With a tap of United States District Judge Thomas F. Hogan’s gavel, the shocking story of renegade former Democratic staffer Jackson Cosko draws near a close. The sensationally sordid tale includes burglary, cyberterrorism, doxxing, espionage and narcotics along with menacing threats of personal retribution.
Cosko, a 27-year-old IT specialist and Washington D.C. resident, plead guilty last Friday to five counts including computer fraud, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. All of this follows his apprehension by U.S. Capitol police last October.
He also admitted guilt to a charge of doxxing, or posting another individual’s personal information online for public access. This type of cybercrime, while not uncommon these days, is more than significant in Cosko’s case due to the major political players who are prominently involved.
Amazingly, they are some of the biggest names in American politics. This list features such high-level lawmakers as the current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as fellow Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and a since-retired Orrin Hatch of Utah. Cosko reportedly published their confidential personal information on each one’s respective Wikipedia page.
Allegedly, Cosko became so enraged by these lawmakers’ public support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the heat of sexual assault allegations during the course of congressional hearings, that he was triggered to commit criminal acts.
Astonishingly, the brazen burglary and series of surrounding events bear a strikingly eerie resemblance to another massive yet far more notorious Washington crime. Incredibly, Cosko and the Watergate perpetrators were similarly caught right in the act. However, the size and scope of Cosko’s crimes literally dwarf those past offenses perpetrated in this very same city over 45 years ago.
Beyond Watergate, we can cite a parallel with another pivotal time—when Department of Defense official Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers and the ensuing Fielding break-in that followed. A malicious move that was reportedly made in retaliation for Ellsberg’s subversive actions.
Flash forward to the Washington of today. The political divide in this country has drifted us into dangerous territory. A strong dislike bordering on hatred simmers, often bubbling over between the two sides. Across the country we are seeing physical altercations and violent encounters with increasing regularity under this administration.
Aside from those five counts that Cosko plead to, there is glaring evidence this breach and theft of highly sensitive private data extends far beyond what is widely being reported. Cosko stunningly confessed to a staggering amount of theft – dozens of gigabytes – including many thousands of confidential documents and private emails taken from Senator Hassan’s office. Credit card and Social Security information belonging to employees of the United States Senate were also stolen. These appalling crimes were committed over numerous occasions from July to September of 2018 by Cosko who was allegedly angered by his departure from Hassan’s office and reacted in spectacular fashion.
Consequently, the plea agreement reveals that Cosko was “exploring ways to use that data to his benefit.” So, where might some of this prized private personal information have landed? Is it possible that Cosko indeed sold some data? Who can say it wasn’t dumped on the dark web?
Now that inevitably begs the question, why does this arresting tale seem to receive such precious little attention from a majority of the mainstream U.S. media? Here is a case with all the makings of a Hollywood spy mega thriller. On a related note, major U.S. news networks have long been accused of carrying a left-wing bias, so that would certainly appear to be a fair question in this instance. Then consider if political ideologies of the respective parties involved were switched, would the media coverage and attention be any different?
Following his dismissal from the office of Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Cosko was later employed as an intern for House Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, incidentally at the time of his arrest. He also had previously worked for the California Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer only prior to working for Sen. Hassan. Her office asked him to resign in May of last year due to misconduct. Still he was afforded the luxury of another slot with Jackson Lee, evidently once again enjoying full access to a huge trove of restricted government data. This doesn’t exactly inspire full confidence in their vetting process.
These coveted positions were available to Cosko despite a past felony drug conviction. What if any standards of behavior or conduct may be set in place for such prestigious roles?
Interesting to note, Cosko comes from an affluent and well-connected family. His father, Greg, is presently CEO at San Francisco-based construction giant Hathaway Dinwiddie. That firm is responsible for building the Richard C. Blum Center on campus at University of California at Berkeley. Blum the investment banker otherwise known as husband to Dianne Feinstein. The connection surely doesn’t end there. What is the amount of sway these corporate giants potentially carry in the national political arena and America’s criminal justice system? How much deeper does it actually go? These urgent questions are posed as we watch our government and its elected representatives continue to operate with extreme negligence regarding our national security and collective safety.
Clearly, the issue seems to be part of a much greater problem. Several of them in fact. Numerous incidents of large-scale data breaches and digital property theft have been featured lately in media. Have we as a society become so desensitized to this kind of alarming news that it barely registers a blip on the radar?
Cosko will face almost five years in prison at an upcoming sentencing hearing scheduled on June 13. Furthermore, a search warrant obtained at the time of his arrest found methamphetamines and cocaine in his apartment. Cosko’s attorney later offered a prepared statement in which it is claimed the disgraced young man’s actions were fueled by drugs and he would be focused on his rehabilitation namely addressing drug addiction. Quite a path of destruction he has left.
In a surprising twist his accomplice and ex-Hassan staff member Samantha G. DeForest-Davis was further implicated in the titanic data theft scheme earlier this week. Criminal charges against her could be filed soon. May we possibly afford the luxury of dismissing this kind of news? Or does it potentially foreshadow more ominous things for the future?