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E-mail From Washington

From: Terry Frieden/CNN
In: Washington
Posted 10-27-97

Subject: Critics Blast Reno On Obscenity Enforcement

A former Justice Department career prosecutor said today he quit earlier this year after concluding Attorney General Janet Reno and her top aides had no commitment to enforce the nation's obscenity laws.

Robert Flores, former acting deputy chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, said Reno, President Bill Clinton and their appointed U.S. Attorneys are sending prosecutors a message "that the enforcement of federal obscenity laws are just not something to do."

Flores charged the Justice Department has no strategic plan, no publicly stated goals and no program to train prosecutors in obscenity cases.

Flores joined former Attorney General Ed Meese and a dozen leaders of conservative groups to release figures showing federal obscenity prosecutions are down more than 70 percent over the past five years.

The Justice Department rejected the charges and released its own figures showing a 162 percent increase in prosecutions involving obscenity aimed at children.

The political and religious leaders gathered in Washington blasted the Clinton-Reno record on pursuing makers and distributors of pornography. They said the Justice Department's own statistics compiled by a Syracuse University professor represent the first such effort to assemble the data.

A Justice Department spokesman acknowledged that prosecutions of adult obscenity cases are down, but said that reflected a decision to shift resources to fight child exploitation cases involving pornography.

Flores claimed FBI agents and other federal investigators have been told obscenity cases which they referred to U.S. Attorneys offices would not be prosecuted.

Federal laws prohibit the sale, mailing, importation or interstate transportation and transmission of obscene matter. Critics say failure to aggressively prosecute cases involving consenting adults has led to an atmosphere in which smut-peddlers feel emboldened to push their materials on the Internet where they now reach children.

A Justice Department official scoffed at the assertion, saying there was an increase of more than 250 percent in prosecutions of pedophiles who attempted to transport minors they met on the Internet in order to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The Justice Department said prosecutions have shifted away from charging consenting adults engaged in sending pornographic materials because the threat to children is considered a much greater danger.

Justice officials said both the FBI and Customs Service have special units to deal with obscenity aimed at harming children. However, the critics

accused the investigators of dragging their feet because they know obscenity involving adults is a low priority for prosecutors.

In Other News:

Monday Oct. 27, 1997

White House Monitors Stock Market Plunge
Hillary Clinton Goes Home For Celebrations
Federal Deficit Drops Faster Than Expected
Quayle Challenges Gore To Debate 'Values'
Clinton Catches Some Flak Over Jiang's Visit
AllPolitics E-Wire

E-Mail From Washington:
Critics Blast Reno On Obscenity Enforcement
Senators Concerned White House Might Lift Nuclear Tech Ban On China
Clinton Attorney Requests Delay In Depositions





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