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The NCIS Task Force Reviewing Nude Photos As Part Of The ‘Marines United’ Investigation Has The Worst Possible Name
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 Military.com. 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."
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.