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Report: Nude Photos From ‘Marines United’ Are Up For Sale On The Dark Web
Despite outrage from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation, the revenge pornographers of “Marines United” are alive and well.
Explicit photos of U.S. servicewomen and female veterans that turned up in the private Facebook group at the center of the armed services’ nude photo scandal are now available for purchase on the “dark web,” the shadowy network of digital enclaves hidden from public discovery by search engines. That’s according to a Daily Beast report this morning by journalist and Marine veteran James LaPorta:
On the private Facebook group Marines United 214, requests for nude photographs are met with demands for payment and links to the dark-web marketplace AlphaBay, where the photo-sets are listed for sale.
AlphaBay is not accessible through normal search methods, because it isn’t indexed by Google or other common web-browsing software. A user must know the actual web address (URL) and to avoid detection use a TOR browser, which is an open-source, encrypted web browser free of tracking software.
According to LaPorta’s investigation, these “descendant” groups — which are dealing not only in nude photos but T-shirts and “challenge coins” commemorating the original “Marines United” group — appear to have no direct connection to the U.S. military. Instead, they appear to be “copycat groups set up by foreign nationals to profit from the original group’s notoriety.”
That’s a particularly troubling detail in light of the recent discovery that troves of photos showing American military personnel engaged in sexual activity were up for sale on an “online criminal marketplace” operated out of Russia, according to a Military Times investigation published last week.
This alleged marketplace, as Military Times wrote, “[raises] serious questions about the extent to which these photos — purportedly numbering in the thousands — could be exploited by foreign governments, or other entities seeking to influence or undermine the United States.”
The latest revelations further complicate ongoing efforts by both lawmakers and military investigators to respond to the culture of sexual abuse and online harassment that rocked the armed services in early March. Since the scandal broke, NCIS investigators have identified at least 27 individuals who engaged in “criminal activity” around the non-consensual production and distribution of illicit photos, 15 of whom are active-duty Marines.
But since NCIS first announced its investigation, members of “Marines United” have actively sought to defy both military and federal officials. As Task & Purpose reported in March, members of the infamous Facebook group have continued to form new forums to share troves of photos, taunting both lawmakers and military leaders in an act of defiance.
By burrowing deeper into the dark web, LaPorta notes, these budding revenge pornographers will only complicate an investigation that’s seen military investigators play whack-a-mole with an endless string of successor forums. From his report:
[Digital crime researcher Stephen] Pearson said TOR browsers encrypt users’ messages and data and make it difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to find the dark site or track the networks. He sees AlphaBay as a direct descendant of Silk Road, another dark-web marketplace which was shut down after investigators received help from the National Security Agency and foreign governments.
The dark web “makes it much more difficult for an investigator,” Pearson said. “That’s why it took almost three years for the task force working on Silk Road. It wasn’t that they solved it by technology. The guy who was running Silk Road… the reason they caught him was he posted a message in a forum a year or so prior, where he used an alias that he also used later, as his alias on Silk Road. They were able to identify him by the mistake he made in the open web.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that the digital violation of servicewomen and female veterans is no longer a problem confined solely to the military — and it’s going to be harder than ever for investigators to finally stamp out abuse and exploitation lurking in the Internet’s darkest corners.
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.