Exclusive: Sarah Palin Under Cyber-Attack from Wikileaks Supporters in ‘Operation Payback’*

Dec 8, 2010 5:12pm

The website and personal credit card information of former Gov. Sarah Palin were cyber-attacked today by Wikileaks supporters, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate tells ABC News in an email.

Hackers in London that the Palin team believe to be affiliated with “Operation Payback” – a group of supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks – have tried to shut down SarahPac and have disrupted Sarah and Todd Palin’s personal credit card accounts, SarahPAC aide Rebecca Mansour said.

“No wonder others are keeping silent about Assange's antics,” Palin emailed ABC News. “This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.”

Palin has criticized Wikileaks founder Assange, writing on Facebook that his “past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders?…Assange is not a 'journalist' any more than the 'editor' of al-Qaeda's new English-language magazine Inspire is a 'journalist.’ He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands."

Activist Gregg Housh told the New York Times "that 1,500 people were on online forums and chatrooms including Anonops.net, mounting mass and repeated 'denial of service' attacks on sites that have moved against Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks in recent days."

A cached page from Anonops.net shows 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.“

The tech emailed this screenshot to show what he's talking about.

Mansour said that an employee called Todd Palin this afternoon and told him that his and his wife's account had been compromised and that a company in London was involved.

It wasn't clear whether the attack to the Palins' credit card account today was related to the attack on her website.

Anon_Ops describes itself as an "anonymous, decentralized movement which fights against censorship and copywrong." It has enlisted volunteers "create counter-propaganda, organizing attacks (DDoS) on various targets related to censorship (time, date and target will be published by that time)." For that reason, it is difficult to ascertain the exact motivation of any attacker.

Added Mansour, “the governor voiced her opinion knowing full well that she was speaking out against a shady disreputable organization with no regard for laws or human life. This is how they operate. The world should not be intimidated by them.”

Mansour added that Wikileaks supporters claim to be “in favor of free speech yet they attack Sarah Palin for exercising her free speech.” She said SarahPAC.com was not harmed because Palin’s staff was able to move quickly to protect the site.

-Jake Tapper

*This post has been updated with new information and for clarity.

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