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9/22/2010
05:50 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Pentagon Reopens Child Porn Investigation

We now learn that the Department of Defense, after seeming to come clean on an internal child-porn investigation, was withholding more than it was sharing. It's now time for the Pentagon to deal with this problem with openness and determination.

We now learn that the Department of Defense, after seeming to come clean on an internal child-porn investigation, was withholding more than it was sharing. It's now time for the Pentagon to deal with this problem with openness and determination.As InformationWeek reported in August, an Inspector General report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Boston Globe, revealed details of a DoD probe, begun in 2007, into child pornography. That investigation was prompted by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement probe, known as Operation Flicker, into child porn on the Web, which turned up the names of 5,000 suspects, including those using .mil e-mail addresses and military post offices. End result: The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) pursued 52 individuals and charged 10 of them.

As it turns out, the problem of child porn possession and distribution by DoD employees and contractors was actually much worse than indicated by DCIS's half-hearted crackdown. DoD's Deputy Inspector General for Investigations recently reopened the matter and instructed DCIS to review another 212 cases involving people whose names surfaced during Operation Flicker.

According to Yahoo's The Upshot site, which broke the story, more than 70 of the DoD people subject to investigation held security clearances and 22 Top Secret clearances, a worrisome development in terms of national security. The Pentagon cites a lack of resources in explaining why it stopped its original probe without exhausting all leads.

Now that the DoD has been spurred into action, there's more that it must do to put an end to this madness. As I've argued before, IT leadership at the Defense Department must establish and enforce IT policies that prohibit, block, identify, and uproot child porn on government systems. State-of-the-art Web filtering technologies must be fully implemented, and warning signs must be acted upon. That applies to DoD employees and to the military's extended enterprise of contractors and other partners.

It's not enough to take on cases that are several years old. Pentagon leadership must deal with this crisis proactively because child porn continues to be a here-and-now problem in all too many places. We will press the Pentagon for answers on how it's responding.



Amid many threats, the feds are shorthanded. Here's how they're acquiring hard-to-find skills. Download the latest issue of InformationWeek Government here (registration required).

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