The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation into hundreds of US Marines involved in a secret Facebook group that disseminates explicit photos of servicewomen.
The news comes in the wake of a report published by The Center for Investigative Reporting, which was authored by Thomas Brennan, founder of the non-profit news organization The War Horse.
Known as “Marines United,” the 30,000-strong secret Facebook group was founded in 2015 and is open exclusively to male US Marines, Navy corpsmen, and British Royal Marines. The group reportedly has a history of posting explicit photos of females -many of whom are service members- without the girls’ permission, including “revenge porn,” voyeur photos and discussions about sexual assault.
Images and links posted to the group drew so many comments that threads took on a “snowball effect” of additional images- some of which included identification of the women, to include name, rank, duty station and branches.
While some of the photos were taken illicitly, some are reported to have been stolen from private accounts.
With the US Marine Corps having assigned its first women to infantry roles this year, the news comes as a foreboding omen in regard to the calls to integrate women into combat roles. In fact, the pictures began circulating a month after women were integrated into the branch.
Since the investigation, one active duty Marine has been discharged in relation to the group while “hundreds” of Marines are under investigation. In addition, one veteran who had photos on his Google Drive has been fired from a government contractor position.
Brennan reports that he and his family have received threats since information about the group was published.
“There’s a “bounty on pictures of my daughter,” Brennan said. “It has been suggested that my wife should be raped as a result of this, and people are openly suggesting I should be killed…Can you imagine being one of the victims?”
According to The Vere, Marine Commandant General Robert Neller issued a general statement on the matter, decrying the Marines involved.
“I am not going to comment specifically about an on-going investigation, but I will say this: For anyone to target one of our Marines, online or otherwise, in an inappropriate manner, is distasteful and shows an absence of respect,” he said. “The success of every Marine, every team, every unit and command throughout our Corps is based on mutual trust and respect. I expect every Marine to demonstrate the highest integrity and loyalty to fellow Marines at all times, on duty, off-duty, and online. I expect Marines to give their all to be the best human beings, teammates, and Marines possible.”
The investigation is ongoing. Google and Facebook were unavailable for comment.
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