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Pentagon fails to investigate suspected child porn users among employees

Of the 264 child porn users discovered to be defense employees or contractors, only 70 were actually investigated for possession of child porn.
Thu Jan 13, 2011 - 4:59 pm EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A 2007 Internet sting investigation against child pornography, called Operation Flicker, is making headlines again this month after one member of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed frustration that the Department of Defense (DoD) is still failing to explain a lack of action on tips that some perpetrators may have been Pentagon employees.

Out of 5,200 suspected downloaders of child pornography identified by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in 2006, it was discovered that many used army or fleet zip codes or military email addresses as part of their payment information.

However, investigative reporters discovered that the Pentagon never screened about a third of the total names to discover if they were Pentagon employees. Of the 264 discovered to be defense employees or contractors, only 70 were actually investigated for possession of child porn. Nine of the 264 were found to have top security clearances.

When the lack of action was reported last summer, a DoD spokesman said the investigation had been stopped due to a lack of resources and that the process, which had been closed after only 8 months, would be resumed. However, Judiciary Committee member and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said that defense officials were still stonewalling questions as to whether further progress has been made.

Grassley told ABC’s Anderson Cooper that when asked whether the supervisors of potential suspects had been informed of the investigation, criminal investigators in the division of defense “couldn’t even answer that question for us when we had a briefing with them.”

“If supervisors don’t know about it, it’s a bad environment that things like this can happen in the first place, and worse that it’s a criminal act when things are downloaded,” said Grassley. “It’s been so [long] since this happened that they could be stale, maybe you can’t have criminal prosecution - but we would be looking at administrative action be taken against these people, and I want to know who they are and what administrative action’s being taken.”

Downloading child pornography is a federal crime that carries a sentence of five to 20 years in prison.

Gordon S. Heddell, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General, told the Boston Globe last week that his office is “conducting an aggressive pursuit of anyone implicated in Operation Flicker and that it is a key investigative priority.”

“Any suggestion” that the DoD “is not taking Operation Flicker and the issue of child pornography seriously is in error,” Heddel told ABC’s Cooper.

Grassley, however, believes that just the opposite is true, saying that, “It’s quite obvious that they didn’t take it seriously.”

“It wasn’t until people started asking questions from people like you, who are journalists, that this got their attention and we got any consideration and reopening of this in the first place,” said the senator.


  internet, pentagon, pornography

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