Sarah Palin Testifies In Knoxville As The FBI Details An Elaborate Coverup By Defendant In The E-Mail Hacking Case
Sarah Palin was in Knoxville Friday morning giving testimony in the trial against David Kernell, the son of longtime Tennessee democrat legislator Big Mike Kernell, who is charged with hacking into her e-mail account during the 2008 presidential campaign.
From the Associated Press:
Sarah Palin testified Friday about the disruption and hurt caused when her e-mail account was hacked during the 2008 presidential campaign and said outside court that there should be consequences for what happened.
She declined to say if she thinks conviction of the 22-year-old defendant should lead to prison or if community service would be punishment enough. “That’s up to the judge,” she said when she stopped to talk to reporters outside the courthouse.
Former University of Tennessee student David Kernell, the 22-year-old son of a Democratic state lawmaker, is charged with hacking the Yahoo! e-mail account as Palin campaigned in 2008 as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Kernell faces up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted of identity theft, mail fraud and two other felony charges. His lawyer has said the case is a prank and Kernell had no criminal intent.
Asked outside the courtroom if she thought the charges against Kernell were excessive, Palin said, “I don’t know, but I do think there should be consequences for bad behavior.”
As Palin walked to the witness stand, some jurors smiled at her. The first question from Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle was, “May I call you Governor Palin?”
The former Alaska governor smiled almost constantly through 30 minutes of testimony as she told jurors about the disruption the hacking caused for her family and close friends when their e-mails and phone numbers were publicized on the Internet.
The posting of family photos and e-mails on the web fueled rumors that Palin and her husband had affairs and that her youngest child, Trig, was not really her son, she said in court.
Palin’s husband, Todd, sat in the courtroom as she testified. Their daughter, Bristol, told jurors earlier this week that she got harassing calls and text messages after screen shots of e-mail from the account revealed her cell phone number. A former Palin aide also described receiving vulgar e-mails.
Kernell isn’t accused of the harassment, but prosecutors say he broke into Palin’s e-mail account in September 2008 by correctly providing her birth date and ZIP code and correctly answering that she met her husband in Wasilla, Alaska.
Kernell’s attorney, Wade Davies, argued the password was obtained using information that was publicly available, including where she met her husband.
“It wasn’t a secret to me,” Palin said. “I don’t know if the rest of the world knew it or not.”
After the e-mail was hacked, prosecutors said Kernell bragged about it in obscenity-laced Internet postings. An FBI computer forensics specialist and other witnesses testified about photos of the Palin children and a reference to Bristol as “the prego one.”
You can read more and see more video here.
Sarah talked to the media after testifying:
Stacy Drake has coverage of Sarah’s appearance with Greta Van Susteren where Sarah discusses the trial as well as the tough new Arizona law against illegal immigration. You can see that here.
Meanwhile, an FBI computer forensics expert, Agent Stephen McFall, testified before the court on Thursday about the lengths Kernell went through to cover up his crime.
The FBI probe was stymied by a series of steps authorities allege defendant David Kernell took to cover his tracks, including deleting from the computer material gleaned from Palin’s account, clearing his Internet history on one web browser, uninstalling another browser and running a Windows tool designed to speed a computer up by overwriting space occupied by deleted files.
A while back we wrote there was a lot more to this case than just some dumb college kid messing around. David Kernell was most definitely looking for a political advantage he could then pass on to the Obama campaign. It must be noted that his father, again a long time Tennessee legislator, was a very active member of the Obama campaign’s Tennessee team.
Most will remember this crime occurred at the same time noted Palin stalker, and cleavage monitor, Andree McLeod, was working overtime trying to get the courts to give her access to the very same e-mail account that Kernell successfully hacked. McLeod was soon joined by the “Official DNC Blogger for Alaska” and Alaska Mafia © member, Linda Kellen Biegel who, in a separate effort, used questionable methods to raise money in an scheme to gain access to the account and it’s contents.
McLeod, Biegel, and other operatives from the Obama regime alleged that Sarah was using her personal Yahoo account to conduct official state business. Despite multiple filings of bogus ethics complaints by McLeod, who continues to file, now against former Palin staff, the ethics boards and courts have all sided With Sarah. Doesn’t stop the crazies from trying though. And make no mistake about it, these are some world class crazies.
The sweet irony in all of this is the fact that Kernell, by illegally gaining access and illegally publishing the contents of Sarah’s account all over the world wide web, has made Sarah’s case for her, and proven there was nothing questionable about her personal e-mail account. No state business was conducted on her personal account, as alleged.
From Reagan to Palin:
* A forensic probe of the computer a University of Tennessee student allegedly used to illegally snoop through former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s private e-mail account presented jurors Thursday with a study in contrasts.
* David C. Kernell deleted everything he took from the account but left intact what amounted to a confession of his foray into the account.
* He posted a password on an Internet discussion site and urged others to use it but minutes later tried to block them from doing so and declared himself a “dip (expletive)” for making the password public.
*He “defragmented” the hard drive, which served to overwrite some deleted information, but never sought to reformat it, which would have effectively wiped it clean.
Jurors in the Federal courtroom on Thursday took a journey via FBI Agent Stephen McFall’s forensic autopsy through the computer activity on Kernell’s laptop in September 2008 when the then 20-year-old UT economics major allegedly managed to Google his way past Yahoo! security measures and change the password on Palin’s private account to get inside it.
At the time, Palin had been tapped as running mate to Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, and national media were alleging Palin used the private e-mail account to keep gubernatorial business from the public’s prying eyes.
Federal prosecutors Greg Weddle and Mark Krotoski on Thursday zeroed in on one of four felony charges Kernell faces – obstruction of the FBI’s probe. They sent Kernell friend Benjamin Reed to the witness stand to recount how Kernell worried the FBI was on his trail and openly pondered the merits of reformatting his hard drive.
But the crux of their obstruction case came from testimony by McFall, a computer expert so skilled he was tapped to help organize the FBI’s elite Computer Analysis and Response Team, or CART.
McFall said his probe was stymied by a series of steps authorities allege Kernell took to cover his tracks, including deleting from the computer material gleaned from Palin’s account, clearing his Internet history on one Web browser, uninstalling another browser and running a Windows tool designed to speed a computer up by overwriting space occupied by deleted files.
“Uninstalling (software) and deleting a bunch of files and photos, then defragmenting, makes it a whole lot (tougher)” to reconstruct whatever evidence the laptop contained, he said.
But McFall did get a probe assist from an unexpected source – a nasty virus hiding on the used laptop Kernell’s aunt and uncle gave him to use in his UT studies. “It’s designed to collect a lot of different data (including) banking and finance data,” he said. The “malware” created a log of much of Kernell’s Internet activity, he said. “The log file was capturing, almost like a surveillance camera, the activities that were going on,” he said.
Prosecutors used McFall’s testimony to paint a portrait of a self-described “Obamacrat” bent on derailing the Republican campaign who tried to cover his tracks when the illegal access went public. But defense attorney Wade Davies used it to try to advance his contention the high-profile e-mail compromise was nothing more than a college prank spurred by curiosity and carried out by an immature student with less-than-savvy computer skills.
For instance, Davies noted in cross-examination that Kernell did not delete a draft of an Internet post in which he boasted of the ease with which he cracked the account. “I am the (discussion board) lurker who did it, and I would like to tell the story,” the file read.
Davies also pointed out that minutes after Kernell posted the new password he set for the account on that same discussion board, McFall’s laptop probe shows he tried to change it again in an effort so frantic he made a series of sloppy mistakes that kept him from doing so. He also highlighted to jurors a Facebook chat with Reed in which Kernell wrote that he “posted the pass(word) like a dip (expletive).”
Make no mistake about it, what this kid has done is no less serious than the Watergate break-in. While no physical buildings were broke into, the results were the same, this kid accessed Sarah’s personal files in an attempt to derail the McCain-Palin presidential campaign.
Worse yet, thanks to the actions of this loser, many of Sarah’s staff and friends, as well has her family, had their lives disrupted, and their secrets published for the whole world to see. This was an incredible violation of Sarah’s life and the lives of those close to her. .
Kernell, if convicted is facing as many as 50 years in prison. Some may find that harsh. Let me remind you: G.Gordon Liddy was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $40,000 fine for his part in the Watergate affair, and he wasn’t even one of those who actually broke into the DNC offices.
I doubt Kernell will get 50 years, but a strong sentence is needed in a case like this to send a message to others who would attempt this sort of nonsense. It’s just sad that no one is pursuing the connection to the Obama regime. This could very well be Obama’s Watergate.