The latest sex scandal to “shock” our nation (it is not the first nor will it be the last) once again involves middle-aged adults leaving a trail of inappropriate online communications. This time around the culprit is email. A tool that has been employed in most offices for nearly two decades, unlike newer forms of social media, kept the bar extremely low to crawl out from under.
Late last week it was revealed that highly decorated, former U.S. Army general David Petraeus, who had left that post to become the director of the CIA – a man married for nearly 40 years – had been having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. (The somewhat less-than clandestine couple is pictured here.)
We are not surprised. Powerful older man + younger, sexier woman with unlimited access have an affair. We’ve heard this a thousand times before. What we’ve also heard at least a couple of hundred times before is how the affair is revealed. Online communications. But instead of Petraeus’ wife stumbling upon a wayward email on the family computer or a text message on his cell phone while he was in the shower, it was the FBI that delivered the news – to her, to Broadwell’s husband, to President Obama and to the rest of the nation.
Petraeus and Broadwell apparently thought they had found a foolproof way to protect their damning online correspondence from mere mortals – like their spouses, children, colleagues and friends. According to AP News, they apparently
…used a trick, known to terrorists and teenagers alike, to conceal their email traffic…. Rather than transmitting emails to the other’s inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic “dropbox.”… Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier to trace.
Cheating spouses (and all others exchanging something to hide the world over), take note. You might still get away with this trick, providing you don’t allegedly harass another party with ties to the FBI.
Supposedly, that’s what Paula Broadwell did. Suspecting that (until proven otherwise) Petraeus family friend Jill Allen might be competing for similar four-star attention from the former general, Broadwell began sending Allen “harassing” emails. Allen, in turn, notified a male friend who worked for the FBI, who not only started using his credentials to check into the matter, he used his email to send Allen a photo of him shirtless.
Like any scandal played out online, we will have way too much information way too soon.
Sources: AP News.com Petraeus Said to be Shocked by Girlfriend Emails and The Atlantic Wire, “The Petraeus Scandal Takes Turn for the Shirtless”