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Republican Web sites downed by mystery outage

Cause of six-hour outages are unknown, according to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

The Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign are investigating outages that left GOP.com and GeorgeWBush.com inaccessible for six hours on Tuesday.

The two Web sites failed to respond to some Internet requests starting around 8 a.m. PST and were largely unresponsive by 9 a.m. PST, according to Web site monitoring service AlertSite.com. The problem seemed to most affect GeorgeWBush.com, which became largely inaccessible within an hour.

The outage also affected the RNC's alternate address--RNC.org. By 1:45 p.m. PST, the RNC's Web sites were again accessible, but the Bush-Cheney '04 outage continued.

"We don't have a lot of information," said Scott Hogenson, director of radio and online media for the RNC. "We are looking into it. But it was no big deal."

A spokeswoman for the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign said the outage could be a technical glitch and that the campaign was investigating the problem. She said she expected the site to be back up by 3 p.m. PST, and shortly after that time it was accessible.

The sites do not seem to share the same infrastructure, making it unlikely that a technical glitch could be responsible for the outage. However, security experts were not ready to cry foul.

"I can't look at it and say that that it seems like an attack," said Ken Godskind, vice president of marketing for AlertSite. "I am not saying that it is not an attack, but its characteristics are just a smidgen off."

Most online attacks have been more informational than infrastructural. In 2001, online vandals attacked the White House Web site. This year, some others had called for attacks on the Web sites of the Republican Party prior to its national convention.

The Web sites of Democratic contender Sen. John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee were still accessible.