False Flags About False Flags?

WaPo has a story up about evidence of a possible Russian attempt to hack the power grid.

A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.

While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks. …

…Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.

Besides the fact that I’m beginning to think I should be worried about my Kaspersky (a Russian company) security software — this story is a bit ambiguous; this might or might not turn out to be a big deal. But hacking of the electrical grid is a major deal, so it is something to be taken seriously. There will be more investigations.

This story also is being reported by Reuters, the Associated Press and the Guardian, although they are attributing most of their information to the Washington Post. These are news outlets with some standards about sources. Again, maybe it’ll turn out to be nothing, but I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.

However, others do. Today there was much hooting in social media about false flags. Sample:

Latest False Flag scapegoating, Russia hacking Vermont says MSNBC and Faux News?? Lol Lol. After all Vermont is a high value target. Feel the Bern. Lol. SERIOUSLY?? Anyone Remember the Movie, The Russians are Coming (a cold war era comedy)

Well, yeah, and there really were Russians, although nice ones. Hey, did you ever see the trailer for that movie? It’s a hoot.

Classic. Anyway, at the bottom of the WaPo story is a disclaimer, saying:

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.

Someone associated with Alex Jones called the WaPo story a false report. The Daily Caller put out a story headlined “Washington Post Publishes False News Story About Russians Hacking Electrical Grid” by a reporter named Alex Pfeiffer, who looks like he might be almost old enough to shave.

A story published by The Washington Post Friday claims Russia hacked the electrical grid in Vermont. This caused hysteria on social media but has been denied by a spokesman for a Vermont utility company.

The “denial” was that the hacked computer was not attached to the grid, as WaPo corrected. The Vermont utility company did not deny that a hacking code was found on one of their computers. But apparent journalism school dropout Pfeiffer continued to ridicule the WaPo story, playing up “panic among journalists.”

The thing is, that any foreign government might be attempting to hack the electrical grid, even if they haven’t succeeded, really is a big, scary serious thing. Even Pfeiffer might appreciate that if he ever finds himself in the middle of a major, prolonged blackout.

My larger point is that there’s such a thing as being too skeptical for one’s own good. I really hate that it’s now “cool” to dismiss everything in the news as just more manipulation.

15 thoughts on “False Flags About False Flags?

  1. Seems the naive and foolish are dismissing this because it is just Vermont and not a “high value target”. This is what hackers do, look for vulnerabilities and backdoors into larger systems/networks. This is serious, but right wing half-wits continue to dismiss things they don’t understand.

  2. In my experience, people who think they’re “too cool for school,” usually end up being badly ‘edumacated’ and ignorant.

    Sometimes, no matter how much you laugh and deride others about what you call “false-flag” operations, a real flag has been planted:
    Or, more importantly – right up all of our asses!

    What I know about computers would fit on the back of a postage stamp – with very large writing, and room to spare…
    But, one thing I’m pretty sure of, is that hackers start-off looking for small vulnerabilites, and then expand upwards from there.

    In other words, no, generally, on a first try, ‘that ant can’t, bring-down a rubber-tree plant.’
    But, it’s got high hopes for every try after that!

    And again – more than slightly OT – but since I think it bears retelling, I just want to remind everyone that I speak Russian fluently, and this is something I came across yesterday:
    On the Russian TV channels that I subscribe to for my Mother as part of our cable TV package – while my Mom was watching the Russian’s celebrating the New Year in the late afternoon and I was preparing a nice salmon dinner – I heard countless comedians mocking Donald t-RUMP and his “relationship” wih Vicious Vlad Putin.
    My mother was shocked at what she heard.
    I wasn’t.
    If there’s one thing Russians can recognize, it’s sycophantic toadies!

    One of these days, while t-RUMP is kissing his ass, Vlad will fart, and t-RUMP will suffer multiple concussions – or would, if he had a brain that could concuss!

  3. For those of you who have been too arrogant to listen to Maha about actually talking to Trump voters… and for those of you who never quite got the relevance of posts about how we are all rationalizing beings who decide things emotionally – here’s a piece that explains those two themes.


    For those of you who don’t see the risk or believe the threat of cyber-warfare, here’s where it happened a year ago to an adversary of Putin.


  4. I’m curious as to why the Republicans and the right are trying to squash this info.
    If Hillary C were the President elect, they would be taking and writing about this non stop.
    I can only surmise that they are willing to do ANYTHING to stay in power, even cooperate with the enemy.
    Ronald Reagan must be rolling in his grave.

  5. Trump is actively trying to destroy the credibility of News organizations( real ones), of US intelligence services and of any congress person that believes the intelligence they are being given. sowing the seeds of doubt, divide dominate. The Trump playbook and oh yea, “there will be more coming out on Tuesday” so tune in folks…..
    continuously playing all of us as suckers and daring us with a hook, to keep tuned to the Trumpchannel. Because he knows more than anyone…..
    And his toadies are suggesting that he listen to his own sources over and above his intelligence briefers. So that would be the Flynn channel???
    Authoritarian nonsense but here we all are.

  6. AJ – Hitler improved the economy of Germany by plundering other nations. Trump will start a trade war, I think. That will drive up prices for consumers and reduce profits for Wal-Mart. The tweets of 65 million ‘enemies’ of Trump are trivial compared to the leverage of one obscenely wealthy family called Walton. Trump’s offended Boeing and McDonell-Douglas with meaningless bluster that hurt their stock. So the military-industrial complex may unite against Trump. Despite low ratings in opinion polls, most Americans get news from the mainstream media and Trump is going to war with them. I predict Trump will reject Paul Ryan’s early move to privatize Medicare – that affects Trump’s core support group and I think Trump will make a spectacle of standing up against Congress for seniors. That’s Trump playing to the crowd, but Congress will join Wall Street and the MI Complex in a conspiracy to take Trump down. Like Hitler, Trump has proven that he can beat anybody – and like Hitler, Trump will learn that he can’t beat everybody.

  7. I once saw a video of a pack of hyenas attacking a lion. They surrounded the lion and took turns running in from different directions to take a bite at the lion and then retreat back to safety while the lion tried to defend against every position.Eventually the Lion couldn’t withstand the onslaught and was taken down. A similar scenario involving Trump and the Congress is my hope and my projection.
    Trump hasn’t yet engaged with the power structure that is specifically designed to keep him in check and where conflicting interests are going to be more pronounced and fragmented. Trump is now riding high on a delusional idea the the presidency affords him the ultimate power.

    I suspect Trump is going to have a short honeymoon once he tries to mix it up with Congress. I think Trump is going to get an education. His antics won’t fly when it gets down to specifics. He’s flying high when everything is vague and in an abstraction, but once he’s taken the reigns of power and tries to dictate his own agenda, then we’ll see what a bag of shit Trump really is. It won’t be long before his mask gets ripped off.
    aj….What you describe above is a sophisticated variant of the Crazy Joey routine. I agree with you 100% in your assessment . That tactic is not sustainable for the long run, and it won’t be long before Trump becomes the boy who cried wolf.

  8. I’ve been in “better to keep your mouth shut and appear like an idiot, than to open it and remove all doubt” mode. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate all the writing and commentary here. It’s just the opposite, I appreciate it a lot, I just can’t add anything of value. I sure hope Swami/Doug are right. I’ve always had faith in my country and countrymen, despite all the evidence and experiences that might have eroded it over the years. I guess part of my brain still lives back in my grade school history and social studies classes. But, I don’t know what to make of this situation without sounding as if I’ve “gone off.”

    Quite a few years ago, I read an article that described a wealthy and powerful segment of the population. We know them as the “one percent” or “Richistan.” (Not to be confused with the “one percenters” who wear beards and ride Harley Davidsons, but in the end a lot more dangerous.) The article described them as a group who thought that we had “a little too much Democracy.”

    Sometimes you look back over where you’ve been, and the seemingly random events take on a form (q.v. the bridge of swords in Arthurian legend.) That’s how conspiracy theories are born, but, also how history is interpreted. For common, mostly self educated people like me the former is far more likely than the latter. But, if I look back, it seems that our democracy itself was the most consistent target. It was the death of a thousand cuts. Government is the enemy, voter suppression, “think tanks” (AKA propaganda mills), the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, news as entertainment, whole media industries to manufacture opinion, consent and hatred. The list could go on. Basically, the big money boys were determined to get the “best” government money could buy, and they were picking a way at it to drive the price down. 2016 was the year that the trap was sprung, but, the trap was set a while ago. Sooner or later, we were likely to fall into it.

    Yeah, it all sounds a bit crazy, conspiracy theories look at a series of events and tie them together with the concept of agency. But, you can see a kind of snowball effect in the shift to the right, and it has brought us to a strange and menacing “here and now.” When you are lost in the woods, you usually try to retrace your steps. Sometimes it seems that you lost your way one step at a time.

    I’ve obviously wandered into “idiot mode,” but the good news is, I think I see how I got here.

    I love both movie trailers. Boy, that Alan Arkin is great.

  9. I’ve been thinking ” the boy who cried wolf” a lot lately. Mainly because media folks are so obsessed with tweets and you wonder how long before the entire planet will yawn when he declares things.
    Please congress take away the 4minute nuclear response ability, please.
    And China, please intervene when North Korea decides to nuke Oregon, even though I know , the Donald has insulted you lately.

  10. It will be interesting to see if Trump can resist the temptation to do some insider trading. At this point, all he has to do is tweet some nonsense and a stock like Boeing dives and recovers. He must have a tremendous “high”with that sense of power, and until the market becomes habituated to his tweets, there is a lot of money to be made.

    My guess is that he won’t be able to resist.

  11. Goatherd, thanks for the thumbs up on the trailer, but more thanks for the wisdom.  More people, including me, should act like you.  The internet is generally seen as a place where you can show off your ignorance and be proud of it.  It is seen as a place where you can affect people with the main effect being creating discord.  I will not mention anyone by name, but if you like you can sign up for a direct feed of this sort of “abuse” from a company called Twitter.  If my information is current it does not make a profit and is for sale.  There is no truth to the rumor that Putin is thinking of buying it, though who knows for sure about anything anymore.  See how easy it is to fall into that trap. I must do better. Perhaps the unmentioned one will follow a good example.

  12. I was in high school during the McCarthy/HUAC Years, and then I spent twenty years in the Army, so I tend to be a little more skeptical. I don’t have time to provide links to them all, but there have been lengthy articles posted to the internet by people who work with computer security. Some of them are very interesting if you’re into technical stuff or programming. A less technical summary which I think presents reality very well is at http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/12/what-is-grizzly-steppe-fancy-bear-and-the-dnc-hack.html


    If the NSA has evidence that the Russians delivered the emails to Wikileaks, and they are probably the only people who would have such evidence, they ain’t telling. The only “evidence” that the DNC computer was hacked by Russian intelligence is a claim by a cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, which makes money from selling their services. They may sincerely believe they have enough bits and pieces of evidence that the two entities they claim to have found evidence of are connected to the Russian Intelligence Services (RIS, remember this acronym, you’ll be seeing it a lot). APT28 and APT29 may be connected with the RIS, but the traces found on the DNC computers don’t prove it and CrowdStrike hasn’t released their analysis of other material that persuades them. No government agency has released any evidence other than, “Have I ever lied to you before?” which many people seem to accept.

    I’m old enough that I’m probably not going to see the end of this, but I’ve been very conscious over the last 8 years of how much the neocons have been in control of our State Department (hi, Victoria Nuland) and how much they’ve been preparing the American public for a war with Russia. Now Trump (who also scares me to death) may take that away from them and they’re trying desperately to delegitimize him.

    • Procopius — I’m not taking anything on faith; I am firmly agnostic about the hacking. But it’s a bit naive to expect the CIA to put all its cards on the table, considering this is part of an ongoing operation. Assume nothing.

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