By now everyone has heard about David Kernell, the 20 year old college student who hacked into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account. He was indicted this week on charges for illegally accessing Palin’s account and could get up to five years.
This case has raised a few flags to some in the public. First it leaves one wondering why the DOJ took such an active role in going after this guy. Email accounts get hacked on a daily basis, not to mention bank accounts and other items of higher fiscal value, yet the DOJ puts these on a low priority list.
The other big flag is that the hacker actually uncovered some violations by Palin:
The Justice Department seems to be setting one of its amazing new rules. When a Republican political figure is damaged in her expectation of being elected to office, it is telling us, that’s a felony. And why is that the case here? Because the hacker helped establish something important: Sarah Palin has been systematically violating the Open Records Act. As David Corn has noted at Mother Jones, Palin relied heavily on private email accounts for improper purposes. As governor of Alaska, she was obligated to maintain as public records her communications with respect to her discharge of official duties. Palin skirted this obligation by turning to private email accounts for government related dealings. In fact, the hacker in question helped flush out Palin’s violations. The hacker also helped establish a motive for the illegal conduct: Palin regularly involved her husband in official business, and it’s easy to understand why she did not want to leave behind evidence of her husband’s involvement.
I’m sure some out there would come to Palin’s defense, claiming that this evidence wasn’t properly obtained, however such issues have already been argued in court. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on a similar case where a hacker turned over evidence that eventually lead to the conviction of some involved in child pornography. The basics of the case are the same, someone used illegal means to gain access to someones personal email account. The information obtained by those means lead to the conviction of the victims of the hack. The court claimed it was a ‘loophole’ in federal privacy law.
So why isn’t Palin now facing questions about her violation of the Open Records Act? Hopefully more in the media will start asking her about this.