The recent flap over the affair between Gen. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell (even Dickens would be amused by her last name, not to mention the title of her biography of him, All In—but I digress) illustrates the potential danger of e-mail indiscretions. Ms. Broadwell thought another woman was infringing on her territory, so she allegedly sent her threatening e-mails. The other woman, a Ms. Kelley, went to the FBI to report those e-mails, and as a result the FBI uncovered evidence of the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell.
But the plot gets thicker: Ms. Kelley was allegedly having an affair with another general, John Allen, and the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 e-mails between those two. Look at those numbers! How did they have time even to brush their teeth? Meanwhile, four families are suffering pain and humiliation.
The moral of this story is, never put anything in an e-mail you would not be willing to see on the front page of tomorrow’s New York Times. Deleted e-mails live on a server somewhere and can be recovered.