Ace asks and then answers — incorrectly. It’s true that the Washington Post published a private e-mail address of Palin’s back on September 10: [email protected] But that’s not the address that got hacked.

Several other posters handed over the contents of the e-mail account [email protected] to Wikileaks.org, a site that anonymously hosts leaked government and corporate documents. Wikileaks posted screen shots of two e-mails, Palin’s contact list, and her inbox list, along with two previously unpublished family photos, according to a story on Wikileaks. That address was previously unknown but another, [email protected], already had been mentioned in published reports.

Ars Technica also says it was unknown. People are speculating that it came from the Democrats’ oppo research memo from two years ago that Politico recently published, but I don’t see it in there. So where’d it come from? Three obvious possibilities:

1. The hacker stumbled across the gov.sarah address in the Post and simply guessed there was a gov.palin address, too. Unlikely, though. Why waste time trying to hack accounts that might not exist when you could be trying to hack one that does?

2. Per the AP e-mail republished by Michelle, Palin’s “critics” got the address from records of e-mail communications obtained from the governor’s office. Plausible, but how’d it get from those critics to some 20-year-old /b/tard at 4Chan? And before you say “His dad’s a Democratic pol,” tell me why that info would be leaking down to the level of Tennessee state legislators.

3. One of Palin’s political enemies either corresponded with her personally at that address or got hold of it somehow through someone who did. Same problem as in number two.

The obvious answer is that the /b/tard saw the address online where someone privy to it had posted it. But after Googling around, I can’t see where. The closest I’ve come to finding a pre-hack mention is in the tags at the end of this post at Sarah Palin Truth Squad on September 10, but I think that’s just a case of a tag being added later and then applying retroactively to an already published post. Besides, it’s hard to believe “rubico” would have found it there.

Anyone want to do a little surfing and help crack the case?

Update: Given that “rubico” was trying to access the account to dig up Troopergate dirt and not just for sport, I guess option one is slightly more plausible than I’m giving it credit for being. A hacker out for a joyride might content himself with the publicly known gov.sarah address, but if you’re suspicious that incriminating info’s being hidden and wanted to search comprehensively for it, you might well be inclined to sniff around in the Yahoo directory for other accounts.