20 at Pen­tagon ac­cused of view­ing child porn

Austin American-Statesman - - SATURDAY BRIEFING - By Dana Hedg­peth

WASHINGTON — Fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors have iden­ti­fied about 20 Pen­tagon em­ploy­ees and contractors who al­legedly bought and down­loaded on­line child pornog­ra­phy, and in some cases, who used their govern­ment-is­sued com­put­ers to view the il­le­gal ma­te­rial.

On Fri­day, the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice at the De­fense Depart­ment re­leased a 94-page re­port that says some of those in­volved pos­sessed top-se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ances and worked for such di­vi­sions as the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency and the Na­tional Re­con­nais­sance Of­fice. Those agen­cies deal with some of the govern­ment’s most sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence and de­fense work.

The govern­ment au­di­tors re­leased the re­port, with some names and other in­for­ma­tion redacted, af­ter The Bos­ton Globe re­ported the pornog­ra­phy in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The num­ber of Pen­tagon em­ploy­ees in­ves­ti­gated was not dis­closed in the re­port, but a Pen­tagon spokes­woman said the probe in­volved about 20 peo­ple who had an “af­fil­i­a­tion with the De­fense Depart­ment” as full-time em­ploy­ees, for­mer mil­i­tary mem­bers or contractors.

Some have been pros­e­cuted, and some of their cases were dropped for lack of ev­i­dence. Other cases re­main open. Gary Comer­ford, a spokesman for the in­spec­tor gen­eral, said the agency takes such cases very se­ri­ously. He would not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases, say­ing the re­port “speaks for it­self.”

The cases are part of a wider probe, Op­er­a­tion Flicker, which was started by U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment four years ago and has iden­ti­fied more than 5,000 peo­ple who sub­scribed to child pornog­ra­phy web­sites.

The cases de­tailed in the re­port in­clude one in­volv­ing an em­ployee of Or­a­cle Corp. who had a top-se­cret clear­ance and worked on a con­tract for the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency. The man sub­scribed to var­i­ous child pornog­ra­phy web­sites and made 21 pur­chases. Af­ter au­thor­i­ties started in­ves­ti­gat­ing him, the re­port said, he at­tempted to tam­per with com­put­ers at his of­fice. He was put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave with pay. He later fled to Libya but was ar­rested and ex­tra­dited to the United States.

An­other case in­volved a govern­ment em­ployee at the Na­tional De­fense Uni­ver­sity in Nor­folk who made two pur­chases from a child pornog­ra­phy web­site. He pleaded guilty to pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy and was sen­tenced to five years in prison.

It is an il­le­gal use of govern­ment prop­erty to ac­cess pornog­ra­phy, of­fi­cials said.

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