Petraeus Scandal Demonstrates How Easily the Government Can Snoop on You

John Glaser, November 13, 2012

Aside from the juicy details of the Petraeus sex scandal, the case raises some serious questions about the ease of government surveillance and individual privacy. Scott Shane at the New York Times:

The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that civil libertarians have long warned about: that in policing the Web for crime, espionage and sabotage, government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.

On the Internet, and especially in e-mail, text messages, social network postings and online photos, the work lives and personal lives of Americans are inextricably mixed. Private, personal messages are stored for years on computer servers, available to be discovered by investigators who may be looking into completely unrelated matters.

According to the Associated Press, a major lesson from the Petraeus scandal is that “your inbox may not be that hard for authorities to access.”

Your emails are not nearly as private as you think.

The downfall of CIA Director David Petraeus demonstrates how easy it is for federal law enforcement agents to examine emails and computer records if they believe a crime was committed.

…Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older.

…“Technology has evolved in a way that makes the content of more communications available to law enforcement without judicial authorization, and at a very low level of suspicion,” said Greg Nojeim, a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Chris Soghoian, Senior Policy Analyst at the ACLU put it succinctly: “When the CIA director cannot hide his activities online, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

In addition to how easy it is for the government to snoop on your electronic communication while following legal protocol, there is also the pressing issue of illegal, warrantless surveillance which the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to preserve.




20 Responses to “Petraeus Scandal Demonstrates How Easily the Government Can Snoop on You”

  1. That poor Kelley woman. First she causes a woman (through no fault of her
    own) to send her incriminating emails from Petraus' account. THEN she causes and FBI agent she befriended to become obsessed with her and send her shirtless pics and leak everything to a congressman even though his superiors told him to back off. THEN (through no fault of her own) she got out supreme military leader in Afghanistan to become obsessed with her and send her emails that will probably bring het down. Interesting that her parents are Lebanese Christian nationals of the same ilk as the Phalangists who slaughtered all those refugees at Sharon's behest. Someone ought to tell her about the Mossad Honeypot program. She's a natural!

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  6. generals should be snooped on, they have the most dangerous information and are not immune to the honey pot from their own side

  7. The Police State backfires!

  8. You have to love the immutable laws of nature. Especially Murphy's law.

  9. Paula, Petraeus, and the Kelly Krewe: soon to be on Dancing With The Stars.

    Expect some lively quick-steps and fancy back-pedalling for sure!

  10. “The newest poster couple for encrypted email is General David Petraeus and his ‘embedded’ biographer Paula Broadwell. One of the more curious aspects of this episode is why the nation’s spy chief couldn’t figure out the basics around email cryptography or why a West Point graduate and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves who also worked with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force wasn’t aware of Tor for IP masking.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/11/13/the-general-the-biographer-and-unencrypted-email/

  11. Sharon's behest. Someone ought to tell her about the Mossad Honeypot program. She's a natural!

  12. even in the good old days when the Bill of Rights was still the law, prosecutors could easily get warrants. All they had to do was go shopping for a befuddled or friendly judge, tell him the necessary lies and Presto! They'd get their warrant. Nowadays prosecutors can sign their own warrants. We've come a long way… a long way back. This type of abuse is inevitable when government officials are not punished for their crimes. When was the last time a cop or prosecutor went to jail for obtaining a warrant under false prestenses?

  13. Welcome to a police state clad in a the Bill of Rights clothing!
    It's easy to expose China, Burma, Iran and Russia but OMAMA can't see the state of his back yard.

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