WASHINGTON, D.C.—Obviously stung over revelations that it had either suspended investigation into Department of Defense employees accused of downloading child pornography on government networks, or had declined to pursue them altogether, Pentagon officials have said that 264 cases will be reopened.
The fact that more than 250 civilian and military employees DoD employees were included in the results of a 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation called Project Flicker was first reported by the Boston Globe in July. In Sept., John Cook of Yahoo! News followed up with a report on the Pentagon’s flagging follow-up. Last week, the Pentagon responded.
"I have tasked Defense Criminal Investigative Service representatives with reviewing each and every Project Flicker and related referral DCIS received so as to ensure action was taken regarding these allegations involving employees of the Department of Defense," Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James Burch said in a statement sent exclusively to Yahoo! News.
Cook's column on Yahoo!, The Upshot, had broken the fact that only 20 percent of the revealed Flicker cases had been pursued by Pentagon internal investigations.
“New Project Flicker investigative reports obtained by The Upshot through the Freedom of Information Act, which you can read here, show that DCIS investigators identified 264 Defense employees or contractors who had purchased child pornography online,” Cook wrote. “Astonishingly, nine of those had ‘Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information’ security clearances, meaning they had access to the nation's most sensitive secrets. All told, 76 of the individuals had Secret or higher clearances. But DCIS investigated only 52 of the suspects, and just 10 were ever charged with viewing or purchasing child pornography.”
Internal Pentagon reports from 2009 suggest that while some of the accused individuals were investigated, others were not “due to a lack of resources.” Several of the accused work for groups within the DoD such as the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, two of the country's top intelligence agencies. Some are alleged to hold the highest possible security clearance. Some were employees; others were contractors. One accused contractor with top-secret clearance allegedly fled the country and is believed to be in Libya.
According to OhMyGov.com, “The findings of Project Flicker are disturbing on a variety of levels. First, the idea that a substantial number of the people entrusted with the protection of the nation harbor a willingness to harm that nation's most innocent and vulnerable citizens is upsetting enough on its own. Yet when one stops and realizes the fact that at least 76 people who possess some of the most vital national security information in existence had opened themselves up to all manner of extortion or blackmail by someone who happened to stumble across their dirty little secret, this story takes on a whole new dimension of uncomfortable.”
It might be added that the excuse that the government lacks the funds to investigate alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse holds little water when it is simultaneously wasting tax dollars going after people like John Stagliano on absurd obscenity charges.
Hopefully, Pentagon criminal investigators are now on the job, and one can only hope that resources the government regularly “misappropriates” to fight legal adult content will now be used to go after the really bad guys, no matter what their security clearance.