Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Privacy Communications Government United States Your Rights Online

Petraeus Case Illustrates FBI Authority To Read Email 228

An anonymous reader writes "Back in April, we discussed how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act says email that has resided on a server for more than six months can be considered abandoned. The recent investigation of General Petraeus brings this issue to light again, and perhaps to a broader audience. Under current U.S. law, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. Do you know anyone these days who doesn't have IMAP accounts with 6+-month-old mail on them?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Petraeus Case Illustrates FBI Authority To Read Email

Comments Filter:
  • No Crime here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NinjaTekNeeks ( 817385 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:06PM (#41970401)
    The thing about it is that Petraeus likely won't be charged or prosecuted for anything. So basically the FBI was "just checking" to make sure no law was broken. If they can do it to the CIA director they likely can do it for anyone they damn near please. Anyone suspected of cheating on their wife is fair game apparently.
  • Re:No Crime here (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:26PM (#41970769)

    The Affair is merely a cover for him and others to step aside without heaping any political pressure on Obama over the pre-election incident in Benghazi.

    Benghazi may have been the shipment route for Libyan arms to Syrian rebels via Turkey, or maybe not. But something of great sensitivity was taking place and seemingly the decision was made to sacrifice the Benghazi station than blow the story open.

      Quite a few senior military heads are rolling. General Ham from AFRICOM 'allegedly' disobeyed an order not to engage/attempt rescue, and was almost immediately relieved of command. Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette relieved of duty from USS Stennis. Petraeus gone, the guy below him looks weak too.

    The CIA issued a statement that the CIA did not, at any level, order anyone in Benghazi to stand down., but quite clearly, someone did. Petraeus is sticking to his story.

    Just one week before a hearing into the incident, he steps down with a cover that saves the face of POTUS.

  • by Ollabelle ( 980205 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:34PM (#41970905)
    I'm thinking that the these emails are long strings of replies back and forth, with each email repeating the stuff already sent previously. What with all the blank spaces, headers, wrapping of text, I can see how that the page count gets inflated by quite a bit.
  • Re:Public servants (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:46PM (#41971141)

    Patraeus is a public servant. The military and public servants agree to adhere to a higher standard of ethics when they take their jobs.

    Making them easier to blackmail. I'd rather have a public servant agree to adhere to the letter of the law (as applicable to the rest of us) and not be put in a position where his/her behavior, acceptable for the general public, would put his/her job in jeopardy.

    Patraeus is said to have sent 20 to 30,000 pages of emails to this lady.. What on earth was he sending her?

    Probably a lot of copies of his military and CIA correspondence and reports (sanitized of course) for her use in his biography.

    What others have said about the head of the CIA not being able to conceal an affair: This guy is an idiot for not knowing that his life is under scrutiny as a condition of having a secret clearance. Heck, here in Boeing territory, we all know that the DIA contacts our neighbors periodically to see if we (those of us with secret clearances) have 'unusual' lifestyle patterns that might signal possible compromise by foreign intelligence.

    Funny anecdote: When conducting interviews, they ask my friends and neighbors not to discuss it with me. But their kids come over and say, "Hey mister! The FBI was asking my dad about you. Are you some sort of criminal or something?" [Yeah, I bury pesky kids in my back yard. So stay off my lawn!] So its pretty easy to find out when they do their rounds.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @04:13PM (#41972615)

    Nobody keeps lots of mail there for longer than six months.

    In fact, people do. However, corporate email accounts at Google auto-delete email after 180 days because of the 1986 act. There was much grumbling when this came about, and there are exceptions for people with an email "litigation hold", but for everyone else, it's part of normal operation that it's deleted.

    I believe that this is a settable option for corporate managed accounts (i.e. hosted domain email for commercial companies which pay Google to manage their companies mail).

    I know that most other public corporations, such as Penton Media, have similar 6 month deletion policies. IBM's policy when I worked there (circa 2001) was 1 year, and switched to 6 months while I was employed by them.

    Apple had a two year policy because it was difficult to establish separate policy for the US vs. Europe for compliance with Directive 2006/24/EC [] and Apple conservatively classed itself as an ISP. I don't know what their current policy is, given that the U.S. equivalent H.R.1076/S.436 [] never made it into law.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"