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Earlier, I referred to whispers that rather than run himself, Tom DeLay would back a write-in candidate.

This afternoon he made it official. He's withdrawing from the race. As the AP reports, "Several Republicans said local party officials hoped to unite behind a write-in candidate, possibly David Wallace, mayor of DeLay's home town of Sugar Land."

Full statement here.

This is either ironic or darkly comic, depending on whether or not you believe Joe Lieberman's Web site was hacked:


Lieberman: Cybersecurity Lags Behind DHS Hampered By Numerous Management Problems, GAO Finds

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Thursday that the nation’s critical computer infrastructure remains vulnerable to criminal or terrorist attack in part because of major underlying management problems at the Department of Homeland Security. . . .

“Over a year ago, I sent a detailed letter to Secretary Ridge, raising concerns about the lack of results similar to those identified by GAO, and I am troubled that more progress has not been made in this vital area. The good news is that this report provides a further roadmap for the Department of Homeland Security to follow to help it fulfill its obligations...I strongly urge Secretary Chertoff to devote the attention and resources necessary for the Department to promptly secure our vital cyber infrastructure.”

So was the Lieberman campaign website actually hacked? Or are they just cheap?

Lieberman's internet consultant Dan Geary, who oversees, says he's still sure that their site suffered a "malicious attack." But when pressed, he said that they weren't sure that it was a "Denial of Service" attack, as he'd said earlier. He didn't have any more information about the nature of the supposed attack. "I've spent 99% of my time speaking [to reporters] about the story," he said.

He also denied that the site was down because of their webhost. Over at DailyKos, Markos reported that the campaign has an agreement with a webhost service called MyHostCamp, for which the campaign pays $15/month. All MyHostCamp sites are down, Markos reported, seeming to indicate that the problem was not caused by a hacker but Lieberman's host company being unable to handle a surge in authentic traffic.

But Geary insisted that the host company was fine. "When we take the site down, the server is fine. . . [It's] not the hosting, it's not the bandwidth," he said. Geary said that all of his company's sites are on that server, and that it's owned by someone he works with "all the time."

He denied Markos' report that the campaign paid only $15 a month for service. They pay a "bit more," he said; he couldn't say precisely how much, but said he'd have that information if I called back later.

Geary admitted the campaign's technical staff wasn't prepared to deal with a malicious intruder. "We have nobody with a security background helping with this," Geary told me. "It's just us, what we know, how we work with our server network."

Earlier today, the Lamont campaign said in a statement, "If Senator Lieberman’s website was indeed hacked, we had absolutely no part in it, denounce the action, and urge whoever is responsible cease and desist immediately," and offered their technical expertise and support to get the site back up.

Geary, who's based in Nevada, was unaware of the Lamont campaign's offer of assistance. Update: The Lamont campaign is now linking to a Google-cached version of the site.

Greg over at Election Central:

I just got off the phone with top Joe Lieberman adviser Dan Gerstein, and he acknowledged to me that the Lieberman camp doesn't have any evidence that the Lamont campaign -- or Lamont supporters -- are behind the hack attack on the Lieberman campaign web site.

Asked if the Lieberman campaign had any idea who might be behind the attacks, Gerstein said: "We don't."

Gerstein said earlier, "Their supporters are doing these [attacks], we've demanded they get them to stop and they refuse to do it."

Lamont's campaign earlier denied any involvement in the attack.

The Connecticut Attorney General has released a statement saying that his office will investigate the alleged hacking of Lieberman's campaign web site:

“I have received a complaint from Sen. Lieberman’s campaign asking my office to investigate the hacking of his campaign web site. I will investigate potential violations of anti-hacking provisions of our state computer crimes laws that are specifically within my jurisdiction. I will also work with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, and state and federal criminal authorities concerning possible violations of state election statutes, and federal election protections and other laws. We will seek civil and criminal penalties, where appropriate.”

Tom Carson, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut, confirmed that his office had also received a criminal complaint from the Lieberman campaign regarding what they termed attacks on their site, but would not comment further. A criminal complaint does not mean that the office will necessarily open an investigation.

Lieberman's spokesman said that they'd also filed a complaint with Connecticut's Chief State's Attorney. A spokesman there had no comment.

I just got off the phone with the internet consultant to Joe Lieberman's campaign, Dan Geary. And he says that the site has been "fatally compromised" by an unknown hacker. In addition, all email addresses with the domain are down too; the attack, Geary says, has "disrupted the entire campaign."

Geary, who developed and oversees Lieberman's site, (and says that the campaign has paid their account in full), said that an attack starting mid-morning yesterday had "red-lined" the server. "We can't even get the site up," he said. "We even tried putting up a single, blank page. It red-lined the entire network. This guy's got our number."

Geary said that they believed it to be a "denial of service" attack, meaning there are so many queries to the network that it becomes unstable. He did not have any information as to the source of the attack or any idea about the identity of the hacker. "We're just fighting to get something live," he said, "we're not security experts." He also said that it would be up to the campaign as to whether they would refer the case to the FBI.

This was not the first time that the site was attacked. Earlier, a hacker "got through one of the functions on the site," Geary said. The hacker then did a "SQL injection," ultimately replacing the index page. The front page of the site then read "We ownz you site." It was signed "thhacker."

But yesterday's and today's was a different kind of attack. Whoever the hacker is "saved the best until the last day," Geary said.

Update: Lieberman campaign spokesman Dan Gerstein says that the campaign has filed a complaint with Connecticut's Attorney General and Chief State's Attorney, and the United States Attorney's Office.

When someone sues a sitting congressman for defamation, it doesn't go unnoticed. So when Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich sued Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) last week, charging the congressman falsely accused him of "cold-blooded murder and war crimes," it got some attention. More, perhaps, than it deserved.

The story got boosted in part because last November Wuterich's squad killed two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq, an event whose details are currently being scrutinized by the Defense Department. The lawsuit got another boost in attention because Murtha is himself a veteran, as well as a hawkish Democratic lawmaker who has come out against the Iraq war.

But from there, the story gained a life of its own, as questions were raised about whether the suit was politically motivated -- after all, the GOP would stand to gain if the Democrat Murtha's credentials as a soldier's soldier were undercut. As Glenn Greenwald wrote:

[The goal of the lawsuit] is so clearly to punish Murtha not for any supposed defamation, but because he is a prominent and effective political critic of the administration and of the war. He must therefore be smeared and punished, and that is clearly what this lawsuit is intended to accomplish.

Greenwald based his assertion on the fact that pro-war partisans, notably Rep. John Kline (R-MN), had made similar comments but did not face similar action from Wuterich and his lawyers.

However, the lawyer responsible for the suit, Mark Zaid, is hardly a partisan. (A disclaimer: I know Mark Zaid. I have attended parties he's thrown, I even went to a baseball game with him once.) The guy has a long history of fighting tough battles, mostly on behalf of people who say they were wronged by the national security establishment. He represented FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds; Able Danger whistleblower Anthony Schaffer; Marines punished for refusing controversial Anthrax vaccines; and dozens of other soldiers, spies and analysts who were punished by their employers but whose cases never grabbed headlines. And even -- once -- Arianna Huffington.

Read More →

Who knew the Jack Abramoff scandal would provide such a bruising tutorial in election law?

Yesterday, Tom DeLay and the Texas Republicans finally lost their bid to replace his name on the ballot - they had attempted to declare him as ineligible because of his move to Virginia. But now Ohio Republicans seem ready to try a clever scheme of their own. And the Democrats seem ready to challenge it again.

Bob Ney hasn't officially dropped out of his reelection race yet - to do that, he'd need to file his notice of withdrawal with Tuscarawas County in Ohio. Doing so would trigger a special election to replace Ney. But Chuck Miller of the Board of Elections there just told me they still hadn't received anything.

Here's a possible reason why. If Ney and the Republicans were to wait until August 19th, according to Ohio election law, they would then have a four day window during which the county Republicans could directly replace Ney with their hand-picked candidate.

When the AP called Ney's office to ask whether they were contemplating this, they were told that Ney "was not available for comment."

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg told The Washington Times that their lawyers were "looking into" challenging the Republicans' efforts to replace Ney on the ballot.

Oh, and there's another wrinkle to the race. Ney's handpicked candidate, state Sen. Joy Padgett, may be disqualifed from running by what's called the "Sore Loser" statute in Ohio law. Candidates are prohibited from running in a general election if they've lost a primary election that year. Padgett ran and lost for lietenant governor this year; a spokesman for Ohio's Secretary of State says that the office is researching whether Padgett would indeed be disqualified. If the state doesn't automatically disqualify her, Democrats are making noises that they'll try themselves.

Justice Scalia's decision yesterday gave the Texas GOP unsavory options: run Tom DeLay despite his troubles and unwillingness to serve, or let Lampson run unopposed. But there's a third -- and far riskier -- option: the state party can back a write-in candidate.

Time's Mike Allen reports:

On Monday, the Democrats won the ballot battle and Republican sources tell TIME that DeLay is leaning to another surprising move -- stepping aside and supporting a write-in candidate for his old seat.

A Republican official with first-hand knowledge of the deliberations by DeLay said he "more likely than not" will go that route, although he had not made a final decision. "With DeLay, you never know," the official said.

DeLay plans to make the announcement this week, the officials said....

Some Republican lawyers said the write-in strategy could prevail if DeLay's name remains on the ballot, or if officials allow him to withdraw so that no Republican name appears....

But the notion of a write-in campaign drew a different reaction in Texas. "This would be met with ridicule and scorn," said Bill Miller, a Republican consultant with close ties to the state's GOP legislative leadership. "This strategy would be like handing the seat to the Democrats on a silver platter," Miller said. "Tom Delay will be remembered for the craziest end to his political career."

Miller said it is arrogant to think voters will support a write-in gambit. "Anointing a candidate never works," Miller said. "Voters are likely to say, 'The hell with 'em' and write in their own name, their kid's name." Plus, if his name remained on the ballot, it is likely DeLay would attract some of the vote away from the write-in candidate.

Via Hotline.

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 -

Hi Marion, This note is to confirm that the suspension of displaying the website 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. Regards, Dan Geary

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.