WikiLeaks 'hacktivist' boasts of attack

A so-called 'hacktivist' is claiming responsibility for the cyber attacks that took down WikiLeaks for several hours.

A so-called "hacktivist" is claiming to be behind the cyber attacks on WikiLeaks that crippled the site for several hours.

The computer expert, who goes by the internet handle th3j35t3r (The Jester) on the Twitter microblogging service, said he brought down the controversial whistleblowing website with a denial of service attack, reasoning on his blog that WikiLeaks was putting American lives in jeopardy by releasing a bevy of highly sensitive – and potentially embarrassing – U.S. State Department documents.

Referring to WikiLeaks in one posting, he wrote: "TANGO DOWN - for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations."

In the military, "tango down" is standard military jargon indicating a target has been eliminated.

The Jester's online profile describes him as a "hacktivist for good" whose interests include "obstructing the lines of communication for terrorists, sympathizers, fixers, facilitators, oppressive regimes and other general bad guys."

A denial-of-service attack renders a targeted machine inaccessible to its intended users, for instance by overwhelming a target with spam to slow it down and prevent it from functioning properly.

WikiLeaks went offline after being hammered with denial of service attacks beginning over the weekend and again on Tuesday. The site was running Wednesday afternoon.

The website has begun distributing the first of what it claims to be more than 250,000 leaked cables from the U.S. government, reporting on world leaders in often unflattering and frank terms.

The White House has since ordered a tight clampdown to prevent the further release of classified documents.