The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) seemingly went scorched Earth during its campaign to takedown a hidden child pornography site. Except it didn’t take the site down. It not only left it running once it discovered where it was being hosted and continued hosting the site itself but it even actively worked to upgrade the site so it could distribute more child pornography:
Under the FBI’s stewardship, Playpen membership rose by 30 percent and the number of visitors to the site increased from roughly 11,000 to 50,000 per week, assistant federal defender Peter Adolf argued in a motion to dismiss his client’s indictment. Playpen distributed 200 videos, 9,000 images and 13,000 links to child pornography while the FBI ran the site from February 20th to March 4th, Adolf said. He supported his claims with archived messages from Playpen users commenting on how well the site was running during this same timeframe.
“Government agents worked hard to upgrade the website’s capability to distribute large amounts of child pornography quickly and efficiently, resulting in more users receiving more child pornography faster than they ever did when the website was running ‘illegally,'” Adolf wrote.
How can the FBI claim it was fighting child pornography when it was not only distributing it but also working to distribute more of it? I’m sure the FBI and its apologists will claim that the ends justified the means but it’s exactly that attitude that allowed a supposed law enforcement agency to perpetrate a crime that a large portion of society finds especially heinous.
Furthermore, if the FBI isn’t punished for this what’s to stop it from setting up another child pornography site and permanently operating it in the name of fighting child pornography? What’s to stop it from partnering with child pornographers so it can increase the available content on its site so it can attract more child pornography consumers? I’m sure there are FBI apologists who will claim my insinuation is ridiculous but they would have probably told me that the FBI hosting child pornography was ridiculous just a year or two ago.
What’s the point of having a law enforcement agency that perpetrates the very crimes it’s supposed to fight?