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back to article Did hackers uncover Petraeus' saucy affair webmails before FBI?

FBI agents may not have been the first to rumble the affair between CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer that led to the four-star general's resignation on Friday. Anyone with a copy of the leaked Stratfor databases, a half-decent PC, some political nous and a barrel of luck could have uncovered the fling months ago, …

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Anonymous Coward

So, in summary

1) use password longer than 8 characters

2) NEVER re use passwords, or use the same password for multiple sites

3) regularly change your password.

Personally, I use LastPass to generate 20 character mixed case and symbol passwords, and to remember it for me. The only addition feature I could use would be a flag prompting me to change it every <x> days.

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Devil

Re: So, in summary

Interestingly, that's not the moral I've extracted.

1) If you're going to fool around with 2 different ladies, at least make sure to use a different email account for each.

2) It's unbecoming of an officer and the head of the CIA to conduct his "affairs" so unprofessionally.

3) Women aren't necessarily rational agents and shouldn't be modeled as such by men, whether in intelligence positions or otherwise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So, in summary @AC 17:37

Wow, thanks for the hints. None of us ever thought of any of that.

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Re: So, in summary

Why 3 down votes? I don't care, but would like to know what you 'tards found disagreeable?

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Holmes

Re: So, in summary

4) Don't have an affair unless you mind getting caught and losing it all.

5) Especially if you run the CIA.

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FAIL

Why downvote.

Basic comprehension. Point 1 has no bearing on the story. According to the article, Petraeus and Broadwell didn't exchange emails, but "...swapped explicit messages using shared access to the same Gmail account."

Nor have I seen it confirmed that Petraeus was actually having an affair with Kelley. (Unless by "2" women you meant Broadwell and his wife?)

I'll tolerate misogyny, but not idiocy.

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Re: Why downvote.

It's not covered by the story, but in other sources, one of the things Kelley expressed to FBI is that she suspects someone else has access to Patraeus personal account.

It doesn't matter whether he was actually screwing Kelley. While it may be bad to sneak around, it's similarly bad to appear to, even when you don't.

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Silver badge

I really hate this

He was either doing a good job or not. Who he was sleeping with should not have come into consideration in the matter of employment and is nobody's business, except him, his wife and his lover(s).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

Whilst I should agree with you, he was in a job where he needs to be trusted. If he can cheat on his wife, he can cheat on his country.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

well, he must have stepped one too many toes. After all, how come information about his affair has leaked out of FBI and nobody seems to be concerned? It's like "leaky FBI? Yeah, who cares!".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

more like: very naive and amateurish - he got caught!

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Re: I really hate this

1) In CIA culture affairs are frowned upon. They are an intelligence vulnerability. You cannot have a person who doesn't adhere to agency's culture as its head.

2) The moment Broadwell sent threatening emails to the Pentagon liaison, his affairs clearly started affecting his job.

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FAIL

Re: I really hate this

A common way of blackmailing people is to get them into compromised positions such that it is more painful, to them, to have that situation made publicly known than to betray other secrets.

His position in intelligence was fundamentally compromised the moment he considered having an affair. Much less two. Also, as another person commented. If he betrays the very intimate trust implicit in marriage then he can't be trusted to maintain state secrets.

By definition: he wasn't doing a good job.

I for one expect our leadership to be be faithful. If they can't do that then they don't deserve the trust the public places in them.

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Big Brother

Re: I really hate this

Ah - the old wife test

Kinda ignores the fact that you actually want your head of spying to be a bit devious

I think the old intelligence test is probably a better one

Gets caught out using GMail to keep a secret = a bit of a plank - best avoid as spy master

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

Yes, normally you'd be right. However, in intelligence matters, there's a security risk from blackmail leverage- it's just a matter of practicality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

"If he can cheat on his wife, he can cheat on his country."

Err - no. Can't see any rational progression there; just assumption. Tacky behaviour leads to treason. Wow.

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LDS
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Thumb Down

Re: I really hate this

There's an inherent flaw: when a man starts to reason with body parts which are far below the brain and Nature didn't design for that task, he's a risk. The need to hide a relationship may bring to high level of stress, and it could make him sloppy, he could do big mistakes because he could be not focussed enough, he could reveal things he shouldn't, he could be blackmailed, etc. etc. Sometimes whom you're sleeping with matters.

Probably if both had divorced and lived their relationship in the sunlight it could have not be used against them. Or if he wanted to live like James Bond, it should have not married in the first place (and he would hade never become the CIA #1).

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Silver badge

Re: I really hate this

I would like to respond to the issues raised by commenters above with a few points:

1) It's not as if the next one won't sleep around. Position of power + stress + long hours in the office = things happen. In fact, it's the saintly ones who are usually the greatest sinners (remember Spitzer and any number of evangelicals caught with their pants down). So any seeming moral superiority of those who have not been caught yet is purely illusory.

2) Trust - I believe Petraeus has proven his loyalty more than many or most people around him.

3) Morality - see 1) above + we don't know the circumstances to be the judges of his personal morality. But personal behaviour and his sense of duty are two different things. I, for example, may not consider extramarital affair as at all immoral, depending on the circumstances around it.

4) Blackmail and security threat - that is simple. If people won't think of an affair as of a big deal, no one would be able to blackmail anybody with one.

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Mushroom

Re: I really hate this

1) Although in general I don't see why public officials should resign for having a fling, and their extramartital affairs are their own private business, in intelligence circles this behaviour is a bit more sensitive. Having said that, an intelligence official can just as easily give away state secrets through his wife or drinking buddies as through his lover. And if he didn't have to keep it a secret it would be LESS of risk because he couldn't be blackmailed about it.

2) It's weird how prudish the yanks are. They basically hounded a president out of office for fiddling around with an intern, and I would guess that would have happened even if the president had been unmarried. In contrast Berlusconi was Italy's longest ever serving Prime Minister and he was a serial adulterer. French public officials have also historically been notorious for their affairs. As long as it doesn't affect the job, what does it matter?

3) The hypocrisy on the US side is staggering. Apparently, ordering your underlings to torture prisoners, writing legal opinions to redefine what torture means to cover your bosses' arse, and destroying video evidence of torture sessions are all OK - not a resignation or disciplinary action in sight for these. But having sex with someone who isn't your wife is "extremely poor judgment " requiring resignation.

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Thumb Down

Re: I really hate this

"He was either doing a good job or not."

Being head of a national security agency and then having some enormous secret that can be used as blackmail leverage against you is not doing a good job.

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Silver badge

Re: I really hate this

"Enormous" secret??? I thought he was just occasionally having sex with someone who isn't his wife...

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Silver badge

Re: I really hate this

While that might be true if you're an Arab potentate whose position in society is established by bloodline, it isn't true in much of the rest of the world (France excluded of course, but even they have rules for such things). It is particularly problematic when you are head of a spy agency and the very act of doing something ordinarily tagged with the phrase 'illicit'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really hate this

I don't think he's the one stepping on toes. That part of the establishment thought The Big 0 would be gone come Nov 6. And The Big 0 and his minions are saying things that simply aren't true. So the people with the access are setting the record straight.

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Facepalm

Of course he should resign...

If he can't even keep an affair secret!

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"If the password is indeed the same one she used for Stratfor, and she also used it for her Yahoo! account,"

"It is alleged Broadwell used her paulabroadwell@yahoo.com address ... This linked the complaint to ... potentially anyone else who was able to log into the Yahoo! account."

"It is possible she used the same combination of eight characters elsewhere, perhaps even for her Yahoo! account."

The entire article rests heavily on whether Broadwell used the same password for Stratfor and her Yahoo account. I could do without the breathless what-if repeated twice.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

"The entire article rests heavily on whether Broadwell used the same password for Stratfor and her Yahoo account"

At least we're honest about it: it's an interesting IT angle to a rather interesting CIA case. What you see is what you get.

C.

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cd

Broadwell played him well

Got access, wrote book with his info, outed him for free publicity. Well played.

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Anonymous Coward

It has zilch to do with..

"..if he can cheat on his wife, he can cheat on his country", you judeo-christian mainstream vanilla windowlickers <3

It's more to do with the fact that illicit affairs are good blackmail material.

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Anonymous Coward

Zilch?

If, as you assert, there are no intrinsic issues of morality or ethics in having an affair, why then would they be good blackmail material -- any more than, say, choosing a different golf partner for a while? In fact, blackmail depends entirely on a threat to disclose activities that are believed by the community to be abhorrent.

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Bronze badge

Re: Zilch?

>why then would they be good blackmail material <

It would be good blackmail material, regardless of morality, because it is a proscribed offence in his organisation(s). His 'employees', both in the Army and in the CIA, would be fired for this behavior.

Regardless of good or bad, he could not continue in his job if this was exposed. That makes it blackmail material regardless of any position held by the 'wider community'

It would be good blackmail material, regardless of morality, if it upset his wife and domestic arangements. That makes it blackmail material regardless of any position held by the 'wider community',

You can argue that the position of the 'wider community' is indirectly responsible, but that argument is so weak as to be almost meaningless. You could just as easily argue that the community takes a moral and ethical stand because of the personal and organisational effects of his behaviour.

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Re: Zilch?

The only moral issue in having an affair is the lying / keeping the truth from his wife. There's nothing intrinsically wrong in having feelings for and/or sleeping with multiple people as long as you haven't promised anyone that you won't do it with anyone else except them. If society in general (and US society in particular) wasn't so uptight about sex, it wouldn't be a blackmailable issue at all, so no security risk, no need to resign.

But then again, the guy knows what situation he's in, he should man up, tell his wife he wanted out and get a divorce, and then feelk free to do whatever he wants with whoever he wants

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Sex at sixty

Nothing to do with morality. Having sex at sixty implies doping. He should have stuck to dressing up in women's clothing. No chemicals required for that.

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using webmail for semi secret communications

Open a hotmail or g-mail account. meet and share the PW with your partner, make it strong.

Party one - Create a message - do not send, save as draft.

Party two - logon, read draft, amend and save draft as the reply

Party one - logon and repeat

Thus message and reply and transferred, the over writing of the draft provides erasure, and the strong encryption of hotmail and gmail to their server are used. Your message is never sent in the clear.

The woman was a total bonehead to send harassing e-mails, and the pair were not smart to have a too short PW that could be brute forced. - - - - - unless this is all about book promotion??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: using webmail for semi secret communications

yes, this has been known for a while - I'm sure I read of a UK home secretary who mentioned that he didn't just want to read peeples emails, but to see all of their draft and unsent emails as well! I suppose in this case - as wuz mentioned in the article - that the GMail geolocation might have flagged (under Chocolate Factory's unknown agreements to the NSA) that a regular account was playing ping-pong?

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Terminator

Re: using webmail for semi secret communications

"The woman was a total bonehead to send harassing e-mails"

As you point out, they could have had the most perfect security on the email side, but it's idiocy and jealousy that screwed them over. The meatbag is always the weakest link

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Re: using webmail for semi secret communications

I'd buy the book promo angle except the weak password was stored months before the story broke and was only just now publicly disclosed. Frankly I would have thought a general and especially the head of the CIA would know enough to have more than 8 letters in a password.

I thought a similar thing about the affair until the "other" woman turned up. I could maybe see a wife agreeing to let her husband admit to an affair to get out of office, but finding a woman to play the part of the "other" woman was a bit beyond the pale. And then the FBI investigation turned up.

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Joke

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

I think we might have to go back to having Jesuits as spymasters.

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J. Edgar Hoover

Very successful head of the FBI.

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Black Helicopters

Conspiracy theorists' delight!

Wait! There's more!

==================

Check out: Petraeus, Rove, and Paula Broadwell: I Smell A Rat

http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/petraeus-rove-and-paula-broadwell-i-smell-r

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it leads one to wonder

if the account was compromised by "hackers" months ago, could the "threats" the conveniently allowed the FBI to bring this to light have been sent by these "hackers" in order to make this come to light?

Hmmm

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Silver badge

It's not just the before the hearing angle that us 'Merkins are questioning,

it's also the after election angle. I mean, the whole thing couldn't have been more perfectly timed if it had been planned that way....

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Anonymous Coward

There is a lot of nonsense in this article and in the comments thread. The part that comes from other sources is the Gmail account that both of them shared. That would be good tradecraft for confidential material. This is a modern equivalent of a dead drop. The unravelling comes from the allegation that Broadwell used the same account to harrass Kelley. The FBI would be able to access the account by presenting a warrant to Google. This would provide a written record of both the harrassing messages in addition to the lovers chit-chat. Unless we are going to attribute the exposure to a Carnivore successor or a program like Echelon. We can take that thread anywhere by surfing conspiracy-theoretic waves.

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