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HANDRAHAN: Executive branch porn problem

Bureaucrats risk national security breaches

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Allen W. Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wrote in "The Craft of Intelligence," "sex and hard-headed intelligence operations rarely mix well." Perhaps the boys at the Pentagon need a refresher course.

This past week, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency warned its staff not to view porn on U.S. government computers. The Pentagon also released a report on April's Secret Service Colombian scandal. The two are connected.

In April, I said the Colombian scandal exposed a national security problem, the epidemic of U.S. government employees viewing porn -- child porn -- on government networks. I suggested readers type "Transportation Security Administration," "U.S. State Department," "Pentagon," "Immigration and Customs Enforcement" and "child porn" into Google's search field to understand the scope. I neglected to include "Missile Defense Agency."

Bloomberg quotes a cybersecurity expert saying the Missile Defense Agency's use of porn is concerning because "many pornographic websites are infected and criminals and foreign intelligence services such as Russia's use them to gain access and harvest data."

The only possible response is: Duh.

In 2006, the deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security was arrested for trying to seduce online someone he thought was a teenage girl. Four years later, the Securities and Exchange Commission found that 17 of 31 employees caught accessing porn at work since 2008 -- one for up to eight hours a day -- were senior staff.

In 2010, the Boston Globe reported that senior Pentagon staff were downloading child porn. Instead of generating a media storm, the story died. Senior staff were watching the sexual torture of small children on Pentagon computers, and Americans were not outraged?

The latest revelation of missile-defense staff using porn should have America extremely alarmed. It is not yet confirmed if child porn was involved.

Of the Colombian Secret Service scandal, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, asked if women younger than 18 (i.e., trafficked children) were involved. Mr. Issa must demand to know the same of the Missile Defense Agency.

In his book, Dulles said real intelligence work is unlike that portrayed by Hollywood's James Bond spies. An intelligence officer "cannot permit himself to become entangled with luscious females who approach him in bars or step out of closets, lightly clad, in hotel rooms. Such lures might have been sent by the opposition to compromise or trap him." Dulles explained this was a favorite tactic of Soviet, now Russian, spies. He discussed the Soviet "new look," which used female "socialite spies" and the 1963 British-Russian Profumo affair, "using vice rings to aid blackmailing operations in later intelligence exploitation or merely to discredit [someone] in government positions in the Free World."

America's most professional security officials, from the Secret Service to the Missile Defense Agency, seem eager to discredit themselves. Russians must be celebrating. During the Cold War, they had to train and deploy real female agents. Today, Americans come freely to honey pots directly from the Pentagon's missile-defense system.

How does this relate to President Obama's leadership problem?

The Colombia scandal was the president's wake-up call. The White House needed to order an in-depth and urgent investigation into porn, child porn and prostitution in all government agencies. Mr. Obama did no such thing. Now America's Missile Defense Agency may be exposing the core of our national security. So grave and unpatriotic is this violation, it might border on treason. Yet Mr. Obama remains unconcerned. Members of Congress are so alarmed by the president's behavior that they recently passed an amendment preventing the administration from sharing missile-defense technology with Russia. The Missile Defense Agency may have done so already.

Thomas Jefferson once said he feared for his country when he reflected that God was just. I, too, fear for my country. No one is home in the Obama White House, and the Russians know this. Allen Dulles must be rolling in his grave. Americans should be extremely concerned.

Lori Handrahan is a professor at American University's School of International Service.

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