Palin Hacking Probe: What's Next?
The intensity of the probe into the hacking of Sarah Palin's e-mail has subsided but big questions remain.
What Happened This Week
- A federal grand jury listened to testimony about the hacking Tuesday. Three unidentified students, as well as several federal agents, were seen entering the courthouse. No charges were filed.
- FBI agents searched the home of David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student and son of state representative Mike Kernell, on Sunday. Numerous connections have linked Kernell to the hacking, though he has yet to be formally named a suspect.
- Kernell's three roommates were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury during Sunday's raid. They might have been the three who appeared at Tuesday's hearing, but that has not been confirmed.
- The Webmaster of a proxy service believed to have been used in the hacking reported yet another connection between the crime and Kernell on Monday. The hacker, he says, had an IP address from the same Internet service provider that services Kernell's Knoxville apartment complex. Investigators believe that the hacker used the proxy service to try to mask his identity.
- Kernell's family released a statement to the media via their lawyer Tuesday. "The Kernell family wants to do the right thing, and they want what is best for their son. We are confident that the truth will emerge as we go through the process. David is a decent and intelligent young man," it says.
What Happens Next
- The FBI is moving forward with its investigation into Kernell, but is releasing few specifics about what actions its agents are taking.
- A grand jury could reconvene at any time and potentially file formal charges. An attorney told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that grand juries could "pursue investigations for many sessions," so Tuesday's meeting may be only the first.
- If the case does end up going to trial, the government's challenge will be proving who was actually at the computer during the hacking, a defense lawyer tells Fox News. Having seized equipment would make that easier, he indicates. (Whether agents seized anything during their visit to Kernell's apartment is not clear, though witness reports indicate that they primarily photographed evidence.)
The McCain-Palin campaign has largely stayed mum about the matter, aside from a brief statement when word of the hacking first broke. Rest assured, though, that plenty more developments will occur in the coming weeks as the investigation unfolds. For a seemingly simple security breach, the probe into how it happened promises to be complex.