10 Smart People Who Did Really Dumb Things

2. Orly Taitz Tries to Prove Obama Ineligible for Office


A reporter holds a copy of President Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate in the briefing room of the White House in 2011. Obama released this after extended criticism by those who do not believe he was born in the United States



Sometimes, being an attorney just makes you do things that other people wouldn’t bother with. Exhibit A: Orly Taitz, lawyer and dentist. Proof that lots of education doesn’t necessarily lead to smart decisions.

In 2009, Taitz got busted for posting a fake Barack Obama birth certificate from Kenya online. Critics immediately pointed out that Kenya was not a republic in 1961, the year of Obama’s birth, as the false document purported. But that was just the beginning. In February 2012, she sued the Mississippi secretary of state and Democratic Party for including President’s Obama’s name on the ballot, saying that candidates must be U.S. citizens. The Party came back with a signed and sealed Certificate of Live Birth from the state of Hawaii that included a verification of Obama’s birth date. Undaunted, Taitz filed similar failed suits in Kansas and Vermont.

Taitz has become something of a joke in the media, where she’s often called “the birther queen.” She probably has many motivations for these attacks, but one is fierce political fervor. Taitz grew up in communist Moldova and believes that Obama is a communist that must be stopped. An avid GOP supporter, Taitz feels that the party isn’t doing enough to fight Obama, even calling the GOP leadership “spineless” in a post on her blog. These suits haven’t done anything for her credibility as a lawyer. And they didn’t help with her failed run for California senator in 2012.

1. CIA Head David Petraeus Has Affair, Busted by Unsecured E-Mail

Image Gallery: Famous Historical Couples
CIA director Gen. Davis Petraeus poses with his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he had an extra-marital affair that was discovered through an e-mail trail.

For David Petraeus, keeping secrets was part of his job. But this one didn’t stay hidden. Petraeus is a retired four-star general in the U.S. military who was serving as director of the CIA when an FBI investigation discovered his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The affair led to Petraeus’s eventual resignation.

The pair’s big mistake was thinking that personal information would stay personal, which is seldom the case. To keep their correspondence on the down-low, Petraeus and Broadwell (both married to other people) shared a Gmail account, and rather than sending e-mails to each other, they only saved their messages as drafts. That didn’t turn out to be as secure a plan as they thought.

The trouble began when Broadwell used the same computer to harass another woman — Jill Kelley — who Broadwell suspected of having her eye on Petraeus.

Kelley forwarded those anonymous e-mails to a friend at the FBI, launching the investigation that ended Petraeus’s tenure at the CIA. Investigators were able to use the IP address attached to the Kelley e-mails to trace the e-mail account back to Broadwell’s computer, where they discovered the drafts from both Broadwell and Petraeus in another email account. The jig was up. An IP address is a unique identifier that your computer uses to talk to a computer network. There are ways to mask an IP address, but Petraeus apparently did not take those precautions. Surprising for the head of the CIA!

There are all kinds of intelligence, but no amount of smarts makes a person immune to pulling dumb moves from time to time. Sometimes, these mistakes are career-ending catastrophes and sometimes they’re little mistakes that we all make on a daily basis. None of us gets it right 100 percent of the time, and people that we look up to as smart and savvy are no different.

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