GOP lawmaker on Putin: He's a criminal

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told CNN's Manu Raju that he "wouldn't have a conversation with a criminal," in response to a question about President Trump's congratulatory call to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 9:40 AM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 9:43 AM

In the Cold War canon of movies that imagined what World War III would look like, there were armed teenagers in the Rockies, submarines in Cape Cod, and plenty of postapocalyptic grit. Regardless of the scenario, however, Americans always fought back.

Now the Russians really are here, infiltrating every corner of the country, with the signal goal of disrupting the American way of life. And enormous numbers of Americans are not only failing to fight back, they are also unwitting collaborators, -- reading, retweeting, sharing and reacting to Russian propaganda and provocations every day.

Meanwhile, according to Gallup, US public opinion of Russian leader Vladimir Putin improved between 2015 and 2017. Most of that gain was with registered Republicans, quite a turnaround for the party of Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan.

Earlier this month, Russian intrusions took a sinister new turn, with the joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security disclosure that the Russians have been hacking US infrastructure, including the electric grid. If you weren't already worried about Russia, you should be now, and it's past time for the United States to define what a "proportionate response" looks like in these new forms of grayscale warfare (not armed conflict, but not peaceful coexistence, either).

Here's why Americans should be worried. According to the FBI and DHS, the Russians have been stealing information and testing attack scenarios on the structure and operations of the US electric grid, including industrial control and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems. Attacking those systems, particularly in a way that does permanent damage, could lead to a prolonged power outage.

Now imagine your life without electricity. No light, no smartphones, no Internet of Things or things of the internet, no banking, and in many cases, no water or fuel, because those systems often rely on pumps and other electrical equipment. Most US military bases depend on civilian grids, too, and backup generators can only take our increasingly electrified force so far.

It is difficult to judge Russian intent, of course, but history is full of wars where civilian infrastructure was a target, and sometimes even a weapon. From the Spartans' ravaging of Athenian crops in ancient Greece to America's "shock and awe" in Iraq, attacking food, water, transportation and communications has long been a way to cut a military off from its supplies, generate political pressure, and destroy the public morale of an enemy.

In the Digital Age, electricity is the ultimate target (and the Pentagon no doubt knows where all Russia's power plants are, too). What's new, however, is the ability to attack this target without firing a shot or crossing a border, which would be an overt act of war. The Russians proved in Ukraine that they can and will shut down electricity from afar in an undeclared war. It's not easy to do, but Russia also will not be the last country to use or gain that capability.

The United States urgently needs to strengthen our defense of the national grid system. This cannot be just the responsibility of the private sector, for a number of reasons. First, there are more than 8,000 power plants in the country, ranging from large, well-connected investor owned utilities to small, rural co-ops with a fraction of the customer base. There are thousands of companies that own or supply equipment in this complicated mix of wires, metal, and minerals. These businesses are generally optimized for reliability, not security, which makes sense, given that weather, human error, and animals damage grid infrastructure and cause power outages in the United States every day. As one industry executive told me: "We're ready for squirrels, not nation states."

Right now, however, the US government does not have a coherent grid security policy: Even the coverage of the recent alert mentioned DHS, the FBI, CYBERCOM, and the Department of Energy. There are other players in the mix, as well, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. It's urgent to clarify roles and missions, clearly designate who will take the lead, and produce coherent, thorough threat assessments. That also means ensuring the grid security agencies have sufficient staffing, technology, funding and leadership support. We can't expect the FBI to keep us safe from attacks on the homeland, for example, if the commander in chief is constantly undermining the institution itself.

Speaking of the President, it is also vital that he direct the National Command Authority (the defense chain of command, including intelligence and military leaders) to give him options for responding to Russian aggression. This is not just about Russia, either; this is about setting the precedent for how the United States will respond when we are attacked in this new gray era.

It's not just up to the President, though. In those Cold War movies, back in the days when Americans fought back, we also stood together and had as much confidence in the power of our ideas and strength of our economy as we did in our force of arms. Maybe those were just works of fiction, but ultimately, the buck still stops with all of us if we're going to keep the country safe in the Digital Age.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 658043

Reported Deaths: 12467
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion902221628
Lake48163871
Allen35614632
Hamilton31884394
St. Joseph29615510
Elkhart25291412
Vanderburgh21148377
Tippecanoe19815197
Johnson16262353
Porter15867268
Hendricks15744297
Clark11860179
Madison11688315
Vigo11520228
Monroe10267158
Delaware9800178
LaPorte9725194
Howard9024194
Kosciusko8519107
Bartholomew7394147
Warrick7380147
Hancock7379128
Floyd7149165
Wayne6597189
Grant6406157
Morgan6044124
Boone604188
Dubois5876111
Dearborn541266
Henry539892
Marshall5397104
Cass538999
Noble507575
Jackson462663
Shelby458890
Lawrence4161111
Gibson400581
Harrison395960
Clinton393353
DeKalb382878
Montgomery382883
Miami355163
Knox354484
Whitley347235
Huntington339276
Steuben336355
Wabash329575
Putnam326559
Ripley325261
Adams320749
Jasper313643
White295651
Jefferson293270
Daviess284496
Fayette270555
Decatur269688
Greene260278
Posey260031
Wells256074
Scott248947
LaGrange240270
Clay239444
Randolph225076
Spencer216130
Jennings214044
Washington208727
Sullivan202239
Fountain200641
Starke186450
Owen181652
Fulton177437
Jay177328
Carroll175718
Perry172635
Orange170450
Rush164222
Vermillion159040
Franklin158435
Tipton145641
Parke138415
Pike127232
Blackford120327
Pulaski106243
Newton96431
Brown94839
Benton91213
Crawford90113
Martin80014
Switzerland7527
Warren74712
Union66810
Ohio52811
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 959995

Reported Deaths: 17045
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1111071193
Cuyahoga945941709
Hamilton72643947
Montgomery46983875
Summit39720942
Butler35094460
Lucas34829757
Stark29061835
Warren22166270
Lorain21781386
Mahoning19282537
Lake18210300
Clermont18200206
Delaware16289129
Licking14832197
Fairfield14401156
Trumbull14171455
Greene13481211
Medina13220219
Clark12139333
Wood11411193
Portage10870153
Allen10715232
Richland10184205
Miami9954179
Columbiana8052179
Muskingum8046123
Tuscarawas7984235
Pickaway796798
Marion7944135
Wayne7799217
Erie6803183
Ross6083136
Geauga5996129
Hancock5945110
Scioto5886105
Ashtabula5884143
Lawrence520373
Union506552
Darke5013122
Belmont483987
Sandusky473393
Jefferson4726107
Huron4722117
Seneca4624103
Athens457331
Mercer4570101
Auglaize454498
Washington452186
Shelby439167
Knox398584
Putnam3967101
Madison389147
Ashland375495
Fulton375364
Defiance3682102
Brown367842
Crawford355396
Preble351070
Logan350158
Clinton336862
Highland324455
Ottawa319667
Williams299777
Jackson287756
Guernsey284034
Champaign283145
Fayette266343
Perry265943
Morrow257224
Henry243665
Holmes2420104
Hardin241957
Coshocton230847
Van Wert227849
Gallia219846
Adams213732
Pike212825
Wyandot207952
Hocking192248
Carroll178928
Paulding158023
Meigs133836
Noble128142
Monroe115336
Morgan99734
Harrison99632
Vinton76515
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 29°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 25°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 29°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 25°
Cooler Thursday, More Warmth Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events