Streetwise Professor

October 29, 2014

Did Putin Have the Hackers Insert Malware Popups Saying “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 6:54 pm

Although this has been rumored for weeks (due to the dogged reporting of Powerline), yesterday the White House admitted that hackers, likely Russian (I’m shocked! Shocked!), had compromised the (allegedly non-classified) computers of the Executive Office of the President.

Did Putin have the hackers insert malware that triggered a popup saying: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

But here’s the best part (and per usual, “best” means “worst”). We didn’t discover this ourselves. An “ally” informed us.

It would be so hilarious if the “ally” is Israel. (Germany would be a close second in hilarity.) It would also be so karmic.

But I guess this isn’t possible, because a confidential administration source said the information came from an ally, and we know what Obama, Kerry, etc. think of Israel, and “ally” isn’t the first word that trips off the tongue.

The hits just keep on coming, don’t they folks? But yes, by all means let’s hear some more lectures about how since “you didn’t build that” we need bigger government, delivered by the least competent administration ever.

 

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18 Comments »

  1. Remember the USS Liberty:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident

    Comment by Max Pyziur — October 30, 2014 @ 7:52 am

  2. @perfesser: I still think the Buchanan Administration was worse – I don’t think there is active treason in the White House, but I could be wrong.
    As to Vlad of the manly chest (every time I think of him I think of the character “Milles Gloriosus” from ‘a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), it is possible that this was leaked to make O look stupid – it is consistent with the military probing going on with the Russian air force.

    the irony is that Vlad has little understanding that O is actually his best ally in the US: a Reagan like reaction in the government would bring him to the edge much faster the the old USSR. Notthat thisis necessarily a good thing for us (or the world), but it will happen if he keeps this up.

    Comment by Sotos — October 30, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  3. Would it be funny if during the next presidential campain one of the candidates, when asked about his plans to meet with Putin if elected, would answer something like “Absolutely not. I think it is beneath the dignity of the President of the United States to even be in the same room with a KGB colonel”?

    Comment by LL — October 30, 2014 @ 11:45 am

  4. @Sotos: A Reagan like reaction requires a Reagan like political figure, and there just simply isn’t one in American, or really Western, politics today.

    Comment by JDonn — October 30, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

  5. Scott Walker? Ted Cruz? Ben Carson? (as to once and future Reagan-like political figures?)

    Comment by Jim — October 31, 2014 @ 7:36 am

  6. @JDonn & @Sotos: Putin is following the playbook that was developed by Reagan – give covert aid to a designated opposition or a set of mercenaries.

    Three examples from Reagan’s paradigm:
    – The Afghan Mujaheddin were welcomed to the White House, were given advanced weaponry to fight the Soviet military.
    – Jonas Savimbi was welcomed by Reagan to the WH; Savimbi requested state-of-the art Stinger missiles for his UNITA force; Reagan didn’t blink, and just turned to an aide and said, “Give him Stingers.”
    – Supporting Contra fighters (actually mercenaries) in Nicaragua which led to the Iran-Contra Affair (secretly selling arms to Iran through an Israeli intermediary, and then using that $$ to fund the Contras)

    How has the Putin regime followed the Reagan paradigm?
    – Give Buk missiles to the self-designated DNR/LNR forces led by Beltzer and formerly by Girkin that led to the downing of MH17, among other things.

    Comment by Max Pyziur — October 31, 2014 @ 8:48 am

  7. I did not say that Putin is following Reagan’s playbook – and to assume that what Reagan did was aggression is to take these actions out of the context they arose in: MPLA coup d’etat in Angola, the direct invasion of of a neighboring country, and the overt support through CUBA of he Sandinista’s. To claim that Reagan’s playbook was an act of aggression against the peace loving people of the USSR is a joke. I am not saying he was right or wrong, but it was definitely a case of push back.

    So far Vlad has had little push-back – no one is arming the Ukrainians, much less the internal opposition in Russia / Chechnya / Dagestan. Merkel is busy prostituting herself and Vlad is pushing the borders with incursions into European airspace and territorial waters, not to mention invading and annexing territory of neighboring countries, and supplying troops and arms to the Don Bas, kidnapping an Estonian official, etc.

    The point is , and the danger is is that Russia is far more fragile now than it was 35 years ago, but it is still a heavily nuclear armed power. Mistakes can be easily made.

    Comment by sotos — October 31, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  8. When I read Max Pyziur’s comment, I was reminded of something Bill Buckley Jr. once said:

    “To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.”

    Comment by Gordon — October 31, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  9. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a Russian troll come onto the site.

    Comment by Blackshoe — October 31, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  10. @Blackshoe. I know. Starting to feel that maybe I’ve lost my touch.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 31, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  11. Putting aside the Reagan/Putin comparison, there is an interesting comparison between Putin and Obama I have been thinking about lately. Obama has been criticized by many, including myself, for his micromanaging of the ISIS airstrikes etc. There was a recent post her comparing it to the micromanaging at a tactical level that occurred during Vietnam. It seems to me though that the so far highly successful Russian intervention in Ukraine probably required very tight micromanagement from a very high level, particularly in the period of gradual escalation of direct Russian involvement in the aftermath of MH-17, but prior to the actual effective invasion of the Donbas that eventually occurred.

    This is purely speculative, but I have a hard time seeing Putin let his commanders dictate the level of Russian involvement. If this is the case, then the problem isn’t micromanagement per se. My feeling is that the main problem the US has suffered from since Korea is an unwillingness of civilian leadership to embrace the reality that for force to be applied successfully, it must be done so aggressively. Aggression seems like a dirty word and has a lot of “bad” connotations for civilians in and outside of government, but in a tactical sense it is, and has always been regarded as, a virtue and a necessity.

    Comment by JDonn — October 31, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

  12. @JDonn. War is politics carried on with other means, so it is inevitable, and wise, that the political leadership ultimately control military operations. The question becomes, then, how should this control be exercised? Certainly at the level of setting strategic objectives, and perhaps even broadly setting the means, because these can have political ramifications (e.g., Truman stopping MacArthur from using nukes against China during the Korean War). Even some influence on the operational level can make sense. Recall Cheney telling Schwarzkopf and Powell to come up with a plan different than “Hey, diddle, diddle, straight up the middle.” And Gulf War I was executed far better as a result.

    But Obama’s insistence on exercising control at the tactical level is clearly a mistake, and it reflects exactly what you identify as a problem: a revulsion at the idea that if you exercise force, you need to exercise it aggressively. There is this idea that force can be calibrated exquisitely, and the very threat of it can bend an opponent to America’s will. I often use the quote (variously attributed to Jackie Fisher and Macauley): “The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility.” That is an overstatement, but there is a kernel of truth to it. And there is no doubt that Obama violates this maxim more than any other president in US history, outdoing the previous record holder, LBJ, by a mile.

    Things are too far gone in Syria, and probably Iraq, for US involvement to have any real effect beyond containment, except at a prohibitive cost. Better to acknowledge that, than engage in a timorous campaign that is so self-limited that it can achieve nothing except make the US look like a pitiful giant utterly lacking in will.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 1, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

  13. @SWP Point taken and I agree completely, but my question is really to what degree Putin was exercising direct control when it comes to specific, tactical actions carried out by the Russians in East Ukraine, such as the artillery bombardments and other limited incursions we were hearing about, prior to Russian armored columns actually entering the Donbas and engaging the Ukrainians directly in large scale operations. These types of operations may have been left to the discretion of the commanders, but if Putin wanted to manage the degree of escalation, he would have had to approve these directly. I would think this is micromanagement analogous to that of Obama/Johnson etc.

    Comment by JDonn — November 1, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

  14. @JDonn. It’s hard to tell. My perception is that the Russian military operations have been basic blocking and tackling. Very by-the-book. I therefore conclude that they were designed by military professionals. They comport with Soviet/Russian operational and tactical doctrines. No doubt they were approved by Putin, and were the result of a collaborative process between the Kremlin and the military that ensured that the means chosen meshed with the political objective.

    The big difference I see with Obama is that the measures that he is employing (like LBJ before him) are so much at odds with generally accepted military thinking. That’s what suggests a micromanager overriding the judgments of his commanders regarding the most effective means to achieve the objectives of the campaign.

    That is, the contrast is between Putin, who appears to have approved the operational and tactical concepts recommended by military professionals, and Obama, who clearly has imposed his own views on the professionals, who are no doubt saluting through gritted teeth, and muttering to themselves as they return to their offices to cut the operational orders.

    My guess is that the Russian process was: (1) Putin tells his military the objectives he wants to achieve; (2) the military designs plans and presents them to Putin; (3) there is some debate, some back-and-forth, some revision of the plans; (4) Putin approves; (5) the military proceeds, and reports back to Putin.

    Conversely, the US process has been: (1) Obama presents the objectives; (2) the military presents plans; (3) Obama rejects those plans, imposes incredibly tight constraints on the force to be employed; (4) the military comes back, reluctantly, with a plan respecting those constraints; and (5) Obama exercises very close control over the execution of the operation, down to the selection of targets.

    That’s what I mean by micromanagement. A far more intrusive and controlling involvement by Obama than Putin.

    I think there is a fundamental reason for the difference. Putin is very comfortable with the use of military force, and is broadly willing to defer to the judgment of the professionals who are expert in wielding it. Obama detests the idea of military force, and when compelled to use it, distrusts the judgment of military professionals and therefore keeps them on a very short leash.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 1, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

  15. Having the WH computer networks compromised is not justifiable cause for the accusation “the least competent administration ever.” (A better starting point for making a judgement would be to evaluate Paul Krugman’s recent assessment of the Obama administration.)

    Policymakers as yet are not required to be credentialed and/or have experience in computer network and system administration; they are recruited and elected on the basis of having experience and skills to do other tasks. The fault lies somewhere in the civil servant class tasked with the administration of these systems.

    Furthermore, diagnosis of a hack isn’t something so esoteric to the point that some unnamed ally has only the requisite skills or means to produce the forensics. Watch the logfiles that collect data for audit purposes on some network and you can see the evidence for yourself. The challenge is in trying to find all of the buffers – the series of compromised networks that hackers use to effectively shield their location, and therefore, identity.

    ***

    There was no comparison made of Reagan and Putin; the point was to show that the tactics used by Russia have been developed and/or used elsewhere. Consider Stuxnet, the malware worm that targeted and ruined 1/5 of Iran’s nuclear subterfuges in 2010; it reads like a collaborative project that originated in Israel and the US. The point is that the US does it also. And no one in Iran is calling the Iranian leadership incompetent because the computer networks controlling their nuclear subterfuges were compromised.

    Tactics like the ones used to support separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, along with targeted malware attacks are originating, from Russia. These same tactics originating from a state that has robust civil society, strong institutional democracy with independent judiciaries, and alternative political elites, can check abuses of power (there were a lot of high officials sentenced from the Iran-Contra Affair, including Caspar Weinberger).

    So, you have a situation where the same tactics used elsewhere are now being used by Russia, effectively an authoritarian, kleptocratic regime, that has no internal checks on its leadership. And until recently, didn’t present itself as a threat to “the West,” especially the EU which has no coherent security policy, if any. The challenge is to counter Russia.

    MP

    Comment by Max Pyziur — November 1, 2014 @ 7:42 pm

  16. @SWP Thanks, that post unpacks and compares the decision making processes at the level I was trying to get to.

    Comment by JDonn — November 1, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

  17. Dr. Strangelove: War is too important to be left to politicians
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4EpRZAdke4

    The NYTimes on Putin’s decision-making: Russia’s Move Into Ukraine Said to Be Born in Shadows
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/world/europe/russias-move-into-ukraine-said-to-be-born-in-shadows.html

    “… The question now is how far Mr. Putin intends to go. Sergei A. Markov, a political strategist who advises the Kremlin, said it was not yet clear. “He is improvising,” he explained.”

    Comment by Max Pyziur — November 2, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

  18. Ah yes Merkel skulking through the shadows on Tverskaya looking for a John. Apologies Sotos but you have slurred prostitutes. One has to have virtue to sell one’s virtue and the Frau does not.

    Comment by pahoben — November 3, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

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