This is My Take As Well

From Foreign Policy

Every turn in the investigation that led to Petraeus's resignation perfectly illustrates the incredible and dangerous reach of the massive United States surveillance apparatus, which, through hundreds of billions of dollars in post-9/11 programs -- coupled with weakened privacy laws and lack of oversight -- has affected the civil liberties of every American for years. The only difference here is the victim of the surveillance state's reach was not a faceless American, but the head one of the agencies tasked to carry it out.....

It seems the deciding factor in opening the investigation was not the emails' content, but the fact that the FBI agent was friendly with Kelley. (Even more disturbing, the same FBI agent has now been accused of becoming "obsessed" with the Tampa socialite, sent shirtless pictures to her, and has been removed from the case.)...

One would assume, and hope, police have to get probable cause for all emails, just like they would for a physical letter or a phone call. But the law governing email -- the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) -- doesn't have such requirements for emails more than 180 days old. Because ECPA was written in 1986, before the World Wide Web even existed, archived emails were an afterthought given the incredibly small storage space on email servers....

While these details may shock the average reader, these privacy-invasive tactics are used regularly by both federal and local law enforcement around the United States. In fact, as the New York Times reported, referring to Petraeus, "Law enforcement officials have said they used only ordinary methods in the case." The only difference here is the target was the director of the CIA and one of the most decorated soldiers in modern military history.

Electronic communication needs better Fourth Amendment protection.

By the way, another scandal here that interests me more than the sex thing is that the head of the CIA has such a terrible grasp on basic fieldcraft

Petraeus and Kelley were communicating not by sending each other emails, but using an old (and apparently ineffective) trick -- "used by terrorists and teenagers alike" -- of saving drafts in the draft folder of Gmail, thinking this was more private than if they sent them to each other. But as the ACLU's Chris Soghoian explained, this was not so


  1. Matthew Slyfield:

    Another disturbing aspect is that the Director of the CIA carelessly put himself in a position where he was vulnerable to blackmail.

  2. mesaeconoguy:

    The various agencies are rife with sexual and other
    corruption (shocking).

    Monica Lewinsky slept her way thru the very same channels
    here, and had influence on numerous Pentagon desk general promotions.

    Whether or not Petraeus was corrupted by the act, or was
    blackmailed, his testimony could destroy Obama.

  3. slocum:

    I guess I'm not surprised that Petraeus isn't up to snuff on spycraft -- why would he be? Did he have any particular intelligence background before being appointed to run the CIA? But even so, it is sad that Broadwell went to a fair amount of trouble to try to avoid detection (signing up for the mail accounts anonymously and not accessing them from her home network), but she didn't take 10 minutes to google and figure out how she might have done it right (say with a VPN to obscure the IP and PGP for strong encryption of the contents of the messages).

    On the other hand, I guess you could say that the measures that Broadwell took were actually good enough to avoid attracting attention (though obviously not good enough to withstand an investigation once it initiated for another reason). And for teenagers trying to evade parental supervision, the 'draft folder trick' is probably 99.9% effective.

  4. Russ Armstrong:

    The "shirtless photo" story was blown out of proportion. See the following story in the Seattle Times:

  5. sabre_springs_mark:

    I would think he had intelligence gathering experience, that is part of what he is suppose to be doing when leading troops, gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of the enemy. He also probably had a top secret clearance with several riders (probably even the famous Yankee White) as a general, and therefore knew how he was suppose to handle cleared data. I know big guys at the top may not feel they have to follow the rules, but for my one "secret" job, where I wasn't even privy to secret info, they sure had a lot of restrictions,and made sure I would know all the guidelines and procedure to not let anything leak out.

  6. sabre_springs_mark:

    He let himself be vulnerable to blackmail. Having a mistress is actually not a disqualification to getting a security clearance. Having one and trying to cover it up in front of investigators, or admitting that (other than say a spouse) you would crazy things not to get discovered by others - is a disqualification.

    At your clearance interview you say, yup I have a mistress, and she is a non felon US citizen - and then all is good.

  7. me:

    Oh, America. Another pov on our state of panicked agitation:

  8. alanaforsyth:

    Petraeus and Kelley were communicating with each other? I thought it was P and Paula who were communicating. Where is your copyeditor?