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Watchdog: Nasa

Congressman names employee he claims took NASA documents to China

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News,Watchdog,Richard Pollock,NASA

Rep. Frank Wolf made public today the identity of a Chinese national employed by a NASA contractor in a position that gave the man "extensive access" to the Langley Research Center.

The Virginia Republican told a congressional hearing that Bo Jiang took "voluminous NASA documents" to his home and to China.

During the same hearing, NASA Inspector-General Paul Martin said Jiang had "unescorted access" at the Langley facility and he said he believes there are nearly 200 Chinese nationals working in positions that afford them significant access to the agency and its programs.

Jiang worked for the National Institute of Aerospace, a Hampton, VA-based non-profit research institute and NASA contractor, in a position that Wolf said allowed him to roam at will at NASA's Langley facility.

The NIA has received $146 million in NASA contracts, according to USASpending.gov. Jiang's salary at NIA was more than $275,000 for work on NASA projects, according to knowledgeable congressional sources.

David Weaver, a NASA spokesman, told The Washington Examiner that "although we normally don't comment on investigations, because information now has been made public, we can confirm we are familiar with the situation involving a Langley contractor, have completed our review and referred the matter to the appropriate law enforcement officials."

Weaver said Jiang no longer works at Langley. Officials with NIA did not return a reporter's telephone calls seeking comment.

Langley conducts classified research work on satellite technologies that have critical military applications in areas like space-based defense.

Also located adjacent to the NASA facility is Langley Air Force Base, home to 40 F-22 Raptor stealth attack aircraft, the world's most sophisticated fighter.

National Security experts say China has long been keenly interested in U.S. space-defense and stealth technologies.

Wolf claimed last week in a Capitol Hill news conference that Jiang - who he did not then name - was hired by NIA "allegedly at the direction of NASA officials in an apparent attempt to circumvent appropriations restrictions the Congress has in place to prevent the hiring of certain foreign nationals of concern."

Wolf was referring to a 2011 law he sponsored that bars NASA from hiring Chinese nationals to work directly for the agency.

Jiang carried NASA Langley research documents with him during an October 2012 visit to his native China, where he was formerly a student at the University of Electronic and Technology of China in Chengdu, China, according to congressional sources.

Wolf is chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA. He told the March 13 subcommittee hearing that NASA was under "sustained attack" by the Chinese military and that the Jiang case was part of a larger problem of lax security in NASA.

Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-PA, said he "agreed with the chairman" about the significance of Jiang case, which Rep. John Abney Culberson, R-TX, also a subcommittee member said "was a clear case of espionage."

At one point in the hearing, Wolf said to the NASA IG that "despite the significance of the threat, NASA continues to allow access of Chinese nationals to its own activities."

Wolf then said he was told by a Department of Defense official "the names of 29 [Chinese] nationals without U.S. citizenship currently working as contractors at Langley."

When Wolf asked Martin how many Chinese nationals he thinks are working in some proximity to NASA, the IG replied: "I believe there are over 200 Chinese nationals working with access to various NASA facilities."

Martin estimated that 40% of all cyber attacks on U.S. government assets originate from the Peoples Republic of China.

Culberson told Martin he thinks he has moved too slowly investigating the Langely case and another alleged security breach at NASA's Ames Research Center, located just outside San Francisco.

"It sounds like you are taking a passive role on this," Culberson told Martin.

Martin agreed that overall security at NASA was "poor" and that it relied upon poorly executed export controls that are supposed to bar foreign nationals from access to sensitive defense technology.

Richard Pollock is a member of The Washington Examiner's Watchdog investigative reporting team. He can be reached at rpollock@washingtonexaminer.com.

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