Was Palin the Target of WikiLeaks-Allied Hackers?

The Web site of Sarah Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, was the target of a cyberattack yesterday, as was the personal credit card accounts of the former vice presidential candidate and her husband, Todd.

Sarah Palin's spokesperson, Rebecca Mansour, told ABC News that the attack was launched by London hackers believed to be part of Operation Payback, the campaign of cyberattacks launched since the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange against companies that have withdrawn their services from WikiLeaks, or taken other punitive actions against the organization. Assange is currently under arrest in London on allegations unrelated to the recent release of a large cache of cables from the U.S. State Department that have roiled governments around the globe.

On November 29, Palin posted a Facebook-page note condemning Assange and WikiLeaks, writing, "Assange is not a 'journalist,' any more than the 'editor' of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspireis a 'journalist.' He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands." In Palin's Facebook screed, however, Assange is simply used by Palin as a foil to suggest that the Obama administration is somehow "incompetent" for failing to have stopped WikiLeaks' release of the State Dept. cables.

But ABC's Jake Tapper suggests that the reported attack on the SarahPAC Web site may have been part of Operation Payback, the cyber-assault launched yesterday by WikiLeaks-allied hackers on the Web sites of MasterCard and other companies that have taken actions against WikiLeaks in the wake of the cable release. MasterCard's site crashed yesterday as a result of the cyberattack. A hacker outfit going by the name of Anonops.net claimed responsibility.

From Tapper's ABC News story:

A cached page from Anonops.netshows Palin's site as a suggested target. 

A SarahPAC.com technical aide said that the "DOS attackers, a group loosely known as Anon_Ops, used a tool called LOIC (Lower Orbit Ion Cannon) to flood sarahpac.com. The attackers wanted us to know that they were affiliated with wikileaks.org through an obscure message in our server log file."

If the reported attack on Palin's site is indeed the work of the same hackers who went after MasterCard, I gotta say, it seems like a pretty dumb move. To involve themselves directly into U.S. electoral politics does no favor to Palin's opponents, and only serves to strengthen Palin's victim narrative, in which she articulates the resentment of people who feel marginalized by so-called "elites." In fact, for Palin, an attack like this would constitute something of a bonanza.


AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at December 9, 2010, 3:02am

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