Just when you thought the presidential race couldn’t possibly get any nastier, a lone hacker has shown that underestimating the capacity of the human animal to inflict pain and anguish on another is a sucker’s bet.
In the hacker community, the feat of breaking into Governor Sarah Palin’s private email account with Yahoo will become legend, and then myth — told and retold in online forums and message board postings for years. The swashbuckling derring-do of the hackers has been confirmed and their self-image as postmodern anti-heroes, raging against the system, has been given a large and unhealthy boost. Or so they believe.
But what it really shows is that there are plenty of emotionally disturbed, psychologically stunted creeps out there with the conscience of an alley cat and the morals of a marmoset. There is a dead spot in the heart of these tech-savvy pirates where the ability to feel compassion resides in the rest of us. Many of them apparently have no clue that the monstrous invasion of privacy perpetrated by this digital thug has caused the Palin family the exact same kind of feelings of being violated that a home invasion would elicit.
While it is true that the Palin email hacking was apparently performed by a single individual — one with no ties to the Obama campaign or the Democratic Party that we know of at this point — there is no doubt that there is a sizable segment of this strange brotherhood that cheers this kind of activity on and revels in their reputation as rebels. They justify their criminal actions by blaming the victim, taunting them by claiming their targets should have had better computer security.
Perhaps if they are sent to jail, we could tell them that they should have gotten a better lawyer.
The story of how this dirty-necked galoot managed to break into Governor Palin’s family email account on Yahoo is told by the perp himself here. The loose-knit hacker community he belongs to — “Anonymous” — participated in the crime (one member of the group with a conscience emailed a friend of the governor and gave a warning about the crime) by sending the illegally obtained emails to the press, including the Mother of all internet gossip sites Gawker.
This kind of sleaze was right up Gawker’s alley and they ran with it. They called Bristol Palin’s illegally obtained cell number, recorded her voicemail response, and put it on the website. They reprinted her husband’s and son’s email addresses along with many others. And they posted private family pictures of the Palins. Every screenshot taken by the hacker and gleefully passed around by his friends in Anonymous was published by Gawker.
On the right, as one would expect, there is universal outrage at the crime, and some liberal blogs are equally upset at the violation of Mrs. Palin’s privacy.
But the real shocker in this entire affair has been the reaction of some left wing blogs who have republished the illegally obtained information.
A sampling of excerpts from the left:
So, you know those Yahoo accounts Sarah Palin was using to keep her official business safe from subpoenas? Turns out they’re not so safe after all. Palin’s Yahoo accounts ([email protected] and [email protected]) were successfully hacked last night and you can see the screengrabs here. Since then, the accounts have been deleted, which could be considered destruction of evidence if a court chose to pursue it.
The evidence, at first glance, looks pretty solid that the accounts were authentic. Photos of Palin’s family were pulled from e-mails, plus a “sent” e-mail to aide Amy McCorkell was confirmed by a call to McCorkell herself, reports Wired. A partial list of Palin’s contacts, which include personal e-mails for other government figures, is below. (Mother Jones Blog)
The tagline for Mother Jones is “Smart, fearless, journalism.” Might I suggest a change to “Sleazy, cowardly, smear merchants?”
By now you have heard that Palin’s email account at yahoo has been hacked by those lovable scamps at 4chan. Two quick things:
1.) This merely reinforces how reckless and careless this woman is, and how reckless and careless this choice is. John McCain chose a woman so stupid she runs government business through yahoo. (Balloon Juice)
No comment is really necessary here.
The truly troubling part of this episode is that both of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail accounts were deleted this morning — not just the compromised one, but also the other personal Yahoo account that Palin acknowledged using for public business ([email protected]).
Has this hacking incident given Palin a convenient way to dodge the eventual release of whatever else she had hidden in her Yahoo e-mail accounts? (Huffington Post)
No, the “truly troubling part of this episode” is that the author at HuffPo fails to condemn this outrageous invasion of privacy and instead posits a conspiracy theory that Palin deleted her accounts not to prevent others from trying the same thing but because she had something to hide.
And I might add that Huffington Post and other blogs who have published screen captures of the Palin email account are just as liable as the hacker himself under U.S. law. Expect most, if not all, of those pictures to come down in the next few days.
But there are, in fact, many on the left who are as outraged as anyone on the right:
While it appears SOME of the content of Señora Palin’s PRIVATE emails MIGHT actually be in violation of laws governing the conducting of official State “bidness” outside of the public domain, THIS “Liberal” (capital “L” on purpose) feels any such evidence should be completely discarded as it was obtained in a manner, which violates the civil liberties of a fellow Citizen. PERIOD.
Dear readers, this is exactly WHY I am proud to be independently “Liberal”; the Democratic Party has allowed itself to become the opposite of what it claims to stand for today: “liberalism”; a proud word that derived from another equally awesome word called “Liberty”. Today’s LEFTISTS who call themselves Democrats are of the Authoritarian, “Nanny Stater” variety who are in a constant, “Big Brother Knows What’s Best For You” battle with the equally, repugnant Republican Party who would love nothing more to triumph Authoritatively over The People with their disgusting “Police State”. (Gun Toting Liberal)
Reaction on the right has been predictable outrage with the unfortunate side issue of blaming liberals for what was almost certainly the actions of a lone, conscienceless hacker. In a post on the message board where the screenshots were first published, the self-identified perpetrator shows that, while he is a partisan, the chances of him being connected to either the Obama campaign or the Democratic party are extremely remote:
I read though the emails… ALL OF THEM… before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor…. And pictures of her family
I then started a topic on /b/ [shorthand for the website. ed.], peeps asked for pics or gtfo and I obliged, then it started to get big
Earlier it was just some prank to me, I really wanted to get something incriminating which I was sure there would be, just like all of you anon out there that you think there was some missed opportunity of glory, well there WAS NOTHING, I read everything, every little blackberry confirmation… all the pictures, and there was nothing, and it finally set in, THIS internet was serious business, yes I was behind a proxy, only one, if this sh*t ever got to the FBI I was f**ked, I panicked, i still wanted the stuff out there but I didn’t know how to rapidsh*t all that stuff, so I posted the pass on /b/, and then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my internet and just sat there in a comatose state.
It is hard to see someone that cowardly as a campaign or party operative.
What will be the political impact of the crime? Certainly it will engender some sympathy for Palin among the few Americans who haven’t already made up their minds about her. No doubt the criminal act will be reported alongside the fact that there were indeed some emails discussing government business — a no-no the press will make sure gets into their stories on the matter, in the name of “balance” of course.
But in the end, it will simply be chalked up as further evidence of a campaign that is breaking new ground in the kind of smears, lies, exaggerations, and silliness that have marked this contest from the beginning. After both candidates pledged to run uplifting, issues oriented campaigns, it is depressing to realize that this latest incident has not only shown those pledges to have been thrown under the bus, but that the media, bloggers, surrogates, the candidates themselves, and now hackers are in a race to the absolute bottom of the cesspool that American politics reveals itself to be.