News.com's Declan McCullaugh has juxtaposed US Representative Mark Foley's record as one of Congress' leading opponents to online predation against the recent news that he himself was apparently an online predator (if the accounts currently being published turn out to be accurate). Wrote McCullagh:
Mark Foley, who abruptly resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives last week after disclosures of inappropriate conversations with a teenage page, had spent years positioning himself as Congress' leading defender of children on the Internet.
Foley, a Republican who represented the area near Palm Beach, Fla., had spearheaded a legislative crackdown on Internet sites that post provocative photographs of teenage and preteen youth. He had pushed to open FBI databases to track sex offenders. He tried to force sexually explicit Web sites to label themselves accordingly.
Those public stances, coupled with Foley's strident denunciations of adults who prey on America's youth, further fueled the political hurricane surrounding his resignation just five weeks before the November elections. They also pose the troubling question of how a self-proclaimed Internet decency defender--if the leaked e-mail and chat transcripts are accurate--could be the very sort of person he claimed to despise.
In my mind, the story raises the question of whether or not Foley used his position of advocacy on the issue as a cover to stay perversely close to the subject matter without setting off alarms. I don't know why, but I'm reminded of those cases where the perpetrators of certain crimes embed themselves in the ensuing investigations. Either way, this is an extremely cautionary tale for all you parents out there regarding online safety.