FBI Searches Apartment in Palin E-mail Case

The 20-year-old son of Tennessee state representative investigated for hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail account

FBI agents searched the apartment of the son of a Tennessee lawmaker over the weekend that they suspected of hacking Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s e-mail account, two law enforcement officials told the Associated Press on Monday.

David Kernell, 20, the son of Rep. Mike Kernell, is an economics major at the University of Tennessee. His father is a Memphis Democrat and the chairman of Tennessee’s House Government Operations Committee.  The elder Kernell declined to discuss his son’s potential involvement in the case.

“I had nothing to do with it, I had no knowledge or anything," Mike Kernell told the AP.

"I was not a party to anything of this nature at all," he added. "I wasn't in on this — and I wouldn't know how to do anything like that."

Last week a hacker broke into one of Palin’s personal e-mail accounts and released several e-mails Palin had received after her selection as the Vice Presidential candidate as evidence of the break-in.  The McCain campaign confirmed that the account, hosted by Yahoo Inc., had been hacked and described it as a “shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of the law.”

After the break-in occurred, a detailed chronology of the hacking was published on the same Web page that announced the break-in.  The e-mail address associated with that site has been linked publicly to David Kernell.

In the detailed recounting of the break-in the hacker described correctly guessing that Palin met her husband in high school and using Palin’s date of birth and home zip code to get Yahoo to assign the account a new password.

According to experts, Kernell left a clearly traceable path for investigators.

"He might as well have taken a picture of his house and uploaded it," said Ken Pfeil, an Internet security expert. "He should have just set up a big beacon that said, 'Here's my house,' or confessed. If they can't catch this guy based on all the information posted on the Web then all bets are off."

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