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    FBI used photos of women staffers in sex trafficking investigations, inspector general finds

    FBI agents have used provocative photographs of young female bureau staffers to lure suspected predators in child sex trafficking investigations, an internal Justice Department review found.

    The inquiry by Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz focused on a unidentified FBI agent who posted the photographs on social media sites without seeking the approval of the staffers’ supervisors or documenting where the images were displayed. 

    Although the staffers were clothed and their faces were blurred in the images, the inspector general found that the practice was largely unsupervised, “potentially placing (staffers) in danger of becoming victims.”

    The FBI headquarters is seen on July 5, 2016, in Washington.

    The inspector general found that the staffers were not certified for undercover work and that the agent had not secured written consent from the staffers whose photographs were used.

    “The (agent) said he was ‘fishing’ on social media sites but not recording which sites he used,” the report found. “The (agent) did not inform the support staff employees’ supervisors that the employees were involved in (undercover) operations, and the (agent) advised the support staff employees who provided photographs to not tell anyone, including their supervisors.”

    According to the report, neither the agent nor his supervisor could document “how the photographs were obtained or used.”

    “Additionally, the FBI had no documentation or information regarding whether the photographs still appear on the websites or how long the photographs appeared on the websites, during which time the photographs could have been – and potentially could still be – downloaded, copied or further disseminated,” the report found.

    FBI executive assistant director Brian Turner, in a response attached to the report, said the agent’s conduct is being reviewed by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

    Turner also said existing policies also are being evaluated to determine which “require” adjustment or “new language to establish the needed guidelines.”

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