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Airports Step Up Effort to Seize Porn

Airports Step Up Effort to Seize Porn
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Sep 26, 2005 6:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — Spurred by recent announcements that the FBI is creating an anti-obscenity squad to target pornographic content in the country, U.S. customs agents are beginning to increase efforts to confiscate pornography coming into the country’s airports.

The news comes just days after it was discovered that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the FBI that establishing an anti-obscenity squad was one of his top priorities.

Although security personnel at airports have reportedly been given a list to reference when deciding whether to seize content, the criteria in the list has not been made publicly available.

In just a two-week time span, however, inspectors for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Logan International Airport have already confiscated a number of items, including digital pictures of women having sex with various animals, 100 copies of a scatalogically-themed DVD, and a number of bondage and fetish articles not normally targeted by authorities.

“Our main focus is on terrorism,” Ted Woo, spokesman for the CBP, said. “But this is something our agents are definitely on the lookout for.”

Woo said if the items in question qualified as “normal pornography” between consenting adults, then they would not be confiscated.

Items that are seized are eventually destroyed unless the owners take the issue to court, he said.

Even the FBI has admitted that the task of seizing pornography at airports is a difficult one, specifically because the definition of obscenity can vary substantially depending on where the content is discovered.

“What may be considered obscene in Amish country may not be obscene in Los Angeles,” Gail Marcinkiewicz, spokeswoman for the FBI's Boston field office, said.

On Tuesday, XBiz, reported that the FBI had launched a countrywide job search to fill positions on its new anti-obscenity squad. According to the job posting, members of the team would seek to boost conviction rates in obscenity cases throughout the country.

“The best odds of conviction come with pornography that includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior,” the posting said.

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