(Image source: Gawker)

BY HARUMENDHAH HELMY
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
 

For some civil-liberty activists, the real scandal behind the whole Gen. David Petraeus debacle is how the FBI can apparently snoop around someone’s private email correspondence without evidence of a crime.
 

As first revealed by The Daily Beast, the emails that Paula Broadwell sent to Jill Kelley and sparked the FBI investigation were actually pretty tame.

An anonymous source from within the intelligence community said the emails made only one mention of Petraeus and sounded “‘More like, “Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’ … ‘No ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I'll burn your house down.’ … It doesn’t seem really that bad.’”
 

Not that bad, but evidently enough to warrant an investigation Broadwell’s other personal emails — including the ones she sent Petraeus.
 

And in another twist to the already soap-operalike turn of events, Jill Kelley was found to have extensively corresponded with Gen. John Allen. (From Tampa Bay Times)
 

Still, when intercepting communication, the government is required by the Wiretap Act to ‘minimize’ acquiring information that has nothing to do with the subject of investigation.
 

In Broadwell and Kelley’s case, the subject was so-called harassment toward Kelley. So how did the FBI get their hands on their emails to Petraeus and Allen?
 

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, when it comes to intercepting emails, “minimization requirements aren’t as strong [as in wiretapping phone calls]. The DOJ Manual suggests that agents ‘exercise great caution’ and ‘avoid unwarranted intrusions into private areas.’”
 

What’s more: the only law governing email privacy — the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — doesn’t require judicial approval for searching correspondence older than 180 days, which some of Broadwell and Kelley’s emails were. The act, though, was written back in 1986 well before any of today's popular email providers existed.
 

And so, speaking to The New York Times, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union says “There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General Petraeus and General Allen, but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used to look into their private lives. This is a textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the public.”
 

The irony of invasive surveillance being conducted on the CIA chief isn’t lost on The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
 

He wrote, “as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside.”

 

Email Privacy and the Petraeus Affair

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Nov 15, 2012

Email Privacy and the Petraeus Affair

(Image source: Gawker)

BY HARUMENDHAH HELMY
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
 

For some civil-liberty activists, the real scandal behind the whole Gen. David Petraeus debacle is how the FBI can apparently snoop around someone’s private email correspondence without evidence of a crime.
 

As first revealed by The Daily Beast, the emails that Paula Broadwell sent to Jill Kelley and sparked the FBI investigation were actually pretty tame.

An anonymous source from within the intelligence community said the emails made only one mention of Petraeus and sounded “‘More like, “Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’ … ‘No ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I'll burn your house down.’ … It doesn’t seem really that bad.’”
 

Not that bad, but evidently enough to warrant an investigation Broadwell’s other personal emails — including the ones she sent Petraeus.
 

And in another twist to the already soap-operalike turn of events, Jill Kelley was found to have extensively corresponded with Gen. John Allen. (From Tampa Bay Times)
 

Still, when intercepting communication, the government is required by the Wiretap Act to ‘minimize’ acquiring information that has nothing to do with the subject of investigation.
 

In Broadwell and Kelley’s case, the subject was so-called harassment toward Kelley. So how did the FBI get their hands on their emails to Petraeus and Allen?
 

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, when it comes to intercepting emails, “minimization requirements aren’t as strong [as in wiretapping phone calls]. The DOJ Manual suggests that agents ‘exercise great caution’ and ‘avoid unwarranted intrusions into private areas.’”
 

What’s more: the only law governing email privacy — the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — doesn’t require judicial approval for searching correspondence older than 180 days, which some of Broadwell and Kelley’s emails were. The act, though, was written back in 1986 well before any of today's popular email providers existed.
 

And so, speaking to The New York Times, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union says “There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General Petraeus and General Allen, but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used to look into their private lives. This is a textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the public.”
 

The irony of invasive surveillance being conducted on the CIA chief isn’t lost on The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
 

He wrote, “as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside.”

 

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