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GlobalSecurity.org In the News

The Tampa Tribune June 15, 2006

Security Official Told 'Teen' Of Job

By Valerie Kalfrin

TAMPA - Hours before Polk County sheriff's detectives charged him with online solicitation of a minor, a former Department of Homeland Security spokesman flirted on the phone and talked about shoulder-fired missiles with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Brian J. Doyle planned to be home from work about 7 p.m. April 4 so he could see "Ashlynne" via a Web cam, according to discovery documents released this week in the case.

Work was busy that day, he told the fictional girl played by an undercover detective via his cell phone. "I'm dealing with this reporter in San Francisco who's doing a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle. ... Those are the shoulder-fired missiles. Uh, that you can either, can shoot at a plane," Doyle is quoted as saying in a transcript.

Nothing in the transcripts indicates that Doyle, 56, of Silver Spring, Md., violated national security through what he revealed about his job, according to a former CIA analyst contacted by The Tampa Tribune.

Doyle did not use his work computer for the chats. "You have to be upfront and keep private from business," he wrote to "Ashlynne."

His frankness about his job, however, spurred investigators to arrest him before he arranged to meet the girl, which carried a more serious penalty, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

"We believe he had the proclivity to release confidential documents," Judd said by telephone Wednesday. "Who else was he bragging to and talking to?"

One Of Several Knocks

The arrest is one of several knocks the Department of Homeland Security has taken in recent months over its employees' background and behavior on the job. In December 2005, the department's Office of Inspector General said in an audit that the agency's online security should be tightened. For instance, auditors found that 6.5 million messages were flagged as pornographic by an internal filter.

The report stated that officials did not know what messages or which individual computers triggered those alerts. Security software should better identify the causes, the auditors said, noting many can be explained through the filter flagging words like "behavioral" because it contains the letters "o-r-a-l."

In April, Frank Figueroa, the former head of the Tampa office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pleaded no contest to charges of exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct. He was accused of exposing himself in front of a teenage girl at an Orlando mall.

Homeland Security ordered a national review of its background checks after Figueroa's October arrest. Since Doyle's arrest, the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee has been discussing whether to further strengthen background checks for the agency's employees and contractors.

Doyle joined the federal government in 2002 after more than two decades at Time magazine. According to sheriff's investigators and discovery documents, Time fired him in 1999 as an editor in its Washington, D.C., bureau after he was discovered viewing pornography on company computers.

Records show he was reinstated after a month with the following conditions: No Internet access without prior authorization, no violations of the company's sexual harassment policy, and no working late or on weekends without his boss's approval.

In a letter to his then-employer, Doyle said he was being treated for severe depression.

"I'm absolutely astonished that he made it through a background investigation," Sheriff Judd said.

Lured Into Trap

Under the screen name "Bdkhhome1," Doyle met "Ashlynne" in an America Online chat room featuring older men and younger women, the documents show. The fictional teen used the screen name "Lakewalescutie" and sent Doyle "her" photograph - a picture of a state employee who agreed to portray the teen.

Their chats often took place after 11 p.m. and ranged from discussing Austin Powers movies and basketball to oral sex, anal sex and pornographic clips he e-mailed to the teen, transcripts show.

A transcript of Doyle's first online conversation with "Ashlynne" on March 12 shows he gave the girl his work and government-issued cell phone numbers and told her that, at 14, she was too young for him.

In other conversations, he tells the girl how to masturbate and sends her pornography of what he says he would like to do with her.

"Ashlynne" told him she was recovering from cancer, lived in a trailer with her divorced mom and a dog, and wanted to be a model. "U r a important man rich and nice," she wrote.

Before his arrest, Doyle asked the girl to get a Web cam so he could see her naked. "You will NOT be embarrassed," he wrote. "Show me how beautiful you are. I think you are. I want to see you. And if youc (sic) care about me as you say then do it."

After his arrest, Doyle told detectives in a transcribed interview that he was not sexually attracted to children but talked about sex with Ashlynne because of a "kind of a power trip."

"The arousal is being in charge," he said. "It's about power and control and about, about being, a .. you know, the adult with the seventeen-year-old mind set, still. ... In my mind, that's me controlling her. That's me, you know, 'Here's my dream, I had control of you.' You know, 'There's nothing you could do.'"

Doyle was released from a Polk County jail on $230,000 bail in May. He faces 23 felony charges, including 16 counts of sending pornographic movie clips to a minor, and could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of all charges.

His attorney, Barry Helfand of Rockville, Md., declined to comment Wednesday, saying he had not read the discovery documents.

'Careless,' But Not Risky

Doyle resigned at Homeland Security a few days after his arrest, said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman in Washington.

He had "top secret clearance," the second-lowest level of security clearance, Knocke said. He would not have been allowed access to sensitive intelligence information.

Doyle's job-related conversations with the fictional girl are "careless," but do not have national security ramifications because he did not divulge operational techniques, said Larry Johnson, a former CIA employee who also worked at the U.S. State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism. Even so, Johnson noted, "It is remarkable he'd be that open and forward with a 14-year-old girl about these things."

To achieve his security clearance, Doyle would have had to pass a background check that likely involved interviews with former neighbors and co-workers, said John Pike, an intelligence expert and director of GlobalSecurity.org, a site devoted to news about defense and homeland security. Certain details do not turn up during background checks for many reasons, Pike said. For instance, those interviewed may not volunteer information that investigators are not allowed to ask about legally, such as sexual practices.

In addition, the background investigation system has become "completely overwhelmed" by people joining intelligence work after the Sept. 11 attacks, Pike said.

"The notion that unqualified people are sneaking through is something we'll be living with for a long time," he said. "Over time, we're going to discover that all kinds of people have gotten clearances they shouldn't have."

Tribune intern Deborah Ziff contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006, The Tampa Tribune<