Last week, we got information from a source in the Executive Office of the President that the EOP’s computer system had been down for, at that time, a week. Federal IT personnel evidently were having trouble identifying and fixing the problem that had brought the computer system down (although email and internet access had been restored), and EOP employees were instructed to say nothing about it. Scott followed up with posts here, here and here. He repeatedly emailed the White House press office, asking for information about the outage. The press office acknowledged receipt of his emails, but refused to answer his questions.
A major intrusion into the Executive Office of the President’s computer system is huge news, with potential implications for national security, among other things. The EOP’s web site identifies the many agencies that are part of EOP:
The following entities exist within the Executive Office of the President:
* Council of Economic Advisers
* Council on Environmental Quality
* Executive Residence
* National Security Staff
* Office of Administration
* Office of Management and Budget
* Office of National Drug Control Policy
* Office of Science and Technology Policy
* Office of the United States Trade Representative
* Office of the Vice President
* White House Office
In addition, the following entities exist within the White House Office:
* Domestic Policy Council
* Office of National AIDS Policy
* Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
* Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation
* White House Rural Council
* National Security Advisor
* National Economic Council
* Office of Cabinet Affairs
* Office of the Chief of Staff
* Office of Communications
* Office of the Press Secretary
* Media Affairs
* Office of Digital Strategy
* Office of the First Lady
* Office of the Social Secretary
* Office of Legislative Affairs
* Office of Management and Administration
* White House Personnel
* White House Operations
* Telephone Office
* Visitors Office
* Oval Office Operations
* Office of Presidential Personnel
* Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs
* Office of Public Engagement
* Council on Women and Girls
* Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
* Office of Urban Affairs
* Office of Scheduling and Advance
* Office of the Staff Secretary
* Presidential Correspondence
* Executive Clerk
* Records Management
* Office of the White House Counsel
Imagine the havoc that could result if a hostile foreign power accessed all of the computer files, including email, of all of those federal agencies. A large number of people work in the Executive Office of the President, and it seems hardly credible that no one in Washington learned of the massive computer outage described by our source. And yet, until today no news source other than Power Line had written a word about it.
This afternoon, I assume as a result of Scott’s persistence, the Obama administration made a limited disclosure that confirmed that our source’s information was correct. The administration’s belated disclosure is described in the Reuters article that Scott wrote about earlier this evening.
The Obama administration told Reuters that the outage affected “some EOP users.” Our source believed that it affected the entire EOP; be that as it may, “some” is critically ambiguous. Did it affect the National Security Staff, or the Office of the First Lady? The National Security Advisor, or the Office of Urban Affairs? The White House, or the Council on Environmental Quality? Or was the outage general across most, if not all, of the EOP? The administration spokesman offers no clue.
Further, the administration says the computer problems resulted from “suspicious cyber activity,” which suggests action by a hostile power. In an apparent effort to reassure, a second administration spokesman tells us that the outage impacted only unclassified networks, and “there were no indications at this time that classified networks had been affected.” This is a distinction that our informant did not draw. Whether it is accurate or not is vitally important, although at this point we have no information about what is stored on classified versus unclassified networks. It is also noteworthy that our informant says that he personally observed that portions of the State Department’s computer network were down last week, as well. Maybe that is just a coincidence, but history does not lead us to put great credence in the Obama administration’s initial spin on any event.
We may or may not ever know what persons or entity launched an apparent cyber attack on the White House and the many agencies that comprise the Executive Office of the President, what its purpose was, or whether it succeeded. If we do find out, it most likely will be after the Obama administration has departed the scene and its various coverups finally unravel.
In the meantime, an obvious question arises: how is it possible that such an attack could be carried out, affecting thousands of federal employees, without being reported? I find it impossible to believe that we at Power Line were the only ones to get wind of what was happening in the White House. Isn’t there a large group of reporters who are collectively referred to as the “White House press corps?” Isn’t covering the President and his Executive Office their full-time job? And aren’t there hundreds more reporters and editors in Washington who ostensibly are on the lookout for news? And did not a single one of these alleged news hounds get wind of the computer outage that our informant told us about?
It think it is almost certain that numerous Washington reporters knew about the cyber attack (if that is what it was) on the Executive Office of the President, and perhaps the State Department and other federal agencies, and chose not to report the story. Why? The only explanation I can think of is that an election is coming up next week. Most Americans have concluded that the Obama administration is incompetent, and President Obama’s unpopularity is dragging down the Democratic Party. Republicans likely will take over the Senate. If voters knew about the EOP computer fiasco, many would see it as another indication of the administration’s ineptitude, and of the fact that things are not going well for the United States of America.
Substantially all Washington reporters and editors are Democrats who went into journalism in order to advance a liberal agenda. They buried the computer story because they feared it would hurt Democrats and help Republicans in next week’s election. That’s my guess, anyway. At one time, reporters thought their job was to dig out information and make it public. Now, most reporters and editors see themselves as blockaders of information: they think their primary job is to make sure that citizens don’t get news that might confuse them or that they are better off not knowing. Especially when a tough election for the Democrats is looming.
UPDATE: The administration tells the Washington Post that the hackers responsible for the White House computer outage are “thought to be working for the Russian government.” Reset! It’s amazing how much information comes out once Scott’s persistence forces the administration’s hand. Whether it is accurate or not, of course, we won’t know for quite a while.