Cheat­ing web­site users in­clude White House work­ers

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY JACK GIL­LUM AND TED BRIDIS

Hun­dreds of U. S. gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees — in­clud­ing some with sen­si­tive jobs in the White House, Congress and law en­force­ment agen­cies — used In­ter­net con­nec­tions in their fed­eral of­fices to ac­cess and pay mem­ber­ship fees to the cheat­ing web­site Ash­ley Madi­son, The As­so­ci­ated Press has learned.

The AP traced many of the ac­counts ex­posed by hack­ers back to fed­eral work­ers. They in­cluded at least two as­sis­tant U. S. at­tor­neys; an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ad­min­is­tra­tor in the Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent; a di­vi­sion chief, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor and a trial at­tor­ney in the Jus- tice Depart­ment; a gov­ern­ment hacker at the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment and another DHS em­ployee who in­di­cated he worked on a U. S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism re­sponse team.

Few ac­tu­ally paid for their ser­vices with their gov­ern­ment email ac­counts. But AP traced their gov­ern­ment In­ter­net con­nec­tions — logged by the web­site over five years — and re­viewed their credit- card trans­ac­tions to iden­tify them. They in­cluded work­ers at more than two dozen Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion agen­cies, in­clud­ing the de­part­ments of State, De­fense, Jus­tice, Energy, Trea­sury, Trans­porta­tion and Home­land Se­cu­rity. Oth­ers came from House or Se­nate com­puter net­works.

The AP is not nam­ing the gov­ern­ment sub­scribers it found be­cause they are not elected of­fi­cials or ac­cused of a crime.

Hack­ers this week re­leased de­tailed records on mil­lions of peo­ple reg­is­tered with the web­site one month af­ter the breakin at Ash­ley Madi­son’s par­ent com­pany, Toronto- based Avid Life Media Inc. The web­site — whose slo­gan is, “Life is short. Have an af­fair” — is mar­keted to fa­cil­i­tate ex­tra- mar­i­tal af­fairs.

Many fed­eral cus­tomers ap­peared to use non- gov­ern­ment email ad­dresses with han­dles such as “sex­less­mar­riage,” “soon­tobesin­gle” or “l atin- lovers.” Some Jus­tice Depart­ment em­ploy­ees ap­peared to use pre- paid credit cards to help pre­serve their anonymity but con­nected to the ser­vice from their of­fice com­put­ers.

“I was do­ing some things I shouldn’t have been do­ing,” a Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tor told the AP. Asked about the threat of black­mail, the in­ves­ti­ga­tor said if prompted he would re­veal his ac­tions to his fam­ily and em­ployer to pre­vent it. “I’ve worked too hard all my life to be a vic­tim of black­mail. That wouldn’t hap­pen,” he said. He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was deeply em­bar­rassed and not au­tho­rized by the gov­ern­ment to speak to re- porters us­ing his name.

The AP’s anal­y­sis also found hun­dreds of trans­ac­tions as­so­ci­ated with Depart­ment of De­fense net­works, ei­ther at the Pen­tagon or from armed ser­vices con­nec­tions else­where.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter con­firmed the Pen­tagon was look­ing into the list of peo­ple who used mil­i­tary email ad­dresses. Adul­tery can be a crim­i­nal of­fense un­der the Uni­form Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice.

“I’m aware it,” Carter said. “Of course it’s an is­sue be­cause con­duct is very im­por­tant. And we ex­pect good con­duct on the part of our peo­ple. ... The ser­vices are look­ing into it and as well they should be. Ab­so­lutely.”

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