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FBI Should Investigate Terrorism, Not Sex
June 18, 2002
by George Getz
Here's one question Congress should ask as it investigates whether U.S. intelligence lapses contributed to the September 11 terrorist attack, Libertarians say: Why were a dozen FBI agents investigating a brothel in New Orleans on the same day that terrorists crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? "It's clear that the FBI has been practicing unsafe sex on the taxpayer's dime," said Libertarian Party Executive Director Steve Dasbach. "Americans are less safe every minute law enforcement spends investigating 'crimes' like prostitution instead of tracking down terrorists and other violent criminals." In an unusual federal prostitution case that has set New Orleans abuzz, the FBI is prosecuting a mother-daughter team who ran a bordello out of a white-columned, Victorian mansion in the French Quarter. The madam, Jeanette Maier and her mother, Tommie Taylor, are accused of providing discreet sexual favors for $300 an hour to bankers, stockbrokers, an ex-NFL football star and even a New Orleans judge. The agency revealed last week that an FBI undercover team had eavesdropped on more than 5,000 phone calls to the brothel over the past year, and as a result it has indicted the two women and 12 prostitutes on conspiracy and racketeering charges. The most shocking bit of information to emerge: On September 11, the day terrorists commandeered four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, FBI agents were conducting an "investigation" by eavesdropping as hookers arranged sexual liaisons, according to the Washington Post. Even worse, agents continued monitoring the brothel after the 9/11 attacks, Dasbach noted. "Americans should be appalled that at the moment a team of terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent people, a team of FBI agents was busy protecting people from sex," Dasbach said. "This is clear and convincing evidence that the FBI's priorities are downright dangerous. At a time when terrorists are planning further attacks on Americans, deploying even one agent to spy on hookers is a threat to national security." The FBI obtained wiretap authority 13 months ago by claiming the bordello was involved in mob dealings and illegal drug transactions - yet no such evidence ever surfaced, Dasbach said. "The same agency that quashed an effort to search the computer of the suspected 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, had no problem getting a warrant to listen to dirty phone calls," Dasbach pointed out. "Why was the FBI more vigilant about voyeurism than about terrorism? "We'll never know if 9/11 could have been prevented had these agents been tracking terrorists instead of tapping hookers' phones. But we do know that the next terrorist plot won't be foiled by FBI agents stationed outside a bordello." And sex isn't the only victimless crime that the FBI is wasting its time on, Libertarians note. "The agency squanders its resources on 'crimes' like drug dealing, gambling and Internet pornography, all of which harm no one except perhaps those directly involved. "It also prosecutes crimes that should be done by state and local police instead, such as combating street gangs, prosecuting auto thefts, and investigating telemarketing and mortgage-loan fraud. "Congress should immediately order the FBI to stop wasting resources in this way," Dasbach said. "Consider it a prophylactic against terrorism."

George Getz is Press Secretary for the Libertarian Party.

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