The CIA has been protecting their own, even when those employees are committing sexual crimes involving children.
Since 2007, the CIA has secretly collected evidence on at least 10 of its employees and contractors who have been in possession of child pornography or had inappropriate sexual contact with children.
In a decade’s long pursuit, including 13 public records requests and three lawsuits, BuzzFeed News used the Freedom of Information Act to force the CIA to reveal hundreds of internal agency reports.
The 3,000 pages are heavily redacted, keeping hidden the names of the accused and their positions, but they still tell the details of their child sex abuse activities.
Sexual Abuse Crimes and Few Consequences
A 2009 investigation looked into one employee with a security clearance who had sexual contact with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. He had also “extensively” downloaded child sexual abuse material, including 63 videos of children between 8 and 16, using government Wi-Fi to do so. He also distributed the videos. When the CIA referred the case to the Eastern District of Virginia, the court declined to take up a criminal case, saying there were “taint issues” (meaning mishandled evidence) and that the girls in the videos were not “previously identified child pornography victims,” which would make it difficult to prove they were minors. The employee was fired, and that was that.
A second employee, who had bought three sexually explicit videos of young girls (filmed by their mothers), resigned.
A third employee told the agency he had viewed about 1,400 sexually abusive images of children while on assignment, including videos of girls as young as 10 being abused by an “older guy.” He said he began viewing child pornography in college and that he “did not understand that it was a violation of agency policy to access child pornography until he took the Agency Information Security Course.” When his computer was searched, there were no images. Any action taken by the CIA was redacted.
Of the 10 employees who committed child sex abuse crimes, only one was charged.
In January 2010, a contractor used an agency IP address to log into a chatroom and solicit sex with a child – who ended up being an undercover FBI agent. He told the CIA he had an “obsession with child sexual abuse images,” but when his computer was seized under a search warrant the hard drives were missing.
Of the 10 employees who committed child sex abuse crimes, only one was charged, which is puzzling given that over half of the investigations were triggered by a confession. Five employees resigned or were fired, and four were referred to an internal personnel board or the Office of Security.
The 10th case is still undetermined. In this case, 10 child sexual abuse images were discovered on an unattended CIA computer. The employee who used that computer said he switched computers while out of the country and denies using it to view child pornography.
Why Aren’t These Sex Offenders Being Prosecuted?
Neither the CIA nor the Eastern District of Virginia cooperated with BuzzFeed News’ request for comment, but both simply insisted they “take seriously” their job and any allegations of misconduct.
Only one individual was charged with a child sex abuse crime, even though most of the cases were referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution. The majority of the cases were sent back to the CIA to address internally, which means these individuals would merely lose their jobs and security clearances, and little else.
The agency is hesitant to prosecute its own employees for fear it will “lose control of sensitive information.”
Why the hesitation to prosecute and go public? CIA insiders say the agency is greatly hesitant to prosecute its own employees for fear it will “lose control of sensitive information.” State secrets could be revealed on the dock. As one former CIA official told BuzzFeed News, “We can’t have these people testify, they may inadvertently be forced to disclose sources and methods.”
Rather, the agency is more willing to prosecute those who mishandle classified information, which also happened to be the case with the contractor who was charged with a child sex abuse crime – he had stored classified material on his personal hard drive and “numerous technical documents related to the Agency's systems” on his laptop. He was fired and lost his security clearance. He later plead guilty to child abuse charges, was sentenced, and registered as a sex offender.
The former CIA official told BuzzFeed News that the CIA has a problem with child pornography going back decades. He also acknowledged the need to protect “sensitive and classified equities.” However, “for crimes of a certain class whether it’s an intelligence agency or not, you just have to figure out how to prosecute these people.”
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