Congressional Computers Hacked from China, Lawmakers Allege

Congressional computers containing information on global human rights activists and political dissidents were hacked by a source working from China, two congressmen alleged today.

Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said at a press conference that computers belonging to several of their staffers were hacked from a Chinese I.P. address in 2006 and 2007.

"A source from China hacked into the computer of my foreign policy and human rights staff person, then the computers of my chief of staff, my legislative director, and my judiciary staff person," Wolf said. "On these computers was information about all of the casework I have done on behalf of political dissidents and human rights activists around the world."

Wolf is co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights caucus. He has traveled to over 20 countries, including a trip to China and Tibet, and authored a bill in 1998 creating the National Commission on Terrorism.

Smith is ranking member the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, formerly named the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

Smith said his subcommittee computers used for human rights work were hacked in December 2006 and March 2007.

"The use of torture is endemic in China," Smith said. "We know it. I've held 26 hearings--26 hearings--on human rights abuses in China."

Smith said hackers used a virus intended to "take control of the computers," and that when House officials cleaned the computers, they notified Smith that the virus had come from a Chinese I.P. address.

Wolf, in a speech prepared for the House floor, suggested Senate computers could also be vulnerable.

"It would seem realistic that the Senate could also be at risk. The committees in both chambers on Government Reform, Intelligence, Judiciary, Armed Services, and Homeland Security should be having hearings on this threat," Wolf said.