China computer deal could threaten State security

Rep. Wolf says the purchase of Lenovo computers also poses a risk to other departments' classified networks.

Rep. Wolf’s letters, USCC letter

Related Links

A lawmaker’s complaints about potential security risks has led the State Department to alter its information technology procurement policies after it bought nearly 16,000 computers last fall from Lenovo, a Chinese company with connections to the Chinese government.

In multiple letters this month to top Bush administration officials, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) expressed concern that using the computers would put State’s and other departments’ classified networks at risk.

“As you must be aware, the Chinese have a coordinated espionage program against our government,” Wolf said. “These computers should not be used in the classified network.”

Wolf echoed the concerns of the U.S.-China Commission (USCC), a congressional watchdog entity that evaluates the effects of the United States’ trade relationship with China. In an April 25 letter, USCC officials said they saw dangerous parallels between the State deal and Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s computer division in 2005.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States criticized the 2005 deal because of the Chinese government’s large investments and influence in the company.

The House Appropriations Committee has allotted $4.2 billion to State since 2002 to connect overseas posts with the department’s classified and unclassified networks, Wolf told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a May 4 letter. “I am distressed to learn that your department may be jeopardizing this investment in a secure IT infrastructure,” he said.

Richard Griffin, assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, met with Wolf and his staff May 17, according to a May 18 letter to Wolf.

State is changing its procurement process “in light of the changing ownership of IT equipment providers,” Griffin said. The changes, made in concert with the General Services Administration, will guarantee information security and compliance with federal procurement law, he said.

After consulting with federal security experts, State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security has recommended that the computers be used for unclassified purposes only, Griffin said. State is also performing extra inspections and verification tests on the systems.

According to the USCC letter, 15,000 of the computers would handle unclassified data. The remaining 900 would work in State’s classified network that carries information as high as the secret level, it states.

Those 900 computers would also connect to the Defense Department’s Secret IP Router Network system, DOD’s network for classified applications and databases and secure messaging, the letter states.

“This transaction will potentially give the Chinese access to Department of Defense intelligence information as well as the inner workings of the Department of State on issues ranging from human rights to Taiwan to arms control negotiations to countless other areas,” the letter states.

“The fact that these computers may be assembled outside of China or that the software is produced in the U.S. does not eliminate the opportunity for covert means to gain access to some of our nation’s most important data,” the letter continues.

Wolf outlined his concerns in May 4 letters to Rice; Joshua Bolten, President Bush’s chief of staff; John Negroponte, director of national intelligence; and Robert Mueller, the FBI’s director.

“This could be a problem,” Wolf said in a handwritten note at the bottom of his letter to Bolten. “Everyone remembers the problem with the American Embassy in Russia.” He included similar notes in his letters to Negroponte and Mueller.

Wolf was referring to the U.S. facility riddled with covert Soviet eavesdropping equipment during the Cold War.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.