WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Charles Grassley continues to have a serious porn problem. One might say he’s addicted to it. He says the National Science Foundation (NSF) isn’t doing enough to curb illicit viewing of porn at work, and he’s hopping mad about it, too.
For the second time in two months, Grassley has fired off a letter to the agency, letting them know that anonymous sources within the bureaucracy have let him know that people are still watching porn on NSF computers and that the filters installed to curb the problem are not working, and even when they do, people find ways to work around them by embedding sexual images in PowerPoint presentations, where traditional web filters don’t work. They’re scientists, after all: smart people, eggheads, not to be trusted.
His sources also told him that when punishment is meted out, it’s done unfairly and that lower-level people are treated far more severely that upper-level managers “who view the same sort of sites,” according to Politico. Those damn superiors: elites, not to be trusted.
While some people might be sniffing the odor of interagency politics about now, Grassley apparently has no problem believing everything he’s being told, even if it’s by anonymous sources.
"Based upon information provided to me, it appears that despite your representations and assurances, NSF staff continues to engage in inappropriate behavior," Grassley wrote Tuesday in a letter obtained by Politico.
What has really got the old goat’s goat is the fact that he was told that the agency only began to record the names of wayward employees after he fired off an earlier missive in August, which alerted the agency to his concerns about the reported failures of the filtering technology and the wily ways people were getting around it. The NSF replied, saying the charges were unfounded.
"At NSF, we continue to invest millions of dollars in best-in-class commercial technologies which provide multi-layered, defense-in-depth protections against the inappropriate use of Federal IT resources," retorted Cora Marrett, acting director of the NSF, sounding somewhat peeved that Grassley was taking unknown sources at their word over the head of an agency who purpose is, in part, “To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.”
Grassley was not impressed. According to Politico, his “reply this week accuses the agency of making tweaks to its system only after the agency received his first round of questions. Specifically, he cites a whistleblower who says the Blue Coat technology used by the NSF to filter out naughty websites did not have a feature that logs visitors' names operational until after the senator's Aug. 4 letter.”
He demands more information, and a meeting with NSF officials, by Sept. 28. It is not known at this time whether agency officials plan on bringing a PowerPoint presentation with them to the meeting.