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Petraeus: if you think the FBI has broad email snooping powers, get a load of their phone-spying

The Petraeus/Broadwell email dragnet, which hasn't yielded evidence of any crime, has brought our attention to the FBI's sweeping powers to surveil email. But as ProPublica's Peter Maas writes, "It's not just email."

In July, Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, cajoled major cellphone carriers into disclosing the number of requests for data that they receive from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies: In 2011, there were more than 1.3 million requests. As ProPublica reported at the time, "Police obtain court orders for basic subscriber information so frequently that some mobile phone companies have established websites — here's one — with forms that police can fill out in minutes. The Obama Administration's Department of Justice has said mobile phone users have 'no reasonable expectation of privacy.'"

There's a particularly cruel irony in all of this: If you contact your cell-phone carrier or Internet service provider or a data broker and ask to be provided with the information on you that they provide to the government and other companies, most of them will refuse or make you jump through Defcon levels of hops, skips, and clicks. Uncle Sam or Experian can easily access data that shows where you have been, whom you have called, what you have written, and what you have bought — but you do not have the same privileges.

Read more: Was Petraeus Borked? (ProPublica)

FBI's Petraeus/Broadwell email dragnet reveals agency's sweeping surveillance power

The FBI's dumpster-dive into Paula Broadwell's email archive has not yet revealed evidence of any crime, but it has revealed to America the extent to which our government is capable of collecting and surveilling our electronic communications. Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima in the Washington Post :
Many details surrounding the case remain unclear. The FBI declined to respond to a list of questions submitted by The Washington Post on its handling of personal information in the course of the Petraeus investigation. The bureau also declined to discuss even the broad guidelines for safeguarding the privacy of ordinary citizens whose e-mails might surface in similarly inadvertent fashion.

Lesson from Petraeus CyberClusterFuck: Email isn't safe.

Geoffrey Fowler and Evan Perez in the Wall Street Journal write about one practical (and, yes, obvious) takeaway from the Petraeus scandal: "Privacy protections for even the most sophisticated users of consumer-email services actually protect very little." Or, as Kurt Opsahl from the EFF puts it in the article, "If the director of central intelligence isn't able to successfully keep his emails private, what chance do I have?"

Mr. Shirtless

First published by the Seattle Times. You're welcome. David Heath at CPI met him some years back, and has a blog post about him here.

Petraeus CyberClusterFuck: Broadwell used world's dumbest email troll security protocols

From a Washington Post article with more details on the Paula Broadwell cyberstalking: "A person close to Kelley said that investigators have found Broadwell had at least four e-mail accounts under aliases, including 'KelleyPatrol,' 'Tampa,' and the name of another U.S. city. Broadwell avoided using her home computer, sending the messages from cybercafes and other public locations, according to the person close to Kelley and U.S. law enforcement officials."

How to follow the Petraeus CyberClusterFuck: a flowchart

Hilary Sargent, investigator and chart-maker, is trying to make sense of the Petraeus scandal. So are we. So it was with great delight that we encountered her explanatory flowchart. LARGE: Download PDF, or JPG. (Headline HT: @joneilnyt)

Petraeus biographer-lover Broadwell had "substantial classified data" on computer

Reuters reports that a computer used by Paula Broadwell, whose affair with CIA chief David Petraeus led to his resignation, "contained substantial classified information that should have been stored under more secure conditions," according to law enforcement and national security sources. "The contents of the classified material and how Broadwell acquired it remain under investigation, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly. But the quantity of classified material found on the computer was significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation." Read more: Reuters.

Shirtless FBI agent in Petraeus scandal revealed

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Frederick Humphries. I am glad I haven't encountered the actual shirtless sexted photos, and hope to avoid such an occurrence. (NYT)

All Up In My Snatch

John Aravosis quotes a very apologetic spokesperson from ABC Denver, where a staffer's search for a picture of Paula Broadwell's All In ended in failure: "When the 7NEWS reporter went on the Internet to get an image of the book cover, the reporter mistakenly grabbed a Photoshopped image that said, 'All Up In My Snatch.'" [America Blog]

EXCLUSIVE: David Petraeus Affair Photos

This is a tumblog of greatness. "Everything you need to know about the CIA Director David Petraeus sex scandal. All photos and headlines are real." (HT: @itsmikerock)

Petraeus scandal: Jill Kelley ran a bogus cancer charity

Tampa military socialite and Petraeus scandal figure Jill Kelley ran the "Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation," which claimed on its tax forms that it "shall be operated exclusively to conduct cancer research and to grant wishes to terminally ill adult cancer patients." Huffington Post:
From the records, it appears that the charity fell far short of its mission. While the origins of the seed money used to start the charity in 2007 are unclear, financial records reviewed by The Huffington Post reveal that the group spent all of its money not on research, but on parties, entertainment, travel and attorney fees.
More at HuffPo.

Mrs. Kelley also made 911 calls to Tampa police this week about trespassing reporters, and claims her property is considered diplomatic soil. "I'm the honorary consul general so they should not be on my property," Kelley said. "I don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well."

Consul general of what? CrazyVaginaStan?

(Thanks, Antinous)

Dr. Strangelove: Gen. Buck Turgidson reacts to Petraeus scandal

(Thanks, Bryan William Jones)

Was someone at CENTCOM fluffing for Jill Kelley on Wikipedia?

Gen. John Allen, L, who is being investigated for "inappropriate communications" with unpaid military socialite Jill Kelley, R. (ABC NEWS)

It's bad enough to learn that Marine General John Allen and CIA chief David Petraeus intervened in a custody battle involving CENTCOM socialite Jill Kelley's sister, and shocking to learn that Allen may have sent as many as "30,000 pages" of email to Kelley (this is how the FBI measures email, guys, in printed pages). But what, pray tell, the fuck, is this?

Boing Boing pal Andrea James, who is a Wikipedia editor, saw an odd edit when writing the Jill Kelley bio: On 9 February 2012, a US Central Command IP added "Jill Kelley, amateur ambassador and chess player" to Arcadia University's Wikipedia page.

Your theories? I mean, who was that, John fucking Allen? I'm so baffled by this thing, I don't know that I have it in me to even try speculating anymore.

Petraeus scandal: This is the national-security establishment turning the surveillance apparatus on itself

From Patrick Radden Keefe, in the New Yorker: "The serialized revelations that have unfolded since Friday—when Petraeus, who left the military as a four-star general, resigned from the C.I.A. because of an affair—are, to say the least, honeyed with irony. In the decade following September 11, 2001, the national-security establishment in this country devised a surveillance apparatus of genuinely diabolical creativity—a cross-hatch of legal and technical innovations that (in theory, at any rate) could furnish law enforcement and intelligence with a high-definition early-warning system on potential terror events. What it’s delivered, instead, is the tawdry, dismaying, and wildly entertaining spectacle that ensues when the national-security establishment inadvertently turns that surveillance apparatus on itself."

As the World Burns: Petraeus scandal cheat-sheet and infographic

Mother Jones has a very good summary/explainer/de-WTFer up today. I've given up on trying to keep up with the story right now, it's too weird and too sprawling and there are too many sets of penises and vaginas involved.

Via Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone. The chart is by Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg). I don't know who created it, but will add credit when I figure that out.

Petraeus let down guard, pants; Broadwell revealed CIA ops as self-appointed mouthpiece

At Wired Danger Room, Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman have an update this morning on the Petraeus/Broadwell mess. The focus: what the hell was Broadwell doing, apparently leaking CIA operational secrets at a public appearance she gave at an October 26 alumni symposium at the University of Denver?

Read the rest

L'affaire Petraeus: second woman identified, and Gmail metadata outed Broadwell and Petraeus

David Petraeus, L, used a pseudonymous Gmail account to sext biographer/lover Paula Broadwell, R. They were outed in part by Gmail metadata.

Well, that didn't take long.

On Friday, CIA chief and retired general David Petraeus, 60, resigned after an FBI probe stumbled on evidence of an extramarital affair, and hinted at possible security violations. The other woman was soon identified as Paula Broadwell, 40, his protegé, biographer, and paramour. The FBI encountered news of their liasons, the narrative went, after a woman who'd received threatening and harrassing emails from Broadwell complained to the FBI.

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal identified that "other other woman" as being based in Florida, and specified that she was neither a government employee nor a member of Petraeus' family. Some of the defense/intelligence journalists I spoke to over the weekend theorized that Florida might mean Tampa, where the US military's Central Command and Special Operations Command is based, and that the as-yet-unidentified "other other woman" might be either a member of the press, or someone who works in a non-official capacity with CENTCOM, and may or may not have had any romantic connection with Petraeus.

They were right.

Read the rest

Best Petraeus conspiracy theory summary ever, from a BB commenter

"Now the Global Left/Soros/Cloward-Piven/Eric Holder/Mau Mau endgame approaches. Get ready for CIA Director Dennis Kucinich." From BB commenter SedanChair comes this gem of analytical bravado, a summary of farthest-of-far right-wing conspiracy theories on Petraeusgate.

How I Was Drawn Into the Cult of David Petraeus

At the Wired News defense blog Danger Room, a mea culpa of sorts by Spencer Ackerman, who realizes in hindsight that he helped perpetuate a myth of sorts about the recently-disgraced retired general and outgoing CIA chief.
Like many in the press, nearly every national politician, and lots of members of Petraeus’ brain trust over the years, I played a role in the creation of the legend around David Petraeus. Yes, Paula Broadwell wrote the ultimate Petraeus hagiography, the now-unfortunately titled All In. But she was hardly alone. (Except maybe for the sleeping-with-Petraeus part.) The biggest irony surrounding Petraeus’ unexpected downfall is that he became a casualty of the very publicity machine he cultivated to portray him as superhuman. I have some insight into how that machine worked.
Read the rest.

Leadership tips from Paula Broadwell

"Be positive. Everyone likes to be around people who exude energy. Find a way to give energy and encouragement. It is amazing how the right attitude and the ability to make others feel good about themselves can be a magnet for new friends and colleagues!  A book that captures this phenomenon is Celestine Prophesy."—Petraeus biographer and alleged email harasser and paramour Paula Broadwell, interviewed for a lady leadership series. More about the Petraeus/Broadwell affair in this previous Boing Boing post. (via Robert Caruso)

Report: FBI investigation into CIA chief's email "started with two women," not Petraeus (updated)

The Washington Post reports that the investigation into CIA chief David Petraeus began "when a woman whom he was having an affair with sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him," citing "three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode" as sources. The Wall Street Journal reports the probe said the FBI began investigating after "a complaint from a woman in Florida" about Paula Broadwell, his biographer and lover. Other news accounts suggested that the FBI began snooping on the spy boss' Gmail account over fear it had been compromised by Chinese hackers.

If the prevailing narrative is true, Petraeus paramour Paula Broadwell used the same email account to send

A) Sexmail to Petraeus, and B) Threatmail to another woman.

Initial media speculation was that this "other woman" was a romantic rival (or perceived as one by Broadwell), but who knows? Bloomberg reports that the emails from Broadwell warned the woman to "stay away from" the general. But what if, instead, the target of Broadwell's threatening email were someone who knew too much? A woman who had knowledge of the affair and represented a threat of exposure. A Washington insider, maybe a reporter. "Stay away" not because you're a romantic rival, but because you might out us, and in so doing, destroy our lives.

The WSJ's late-Saturday story follows a love triangle narrative: the Florida woman's complaint "alleged Ms. Broadwell was sending harassing emails to her about the nature of the relationship between Mr. Petraeus and the Florida woman," and while no reporters claim to have seen the emails' contents, "people familiar with the investigations said they suggested Ms. Broadwell suspected the other woman was in a relationship with Mr. Petraeus." There is no evidence her suspicions were true, the WSJ adds.

The FBI worked with prosecutors in North Carolina (where Broadwell is based) and Florida (where the woman she emailed was based). The investigation initially focused on "the possibility of email hacking, because at least some of the emails sent by Ms. Broadwell to the other woman included contents of messages that appeared to come from Mr. Petraeus's own account."

Read the rest

An interesting letter, which may or may not relate to Petraeus (Update: NYT says it's unrelated)

A letter from an anonymous NYT reader to "Ethicist" writer Chuck Klosterman, titled "MY WIFE’S LOVER"—

My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be “true to my heart” and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD

Read the rest. Published: July 13, 2012. (via @blakehounshell)

Update: Not related, says NYT magazine editor Hugo Lindgren.

Petraeus outed by Gmail

As reported earlier today, CIA chief David Petraeus has resigned after an FBI probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery he was having an extramarital affair.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation focused on his Gmail account, and that the traffic they observed "led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email." The woman in question has now been identified as West Point graduate Paula Broadwell, author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

While Mr. Petraeus was still a general, he had email exchanges with the woman, but there wasn't a physical relationship, the person said. The affair began after Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the person said.

Previously: CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

David H. Petraeus, the head of America's Central Intelligence Agency, resigned just days after the election after issuing a statement saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

"By acknowleding an extramarital affair, Mr. Petraeus, 60, was confronting a sensitive issue for a spy chief," reports the New York Times. "Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in such behavior could be blackmailed for information."

In an email to Wired's national security blog Danger Room, a former confidant says of the disgraced general, “He feels that he screwed up. He did a dishonorable thing and needed to try to do the honorable thing.” The source says the affair began after Petraeus retired from the military and became CIA director.

Read the rest