Who is Behind HillaryAttacks.com?

Last week, I wrote about Hillaryis44, an anonymous website that relentlessly touts Hillary Clinton and slams her rivals. Many people think the insidery site is "too professional to simply be a 'fan' site," as MSNBC's Domenico Montanaro explains, but no one has figured out who is behind the HTML. Now another anonymous site is getting feisty as the campaigns hit the homestretch -- but this one is devoutly against Clinton.

HillaryAttacks is a savvy site assailing Clinton for being too eager to "attack" her opponents -- and other countries. "The way to go on offense against Hillary is to talk about the other meaning of the phrase 'Hillary Attacks' -- as in Hillary attacks Iraq or Iran," advises the anonymous author, who says he is a 34-year-old "former politico," and "just a guy in Las Vegas with a blog." Think more politico than Vegas blogger -- the site has the pointed feel of opposition research, with several crisp videos arguing that Clinton is Rovian in her fights with Democrats and Cheney-esque in her rhetoric against Iran. (A professional-quality video posted this weekend even crunches data from 485 general election poll questions.) The site, which has drawn links from DailyKos, Wired and the official Edwards campaign blog, often sounds like a campaign conference call: key points are "top-lined," "right-wing frames" are scorned, and the strategic and moral agenda are one: "Iran is Hillary Clinton's Achilles' heel, both politically and substantively." The end-game is a pragmatic anti-Clinton union:

Even though most Democrats don't support Hillary, she could still win the nomination by dividing her opposition. To make sure that doesn't happen, at some point we may have to switch candidates to make sure Edwards or Obama wins the nomination. For most of us, that day will come sometime between the South Carolina primary (1/26) and Super Tuesday (2/5).

It all sounds like an experienced insider to me, though there's no evidence that the site is connected to any campaign. And of course, citizens have the right to advocate positions anonymously -- a tradition that goes back to The Federalist Papers. The web has simply exploded the opportunities for such activism, which naturally creates more controversies. This Friday, in fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is going to court to defend daTruthSquad, an anonymous blogger who is fighting a New Jersey municipality which tried to reveal his identity by subpoenaing Google's Blogspot service. These free speech fights will increasingly turn on web activism. And EFF's pro-bono work is one cause that the authors of Hillaryis44 and HillaryAttacks clearly agree on.

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Ari Melber writes for The Nation, where this post first appeared.