FBI distributes child pornography to ensnare website visitors

Can it be true that our own government is now in the business of selling child porn on the web?

Most people would not be surprised to learn that the FBI, with judicial authorization, can seize and shut down a child pornography website. After all, child pornography falls within an exception to the First Amendment. It's a crime to possess it, download it, or merely view it on a website within the privacy of one's home, and the rights to free speech and freedom of thought will not serve as a defense to criminal prosecution. I handled a criminal appeal that involved these issues.

If its a serious federal and state felony crime merely to possess child pornography, one would think that this would mean that no one can distribute child pornography lawfully. As usual, however, our government - the lawgiver - proclaims itself to be above the law.

The ABA Journal reports this week that the FBI, after seizing a child pornography website, continued to distribute child pornography to unwitting website visitors, in a sting operation that lasted weeks. Good old Uncle Sam... selling child porn on the web.