Among cleared Defense Dept workers, shocking number of child porn suspects
The Department of Defense is no stranger to allegations of cover-ups. Whether it be the true motivation to invade Iraq or the many follies of the Vietnam era, the Pentagon is perhaps the most scrutinized edifice in the entire federal government (well, outside of Hillary's new haircut). What the Pentagon has not traditionally been seen as, however, is a place where a certain kind of moral depravity (the in-the-bedroom kind) is tolerated.
But a disturbing new report is raising questions about the state of affairs in Northern Virginia that may not be so easily answered.
Last week, Yahoo News reported that
The story of ICE's so-called "Project Flicker" was first broken by the Boston Globe in July. What the Globe did not report however, was the DOD's decision to seemingly sweep an undeniable problem under the proverbial rug.
The Yahoo report, by John Cook of The Upshot blog, went on to allege that the Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) chose to investigate only 20% of the individuals outed as potential pedophiles by the ICE investigation. According to ICE's investigation, 9 of the 264 individuals identified by Project Flicker had achieved "Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information" clearance, the highest possible security clearance granted by the federal government. Seventy-six of the suspected pedophiles had obtained "Secret" or higher security clearance. Yet, it appears that DCIS investigated only 52 suspects in total, with only 10 ever being formally charged with viewing or purchasing child pornography.
According to Project Flicker documents, provided to The Upshot via a FOIA request, many of the investigations initiated as a result of the report eventually ended with the following summation:
DCIS is traditionally tasked with rooting out contractor fraud, no small task when you're talking about a department as vast as DOD. Yet it still seems difficult to accept that no one could have seen to it to make the truly unsettling findings of ICE's report a priority.
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.
Ultimately the Pentagon of Robert Gates, and before him Donald Rumsfeld, will be judged on the outcomes of situations much more pressing to the world than the existence of a few perverts in the ranks of a single department. However, just the fact that such a situation could even be allowed to foment in what should be one of the most tightly controlled environments in all of government raises serious, and perhaps unanswerable, questions.