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May 22, 2006, 8:11 pm
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State Dept. to remove Chinese-made computers from classified networks
By Patience Wait, GCN Staff
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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
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