When the Pentagon child pornography story surfaced in 2010, it was naturally one of those media reports that created a whirlwind of interest and astonishment. Yet almost as quickly as the scandal emerged, it disappeared, leaving the nation dumbfounded and none the wiser of its outcome.
At the time the story came out, both the US and the international media was littered with reports of a “major federal investigation” being carried out, which found dozens of military officials and defense contractors, allegedly buying and downloading child pornography onto private and government computers.
While the shocking case was only leaked to the media in 2010, the Pentagon released investigative reports that spanned almost a decade, implicating employees of government agencies and who handled some of the US’s most top secret issues.
A 2006 investigative report into the Pentagon child pornography stated:
“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 clearance.” (1)
Humiliation for the DoD
Driving the DoD into greater humiliation and disgrace and generating an even greater flurry of media excitement, were reports that the child pornography suspects also put the Defense Department “at risk of blackmail, bribery and threats.” (1)
The Huffington Post went on to state that a computer repair company had alerted police after it had found “thousands of possible child pornography images” on the hard drive which had been brought to the shop by a man who was an employee of the Naval Air Welfare Center in California. (1)
The findings instigated a broader federal investigation, which operated under the code name “Operation Flicker”. The project began in 2007 and identified more than 5,200 individuals who had subscribed to child pornography websites. Out of the thousands of individuals who had been identified as subscribing to child porn, many provided Army or fleet zip codes or military email addresses. (2)
Despite dramatic claims of a decade-long federal investigation and the highly hyped top-secret project known as “Operation Flicker”, the investigation into the Pentagon child porn scandal only actually ran for eight months and only cross-checked 3,500 names for Pentagon ties.
Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCI) documents revealed that in a Freedom of Information Act request, out of the 3,500 names that had been crosschecked, 264 individuals were uncovered as being specifically Pentagon employees or contractors, including staffers for the Secretary of Defense. Only 20 percent of these 264 people were completely investigated and fewer still were prosecuted.
Where the Investigation Fell Short
Despite the operation possibly tying as many as 5,000 individuals to child pornography sites and at least 264 of those people being linked directly to the DoD, 1,700 alleged child porn customers still went unchecked, and at least nine cases were closed because the investigators lacked “current, relevant evidence”. (1)
This begs the question: Why were the 1,700 suspects never investigated or identified? Why did Project Flicker end only eight months after it had started, without there being any charges or convictions, despite the fact that buying child pornography is illegal?
On a CNN report, Senator Grassley confirmed that that there were “no answers” to why the 1,700 suspects of purchasing child pornography were never investigated and that unknown numbers are still committing criminal acts. (3)
Keep in mind that when a priest is associated with this repulsive crime, the media interest in the story lasts for months. Or, even look at the Jimmy Saville child abuse scandal in Britain. It has been going on for the best part of six months and shows little sign of abating.
By comparison when the U.S. government is caught up in similar scandal not only do investigations get halted and suspects get off scott-free, but even the media seems to lose interest somewhat prematurely – augmenting the conspiracy theory that the government has tight control of the media.