Smith House Floor Statement on Danger of Electronic Attacks on Congressional Computers
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey
Madam Speaker, in December of 2006 and then again in March of 2007, my Human Rights Subcommittee's computers were attacked by a virus that, in HIR's words, ``intended to take control of the computers.'' At that time, the IT professionals cleaned the computers and informed my staff that the attacks seemed to come from the People's Republic of China. They said it came through or from a Chinese IP address. The attackers hacked into files related to China. These contained legislative proposals directly related to Beijing, including the Global Online Freedom Act, e-mails with human rights groups regarding strategy, information on hearings on China--I chaired more than 25 hearings on human rights abuses in China--and the names of Chinese dissidents. While this absolutely doesn't prove that Beijing was behind the attack, it raises very serious concern that it was.
Like Mr. Wolf, I too speak out often against the systematic abuse of human rights by the Chinese Communist government, whether it be religious persecution, the systematic use of torture, the total absence of labor rights, press freedom or free speech, and since 1979, the pervasive use of forced abortion to implement the barbaric one-child-per-couple policy, the gravest violation of women's and children's rights ever. So I was deeply concerned that the perpetrators of these crimes searched the China files on my computers.
It is now coming to light, Madam Speaker, that some other Members may as well have been attacked, and more needs to be done to combat this danger. So I thank my friend for offering this very important resolution.
Madam Speaker, cyber attacks on Congress are only a small, but not insignificant, part of a much larger pattern of attacks to which the executive branch, the Pentagon, and American business is the chief target. I want to recommend, as my colleague Mr. Wolf did a moment ago, ``The Chinese Cyber-Invasion,'' an eye-opening feature article that recently appeared in the National Journal. There we learn that some of our top cyber security experts believe that Chinese hackers have already shown that they can hack down our power grid. The experts believe that the Chinese hackers have caused power blackouts in the U.S. One blackout in 2003 was the largest in U.S. history and affected some 50 million people.
Chinese hackers and cyber warriors are mapping U.S. government and commercial networks at a rate that in the last 18 months has increased exponentially. A high-level ODNI official has referred to ``a kind of cyber militia ..... coming in volumes that are just staggering,'' he said. The same official said that what makes the Chinese hackers stand out ``is the pervasive and relentless nature of the attacks.''
Madam Speaker, with enormous aid, comfort and scads of one-of-a-kind technological assistance from U.S. companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Yahoo, the Chinese Government has achieved a huge qualitative capability to suppress freedom of speech on the Internet at home and to wage cyber warfare abroad.
Two years ago, I chaired the first congressional hearing on this unseemly, dangerous partnership, an alliance that enables the Chinese secret police to find, arrest, incarcerate, and torture religious believers and pro-democracy activists in China. Google, for its part, has become the de facto center for China's ubiquitous anti-American, anti-Tibetan, anti-religious propaganda machine, while Cisco has made the dreaded Chinese secret police among the most effective in the world.
I have introduced the Global Online Freedom Act, which has cleared all three committees of jurisdiction and is ready for floor action, and I, again, respectfully ask the leadership to bring it to the floor to combat this ever-worsening threat. For the Chinese people, it will make the prospect of freedom and democracy more achievable. For Chinese dissidents, it's a matter of survival, and for us, it may inhibit the transfer of technologies that we must prevent from falling into the hands of the enemies of fundamental human rights.
Mr. Wolf's resolution is a wake-up call, and it alerts us to take more effective action and thwart disruption and the theft of sensitive data. I strongly support the resolution.