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Pentagon Workers Tied To Child Porn 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
finalcutmonstar tips a Boston Globe report on details released today of Operation Flicker (PDF), an investigation of subscribers to child porn websites, which seems to have implicated a number of government employees in sensitive positions. Quoting: "Federal investigators have identified several dozen Pentagon officials and contractors with high-level security clearances who allegedly purchased and downloaded child pornography, including an undisclosed number who used their government computers to obtain the illegal material, according to investigative reports. The investigations have included employees of the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — which deal with some of the most sensitive work in intelligence and defense — among other organizations within the Defense Department. The number of offenders is a small percentage of the thousands of people working for sensitive Pentagon-related agencies. But the fact that offenders include people with access to government secrets puts national security agencies 'at risk of blackmail, bribery, and threats, especially since these individuals typically have access to military installations,' according to one report by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service from late 2009."
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Pentagon Workers Tied To Child Porn

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  • No Story here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobwrit (1232148) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:29PM (#33008010) Homepage Journal
    So, the ones who are looking for child porn all day are keeping it/are attracted to it. Who would have thought...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think it's an elaborate sting gone wrong. You've got someone in the pentagon doing cyber black ops and tracking down people who buy this stuff to take care of the problem in an "extra-legal way." It was just that Operation Flicker stumbled upon this black project and caught people who are already working a sting. It's the beat cop busting the undercover narc agent.

    • Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

      by riker1384 (735780)
      The NSA, NRO and DARPA don't investigate child porn.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When you say "No story here", you should actually have said "no CHILD PORNOGRAPHY story here", because, if you (or anybody else) would have bothered to read the PDF of the case, it is evident that the government and law enforcement were not investigating child pornography, but SUSPECTED child pornography. This is evident by the fact that:

      • investigators could not tell if the images involved were actual children (i.e. people under the age of 18. In the think-of-the-children moral panic that is on-going, teena
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Renraku (518261) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:29PM (#33008014) Homepage

    Wait, you mean people with high security clearances that work for the government can also be disgusting perverts??

    Quick, we need to revise the process to make it to where only god fearing Christians that have sex for procreation only can get government clearances!

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xaxa (988988) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:34PM (#33008076)

      Wait, you mean people with high security clearances that work for the government can also be disgusting perverts??

      They try and avoid this. A friend-of-a-friend recently applied for full UK security clearance (or whatever it's called). A man in a smart suit visited my friend for a "background check". Every other question was about the guy's sex life -- number of girlfriends, whether he ever cheated, if he looked at porn, what kind, and so on. The defence guy said he didn't care what the answers were, but they needed to know whether someone might try and blackmail the friend into revealing secret details. A person with many partners but who's open about it is fine, someone with a very secret hidden relationship isn't.

      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cdrguru (88047) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:42PM (#33008190) Homepage

        Certainly appropriate for the UK, who has been burned many times by closeted gays that are hooking up on the side. All Russia had to do was get a nice pretty boy to sit next to their target and they had a solid lock on the target. You would be surprised the lengths these folks went to in an effort to try to keep their secret live a secret.

        Not sure how much the US has been burned by this sort of blackmail, but several UK incidents managed to make it out into the tabloid press.

        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:55PM (#33008368)

          Have a read of "The leaky establishment" it's got some entertaining musings on the subject.

          essentially anything secret can be used as blackmail fodder.
          In fact there should be no set list of things which forbid security clearance since anything on the list automatically adds a risk.

          lets say ... drinking Russian vodka was considered grounds to loose security clearance tomorrow.
          Some foreign agent gets a photo of you with a bottle... well now they have blackmail material.

          etc

          • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

            by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday July 23, 2010 @08:57PM (#33010148) Homepage
            In "The Atrocity Archives" by Charlie Stross, a top-secret British agency solves this problem by allowing gays but only if they are open about it. So in order to keep their security clearance gays are required to publicly attend at least one Pride parade a year. And that's one of the less weird things in the book.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Not sure how much the US has been burned by this sort of blackmail, but several UK incidents managed to make it out into the tabloid press.

          US folks who spy for foreign countries tend to do it for the money . . . see Aldrich Ames http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldrich_ames [wikipedia.org], John Anthony Walker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Anthony_Walker [wikipedia.org].

          • US folks who spy for foreign countries tend to do it for the money

            And oddly enough - not very much money at all. For example, the Walker article says he was one of only a handful who got over a million, yet even that is doubtful with the NY Times estimating it to be more like $350K. Looks like Ames didn't even make half a mill either. Its like these guys are playing high-stakes games but only getting chump-change for it. Maybe there is something to the idea that people in government don't know how to run a business...

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              They don't get paid much because after they accept the first envelope they have lost all negotiating power... This isn't like working for the mob where you can take your chances turning the baddies over.

              Also, we are talking about spies. I can envision the conversation now:

              "Yes, comrade, I promise not to do anything ostentatious or out of the ordinary for a low paid government employee such as myself.. It's just that I need at least ten million dollars to stuff beneath my floorboards so they will stop squea

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Every other question was about the guy's sex life -- number of girlfriends, whether he ever cheated, if he looked at porn, what kind, and so on. The defence guy said he didn't care what the answers were

        Where this article and your story intersect, I don't quite believe the defence guy...

      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by straponego (521991) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:41PM (#33008956)
        I think this explains the prevalence of closted gays (and diaper wearers) in the Republican Party. I think they're encouraged, because it's easy to keep them in line that way. You'll notice that when the Larry Craigs, David Vitters, and Mark Sanfords of the world are exposed by people outside of their own party, they are never forced to resign, and they rarely do. While the Dummies, when caught (Spitzer), almost always step down immediately (Clinton is the rare exception). Dems shouldn't be as vulnerable to criticism on this front, because they're not as hypocritical-- but they are pussies, and the media does apply different standards to them.

        And yet the GOP purports to be hardcore family values... and maybe they are, in the raunchier sense of "hardcore". But when push comes to shove, it clearly means nothing to them. As long as they toed the party line up until then, they're fine.

        Now, one wonders how this ties in with warrantless wiretapping. I said the Dems aren't as vulnerable on the sex front-- not that they're not blackmailed, extorted, or bribed in other ways. In all of Congress there are perhaps as many as three Senators and a handful of Representatives willing to seriously annoy the national security industry when it matters.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JordanH (75307)

          Huh? Of the 3 Republicans you mentioned, there was one alleged gay and two men with women on the side. These are your examples of closted gays and "diaper wearers" in the Republican Party? Mark Sanford resigned. Larry Craig actually resigned, but took it back.

          I'm surprised you didn't mention Mark Foley, but then, he did resign, so I guess that wouldn't fit with your theme.

          Spitzer resigned, true. He had lots of powerful enemies on Wall Street, he was seriously weakened by "Troopergate" and was under inv

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheMeuge (645043) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#33008168)

      They were just thinking of the children. Isn't that what you want your government officials to do?

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#33008180)

      The problem isn't that people with security clearances are disgusting perverts, the problem is that people with security clearances are security risks. As an example, you'll find it difficult to get a clearance if you've declared bankruptcy or even just have a lot of unsecured debt because it makes you more susceptible to bribes. The same thing is true here. If a foreign interest were to find out you were downloading child porn, an offense where just being accused can cause your life to crumble around you, it would be trivial for them to blackmail you into revealing secrets.

      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:11PM (#33008576) Journal

        If a foreign interest were to find out you were downloading child porn, an offense where just being accused can cause your life to crumble around you, it would be trivial for them to blackmail you into revealing secrets.

        On the other hand, if, as you say, merely being accused could cause your life to crumble around you, all someone has to do is threaten to accuse any random person. It isn't really relevant whether that person actually committed the crime in question if the mere threat of an accusation is enough to cause someone to turn traitor.

        Thus, one could reasonably argue that stigmatizing child porn in the way our society does is, in and of itself, a national security risk. Indeed, paranoia in any form is a security risk, whether it's fear of the kiddie porn boogeyman, the fear of the terrorist boogeyman, the fear of the "Big Brother" boogeyman, or any other such thing. FDR had it right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:51PM (#33009084) Homepage

          Thus, one could reasonably argue that stigmatizing child porn in the way our society does is, in and of itself, a national security risk. Indeed, paranoia in any form is a security risk, whether it's fear of the kiddie porn boogeyman, the fear of the terrorist boogeyman, the fear of the "Big Brother" boogeyman, or any other such thing. FDR had it right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          Come on, this is nonsense. Every person that breaks the law fears being exposed, if we wanted to avoid that we'd have to either not have criminals or not have laws. What if one of the guys at Pentagon is secretly a murderer, wouldn't that be blackmail material? Would you like to strike that law too? Have a mistress/child on the side your wife doesn't know about? You just expect everyone to be cool about adultery? That quote is nothing but armchair-quarterback psychology, reality is that there's plenty people and things you should fear and defend yourself from, including war. It's been roughly 65 years since the last world war, the Romans pulled off 207 years of Pax Romana before decending into war and chaos. It's way, way too early to call off WWIII and that we'll all live happily forever after.

          • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

            by dgatwood (11270) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:13PM (#33009318) Journal

            Every person that breaks the law fears being exposed, if we wanted to avoid that we'd have to either not have criminals or not have laws.

            You misunderstand me. What I'm saying is that being accused of having kiddie porn is so stigmatized that even people who DO NOT have kiddie porn could be blackmailed by the threat of being accused of having it. Unlike all those other crimes you mention, the burden of proof in the mind of the public when it comes to child porn is remarkably low. It pretty much boils down to "Somebody said he/she did, so he/she did". That degree of stigmatization is inherently dangerous. Period.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TruthSauce (1813784)

              Agreed. Child porn is pretty unique in this regard. It's the cultural/legal equivalent of yelling "FIRE" in a crowded.... society.

          • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

            by Marful (861873) on Friday July 23, 2010 @08:32PM (#33009994)
            Child Porn is like toxic / nuclear waste. Once you touch it, you are contaminated forever.

            There is a grandmother on the east coast who took pictures of her grandchild playing int he tub, a common occurrence. She was charged and convicted of child porn when she took the pictures to be developed. The DA didn't care about the details.

            There is a girl in her early 20's who was caught sending naked pictures of her self to her boyfriends cell phone when she was 15 or 16. She was convicted of manufacturing and distributing child pornography and is now labeled as a sexual offender, was forced to drop out of school due to laws against sexual offenders and proximity to children and couldn't go to college (who would accept her?) and generally had her life fucked up because she took naked pictures of herself and shared them.

            Child Porn and the zeal to which people combat it is zealotry at it's worst. All one would have to do is send such a picture to someone's phone or email and it doesn't matter how it got there, congratulations, your life is going to get ruined.


            The problem with our Child Porn laws and pursuit of justice thereof, is that even Law Abiding citizens who do not deal with Child Porn fear even the accusation of it because whether actually guilty or not, merely having pictures of their children, other innocuous evidence such as porn with college teens in it, or no evidence at all, is enough to destroy their lives. In addition to the fact that jury's are completely ignorant and harsh against alleged perpetrators.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TruthSauce (1813784)

          I was just thinking this.

          The GP said "even an accusation" and I was thinking "someone doesn't have to be guilty in order to accuse them!!!"

          So the problem isn't the people downloading it, so much as the way that it's perceived.

          I recall India is currently voting on legislation to make child sexual abuse the only crime in the country that sets a "guilty until proven innocent" precedent.

          Frightening!

        • by westlake (615356)

          Thus, one could reasonably argue that stigmatizing child porn in the way our society does is, in and of itself, a national security risk. Indeed, paranoia in any form is a security risk, whether it's fear of the kiddie porn boogeyman

          There was a front page story on Slashdot this past week on what it is like to monitor the hard-core porn traffic online. To sum it up, quickly, child pornography is not what the geek in his sexual innocence imagines it to be.

          In local prosecutions there have three distinct and m

    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#33008320) Journal

      disgusting perverts??

      god fearing Christians that have sex for procreation only

      What's the difference? The guy who claims not to be perverted is many times the biggest pervert of all.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:35PM (#33008090) Journal

    NSA just copied the child porn whenever anyone sent it over the net. The NRO took the pictures themselves, as the original pornographers were setting up the shots. And DARPA set up a contest in which they got teams from the best universities in the country to compete to make child porn meeting their criteria.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:36PM (#33008108)

    The only way that this would really be interesting is if the number of people caught, as a percentage of those employed at said facilities, was greater than that for the greater population of the country.

  • New angle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#33008172)

    Since ordinary child porn stories don't capture the public's attention as much as they used to, sensationalists must now seek a fresh new angle: Child porn is so prevalent it can even be found at the highest branches of our government! Never mind that it's only a small number of employees, and that being a government employee doesn't make you an inherently good person. Just look in this direction... this is what we want you to see.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:42PM (#33008192)

    ...anything from a glamour shot of a naked 17-year-old girl to a child being sexually abused could be classified as "child porn".

    And whilst I don't consider either to be particularly healthy in a civilised society (if it's consenting adults doing stuff to each other that other adults look at then let them get on with it), there's clearly a great difference between the two extremes.

  • by linzeal (197905) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:53PM (#33008344) Homepage Journal

    After reading the article, I'm left in a lurch on whether I should be concerned or not. On the one hand, there are some personality types who work in those 3-letter agencies being associated ostensibly with some pretty shady business but without more information on the positions these people had, we will be left making fallacious assumptions. From the 2 instances I have had to turn in people for child porn on their computers to the FBI, I noticed that both seemed normal and likable enough most of the time, but gave off a secretive vibe when they brought their laptops down for repairs, or we had to do a manual upgrade.

    One got caught when he forgot to bypass the VPN login when he was away on a business trip. I got paged at 3 am after a long night partying at a rave and it kept going off till I got up 20 minutes later and I was still receiving pages when I arrived on site along with the CIO of the company. The FBI arrested him when he flew back into Phoenix the next morning.

    The other one was less dramatic, we were getting ready to partition all of our laptops to dual boot W98 and 2000 because we could not get some legacy software for our inventory system to work in 2000. When we wrested it physically from his hands after him telling us as HR he did not need to check inventory we discovered 5 Gigs of unallocated space that shouldn't be there because we used Norton Ghost, suspicious we made a FAT partition in the space non-destructively and proceeded to recover 10's of thousands of images of child porn.

  • Idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by md65536 (670240) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:54PM (#33008352)

    Whether or not it's acceptable to have the criminally perverted working in the pentagon, I think it's discouraging to have people that dumb working in critical positions. How can people in high-security positions be that clueless about what information is available about them?

    • by codepunk (167897)

      It is obvious you have never worked in a govt job.

    • This is about sex. People's IQ points just drain away in proximity to that subject. Your garden-variety heterosexual is bad enough, they are liable to do transparently stupid things even though their sexual partners of choice are widely available and often legal. If somebody's sexual tastes can only be satisfied illegally, the odds are quite good that they will, eventually, get themselves caught trying to satisfy them.
  • What surprises me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday July 23, 2010 @05:59PM (#33008424)

    What surprises me about all these child-porn-bust stories is how many people are looking at it. I would have figured less than a thousand in the whole country.

    • by Hadery (1858536) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:20PM (#33008686)
      The population of the USA is roughly 300,000,000. You thought that only 1 in 300,000 would look at cp?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Black Parrot (19622)

        The population of the USA is roughly 300,000,000. You thought that only 1 in 300,000 would look at cp?

        Yes.

        Perhaps I'm wrong, but I assume that this isn't merely a vice - that there's something seriously wrong with the way these people are wired. Like serial killers, who I likewise assume are quite rare.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JesseMcDonald (536341)

          I assume that this isn't merely a vice - that there's something seriously wrong with the way these people are wired. Like serial killers, who I likewise assume are quite rare.

          Your comparison is flawed, in that you're comparing people who look at CP—not actual child-molesters—with people who actively go out and commit murder. Better comparisons would be child-molesters vs. serial killers, or CP consumers vs. consumers of violent media (e.g. books and/or movies about serial killers—a very common theme in certain genres). The former compares crimes; the latter compares the associated vices. In both cases the number of otherwise normal individuals eager to simply w

        • by N0Man74 (1620447)

          It's possible that you also might be making assumptions as to what constitutes this. There are some things that fall into this category that you might even be surprised by (I couldn't *quickly* find the links to examples of all the stories I've heard of in the past, but did include some)

          I've heard stories of people being prosecuted under cp laws for:
          - Cartoon porn (such as sexually explicit Simpsons images [bbc.co.uk]). Hey, technically, isn't Maggie over 18 by now? I kid!
          -
          - Photos by parents or a grandmother [opposingviews.com] of

    • Re:What surprises me (Score:4, Informative)

      by TruthSauce (1813784) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:13PM (#33009314)

      I think there's reasonable evidence from a series of population surveys that around 0.5% of the population is attracted to kids, exclusively or primarily. That's about 1.5 million in the US, 35 million in the world.

      Most manage to live a pretty normal life without doing illegal stuff, but even if 10% of those people do get porn at some point, that's still 150,000.

      How many get caught? :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hitmark (640295)

        question is, what defines a kid. Someone prepubescent, or someone just starting to develop forms (lolita complex anyone?)?

        if its the latter, we are looking at society disagreeing with our genes.

        the funny thing is that mammals are most likely rigged so that a female will want a older male, as that indicates survivability (makes one wonder why human males shave, as balding and beard are indications of age), while a male will want a young female as she is more likely to survive giving birth (and plenty of them

    • CP probably includes nude jailbait. I'd say at least 10% of men with internet access.

      • by Alsee (515537)

        CP probably includes nude jailbait.

        Yep. Well, except for the nude part. And the jaibait part.

        An ordinary photo of a fully clothed married 17 year old involved in a routine public soccer game is criminal "child porn" if the court interprets the image as sexually suggestive and deems it to lack "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value".

        Actually I'm not even quite sure if there is any upper age limit on "child porn". There was a big fuss over the difficulty of getting convictions when the pe

        • Not in this case. Quoting from the article:

          Others have not led to criminal prosecutions, such as the 2007 case involving an employee at the Defense Contract Management Agency in Hartford who had about 40 images believed to constitute child pornography on a government-issued computer. The individual was not prosecuted because the ages of the individuals depicted in the images could not be determined or positively identified as known child victims, according to the reports.

          Besides, just because it could also

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Try putting up a list of every fetish and sexual preference you can come up with, then add "have sex with budding 12 year old" to the list. Now without considering legality and punishments, make up own deviancy ranking in terms of questions like "would I rather do scat sex or have a woman fuck me with a strap-on?". If the 12 year old is at the bottom of the list when you're done then you got really odd tastes, lack imagination or is great at lying to yourself. Now take a look around and see how many people

    • by Baldur_of_Asgard (854321) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @12:12AM (#33011208)

      According to a document posted by Wikileaks, a company from eastern Europe that sold subscriptions to child erotica (nudity, but no sex) around 2003 was getting 15 million unique visitors to its main page per month.

      It is hard to know the actual numbers, as research in this area is suppressed, but it would appear that among men:

      90% are sometimes attracted to prepubescent girls.

      20% to 30% are attracted to girls at least as much as to women.

      3% to 10% are exclusively attracted to girls.

      Figuring approximately 300 million in the USA, and roughly 50% male, this means:

      120 million sometimes attracted to girls.

      30 million to 45 million attracted to girls as much as or more than to women.

      4.5 million to 15 million are exclusively attracted to girls.

      This does not include boy lovers or female pedophiles, so the true numbers are larger.

      You've got to stop believing the media and the government. They lie.

  • A lot of times you read in the paper that they rounded up a large number of pedophiles due to the fact that they paid with a credit card. How can people be so stupid to think that this is in some way untraceable?

    To be honest, I see this as pure Darwinism. Disregarding the fact that they are pedophiles, I strongly believe that people who do such stupid things should not be in a job of consequence.

    • I am not opposed to child pornography. It is ludicrous to believe that possession of a photo inherently causes harm. We used to laugh at people who objected to being photographed because it stole their soul - now we jail not only the photographer but anyone who can be proven to have seen the image.

      That said, I wonder how these guys got work in Security. I mean, everyone knows that the paysites are mostly FBI honeypots, and - incidentally - the FBI has even put new child porn into general distribution v

  • Several dozen contractors and high level officials at the pentagon? It hardly seems credible. What if it's a frame up?

    • by Shark (78448)

      I don't know about these specific departments, but a bit of research might yield surprising results when it comes to CPS. I remember several cases in Florida alone... Don't take my word for it though, it's more believable when you find out for yourself.

      Authority likely makes one believe they are above the law... And while I wouldn't assume there are more pervs in these areas than anywhere else, those that are pervs have a tendency to think they can get away with it. Because more often than not, they can

      • by s4ltyd0g (452701)

        Those are good points, but they scare the cr*p out of me.

        This implies that the pentagon gives out high level security clearance to dumb mouth breathers (doing that at the pentagon no less).

        Do these people not get any training on proxies, What not to do with email and all that stuff that goes along with a high level security clearance?

        No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up )-:

  • The 94-page report (Yes, I read it; feel free to hound me off slashdot.) repeatedly refers to alleged subscriptions (via PayPal!) to "predicated child pornography websites".

    What does "predicated" mean in this use? Does it mean that the question of whether the Home Collection sites were child porn or not had not yet been settled by a court?

    Or is there some more obscure meaning?

  • That way won't be a problem if they get blackmailed. In fact, after firing them, explain why you did that, so they can't be blackmailed for something that is already public domain. And put them in jail, probably in the same place where some convicts had childs that were.. let say molested.

    If they think that normal citizens that could had watched some of that material, even if was just following the wrong links, or collects anime and related artwork deserve punishment, they must give the example in a big way
  • ...think of the children!

    Wait, not like that you sick bastards!

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @04:40AM (#33012096) Homepage Journal

    Finally, the real explanation of why they're so antsy about getting hacked by Gary McKinnon.

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