The NCIS Task Force Reviewing Nude Photos As Part Of The ‘Marines United’ Investigation Has The Worst Possible Name

Photo via DoD

The NCIS task force that has spearheaded the forensic investigation to identify victims of the 30,000-member ‘Marines United’ Facebook group, which served as a breeding ground for revenge porn, has a very special name.

Task Force Purple Harbor sounds like the worst possible name for a group of military investigators who have reviewed 131,000 sexually explicit images across 171 websites in the months since the scandal broke. But NCIS has a perfectly good explanation, of course.

"The name was selected to remind victims of the safe harbor and to indicate the joint, or purple, nature of the team,” NCIS special agent Russ Alberti stated during remarks before the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in The Service (DACOWITS) on June 14.

Sure, we get it. But given the sensitive nature of their work, this vaguely suggestive name choice may not sit well with some observers — like, say, Rep. Jackie Speier, a long-standing critic of sexism in the military whose staffers have worked with NCIS investigators for months.

“I had a staff member literally Google ‘Tumblr Army naked’ and find numerous pages of websites that show servicemembers in intimate situations,” Speier told Task & Purpose during an interview in May. “We gave those pages to NCIS, and they were able to identify about 90 new photos” (Speier's office declined to comment).

When reached for comment by Task & Purpose, NCIS relayed a non-response in the form of an excerpt from Alberti's remarks: "NCIS leadership quickly and correctly understood two important points: First, social media cases would be an enduring issue, and second, the investigations would cross service boundaries."

Despite this, Task Force Purple Harbor is getting the job done. One active-duty Marine faces a possible court-martial and another has been punished with administrative discharge, the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, revealed during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 15.

NCIS and the Marine Corps Criminal Investigative Division have identified 65 active-duty Marines as “candidates for punitive action” based on their examination of explicit media, according to Of the 59 candidates referred to their commanding officers for disciplinary action due to insufficient evidence for courts-martial proceedings, 5 received some sort of nonjudicial punishment, while 5 more were slapped with “adverse administrative action of some kind.”

The identity of the Marine facing court-martial has not been made public at this time. In April, Master Sgt. Theophilus Thomas, a 39-year-old Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing stationed Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina, was arrested and charged with “disclosure of private images,” a felony under North Carolina law.

While local police said at the time that it would maintain “an open line of communication with NCIS on all cases involving military personnel” in Thomas’ case, it is unclear if Thomas, the first Marine arrested for revenge porn in the post-Marines United era, will also become the first Marine to go through court-martial proceedings as the Corps continues to crack down on misogyny and revenge porn within its ranks (NCIS did not immediately respond to request for comment).

"I've gone personally, as all my leaders have gone, and spoken to literally tens of thousands of Marines and made them understand what their responsibilities are," Neller told lawmakers on June 15. "The social media things that we've seen were just indicative of a problem within our culture, that we did not properly respect or value the contributions of women in our Corps, and that's the problem we have to fix."


Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Gross. (U.S. Army/Spc. Scott Lindblom)

Hoping to push for clean-up and to hold polluters accountable, members of Congress created a task force Wednesday to help constituents nationwide who have contended with drinking water contaminated by chemicals used on military bases.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Marine Corps recruits with Platoon 4030, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, perform rifle manual marching movements during an initial drill evaluation June 25, 2018, on Parris Island, S.C. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A congressionally mandated commission is weighing whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System, or whether the U.S. needs a draft registration system at all.

Read More Show Less

Sometimes, even the most well-meaning of tweets can come back to haunt you as a meme.

Read More Show Less
An AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopter lands during a combined arms demonstration as part of South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 10, 2009. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)

Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email with your story.

"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."

While this Patrick Stewart quote may be from an R-rated movie about a talking teddy bear, it's remarkably accurate. After all, the old warhorse has been kicking ass since it was first adopted by the U.S. Army in the 1980s. Designed to get into trouble fast and put it down even faster, the AH-64 Apache usually comes bristling with ordnance, from an M230 chain gun firing 30mm rounds to Hellfire missiles and rockets.

In the words of Tyler Merritt "it's basically a fucking flying tank."

Read More Show Less