back to article Son of state lawmaker charged with Palin email hack

The son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after being indicted for breaking into the email account of US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. David C. Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, entered the plea in federal court in Knoxville. He was released without posting bond, but the court forbid …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I expecte

    I expect the same amount of resources to be used on any transgression on any email account. If not the law isn't the law, simply a method of keeping people down.

    But, I also expect the proven use of a non-official mail account for official work, to be prosecuted to the full.

  2. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Poor kid

    Now he'll be extradited to Alaska.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Obvious Question

    "the court forbid the economics student at the University of Tennessee from using the internet except to check email and do class work."

    Yebbut WHOSE email can he check? Hoping he wont be delving too deeply into the unofficial channels of that vile and vacuous waste of oxygen again.

    Paris cos, well, unofficial channels and what not.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    except to check email

    "...the court forbid the economics student at the University of Tennessee from using the internet except to check email..."

    Isn't that what got him trouble in the first place?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The technical term for this, of course

    is "pulling a Wilson". These days assisted by a healthy dose of facepalm and fail

  6. Fatman

    Punish the little b@st@rd harshly

    If he is convicted; then send him to a jail in Alaska. Preferably the NORTHERN part of the state. What a dumb@$$!!!

    Now, If Palin broke any laws, then she should also be prosecuted.

  7. Pierre

    Good to hear

    If he is sentenced, that sets an interesting precedent.

    If you trick the warden into letting you in a warehouse used to store stolen stuff or drugs or whatever, you take a few pics and get away, the "owner" of the stolen goods/drug/whatever can sue you for trespassing. And he himself is safe from prosecution. Interesting. Or does it work only when the warehouse -or e-mail account- is owned by a republican senator?

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  9. Charles Manning


    can of course plead ignorance and get away with it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Handcuffs and leg shackles? He must be one dangerous criminal - when I did jury service, even the bloke who was being tried for assault with a deadly weapon didn't have any restraints on him.

  11. Rab S

    @Christopher Michaelis

    was wondring that myself...

  12. Ian Damage
    Thumb Down

    Handcuffs AND shakles?

    Shows how much of a meance to society this guy was.

  13. Daniel

    @Christopher Michaelis (Re: Turning himself in)

    "The son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after being indicted for breaking into the email account of US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin."

    The article doesn't make it clear, but since he was indicted, an arrest warrant was probably issued. In these cases, it is somewhat standard practice to give the accused a chance to show up at the local police station and allow themselves to be arrested with at least a little bit of dignity left.

    The real question, as has already been raised, is why he was then brought to court in shackles. Usually people who have been cooperating with the proceedings are not restrained unless they are considered a safety hazard.


  14. Dave Morris

    @Christopher Michaelis

    Turning yourself in is just recognition that the police are seeking to detain you and you'd like to make it as easy, and as much on your own terms, as possible, so as to not, say, have your face ground into asphalt or your bones "Accidentally" broken by overzealous arresting officers. Not to mention any property damage that may occur to your general surroundings when the arrest occurs.

    In no way is it an admission of guilt. In fact, from what I can tell, it is supposed to be a signal of innocence. IF you were guilty you'd try to get away. Of course both of those views are about as accurate as the theory that if you're not guilty then you have nothing to hide.

  15. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Interesting case

    If a thief steals stolen property, is he a thief?

    If a man takes hold of illicit documents and returns them to their rightful owner by means other than accepted channels, what crime is he committing?

    Intentionally accessing Palin's Yahoo email account without authorization?

    The Alaska governor uses private email accounts... violations of open government laws requiring communications be carried out on state-issued accounts.

    Typical White Housemanship if I may be so bold.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    My guess on the shackles was because hey if hes in shackles its that much harder to get access to the judges email account or the prosecutors account to get...evidence of coverups on them.

    /Mines the one with the modem in the pocket

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    It would have been easy to avoid getting caught, but he only used 1 proxy, then took screenshots and didn't think to remove the session ID...

  18. Kevin Rudd

    Shoot the messenger

    All this bloke seems to have done is act as a whistle blower. He didn't, it would appear, use his gaining access to defraud anyone, just to alert everyone to how this Palin is not as morally pure and trust worthy as the image consultants and spin doctors want people (if you class merkins as people) to think.

    You think whistle blowers would have the law protect them when they are exposing deceptive and possibly illegal conduct like Palin. Probably a country like Sweden would protect whistle blowers, but ex colonies of Britian are not as advanced.

  19. Rab S

    @Kevin Rudd

    Whistleblower my ass...theres a certain soon to sent to the US "whistleblower" that could claim that by your standards then...

  20. Moss Icely Spaceport

    I would like to read a statement your honour!

    If I were him, and I did the deed, I would fess up in court and make a lenghty statement about open Government and why official business shouldn't be conducted on such an easily hacked email service.

    This might play two ways just before an election.

    Although I think McCain and Palin will be rejected as the cretins that they are.

  21. Mr Larrington

    @Charles Manning

    No need for Palin to plead ignorance - it's blinding obvious already. If those two get in, could someone please send me the timetable of flights to Mars?

  22. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Handcuffs and shackles?

    Did they expect him to leap from the (whatever US courts have instead of a) dock and hack himself a pardon via the judge's laptop?

  23. Mark

    @Rab S

    Palin was already in deep shit with the board in Alaska for avoiding the law regarding official communications being logged and having to be through government systems. Shit that disappeared when she was picked for vice presidency candidate.

    So maybe this was whistleblowing: it was already suspected (strongly enough to have the electorate board consider having her prosecuted and kicked out of her position) that she was abusing process. It was dropped for political expediency (since bringing this up while she's running for VP could scupper McCains chances completely). And this person has brought it RIGHT BACK into the limelight.

    Getting the Secret Service into it isn't helping: nothing for the Secret Service if there's no government sensitive information in the communications (which there shouldn't be if Palin isn't breaking the law).

  24. Cortland Richmond

    No net = no credit cards

    >>the court forbid the economics student at the University of Tennessee from using the internet except to check email and do class work.<<

    Back to in-person, cash and paper cheque shopping then. Conceivably, no ATM's or automatic deposit, either; go to the bank, go directly to the bank, do not pass GO...

  25. Smallbrainfield

    Please for the love of god...

    ...can you stop using that picture of Sarah Palin on the front page?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    technically he should get off seen as there were no "damages" what with the US computer laws being based on freud and not tresspass.

  27. Mo

    Uh, so…

    So if he's been indicted, does that mean the accounts DID belong to Palin?

  28. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Pierre

    Obviously finding a suitable comparison was a stretch for you, and probably driven by your political sympathies rather than any real conviction that criminals should be congratulated or protected from prosecution. Or are we to believe from your statement that you are anti-Police (I assume you are objecting to an undercover agency's tactics to gather evidence without warrant?), pro-drug, pro-organised crime (a drugs warehouse, that's more than just some poor ol' hippy with a bag of grass), and think that politicians should have no right to any privacy whatsoever (though I'm guessing you only would apply that to non-Democrat politicians).

    Boy, you really are a messed up little bunny!

    As for David Kernell, he is just so incompetent it's beyond laughable, and he deserves to be shown up in chains and have the book thrown at him as an example to other kidiots - firstly, don't do cybercrime, however minor you think it is; secondly, don't do it in such a stupid manner that you post the authourities all the evidence they need to catch you! What a twit!

  29. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    @AC "hmmm"

    "what with the US computer laws being based on freud and not tresspass."

    So he's OK as long as he's not oedipally fixated on Palin, then...? Actually, that's a truly ghastly thought; brb, just threw up in my mouth a little...

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    looks like the tinfoil hat brigade is out in force.

    We happen to be a nation of laws. Just because you don't like her politics doesn't mean that what the boy did was ethical. Her alleged legal problems from using yahoo are a matter for the courts. It's what we refer to as being 'innocent until proven guilty'. It is up to her and the legal system to figure out what happened, and since nothing ever really goes away in the internet, any emails that people thought were deleted are probably residing on a server or in a backup somewhere. There are forensics people out there that should be able to assemble a pretty good case for or against.

    The same protections and due process works for the idiot kid that allegedly broke into her account. ...and in response to Greenhalgh, yes, it is a flaw -- Yahoo had no intentions of allowing anyone other than the account owner to reset their password, which is why the personal questions were asked. Yahoo has terms of service, and he violated them, or are you going to say that he has Palin's power of attorney, or had a legally obtained search warrant? It is in Yahoo's interests to pursue this as far as legally possible, regardless of their politics.

    What we have is a foolish young man who apparently either attempted vigilante justice or looked for smear fodder, and found that in the US, you can wind up in court over it, especially if you try to cover your tracks. Since most liberals grant themselves absolution in all wrongoing, I am sure that more calls for the lynching of Palin an a fair, ethical, and environmentally sound manner will go up for her having her account compromised, rather than being embarrassed that someone from their end of the spectrum would choose to violate the law in pursuit of his politics. You guys gotta stop that absolution thing. It doesn't fool anyone.

  32. IR

    All information needed

    From what I've read on this case, his name was tracked down pretty easily, without even going through IP addresses or via the proxy. This suggests that he is either really dumb, or has been set up.

    If there was some clear evidence with regard to IP logs then why are they not saying? It would be an open and shut case. This is pointing towards the latter.

    Absolutely no incriminating emails were revealed on the net and then the guy gave up and told everyone what he'd done, so this is pointing towards the former.

  33. Pierre


    I wrote "If he is sentenced, that sets an interesting precedent.", followed by a brilliant analogy ;)

    Of course I meant "If he is sentenced, _and Palin is not_, that sets an interesting precedent.

    This brat -if he really is the culprit- is not very different from white hats: he came in, took a few pics, and came out. Of course it's stupid, and he needs a good slap on the wrist (community service comes to mind), but sadly he'll probably get a ridiculously heavy sentence -because he "spied"on state stuff- and even more sadly Palin won't even be investigated. Analogy still stands.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    OF Course

    What will happen is if (actually when, since they are looking for proper scape goat) this kid is convicted. Then the whole issue of palin using a yahoo account to conduct government business will be properly swept under the rug. Seeing how it's only wrong to break the law if you're an average citizen. Because as has been proved time and time again, if you are a politician of any significant standing the laws of the land don't necessarily apply to you. So should you get caught all you have to do is pay/suck up to/promise enough "favors" to the right person and it all goes away. Funny how that works 'innit.

  35. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Pierre

    "....because he "spied"on state stuff...." What state stuff? The whole reason the numbskull tried the caper was because he wanted to find such "stuff" so he could show it to the world as proof that Governor Palin was using personal email for state work. But he found nothing - zip, zero, nil - just like the Alaskan commission that was set up to look into the original claims. And then he still posted it on the web, along with all the details necessary to track him down! What a complete nimrod! A real white hat would know that if an exploit works but doesn't get you the material you want, you don't advertise your methods as you may want to use them again, you just silently sneak off to your next act. I have to assume some mental agility on the part of his father to get as far as the Tennessee House of Reps, so I assume the lack of intelligence came from Mrs Kernell's side of the family. Is she, by chance, related to you?

  36. Pierre

    funniest sentence ever

    "I have to assume some mental agility on the part of his father to get as far as the Tennessee House of Reps". Someone owes me a keyboard.

    "But he found nothing - zip, zero, nil" is not far behind, together with "just like the Alaskan commission that was set up to look into the original claims.". A short starter to get you back on the track:

  37. Pierre

    Proofs of state activities through yahoo account

    "Ruaro, Randall P (GOV) _ Draft letter to Governor Schwarzenegger / Container Tax _ Thu, 8/28/08 _ 12KB _ Read

    And pretty much everything older than August 23rd in Palin's Yahoo inbox list, published here:

  38. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Pierre

    What, your sole argument is Andree McCloed's fishing trip? What a hoot! "I want to see all your personal email and telephone records as Governor for the period!" "No, you have no reason to." "Aha! You're hiding something! Summon the witchfinder general!" Boy, that's an original Dem line. Just imagine if someone had asked to see something of Obama's, like.... hey, hold on a sec! His birth certificate! You, know, the one that proves he's actually elligable to run for US Prez and which he seems desperate to hide. By your logic, since Obama refuses to show it, I can happilly declare him Kenyan and have him deported, wiht no need for legal duress.

    In the meantime, the Dem-led witch-hunt into Troopergate has found no illegality yet still declared that Governor Palin "has abused her position because she PROBABLY had Monegan fired for not firing her bro-in-law", whilst admitting they couldn't prove anything, she hadn't done anything illegal anyway, and as she didn't gain financially it wouldn't even come under the corruption regulations the whole witch-hunt kicked off under! Wow, maybe David Kernall does have a future as a Democrat politician, it seems all you need is desperate fanatical zeal and zero ability (and probably zero experience, like Obama). So it looks like David Kernall just got a criminal record for nothing.

    /Must stop laughing, need to concetrate for some server updates.

  39. Mark

    re: looks like the tinfoil hat brigade is out in force.

    "We happen to be a nation of laws. Just because you don't like her politics doesn't mean that what the boy did was ethical."

    Uh, you HAVE looked at what the current president is doing, haven't you?

    LOTS of illegal stuff. But lots of americans saying "well, if it saves one life...". Yet we didn't hear you calling that out, did we.

    You're using arguments that are legitimate but you apply them only where you want them so making your point illegitimate.

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