Sting or Entrapment? Mission Creep or Commendable?
Don’t get me wrong. I detest creeps who prey on young children as much as anyone else, and feel society’s needs would be well served by lining them up against the wall and shooting them, whether it be in the balls or in the head.
We have to be very careful to be just as ethical and fastidiously honorable in law enforcement actions to apprehend pedophiles as we do to arrest petty criminals. Indeed, because the stigma attached to even the slightest hint that a person may be a pedophile is so great – and, unfortunately, the rush to convict so overwhelming, law enforcement needs to be very careful before filing such charges.
And if we ever, if we ever start to reason ‘well, this sort of crime is so bad that we should be allowed to cut corners to apprehend such terrible people’ then before we know it, those same corners will be cut for every other sort of crime and misdemeanor too.
So, how should law enforcement catch pedophiles? Should they passively sit back, eat donuts, drink coffee, and wait for someone to file a complaint? Or should they be more pro-active and try and do some crime prevention rather than crime detection? I think we’d probably all agree that a pro-active approach is a good approach.
And who should be doing this? Local police forces? State bodies? Federal agencies? Because pedophiles will often travel to their victims, it is appropriate to involve not just local police but state and federal bodies too, with the FBI seeming to be the logical federal level organization.
Now. Let’s look at a recent expose revealing how the Homeland Security Department had set up a fake website selling sex tours to – no, not to Thailand or Asia, and not even to Eastern Europe. Instead, they were selling sex tours to, of all places, Canada (sorry, Canucks!).
Two big questions here.
First, why is the Homeland Security Department involved in setting up fake websites to catch pedophiles? Their Mission Statement, lists five areas of responsibility :
We have five Departmental missions:
- Prevent terrorism and enhance security;
- Secure and manage our borders;
- Enforce and administer our immigration laws;
- Safeguard and secure cyberspace;
- Ensure resilience to disasters;
Which of these missions does setting up honey-trap fake websites for pedophiles come under? You might think ‘safeguarding and securing cyberspace’ is perhaps the closest category, and for sure, none of the other four come close. But if you read what they say about their cyberspace mission, it is all about protecting against hackers and cyberterrorism and protecting the internet structure, not about catching bad guys privately doing personal bad things via the internet.
So, I ask again. How and why did the DHS take it upon itself to set up this pedophile sting operation? This would seem to be extreme mission creep, and it isn’t as though we’re short of other agencies that can (and sometimes do) carry out similar actions.
Now for the second big question. Let’s look at the actual form of what DHS did. They set up a website, then trolled all through the internet, posting fake recommendations about the website to encourage people predisposed to that sort of thing to go visit it.
The difference between a sting and an entrapment is never clear or easy. One test is that a sting merely allows a person to do something they were going to do anyway, whereas an entrapment entices or lures people to do something they might not have done if it were not for the encouragement that was part of the entrapment process.
So where on the spectrum is this fake website? Don’t you feel it is uncomfortably close to entrapment – particularly because the website makes it really easy to go to Canada rather than travel far away to eg Asia for such perversions?
Now for the other big question. Why should we care or worry, if the bottom line is that bad guys are taken off the streets, and our children are protected?
We should worry because it is the thin end of the wedge. Indeed, think about this. A government organization which has no authority or tasking to do this type of work, takes it upon itself to carry out this project. We’re past the thin end of the wedge already – we have government agencies assuming new powers and duties that were never given to them.
So the DHS is evolving from protecting our nation against terrorism and overwhelming natural threats and weapons of mass destruction to now choosing to go after pedophiles, one by one – indeed, they’re not even trying to protect our children against these creeps, they’re trying to protect Canadian children instead!
Which begs the question – yesterday it was terrorists, natural disasters and weapons of mass destruction. Today it is sting/entrapment operations against Americans seeking to have sex with Canadian children. What will it be tomorrow?
And that’s the really scary question. Our government is expanding out of control.