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Web-porn scandal rocks White House
Posted By Paul Sperry On 08/09/2000 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
WASHINGTON — A consultant hired last year to beef up security for
the White House’s computer network found massive pornographic video
files passing through the system’s Internet firewall, WorldNetDaily has
Some of the downloaded files were traced back to West Wing officials
as recently as the beginning of last year, during the height of the
impeachment crisis, say sources who were involved in replacing the
firewall system as part of Y2K security upgrades.
The real-time video files — which came from hard-core porn sites
featuring homosexual, farm-animal and teen sex acts — were so large in
byte volume that they accounted for most of the traffic coming into the
firewall, sources told WorldNetDaily.
All Internet links and e-mail must first pass through the firewall
before coming into the local area network for the Executive Office of
the President and on to individual network users. The firewall system is
designed to screen Internet traffic for messages containing
A Y2K computer consultant in early 1999 discovered the unusually
large volume of porn-site traffic coming into the White House while
reviewing the firewall logs.
A White House computer specialist recalled the reaction of one of the
contractors at the time.
“He started to laugh and said, ‘It looks like the majority of traffic
going through the firewall is pornography,’” said the White House
employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Both President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore have denounced
cyber-porn and have pushed so-called “E-chips” to block the Internet’s
“purveyors of pornography,” as Gore called them last year.
White House cyber-security experts have asked WorldNetDaily to
withhold the name of the Y2K contractor that upgraded the firewall
system, arguing that disclosing the information would tip off hackers to
the security software the White House is using and make it easier for
them to breach the network. WorldNetDaily agreed to reveal only that the
company is based in California.
The firewall logs show the uniform resource locator, or URL
(basically the Web zip code), of the porn sites from which the videos
(MOVs) and still-graphics (JPEGs and GIFs) were downloaded.
“There were things that said ‘teen,’” the White House computer expert
said. “There was gay and bestiality stuff too.”
Bestiality? “Donkeys, goats, dogs,” explained the source, who later
accessed some of the raunchier sites. “It’s embarrassing.”
Upon the discovery of the heavy XXX-rated traffic, White House
security specialists undertook a “forensics” effort to ID the White
House network users who were downloading — and watching — the videos
on government computers and time.
Investigators, including White House Security Officer Charles Easley,
looked at a number of variables to separate the habitual from the
accidental Web-porn surfers. They scanned firewall logs over several
weeks so they could see the repeat offenders. They also zeroed in on the
What they found was shocking.
“There were some significant names. I can say, yes, West Wing,” said
one White House source familiar with the investigation. “There were
Many of the offenders also officed out of the Old Executive Office
Building, including presidential personnel, sources say. One was in
One of the worst offenders, however, was a senior White House
computer-systems manager, who was reprimanded but allowed to stay in the
White House after being treated for an “addiction” to porn. Sources say
the porn abuser is so sensitive to the possibility of public exposure
that he would likely take his own life if his name were disclosed here.
Security experts weren’t just worried about the bandwidth-eating Web
videos slowing down the White House computer network for legitimate
business, or bringing a “Trojan horse” virus into the system. They also
feared they could open up White House officials to blackmail from
outsiders looking to access the network.
“It’s a potential security risk,” said one White House insider. “A
hacker could call up an official and say, ‘I have evidence you’ve been
downloading kiddy porn. Give me your network passcode, or else.’”
The Internet-linked network is unclassified (although another,
classified network exists in the White House), but most everything on it
is still sensitive.
At any given time it may contain secret agendas for high-level
meetings over trade and other policies, for example, or advance data
from unpublished economic reports. Such information is potentially
valuable to anyone from foreign diplomats looking for geopolitical
leverage to stock traders looking for an edge.
By February 1999, after the California contractor had replaced the
old firewall and alerted officials to the cyber-porn problem, White
House computer specialists set up filters to block employee access to
the porn sites.
Officials could have installed filters on the old Internet firewall,
but never did — except in the case of one site, an X-rated spoof of the
official White House site. (Last year, a New Jersey man who says he accidentally logged onto the unofficial White House site in a public library, was escorted off by police and banned from the library.)
According to White House insiders, White House guidelines for proper computer use by employees prohibit using them for profit, but do not specifically restrict using them to access Internet pornography.
Last year an Internet porn policy was submitted to White House lawyers, but was not instated as part of any global policy, sources say.
In 1997, Clinton and Gore announced a “strategy for a family friendly Internet” which included proposing the distribution of “E-chip” technology for filtering cyber-porn.
“We all know and we’ve heard the horror stories about the inappropriate material for children that can be found on the Internet,” Clinton said during the July 16, 1997, press conference.
The event’s press release said: “The president emphasized that government (has) an important role to play in achieving the goal of a family friendly Internet.”
“The President made clear that the administration remains committed to the vigorous enforcement of federal prohibitions against the transmission of child pornography and obscenity over the Internet,” the release added, “and the use of the Internet by pedophiles to entice children to engage in sexual activity.”
Last year, Gore encouraged parents to “restrict their children’s e-mail contact to keep the potential predators at bay — purveyors of pornography.”
He said they must be protected from “red light districts in cyberspace.”
The White House has resisted requests from Congress, a federal court and other investigators to turn over Internet firewall logs — which are stored on emergency back-up tapes — in response to subpoenas for missing e-mail sent to West Wing officials over the Internet. Incoming e-mail also travels through the firewall.
White House lawyers have argued that the logs don’t include the contents of the e-mail, just the “to” and “from,” and therefore would not be helpful to investigators. Besides, they claim, only the past several months worth of firewall logs are stored on back-up tapes; previous tapes of logs are recycled.
Besides incoming e-mails, the tapes of the 1998 and 1999 firewall logs also recorded the massive volume of porn traffic going into the White House network over that period, sources say.
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