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China

Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden)

By Keith Cowing
March 21, 2013
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NASA locks out foreigners, orders security review following concerns of Chinese spying, Fox News
“NASA has locked its facilities to foreigners, disabled online research databases and ordered a complete review of access by foreign nationals to its facilities, as allegations swirled of foreign spies within the space agency. In addition to the security review, Bolden announced that he had closed down a publicly available NASA technical reports database due to the risk of confidential information leaking out. A message on the site indicates that “until further notice, the NTRS system will be unavailable for public access. We … anticipate that this site will return to service in the near future.”
Congressman: NASA intentionally skirted rules, Daily Press
“Robert D. Wyman, a spokesman for NASA Langley, did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on Wolf’s assertion that Langley officials intentionally circumvented the rules. Calls to NASA headquarters in Washington were routed to Allard Beutel, the chief of the NASA communications office there. Beutel did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday. Timothy Allen, a spokesman with the National Institute of Aerospace, declined to comment on Wolf’s assertions that Langley conspired with NIA to get around the rules. “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation,” he said.”
Keith’s 20 March note: I asked LaRC PAO the following questions:
“- Was this shutdown in response to a request from Rep. Wolf? If not, then who requested the shutdown of this website?
– Was there any technical material posted on the NTRS website that violated ITAR regulations or any other NASA/government security requirements?”

LaRC declined to answer these specific questions and would only say “As you know, the NTRS system is unavailable for public access. NASA is reviewing the sites content to make sure it’s consistent with the U.S. export control laws, regulations and review processes that are in place.”
Clearly the fact that NASA took the extreme action of pulling the entire website down – one that had been online for decades – means that they either found something on there that did not belong and/or could not affirm that all applicable rules were being followed. Someone had to make the decision to take this action. Either Rep. Wolf asked them or someone to do this or someone at NASA decided to do so on their own. LaRC PAO is unable or unwilling to admit that this is the case. Isn’t it rather odd for NASA PAO not to respond with comments in support of what the agency’s administrator said in open congressional hearings? Meanwhile, neither NASA or the House Appropriations Committee has bothered to post Bolden’s prepared statement.
At today’s hearing Rep. Wolf gave the NASA OIG and “F” grade for their ARC and LaRC investigations and suggested to Bolden that the agency needs a new IG. Wolf also lectured Bolden about blind dissidents and human organ trafficking in China. Wolf asked if Bolden would meet with various Chinese activists/dissidents at NASA HQ. Bolden said he would if he could ask them a question as to why Congress prohibits any interaction by NASA with China’s space agency. When Bolden talked about the progress of moving the Arc Jet facility from JSC to ARC Wolf said “just make sure the spies are not involved out there” (i.e. at ARC).
Probably the most important thing to emerge from this hearing was the fact that both Wolf and Bolden liked the two “Home Alone” films.
Keith’s 21 March update: here is the Prepared Statement by Charles Bolden Before House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. NASA still has not released it (but Congress has). Do a search for the word “China”. Nothing. NASA really does not want to talk about this.
NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post
Former NASA/NIA Employee Arrested by FBI Trying to Leave U.S., earlier post

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.