Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin e-mail break-in a sad saga

I would have been inclined to be sympathetic with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for getting her personal e-mail account hacked – until I learned that one reason the Alaska governor uses her personal e-mail for state business is to get around requirements that her official government communications be made public.

Basically, all e-mails she sends via her state account become public record under the state’s Open Records Act.

IT IS WHY the political dirt-diggers have been trying to get to her official e-mails, in hope they can find something incriminating that could be used against her during the next seven weeks prior to the Nov. 4 elections.

If anyone found anything that seriously reeked of criminal activity, such official state messages could be used as evidence in future criminal proceedings. Even without charges, tidbits written in the informal manner most people use when knocking out e-mail messages would be embarrassing (particularly if she’s one of those people who uses cutesy spellings or ridiculous symbols in her messages).

But if Palin is using a private service to send out state government messages, that is a deliberate attempt to evade detection.

There’s a reason public officials should not be using Yahoo! to send their official messages, and not just because Yahoo!’s security measures are less than ideal for government purposes.

GOVERNMENTS GO TO some expense to create their own personal e-mail systems (along with their websites). Because such communications are ultimately “the people’s business,” it is not ridiculous to expect that such information ultimately be accessible to the public.

There’s also the fact that it is important to maintain a certain separation between government and campaign business. Palin herself is aware of that fact. Seriously, I couldn’t help but notice that several portions of the Alaska government website contains the following disclosure:

“Alaska law prohibits the use of state equipment or resources for campaign or partisan political purposes. Please do not send any messages concerning campaign or partisan political activities to this e-mail address or any other state of Alaska office. Also, please do not send donations, contributions or written correspondence to the state Office of the Governor or any other state of Alaska office. Information about elections and candidates can be found by calling, writing or e-mailing a campaign office for that particular candidate.”

Does using a personal account for government business indicate a willingness to use that same account for campaign business? Do we literally have the chance that government and campaign business are being commingled in an improper manner?

I DON’T HAVE evidence that she is doing any such thing, but it creates the appearance of impropriety.

It certainly becomes a question to be asked – Are Alaska taxpayers being asked to provide support for Palin and her attempt to prop up the campaign of Republican John McCain at a time when the bid of Democratic opponent Barack Obama was threatening to blow it away?

She certainly benefits because, even if the Republicans lose the Nov. 4 elections, Palin now becomes a nationally known political figure. Alaska will certainly get more attention in the future with Palin in office for at least two more years in her current term.

There is a reason why people who use e-mail for the delivery of significant correspondence need to maintain all their different accounts, and why it is such a “big deal” when people spend their time at work goofing off by sending personal e-mail messages on their employee e-mail accounts.

I’D HATE TO think Palin didn’t realize that. If she was really that clueless, then she truly is unfit to be in the line of succession to working in the Oval Office.

But since I don’t think she was truly that clueless, this whole issue makes me think Palin is just one of those people who thinks that she has a right to do government business in private.

Isn’t that the mentality we have had too much of during the past seven-and-a-half years? Is this really what McCain envisions when he claims he will shake up the D.C. establishment? It’s no wonder that a recent Gallup Organization poll showed that only 3 percent of people who want serious change in government say they will vote for McCain (compared to 37 percent for Obama).

Not that I’m in defense of the wormy people who hacked their way into her e-mail account. I have never understood what it is about “hacking” that causes some people to get such a perverse thrill from it – aside from the fact they have too much free time on their hands.

I WON’T BE the least bit offended if the Secret Service and the FBI crack down on somebody, even though I have noticed some Internet comment section pundits seem to think this whole thing was a teenage prank that should be treated as such.

It becomes a pain in the derriere to have to reset an e-mail account because some twit decided to mess with you. I know from experience, since someone a couple of months ago managed to mess with the e-mail account associated with this weblog and its sister site, The South Chicagoan.

That was probably someone’s idea of a prank. It was really a waste of time.

And there actually is one individual whom I do feel sorry for in all of this – Bristol Palin.

SHE’S THE 17-year-old daughter of the Alaska governor who has had her teenage pregnancy turned into a focus of national gossip. Now, because the person who hacked their way into Sarah Palin’s e-mail also got access to her account lists of e-mails and telephone numbers, Bristol’s cellular telephone number was briefly made public.

Just imagine how many horny teenage boys saw that number, mentally inserted the words “For a good time, call …” in front of the number, then called. The hassle and embarrassment she went through until having that number changed is disgusting.

But perhaps it was appropriate to think of that piece of information as being the equivalent of a piece of bathroom graffiti. There are times when the content of sites available only via computer screens, and the ways of the Internet in general, seems like it belongs in the toilet.

Now, if only we could flush.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Sarah Palin inadvertently gave away in her Republican convention speech (,0,2207794.story) the personal details that enabled someone to change Palin’s Yahoo! e-mail account password.

Want to contact the Alaska governor? Here ( is the form allowing one to send an e-mail message to her official state government account.

The same methods used to hack their way into Palin’s personal e-mail account could just as easily be used ( to get into your account. Have a nice day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This lame excuse that she MAY have used her personal account to circumvent disclosure is an after thought by jerks to justify this activity. ALL public officials, even the sainted Obama, should have their personal e-mails checked by the e-mail police since they all MAY be guilty. Talk about Big Brother. Anyone reading her stolen e-mails can see it's a personal account. OH! you are not allowed to have any pvt. account if elected to any office. Please get real. As soon as you send an official e-mail on a private account you are putting your political life in the hands of those others to whom you send the e-mail since they will know your are in violation of something or another. It is interesting how the victim of a crime is so easily made the criminal when you don't agree with their ideas. The constant attempts at criminlization of political activity is so like Russia and China ---it is really unamerican.