• 01 JAN 17
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    Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid

    I have been a subscriber to the Washington Post for some time and have generally found it to be an excellent source of information on what is happening in the world. However it seems even the WP is not immune to false news stories (my last posting – to be deleted shortly). The following was sent in by Swedish investigative journalist Mona Nilsson.

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    Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid
    Glenn Greenwald
    January 1 2017,

    Excerpt:

    The Washington Post on Friday reported a genuinely alarming event: Russian hackers have penetrated the U.S. power system through an electrical grid in Vermont. The Post headline conveyed the seriousness of the threat:

    The first sentence of the article directly linked this cyberattack to alleged Russian hacking of the email accounts of the DNC and John Podesta — what is now routinely referred to as “Russian hacking of our election” — by referencing the code name revealed on Wednesday by the Obama administration when it announced sanctions on Russian officials: “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.”

    The Post article contained grave statements from Vermont officials of the type politicians love to issue after a terrorist attack to show they are tough and in control. The state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, said:

    Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality of life, economy, health, and safety. This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.

    Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a statement warning: “This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter. That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”

    The article went on and on in that vein, with all the standard tactics used by the U.S. media for such stories: quoting anonymous national security officials, reviewing past acts of Russian treachery, and drawing the scariest possible conclusions (“‘The question remains: Are they in other systems and what was the intent?’ a U.S. official said”).

    SNIP

    What’s the problem here? It did not happen.

    There was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid.” The truth was undramatic and banal. Burlington Electric, after receiving a Homeland Security notice sent to all U.S. utility companies about the malware code found in the DNC system, searched all its computers and found the code in a single laptop that was not connected to the electric grid.

    Apparently, the Post did not even bother to contact the company before running its wildly sensationalistic claims, so Burlington Electric had to issue its own statement to the Burlington Free Press, which debunked the Post’s central claim (emphasis in original): “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems.” SNIP

    Read the full article here

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