New Twists and Turns in Palin E-Mail Hack

New developments are unfolding by the hour in the saga of Sarah Palin's e-mail hack. Just days after someone broke into Palin's Yahoo Mail account and publicly posted her private messages, fallout is spreading fast and far -- and the investigation is just getting started. Here's a roundup of where things stand and what's ahead.

The Investigation

  • The FBI and Secret Service are teaming up to try to track down the hacker behind the breach. The Secret Service attempted to get copies of the stolen messages from the Associated Press, according to Fox News, but the AP refused to hand over what it had.
  • The McCain-Palin campaign is working with authorities to help further the probe. "This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities," Campaign Manager Rick Davis stated.
  • The webmaster of a proxy service believed to have been used by the hacker is cooperating with the FBI to help pinpoint the suspect's location. Gabriel Ramuglia says he believes the hacker used his Ctunnel service to disguise his identity. Ramuglia is now sending more than 80GB worth of server logs to investigators, who hope to find the hacker's IP address inside.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is raising questions over whether the hacker could be legally protected, even if he is caught. The EFF says the Department of Justice believes opened and read e-mails should be viewed differently than unopened messages -- and that accessing someone's read e-mails without their authorization should not necessarily be subject to prosecution. It all comes down to a matter of definitions, but in this case, those seemingly simple meanings could end up making all the difference.

The Players

  • A Tennessee state representative is now confirming early rumors that his son is, in fact, the person linked to the postings that claim credit for the hack. State Rep. Mike Kernell told the Tennessean his 20-year-old son, David, is the subject of all the chatter surrounding the case. He declined to elaborate; however, several connections have surfaced between the young man and the forum poster, including a past blog of Kernell's in which he used the handle "rubicox", a strikingly similar name to the forum poster's alias of "rubico10." The posting itself is also believed to have been done under an e-mail account linked to Kernell with that same alias. (Coincidentally enough, the account was hosted with Yahoo Mail.)
  • Neither Palin nor McCain have publicly addressed the issue thus far, outside of their campaign manager's comments.
  • Amy B. McCorkell, a member of one of Palin's governor advisory boards who appears to have written one of the hacked e-mails, initially refused to discuss the subject with media members. She later confirmed to Wired that she had, in fact, sent the e-mail -- and had also since been in touch with the FBI.
  • Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, who also appears to have sent one of the hacked messages, is staying mum on the matter.
  • The Alaska governor's office is generally referring questions to the McCain-Palin campaign, telling Fox News: "People wouldn't be asking these questions if she wasn't a candidate."
  • Yahoo has stated it "can't get into specific details of any of our users' accounts." The company did, however, post a blog Thursday night urging all its webmail users to increase the strength of their Yahoo Mail passwords.

The Bigger Questions

Whether the hack itself was meant as a political statement or a simple prank, it has fueled a controversy now stretching far past the borders of the 49th state. While the ultimate implications have yet to be seen, you can be sure this mid-week move and the fallout that's followed won't soon be forgotten.

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