Do Our Intelligence Agencies Suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome?
It would be more than a little disturbing if we found out that our intelligence agencies suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, especially with the inauguration of Donald Trump as our president only slightly more than two weeks away.
Nevertheless, we have been told that 17 -- count 'em, 17 -- of our intelligence agencies are sure that the computers of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were hacked by Russians under direct orders of their capo di tutti capi Vladimir Putin himself. And, as we all know, Putin and Trump are bosom buddies, in cahoots to... well, we're not sure about that part, but they must be up to something.
But two current news reports throw a bit of that cold Siberian ice on the seventeen's putative assumption. And one of those reports comes from Vermont, which, although not Siberia, at this time of year is close enough. Apparently the Washington Post, ground zero these days when it comes to Trump Derangement Syndrome, got a story a bit wrong. You might even call it (gasp!) "fake news."
As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and officials close to the investigation.
An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account Friday and triggered an alert indicating that his computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated by authorities with the Russian hacking operation that infiltrated the Democratic Party. Officials told the company that traffic with this particular address is found elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric, suggesting the company wasn’t being targeted by the Russians. Indeed, officials say it is possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.
The investigation by officials began Friday, when the Vermont utility reported its alert to federal authorities, some of whom told The Washington Post that code associated with the Russian hackers had been discovered within the system of an unnamed Vermont utility. On Friday evening, The Post published its report, and Burlington Electric released a statement identifying itself as the utility in question and saying the firm had “detected the malware” in a single laptop. The company said in its statement that the laptop was not connected to its grid systems.
The Post initially reported incorrectly that the country’s electric grid had been penetrated through a Vermont utility.
Oh, well. Chalk that one up to a zealous electric apartment employee and even more zealous newspaper. (The Post goes on solemnly to explain that the malware "does not appear to be connected with Grizzly Steppe, which U.S. officials have identified as the Russian hacking operation." Don't you just love "Grizzly Steppe"? John le Carré would probably have done a little better, but it's not bad.)