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FBI: Lieberman campaign, not hackers, caused 2006 Web site crash

Just before being defeated in the primary by antiwar Democrat Ned Lamont, the Connecticut senator's Web site went offline. The cause: a flub by his own sys admin, FBI says.

You may recall that during the heat of the 2006 primary race that prompted then-Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman to go Independent, the Connecticut politician's Web site, as a colleague of mine so eloquently noted, dropped dead.

Sen. Joe Lieberman U.S. Senate

At the time, conspiracy theories abounded. There was twittering that liberal bloggers who backed Lieberman's antiwar Democratic rival, Ned Lamont (who went on to win the primary, by the way) were responsible for the site's inaccessibility, and Lieberman's own campaign maintained that a denial-of-service attack had occurred.

Now, nearly two years later, we finally know whom to blame: the Lieberman campaign's own system configuration.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request by the Stamford Advocate, a local newspaper, turned up an FBI memo that concluded there was no evidence of an attack.

Rather, "the server that hosted the Web site failed because it was overutilized and misconfigured," according to an e-mail message dated October 25, 2006 from the FBI's New Haven, Conn., office.

The site crashed because Lieberman officials were exceeding a 100-e-mails-per-hour limit, as configured by their system administrator, on the night before the primary, the memo went on. The system administrator "misinterpreted the root cause" of the additional Web traffic overwhelming the Web server and declared it was being attacked, the FBI memo said.

Lieberman, of course, ultimately won re-election to the Senate as an Independent Party candidate during the November election. The 2000 running mate to Democratic presidential contender Al Gore has also been on the road campaigning for this year's presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain.