The FBI Has an Enemies List: First They Came for Free Talk Live …

Raid on Free Talk Live House

A typical Granite State Sunday morning on the cusp of spring, and a scene surprising no one who watches the news or any number of television shows dedicated to fictional or real-life law enforcement:

SUVs and police cruisers surrounding a house. Figures in bulletproof vests marked “FBI” hauling away computers pursuant to the warrant they’re serving. The next scene practically writes itself. We all know our lines. Time to cheer on the white knights who protect society from the scourge of child pornography.

But this time it’s different. This time we know the raiders represent the child pornographers and that their victims are journalists who exposed the FBI’s role in operating an illegal child porn web site.

The house, located in the college town of Keene, New Hampshire, serves as broadcast studio for Free Talk Live (freetalklive.com),  a libertarian talk show airing nightly on more than 170 radio stations worldwide. FTL ranks 38th on the “Heavy 100” list of Talkers magazine, talk radio’s premier trade publication. The home does double duty as living quarters for some of the show’s hosts.

Mere weeks ago, Free Talk Live dropped a bombshell into America’s political discussion, exposing a story that had previously only been noticed very much by tech insiders.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, it seems, has been moonlighting as a provider of child pornography. After locating and seizing the servers of a child porn site on the “dark web,” known as Play Pen and reachable only via the Tor browser, the FBI decided not to shut the site down. Instead, they kept it running for two weeks, using it to spread malware that could identify and locate a handful of the site’s visitors. The vast majority of the 200,000 people downloading child porn from the site went on their way unmolested (pun intended). A few whose computers were mis-configured so as to be vulnerable to the FBI’s trick were arrested.

Read that last paragraph again. It’s illegal — and most people agree it SHOULD be illegal — to distribute child pornography.

Yet the FBI did so with complete impunity.

Now they’re harassing the journalists who told us about it, raiding their home and seizing their equipment on the unlikely, even risible, claim that a computer in that building accessed the Play Pen site.

It’s spring in New Hampshire but there’s a chill in the air — the chill of politically motivated revenge by law enforcement gone rogue.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Also published on Medium.

  • Rex

    “Now they’re harassing the journalists who told us about it, raiding their home and seizing their equipment on the unlikely, even risible, claim that a computer in that building accessed the Play Pen site.”

    Oh, by the time the FBI is done with them, they’ll have “accessed that site”. I just hope they have a good attorney, and some backups and logs off-site that will show that that shit happened AFTER the child molesters, err… I mean FBI… got hold of their equipment. Remember the whole San Bernardino thing about access to the iPhone? Which had been altered AFTER the FBI got it? (so much for that “chain of custody” ensuring untainted evidence bullshit).

  • You better not say anything controversial in this “free” country, or they will plant evidence on you and cart you away.

  • Hrundi Bakshi

    What irony! The fbi was founded by a cross-dressing pedophile named j edgar hoover. That’s an established fact. Hilarious.

    • Odd. I’d think if it was an “established fact” that Hoover was a pedophile, I’d be able to easily find some reference to it. The closest a quick search comes is a single-source claim that he was a friend of, and might have procured children for, a pedophile.

      • Hrundi Bakshi

        The facts are out there–you just have to dig a bit. In Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” it was apparent that Hoover was a pedo.

        • I’ve seen JFK probably 20 times. If there’s any reference at all in there to Hoover being a pedophile, I’ve missed it probably 20 times.

          Are you sure you’re not confusing homosexuality with pedophilia?

          • dL

            yeah, no open evidence the man ever even had sex, let alone what the preference was. Eunuch would be as good as guess as any…

          • Hrundi Bakshi

            Many homosexuals were molested as children. You must not be paying attention to the film, because the boy in the scene with Hoover is underage.