NCIS has opened an investigation after reports surfaced that hundreds of explicit photos of current and former female Marines and other service members have been distributed online through social media networks. According to officials, the photos were accessed via a Google Drive folder link posted in a private Facebook group called, "Marines United." Marine veteran Thomas Brennan notified NCIS and the Marine Corps about the "Marines United" page, prompting the investigation.
Brennan runs The War Horse, an investigative military news site, which reported these allegations via another website, Reveal, which is run by the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to the original report, more than two dozen women have been identified by their name, rank, and military duty station from the photos linked to the Facebook page.
Efforts to curtail the photos' distribution, mainly shutting down the original Facebook group comprised of over 30,000 members, have been futile. Members of the old group are being redirected to new pages, one of which promised to keep out any whistleblowers. Screenshots of the original group were provided to news outlets by former Marine Sergeant James LaPorta, who was kicked out of the group once administrators realized LaPorta is a freelance journalist.
Since the news broke and the investigation began, Brennan has faced angry criticism from fellow marines and even death threats. A spokesman for the Marine Corps praised Brennan's decision to report the Facebook page. In the meantime, NCIS has set up a number to accept text tips for any information leading to who has been posting the photos. If a service member is found to have posted an explicit photo, he or she can be charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and potentially face punishment by court-martial.
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