Is Palin Just Using 'Operation Payback' to Get Attention?

She claims she was attacked by WikiLeaks-supporting hackers. Bloggers are skeptical

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Late Wednesday afternoon, ABC's Jake Tapper had a sizzling scoop: On a day when America's largest credit card companies were getting hammered by cybe-attacks--so too was Sarah Palin. Tapper produced an e-mail from Palin saying the website for her political action committee, SarahPAC, was under siege by WikiLeaks-supporting hackers. Palin's aide, Rebecca Mansour, added that Sarah and Todd's credit card accounts had been compromised. In Palin's e-mail to Tapper, she offered some on-the-spot commentary.

"No wonder others are keeping silent about Assange's antics," Palin said, referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts."

The Palin camp blamed the attacks on "Operation Payback," an effort led by the hacker group "Anonymous" that shutdown MasterCard's website Wednesday. According to a developer at, the site was hit with a denial-of-service (DOS) attack, a method of harnessing multiple computers to request data from a single website and overload its servers. The developer told Tapper that "a group loosely known as Anon_Ops,  used a tool called LOIC (Lower Orbit Ion Cannon) to flood"

"The attackers wanted us to know that they were affiliated with through an obscure message in our server log file," the developer added.

Interestingly, Tapper's scoop was met with deep skepticism in the blogosphere. Here's bloggers from both left and right are saying:

  • It's Hard to Be Sure Who Attacked Palin, writes conservative blogger Allahpundit at Hot Air:
I’m not sure how Tapper's so sure who the culprit is. Wikileaks itself has been DDOS'd a bunch of times, presumably by freelance “hackers,” since the latest document drop. Maybe the London group did hit Palin and Mastercard, or maybe it’s copycats who also support Wikileaks, or maybe it’s freelancers looking to get in on the action for whatever reason. The ‘Net’s becoming a freefire DDOS zone, which makes it hard to keep track of who’s firing each of the bullets.
  • It's Odd that Her Credit Card Was Broken Into, writes Ben Smith at Politico:

Visa didn't mention the Anonymous attacks, which have reprortedly been denial of service attacks aimed at websites, not thefts of credit card data. So it's not entirely unclear whether Palin's card was compromised as part of a broad attack on Visa, a specific attack on the Palins, or whether the breach was unrelated to the WikiLeaks cyberwars.

  • I Don't Buy It, writes Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider, he lists a number of reasons: "Operation Payback never tweeted anything about this. Also: the SarahPac website is up. Also, her spokesperson takes a really strident tone with Tapper."
  • Looks Like a Bid for Attention, writes Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
Frankly, we very much doubt anyone, let alone a sophisticated hacker network, would bother with someone of Palin's "intellectual" capacity and significance, and would actively demand that she produce her serverlog (assuming she knows what this is) to confirm the fact, as many have already voiced a suspicion this is just the latest attempt of the vice presidential candidate pathetically whoring for yet more media attention.
  • This Wouldn't Be the First Time Palin Got Cyber-Attacked, notes Emi Kolawole at The Washington Post: "A college student who hacked Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account and posted some of its contents on the Internet was found guilty in May and sentenced to a year in custody."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.