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Congressmen: NASA Ames gave secrets to China

The director of Mountain View's NASA Ames Research Center is embroiled in what is either a scandal or a witch-hunt over accusations that secret rocket propulsion technology was given to China.

The allegations were first made in a Feb. 8 story in Aviation Week which draws from letters from two Republican Congress members who chair the House committees that oversee NASA, Frank Wolf of Virginia and Lamar Smith of Texas. They write that "we are deeply concerned that political pressure may be a factor" in why the Justice Department has not allowed indictments backed by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office after an investigation began in 2009.

The letters allege secret information was leaked from Ames, including missile defense rocket propulsion technology being tested at Ames for adaptation to NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE.

"Aviation Week reports that "according to sources at Ames and on Capitol Hill, the case involves Ames Center Director Simon P. "Pete" Worden and members of the center's staff who are not U.S. citizens."

"I think you've had violations of the law," Wolf told Aviation Week. "You've had the FBI look at this. You've had the U.S. attorneys make a decision to move ahead, and you've had somebody stop it at the Justice Department. I think you have a criminal, and a scandal here."

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On Feb. 12 a statement from Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, contradicted Wolf. She denied that her office had sought an indictment.

"I am aware of allegations our office sought authority from [the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., to bring charges in a particular matter and that our request was denied," Ms. Haag said, according to the Washington Times. "Those allegations are untrue. No such request was made, and no such denial was received."

Director Worden is accused of leveraging his connections to keep himself from being indicted. He addressed the allegations in a statement to NASA Ames employees on Monday.

"I take very seriously our responsibility to safeguard sensitive information, so I wanted to let you -- Ames employees -- know the facts. To the best of our knowledge I am not, nor have I been, the subject of an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) investigation. I have offered to talk to the news reporter, meet with the US representatives and/or testify under oath regarding export control issues at Ames," Worden said in the email.

Worden was not able to comment to the Voice. "NASA Headquarters has directed us to refer any media calls on this topic to the Department of Justice," said NASA Ames spokesman Michael Mewhinney.

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Keith Cowing of the blog NASA Watch notes that "It's rather odd that Aviation Week would make this statement about Worden's personal 'involvement' given that his name is not even contained in the letters (linked below). What is especially baffling is how Rep. Wolf, an avowed China hater, could think that a former Brigadier General - someone who worked throughout the Cold War to defend the U.S. against potential foes such as China, would suddenly - and knowingly - allow his employees to leak things to China or to condone such behavior."

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Congressmen: NASA Ames gave secrets to China

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 11:13 am

The director of Mountain View's NASA Ames Research Center is embroiled in what is either a scandal or a witch-hunt over accusations that secret rocket propulsion technology was given to China.

The allegations were first made in a Feb. 8 story in Aviation Week which draws from letters from two Republican Congress members who chair the House committees that oversee NASA, Frank Wolf of Virginia and Lamar Smith of Texas. They write that "we are deeply concerned that political pressure may be a factor" in why the Justice Department has not allowed indictments backed by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office after an investigation began in 2009.

The letters allege secret information was leaked from Ames, including missile defense rocket propulsion technology being tested at Ames for adaptation to NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE.

"Aviation Week reports that "according to sources at Ames and on Capitol Hill, the case involves Ames Center Director Simon P. "Pete" Worden and members of the center's staff who are not U.S. citizens."

"I think you've had violations of the law," Wolf told Aviation Week. "You've had the FBI look at this. You've had the U.S. attorneys make a decision to move ahead, and you've had somebody stop it at the Justice Department. I think you have a criminal, and a scandal here."

On Feb. 12 a statement from Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, contradicted Wolf. She denied that her office had sought an indictment.

"I am aware of allegations our office sought authority from [the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., to bring charges in a particular matter and that our request was denied," Ms. Haag said, according to the Washington Times. "Those allegations are untrue. No such request was made, and no such denial was received."

Director Worden is accused of leveraging his connections to keep himself from being indicted. He addressed the allegations in a statement to NASA Ames employees on Monday.

"I take very seriously our responsibility to safeguard sensitive information, so I wanted to let you -- Ames employees -- know the facts. To the best of our knowledge I am not, nor have I been, the subject of an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) investigation. I have offered to talk to the news reporter, meet with the US representatives and/or testify under oath regarding export control issues at Ames," Worden said in the email.

Worden was not able to comment to the Voice. "NASA Headquarters has directed us to refer any media calls on this topic to the Department of Justice," said NASA Ames spokesman Michael Mewhinney.

Keith Cowing of the blog NASA Watch notes that "It's rather odd that Aviation Week would make this statement about Worden's personal 'involvement' given that his name is not even contained in the letters (linked below). What is especially baffling is how Rep. Wolf, an avowed China hater, could think that a former Brigadier General - someone who worked throughout the Cold War to defend the U.S. against potential foes such as China, would suddenly - and knowingly - allow his employees to leak things to China or to condone such behavior."

Comments

NASA guy
another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm
NASA guy, another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

From: Centerwide Announcement
Date: February 12, 2013

MESSAGE FROM THE CENTER DIRECTOR
Ames and National Security.

Last week a news story appeared regarding national security and access to Ames by foreign national individuals. The article referenced letters written by US representatives. The article and the letters mentioned in it are littered with inaccuracies. I take very seriously our responsibility to safeguard sensitive information, so I wanted to let you--Ames employees--know the facts. To the best of our knowledge I am not, nor have I been, the subject of an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) investigation. I have offered to talk to the news reporter, meet with the US representatives and/or testify under oath regarding export control issues at Ames.

Since NASA's inception, the contribution of foreign nationals has been an important element in making the agency the world's leading space program. Indeed, NASA's most successful space project- the International Space Station - inherently involves ongoing collaboration with Russia, the European Space Agency and numerous other international partners and that very collaboration is recognized as the core to its success.

I am justifiably proud of our international collaborations at Ames. We have had more than 50 International Space Act Agreements in the past five years. Last year we conducted a successful audit of all 114 projects and programs where there might be ITAR concerns. The next Ames export control audit, which includes ITAR, will occur in the next two weeks.

A goal of our country's National Space Policy, ( Web Link ) is to "Expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities to: broaden and extend the benefits of space; further the peaceful use of space; and enhance collection and partnership in sharing of space-derived information."

Working with international partners is, has been, and will continue to be, a central part of our civil space effort. Ames will continue to exercise the fullest diligence in monitoring these collaborations and ensuring their compliance with ITAR policy as well as making sure NASA export control procedures are followed.

See me if you have any questions.

Godspeed Ames!

S. Pete Worden
Center Director


NASA guy
another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm
NASA guy, another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

NASA accused of technology transfers, Washington Times
Web Link

"Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, released a statement to The Washington Times denying that her office had sought an indictment. "I am aware of allegations our office sought authority from [the Justice Department] in Washington, D.C., to bring charges in a particular matter and that our request was denied," Ms. Haag said. "Those allegations are untrue. No such request was made, and no such denial was received."


Texas politicians
Community Center
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Texas politicians, Community Center
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Think these two republican back-benchers investigated Haliburton's work with Iran?

Don Rumsfeld's work with Saddam? Web Link

Yeah, me neither. Guess it's worth a few votes for a couple politicians in Texas and Virginia. At least from the Texas secessionists.

Wonder if these two guys buy Chinese made products from their local Walmart?

Go away...


Texas politicians
Community Center
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm
Texas politicians, Community Center
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

The Washington Time? (not the Post)

Owned by the Moonies.


Insider info
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm
Insider info, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

FBI agents have visited Ames to investigate Mr. Worden in the past and interviewed personnel there. This much is a fact.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Spying is a fact of life. Sadly, too many people who claim to be scientists, or engineers, are so detached from the reality of the extent of the massive espionage efforts that they dismiss the possibilities that they might be the target of espionage.

China, and Japan before WWII, have been very active here in California—

China's spying on U.S.:
Web Link

Virtually every major project that was central to the winning of WWII was infested with Soviet spies—the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos, Bletchley Park, and who knows how many other projects that have not been identified by the government yet.

China: Suspected Acquisition of Nuclear Secrets:
Web Link

China: Suspected Acquisition of
U.S. Nuclear Weapon Secrets
Summary

This CRS Report discusses China’s suspected acquisition of U.S. nuclear weapon secrets, including that on the W88, the newest U.S. nuclear warhead. This serious controversy became public in early 1999 and raised policy issues about whether U.S. security was further threatened by China’s suspected use of U.S. nuclear weapon secrets in its development of nuclear forces, as well as whether the
Administration’s response to the security problems was effective or mishandled and whether it fairly used or abused its investigative and prosecuting authority. The Clinton Administration acknowledged that improved security was needed at the weapons labs but said that it took actions in response to indications in 1995 that China may have obtained U.S. nuclear weapon secrets. Critics in Congress and
elsewhere argued that the Administration was slow to respond to security concerns, mishandled the too narrow investigation, downplayed information potentially unfavorable to China and the labs, and failed to notify Congress fully.
---

We’re left with asking a few hard questions:

1) Does NASA Ames have a mandatory espionage awareness program for every employee, up to the director?
2) Does NASA run an on-going espionage detection program, that involves using Chinese “plants”, who are actively trying to elicit secrets from NASA employees.
3) If not—why not?

Dismissing the on-going espionage against the US defense/scientific community is typical of people who have no understanding of the real world, or the documented history of espionage here in the US.


musical
Palo Verde
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

FBI agents visit, interview and investigate everyone with a security clearance. This much is a fact.


Resident
Midtown
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Resident, Midtown
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 8:01 am
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 8:01 am


There is little that goes on in China that doesn’t sooner, or later, involve the Chinese military. Many businesses are run by the PLA, so they have a motive for stealing information that has both military value, as well as commercial value—

Report: China military involved in U.S. hacking:
Web Link

NASA Ames certain has a treasure trove of information for which the US taxpayer has paid dearly. It would be a real shame if the NASA Director is more interested in “science”, rather than national security.

Everyone working at NASA Ames needs to understand that they could provide bits of information that can be integrated by a well-designed espionage effort. Unfortunately, details about infrastructure security are not likely to be revealed to benefit public relations—so we taxpayers are left crossing our fingers that the people in high management positions are doing their jobs. Historically, we (the US people) have been disappointed, time-and-again, by the people in such places.

The current NASA Director’s response doesn’t seem to offer much hope that he’s fully on-board with the idea that NASA Ames is going to recognize this threat, and be pro-active in combating it.


Den
Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 10:05 am
Den, Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

"There is little that goes on in China that doesn’t sooner, or later, involve the Chinese military."

A communist dictatorship. Perhaps one should look for products not made in China. Pay a dime more for a tee-shirt. Pay a quarter more for a pan made elsewhere. Maybe delay that electronics purchase for a year.

China wins because of an absurd level of consumerism.

Fight back.


News media reports, books
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm
News media reports, books, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

The current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb 18-24, 2013) has a cover in large type:
"Yes, the Chinese Army is spying on you."
Eric Schmidt's new book is getting a lot of coverage, "Schmidt's book to call out China on cyberattacks," San Jose Mercury News, Tues., Feb 19, 2013, p. 1....
PLUS
"Chinese Army tied to hacking," (see above, San Jose Mercury News)
But oh, we should all be friends and throw open our doors, whether IP or other forms of valuable information, to these "friends."


Just heard
Greater Miranda
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm
Just heard, Greater Miranda
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I heard this morning at 8:00 on CNN that the Chinese govt has been hacking into the computers of American businesses and companies.

There have been major busts of Chinese spies at NASA and Lockheed, even at Intel .

People from China arrive here sick, and are not even pulled aside coming thru customs, according to my doctor.

Why are they allowed to get away with all this? Criminal behavior is cri inal behavior and should be punished. Regardless of any mo etary debt our govt owes China!


Den
Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm
Den, Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

" Criminal behavior is cri inal behavior and should be punished. "

Yet you reward them with YOUR DOLLARS every time you shop at Walmart or other chinese retail centers.

Communism. Dictators. Trade and currency manipulators.

They have even used their power to have their government support solar manufacturers so they can take over that industry as well.


Just heard
Greater Miranda
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm
Just heard, Greater Miranda
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

It is really hard to find ANYthing not made in China! Their cheap junk has killed markets world-wide. It is so cheap that you can replace it 100 times and still spend less than the cost of one item of good quality As much as I can, I do not buy Chinese products, especially not children's toys. They don't seem to care if they poison their own kids, why should they care about ours? But with some things, like clothing, it is hard to fin China-free versions. And I hate that!


Den
Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm
Den, Nixon School
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

" It is so cheap that you can replace it 100 times and still spend less than the cost of one item of good quality "

Frankly, I'm not sure it's wise on my part to enter discussions with the king of hyperbole. A cheap item at 1/100th the price of a quality item?!?!?!?!?

Clothes are easy, look at the tags -- our trade agreements bring a LOT of non-Chinese clothes into the US from VN (more commies) and Central America especially.

Some things, you have to search, but that's why you have google. Other things, just find alternatives, or delay your consumerist ways. Your budget will be thrilled!

Beats buying from the #1 enemy of the United States of America. Stay away from Walmart, tell them you want American made goods represented better in their stores.


Dr. JRLF
Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 23, 2013 at 10:51 am
Dr. JRLF, Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 23, 2013 at 10:51 am

I worked with former Brig. General Simon "Pete" Worden when he was a USAF Colonel, within the Directorate of Requirements, at Air Force Space Command Headquarters. After he left ASPC Hqs, he went to work in one of the most sensitive and highly classified areas of space research within the U.S. Govt. For anyone to think or to even suggest that Brig. General Pete Worden would give highly classified information to China - that's utter nonsense and totally ludicrous -for this is an individual who worked for the USAF and for the U.S. Govt- for 3 decades - in the service of the National Security of the U.S.


Community Member
Professorville
on Apr 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Community Member, Professorville
on Apr 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm

To me, Worden's reaction to this investigation suggests guilt.

What stood out to me in this letter was the corrupted hard drive: Web Link

There was no mention of that in the letter to staff.

An innocent man would open his doors to the authorities, having nothing to hide.


American Values
Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2013 at 11:03 am
American Values, Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

"To me, ... suggests guilt. "
Noted without comment.

"An innocent man would open his doors to the authorities..."

Just because you are so un-American as to give up on the Constitution, doesn't mean the rest of us wish to follow your cowardly path.


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