State Dept. to remove Chinese-made computers from classified networks
- By Patience Wait
- May 18, 2006
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce, and Related Agencies, announced today that the State Department has agreed that approximately 900 computers purchased from Lenovo Corp. will not be used on classified networks.
The U.S.-China Commission, a bipartisan commission created by Congress to monitor and investigate the national security implications of trade and economic relations between the two countries, raised concerns with Wolf in April over State's decision to purchase almost 16,000 desktop PCs from Lenovo.
While the commission was concerned about the entire deal, it was particularly alarmed at the prospect of these 900 computers being used in a system that could connect to the Defense Department's classified SIPRnet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network).
Wolf contacted secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, FBI director Robert Mueller and John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and asked them to look into the matter.
'This decision would have had dire consequences for our national security, potentially jeopardizing our investment in a secure IT infrastructure,' Wolf said today. 'It is no secret, and becoming more obvious, hopefully, to the U.S. Congress ' that the United States is a principal target of Chinese intelligence services.'
Wolf said the State Department is making changes in its procurement process to better track ownership changes in IT equipment manufacturers. The department also is working with the General Services Administration to raise awareness of security issues such as this when planning for acquisitions of equipment.
Lenovo purchased IBM Corp.'s PC business just over a year ago. Some lawmakers and government officials raised concerns then about a company owned in part by the Chinese government selling computer equipment to federal agencies.