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Steve Benen

Steve Benen

Posted: February 28, 2007 01:32 PM

A Pugnacious Porn Prosecutor


In 2005, Bush's Justice Department decided it would start taking pornography prosecutions seriously. After several far-right groups complained that the administration failed to take on porn aggressively in its first term, Alberto Gonzales announced that the DoJ would devote considerable resources to a war on smut, described at the time as "one of the top priorities" of Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The crackdown was separate and independent from child pornography, and was intended to specifically target materials for consenting adults.

Whatever happened to this initiative? Meet Brent Ward, the "nation's porn prosecutor."

The way Ward sees it, American culture is saturated with pornography, and it has profound consequences, eroding families, increasing violence against women, warping perceptions of sex and helping child predators groom victims.

"We're not going to prosecute it away, but it's important, I think, that Americans see their government trying to do something about it," he said.

In other words, federal agents can't use the power of the government to interfere with what adults want to watch -- but they can try.

And to help in this endeavor, Ward heads a federal task force with four prosecutors, 10 FBI agents, and a postal inspector, which is an even bigger squad than the Republican Congress initially asked the administration to put together.

As one exasperated FBI agent noted when the task force was being put together, "I guess this means we've won the war on terror. We must not need any more resources for espionage."

The whole endeavor seems woefully misguided.