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CRIMINAL OBSCENITY FBI seeks porn squad volunteers


Published: Wed, September 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


The investigation will target pornography depicting and marketed to consenting adults.
WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON -- The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.
Last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad.
Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and, by extension, of "the director," Robert Mueller III.
Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes and public corruption.
The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.
No laughing matter
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter many legal issues, including First Amendment claims," the FBI headquarters memo noted.
Applicants for the porn squad should therefore have a stomach for the kind of material that tends to be most offensive to local juries.
Community standards -- along with a prurient purpose and absence of artistic merit -- define criminal obscenity under current Supreme Court doctrine.


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