Thursday, July 25, 2013

David Kernell is Out From Under

Convicted Palin hacker, having done his time, is freed from federal probation.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 10:19 AM

David Kernell in 2009
  • David Kernell in 2009
David Kernell is a free man, as of Wednesday. Kernell, you may remember, was the sometime Memphian and University of Tennessee student who, more or less as a prank, was able to access then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's email account back in 2008, performed some minimal mischief, let others in on the secret, (including the Palin account's password) and ultimately got himself canned, judged, and sentenced.

Shouldn'a done it, that's for sure. It was invasion of privacy, any way you cut it. He apparently posted a few family pictures and email messages that were innocuous (and apolitical). Bad enough. Worse was his disclosure of Palin's password. Actually, his own password. No professional hacker he, all he had done was guess at the code word Palin used to protect her account, employed the email provider's standard software to change the password, and got in there on his own. Whoopee!

In the process, he left enough tracks that anybody from a Tenderfoot Boy Scout to the FBI could have discovered his identity. The FBI did, he stood trial in Knoxville, fairly sensationally, and was found guilty of a felony. Presiding federal judge Thomas Phillips (a Republican appointee, by the way) ordered him to a halfway house — a fairly lenient reprimand — but the U.S. Bureau of Prisons,which in the federal system, has ultimate authority over internment ((Hmmm. What do you liberty-loving Tea Parties think about that?), overruled Phillips and sent young Kernell to prison for a year.

Kernell has long since done his time and went on to complete his degree at UT, but he remained under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office. This week, at the request of Kernell's attorney, Phillips had the prerogative to remove that provision, and as the Knoxville News Sentinel's Jamie Satterfield (who very skillfully reported on these matters of record) said, David Kernell was finally free.

Kernell is the son of longtime state representative Mike Kernell, a Memphis Democrat who served from his late boyhood (oh, 20-something) until he was forced, via Republican-controlled redistricting, to run against fellow Democrat G.A. Hardaway in 2012 and was defeated.

Something of a Teddy Bear, the well-liked and conscientious Kernell was a loyal Democrat but enough of a free-thinker that he had numerous friends across the aisle. One of them, Republican state representative Jim Coley, was prominent at a testimonial affair arranged in Kernell's honor last winter.

Rep. Kernell conducted himself with admirable aplomb and grace throughout the ordeal of his son, but he did not escape — be it a curse or a blessing — the limelight. There was the following, for example, from


Go figure.

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