Vermont’s perennially-serving Senator, Patrick Leahy, recently managed to unload a press release on a Russian “hacking” event at Burlington Electric Department.
State-sponsored Russian hacking is a serious threat, and the attempts to penetrate the electric grid through a Vermont utility are the latest example. My staff and I were briefed by Vermont State Police Colonel Matthew Birmingham this evening. 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.
Alarming I’m sure all Americans can sleep better tonight knowing a man who first came to the Senate in 1975 is all up to speed with the latest in all that computer stuff the kids know so much about these days. I can also see where someone at BED using a utility’s laptop at home, off the network at the utility, surfing questionable websites, might pick up some malware or two that the utility’s IT department will pick up during recurring scans. Which seems to be exactly what happened:
The Department of Homeland Security alerted utilities on Thursday night about a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the Burlington Electric Department said.
“We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems,” it said.
The matched malware code on the laptop may have resulted from a relatively benign episode, such as visiting a questionable website, a source familiar with the matter said, suggesting Russian hackers may not have been directly involved.
It’s not a direct attack against the electric infrastructure. It’s a chowderhead taking a company laptop home, outside of the utility’s firewall, and since the malware is out in the wild, can wind up on any laptop, anywhere, if someone clicks on the wrong site. Had it wound up on a laptop from a guy working at the Twinkie factory, would our supply of cream-filled deliciousness be just as threatened by Russia?
No. It’s Leahy posing as being somebody useful – to the Democrat party, which is looking to find a source of their own malaise in an external actor, instead of asking themselves how their candidate, in Hillary Clinton, could possibly have lost, without first asking themselves hard truths about their own decisions and behaviors.
Speaking of a lack of self-reflection, Captain Irony (or as others like to call him, Senator Leahy) has a decades-long history around questionable behavior with sensitive information, which actually put the country and lives at risk, and may have caused a death or two along the way. But hey, when you’re busy doing cameos in Batman movies and lecturing the public about Russian malware, maybe you’ve got some free time on your hands.
So let’s take a peek at one or two of Senator Leahy’s own forays into questionable dealings with sensitive information. Hm. Looks like there’s a rather distinguished history in this Senatorial practice called “leaking”:
As you may recall, Leahy was stripped of his Senate Intelligence Committee vice-chair during the mid 80’s for making good on threats to sabotage classified strategies he didn’t personally care for. During Ronald Reagan’s own war on terror, the Vermont Democrat was aptly nicknamed “Leaky Leahy” for proving time and again that he would do absolutely anything to discredit the Republican President — including revealing the most vital of national security secrets.
In 1985, he was charged with disclosing a top-secret communications intercept which had led to the capture of the murderous Achille Lauro hijacking terrorists. That leak likely cost an Egyptian counterterrorist agent his life shortly thereafter. Then, in 1986, Leahy threatened to leak secret information about a covert operation to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. When the details of the operation later appeared in the Washington Post, the mission was immediately aborted.
So disclosing information that gets people killed is OK, and so is leaking congressional reports to reporters, and so is pumping up the volume over a malware-infected device in order to score political points and distract from the horrorshow that was the Clinton defeat in the election. All of those things are fine by Leahy, in service to the Party.
And his own party’s presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, used an unsecured private server to keep the US government’s restrictions on the handling of sensitive data out of her considerations, and out of FOIA requests – and Leahy endorsed her for office (8 years after he un-endorsed her for office, but hey, fish gotta swim and Leahy gotta Leahy).
Apparently when it’s his party that’s in question, concerns about sensitivity and security fly out the window, to the point where Leahy would have voted for Hillary as a superdelegate even if she didn’t win the state’s vote. That’s a man of the people, right there – as long as they do whatever he wants them to do. Then he’s their man!
Now, just a couple of days later – well, it’s not a hack. But that fact certainly won’t merit a retraction by Leaky Leahy. Does this still constitute a direct threat to Vermont that Leahy does not take lightly? Or does this constitute yet another political embarrassment by Vermont’s (largely) sitting senator that he’ll happily ignore until the next time he can exploit false information for political gain?