External Articles | Posted: January 25, 2011
Thousands of Pentagon Personnel Bought or Viewed Child Pornography with Impunity
By Brett Wilkins
Moral Low Ground, January 7, 2011
Up to 5,200 Pentagon employees bought or viewed online child pornography, and up to 1,700 of these suspected criminals haven't been prosecuted or even investigated. The Pentagon's handling of this outrageous yet severely under-reported scandal is now being criticized in Congress following a Defense Department admission that its investigators failed to properly investigate whether its personnel were on a list of 5,200 child pornography suspects.
In 2006 an international investigation led by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called Project Flicker ended four years later in the largest commercial child pornography bust in internet history. Project Flicker spanned seven countries and identified 30,000 customers in 132 countries who were paying up to $100 per month to view videos and images of child rape on over 200 websites. The rape victims in the videos were as young as three years old. Some 10,000 of these criminal clients were Americans. They came from all walks of life- doctors, police officers, school teachers, lawyers and church officials were snared. At least 280 convictions resulted.
Also implicated were thousands of Pentagon employees and contractors. Some 5,200 names were provided by ICE. But the Pentagon failed to investigate a third of these- 1,700 individuals- during their probe that netted about 300 defense and intelligence employees who viewed child pornography on their work or home computers.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) received a letter from Pentagon Inspector General Gordon Heddell saying that child pornography was "not one of DCIS' (Defense Criminal Investigative Service) investigative priorities." "The failure of management to recognize the potential national security implications of DoD (Department of Defense) service members, civilian employees and contractors allegedly purchasing child pornography is disturbing," Grassley told the Boston Globe. Even more disturbing is the fact that possible criminal charges against the 1,700 suspected criminals are most likely impossible at this time since the statute of limitations has probably expired. The penalty for downloading child pornography, a federal offense, is five to 20 years behind bars. But the alleged crimes took place years ago. While Senator Grassley knows most of the guilty parties will escape legal punishment, he wants to see administrative action taken by the Pentagon.
Of the 300 or so Pentagon employees or contractors identified as being guilty of purchasing or viewing images of child rape, only 70 were pursued. In the end, only a handful were prosecuted.