Look into the history of Paula Broadwell's Wikipedia page and there's not much to it before last Friday. That's the day Republican golden boy and former CIA director David Petraeus resigned as the nation's top spy amid allegations he was cheating on his wife with Broadwell, his biographer. Broadwell's page was so lackluster, in fact, that in February, one Wikipedia editor, Bgwhite, requested to delete it entirely, saying Broadwell was not notable.
In late January, however, there was something that turned up on Paula Broadwell's then-brand-new Wikipedia entry that is, in retrospect, very notable. On January 26, one day after Broadwell appeared on the Daily Show to tout her Petraeus book, Wikipedia editor Vanobamo, who edits a lot of Wikipedia pages pertaining to the Daily Show, created a page for Broadwell. While that was normal, things got odd less than an hour later, when an anonymous editor with the IP address 188.8.131.52 logged on and wrote of the ladder-climbing Broadwell, "Petraeus is reportedly one of her many conquests." It was the anonymous user's first and only Wikipedia edit, and it was deleted within an hour by editor Dsutton, who flagged it as "libel."
It turns out now, of course, that it might not have been libel at all. But was Broadwell's Wikipedia outing simply good guesswork by a Daily Show viewer out for a laugh, or was the person behind 184.108.40.206 actually privy to the secret that would eventually topple one of the U.S. government's brightest stars?
Blogger Milo Wendt, who discovered the Wikipedia strangeness earlier today, tried to trace the IP address, to no avail. When we ran it through the American Registry for Internet Numbers, we weren't able to come up with a name, but we got a company: Cisco Systems, Inc. What does that mean? It means that Cisco, the tech giant based in San Jose, was given that IP address, but anyone could have been using it, and it could have been ported to another location around the world.
Update: A tipster named Josh reminds us that Cisco, the company whose IP address is listed above, has provided the U.S. military with billions of dollars in hardware and software over the past decade. Considering that this scandal is inextricably linked to military operations, it's not a wild leap to assume a man or woman in uniform may have been behind the Wikipedia slip:
I used to be in the military and deployed twice to Iraq during that time. Your mention of Cisco Systems piqued my interest. Cisco Systems is the company that the military has contracted with to conduct all of its communication between the area of operations (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) and the United States. If deployed personnel want to videophone or call their loved ones (or post on Wikipedia in this case) back home it was on a Cisco operated telephone/computer. Since there seems to be trouble locating the IP address perhaps it's because the post was made from someone in the military, overseas, behind a firewall?
[Image via AP]