Captain's Quarters wonders after the recent arrest of Bryan Doyle. Specifically, they wonder how it was that he got the job at the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. He was arrested for using the internet in trying to get a 14-year-old girl to, ah, meet him offline. CQ points out that he'd had a disciplinary action at his previous job for using pornography at work:
One would hope that the revelation that an applicant used computers at work to download pornography would have at least called his judgment into question. Either it got missed entirely, which doesn't speak well at all for the investigators, or it didn't make a difference to the people who hired him, which doesn't speak well for management at TSA and DHS.It's possibly the latter. Using adult pornography is not illegal. Indeed, there's a raging debate about whether it's even immoral; or immoral, but healthy in a naughty way (like the occasional cigar or poker night); or in fact healthy and moral.
A public porn habit could be troublesome for a political appointee because of the embarrassment to the administration. However, in an America that permits the Howard Stern show to be broadcast on basic cable, the consumption of porn in public has to be regarded as acceptable to a substantial minority of Americans.
As to the acceptability of porn in private to Americans in general, I can only offer two pieces of anecdotal evidence: this article from Forbes examining the size of the industry in America (short version: the lowball estimate $2.6 billion); and a couple of pieces from Cassandra's site (here and here) citing pornography as a major influence on popular forms of cosmetic surgery. That would suggest it was, at least, a fairly mainstream private practice among those with the kind of money to spend on such things as elective surgery.
The point being, security clearances deal with sexuality (as I understand the process) basically only if the practice under consideration is unusual enough that it could be used to blackmail someone, or if it calls their judgment into serious question. If it's not unusual, but instead something that one encounters among a sizable percentage of Americans, it's not a reason to deny the clearance -- the question of whether it's moral entirely aside. Some people find it so, some not -- I myself, as Dad29 and I discussed at length (in the comments to a post I couldn't find -- Dad, if you find it, could you put the link in the comments here?), think it's best to leave in the private realm of morality and sin, rather than the public realm of crime and prison.
Now, this current business -- soliciting a minor -- is plainly a crime, and rightly so. Still, I can see how even a "vetting" process might have let this guy off.
On the other hand, Ms. Malkin has a post demonstraing what really should strike us as a pattern of poor judgment. How, precisely, did DHS end up with so many losers at the top?
She suggests that the problem is with the CIS, but I honestly don't think it is. I've been undergoing a security background check with DHS for months now, and it's been very thorough. I have only good things to say about everyone involved. The fact that they're working on timetables is only because they're trying to hire massive numbers of people, and the people who have been involved are getting worn down by it. So, in classic "market discipline" fashion, DHS has wisely instituted incentives for keeping up a high rate of completed work.
Does that encourage them to overlook things and "complete" background checks they shouldn't? I doubt it. For one thing, as I said, my own experience is that they've been extremely thorough. For another, it's not as if there is a dearth of applications. If you run into a problem with one, all you have to do is kick it back for more questions to the appropriate field office / contractor, then move on to the next application. The field investigators I've dealt with are retired Federal criminal investigators, who have been brought back on as contractors to help handle the massive workload. They're long-time pros, with a full career behind them, not new trainees.
No, I suspect the real problem is cronyism. All of Malkin's examples are people with close ties to the Bush administration or key Senators. DHS should be promoting from within -- in fact, cross-promoting from within. Experts from the various different cultures that the combined agencies brought could be sometimes promoted to some of the top positions in their agencies, and sometimes to some of the top positions in other agencies. That would help fix a lot of the problems DHS is encountering in terms of merging its cultures, ensure expertise, and eliminate a lot of these problems of bad (or unqualified) people getting top jobs.
It should be about the security of the country.