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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Julie Myers
Julie Myers
Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

March 21, 2006

Julie Myers
It's great to be here today. This issue can be very difficult to discuss, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to tell you about what investigators at ICE and other law enforcement officers around the world are doing to help keep children safe. I look forward to taking your questions.

Dan, from UK writes:
Firstly, thank you for giving your time to answer these questions. More importantly what have you and the US government done to combat these perveted actions of child exploitation and what are you going to do? Dan

Julie Myers
One of the first things we did, shortly after the creation of ICE in 2003, was to create Operation Predator. It's a comprehensive initiative designed to protect young people from alien smugglers, human traffickers, child pornographers and other predatory criminals.

The program has been a tremendous success - more than 7,000 individuals have been arrested as part of the program, including thousands of foreign nationals who've committed crimes against children and who are now deportable, as well as hundreds of criminals who produce, buy, sell or trade child pornography. If you'd like to read more about Operation Predator, and some of the individual cases we've made, go to

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Secretary Myers: When it comes to online Child Exploitation. Do we have any kind of numbers on the issue or an est. guess? How big is this problem? Thank You

Julie Myers
Every year, sexual predators victimize millions of children around the world. Experts estimate that one in five girls and one in ten boys in the United States are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood. To give you a sense of the scope of child pornography online, I can tell you that in one case that ICE investigated with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, there were more than 1,300 arrests worldwide. Those came after law enforcement identified 100,000 credit card transactions associated with several child pornography websites.

Tara, from Akron, Ohio writes:
Ms. Myers, I read that many countries were involved in helping the U.S. bring this criminals to justice. What other countries were involved and how exactly do we work with them on these types of cases?

Julie Myers
Thanks for your question, Tara. You are right. Foreign law enforcement was instrumental in this most recent case involving the child pornography chat room that we uncovered. ICE has more than 50 law enforcement attaché offices in 35 countries around the world. Those offices are staffed by criminal investigators specifically focused on the international aspects of all types of investigations. We work together by sharing information and investigative leads with foreign police agencies.

In fact, this recent case involving the child pornography chat room was first brought to ICE's attention by the Edmonton Police Service and Toronto Police Service through ICE's attaché office in Toronto. In addition to these Canadian law enforcement agencies, investigators from the United Kingdom and Australia were also involved in the investigation. This international cooperation is critically important because so many crimes, including child pornography and other forms of child exploitation, transcend our nation's borders.

Kurt, from Kalamazoo, MI writes:
Mrs. Myers, Obviously you cannot control who goes online and who enter public forums but don't you think that it is the responsibility of parents and other authority figures of young kids to make sure that their children do not enter a public website that could submit them to online predators and not the government? Should we not be wasting our resources on something more productive?

Julie Myers
This fight against child exploitation is a shared responsibility. I've talked a little about what ICE is doing, and, you are right -- parents certainly play an important role in keeping their own children safe. Some of the things parents may wish to do:

1) If you have a family website with photos or other personal information, consider putting password protection on the site. That way, only the people who you want to view the information can do so.

2) Talk to your children. It's so important to monitor what your children are doing online, just as you would offline.

3) Parents have great instincts. Trust them. If you think something is suspicious, please report it to law enforcement. You can reach ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE, or call your local police or sheriffs' department.

Katie, from Chicago writes:
What exactly happened last week here in Chicago? I saw the Attorney General's news conference on the 10pm news, but didn't have a chance to listen to exactly what happened. And why did he come to Chicago to make the annoucement? Keep up the great work. Thank you.

Julie Myers
Last week, Attorney General Gonzales and I announced that 27 individuals in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain were charged with federal crimes in connection with a private Internet "chat room" that was used worldwide to facilitate the trading of thousands of images of child pornography - including streaming videos of live molestations.

We made the announcement in Chicago because several of the indictments came out of that federal court district. In fact, the investigation by ICE agents led to indictments and criminal complaints against 13 defendants in nine U.S. judicial districts in Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, New York, Arizona and Hawaii, as well as in state court in North Carolina. An additional 14 defendants were charged abroad in connection with activity in the chat room known as "Kiddypics & Kiddyvids."

If you'd like to read more about the announcement, the press release is posted at

Liz, from Baltimore writes:
I'm a bit confused--why is it the immigration and customs office is working on this project? I know there were other countries involved in the "sting" against these predators, but how does your office play into this?

Julie Myers
People ask me this question all the time. The simple explanation is that child pornography is truly a global crime, and that ICE's enforcement authorities cover crimes that cross U.S. borders, and virtual borders. To get into a bit more detail, understand that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was created in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. In terms of our investigative authorities, ICE brings together the investigative powers of the former U.S. Customs Service and the old Immigration and Naturalization Service. This gives us tremendous authority for a range of crimes with a border nexus, such as human smuggling and trafficking, money laundering, weapons trafficking and a range of online crimes like child pornography. All of these crimes share the common element of some international nexus, and that is where ICE comes in.

Paul, from Seattle writes:
If these offenders only went by a screen name, how were they able to be identified? As well as those in other countries? Thank you for working on this, it is so very important.

Julie Myers
While I can't go into a great amount of detail about the specific investigative methods we use, I can tell you that we are able to work closely with ISPs here in the U.S. and overseas to identify individuals engaged in criminal activity. ICE can use various legal processes, such as court-ordered search warrants and undercover operations to gather evidence both online and offline. ICE also has a Cyber Crimes Center (C3) that essentially serves as "mission control" for ICE's Internet related investigations. The center develops leads generated by domestic and international sources; validates if those leads constitute violations of law, then turns over these leads to ICE field offices for further investigation.

ICE also works very closely with ICACs, or "Internet Crimes Against Children" task forces across the U.S. These task forces are funded by the Department of Justice, and lead locally by local law enforcement agencies such as the police department or sheriffs' office. They frequently also include federal partners such as ICE, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI.

Jen, from Oregon writes:
Dear Ms. Myers,As a parent, I'm concerned about my children getting online and meetint these awful people. And of course I am tired of my own email box being filled with spam that these awful people help promote.

How can I ensure my family is safe from online child predators?

Julie Myers
I talked about some tips above, in my response to Kurt. In addition to these, here are some great resources:

Department of Homeland Security at

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at

Virtual Global Task Force at

Jennifer, from Arlington writes:
Was it easier than you expected working with the different foreign agencies in this case?

Julie Myers
I mentioned earlier that ICE has more than 50 attaché offices around the world. We work with foreign agencies all the time, so we have very good relationships and are accustomed to joint investigations.

In the case of child exploitation investigations particularly, it really makes little difference if our law enforcement partners are foreign or domestic. We want to keep the children safe and bring the perpetrators to justice. One of the best examples of this ongoing cooperation is on the Virtual Global Task Force, a partnership of US, UK, Australian and Canadian law enforcement. Go to to learn more about it.

Joanna, from Michigan writes:
My husband and I have 9 children--Children are precious We appreciate all that the government is doing to protect young people from evil people who seek to exploit and even destroy their lives. We pray for great success in your efforts. Perhaps there is something we can do to help?

Julie Myers
Thank you for your good wishes. As you can imagine, these types of investigations can be gut wrenching. It means a great deal to ICE investigators to know that they have your support. One of the most important things you can do to help is to keep your eyes and your ears open. Very often, the leads that help us break these cases come from alert citizens who report suspicious behavior. You can reach ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE, or call your local law enforcement agency.

Julie Myers
Thank you very much for these probing and insightful questions. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. I appreciate your interest in the work ICE is doing and your concern in protecting children. One final thought - if you want to stay up-to-date on all the latest at ICE, feel free to sign up for Inside ICE, our email newsletter at