Omission Watch: Media Bored by Violent Child Porn Sentencing of Former HHS Cyber Security Chief

One would think tabloidish news shows like Good Morning America would be interested in the hot story of a former acting director of cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services being sentenced to 25 years in jail for child pornography – the kind of vile stuff that includes the rape and murder of children.

But you would be wrong. Timothy deFoggi, 56, formerly of Germantown, Maryland in the DC suburbs, was convicted by a federal jury in Nebraska in August and nobody in the national press really paid much attention. (There were tiny briefs at AP and The New York Times.) Isn’t this at least as interesting or outrageous as a Louisiana state legislator speaking a white supremacist event? Where are the “To Catch a Predator” folks at Dateline NBC?

Or are the media worried that going after an HHS staffer might make the Obamacare Corps look bad? The Washington Times editorialized on this back on September 3, 2014:

DeFoggi, 56, was paid $144,385 as the "lead information-technology specialist" for the department that gave us Healthcare.gov, the world's most expensive information-technology fiasco. Though his trolling for pornography had been revealed long ago - he was indicted 17 months ago - agency officials kept him on the payroll until January of this year. While sitting in jail awaiting his trial, DeFoggi was paid more than $90,000 in salary.

The presumption of innocence is of paramount importance in the courtroom, but employers are not required to give the unsavory special treatment. A suspension without pay would have been appropriate.

Before his secret was exposed, DeFoggi was responsible for keeping Health and Human Services computers "safe" from online intruders. He instead spent much of his time on child-porn websites. On one of them, DeFoggi wrote: "Have many perversions. Contact me for fantasy chat." He was caught when the FBI found the website and shut it down.

A federal judge will decide what is to become of DeFoggi in November, when he is scheduled to be sentenced. A long stay in prison, where the abusers of children are not exactly treated as welcome guests, is likely.

What's more troubling is that someone as sick as this was entrusted with so much access to the personal information of others. Before DeFoggi joined HHS, he held the highest security clearance at the Energy Department's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. "I used to develop technology for the CIA and NSA," DeFoggi told the court.

This is why it's troubling that the federal government has collected personal health information on every American through Obamacare and Healthcare.gov. This is why the National Security Agency must never be allowed to tap into an iPhone without a warrant or proof of the holder's involvement in a crime.

Justin Moyer reported online Tuesday at The Washington Post:

“Using the same technological expertise he employed as Acting Director of Cyber Security at HHS, DeFoggi attempted to sexually exploit children and traffic in child pornography through an anonymous computer network of child predators,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement.

DeFoggi used Tor, software designed to protect Internet users’ identities, to access a child porn Web site between March and December of 2012, when the site was shut down. But he didn’t just look.

“Through the website, DeFoggi accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members in which he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children,” the press release said. “DeFoggi suggested meeting one member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children.”

Tor cloaked such interactions.

Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location,” according to torproject.org, where the software can be downloaded.

DeFoggi was arrested after a sting targeting three child pornography Web sites accessible through Tor. Tor and its users do not have shining reputations. One study said 80 percent of visits to Tor’s “hidden services” were related to child sex abuse.

I think we can all guess the national media would have been more interested in this story if Timothy deFoggi had been employed by the Catholic Church. But since he was working in cyber-security for the federal government, being a kiddie-porn crook is just not interesting?

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