WASHINGTON, D.C. - The co-sponsor of a 1995 Internet decency bill is at it again!
In an email dated Jan. 27, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, requested from Acting Inspector General Thomas Cross of the National Science Foundation (NSF) "any/all documentation ... regarding the use of government computers to view sexually explicit material."
Grassley's interest stems from Cross's statements in the NSF's most recent Semiannual Report, which Grassley claimed indicated a "systemic issue" regarding employees viewing adult material during working hours.
"A particularly severe incident is described in the Semiannual Report, involving an NSF employee spending up to 20% of his official work time viewing pornography, which amounted to a potential loss of $58,000 in employee compensation," Grassley wrote. "Over a 24 month period, this particular employee charged more than $40,300, to cover his on-duty extracurricular activity."
The report to which Grassley referred, which would have been released in September, does not appear to be available online, although the previous report, issued in March of 2008, reported that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found "substantial inappropriate material" on one employee's computer, including "numerous sexually explicit image and video files, and dozens of full-length copyrighted movies," as well as "a peer-to-peer file-sharing program." Another employee's computer also "contained a large number of sexually explicit files."
Grassley also noted that, "The Semiannual Report indicates that the OIG identified a number of inappropriate use cases after a cursory review of only one of NSF's network drives," which Grassley took to mean that the "problem" might be much more widespread than had been reported.
"The semi-annual report raises real questions about how the National Science Foundation manages its resources, and Congress ought to demand a full accounting before it gives the agency another $3 billion in the stimulus bill," Grassley apparently wrote in a letter obtained by FOX News .
However, according to a report on the conservative website Politico.com, "The foundation has since installed filtering software to prevent employees from accessing inappropriate websites and is currently trying to address the fallout from the agency's adult-entertainment problem. This includes finding ways to support staffers who were 'acutely embarrassed' by the filth-filled environment - like the employee who learned of a co-worker's adventures in porn via sounds overheard from said co-worker's computer speakers."
Grassley's investigation appears to be part of the general Republican opposition to President Obama's economic stimulus package. Within the past few days, several Republican officials and commentators, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.), have criticized the fact that the $825 billion package contains approximately $200 million - .024% - for "family planning."
Grassley is also no stranger to censorship of explicit materials. In 1995, Grassley co-sponsored, with then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), a bill to suppress sexual speech on the Internet which the Center for Democracy and Technology described as "an even greater threat to the First Amendment and the free flow of information in cyberspace than the Exon Communications Decency Act," which was eventually found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Grassley/Dole bill would have "create[d] new penalties in Title 18 [the federal Criminal Code] for all operators of electronic communications services who knowingly transmit indecent material to anyone under 18 years of age," as well as "criminal liability for system operators who willfully permit minors to use an electronic communications service in order to obtain indecent material from another service." The Grassley/Dole bill failed.
Also noteworthy is that Grassley has received "100% ratings" for his voting record from the National Right to Life Committee, the Family Research Council and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum ... though just 84% from the American Conservative Union.