Recently, Mrs. Sarah Palin's email was "hacked" and the contents of her email account was disclosed publicly. This is a violation of law and the perpetrator of this crime is suspected to be Mr. David Kernell, a student at the University of Tennessee and the son of an elected official. Though Mr. Kernell remains innocent until proven guilty, the case against him seems strong enough to move the press to opine that the perpetrator is just a kid. The presumption is that youthful exuberance and bad judgment should excuse this act as a childish prank.
Though I am inclined toward mercy in most cases, I note that Mr. Kernell is old enough to serve in the military. At this moment, US servicemen are operating SIGINT listening posts around the world monitoring the communications of America's enemies. These servicemen are not older than Mr. Kernell (though they may be more mature). When telephone calls between foreign nationals were routed through switches located in the US, the NSA sought to intercept them using personnel no older than Mr. Kernell. This caused a great deal of angry discussion about the legality of doing so. Had any of these intercept operators disclosed the contents of these communications, they'd soon find lodging in a federal penitentiary.
Mr. G. Gordon Liddy knows something of federal penitentiaries. He was lodged therein after doing the 1970s equivalent of Mr. Kernell's hacking, bugging a telephone. If Mr. Kernell is found guilty, but only gets a wrist-slap would this give a green light to a Renaissance of Watergate-style political black ops? Worse, if the seriousness of the infraction does not rise to the level of prosecution, political operatives will take this as license to invade anyone's privacy.