Religious news/propaganda site OneNewsNow – the former AgapePress News Summary – reports that, "A group of prominent anti-pornography leaders met recently with officials in the U.S. Justice Department to urge a change in the government's policy toward investigation and prosecution of Internet obscenity, which currently is to pursue only the most extreme cases." And that one sentence provides a strong clue as to what's putting the Justice Department (DOJ) between, if you'll pardon the expression, a rock and a hard place.
See, according to Patrick Trueman, the former head of the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), former Attorney General Janet Reno put in place a policy that the DOJ would prosecute "only the worst material," but in Trueman's opinion, that policy is "both dated and ineffective for the brand of pornography that threatens families and their children."
And what "brand" is that?
"Parents that find their kids have been on the Internet looking at pornography don't see them looking at animal films and that really extreme stuff, which is all the Justice Department will prosecute," Trueman said. "They're looking at garden-variety hardcore pornography that is illegal."
Of course, it's refreshing to have a rabid anti-porn activist like Trueman admit that the majority of minors who manage to see people having sex aren't interested in looking at bestiality or erotic asphyxiation or even triple penetrations – kids have taste; who'd'a thunk? – but rather "garden variety" porn which, contrary to Trueman's assertion, is perfectly legal. (In fact, all porn involving only consenting adults is legal until a jury says it isn't – a reality Trueman should certainly be aware of, considering his years as a porn prosecutor.)
And therein lies the conflict.
As any U.S. attorney (USA) worth his/her salary knows, even in the most backwoodsy parts of America, it's virtually impossible to get a conviction on a storyline adult feature, even one that features fairly edgy sexual encounters. That virtual impossibility approaches 100% if the video is being defended by one of the several excellent First Amendment attorneys who work with the adult industry. Hence, whether that storyline feature is purchased in a video store, mail-ordered in as part of a sting operation or watched in clips on a website, the outcome will be the same: Another loss at trial for the government, another black mark on the prosecuting attorney's record, and more angry articles on religio-conservative websites about how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales isn't doing enough to combat the "scourge of pornography."
Gonzales, of course, is having enough problems of his own these days. A recent Newsweek article by Michael Isikoff stated that a recent prep session of the A.G. by his closest advisors for a prospective appearance on a Sunday talk-show – we're guessing Fox News Sunday, which would have treated Gonzales with the softest of kid gloves – went so poorly that the aides gave up on the idea of his doing any live appearances before the one that counts: His testimony under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17... and even the prep for that one isn't going very well:
"During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room," reported Isikoff, "Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers — including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan — about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and 'getting his timeline confused,' said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got 'exasperated' with him, the source added. 'He's not ready,' Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales's public-affairs chief, told the A.G.'s top aides after the session was over, said the source."
One of the explanations Gonzales will have trouble with is his decision (or at least agreement) to fire two top USAs – Paul Charlton of Arizona and Daniel Bogden of Nevada – over not having prosecuted enough porn. While various substitute reasons have been given during the past few weeks for Charlton's and Bogden's firings, two U.S. senators have recently indicated, on the very Sunday talk shows on which Gonzales' handlers won't let him appear, that, yes, failing to indict enough porn was the reason.
"Now let me just tell you something: There is not one shred of evidence here that any of these [replacements] were made, to use Sen. Specter's words, to interfere with an ongoing investigation or case; not one shred of evidence," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-LatterDaySaints) on last Sunday's episode of Meet the Press. "This is a tempest in a teapot, and the president – everybody admits that the president – these people served at the pleasure of the president. What happened here is, the president's goals and purposes were to go after immigration smuggling cases, gun cases, so to get tough on the misuse of guns, on pornography cases, and some of these people were not doing that. Now, where they got in problems is they said there were performance problems. What they meant, it seemed to me, by the so-called word 'performance,' was that these people were not following up on these cases." [Emphasis added]
Similarly, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) charged, on March 25's Fox News Sunday, that six of the eight fired USAs were removed because they were "involved in public corruption cases, most of those cases against Republicans; they were removed while the investigation or the prosecution was ongoing," Sen. Trent Lott (R-BigMansionOnThePlantation) interrupted her to say, "I don't see where there's a large number of them involved in corruption cases. I think they were involved – where they were taking action on death penalty cases, immigration cases or obscenity cases."
It's unclear from what source Lott got his information, but Hatch is in the best position to know: He's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has consistently defended Gonzales during the committee's questioning of four fired USAs and Gonzales' former chief of staff Kyle Sampson.
But as we've pointed out here before, the adult industry should probably be more concerned about the USA "loyal Bushies" that the DOJ didn't fire ... like top federal prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan, who's recently come under fire from Thomas J. Farrell, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania during the last five years of the Clinton administration, and is currently on the board of the Pittsburgh ACLU.
According to Farrell, Ms. B made her nut with the Bush administration by – in addition to the Extreme Associates and Karen Fletcher indictments – bringing "anti-terrorism" prosecutions against dozens of immigrant Iraqi truck drivers who, it turned out, had paid off a DMV official in order to get commercial driver's licenses. Were they planning to load those trucks full of explodable fertilizer and ram them into the Mellon Bank building in downtown Pittsburgh? Nope; they were just looking for a regular paycheck; no "terrorist connections" were introduced at trial, and they all got probation.
Buchanan has also, said Farrell, been an ardent supporter of the administration's attempts to deep-six citizens' civil rights, claiming that the PATRIOT Act was needed in order to get emergency wiretaps to prevent imminent terrorist attacks (not true), and that the feds needed the Act in order to share grand jury information about imminent threats with state police (also not true). Plus, she's investigated seven times more Pennsylvania Democratic politicians than Republicans, which puts her right in line with the staunchest Bush supporters among the remaining USAs.
Quoth Farrell: "Democrats do occupy most public offices in Allegheny County, but are the Republican officials in the 24 other counties of the Western Pennsylvania District all squeaky clean?"
A poster on TPMMuckraker.com has noted other examples of apparent Republican favoritism and Democrat legal bashing by U.S. attorneys over the past six years of Bush's presidency, including the investigation of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) just before the 2006 mid-term election; the removal of the USA of Guam in 2002 after he started an investigation of Pacific Rim sweatshop supporter (and GOP pal) Jack Abramoff; and the failure of the Denver USA to prosecute GOP bouncers masquerading as Secret Service agents who threw three legitimate ticket-holders out of a Bush rally because of the anti-war bumper sticker on their car.
And then there's the case of Wisconsin USA Steve Biskupic, who just got his ass handed to him by a Seventh Circuit Appeals Court panel when they not only overturned one of Biskupic's convictions but, describing his evidence at trial as being "beyond thin," ordered the immediate release of the defendant.
What makes that case noteworthy here, however, is that the defendant was former state purchasing supervisor Georgia L. Thompson, who'd been accused, just before the 2006 election, of directing a state travel contract to a firm linked to (Democratic) Gov. Jim Doyle's re-election campaign. Awfully convenient for then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green, who at that time was polling not too far behind Doyle. There's no smoking gun saying that the Thompson prosecution was directed from "on high," but considering the Seventh Circuit's finding of an utter lack of evidence for the indictment, one has to wonder ... and according to now-fired USA Bud Cummins of Arkansas, such wondering is a Bad Thing.
Quoth Cummins: "[T]he public must perceive that every substantive decision within the department is made in a neutral and non-partisan fashion. Once the public detects partisanship in one important decision, they will follow the natural inclination to question every decision made, whether there is a connection or not."
And finally, there's Charlie Savage's article in Sunday's Boston Globe, apparently inspired by loyal Bushie Monica Goodling, who didn't even wait to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee before claiming her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Monica's a grad of Pat Robert$on's Regent University School of Law, which can now boast 150 alumni in federal government jobs since Bush took office; several besides Goodling in the Department of Justice.
"Not long ago, it was rare for Regent graduates to join the federal government," wrote Savage. "But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James, to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management – essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni."
According to Savage, "'We've had great placement,' said Jay Sekulow, who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state. 'We've had a lot of people in key positions.'"
That "non-profit law firm" would be the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which Robert$on created and named in the hopes that some would confuse it with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to US News & World Report, Regent is ranked as a "tier four" school, received the lowest possible score according to the magazine's criteria, and was tied for 136th place of all the law schools considered.
But as we all know, for the Bush administration, "Quality is Job One."
Oh, no; wait – that's Ford Motor Company, which lost $12.7 billion last year – and paid its four-months-on-the-job chief executive $28 million in salary and bonuses.