According to The Nation, the firings of those 8 US Attorneys may have been because they thought that prosecuting child pornographers was more important than prosecuting legal porn. The following excerpts were in the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars.
Ward's endless stream of mandates, the source revealed, were a source of frustration to many US Attorneys. "There were countless child obscenity cases crying out to be prosecuted," the source told me, "but [Brent] Ward wanted to focus on cases involving consenting adults. That's just not a good way of dedicating resources. When you have so many children being harmed, why not allocate your resources towards that?"
Ward's heedless prosecutions of legally available pornography reflected more than his ideology; they also defined his power within the Justice Department. Once Bush began his second term in the White House, Gonzales declared the prosecution of pornography portraying sex acts between consenting adults "one of the top priorities" of his department. He signed off on an FBI headquarters memo that recruited agents for an anti-porn task force. That memo stated that prosecutions would focus particularly on material depicting "bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." These acts, according to the memo, were most likely to offend local juries.
Christian right organizations, from the Family Research Council to Concerned Women for America, lavished praise on Gonzales's anti-porn initiative. "We will watch closely, though with a growing sense of confidence in our new Attorney General, to see who is appointed to direct the effort," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
When Gonzales met with Phil Burress, a self-described former porn addict who directs the anti-pornography group, Citizens for Community Values, Burress praised Ward for an aggressive and single-minded attack on sexually explicit material over nearly three decades, which had earned him the adulation of the Christian right. "He's one of my heroes," Burress said in describing Ward to the Salt Lake Tribune . As Utah's US Attorney during the 1980s, Ward prosecuted phone sex operators, shut down Utah's last two porn theaters by nailing their owner on tax charges, and tried unsuccessfully to force nude art-class models to wear bikinis. When Gonzales tapped Ward as his top porn cop in 2006, the Christian right's confidence soared.
To support Ward's task force, Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller diverted ten FBI agents, four prosecutors and a postal inspector. Ward soon secured his biggest score, the successful prosecution of the Girls Gone Wild series producer Joseph Francis for knowingly including footage of two young women without receiving legible documentation, on paper, of their ages. Francis's company, Mantra Films, Inc., was slapped with a $500,000 fine--a drop in the bucket for an operation that rakes in at least $40 million a year.
Many veterans of the FBI consider Ward's efforts a burden on their ability to fulfill serious departmental priorities. "I guess this means we've won the war on terror," an anonymous FBI agent sarcastically remarked to the Washington Post about agents diverted to Ward's task force. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Though his anti-porn crusades rankled the FBI agents and US Attorneys compelled to participate in them, Ward produced an unintended benefit for the White House when it needed to fire politically "chafing" federal prosecutors. Ward's complaint against Charlton, filed by Sampson for use at a later date, was unsheathed by Rove and Gonzales to smear a competent professional prosecutor--and a Republican--for political purposes.
The revelation of Ward's participation in the dismissals arrived as the Christian right clamored that more resources be funneled to him. "Give him some gas and he'll win the war," Burress told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I wish the Department of Justice was full of Brent Wards." The prosecutor purge may have backfired, but Burress and his allies can take heart that the Bush White House is devoted to their culture war, even at the expense of its "war on terror."
My thanks to Violet Blue (not the Porn Star) who blogged it first.