Silly me -- last night I turned off my BlackBerry so I could have a nice dinner with a friend. Was I crazy? On the eve of a hotly-disputed primary election? Surely I would miss some minor flap exploding into high-dudgeon rhetoric, as the minutes ticked away toward the poll openings across Connecticut.
Indeed, it came to pass: The Lieberman campaign's Web site became inaccessible last night. Supporters of Ned Lamont claimed it was because the Joementumizers did not pay their bill; Lieberman's camp said they were victims of a denial-of-service attack. The volleys flew from both sides, as I finished my dessert (delicious fresh peaches with ice cream), and curled up on the sofa to watch a rerun of Project Runway (her pick, not mine, I swear). What kind of reporter am I?
Awaking this morning to the controversy, I put in a call to the Lieberman campaign to find out what the deal was with their Web site.
Spokesman Dan Gerstein was quick on the draw with a few choice words for Lamont ("The Lamont campaign is once again lying in suggesting we didn't pay our bill," he said in less-than-happy tones. "That's the definition of a lie, when you tell something that's false knowingly"), a few more choice words for Lamont supporters ("Their supporters are doing these [attacks], we've demanded they get them to stop and they refuse to do it"), an almost-accurate comparison to GOP dirty tricks ("It's despicable, it's the same kind of tactics Karl Rove and his folks used to jam the phones in New Hampshire in 2000" (it was 2002, and Rove hasn't been implicated in the scam)) and, finally, a copy of an email from their Web hosting company*, which reads:
From: "Dan Geary"
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2006 06:05:17
Subject: account status - www.joe2006.com
This note is to confirm that the suspension of displaying the website www.joe2006.com: was not due to to an overdue account. Friends of Joe Lieberman is completely paid in full. The screen that showed yesterday is a default image from the server. In order to isolate where the denial of service attack was coming into the site, we disabled it as rapidly as possible. Once we were able to isolate all the site files for study we were able to add an appropriate one-page maintenance message.
Your campaign has in fact paid every invoice submitted to it within a week and a half.
Gerstein gave me Geary's phone number to confirm the email's accuracy -- he's in Nevada, so we'll try him later this morning when his office opens. For those who did not go through a computer hacking phase when they were 12 years old: a "denial of service attack" is when a hacker directs so much traffic at a single web site, the server is overloaded and no one can access the site.
*Update: As many readers have noted, Dan Geary does not in fact work for the campaign's web host, as Gerstein indicated. Geary is an internet consultant for Geary Internet Strategies who works for the campaign.