The resignation of Gen. David Petraeus began, we all now know, with Gmail. Petraeus’ biographer and reported mistress Paula Broadwell apparently regarded Tampa socialite and Petraeus friend Jill Kelley as a romantic rival, and she e-mailed Kelley from an anonymous Gmail account, warning her to stay away from the general. Kelley turned those e-mails over to the FBI, which began investigating who was behind the messages and eventually identified Broadwell as the owner of the account.
The FBI gained access to Broadwell’s anonymous e-mail account. Inside, they found evidence that Broadwell and Petraeus had exchanged racy messages by storing them in Gmail’s “drafts” folder.
The Broadwell saga illustrates just how vulnerable our e-mail is to warrantless government snooping, noted by privacy researcher Chris Soghoian in a post at the ACLU blog. We don’t yet know exactly what legal procedures the FBI invoked to get information about Broadwell’s online activities. But alarmingly, most of the information the FBI reportedly obtained in the course of its investigation would not have required any judicial oversight.
I could care less about which powerful guy is sleeping with which gal. But what is disturbing is just how far the FBI was able to investigate into their private emails without needing ti have any sort of warrant or notice to the people being investigated.
This case started because of a personal request of an FBI agent by a friend.Think about that. If you happened to tick off someone with an FBI agent as a friend, they could get all sorts of personal information without much oversight at all.
Open for abuse? I certainly think so. Could simply having that opinion allow an FBI agent to investigate me? What is there to stop them?
Could any of us withstand an investigation by the State? Especially one willing to leak information that suggests foul play without any real proof?
I am willing to bet that anyone can be made to look guilty if the right information is released in the wrong way.