House Homeland Security Republicans probe DHS, DoD and FBI over reported Chinese attempts to access sensitive U.S. sites

In a letter to the heads of the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense (DoD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the House chairs pressed for details of their responses to supposed Chinese attempts to breach U.S. military and other sensitive sites.

The letter from House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, MD (R-TN) and Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) demanded answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and FBI Director Christopher Wray, continuing a Republican majority focus on identifying, investigating and eliminating supposed Chinese threats. Previous pushes in this area have focused on a surveillance balloon, clandestine Chinese police stations operating on U.S. soil and attempts to steal U.S. intellectual property.

According to reports published in the press, Chinese foreign nationals have attempted to access sensitive U.S. sites as many as 100 times in recent years, sometimes by posing as tourists.

“These reports indicate that these intrusions, which U.S. officials describe as a form of espionage, seem designed to test security practices at U.S. military installations and other U.S. government sites,” the chairman wrote. “For instance, some Chinese nationals were reportedly detected crossing into a U.S. missile range in New Mexico and others were caught disguised as scuba divers swimming close to a rocket-launch site in Florida—a site used for surveillance satellites and other sensitive military purposes. Subsequently, these Chinese nationals report back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) about what they learn.”

They dubbed the incidents to be more than mere innocent mistakes, and pointed to a case in June 2020, when three Chinese citizens were sentenced to prison for illegal photography of military sites at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida. Such threats have gone on for years, but the Republicans claimed the incidents have only worsened under the Biden administration.

“It is curious that while we continue to witness the CCP operating below the threshold of traditional conflict to deceive the U.S., the Biden-Harris administration displays weakness on the world stage inviting further aggression by the CCP,” the lawmakers said.

As a result, Green and Pfluger requested reports or reviews referenced by news reports on the incidents referenced above, alien file records of any foreigner encountered at sensitive U.S. sites without authorization to be there, details of removal proceedings against them and more.

Chris Galford

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