Wolf Alleges Security Violations at NASA's Langley Research Center, Issues Seven Step Remediation Plan

Wolf Alleges Security Violations at NASA's Langley Research Center, Issues Seven Step Remediation Plan

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today charged that there have been security violations at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, VA that resulted in a Chinese national obtaining sensitive information.   Wolf previously has honed in on similar alleged violations at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.   He says he is now worried about the entire agency and therefore issued a seven-step plan he wants NASA to implement to address “systemic security issues.”

At a Capitol Hill press conference this afternoon, Wolf, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, said that whistleblowers alerted him to a situation where, he reports, a Chinese national “was allegedly provided access and information he should have otherwise been restricted from receiving.”    He goes on to say that he understands the individual “is affiliated with an institution in China that has been designated as ‘an entity of concern’ by other government agencies,” and that “this Chinese national was allegedly employed by a Langley contractor allegedly at the direction of NASA officials in an apparent attempt to circumvent” restrictions included in NASA’s appropriations bill regarding China.

Wolf is an intense critic of the Chinese government and included language in the last two NASA appropriations acts restricting NASA from interacting with China in any way unless authorized by Congress or after sending Congress a certification 14 days in advance that the interaction would not harm national security.

Earlier this week, Wolf demanded to know why NASA was allowing Chinese nationals to participate in a meeting that is being held at LaRC of the Strategic Implementation Team of the international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) next week without providing Congress with the required certification.

At a meeting of several committees of the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board yesterday, Mike Freilich, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, noted that China has been a member of CEOS since 1992 and therefore it was invited to the meeting.  He said there are different interpretations of the law, but stressed that NASA has a responsibility to run CEOS within the law “and we are doing so.”  He said NASA Administrator Bolden was planning to meet with Wolf to discuss the matter.

Wolf did not mention that issue in his remarks today.  Instead he focused on the earlier allegations about Ames Research Center and the new allegations at LaRC along with concerns about a NASA website that he asserts makes available sensitive but unclassified documents. Overall, he blasted what he termed a NASA “management culture….that turns a blind eye, or in some cases may outright encourage, violations of security regulations.”

He laid out seven steps he wants NASA to implement starting with Bolden appointing an “independent, outside panel to comprehensively review and audit security protocols and enforcement, including foreign national access and export controls, at every NASA center and headquarters.”  He recommended that the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) be that outside entity and that it be chaired by someone with a strong security background, naming former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh as an example.


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