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Solar flare, aging infrastructure or Russia: Who gets blamed when the US has a massive power outage?

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Solar flare, aging infrastructure or Russia: Who gets blamed when the US has a massive power outage?
The New York Times has once again plumbed the bottom-feeding depths of journalism with an uncritical story on how the US hacked Russia’s power grid – without Trump’s knowledge. What could possibly go wrong?

Imagine the following scenario. You are home alone on a Friday evening, relaxing with your favorite TV series when suddenly the lights go out. Using the wall as your guide, you struggle to the kitchen to find some candles. On the way, you glance out the window. A mild panic takes hold as your brain processes the shocking scene: from your view atop a New York City high-rise not a single visible light can be seen aside from the twinkling of car headlights far below. The Big Apple, home to over 8.5 million people, has been plunged into a metallic sea of darkness.

In an effort to comprehend what has happened, you begin to ponder apocalyptic plot-lines borrowed from a Mad Max flick. Did the planet’s power grid finally get fried by one of those solar hiccups we’ve been conditioned to fear? Did that damn rogue asteroid finally impact the earth? Did WWIII begin and nobody tell you? And undoubtedly you will hypothesize along the way that America’s arch nemesis, Russia, has been playing with the power switch.

And who would blame you? After all, for almost three years we’ve been bombarded with fake news about ‘Russiagate’ and meddling Russians. And just a few days earlier the New York Times – the hallowed ‘paper of record’ – reported that the United States had planted “crippling malware” inside of Russia’s power grid “with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.” What would compel the saintly Americans to do such an insane thing? Why, because the Russians started it, of course.

Eureka, now it all makes sense! The Russians carried out a preemptive strike on the US power grid – in the middle of a popular Netflix series, no less – in response to the existential threat posed to the Russian power grid by malicious US malware. With all the predictability of a Swiss watch, US lawmakers assemble on Capitol Hill for a collective convulsion, raging about the need to “get tough” against Russia for its brazenness. The rhetoric reaches such a feverish pitch that even the ghost of John McCain makes a brief guest appearance. Never mind, however, that the real cause for the power outage was America’s aging infrastructure. Can’t let facts ruin a good war party! Now the US and Russia are on hair-trigger alert as the two nuclear powers weigh their options. How did we arrive at this dangerous crossroads?

READ MORE: No joke: US think-tank suggests cyber-attacks on Moscow Metro, St. Pete power grid, RT offices

 The US public has been fed such a steady diet of anti-Russia rubbish for so long it has become almost impossible to keep track of the facts, of which there are, incidentally, very little. Readers may recall, for example, a similarly sensational story that ran in the, ahem, prestigious Washington Post back in 2016. It warned that a code associated with a Russian hacking outfit had been detected within the system of a Vermont power utility. There was just one problem with the claim. It was, as the Irish would say, a bunch of malarkey. Even Snopes rejected it. Yet, how many people do you think saw the ‘correction’ that now accompanies the revised article? It is safe to say precious few, which is precisely how propaganda works and why so many readers will accept the latest Times trash at face value.

Also on rt.com Hack away! NYT says US planted CYBER KILL SWITCH in Russian power grid… media shrugs

The mainstream media consumer is inundated with a firehose of falsehoods to the point where he eventually gives up trying to separate fact from fiction. Out of sheer exhaustion he accepts the desired conclusion against his better instincts, in this case that Russia is the villain. Thus every deplorable and dangerous act against Russia is deemed acceptable, even reportedly sabotaging its power grid, an idea that was floating around before ‘Russiagate’ took center stage.

In 2016, the influential and very screwy ‘think tank’, the Atlantic Council, released a paper that actually called for Poland to ‘reserve the right’ to attack Russian infrastructure.  

Poland should announce that it reserves the right to deploy offensive cyber operations… The authorities could also suggest potential targets, which could include the Moscow metro, the St. Petersburg power network, and Russian state-run media outlets such as RT,” the deranged document advised.

It deserves repeating that modern Russia has never committed a single act of aggression against Poland, or any other country, to warrant such an incredibly hostile and irresponsible declaration on the part of NATO members.

Back to the Times article. There seems to be another reason behind the dubious story aside from sowing discord between two nuclear powers. Pathetic as it may sound, it once again boils down to domestic political brinkmanship in the United States. In yet another apparent attempt to destroy Trump’s reputation, the Times mentioned in the report that the US leader had been left in the dark as US intelligence agents wreaked havoc against Russia’s power grid.

Quoting two anonymous administration officials, the Times reported that “intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

It would be hard to top that paragraph as far as anti-Trump screeds go. Not only does Trump have no idea what is happening inside of his own administration, as the report insinuates, but his intelligence officials don’t trust him with sensitive information. And the claim about Trump discussing a “sensitive operation in Syria” with Lavrov is laughable and was roundly rejected by officials in the room during the meeting. Once again, facts mean very little to outlets like the Times when it comes to reporting on their favorite antagonists, Russia and Trump, and even less as the critical 2020 presidential elections loom large on the horizon.

Tragically and possibly catastrophically, Russia now finds itself in the middle of this partisan passion play between the Democrats and Republicans. Although Moscow has genuinely behaved as the adult in the room throughout the entire ‘Russiagate’ hysteria, the latest incendiary piece by the Times has all the potential to do real damage to the bilateral relationship, or what’s left of it.

At the very least, the entire world should cross its fingers and hope that nothing untoward happens to the Russian power grid, accidentally or otherwise, because many people will fervently believe they already know the identity of the culprit.

That a publication like the once-venerable New York Times has the ability to create such tensions on the geopolitical front without a shred of evidence proves that the US mainstream media is completely out of control. Indeed, it’s become nothing less than a national security threat.

@Robert_Bridge

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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