Palingate? - Agents Swoop On A Tennessee College Dorm Linked To Palin Hacker's IP Address

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Mike Butcher
TechCrunch.com
Monday, September 22, 2008; 1:38 AM

Hack into - and then publish - the email account of a major politician, especially one under Secret Service protection and currently running for Vice President, and you had better cover your tracks. Well. WBIR is among those reporting that FBI agents broke into a party at the Fort Sanders apartment of University of Tennessee student David Kernell early Sunday morning. A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed there has been "investigatory activity" in Knoxville regarding the incident where Sarah Palin's Yahoo account was hacked and information published online.

According to a witness, several agents arrived at The Commons of Knoxville apartment block around midnight, took down the names of everyone at the party and then spent the next 1.5 to 2 hours taking pictures of everything inside the apartment. So far it looks like there are no publicly available search warrants, and no charges have been filed. Give it time. Witnesses say Kernell and his friends fled the apartment while his three roommates were subpoenaed.

It turns out that David Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a Democratic state representative from Memphis, and the blogosphere - especially right wing bloggers - has been cock-a-hoop about the possibility that the hacker in question is Kernell and the action was engineered by the Democractic Party. That includes Knoxville blogger and WBIR contributor Terry Frank who is helpfully (but with no basis in fact) posting images of Kernell's Facebook page, although she has removed his mobile phone number. Nice touch.

As Wired reports, the blogosphere says someone going by the name "Rubico" on the 4chan forum admitted to hacking Palin's email. Rubico's handle was then connected to an e-mail address which tentatively identified the owner as a college student in Tennessee. It's clear that the "hack" was simply created by reseting Palin's password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse - all information freely available online. So who should be in court here? A college kid, or Yahoo's email security people?


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