The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children
Audit Report 09-08
Office of the Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D. C. 20535-0001
December 16, 2009
Mr. Raymond J. Beaudet
Assistant Inspector General
United States Department of Justice
1425 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
RE: THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION'S EFFORTS TO COMBAT CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
Dear Mr. Beaudet:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) appreciates the opportunity to review and respond to your report entitled, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children" (hereinafter, "Report").
The Report documents the FBI's efforts to address crimes against children which predominantly includes investigations of cyber-based child pornography, child abductions, and non-cyber sexual exploitation of children. As noted, in each of these areas the FBI has developed national programs to guide its efforts, specifically its Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI), Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) Team, and Innocence Lost programs. As described, the IINI Unit, a component of the Cyber Division, targets enterprises sexually exploiting children online and producers of cyber-based child pornography. The CARD Team provides rapid assistance to all FBI field offices and local law enforcement agencies when a child is critically missing, while the Innocence Lost programs identifies and disrupts domestic trafficking of children for prostitution.
As your Report confirms, the pervasiveness of the Internet has resulted in the dramatic growth of online sexual exploitation of children resulting in a 2,000 percent increase in the number of IINI cases opened since 1996. In fiscal year 2007 alone, the FBI's IINI investigations resulted in more than 1,000 convictions for persons victimizing children through online sexual exploitation. Your analysis recognized the FBI has appropriately focused investigative personnel to meet the FBI's crimes against children priorities. Based on a review of the Report, the FBI concurs with all of the recommendations made and has already implemented measures to resolve many of the identified issues. The FBI remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us, our children.
In conclusion, the FBI appreciates the professionalism exhibited by your staff in working with our representatives throughout this audit process. Enclosed herein is the FBI's response to the report. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
J. Stephen Tidwell
Executive Assistant Director
Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services
RE: THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION'S EFFORTS
TO COMBAT CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
RECOMMENDATION # 1 - Enhance its interagency cooperation in Los Angeles with ICE and the ICAC task force.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - FBI Los Angeles has remedied any lack of interagency coordination between the FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the DOJ-funded Internet Crimes Against Children (lCAC) Task Force assigned in Los Angeles County, California. In the past year, FBI Los Angeles established strong working relationships with the ICAC Task Force and ICE. As one example, FBT Los Angeles, ICE, the ICAC Task Force, and the U.S. Secret Service joined together to work a peer-to-peer investigative initiative that targeted mass distributors of child pornography. This joint operation culminated in the federal arrests of 55 people for the distribution, possession, and/or production of child pornography. In addition, TCE has assigned a full-time Agent to FBI Los Angeles' Sexual Assault and Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team in Orange County, California. Similarly, the FBI has placed an Agent to work full-time on the ICE Child Exploitation Task Force in Long Beach, California. The ICAC has committed to sending a full-time Task Force Officer to Orange County, California, in January 2009 to support a nationwide case that originated in Los Angeles, as well as to support the investigation of leads received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Furthermore, FBI Los Angeles routinely provides training and operational support to the ICAC Task Force.
RECOMMENDATION # 2 - Continue to develop strategies for DES to reduce the backlog of digital evidence related to crimes against children cases requiring forensic analysis.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI Digital Evidence Section (DES), is working within and without the Deputy Attorney General's Computer Forensic Working Group (CFWG) to "continue to develop strategies for DES to reduce the backlog of digital evidence related to crimes against children cases requiring forensic analysis." The FBI strategy is fourfold: 1) Increase internal efficiencies in the examination process and the management of examiners and backlogs in field offices; 2) Empower investigative agents to utilize forensically tested tools at search scenes to make informed decisions on what media to seize and not seize, thereby more strategically controlling the ingestion of data in the first instance; 3) Assist the DOJ in the development of a permissible plea negotiation policy which seeks to felony convict more low risk offenders with less forensic resources, thereby reversing the trend of exhausting scarce forensic resources in a limited number of investigations while reserving greater forensic bandwidth for more egregious investigations, and; 4) Seek to acquire additional personnel and funding resources to attempt to keep pace with the burgeoning influx of digital evidence requiring forensic examinations not just in child exploitation investigations, but in all investigative categories.
RECOMMENDATION # 3 - Strengthen internal controls to ensure that IINI undercover employees receive timely mental health assessments from the USU.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The IIU and Undercover Safeguard Unit (USU) work closely together to maintain the mental health of all undercover agents and Task Force Officers (TFO) who investigate online crimes against children. Per documented Innocent Images policies, all IINI agents and TFO assigned to an Innocent Images online undercover operation are required to be safeguarded before they conduct any online undercover activity and every year thereafter. If an investigator does not pass the assessment, they will not be able to work as an online undercover investigator. All Agents and TFO are aware it is their responsibility to maintain current safeguard assessments. In fact, a current date of safeguarding must be noted for each Agent and TFO listed on all Innocent Images undercover operation renewals, which are reviewed by IIU Program Managers every six months. If the Agent or TFO is late in their assessment due to a pending investigation, trial, or sickness, they are required to make an appointment with USU as soon as possible to remedy the delinquency. Without an acceptable safeguard date associated with each online undercover investigator, the entire undercover operation will not be approved until an appointment is made for the delinquent assessment, the assessment is completed, or that Agent or TFO is removed from the undercover operation. Concurrently, the USU also notifies the Agent or TFO when they are due for an assessment via internal FBI email. The USU also holds regional assessments in different parts of the country to provide better access to each candidate for the assessment.
To strengthen internal controls and ensure safeguard assessments are conducted in a timely manner, in October 2008 the IID and USU implemented a new procedure that requires an IINI investigator be safeguarded prior to attending the mandatory IINI Basic Online Undercover Course. Previously, an investigator was only required to be safeguarded sometime before they initiated their first online undercover case. This procedural change ensures that all new online undercover candidates successfully pass safeguarding before they attend any online undercover training, which will further protect the mental health of those employees who do not pass their safeguard assessment. Furthermore, proof of their successful pass of safeguarding is now required before the IIU will even enroll the candidate in any IINI undercover training.
RECOMMENDATION # 4 - Establish guidelines for providing USU-approved psychological assessments or counseling for non-undercover personnel who have had or will have exposure to child exploitation material.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - Historically, DES/CART has long made the psychological assessments and/or counseling voluntarily available to its digital evidence forensic examiners who request it, unless managers recommend it for specific examiners.1 At present, the CAIR process used by digital evidence examiners typically requires only that examiners process and present for investigators' review the digital imagery forensically recovered from seized computers or media that tends to be the most harmful to examiners. This process has proven fruitful because investigators are more likely than examiners to know details discovered during the course of an investigation that would lead them to recognize relevant evidence in "plain view" or to identify a potential live victim or a culpable image of the suspect(s). This process also has the effect of distancing examiners from a sea of sometimes horrific imagery.
Notwithstanding past practice, the DES is increasingly advocating for and, with regard to the "IINI-CART Laboratory" at BWI in Linthicum, MD (operated jointly with Cyber Division), has begun establishing digital evidence examination processing centers which exclusively process child exploitation evidence. In these environments, it is inevitable that digital evidence forensic examiners will be exposed to a greater volume of child exploitation material. As a consequence, the DES will establish policy in concurrence with the Cyber Division no later than February 1, 2009 that all examiners assigned to such facilities or who are otherwise exclusively assigned to child exploitation matters shall be provided Safeguard assessments by the Cyber Division DSD at the expense of the Cyber Division. Moreover, Safeguard assessments will be provided to any CART-certified digital evidence examiner requesting an assessment, and the availability of such assessments shall be noted on the CART FBI Intranet. Finally, Safeguard assessments shall be provided whenever a CART Coordinator, Supervisor, RCFL2 Laboratory Director, or RCFL Operations Manager requests an assessment for a digital evidence examiner. Such supervisors will be encouraged, by policy to require Safeguard assessments or, at the minimum, a group outreach support session from the FBI's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to encourage seeking such assessments, whenever the facts of a particular investigation and the foreseeable evidence generated thereby are likely to expose examiners to particularly graphic or heinous material (e.g., death, torture or violent sexual abuse of a child).
All personnel within the IID must be safeguarded even if their duties do not include working in an online undercover capacity, since there is a constant threat of exposure to sexually explicit material within the IID. The IID is working with the DSD and FBI Field Offices to establish further guidelines which will ensure that non-undercover Agents, analysts, and other employees who are exposed to images depicting child exploitation as part of their daily work may be afforded safeguarding. Nonetheless, any FBI employee wishing to undergo a safeguard assessment is willingly accepted by the DSU. It is also IID policy that an investigator cannot be required to work IINI matters.
The IIU and DSD are currently evaluating its current resources to determine the anticipated expense and staffing requirements that would be needed to effectively fulfill the OIG's recommendation. Per DSD, in fiscal year 2008 they conducted a total of 394 safeguard assessments of IINI personnel. These assessments were for Online Covert Employees (OCE) who were assigned to an online undercover operation. Based on this figure and allowing a 5% delinquency rate (20 assessments) for those who did not get assessed by years end, the IID calculated an annual baseline of 420 assessments per year.
To address the OIG's concern to have non-OCEs also get safeguarded, the IIU estimated the number of other employees that have had, or will have, exposure to child sexual material. The IID conservatively estimates that in each of the FBI's 56 field offices an additional 12 personnel on average would be exposed to child pornography: eight (8) non-OCE Agents, one (1)
(Investigative Operations Analysts, Secretary, etc...). These additional 12 employees in each of the FBI's 56 Field Offices yields an additional 672 non-OCEs that would require safeguarding Intelligence Analyst, one (1) CART Forensic Examiner, and two (2) miscellaneous support staff based on the OIG's recommendation. Thus, the estimated grand total of both OCEs and non OCEs requiring safeguarding would be 1,092 employees per year [420 OCEs + 672 non-OCEs]. Each safeguard assessment costs an average of $1,500 per person to pay for related travel, hotel, and meal expenses. Therefore, it would cost an estimated $1,638,000 annually to conduct 1,092 assessments. This expense excludes the required cost to hire additional safeguard assessors.
In light of the above, the FBI has determined only those employees with prolonged or intense exposure to child exploitation material should be required to be safeguarded. The IIU and USU will work closely with Innocent Images Supervisors in each Field Office to identify those employees who require safeguarding and implement mechanisms to have them attend annual safeguard assessments.
RECOMMENDATION # 5 - Consider implementing community outreach activities on Internet safety for children, similar to the cooperative model with external organizations at the Miami and St. Louis field offices.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - In early 2008, the Innocent Images Unit (IIU) disseminated a communication to all FBI Field Offices emphasizing FBI Miami's Safe Online Surfing (SOS) initiative and its utilization as a community outreach program pertaining to internet safety. Field Offices were requested to contact FBI Miami if they wanted to have schools within their territory join the program. In November 2008, the IIU evaluated Miami's SOS community outreach program and, with Miami's concurrence, submitted a proposal to FBI Cyber Division management to assume the program and transition it into a nationwide community outreach initiative run by the IIU. The proposal assigns the IIU full program management oversight to a new FBI-wide Safe Online Surfing initiative, which will yield greater exposure and emphasis from the FBI Headquarters level. An IIU Program Analyst was requested to become the primary coordinator and daily contact for the initiative under the leadership of a Supervisory Special Agent overseeing the entire program. It is anticipated FBI Miami will continue to have a significant role in the initiative, since the proposal seeks to enhance the FBI's relationship with Nova Southeastern University. In fact, the nu seeks to utilize the existing success and infrastructure of this program and expand it nationally, instead of recommending each FBI Field Office initiate their own individual internet safety franchise or similar initiative. The no has since provided $10,000 in funding to supplement the FBI's SOS program, a $5,000 increase over its previous years funding. In fiscal year 2009 it also expects so spend several thousand dollars on community outreach materials which promote internet safety, such as pencils, rulers, and mouse pads.
All FBI Field Offices promote internet safety via Innocent Images Agents giving presentations to parent and school groups, through the FBI's Citizen's Academy program, and in support of requests from state and local law enforcement. The point of contact for a particular Field
Office's internet safety program is the designated Community Outreach Specialist or the Innocent Images Supervisor.
RECOMMENDATION # 6 - Develop a mechanism to track investigative events for child abduction cases, especially the date and time when the FBI received notification or a potential abduction and when and how the FBI responded to the incident.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI maintains a list of each case in which it deploys the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team (CARDT). The FBI will further maintain a list of the FBI's response to Amber Alerts pertaining to the mysterious disappearance of a child where no abductor has been identified
RECOMMENDATION #7 - Develop and implement procedures for evaluating, at least annually, the CAC Coordinators' liaison efforts with law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations involved in combating crimes against children.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI will issue guidance to the field divisions requiring the CAC Coordinators to develop and submit a CAC Resource List. This list will contain points of contact within law enforcement, social services and non-governmental agencies responsible for addressing child exploitation. Furthermore, the CAC Coordinators will be required to update these lists on an annual basis, as well as provide results of these liaison contacts.
RECOMMENDATION # 8 - Implement a post-deployment survey of CARD team customers.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI will develop an on-line post-deployment survey accessible to field divisions utilizing the CARDT resource. The FBI will also issue guidance requiring the field division to solicit feedback from local and state law enforcement regarding their use of the resource.
RECOMMENDATION # 9 - Complete a written protocol on coordination between the FBI CARD teams and the OJP CART.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI has provided each CARDT member with a list of Office of Justice Programs (OJP) CART personnel within their region. The FBI has also issued guidance requiring each team member to coordinate with their respective OJP CART. The FBI had invited representatives from the OJP CART to present on their resource during annual CARDT training. The FBI will continue to coordinate with OJP CART to develop a written protocol as recommended.
RECOMMENDATION #10 - Complete a written protocol on coordination between the CARD teams and the NCMEC Team Adam consultants.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI has provided each CARDT member with a list of NCMEC Team Adam personnel within their region. The FBI has also issued guidance requiring each team member to coordinate with their respective Team Adam consultants. The FBI had invited representatives from NCMEC to present on their resource during annual CARDT training. The FBI will continue to coordinate with NCMEC to develop a written protocol as recommended.
RECOMMENDATION # 11 - Provide specialized training to Legat personnel on international parental kidnapping.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - In FY 2008, the FBI provided specialized training regarding international parental kidnapping (IPK) matters to Legat personnel at the Asia and Middle East Regional Conferences. The CACU will coordinate with the Office of International Operations and Training Division to develop an on-line training module regarding IPK investigations accessible to the Legats.
RECOMMENDATION #12 - Coordinate with the State Department and NCMEC to promote the development of a database of information regarding instances of international parental kidnappings
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI participates in regular coordination meetings with NCMEC and the Department of State (DOS) Office of Children Issues regarding de-confliction on instances of international parental kidnapping (IPK). The FBI maintains access to a NCMEC database containing information regarding IPK matters. In the past, DOS had direct access to this NCMEC database. CACU will coordinate with OGC regarding legal issues associated with the submission of FBI data into this existing database, or the feasibility of the development of a separate database to share information with DOS as recommended.
RECOMMENDATION #13 - Develop for child sex tourism cases a programmatic strategy, goals, guidance, and a separate investigative classification for tracking such investigations.
FBI RESPONSE - CONCUR - The FBI will issue appropriate guidance to the field regarding child sex tourism matters. Furthermore, the FBI will pursue the use of a separate investigative classification for tracking such investigations.
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