiddy porn to entrap such people is arguably more disturbing.
Even after being caught red-handed, instead of sharing the technology behind their evidence gathering, they chose to let the perpetrators, whom they admitted are the worst of society, walk free. Those actions may serve to demonstrate the FBI has a greater commitment to its secrecy than it does to protecting children caught up in the world of child pornography.
In light of the fact that Edward Snowden has revealed to the world the capabilities the federal government has to spy on all Americans, what harm would come from revealing the small ways the government was able to gather information on child porn purveyors and users? If they are, after all, the dregs of society, and we believe they are and should be shown no mercy, then risking exposing your methods to jail a pedophile predator, is more than worth taking that chance.
According to the court, “The only justification for the acts of the Government, as provided by counsel, is that the end justifies the means, or in the Government’s words, ‘Because those who create, obtain, trade, distribute and profit from the imagery of the rape and sexual exploitation of children have turned to Tor in an effort to hide their activities, the United States has been forced to employ creative means to unmask the individuals engaging in the destructive and heinous criminal conduct.’”
But instead of revealing those creative measures, they’re now letting the despicable crooks go back to their pedophile ways, possibly emboldened to keep their activities further hidden from the prying eyes of big brother.