- Al Gore’s climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Army’s 3-D printed bombs will create ‘a whole new universe’ of deadly capabilities
- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns Israeli shelling of shelter in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
- U.S. chemical sites vulnerable despite millions spent on security: Congress
- Driverless cars to hit the British streets by 2015
Inside the Ring
Question of the Day
Chinese telecom threat
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has listed two Chinese government-related telecommunications companies as approved suppliers for companies taking part in the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar program to expand broadband Internet service around the country.
Both companies were the target of a letter from six members of Congress that was sent to President Obama on Monday warning that there are significant risks to U.S. computer network security from security gaps in the broadband initiative.
China is viewed as one of the most aggressive nation-states engaged in international hacking. Last year, Google pulled its operations out of mainland China after a sophisticated cyber-attack against it and other U.S. companies.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last month that USDA is providing loans to develop broadband networks in rural parts of the country.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $7.2 billion for investment in broadband development for both USDA and the Commerce Department. USDA currently is in charge of several billion dollars of those funds to be used to develop broadband networks.
“Broadband investments are an essential part of the Obama administration’s effort to ‘win the future’ by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors,” Mr. Vilsack said in a statement.
“We are concerned that these initiatives provide an opportunity for the introduction of potentially harmful technology to U.S. broadband infrastructure,” the lawmakers stated. “We are particularly concerned that these companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, could benefit from this federal investment in broadband technology and receive taxpayer funds in exchange for equipment or services that could undermine U.S. networks. These companies received extensive support from the Chinese government, which increases the risk that the companies will feel obligated to follow its instructions.”
Huawei was blocked from merging with 3Com in 2008 by the Treasury Department-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and the National Security Agency advised some U.S. companies not to buy Huawei equipment, the letter said.
The letter stated that efforts to limit Huawei’s access to U.S. telecommunications networks were insufficient and in particular noted that USDA did not examine its use of broadband funds from a national security standpoint, citing the two companies’ inclusion on the approved vendor list.
“American companies providing broadband access may not be aware of the potential threats that accompany bids from Huawei and ZTE,” the letter said. “If the government agencies funding their work are so unfamiliar with the threat posed by those companies and are not evaluating applications [for loans] from a national security perspective, U.S. networks may be exposed to significant risk.”
USDA spokeswoman Dane Henshall did not answer directly when asked about the department’s listing of the Chinese companies.
“Companies and products listed in the USDA’s ‘List of Material Acceptable for Use on Systems of USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Borrowers’ meet requirements of the USDA RUS Technical Standards Committee and do not include companies or products restricted by law,” she said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
TWT Video Picks
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- HURT: Impeaching Obama is a losing strategy for the GOP
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- Senate overcomes first filibuster of Obama's border-spending bill
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world