Sarah Palin’s Personal Yahoo E-mail Hacked

By  |  Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm

The McCain campaign may soon find itself defending against criticisms from a entirely new angle, thanks to some hackers who have apparently broke into two personal e-mail accounts of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. While details of what exactly was included in those inboxes are still in the process of being disclosed, it could possibly add fuel to speculation that Palin had been using personal e-mail accounts for state business.

McClatchy reporter Lisa Demer reported on this practice on Tuesday, writing that the Governor is not the only one to use personal e-mail for official work, but several others in Palin’s administration do so. Some see this as a potential method for Palin and others to get around archiving laws.

Activists have been pressing the government for more disclosure on exactly what Palin has been doing in these e-mails, which may have been the impetus for the hackers known as “anonymous” to attempt the hack. According to Wikileaks, the group gained access to Palin’s account sometime Tuesday.

While in fairness to the governor, many of the e-mails appear harmless and of a personal nature, a few are addressed to state officials. One is to Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, another to Governor’s Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse member Amy McCorkell. There also appear to be quite a few e-mails to Ivy Frye, an aide of Palin’s (see here and here). The contents of the Frye e-mails are not known.

Wikileaks says the Guardian has looked at the data and found that some of the e-mails include a draft of an email to Governor Schwarzenegger, discussions on state appeals court nominees, and e-mails from a “DPS,” likely the Alaska Department of Safety.

The e-mail accounts in question have since been deleted, which could be a potential problem in the ongoing investigation of the so-called “Troopergate” mess (Critics argue that Palin may have used this accounts in connection with those events). Either way, the McCain campaign has wasted no time in quickly denouncing the hack.

“This is a shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these emails will destroy them. We will have no further comment,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said.

I doubt however that the campaign will be able to stay quiet, especially if it is discovered that Palin was misusing the accounts as has been suspected.



7 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave S. Says:

    I’m reminded of the old adage “Two wrongs don’t make a right” in this instance. Yes, it was inappropriate for Sarah Palin to conduct business over her Yahoo account. However, since the emails in question are so few and seemingly low-gauge, I do not consider it a terrible breach of ethics, but rather a probable lapse in judgment in her part. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did it unknowingly. I am not one to judge her technology policy, since I have not read any official statement of hers nor do I know her record with respect to internet issues, so I have no way of knowing whether or not she’s actually technically savy.

    All that said, it was extremely inappropriate to hack into her account and get her emails. How can we claim to be advocates of privacy against the government if we do not follow our own claims of ethics? Yes, transparency is of the utmost importance in government, but we should be pursue it via official channels. If we see our government leaders breaching policy, then we should call them out, not assume a vast conspiracy and then hack into their email accounts. Furthermore, this groups actions will certainly not help the credibility of other legitimate technology-related action groups such as the EFF when they are trying to test the candidates.

  2. Mari Kon Says:

    I do not agree entirely with you, Dave. The official channels had denied to shows the booty due to executive privilege (haha executive privilege my BEEP!).

    A lapse in judgement.
    Who knwos if she is technically savvy.
    Maybe she did it unknowingly.

    We are talking about a governor here, Dave, not some milf or soccer mom in your part of town.

    I don’t even know why I am writing this, this is the first time I write such thing.

    You sound like a nice person, probably you have integrity, you respect others, you listen, you say what is on your mind without attacking (sorry for my style)..

    You have a point, Mr. S.
    “If we see our government leaders breaching policy, then we should call them out, not assume a vast conspiracy and then hack into their email accounts.”

    .. but you see, everything could be about a relationship between one another, a husband and wife, a governor and the people, a dog and its master. If there is nothing to hide, why the secrecy? — we the people created the government to serve us; we want the records, they are denied, you go get them yourself, you are not in power to deny our rights. I know my idea has flaws, and it is not perfect but it is not absolute, just a little analogy.

    Perhaps I am biased, I admit to that. I have known a fair share of people whom I trusted or wanted to trust and failed to retain my trust or desire to trust them because of secrecy. The secrecy was just a veil covering the ugly truths, which where ugly just because they were covered. Nothing is as beautiful as the radiant truth no matter what that is.

    THEN you can make your own choice to either be in denial or get on with the program.

  3. jvon Says:

    ed your my hero 🙂

  4. Dave S. Says:

    Mari, thanks for your response. I have considered what your contentions and I think you have some good points

    True, when it comes to publicly elected officials, the adage of “If there’s nothing to hide, why so secretive?” certainly holds, but only because they’re lives are fully dedicated to the pursuit of public interest. Now, certainly I think there is some room in a person’s political life that should be private and no up for public scrutiny, but as more time passes I see those areas getting smaller and smaller with politicians doing dirty dealings in almost every aspect of life.

    Trust me, when I say, that I think a firm knowledge of technical policy is key to a good leader. That said, I also know that the temptations as a computer geek is to expect everyone else to have the same level of knowledge as you do. In truth, it is unrealistic to expect politicians to understand deep packet filtering or bots. Perhaps, this is not true for you or others. It is not completely unreasonable to *want* someone to know about those things, but even CEOs of corporations don’t know the vast intricacies of their own company’s IT infrastructure, and for good reason. They don’t have the time to study those things, that’s why they hire good help. Similarly, if Palin had an excellent advisor or member of her cabinet who understood these issues well, I would feel more comfortable. That’s why Barack generally gets a better rap among the internet-savy on his technology policies, not because *he* understands it all that well, but because his policy advisers do. Now, you should take this with a grain of salt, because it is largely just pandering to his already overwhelming internet audience, which I guarantee McCain would do if his campaign thought it was important. That is, however, my opinion.

    So, for Sarah Palin, I don’t expect her to understand technology even a little, because most people don’t quite honestly. They just use it. No one questions a candidate’s knowledge of this country’s plumbing or power grid infrastructure, even though those are considerably more important than the internet and tech to the average person. (I realize that this may be a contentious point, so I don’t expect full agreement here.)

    My REAL problem here is that these hackers have completely trounced the legitimacy of the possibility of investigating those emails for real shady dealings. You can’t use them know. There is a huge stigma when it comes to crackers (hackers = people who tinker, crackers = hackers for evil) and it is generally thought by the public that anything they produce is unusable, unethical, and immoral. So even if those emails reveal Sarah Palin to be selling government secrets or what have you, it won’t matter because they were retrieved in an unacceptable manner. People can just accuse the hackers of tampering with the email and not having the trust the information. So, you may say, what should have been done in the case where people suspected her of using her private email for public business? Simple. A court subpoena of every email she sent in that account over the last few years. And if she didn’t turn it up, they would just go to Yahoo!. That way, the public could trust the information. All it would take would be the DA of Alaska to suspect her of violating state transparency laws.

    Why do I say this? Just look at how the media is covering this story. Sarah Palin has become the VICTIM, she’s just getting more and more positive attention. She is the “everywomen” even *more* know. No one cares what’s in the emails, not even the visilibly Democratic members of the media. Whatever intention the crackers had, it has been lost. She could have been having sex with teenagers and no one would care! That is the real tragedy, we have lost an opportunity to know a candidate’s unethical dealings.

    And my final point (I apologize for the length) is that it is INSANE that the Republican base is weeping and moaning over lost privacy. This is extremely inappropriate and downright deceitful after the push for FISA legislation. Glenn Greenwald is much better at writing than I am, so I’ll let him do the talking:

  5. ryan Says:

    well dave, technically she is a victim – of a felony no less.

  6. Jeanna Says:

    Sarah Palin is a good leader. i can say that because she did some projects in alaska that helped lots of people .

  7. Bong Says:

    Sarah Palin is a woman with a very strong character and personality that is why i like her.