— Updated: 9:43 pm -->
Looking for Exploited Children in All the Wrong Places?By TOM ZELLER JR.
Meanwhile, speaking of pornography, the always-interesting Los Angeles Times reports today that the F.B.I. has been conducting raids of adult-film studios in the steamier parts of the San Fernando Valley — on the hunt, it seems, for exploited children.
Sounds like a noble endeavor, but the article seems to suggest that it might not be the best allocation of resources:
Jeffrey J. Douglas, a criminal defense attorney and the chairman of the Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade organization, estimates that there have been only about a dozen occurrences of minors working in the industry in the last 25 years.
Public policy experts wonder whether the raids are the best use of taxpayer money. “The F.B.I. has limited what they investigate since 9/11, so moving into this area does raise the question of resources,” said Athan G. Theoharis, a professor emeritus of history at Marquette University who has written extensively on the F.B.I. “Is this at the expense of investigating the Enrons or the WorldComs that have far more effect on the lives of American citizens?”
All of this apparently comes in the wake of a May 2005 change in employment rules, which now require producers to collect two forms of government-issued I.D. from their performers and, The Times reports, “to keep them on file indefinitely.”
But the targets of the F.B.I.’s scrutiny suggest that they already maintain exhaustive records, and that the real peddlers of kiddie-porn are not studios the G-men are able to find in a telephone book, but the “fly-by-night operations that by all accounts escape examination.”
“Why would I jeopardize $10 million a year to shoot an underage girl?” Kevin Beechum, owner of K-Beech Inc., an established X-rated studio in Chatsworth that was raided in December, told The Times. “We’re not stupid.”