Thursday, April 06, 2006

Homeland Security Official Resists Extradition on Charge Involving Internet and Sex

The New York Times
Official Resists Extradition on Charge Involving Internet and Sex

WASHINGTON, April 5 — The Department of Homeland Security's deputy press secretary appeared in a Maryland state court on Wednesday and refused extradition to Florida, where he faces charges of using the Internet to seduce someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

The press official, Brian J. Doyle, was arrested Tuesday night in his home in Silver Spring, Md., after nearly a month of computer contact with a Polk County detective who was posing as a teenager. Mr. Doyle now faces 23 counts of using a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. Under Florida law, each count is a third-degree felony that carries a five-year prison term.

Mr. Doyle's lawyer, Barry Helfand, said his client would remain in the Montgomery County Detention Center, where he is being held on a fugitive warrant, until a hearing set for May 4. Mr. Helfand said he needed time to discuss the case with Mr. Doyle and would "most likely" return to ask the court to release Mr. Doyle to allow him to turn himself in to the authorities in Florida, where he would be formally charged. Mr. Doyle, 55, who has no prior criminal record, according to the Maryland law enforcement authorities, joined the department last year after working several years for the Transportation Security Administration. From 1975 to 2001, he worked on the Washington news desk for Time magazine.

As Mr. Doyle was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday, Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the committee would investigate the Homeland Security Department's hiring and security clearance policies.

Mr. Doyle's arrest "raises serious concerns about the department's hiring policies and, more important, its security clearance practices," Mr. King said in a statement.

"I am concerned," he continued, "that D.H.S.'s security clearance procedures and controls on misuse of electronic equipment do not meet the standards of other national security agencies."

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, called the charges "very serious allegations" and promised the administration's full cooperation with investigators.

Mr. Doyle came to the attention of the Florida authorities on March 12, when the Polk County detective, posing as a teenage girl online, was contacted by him on the computer, according to an account provided by the sheriff's office.

Mr. Doyle told the detective online that he worked for the Department of Homeland Security and, in later contacts, provided the numbers of his office telephone and his government-issued cellphone, the sheriff's office said.

Over time, the authorities said, Mr. Doyle sent the detective "hard-core pornographic movie clips" and used the chatroom service of AOL and his telephones "to have explicit sexual conversations." The sheriff's office said some of the exchanges "are too extraordinary and graphic for public release."