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February 10, 2012

CIA Website Briefly Knocked Offline, Hackers Claim Credit

The website for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was back online Saturday, one day after Internet hacking group Anonymous claimed computer users disabled it.

The site CIA.gov became unresponsive Friday afternoon. An Anonymous-linked Twitter account posted the message "CIA TANGO DOWN." "Tango down" is an expression reportedly used by U.S. Special Forces when they have eliminated an enemy. The account later tweeted that just because Anonymous reports a hack, does not mean it carried out the attack.

Access to the CIA website was reported to have been restored late Friday night.

Asked about the incident Friday, a CIA spokeswoman said the agency was aware of problems accessing its site and was working to resolve them.

Anonymous-linked hackers also claimed Friday to have attacked sites associated with Mexico's mining ministry and the state of Alabama. The group says the attack on the Alabama sites was in response to what it called the state's "recent racist legislation" targeting illegal immigrants.

Anonymous has a history of attacking official websites. Last month, it claimed credit for briefly knocking offline the websites of the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The attacks were in retaliation for the U.S. shutdown of popular file-sharing site Megaupload.

Other targets have included the site for the Greek Justice Ministry, a site operated by the Boston police department and the website of a law firm that defended a U.S. Marine who was convicted in the 2005 killing of Iraqi civilians.

The CIA website also has been hacked before. Last June, Anonymous-affiliated hacker group LulzSec claimed credit for taking the site offline for a couple hours.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.