A major federal investigation has found that dozens of military officials and defense contractors, including some with top-level security clearances, allegedly bought and downloaded child pornography, in some cases on government computers.
The Pentagon on Friday released 94 pages of reports of an investigation spanning several years that implicated individuals working with agencies that handle some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets, including the National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency.
Defense workers who purchased child porn put the Department of Defense, "the military and national security at risk by compromising computer systems, military installations and security clearances," a 2007 investigative report said. The suspects also put the Defense Department "at risk of blackmail, bribery, and threats," the report added.
The Boston Globe first reported the results of the investigation on Friday after obtaining the documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The Defense Department in turn released the reports, which are heavily redacted, with most names and details about each case omitted.
Some of the individuals have been prosecuted while other cases remain in limbo or charges were dropped, with prosecutors lacking sufficient evidence.
In a Virginia case, a contractor working for the National Security Agency was indicted on child pornography charges but fled the country and is believed to be hiding in Libya.
Because many important details are blacked out in the documents, it is impossible to determine how many individuals with ties to the Pentagon were either charged or suspected of receiving child pornography.
The federal inquiry into military workers is part of a broader effort initiated in 2007 under the code name "Operation Flicker." That project had identified more than 5,000 individuals who subscribed to child pornography websites.
One case in California involved more than a dozen individuals with ties to the Defense Department, including contractors and active members of the military -- several of whom had top secret clearances. At least nine cases were closed because investigators lacked "current, relevant evidence," the documents state.
Among the cases cited in the documents was that of a man from the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, Calif.
According to federal investigators, a computer repair shop had alerted the police after finding "thousands of possible child pornography images" on a computer hard drive. The man involved died of pulmonary disease before he could be charged.
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