A. I first began conducting oversight at the Defense Department when I found the Pentagon throwing ridiculous amounts of money around to pay for things like a $435 hammer, $659 ash trays in Air Force Planes and $750 toilet seats in those same aircraft. I also recently released a report showing the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s office, the independent investigator for waste, fraud and abuse at the department, underperforming on its responsibilities.
Now, my aggressive oversight campaign has uncovered information that the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, failed to properly address allegations that Defense Department employees purchased child pornography, including some purchases made from Defense Department computers.
I’m concerned that the potential sexual exploitation of children was not only inadequately investigated, but potentially ignored by investigators at the Defense Department Inspector General’s office. The allegations involve individuals who hold some of the most sensitive security clearances given by our government. One has fled to Libya, raising national security concerns.
Q. What have you done with this information?
A. I’ve asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates for an investigation into the matter. The request is based on a briefing by agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the investigative arm of the Inspector General’s office, with members of my staff. The briefing was sought in order to clarify why so many Defense Department employees were not properly investigated after allegations of purchasing child pornography arose in news reports. After the briefing, it became clear that rather than hundreds of Defense Department employees, as reported in the media, there are thousands of Defense Department employees who have been implicated in allegedly purchasing child pornography. Clearly an independent investigation is warranted.
Q. What specifically have you asked Secretary Gates?
A. Among other things, I’ve asked Secretary Gates why the Defense Criminal Investigative Service removed 1,700 names from the list of 5,200 people alleged to have purchased child pornography, leaving about 3,500. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service continued to pare down the list and only a very small number were actually investigated, then the Defense Criminal Investigative Service made the arbitrary decision to terminate the investigation.
During the briefing with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Director was unable to provide an audit trail or explain each set of numbers. We need to know how and why over 5,000 names fell through the cracks. Why weren’t all the cases properly investigated? What was the criterion used to cull out all those names?
There should be an accounting of how many of the 5,200 people alleged to have purchased child pornography were investigated administratively or criminally, exactly how many were investigated criminally, why the rest weren’t investigated, what responsibilities did the accused 5,200 people have within the department, and how many of them have top security clearances.